Liturgical Texts: January 2010 Archives

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Oil for Our Lamps

The other day, a dear and generous friend of the Cenacle, knowing that oil lamps burn in the Oratory before the Blessed Sacrament and before the icon of the Holy Face of Jesus and that of Our Mother Perpetual Help, arrived with a case of extra virgin olive oil! What a magnificent gift! Heartfelt thanks!

Apart from the Holy Oils (Sacred Chrism, Oil of the Sick, and Oil of Catechumens) sanctified by the Bishop at the Mass of Chrism in Holy Week, the Church, in the Roman Ritual, provides for the blessing of ordinary olive oil as a sacramental. This oil may be burned before the Blessed Sacrament or before sacred images and then used by the faithful in the same way as they would use any other blessed sacramental. Such devotional anointings accompanied by prayer are not to be confused with the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, any more than one would confuse the use of Holy Water with the water of Baptism.

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Devout Use of Blessed Oil

The Holy Man of Tours, Monsieur Dupont, used to anoint visitors to the oratory in his home with oil taken from the lamp that burned perpetually before his image of the Holy Face. Blessed -- and soon to be Saint -- Brother André Bessette of Saint Joseph's Oratory in Montréal used to recommend the devout use of oil taken from the lamp that burned before his statue of Saint Joseph. In Rome, to this day, one can obtain oil blessed in honour of the Santo Bambino Gesù at the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli.

The rite for blessing of oil (found in Father Weller's incomparable edition of the Roman Ritual) describes the benefits sought by the faithful in making use of this ancient sacramental of the Church.

BLESSING OF OIL

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.

Exorcism

God's creature, oil, I cast out the demon from you by God the
Father + almighty, who made heaven and earth and sea, and all
that they contain. Let the adversary's power, the devil's
legions, and all Satan's attacks and machinations be dispelled
and driven afar from this creature, oil. Let it bring health in
body and mind to all who use it, in the name of God + the Father
almighty, and of our Lord Jesus + Christ, His Son, and of the
Holy Spirit, the Advocate, as well as in the love of the same
Jesus Christ our Lord, who is coming to judge both the living and
the dead and the world by fire.
All: Amen.

P: O Lord, heed my prayer.
All: And let my cry come unto you.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: And with your spirit.

Let us pray.

Lord God almighty, before whom the hosts of angels stand in awe,
and whose heavenly service we acknowledge; may it please you to
regard favorably and to bless + and hallow + this creature, oil,
which by your power has been pressed from the juice of olives.
You have ordained it for anointing the sick, so that, when they
are made well, they may give thanks to you, the living and true
God. Grant, we pray, that those who will use this oil, which we
are blessing + in your name, may be delivered from all suffering,
all infirmity, and all wiles of the enemy. Let it be a means of
averting any kind of adversity from man, made in your image and
redeemed by the precious blood of your Son, so that he may never
again suffer the sting of the ancient serpent; through Christ our
Lord.
All: Amen.

It is sprinkled with holy water.

Dulcis Iesu Memoria

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Painting of the Child Jesus with a crown of flowers by Carlo Dolci (1616-1686)

Over forty years ago, when I was taking my first steps in what would be a life-long monastic pilgrimage, I visited a certain Trappist abbey. A marvelously warm and open laybrother with twinkling eyes and a French Canadian accent greeted me in the porter's lodge and, from that moment, there grew between us a bond of friendship and of prayer. Brother G. had a particular devotion to the Office of the Most Holy Name of Jesus and, in particular, to the hymns of that Office. Opening his somewhat battered copy of the Cistercian Day Hours, he would ask me to pray the Dulcis Iesu Memoria with him. He never tired of repeating it.

Today, being the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, in the traditional Benedictine calendar, I thought I might share with my readers selected verses of the hymns of Vespers, Matins, and Lauds. Attributed for a long time to Saint Bernard (1090-1153), more recent scholarship suggests that Saint Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167) may be the author of this beautiful poem on the mystical love of Jesus. In any case, it is relatively certain that the Iubilus Rithmicus de Amore Iesu is the work of a 12th century English Cistercian.

Vespers

Jesu, the very thought of thee / With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far thy face to see, / And in thy presence rest!

Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame, / Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than thy blest name, / O Saviour of mankind!

O hope of every contrite heart! / O joy of all the meek!
To those who fall how kind thou art, / How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah, this / Nor tongue nor pen can show:
The love of Jesus, what it is, / None but his lovers know.

O Jesu, light of all below! / Thou Fount of life and fire!
Surpassing all the joys we know, / And all we can desire!

Matins

O Jesu, King most wonderful! / Thou conqueror renowned!
Thou sweetness most ineffable! / In whom all joys are found!

Stay with us Lord; and with thy light / Illume the soul's abyss;
Scatter the darkness of our night, / And fill the world with bliss!

Jesu, thy mercies are untold, / Through each returning day;
Thy love exceeds a thousandfold / Whatever we can say.

Celestial Sweetness unalloyed! / Who eat thee hunger still;
Who drink of thee, yet feel a void, / Which thou alone canst fill.

Thrice happy he, who living thee, / Doth thy true sweetness know:
All else becomes but vanity / Thenceforth to him below.

Lauds

O Jesu, thou the beauty art / Of angel worlds above;
Thy name is music to the heart, / Enchanting it with love.

For thee I yearn, for thee I sigh; / When wilt thou come to me,
And make me glad eternally / With the blest sight of thee.

Thy presence with me I desire / Wherever I may be;
This, Lord is all that I require / For my felicity.

Thy kiss is bliss beyond compare, / A bliss forevermore;
O, that thy visits were less rare, / And not so quickly o'er!

Now have I gained my long desire, / Now what I sought is mine;
Now is my heart, O Christ, on fire / With thy true love divine.

O fairest of the sons of day! / More fragrant than the rose!
O brighter than the dazzling ray / That in the sunbeam glows!

O thou whose love alone is all / That mortal can desire!
Whose image doth my heart enthrall, / And with delight inspire.

O thou in wom my love doth find / Its rest and perfect end;
O Jesu, Saviour of mankind! / And their eternal friend.

Lead where thou wilt, I follow thee, / And will not stay behind;
For thou hast torn my hear from me, / O Glory of our kind!

To him, praise, glory without end, / And adoration be;
O Jesu, grant us to ascend, / And reign in Heaven with thee.

(Caswell's translation)

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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