Introduction

This blog contains regular postings relating to the Traditional Latin Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. It includes regular commentary on the saints days and the liturgical cycle, with brief background and extracts from the liturgy both in Latin and English. Much of the material has been extracted from the 'St Andrew's Daily Missal', Dom Gueranger's 'Liturgical Year', or similar sources.

Related website: http://www.liturgialatina.org/





Sunday, 21 December 2014

21st December, O Oriens!

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeterne, et sol justitiae; veni et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Orient! splendour of eternal light, and Sun of Justice! come and enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.


O Jesus, divine Sun! thou art coming to snatch us from eternal night: blessed for ever be thy infinite goodness! But thou puttest our faith to the test, before showing thyself in all thy brightness. Thou hidest thy rays, until the time decreed by thy heavenly Father comes, in which all thy beauty will break upon the world. Thou art traversing Judea; thou art near Jerusalem; the journey of Mary and Joseph is nigh its term. Crowds of men pass or meet thee on the road, each one hurrying to his native town, there to be enrolled, as the Edict commands. Not one of all these suspects that thou, O divine Orient! art so near him. They see thy Mother Mary, and they see nothing in her above the rest of women; or if they are impressed by the majesty and incomparable modesty of this august Queen, it is but a vague feeling of surprise at there being such dignity in one so poor as she is; and they soon forget her again. If the Mother is thus an object of indifference to them, it is not to be expected that they will give even so much as a thought to her Child, that is not yet born. And yet this Child is thyself, O Sun of Justice! Oh! increase our Faith, but increase, too, our Love. If these men loved thee, O Redeemer of mankind, thou wouldst give them the grace to feel thy presence; their eyes, indeed, would not yet see thee, but their hearts, at least, would burn within them, they would long for thy coming, and would hasten it by their prayers and sighs. Dearest Jesus! who thus traversest the world thou hast created, and who forcest not the homage of thy creatures, we wish to keep near thee during the rest of this thy journey: we kiss the footsteps of Her that carries thee in her womb; we will not leave thee, until we arrive together with thee at Bethlehem, that House of Bread, where, at last, our eyes will see thee, O splendour of eternal light, our Lord and our God!

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

21st December, St Thomas Apostle

 St Thomas Apostle

In the Mass of St Thomas, the liturgy reminds us that the Apostles are the foundation of the Church of which Christ is the chief corner-stone (Epistle); that is why their feasts were formerly kept like Sundays.

The Gospel relates the famous scene which occurred in the Upper Room after the Lord's Resurrection. St Thomas doubted: and it was only when Jesus made him put his finger into His wounds that, passing suddenly from incredulity to ardent faith, he exclaimed: "My Lord and my God." That finger, says a Father of the Church, has become the master of the world because it showed him the reality of the flesh of Jesus Christ. Let us therefore believe in the great mystery of an Incarnate Word which will soon be manifested to the world. - The name of St Thomas occurs in the Canon of the Mass (first list).

The elevation at Mass having been instituted as a reply to the heresy of Berengarius who denied the real presence, let us contemplate in a spirit of faith the sacred elements when they are raised and say with St Thomas: "My Lord and my God," a practice enriched by Pope Pius X with an indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines, and a plenary indulgence once a week on the ordinary conditions. - The double elevation recalls the real separation of Our Lord's Body and Blood on the Cross.

Mihi autem nimis honorati sunt amici tui, Deus : nimis confortatus est principatus eorum. * Domine, probasti me, et cognovisti me: tu cognovisti sessionem meam, et resurrectionem meam.
To me Thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honourable: their principality is exceedingly strengthened. * Lord, Thou hast proved me, and known me; Thou hast known my sitting down and my rising up.
(Psalm 138:17,1-2 from the Introit of Mass).

Da nobis quaesumus, Dómine, beáti Apóstoli tui Thomæ solemnitátibus gloriári, ut ejus semper et patrocíniis sublevémur; et fidem cóngrua devótióne sectémur.
Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to glory in the solemn festival of blessed Thomas, Thine apostle, that we may both be helped continually by his patronage and imitate his faith with befitting devotion.
(Collect)

The continuation of the holy Gospel according to John.

At that time, Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, We have seen the Lord. But he said to them, Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe. And after eight days, again His disciples were within, and Thomas wth them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be to you. Then He saith to Thomas, "Put in thy finger hither, and see My hands, and bring hither thy hand, and put it into My side; and be not faithless but believing."Thomas answered, and said to Him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith to him, " Because Thou hast seen Me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed."
(St John 20:24-29)

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14658b.htm

4th Sunday of Advent

4th Sunday of Advent

Station at the Church of the Twelve Apostles

Like the whole liturgy of this season, the purpose of the Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Advent is to prepare us for the twofold coming of Christ: His coming in mercy at Christmas; and in justice at the end of the world. Allusion is made to the first in the Introit, Gospel, Offertory and Communion, and to the second in the Epistle; while the Collect, Gradual and Alleluia can be applied to either of the two.

In this mass we meet once again with the three great figures that are before the mind of the Church throughout Advent, Isaias, St. John the Baptist, and our Lady. The prophet Isaias foretells of St. John the Baptist that he will be "A voice of one crying in the wilderness : Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths ... and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." And "the word of the Lord was made unto John, the son of Zachary in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the Baptism of penance for the remission of sins " (Gospel). "John," St. Gregory explains, "told those who hurried in crowds to be baptised: "Ye brood of vipers, who hath told you to flee from the wrath to come?" Now the wrath to come is the final chastisement, which the sinner will not be able to escape unless he have recourse now to the lamentations of penance. The friend of the Bridegroom warns us to bring forth not fruits merely of penance but worthy fruits. These words are a call to each man's conscience, bidding him lay up by means of penance a treasure of good works,the greater in proportions to the ravage of sin which caused it" (3rd Noct.). And St. Leo says, "God Himself teaches us by the prophet Isaias: I will lead the blind in a way that they know not, and I will turn the darkness before them into light and I will not forsake them."

The Apostle St. John makes clear to us, the way in which this mystery is fulfilled, when he says, " And we know that the Son of God is come. And He hath given us understanding that we may know the true God and may be in His true Son " (2nd Noct.). The liturgy continues : Because of the great love that God has manifested towards us He has sent on earth His only begotten Son to be born of the Virgin Mary. Also in the Communion sentence the Church recalls to us the prophecy of Isaias : " Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son : and His name shall be called Emmanuel." And again, in the Offertory, she combines in a single salutation the words addressed to our Lady by the archangel and by St. Elizabeth. St. Gregory writes : " Gabriel, whose name means Strength of God, is sent to Mary, since he comes to announce the Messias whose will it is, to appear in humiliation and abasement, in order to subdue all the powers of the air. It was fitting that He should be heralded by Gabriel the c strength of God '; He, who was to come as the Lord of Might, the All-powerful and Unconquerable in battle, to crush the powers of the air in universal defeat" (Sermon 35).

In the Collect, just as we are reminded of the display of our Lord's "great might" which will take place at the time of His second coming, when as supreme Judge, He will come in the splendour of His divine Majesty to render to each according to His works, so we find an allusion to this same great power manifested in His first coming. It was as one clothed in His weak and mortal human nature that our Lord put the Devil to flight.

As we think of our Lord as nigh at hand in one or other of His " comings", let us say, with the Church, "Come, Lord Jesus, and tarry not."


Rorate coeli desuper, et nubes pluant Justum: aperiatur terra, et germinet Salvatorem. * Coeli enarrant gloriam Dei: et opera manuum ejus annuntiat firmamentum.
Drop down Dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Saviour. * The heavens show forth the glory of God: and the firmament declareth the works of His hands.
(Isaias 45:8 and Psalm 18:2 from the Introit of Mass)

Excita, quaesumus, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni, et magna nobis virtute succurre: ut per auxilium gratiae tuae quod nostra peccata praepediunt, indulgentia tuae propitiationis acceleret.
Stir up Thy power and come, we pray Thee, O Lord, and with great might succour us; that our deliverance, which our sins impede, may be hastened by the help of Thy grace and the forgiveness of Thy mercy.
(Collect)

Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.
Brethren, let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers that a man be found faithful. But to me it is a very small thing to be judged by you or by man's day : but neither do I judge my own self. For I am not conscious to myself of anything: yet am I not hereby justified, but He that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge not before the time, until the Lord come; who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts : and then shall every man have praise from God.
(1 Corinthians 4:1-5)

Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina, under the high priests Annas and Caiphas, the word of the Lord came to John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins: as it was written in the book of the words of Isaias the prophet: A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord: make straight his paths: every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways plain: and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
(St Luke 3:1-6)

Antiphons from Vespers

1. Blow ye the trumpet in Sion, for the day of the Lord is near: behold He shall come to save us, alleluia, alleluia.

2. Behold the Desired of all nations shall come: and the house of the Lord shall be filled with glory, alleluia.

3. The crooked shall become straight, and the rough ways plain: come, O Lord, and tarry not, alleluia.

4. The Lord shall come, go forth to meet Him, saying: Great is His sovereignty, and of His kingdom there shall be no end : God the mighty, the Lord, the Prince of peace, alleluia, alleluia.

5. Thine Almighty Word, O Lord, shall come forth from Thy royal throne, alleluia.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Saturday of Ember Week in Advent

Saturday of Ember Week in Advent

For the church in Rome in the early centuries, Saturday was the most solemn of the Ember Days, because that was the day on which the Church ordained her priests in the great Basilica of St Peter's. The ordination in the tenth month of the year (called for that reason December) was the only one originally known at Rome. Hence it was an important date.

Everything in the Mass, moreover, bears the character of a very ancient liturgy. It calls to mind, with its numerous lessons, intermingled with responses and prayers, the earliest form of the introductory part of the Mass.

The soul that is penetrated with it finds itself filled with a holy impatience, and with the church it aspires to the new birth of the only begotten son of God, who comes to deliver us from the yoke of sin (second collect). "While with confidence she awaits the Lord Jesus Who shall deliver us from our enemies, destroying Antichrist with the brightness of His coming" (Epistle).

The Gospel brings before us the image of St John the Baptist the precursor, who prepares our souls each year for the coming of the Saviour. The same Gospel is again found in the Mass of the following day, because formerly the ordination, taking place in the evening, lasted well into the night thus encroaching on the Sunday, provided it with its liturgy.

Veni, et ostende nobis faciem tuam, Domine, qui sedes super Cherubim: et salvi erimus. * Qui regis Israel, intende: qui deducis, velut ovem, Joseph.
Come, O Lord, and show us Thy face, Thou that sittest upon the Cherubim: and we shall be saved. * Give ear, O Thou that rulest Israel: Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep.
(Psalm 79:4,2 from the Introit of Mass).

Concede, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui sub peccati iugo ex vetusta servitute deprimimur; expectata unigeniti Filii tui nova nativitate liberemur.
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who are bowed down by our old bondage under the yoke of sin, may be freed by the new Birth of Thine only begotten Son, for which we look.
(Second Collect)

Lesson from the second Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians.
Brethren, We beseech you by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of our gathering together unto Him: that you be not easily moved from your sense, nor be terrified, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by epistle as sent from us, as if the day of the Lord were at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition who opposeth and is lifted up above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God showing himself as if he were God. Remember you not that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now you know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh: only that he who now holdeth do hold, until he be taken out of the way. And then that wicked one shall be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.
(2 Thess. 2:1-8)

Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina, under the high priests Annas and Caiphas, the word of the Lord came to John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins: as it was written in the book of the words of Isaias the prophet: A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord: make straight his paths: every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways plain: and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
(St Luke 3:1-6)

20th December, Vigil of St Thomas, Apostle

Vigil of St Thomas, Apostle

Like nearly all the Feasts of the Apostles, that of St Thomas is preceded by a vigil which will enable our souls to prepare for it in a holy manner. The Gospel recalls the vocation of this great Apostle who had the happiness of hearing continually the word of Christ and enjoying His intimacy. "I have called you friends because I have made known to you all that I have heard from my Father." "God," adds the Epistle, "has chosen him from among all men. He has given him His commandments, the law of life and of instruction."

Wherefore the Offertory declares that he had been chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve princes who would govern His Church: "the Lord has crowned him with glory and honour and has given him authority over the works of His hands."

"The Lord," the Epistle also says, "has given him his share of inheritance among the twelve tribes." The country of the Parthians and Persians was allotted to St Thomas when the Apostles divided the world among themselves. Let us prepare for tomorrow's solemnity in union with the Holy Church.


Ego autem sicut oliva fructifera in domo Domini, speravi in misericordia Dei mei: et exspectabo nomen tuum, quoniam bonum est ante conspectum sanctorum tuorum. * Quid gloriaris in malitia: qui potens es in iniquitate?
But I, as a fruitful olive-tree in the house of the Lord, have hoped in the mercy of my God: and I will wait on Thy name, for it is good in the sight of Thy saints. * Why dost thou glory in malice, thou that art mighty in iniquity?
(Psalm 51:10-11,3 from the Introit of Mass)

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the solemn feast of Thine Apostle Thomas, which we anticipate, may  both increase our devotion and advance our salvation.
(Collect)

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14658b.htm

20th December, O Clavis David!

O Clavis David et Sceptrum domus Israel, qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit; veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel! who openest, and no man shutteth: who shuttest, and no man openeth; come and lead the captive from prison, sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death.


O Jesus, Son of David! heir to his throne and his power! thou art now passing over, in thy way to Bethlehem, the land that once was the kingdom of thy ancestor, but now is tributary to the Gentiles. Scarce an inch of this ground which has not witnessed the miracles of the justice and the mercy of Jehovah, thy Father, to the people of that old Covenant, which is so soon to end. Before long, when thou hast come from beneath the virginal cloud which now hides thee, thou wilt pass along this same road doing good [Acts, x. 36.], healing all manner of sickness and every infirmity [St Matth. iv. 23.], and yet having not where to lay thy head? [St. Luke, ix. 58.] Now, at least, thy Mother's womb affords thee the sweetest rest, and thou receivest from her the profoundest adoration and the tenderest love. But, dear Jesus, it is thine own blessed will that thou leave this loved abode. Thou hast, O Eternal Light, to shine in the midst of this world's darkness, this prison where the captive, whom thou art come to deliver, sits in the shadow of death. Open his prison-gates by thy all-powerful key. And who is this captive, but the human race, the slave of error and vice? Who is this Captive, but the heart of man, which is thrall to the very passions it blushes to obey? Oh! come and set at liberty the world thou hast enriched by thy grace, and the creatures whom thou hast made to be thine own Brethren.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Friday in Ember Week in Advent

Friday in Ember Week in Advent

The Mass of today sums up perfectly the whole spirit of Advent, which is, so to speak, the first act of the great drama of the Incarnation. It might be called "The Expectation of Christ" and pictured in a triptych: On the left the prophets, and in particular Isaias, who search the horizon and announce to us the coming of Christ (Epistle), the sun of justice; on the right St John the Forerunner, who from the womb of his mother salutes Jesus (Gospel), and, as the friend of the bridegroom, presents Him as the Messias to His bride the Church; in the centre panel the Virgin, in her first and second joyful mysteries, the Annunciation and the Visitation, of which we read in the Gospels for the Wednesday in Ember week, and for today.

Prope es Tu, Dómine, et omnes viae tuae véritas: inítio cognóvi de testimóniis, quia in aetérnum tu es. * Beáti Immaculáti in via: qui ámbulant in lege Dómini.
Thou art near, O Lord, and all Thy ways are truth: I have known from the beginning concerning Thy testimonies, and Thou art forever. * Blessed are the undefiled in the way; who walk in the way of the Lord.
(Ps. 118: 1)

Excita, quaesumus, Dómine, poténtiam tuam, et veni: ut hi, qui in tua piétáte confídunt, ab omni cítius adversitáte liberénter:
Bestir, O Lord, Thy might, we pray Thee and come; that these who trust in Thy kindness and love, may the more speedily be delivered from all adversity.
(Collect)

Lesson from Isaias the Prophet.
Thus saith the Lord God: There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him: the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and of godliness, and He shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears. But He shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. And justice shall be the girdle of His loins: and faith the girdle of His reins.

The continuation of the holy Gospel according to Luke.
At that time, Mary rising up, went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and she cried out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord; and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.