Sunday, 30 March 2014

Propers for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

INTROIT (Isa. 66:10-11)Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and come together all you who love her. rejoice with joy, you who have been in sorrow, that you may exalt, and be filled from the abundance of your consolation.
Ps. 121:1. I rejoice at the tidings that were told me, "We shall go into the house of the Lord."
. Glory be . . .

O Almighty God, we are being justly punished for our sins, but comfort us with Your grace, that we may live. Through Our Lord . . .

EPISTLE (Gal. 4:22-31)
Brethren: For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman and the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh: but he of the free woman was by promise. Which things are said by an allegory. For these are the two testaments. The one from Mount Sinai, engendering unto bondage, which is Agar. For Sina is a mountain in Arabia, which hath affinity to that Jerusalem which now is: and is in bondage with her children. But that Jerusalem which is above is free: which is our mother. For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not: break forth and cry thou that travailest not: for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born according to the flesh persecuted him that was after the spirit: so also it is now. But what saith the scripture? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman." So then, brethren, we are not the children of the bondwoman but of the free: by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.

GRADUAL (Ps. 121:1, 7)
I rejoice at the tidings that were told me, "We shall go into the house of the Lord." V. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your towers.

TRACT (Ps. 124:1-2)
They who trust in the Lord are like Mount Sion; he who dwells in Jerusalem shall never be moved. 
. Mountains are round about it, and the Lord is round about His people, from henceforth and forever.

GOSPEL (John 6:1-15)
At that time, After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw the miracles which he did on them that were diseased. Jesus therefore went up into a mountain: and there he sat with his disciples.
Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus therefore had lifted up his eyes and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip: "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" And this he said to try him: for he himself knew what he would do.
Philip answered him: "Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them that every one may take a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to him: "There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves and two fishes. But what are these among so many?" Then Jesus said: "Make the men sit down."
Now, there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves: and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down. In like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would. And when they were filled, he said to his disciples: "Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost." They gathered up therefore and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which remained over and above to them that had eaten.
Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: "This is of a truth the prophet that is to come into the world." Jesus therefore, when he knew that they would come to take him by force and make him king, fled again into the mountains, himself alone.

Praise the Lord, for He is good; sing praise to His name, for He is sweet. All He has willed, He has done in heaven and on earth.

Look with favor upon these offerings, O Lord, that they may be an aid to our devotion and to our salvation. Through Our Lord . . .

Jerusalem was built as a city with compact unity; to it the tribes went up, the tribes of the Lord, to give praise to Your name, O Lord.

Grant us, we beseech Thee, O merciful God, that we may treat with unfeigned veneration and ever receive with heartfelt faith Thy holy rites which we constantly celebrate. Through Our Lord . . .

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Propers for the Third Sunday in Lent

INTROIT Ps. 24:15-16My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He shall free my feet from the snare. Look upon me, and have pity on me, for I am alone and wretched.
Ps. 24:1-2. I have lifted up my soul to You, O my God; in You I place my trust. Let me not be put to shame.
. Glory be . . .

O Almighty God, fulfill the petitions of the humble; and defend us with Your right hand of power. Through Our Lord . . .

EPISTLE Eph. 5:1-9
Brethren: Be ye therefore followers of God, as most dear children: And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us and hath delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness.
But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints: Or obscenity or foolish talking or scurrility, which is to no purpose: but rather giving of thanks. For know you this and understand: That no fornicator or unclean or covetous person (which is a serving of idols) hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words. For because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk then as children of the light. For the fruit of the light is in all goodness and justice and truth.

GRADUAL Ps. 9:20, 4
Arise, O Lord, let not man prevail; let the nations be judged in Your presence. V. When my enemies shall be turned back, they shall be weakened and destroyed before you.

TRACT Ps. 122:1-3
To You who are enthroned in heaven, have I lifted up my eyes. 
. Behold, as the eyes of servants are on the hands of their masters.
V. And as the eyes of a maid are on the hands of her mistress, so are our eyes on the Lord, our God, until He have pity on us.
V. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy.

GOSPEL Luke 11:14-28
At that time, Jesus was casting out a devil: and the same was dumb. And when he had cast out the devil, the dumb spoke: and the multitudes, were in admiration at it. But some of them said: "He casteth out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils." And others tempting, asked of him a sign from heaven. But he seeing their thoughts, said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation; and house upon house shall fall. And if Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? Because you say that through Beelzebub I cast out devils. Now if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. But if I by the finger of God cast out devils, doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his court, those things are in peace which he possesseth. But if a stronger than he come upon him and overcome him, he will take away all his armour wherein he trusted and will distribute his spoils. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest: and not finding, he saith: I will return into my house whence I came out. And when he is come, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself: and entering in they dwell there. And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first." 
And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: "Blessed is the womb that bore thee and the paps that gave thee suck." But he said: "Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it."

OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Ps. 18:9, 10, 11, 12The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart, and His judgments are sweeter than honey and the honeycomb; for Your servant observes them.

May this offering cleanse us from our sins, O Lord, and may it sanctify Your servants in body and soul for the celebration of this sacrifice. Through Our Lord . . .


The sparrow has found herself a home, and the turtledove a nest in which to lay her young -- Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God! Blessed are they who dwell in Your house; they shall praise You forever and ever.


O God, You have allowed us to share in this great Sacrament. In Your mercy free us also from all guilt and danger of sin. Through Our Lord . . .

Friday, 21 March 2014

Liturgy and the Law of Faith

Legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi: “The law of prayer determines the law of belief.” This is the ancient saying of Prosper of Aquitaine, which was apparently reversed by Pope Pius XII in Mediator Dei. What does it mean? I have lately encountered the idea that the massive liturgical crisis which we are currently witnessing is due largely to an inversion of the traditional relationship between liturgy and faith. Traditionally, it was the law of prayer, such as that which is in the liturgy, which determined, and was prior to, the law of belief. Aidan Kavanagh writes in his book On Liturgical Theology that faith is consequent upon worship, and not the other way around. Worship is an encounter with the Source of the grace of faith, namely God. Faith is an assent to the revelation given to us by God. As such, faith results from the encounter with God that we experience in worship. The truths of faith expressed in the sacred liturgy are, as it were, the means through which we come into contact with God. We approach them in worship, and in consequence we believe.

At first, I found this to be a somewhat strange understanding of faith. I am always uncomfortable speaking of faith as an “encounter” or an “experience,” because that often smacks of modernism. But the modernistic understanding of faith is as an experience which originates from the sentiments within the Christian himself; whereas the above understanding presents faith as a response to Something that is already out there, an Object that is independent of us; and this is God. God and His eternal truths are prior to our faith; it is our responsibility to assent to Him, with the help of His grace, which is communicated through the liturgy and the sacraments, along with those eternal truths themselves. This assent is faith. To me, this is far from a modernistic understanding of faith, but actually aligns very well the traditional scholastic understanding, as an assent of the mind and will to God’s revelation. It would be a modernistic understanding of faith to consider it as something originating in us. And so it would be modernistic to think of ourselves – mere humans – as having the power to shape our “encounter” or “experience” of God in the liturgy according to a faith which originates in us and is thus as changeable as we are. And it is precisely this tendency whose influence we have witnessed in the recent liturgical reforms.

So it is certainly understandable why certain traditionalists are upset that Pius XII reversed the statement legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi to say legem supplicandi lex statuat credendi. However, I wonder if there is not a legitimate way to understand Pope Pius XII’s intended meaning. On the one hand, as I have just stated, it would be truly modernist to consider the liturgy as something subject to a “faith” which originates in us. On the other hand, can it not be said that the truths of faith themselves are prior to the liturgy? Oftentimes these truths are labelled as “doctrines” or “dogmas” insofar as they are taught by the infallible Church. In this sense, it seems that the liturgy is indeed subject to the law of faith, if by this it is meant that the content of the liturgy is determined by a prior truth. We would have a philosophical problem on our hands if we were to contend that the liturgy itself determines what is and is not true. So there are evidently a couple of different ways to understand what lex credendi means: it could refer to the objective truth that is out there, and thus prior to both the liturgy and our personal assent; or it could refer to our personal assent itself, which is called faith. If the former, the liturgy must indeed be subject to the law of faith and determined by it, and Pius XII’s statement seems to me not to be so unreasonable. If the latter, our faith must indeed be subject to the liturgy. Both of these ways of speaking is theologically legitimate, and they are not in opposition. But when it comes to the use of Prosper of Aquitaine's phrase, we appear to have run up against an equivocation on the “law of faith.” 

March 21 - Feast of Saint Benedict

This is the reading from the Benedictine office of Matins. See this website.

Reading 5: Benedict was born of a noble family at Norcia, about the year of our Lord 480, and studied letters at Rome. Desiring to give himself altogether to Christ Jesus, he betook himself to a very deep cave at the place now called Subiaco. In this place he lay hid for three years, unknown to all except the monk Romanus, by means of whom he received the necessaries of life. While he was in the cave at Subiaco, the devil one day assailed him with an extraordinary storm of impure temptation, and to get it under, he rolled himself in brambles till his whole body was lacerated, and the sting of pain drove out the sallies of lust.

Reading 6: At last the fame of his holiness spread itself abroad from the desert, and some monks came to him for guidance, but the looseness of their lives was such that they could not bear his exhortations, and they plotted together to poison him in his drink. When they gave him the cup, he made the sign of the Cross over it, whereupon it immediately broke, and Benedict left that monastery, and retired to a desert place alone. Nevertheless his disciples followed him daily, and for them he built twelve monasteries, and set holy laws to govern them.

Reading 7: Afterwards he went to Cassino, and brake the image of Apollo which was still worshipped there, overturned the altar, and burnt the groves. There, in the year 529, he built the Church of St Martin and the little chapel of St John; and instilled Christianity into the townspeople and inhabitants. He grew in the grace of God day by day, so that being endowed with the spirit of prophecy he foretold things to come. When Totila, King of the Goths, heard of it, and would see whether it really were so, he sent his Spatharius before him, with the kingly ensigns and attendance, and feigning himself to be Totila. But as soon as Benedict saw him he said: My son, put off that which thou wearest, for it is not thine. To Totila himself he foretold that he would go to Rome, would cross the sea, and would die after nine years.

Reading 8: Some months before he departed this life, Benedict forewarned his disciples on what day he was to die; and he ordered his grave to be opened six days before he was carried to it. On the sixth day, being the 21st of March, in the year 543, he would be carried into the Church, where he received the Eucharist, and then, in the arms of his disciples, with his eyes lifted up to heaven, and wrapt in prayer, he gave up the ghost. Two monks saw his soul rising to heaven, clothed in a most precious garment, and surrounded with lights, and One of a most glorious and awful aspect standing above, Whom they heard saying This is the way whereby Benedict, the beloved of the Lord, goeth up to heaven.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Some Comparisons from Good Friday

The rites of Holy Week are the object of much controversy. Even among traditional Catholics, there are certain serious disagreements over the 1955 Holy Week of Pope Pius XII, which appears in the 1962 missal. I have not written much on that subject on this blog, and probably won't until a little later - thus far I have learned but little of the subject. However, I thought I'd give a brief comparison of some of the Good Friday intercessions from the traditional and new rites, using the traditional prayers as they are found in the pre-55 Holy Week. The main examples are the prayers for the unity of Christians, for the Jews, and for non-believers.

First Example.

Traditional prayer for the unity of Christians:
Let us pray also for heretics and schismatics: that our Lord God would be pleased to rescue them from all their errors; and recall them to our holy mother the Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Almighty and everlasting God, who savest all, and wouldst that no one should perish: look on the souls that are led astray by the deceit of the devil: that having set aside all heretical evil, the hearts of those that err may repent, and return to the unity of Thy truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
R. Amen
Novus Ordo prayer for the unity of Christians:
Let us pray also for all our brothers and sisters who believe in Christ, that our God and Lord may be pleased, as they live the truth, to gather them together and keep them in his one Church. 
Almighty ever-living God, who gather what is scattered and keep together what you have gathered, look kindly on the flock of your Son, that those whom one Baptism has consecrated may be joined together by integrity of faith and united in the bond of charity. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.
Note the significant changes. Those who are outside the Catholic Church are no longer referred to as heretics and schismatics, but as our brothers and sisters. They are no longer said to be in error and hence in need of rescuing, but are recognized as believing in Christ and living the truth.  They are no longer recognized as in danger of perishing, nor that they have been deceived by the devil; nor is it prayed that they set aside all heretical evil, or that they may repent of their errors, and return to unity in truth. Rather, now it is merely recognized that they are Baptized, like us, and should all be joined to us in the integrity of faith and the bond of charity. Notice the pattern here: all reference to the bad things about being non-Catholic have been suppressed, and only the good things about non-Catholics are mentioned.

Second example.

The notorious traditional prayer for the Jews:
Let us pray also for the perfidious Jews: that our God and Lord would remove the veil from their hearts: that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Almighty and everlasting God, who drivest not away from Thy mercy even the perfidious Jews: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people: that, acknowledging the light of Thy truth, which is Christ, they may be rescued from their darkness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
R. Amen.
The Novus Ordo prayer for the Jews:
Let us pray also for the Jewish people, to whom the Lord our God spoke first, that he may grant them to advance in love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant. 
Almighty ever-living God, who bestowed your promises on Abraham and his descendants, graciously hear the prayers of your Church, that the people you first made your own may attain the fullness of redemption. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.
Similar patterns appear in this example. First of all, I should note that Pope John XXIII changed the traditional prayer to omit the word "perfidious," which is horw it appeared in the 1962 missal. Pope Benedict  XVI later made another change to the 1962 version, to no longer mention the "veil over their hearts," and their "blindness," etc., but still prays for their conversion.  I regard the above form as the traditional and optimal form, and would probably rather that John XXIII and Benedict XVI had not made the said changes. The Latin word word perfidis ought not to be interpreted in any sort of anti-semitic sense, nor any of the other "negative" references to the Jews. Perfidis originally just meant "faithless," which is true of the Jews and of all non-Christians - hardly anti-semitic. Probably because these references were viewed as anti-semitic, or simply because they were just downright negative anyway, the prayer of the Novus Ordo omits all such references, as well as any explicit mention of conversion (similarly to the previous example), but only prays that the Jews advance in love and faithfulness to the covenant, and that they may attain the fullness of redemption. As I see it, and as is so often the case in the new missal, this prayer does not say anything false, but is problematic by reason of its omissions and its ambiguities. 

Third example.

Traditional prayer for Pagans:
Let us pray also for the pagans: that almighty God would remove iniquity from their hearts: that, putting aside their idols, they may be converted to the true and living God, and His only Son, Jesus Christ our God and Lord. 
Almighty and everlasting God, who ever seekest not the death, but the life of sinners: mercifully hear our prayer, and deliver them from the worship of idols: and join them to Thy holy Church for the praise and glory of Thy Name. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
R. Amen.
The Novus Ordo has two prayers that appear to me to replace this one. The first is the prayer for those who do not believe in Christ:
Let us pray also for those who do not believe in Christ, that, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, they, too, may enter on the way of salvation. 
Almighty ever-living God, grant to those who do not confess Christ that, by walking before you with a sincere heart, they may find the truth and that we ourselves, being constant in mutual love and striving to understand more fully the mystery of your life, may be made more perfect witnesses to your love in the world. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.
And the prayer for those who do not acknowledge God:
Let us pray also for those who do not acknowledge God, that, following what is right in sincerity of heart, they may find the way to God himself. 
Almighty ever-living God, who created all people to seek you always by desiring you and, by finding you, come to rest, grant, we pray, that, despite every harmful obstacle, all may recognize the signs of your fatherly love and the witness of the good works done by those who believe in you, and so in gladness confess you, the one true God and Father of our human race. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.
Again, the pattern is similar. Nothing in the new prayers is false or even especially problematic in itself - these do not have so great a problem of ambiguity as the other two prayers. Nonetheless, those phrases in the traditional prayer which are easily thought of as too pessimistic are suppressed - "inquity," "idols," "sinners," etc.  

This pattern of suppressing "negative" themes is very common in the new missal. The collects of the Sundays  during the seasons throughout the temporal cycle exhibit this pattern to a large degree, as is evident from Dr. Lauren Pristas' book The Collects of the Roman Missals. This is part of the very modernistic tendency to update the liturgy to fit the tastes and the subjective "consciousness" of modern man, who so dislikes to hear the pessimistic spirituality of traditional Catholicism.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

More on Liturgical Development

At the basis of all Catholic liturgies is the divine and apostolic Tradition. In this tradition, we observe the fundamental structure of the Eucharistic action, which Christ Himself commanded the apostles to do in His remembrance. This action, according to the scholastics, has at its very heart and essence the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. This is like the “liturgical prime matter” of the liturgy of the Mass. In scripture we also observe that part of the liturgy called the synaxis, the rite of readings, which originated from the pre-Christian Jewish tradition of the Synagogue. In the early Christian Church, the synaxis and the Eucharist were two distinct things that eventually merged to form the most basic outline of the Mass as we know it. This outline – the “Shape of the Liturgy” as it is called by the Anglican liturgical scholar Gregory Dix – is now the basic factor which is common to all Catholic Eucharistic liturgies. It is, so to speak, what makes the genus of Catholic Eucharistic liturgy. A similar genus might be identified for the liturgy of the Divine Office as well, consisting primarily of the singing of the Psalms.

It is important to note that in the early days of Christianity, this liturgical outline was followed because, in its constituents, it had been handed down in Tradition from the time of the Christ and the apostles. Tradition forms the very basis of Catholic liturgy, in order for it to be Catholic at all. And yes, this is Tradition with a big T, so far.

As time went on, customs developed which added a new “layer” atop this basic shape, and so the different liturgical rites were born. Our distinction between the Western and Eastern liturgies began, more or less, in this fashion (its history is somewhat more complex than our broad distinction might seem to imply). The point is that these liturgies were truly different liturgies, developed by the growth of traditions around the basic Tradition. The Shape of the liturgy remained at the basis of all of these liturgies, which incarnated it in various forms. It might be said that to the genus of Catholic liturgy were added certain specific differences, making for the various species of Catholic liturgy.

These forms came into being by a gradual process. The basic outline of the liturgy was always there, but the customs of Christians throughout the world differed in their manner of incorporating and manifesting this shape. This development was unconscious; no single individual or group of individuals thought to make his or their own liturgy on the spot. Certainly individual men contributed to the development of the liturgy, but only within the bounds of what they had received from the apostolic Tradition. This Tradition assumed various forms in the traditions of the early Christians.

These traditions were in practice a continuation of the Tradition of the apostles. This is important: although in reality these traditions are theoretically distinct from the Tradition of Christ and the apostles, in practice there was little distinction except that the one came later, as a continuation of the earlier Tradition – the addition of a new “layer.” The fathers of the Church, when they speak of the concept of tradition, do not even bother to make the theoretical distinction, but lump liturgical traditions together with dogmatic Traditions. And history shows how, in practice, these two were received simultaneously and in a similar fashion each to the other, even if new liturgical traditions would be born. The very first days of Christianity witnessed a continuation of the process of handing on Tradition, with new traditions coming into being alongside the elder Traditions of Christ and the apostles.

The whole subsequent process of liturgical development followed this same pattern: each new development was in some way a continuation of what came before it by adding to it. Hence we see that each species of Catholic liturgy underwent considerable development in itself, incorporating new elements into the past received structures. Moreover, under each liturgical species it often happened that further subdivisions would develop, following the same developmental pattern as their parent liturgies. The Tridentine liturgy is one example of such a liturgy: it is, as it were, one species of the Roman rite. Always the substance of the previous liturgical tradition was preserved; its development consists primarily in the addition of new “layers” to the long-standing older “layers.” This development was a continuous, unconscious process, effected by the universal Church throughout the centuries. Individual action, even at the level of ecclesiastical authority, did not become the norm of liturgical growth until the 20th century; rather, it was always at the service of and limited by tradition. The words of Gregory Dix again are most pertinent:
 The depth and breadth and allusiveness of the classical rites comes just from this, that their real author is always the worshipping church, not any individual however holy and gifted, any committee however representative, or any legislator however wise. The results in every tradition were codified from time to time by men with a gift or a taste for this sort of work. But all the time such men were working within a tradition, with materials supplied them by the immense eucharistic experience of the whole worshipping church of the past. . . No one man is great enough or good enough to fix the act of the Body of Christ forever according to his own mind and understanding of it. The good liturgies were not written; they grew. (The Shape of the Liturgy, pg. 718).
What lesson can modern Catholics take away from this simple truth of history? A liturgy formed on the moment purely by the inspiration of any individual or group of individuals, consciously inventing the liturgy according to their own ideas or desires, is bound  to be a departure from tradition. This is not a continuation of what came before, and a replacement of it. Such a liturgy might still utilize the basic shape of the liturgy, and to that extent be Traditional and Catholic. But it would not be a continuation of the long process which began with that original outline and continued in a single pattern. Herein lies the defect of those liturgies which have, in the last century, been constructed according to the whims of the men in authority: for these men were no less individuals than the normal layman. They produced entire liturgies of their own accord, rather than contributing to the development of the liturgy which they had received. Granted, these liturgies are still Catholic and Traditional to the extent that they preserve that most primitive, basic Shape of the liturgy. But the entirety of Catholic tradition, as witnessed by history alone, is much more than just its primitive historical beginnings. Starting from those beginnings a considerable development took place which bequeathed to the Church a wealth of liturgical and spiritual traditions. This development was  practically cast aside in the liturgical reforms of the last century.

Propers for the Second Sunday in Lent

INTROIT Ps. 24:6, 3, 22
Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your mercy are from of old, that my enemies may never rule over us. Deliver us from all our distress, O God of Israel. 
Ps. 24:1-2
. I have lifted up my soul to You, O Lord; in You, O my God, I place my trust. Let me not be put to shame.
V. Glory be . . .

O God, You see that we are completely powerless of ourselves. Protect us from bodily and spiritual dangers, so that we may not be harmed by physical misfortunes and evil thoughts. Through our Lord . . .

EPISTLE I Thess. 4:1-7
Brethren: For the rest therefore, brethren, pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus that, as you have received from us, how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more.
For you know what precepts I have given to you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: That you should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor, Not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles that know not God: And that no man overreach nor circumvent his brother in business: because the Lord is the avenger of all these things, as we have told you before and have testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto sanctification, in Christ Jesus Our Lord.

GRADUAL Ps. 24:17-18
The cares of my heart are multiplied; deliver me from my distress, O Lord.
V. See my wretchedness and my suffering, and forgive all my sins.

TRACT Ps. 105:1-4
Give glory to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.
V. Who shall tell the mighty deeds of the Lord; who shall proclaim all His praises? 
 Blessed are they who keep the precepts, who do what is just at all times.
V. Remember us, O Lord, in Your benevolence towards Your people; visit us with Your saving help.

GOSPEL Matt. 17: 1-9
At that time, Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo a voice out of the cloud, saying: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him." And the disciples hearing fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them: "Arise, and fear not." And they lifting up their eyes, saw no one, but only Jesus.
And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: "Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead." 

I will meditate on Your commandments, which I love dearly; and I will lift up my hands to Your commands, which I cherish.

Look with favor upon these offerings, O Lord, that they may be an aid to our devotion and to our salvation. Through Our Lord . . .
Hear my call for help and hearken to the voice of my prayer, O my King and my God; for to You I pray, O Lord.

Almighty God, we humbly ask that those who are nourished with Your Sacrament may live a life of worthy service pleasing to You. Through Our Lord . . .

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

March 12 - Feast of St. Gregory the Great

The following is taken from the office of Matins in the Benedicine breviary. I recommend this blog as a rich source of knowledge for everything pertaining to the Benedictine office.
(Reading 5): Gregory the Great was a Roman, the son of Gordian the Senator, (and was born about the year of our Lord 540.) As a young man he studied philosophy, and afterwards discharged the office of Praetor. After his father's death he built six monasteries in Sicily, and a seventh in honour of St Andrew, in his own house at Rome, hard by the Church of Saints John and Paul at the ascent of the hill Scaurus. In this monastery of St Andrew, he and his masters, Hilarion and Maximian, professed themselves monks, and Gregory was afterwards Abbot. Later on, he was created a Cardinal Deacon, and sent to Constantinople as legate from Pope Pelagius to the Emperor Tiberius Constantine. Before the Emperor he so successfully disputed against the Patriarch Eutychius, who had denied that our bodies shall verily and indeed rise again, that the Prince threw the book of the said Patriarch into the fire. Eutychius himself also, soon after fell sick, and when he felt death coming on him, he took hold of the skin of his own hand and said in the hearing of many that stood by: I acknowledge that we shall all rise again in this flesh.

(Reading 6):Gregory returned to Rome, and, Pelagius being dead of a plague, he was unanimously chosen Pope. This honour he refused as long as he could. He disguised himself and took refuge in a cave, but was betrayed by a fiery pillar. Being discovered and overruled, he was consecrated at the grave of St Peter, upon the 3rd day of September, in the year 590. He left behind him many ensamples of doctrine and holiness to them that have followed him in the Popedom. Every day he brought pilgrims to his table, and among them he entertained not an Angel only, but the very Lord of Angels in the guise of a pilgrim. He tenderly cared for the poor, of whom he kept a list, as well without as within the city. He restored the Catholic faith in many places where it had been overthrown. He fought successfully against the Donatists in Africa and the Arians in Spain. He cleansed Alexandria of the Agnoites. He refused to give the Pall to Syagrius, Bishop of Autun, unless he would expel the Neophyte heretics from Gaul. He caused the Goths to abandon the Arian heresy.

(Reading 7): He sent into Britain Augustine and divers other learned and holy monks, who brought the inhabitants of that island to believe in Jesus Christ. Hence Gregory is justly called by Bede, the Priest of Jarrow, the Apostle of England. He rebuked the presumption of John, Patriarch of Constantinople, who had taken to himself the title of Bishop of the Universal Church, and he dissuaded the Emperor Maurice from forbidding: soldiers to become monks.  Gregory adorned the Church with holy customs and laws. He called together a Synod in the Church of St Peter, and therein ordained many things; among others, the ninefold repetition of the words Kyrie eleison in the Mass, the saying of the word in the Church service except between Septuagesima inclusive and Easter exclusive, and the addition to the Canon of the Mass of the words M Do Thou order all our days in thy peace. He increased the Litanies, the number of the Churches where is held the observance called a Station; and the length of the Church Service.

(Reading 8): He would that the four Councils of Nice, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon should be honoured like four Gospels. He released the Sicilian Bishops from visiting Rome every three years, willing them to come instead once every five years. He was the author of many books, and Peter the Deacon declareth that he often saw the Holy Ghost on his head in the form of a dove when he was dictating them. It is a marvel how much he spoke, did, wrote, and legislated, suffering all the while from a weak and sickly body. He worked many miracles. At last God called him away to be blessed for ever in heaven, in the thirteenth year, sixth month, and tenth day of his Pontificate, being the 12th day of March, in the year of salvation 604. This day is observed by the Greeks, as well as by us, as a festival, on account of the eminent wisdom and holiness of this Pope. His body was buried in the Church of St Peter, hard by the Private Chapel.

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Fate of the Proper Chants in the Novus Ordo

Laszlo Dobszay, in his book The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of theReform, has a detailed discussion of the rupture with tradition that occurred in the liturgy of Pope Paul VI. One important part of this rupture is in the proper chants - Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Tract, Offertory, and Communion. For those interested, I recommend a close reading of Dobszay's treatment - there is much to be learned.

In the Roman liturgical tradition, the proper chants came into being at a very early stage in the history of the Roman rite. The music and the texts of these chants developed simultaneously, and were basically inseparable from one another. The text was, of course, the most essential element to the rite, but the music was also essential as the medium whereby the text played its liturgical role. (For this reason, the traditional Sung Mass should be considered the normative mass, rather than the Low Mass.) Now, the texts of the chants were for the most part taken from scripture, and were chosen according to the message of the particular liturgical day in which they were to be sung. The choice of texts resulted from centuries of theological and spiritual reflection by the Church Fathers. These chants represented the various spiritual dispositions with which the Roman Church approached the various moments of the liturgical year. They became a genuine and integral part of the liturgy. The chants which were assigned to the different days of the year were fixed in more or less their present arrangement at an early period – probably the 7th century, if not earlier. The core of the arrangement which we find in the current Tridentine missal is thus around 1200 years old. Because this continuity exists throughout the greater history of the liturgy, it is a genuine indication of how the Roman Church approaches her spiritual life by means of the liturgy.

In the Missal of Pope Paul VI, the proper chants are no longer the integral part of the liturgy which they once were, but are reduced to an option. They may now be substituted by virtually any other song, the criteria for which are practically subject to the determination of individuals. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal indicates that “anything else that is appropriate” or “approved by the Conference of Bishops” may be sung instead of the proper chants themselves. In America this was taken even further: approval by the Bishops is no longer necessary, but “any sacred song” whatsoever may be sung. In effect, the propers are now no longer sung or the texts even prayed.

Of importance is that this has done away not only with a precious treasury of Gregorian melodies, but also with the sacred texts themselves to which these melodies were attached. The loss of the arrangement of these texts constitutes a grave break with a venerable tradition that had its roots in the ancient spirituality of the Church Fathers themselves. Thus, an essential part of the traditional Roman rite has been practically destroyed. As Dobszay writes, “he who removes the Proper chants from the Mass of the day or the season (e.g., Advent or Lent), mutilates the liturgy and diminishes the content of the feast, by depriving the praying Church of an excellent means of fully understanding the feast being celebrated… I dare say that whoever removes the proper chants, mutilates and diminishes the theology as well, which lives not only in manuals and textbooks, but also in the spirituality of the praying Church, the Ecclesia orans.” (Bugnini-Liturgy, pgs. 93-94).

I would be interested, perhaps later, in doing a more in depth study of this theological treasury of which Dobszay speaks, in order first to gain a greater appreciation of the Catholic liturgical tradition, and also to learn what we have lost in the recent reforms. 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Propers for the First Sunday in Lent

INTROIT Ps. 90:15-16
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him, I will deliver him and glorify him with length of days.
Ps. 90:1. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High shall abide in the protection of the God of heaven.
V. Glory be . . .

O God, each year You purify the Church through the lenten observance. May the good works of Your Church obtain for us the grace we ask for through our self-denial. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and rules with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

EPISTLE II Cor. 6:1-10
Brethren: We do exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith: In an accepted time have I heard thee and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time: behold, now is the day of salvation. Giving no offense to any man, that our ministry be not blamed. But in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labours, in watchings, in fastings, In chastity, in knowledge, in longsuffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, In the word of truth, in the power of God: by the armour of justice on the right hand and on the left: By honour and dishonour: by evil report and good report: as deceivers and yet true: as unknown and yet known: As dying and behold we live: as chastised and not killed: As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing: as needy, yet enriching many: as having nothing and possessing all things.

GRADUAL Ps. 90:11-12
God has given his angels charge over you, that they guard you in all your ways.
V. Upon their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

TRACT Ps. 90:1-7; 11-16
He who dwells inm the shelter of the Most High shall abide in the protection of the God of heaven. 
V. He shall say to the Lord, "You are my support and my refuge; my God, in You I trust."
V. For he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters: and from the sharp word.
V. He will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust.
V. His truth shall compass thee with a shield: thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.
V. Of the arrow that flieth in the day, of the business that walketh about in the dark: of invasion, or of the noonday devil.
V. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh thee.
V. For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.
V. In their hands they shall bear thee up: lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
V. Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk: and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon.
V. Because he hoped in me I will deliver him: I will protect him because he hath known my name. 
V. He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: I am with him in tribulation,
V. I will deliver him, and I will glorify him. I will fill him with length of days; and I will shew him my salvation.

GOSPEL Matt. 4:1-11
At that time, Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming said to him: "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Who answered and said: "It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from themouth of God."
Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, And said to him: "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone."
Jesus said to him: "It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, And said to him: "All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me." Then Jesus saith to him: "Begone, Satan: for it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve."

Then the devil left him; and behold angels came and ministered to him.

The Lord will cover you with His shoulders, and under His wings you shall find refuge. His truth shall surround you with a shield.

O Lord, we solemnly offer You our sacrifice at the beginning of Lent, and pray that by observing abstinence we may also learn to avoid sinful pleasures. Through our Lord . . .

The Lord will cover you with His shoulders, and under His wings you shall find refuge. His truth shall surround you with a shield.

May the worthy reception of the Blessed Sacrament give us new strength, O Lord. May it cleanse us from our old selves and bring us closer to our salvation. Through our Lord . . .

Friday, 7 March 2014

March 7 - Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Since today is the feast of St. Thomas on the traditional Calendar, and I don't have much time, I thought I'd just post his famous five proofs for the existence of God.
The existence of God can be proved in five ways.

The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

The third way is taken from possibility and necessity, and runs thus. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that which is possible not to be at some time is not. Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing. Therefore, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence — which is absurd. Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary. But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.

The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But "more" and "less" are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

J.S. Bach - St. Matthew's Passion

This is probably one of Bach's greatest masterpieces. It is one of two Passion settings which he composed, the other being of the account from St. John's Gospel - also a masterpiece. The depth and beauty of Bach's music cannot be overstated.

Propers for the Mass of Ash Wednesday

Remember, O man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.

INTROIT (Sap. 11:24, 25, 27)
You are merciful to all, O Lord, and hate none of the things that You have made. When men repent, You overlook their sins and pardon them; for You are the Lord our God.
Ps. 56:2. Have pity on me, O God, have pity on me, for my soul trusts in You.
V. Glory be . . .

O Lord, may the faithful begin the solemn season of fast with fitting piety, and may they continue through to its end with unwavering devotion. Through our Lord . . .

LESSON (Joel 2:12-19)
Now, therefore, saith the Lord. Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and mourning. And rend your hearts, and not your garments and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. Who knoweth but he will return, and forgive, and leave a blessing behind him, sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly,
Gather together the people, sanctify the church, assemble the ancients, gather together the little ones, and them that suck at the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth from his bed, and the bride out of her bridal chamber. Between the porch and the altar the priests, the Lord's ministers, shall weep, and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare thy people: and give not thy inheritance to reproach, that the heathens should rule over them. Why should they say among the nations: Where is their God? The Lord hath been zealous for his land, and hath spared his people. And the Lord answered, and said to his people: Behold I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and you shall be filled with them: and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations.

GRADUAL (Ps. 56:2, 4)
Have pity on me, O God, have pity on me, for my soul trusts in You. V. He has sent from heaven, and saved me; He has made them a reproach who trample upon me.

TRACT (Ps. 102:10; 78:8-9)
O Lord, repay us not according to the sins we have committed, nor according to our iniquities. V. O Lord, remember not our iniquities of the past; let Your mercy come quickly to us, for we are being brought very low. (All Kneel.) V. Help us, O God our Savior, and for the glory of Your name, O Lord, deliver us; and pardon us our sins for Your name's sake.

GOSPEL (Matt. 6:16-21)
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, "And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee.
"Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through, and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also."

I will extol You, O Lord, for You have upheld me, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. O Lord, I cried out to You and You have healed me.

O Lord, make us truly fit to offer these gifts with which we commemorate the institution of this blessed Sacrament. Through our Lord . . .

He who meditates on the law of the Lord day and night shall bring forth his fruit in due season.

O Lord, may this Sacrament which we have received make our fasting an acceptable offering to You and a healthful remedy to our souls. Through our Lord . . .

O Lord, look with mercy upon those who worship before Your majesty. May Your heavenly aid always strengthen those who have feasted upon Your divine Sacrament. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and rules with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.