Liturgical Texts: September 2009 Archives

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Ember Wednesday in September

There are so many things that I would want to write about! Yesterday, for example, was the first of the September Ember Days: the Proper of the Mass extraordinarily rich with its images of harvest time, great rivers of sweet wine. The note was one of joy: Gaudium etenim Domini est fortitudo nostra, "For the joy of the Lord is our strength." (II Esdr 8:10)

For all of that, the Gospel was sobering: "This kind (of demon) can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." (Mk 9:28) And then, all day long I held the remarkable Collect in mind, repeating it at the Hours:

The Marquess of Bute translates it:

We pray Thee, O Lord,
that the healing power of Thy mercy may give strength to our weakness,
that those things which do pass away by their own frailty,
may be renewed again by Thy clemency.

Monsignor Knox gives:

By Thy healing mercies, we pray thee, Lord,
enable our frail nature to hold its ground.
Let thy pity renew that which of itself is ever wasting away.

The Roman Catholic Daily Missal has:

We beseech Thee, O Lord,
that our weakness may be upheld by Thy healing mercy,
so that what of itself is falling into ruin
may be restored by Thy clemency.

Pope Benedict XVI on Saint Anselm

Also yesterday, our Holy Father presented yet another grand monastic figure: Saint Anselm of Aosta, Bec, and Canterbury. Here is a translation of the discourse of His Holiness:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Prayer, Study, and Government

In Rome, on the Aventine Hill, is found the Benedictine abbey of St. Anselm. As the seat of an Institute of Higher Studies and of the abbot primate of the Confederated Benedictines, it is a place that unites prayer, study and government, precisely the three activities that characterized the life of the saint to which it is dedicated: Anselm of Aosta, the 900th anniversary of whose death we celebrate this year.

Monk, Educator, Theologian

The many initiatives, promoted especially by the Diocese of Aosta for this happy anniversary, have reflected the interest that this Medieval thinker continues to awaken. He is also known as Anselm of Bec and Anselm of Canterbury because of the cities with which he was connected. Who is this personage to which three localities, distant from one another and situated in three different nations -- Italy, France and England -- feel particularly bound? Monk of intense spiritual life, excellent educator of youth, theologian with an extraordinary speculative capacity, wise man of government and intransigent defender of the "libertas Ecclesiae," of the liberty of the Church, Anselm is one of the eminent personalities of the Medieval Age, who was able to harmonize all these qualities thanks to a profound mystical experience that always guided his thought and action.

A Very White Bread

St. Anselm was born in 1033 (or the beginning of 1034) in Aosta, the firstborn of a noble family. His father was a crude man, dedicated to the pleasures of life and a spendthrift of his goods; his mother, on the other hand, was a woman of superior customs and profound religiosity (cf. Eadmero, Vita s. Anselmi, PL 159, col 49). It was his mother who took care of the first human and religious formation of her son, whom she later entrusted to the Benedictines of a priory of Aosta. Anselm, who from his childhood -- as his biographer recounts -- imagined the dwelling of the good God to be among the high and snow clad summits of the Alps, dreamed one night that he was invited to this splendid palace by God himself, who entertained him affably for a good while and at the end offered him to eat "a very white bread" (ibid., col 51).

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There is a verse in the book of Ezra that is, I think, a wonderful expression of the life and mission of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina: “The Levites, every one of whom had purified himself for the occasion, sacrificed the Passover for the rest of the exiles, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves” (Ez 6:20).

Padre Pio's life was a long and uninterrupted celebration of the Pasch of the Lord. Configured to Jesus Crucified, Priest and Victim, Padre Pio offered himself to the Father in the daily Sacrifice of the Mass. Saint Pio’s paschal immolation -- his participation in the Cross of Christ -- was for the sake of "the rest of the exiles," all of us who go mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. And it was for the sake of "his brethren": for all priests called to follow him in a life of paschal purity and victimhood,

Entrance Antiphon

MR
God forbid that I should glory
except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world is crucified to me,
and I to the world (Gal 6:14).

Collect

Almighty and eternal God,
who, by a singular grace,
allowed the priest Saint Pio
to participate in the cross of your Son,
and by means of his ministry, renewed the wonders of your mercy;
grant, through his intercession that,
constantly united to the passion of Christ,
we may happily arrive at the glory of the resurrection.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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