Thursday, 14 August 2014

August 15 - The Assumption of Our Lady - Readings from the Office of Matins

The following readings are taken from the old Tridentine Office of Matins for the feast of the Assumption.

Reading 1
Lesson from the book of Canticles
Song 1:1-4
1 Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth: for thy breasts are better than wine,
2 Smelling sweet of the best ointments. thy name is as oil poured out: therefore young maidens have loved thee.
3 Draw me: we will run after thee to the odour of thy ointments. The king hath brought me into his storerooms: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, remembering thy breasts more than wine: the righteous love thee.
4 I am black but beautiful, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Cedar, as the curtains of Solomon.

Reading 2
Song 1:5-9
5 Do not consider me that I am brown, because the sun hath altered my colour: the sons of my mother have fought against me, they have made me the keeper in the vineyards: my vineyard I have not kept.
6 Show me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou liest in the midday, lest I begin to wander after the flocks of thy companions.
7 If thou know not thyself, O fairest among women, go forth, and follow after the steps of the flocks, and feed thy kids beside the tents of the shepherds.
8 To my company of horsemen, in Pharao's chariots, have I likened thee, O my love.
9 Thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtledove's, thy neck as jewels.

Reading 3
Song 1:10-16
10 We will make thee chains of gold, inlaid with silver.
11 While the king was at his repose, my spikenard sent forth the odour thereof.
12 A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, he shall abide between my breasts.
13 A cluster of cypress my love is to me, in the vineyards of Engaddi.
14 Behold thou art fair, O my love, behold thou art fair, thy eyes are as those of doves.
15 Behold thou art fair, my beloved, and comely. Our bed is flourishing.
16 The beams of our houses are of cedar, our rafters of cypress trees.

Reading 4
From the Sermons of St John of Damascus.
2nd on the Falling-on-sleep of Blessed Mary.
This day the holy and animated Ark of the living God, which had held within it its own Maker, is borne to rest in that Temple of the Lord, which is not made with hands. David, whence it sprang, leapeth before it, and in company with him the Angels dance, the Archangels sing aloud, the Virtues ascribe glory, the Princedoms shout for joy, the Powers make merry, the Lordships rejoice, the Thrones keep holiday, the Cherubim utter praise, and the Seraphim proclaim its glory. This day the Eden of the new Adam receiveth the living garden of delight, wherein the condemnation was annulled, wherein the Tree of Life was planted, wherein our nakedness was covered.

Reading 5
This day the stainless maiden, who had been defiled by no earthly lust, but ennobled by heavenly desires, returned not to dust, but, being herself a living heaven, took her place among the heavenly mansions. From her true life had flowed for all men, and how should she taste of death? But she yielded obedience to the law established by Him to Whom she had given birth, and, as the daughter of the old Adam, underwent the old sentence, which even her Son, Who is the very Life Itself, had not refused; but, as the Mother of the living God, she was worthily taken by Him unto Himself.

Reading 6
Eve, who had said yea to the proposals of the serpent, was condemned to the pains of travail and the punishment of death, and found her place in the bowels of the Netherworld. But this truly blessed being who had inclined her ears to the word of God, whose womb had been filled by the action of the Holy Ghost, who, as soon as she heard the spiritual salutation of the archangel, had conceived the Son of God without any sexual pleasure or carnal knowledge by a man, who had brought forth her Offspring without any the least pang, who had hallowed herself altogether for the service of God how was death ever to feed upon her? how was the grave ever to eat her up? how was corruption to break into that body into which Life had been welcomed? For her there was a straight, smooth, and easy way to heaven. For if Christ, Who is the Life and the Truth, hath said Where I am, there shall also My servant be how much more shall not rather His mother be with Him?

Reading 7
From the Holy Gospel according to Luke
Luke 10:38-42
At that time, Jesus entered into a certain village, and a woman named Martha received Him into her house. And so on.

Homily by St Austin, Bishop of Hippo.
27th on the Words of the Lord.
When the Holy Gospel was read, we heard how that a godly woman hospitably received the Lord into her house, and that this woman's name was Martha. And while Martha herself was cumbered about much serving, a sister of her's, called Mary, sat at the Lord's Feet, and heard His word. The one worked, the other was idle. One ministered, the other was filled. Nevertheless, Martha, working hard in the bustle and business of the serving, came to the Lord, and made complaint of her sister, because she would not help her in her work.

Reading 8
But the Lord undertook to answer Martha for Mary; He, Who had been called upon to be her Judge, became her Advocate. And Jesus answered and said unto her Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things. But one thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. We have heard both the complaint, and the sentence of the Judge, the which sentence replieth to the complainant, and shieldeth her whom the Lord had received. Mary was wrapped up in the sweetness of the word of the Lord. Martha was busied how to feed the Lord, and Mary, how to be fed by the Lord. Martha was getting ready a banquet for that same Lord, at Whose banquet Mary was already revelling.

Reading 9
When, then, Mary was listening in peace and gentleness to those words of unutterable sweetness, and being feasted to the full extent of her heart's power, and Martha came and complained of her to the Lord, how must we imagine that she feared, lest the Lord should say unto her Arise, and help thy sister? She was held by that wondrous sweetness the smack whereof is felt more by the mind than by the belly. She was excused, and she sat all the safer. But on what grounds was she excused? Let us now turn our attention to this point, and thoroughly see into and examine it as far as we can, that we also may be fed.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Same Rite?

Salisbury Cathedral, home of the old Sarum Rite

Before the Council of Trent, there was a considerable degree of variety among the liturgies of the Roman Rite. Particular dioceses, cathedrals, and religious orders each had their own ways of celebrating the Roman liturgy. Those variants could very accurately be called species of the genus which was the Roman Rite. One of these rites was the well known but now defunct rite of Sarum, originally based in the diocese of Salisbury, England. While these variants were each different in many respects, they all shared a huge amount of common material which identified them generically with the liturgy that formed in the city of Rome. This common core which they all shared had undergone a gradual development over the centuries, remaining stable in its main elements for about 1000 years. The stability and age-old continuity is where can be observed the liturgical tradition of the Roman Rite.

The main elements of the old Roman Rite, constituting the common core of the medieval variants, could be listed as the following: The Order of the Mass (in its broad structure, not all of its specific prayers), the immobile Canon of the Mass, the Lectionary, the Orations, the Proper Chants, the Psalter of the Divine Office, parts of the calendar, the rites of Holy Week, and quite a lot more. The medieval variants of the Roman Rite would have varied mostly in the particular prayers and rituals for the Order of Mass, and would very often have additional local feast days with their own sets of Propers. In practically all other respects, however, they coincided remarkably well with each other and with the centuries-old rite of the city of Rome. 

Pope St. Pius V, in codifying what we now call the Tridentine rite, really just took one of these variants of the Roman Rite, namely that which was used by members of the Roman Curia at the time, made some adjustments to it, and imposed it almost universally in the Roman Church. The Tridentine Missal is almost identical to the Curial Missal of a century earlier, from the year 1474. But Pius V still permitted many of the other variants to continue to be celebrated, provided that they were over 200 years old. This was to prevent any celebration of a liturgy which might have been influenced by the rife liturgical abuse and the Protestant Reformation which had occurred within that space of time. Thus Pius V's legislation, as far as its liturgical content was concerned, remained remarkably faithful to liturgical tradition. Unfortunately, many of the variants died out in practice, nonetheless, in favor of the usually simpler and shorter Tridentine form. Only a few remained, mainly those connected to religious orders such as the Dominicans.

The Novus Ordo and the Liturgy of the Hours of Pope Paul VI broke away dramatically from the old uniformity and continuity of the Roman Rite. The Pauline reform introduced radical and far-reaching changes in almost all of the above-listed features of the Roman liturgy, save perhaps the Order of the Mass, broadly understood. It is interesting to make the following comparisons: whereas any two of the old variants of the Roman Rite could easily be identified as belonging to the same genus, due to the vast amount of common material and liturgical forms, the current Novus Ordo of Paul VI cannot by any stretch of the imagination be so identified as belonging to that same genus, if it be compared to the Tridentine Rite, or to any of the old variants for that matter. There is such a greater difference between the Tridentine and Pauline rites than there is between the Tridentine and, say, the Dominican or Sarum rite, or any other variant, that it is quite absurd to claim that the Novus Ordo and the Tridentine are the same liturgy. Granted, they are both Catholic, they both have the sacrifice of Calvary, but they simply cannot be classified within the same liturgical rite. Moreover, it is precisely in those elements which, by the time of Trent, had reached an age of about 1000 years of continuity, and by Vatican II, 1500 years, that the Novus Ordo differs from the older Roman Rite. Exactly the same can be said for the Pauline Liturgy of the Hours, in comparison to the older Roman Divine Office. They are different rites. 

This calls into some question the assertion made in Summorum Pontificum by Pope Benedict XVI - God bless him - that the Tridentine and Novus Ordo are to be considered two forms of the same rite - one dubbed Extraordinary, the other Ordinary. In past times, such a manner of speaking could be said only insofar as two liturgical forms shared the common heritage of the ancient Roman Rite. But a simple examination of their content reveals that this same heritage is shared little, if at all, between the Tridentine Rite and the Novus Ordo. They are hardly two forms of the same rite, as far as their actual content is concerned.