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.

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Tuesday 20 December 2011

Catholic Liturgy: Chapter 1

By The Very Rev. Gaspar Lefebvre OSB

 "If anyone deny that the world was made for I the glory of God, let him be anathema," says the Vatican Council. "That the creature should give glory to the Creator is the essential end of creation, for God has no need of aught but Himself and therefore could create only for Himself." [Fénélon, Lettre iii, Sur la Religion.]

The most High is the Being which transcends all other beings. Infinite and uncreated, He has of necessity always existed and will exist for ever. On Him every being depends for its existence. If the life-giving stream which continually flows forth from God, as well into the natural as the supernatural world, should cease for one instant, at that instant all creatures would fall back into nothingness. And, as before the creation, no longer would anything exist save the holy Trinity, to whom "was glory in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end." [Gloria Patri.]

Since God has created beings endowed with intelligence and has raised them to the supernatural order, they are bound to recognise Him as their Creator and Father. To seek the glory of God is the first duty to which justice obliges creatures; to sing "glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost" the first command which love lays upon the children of the kingdom of heaven. And so it was the first petition that Jesus taught us to make to His Father: "Hallowed be Thy name ... on earth as it is in heaven."

Isaias and St. John show us the angels and saints falling down before the most High and before the Lamb, singing day and night their unending Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts. To Him be honour and glory and power for ever and ever. [Isaias vi, 3; Apoc. iv, 8.]  We on earth must join with the angels and saints in their celestial praise, for we, too, are God's creatures and children of our Father in heaven. "We pray thee, O Father almighty," says the priest in the Preface, "join our voices also to those of the angels, while we say with lowly praise: Holy, holy, holy. Heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Hosanna in the highest."

That house on high—it ever rings
With praises of the King of kings;
For ever there, on harps divine,
They hymn th' eternal One and Trine;
We, here below, the Strain prolong,
And faintly echo Sion's song.
[Hymn at Lauds for the dedication of a church.]

To assure the most High of His due glory and that fallen man might find a way of glorifying Him perfectly, the Son of God took flesh and dwelt among us. From the moment of His Incarnation in the bosom of the Virgin Mary, the sacred humanity of Jesus was anointed with the unction of divinity in virtue of its union with the Person of the Word. "This day have I begotten thee" does the Father declare to Him, and according to St. Paul [Heb. v, 5-6] and the prophet David [Psalm cix,4] He goes on to say, as a logical consequence: "Thou art a priest for ever."

Every Christian who is made a partaker in the Divine sonship of Jesus by the grace of baptism, shares also in the priesthood of Christ by the character conferred in this sacrament. The baptismal character is completed by that given in the sacrament of Confirmation. Those whom God calls to the priesthood receive a third character, given in the sacrament of Holy Orders.

These three characters, indelibly impressed on souls, begin and perfect their likeness to Jesus our Priest. The sacramental character is at once a reflection of and an emanation from the supreme priesthood of Christ. In Baptism and Confirmation it is a fitness for sharing in the Holy Sacrifice, for receiving the Sacraments, and for exercising other holy functions in the Church. In the Sacrament of Order it is an active principle giving power to confer the Sacraments. By these characters we are initiated more and more fully in the divine worship which has Jesus as its supreme Pontiff; that is why St. Peter could say of all Christians that they were a priestly race. ["Character sacramentalis specialiter est character Christi, cujus sacerdotio configurantur fideles secundum sacramentales characteres, qui nihil aliud sunt, quam quaedam participationes sacerdotii Christi ab ipso Christo derivatae." St. Thom., iii Pars, Q. lxiii, art. 3.] United to Jesus by grace, it shares His priesthood by means of the sacramental character: "You are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a people whom God has purchased for himself, that you may declare his virtues." [1 Pet. ii, 9.] As St. Isidore of Seville says so beautifully: "Since our Lord, the true King and eternal Priest, was anointed by God the Father with a mystical and heavenly unction, no longer is it given to priests and kings only, but the whole Church is consecrated with the holy Chrism, as a member of Him who is Priest and King for ever. And therefore do we receive the unction after Baptism, because we are a royal and priestly race and, as it were, other Christs, ut Christi nomine censeamur." [De eccles. off., Lib. ii, c. 26; P.L. lxxxiii, 823.]

Caught up, each in his own degree, into the priesthood of Christ, through Him each pays in corresponding measure the infinite adoration due to the most High. It is by the liturgy, her official worship, that the Church, whose members we are, continues the priesthood of Christ.

The Christian liturgy is "the public worship performed in the name of the Church by persons lawfully deputed to this end. It consists of acts instituted by the Church and offered only to God, the saints and the blessed." (Canon 1256.)

This worship was prefigured in the liturgical worship of the people of God, from which it borrowed several elements, as Psalms, Lessons, rites, etc. "The worship that Adam gave to God," writes Duvoisin, "that of Noah, of Moses, that in which we ourselves take part, all are merely different Stages and successive developments of one and the same religion—that religion which was announced under the patriarchs, typified by the Mosaic law, and brought to perfection by Jesus Christ." [Autorité des livres de Moïse, P. 3, ch. 2.]
Speaking of the Jewish and Christian religions, Perron says they are " one and the same tree, the roots of which are buried in God, the source of truth and life ; the patriarchal religion, developing later into the ceremonial worship instituted by Moses may be looked upon as the Stem, which branched out into the full vigour, fruitfulness and splendour of Christianity." [Introd. philosoph. à l'hist. de la religion, 1. 3, ch. 4.]
The Cross of the Saviour cast its shadow over all the sacrifices of the Old Law, " upon the gifts of the just Abel, upon the sacrifice of the patriarch Abraham, and that which Melchisedech the high priest offered." [ Canon of the Mass.] And it was Jesus who inaugurated Christian worship on Calvary : " Per suam passionem" says St. Thomas, "Christus initiavit ritum christianae religionis." [ St. Thom. iii Pars., Q. lxii, art. 5.]

He who thus began the Christian liturgy continues to be its supreme Pontiff. The centre of this worship is the Mass and there Jesus is the principal offerer, presenting to God, under the species of bread and wine, the bloody sacrifice consummated on Calvary. This He does to glorify His Father and to apply to souls the fruits of His Passion. The very words of our Lord are read in the Gospel; the Lord's prayer is sung. And when the sacraments are conferred it is again from Jesus that they derive their power; " Petrus baptizat, Christus baptizat" says St. Augustine. Always is it the worship of Christ, but now in the whole world at once and through all the ages, thanks to the ministry of the Church, invested for that end with the priesthood of the Man-God. [ "Totus autem ritus christians religionis derivatur a sacerdotio Christi." St. Thom, iii Pars., Q. lxiii, art. 3.]

This worship will attain its consummation in heaven where, even now, our Lord is " always living to make intercession for us," as says the Apostle, and His glorious wounds are ever pleading for us in the sight of God. It is true that He can no longer add to the sum of His merits, but He ceases not to present them to God on our behalf and we must never lose sight of this in liturgical worship, which is always offered in the name of Christ, the eternal Priest. " For that he continueth for ever, he hath an everlasting priesthood : whereby he is able also to save for ever them that come to God by him." [ Heb. vii, 24.]


The Church in heaven and on earth, in union with Jesus, offers to God by means of her liturgical worship a perfect homage of adoration. " Adoration," says Bossuet, " is the recognition of God's supreme sovereignty over us and of our absolute dependence on Him." And the worship of latria, which we render to the most High in the liturgy, recognises this twofold supremacy of God, as Father and Creator, and our twofold dependence on Him as His children and His creatures.

Our worship springs from this very source, namely, our knowledge of God's greatness. Bossuet tells us that " if we would adore rightly we must first know profoundly. Prayer is an act of the reason, for, says St. Thomas, it is the property of adoration to put the creature in its right order, that is to say, to subject it to God. Now it belongs to the reason to put things in order; the reason, therefore, is the principle of adoration, which, in consequence, should be guided by knowledge." [ Etats d'oraison.]

Glory is defined as " clara notitia cum laude," praise resulting from knowledge. " God is a spirit: and they that adore him must adore him in spirit and in truth," said our Lord to the Samaritan woman. [ John iv, 24] It follows that divine worship is an expression of our Faith, since it is the virtue of faith which enlightens our intellect and makes us understand better the greatness of God and our own littleness.

Here we see the reason why the Church gives such an important place to the Creeds or formulas of faith, for all true prayer is founded on dogma. Sixtus V declared that " the sacred rites and ceremonies which the Church, taught by apostolic tradition, employs in the administration of sacraments, in the divine Offices, and in all which appertains to the worship of God or of the saints, are a powerful means of instruction for the Christian people in the true faith; by them souls may easily be led to meditate on sublime truths and thus will find their devotion enkindled." [ Bull Immensa (1588).] " The ceremonies used by the Church in her worship," writes Cardinal Bona, " increase faith and instruct the ignorant." And just because it is steeped in dogma does the Church's prayer inculcate so strongly the spirit of adoration.

Our worship of God is also the expression of our Hope. Knowing our weakness, we call upon the Almighty for help. " O God, come to my aid : O Lord, make haste to help me," says the priest at the beginning of each Hour of the divine Office. In the Psalms and liturgical prayers are heard the accents of the creature confiding in the goodness of his sovereign Master and the cry of the child as it throws itself into its Father's arms.
Prayer, says St. Thomas, is " that rational act by which we ask something from one who is above us." And if God, as St. Augustine declares, " gives only to him who asks," it is precisely that we may be forced to confess that He alone can do all things. Thus prayer plays an essential part in the actual economy of Providence. " We ought always to pray and not to faint," said our Lord. [ Luke xviii, 1.] The Holy Scriptures and all the Fathers insist likewise on the absolute necessity for man of prayer to the most High. They do not hesitate to say that the rebel angels, and our first parents too, fell because they did not pray. St. Gregory says that " they who ask merit thereby to receive what God has from the beginning decreed to give them." " Predestination," writes St. Thomas in his turn, " makes the salvation of man depend on his own prayers or those of others ... let the elect, then, give themselves to prayer." " That we should pray in all things and before all things " is St. Benedict's first recommendation in the Prologue of his Holy Rule. " In the first place, whatever good work thou dost begin, beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect." Before St. Benedict, St. Anthony, the celebrated monk of the Thebaid, had laid down as the first rule of life, " Above all pray without ceasing." And St. Alphonsus sums up the teaching of the Gospel and of tradition in this terse saying : " He who prays will be saved, he who prays not will be damned." " I believe," said Donoso Cortes, Spanish ambassador in Paris, " that those who pray do more for the world than those who fight, and if the world goes from bad to worse, it is because there are more battles than prayers. If we could penetrate into the secrets of God and of history, I am convinced that we should be struck with amazement on beholding the tremendous effect of prayer, even in quite ordinary matters." Is it not God who brings events to pass, usually, indeed, by means of secondary causes, but sometimes, if our confidence in Him is great enough, He goes so far as to modify the ordinary course of things, as we see in the lives of the saints. " My Heart cannot resist the prayer of one who trusts in Me," said our Lord to St. Gertrude. Now the Liturgy is truly a prayer of confidence in God ; hope permeates it all through.

Lastly and above all, our worship should be the expression of our Love. How could we not love a Being so infinitely lovable or fail to fulfil gladly the service He demands of us ? "Prayer," writes Mgr. Gay, " is the fairest flower of the love of God." " To love God," says St. Augustine, " is to praise Him and praise is sincere only when it flows from love." By uniting the soul very closely to God prayer develops this love. As St. John Damascene says, " Prayer is the raising of the mind to God." The formulas of prayer which the liturgy provides, if recited with attention and devotion, powerfully contribute to strengthen this love and to secure this union.

" The Psalms," says Pius X, " have a wonderful power of instilling into souls the love of every virtue. St. Augustine writes in his Confessions: ' As sweet sounds of hymns and canticles flowed into my ears and Thy truth trickled into my heart, the tide of devotion swelled high within me.' (Bk. IX, ch. 6). For who can remain unmoved when he hears those sublime Psalms which celebrate the majesty of God, His omnipotence, justice, goodness, His ineffable mercy ? There too, are songs of thanksgiving for blessings received, humble and trustful prayers for new favours as well as heartfelt prayers for pardon. Who can refrain from admiration as he listens to the psalmist recording the great gifts received from the divine bounty, either by the people of Israel or by the whole human race; or again, when he sets before us the truths of heavenly wisdom ? And lastly, whose heart does not burn with love for Him who is so faithfully prefigured by the prophet David, for Christ, whose voice St. Augustine heard in every Psalm, sometimes praising God, sometimes laying bare the inmost feelings of his soul, telling of joys hoped for or sorrows endured ? " [ Bull Divino Afflatu (1911)].
In liturgical prayer every Christian virtue finds expression and all are merged in one hymn of adoration which rises up to God.


God must be adored, the Psalmist tells us, secundum multitudinem magnitudinis ejus, according to the multitude of His greatness. Who could ever attain to this ? Therefore did the Apostles ask our Lord to teach them to pray : " Lord, teach us to pray." And the Master taught them His own beautiful prayer, the Pater. The Church continues the work of Christ and so she, too, teaches us how we must pray. What St. Athanasius said of the Psalter may be applied to the liturgy: " if a man wishes to praise and give thanks and bless the Lord, he finds instruction in the Psalms." [Epist. ad Marcell. in interpret. Psalm.]
The Church does sometimes approve of and use prayers composed by one or other of her children, but above all, she teaches us by her own official prayer. She draws up rules for every detail of public worship, as, for instance, the books to be used, the formulas of prayer, objects of worship, chant, language, time and place. Her ceremonial is used in the court of the King of kings and to it the whole sacred hierarchy conforms when it comes into the presence of His Majesty.

This public prayer, necessarily one, holy, catholic, apostolic and Roman like the Church herself, centres in the Eucharistic Sacrifice which Jesus desired His apostles to celebrate in memory of Him. Around this centre gravitate the Canonical Hours ; during the course of the year the Feasts of the Liturgical Cycle follow in succession, each imparting its own special character to the Mass and divine Office; lastly, the Sacraments bring us spiritual help adapted to our needs in every phase of life.

By these official acts of worship, performed in the basilicas, cathedrals and churches of the entire world by members of the Catholic priesthood, that is to say, by the Pope, bishops and priests, together with the faithful, every generation of Christians, through all time and in every place, is united to the priesthood of Christ. Acting as one body through the hierarchy and therefore through the Church and through Christ, all offer to God the supreme duty of adoration, and conversely, by the same channel, all receive, normally, the benefits of redemption. " The role of the liturgy," writes Vigourel, " is to establish official relations between heaven and earth." [ La liturgie et la vie chrétienne, p. 324.] In the celebrated Motu proprio of Pius X (Nov. 11, 1903) occurs this sentence, that we shall often have occasion to repeat: " Public worship is the primary and indispensable source of the true Christian spirit, and the faithful will be filled with this spirit only in proportion as they actively participate in the sacred mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church." Let us weigh each word: " primary and indispensable source of the true Christian spirit," marking the limitation expressed in the sentence, " will be filled with this spirit only," followed by the explicit declaration, "in proportion as they actively participate," and this concluding phrase, " in the sacred mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church." At first sight it seems strange that vocal prayer, made in public in a huge church with great pomp and ceremony and in the midst of a dense crowd, should hold such an important place in Christian life. Indeed, mental prayer, being less dependent on the senses and made in the quiet of one's chamber, according to our Lord's recommendation, would seem by its very nature more fitted to bring forth fruits of holiness. Yet the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Holy Communion, the Sacraments and the divine Office are the highest acts of the virtue of religion. The Church is a society composed of men and, since man consists of body and soul and is moreover a social being, therefore her worship must be exterior as well as interior and must be shared by all in common. But every society has need of a leader, and so this worship is carried out under the guidance of its appointed head. For all these reasons the public worship of the Church, that is to say, the liturgy (from the Greek word leiton ergon, public work), is to be preferred to private worship and is truly the primary and indispensable source of the Christian spirit. [ " If worship is paid in the name of the Church by one legitimately deputed to that end and by means of acts instituted by the Church and directed only to God, the saints and the blessed, it is called public ; otherwise it is private." (Canon 1256.)]

In thus preferring the altar to the prie-dieu and the breviary to the book of meditations, we do not intend to deny the necessity of private prayer. In claiming the first place for the Mass and the breviary we do not imply that the practice of meditation is to be despised. Pope Pius X, who leaves nothing unsaid in praise of the liturgy, adds also this remark : " However venerable and august may be the various functions of the priesthood, it sometimes happens that through constant repetition they who perform them lose in some degree that feeling of reverence with which such functions should inspire them. ... Nothing is so helpful as the practice of daily meditation to establish and maintain in the priest those dispositions of soul which befit his ministry." [ Exhortation of his Holiness Pius X on the occasion of his sacerdotal jubilee.] We too should ponder on the import of these words, for if we do not bring to it the spirit of prayer, the liturgy is bereft of its soul. " When ye pray," said our Lord, " ye shall not be as the hypocrites that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. But thou, when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber and, haying shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee." [ Matt, vi, 5-6.]

This means to say that we shall profit by acts of public worship only if we perform them in a spirit of adoration and of interior prayer. For it is the heart that God regards above all, and thence, as we have seen, must spring all true prayer; otherwise we, like the Jews, incur our Lord's reproach : " Hypocrites, well hath Isaias prophesied of you, saying: This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." [ Matt, xv, 8.] Did not our Lord also say : " Leave thy offering before the altar and go first to be reconciled to thy brother, and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift." [ Matt, v, 24.] It is clear, then, that however beautiful the Church's prayer may be, unless it proceeds from the heart it becomes mere lip-service and ceases to be a source of life to the soul.

On the contrary, if, as St. Augustine says, " we meditate in our hearts what we say with our lips," or, as St. Benedict expresses it, " our minds are in union with our voices," [ Holy Rule, ch. xix.] then the voice of the Church, the Bride of Jesus, will be heard in heaven and we shall obtain more graces than we could by any other means. If we are eager to give to God the greatest possible glory and to obtain for ourselves a high degree of sanctity, let us love the public worship, and let us give it the first place in our lives, for the Christian should prefer to his own private prayer this prayer which unites him with his fellow-Christians and is truly Catholic. "Do not tell me," says St. John Chrysostom, " that you can pray as well in your own homes. You can pray there, it is true, but not with so much profit to your souls as when you pray to God together with all the faithful and in union with the clergy, whose duty it is to offer to God the prayers of the people."[Hom. II, de Prophet, obscurit.] And, we may add, you can never pray so efficaciously as in the temple consecrated for this purpose by the bishop, who asked of God that " those who call upon His holy name therein may be heard."

Truly the liturgy pays to God a homage of infinite adoration, as does the Church triumphant in heaven. " The divine psalmody of the Church, the Bride of Jesus, with which she consoles herself in this exile for the absence of her heavenly Bridegroom, ought to be without flaw or imperfection, for it is closely akin to that praise which is sung unendingly before the throne of God and of the Lamb." [ Bull of Urban VIII, Divinam palmodiam.]

Thursday 1 December 2011

Office for the Dead - from Battifol

by Pierre Battifol

Extract from chapter IV, pages 196-201 (English version, 1898)

Fourthly, and last, we come to the Office of the Dead.

The Penitentials of Theodore of Canterbury (d. 690), and Egbert of York (d. 766), which are both based on Roman use in the seventh century, bear witness that at that period there was no vigil of the dead at Rome. 'According to the Church of Rome,' so we read in them, 'the custom is to carry the dead to the church, to anoint his breast with chrism, and to say Mass for him; then to carry him to the grave with chanting (cum cantatione portare ad sepulturam), and when he has been laid in the tomb to say a prayer over him. Mass is said for him on the day of burial itself, on the third, ninth, and thirtieth day after, and on the anniversary if it is desired.' [Theod. Paenit. 5; Egbert, Paenit. i. 36.] That is all, and there is no question of a vigil of any kind. This is in the seventh century.

To find the Office of the Dead established we must come down to the eighth century and to the time of Amalarius. Then only alongside of the ordo sepulturae do we find a real canonical Office for the Dead, officium pro mortuis. [Amal. De Ord. Antiph. 65, 79.] The Antiphonary of S. Peter's and the Ordines Romani [Mabillon, Mus. Ital. tom. ii. pp. 155 sqq. (Ordo X).] give us both its text and its rubrics. The body of the departed has been brought in the evening to the basilica, say of S. Peter. They have traversed, amid the tolling of bells, the fore-court of the church, and they have stopped at the threshold of that one of its five doors which is called 'Gate of Judgment' (porta iudicii), because it is the door of the dead; there they have chanted the psalm Miserere, with two antiphons:

Qui cognoscis omnium occulta, a delicto meo munda me. Tempus mihi concede ut repaenitens clamem, 'Peccavi Tibi.'

Indue eum, Domine, in montem haereditatis Tuae, et in sanctuarium quod praeparaverunt manus Tuae, Domine.

[Tommasi, tom. iv. p. 103. 'Thou who knowest the secrets of all hearts, cleanse Thou me from my sin. Grant me time to cry in penitence "Against Thee have I sinned."' - 'Bring him in, O Lord, to the mountain of Thine inheritance, even to the sanctuary which Thine hands have prepared, O Lord.'

The door has been opened, the body has been brought into the 'sanctuary,' and the office begins. It is a vigil, in the fall and true sense of the term, and, like every such vigil, includes Vespers, three Nocturns, and Lauds. Here we have the genuine office of the Boman clergy, clear of all monastic influence. The Vespers have their five psalms with antiphons, the versicle and response, the Magnificat with its antiphon, the Kyrie eleison, and the Lord's Prayer. No hymn, no short lesson: it is entirely the Roman Office in its purest state. The three nocturns begin without the invitatory psalm: there is no place for Venite exultemus in a funeral vigil. Each nocturn includes three psalms with antiphons, and three lessons from the book of Job, each lesson being followed by a respond, also taken from the same book. The ninth respond is Ne recorderis peccata mea: our admirable Libera me, Domine, does not belong to the Roman Office of the time of Charlemagne. The Nocturns are followed by Lauds: five psalms with antiphons, the versicle and response, the Benedictus with its antiphon, the Kyrie eleison, and the Lord's Prayer. The vigil of the dead is ended: in the morning Mass will be sung before the body, and followed by the diaconia, or absolutio as it was afterwards called. Then comes the burial.

This pathetic office for the vigil of the dead, having been created at Rome at the beginning of the eighth century at latest, was received at the same time as the rest of the canonical Roman Office by the Frankish Churches, before the end of the same century. No essential modification was introduced; beyond the Alps it remained what the Roman liturgy had made it, and, what is most noticeable, in all ages without hymns. But instead of being, as it was at Rome, only an accompaniment of solemn obsequies, the prelude to the 'sacrificium pro dormitione,' or Mass at the burial, it was considered as the necessary complement of every solemn Mass for the dead, whether on the day of burial, the anniversary, or at other times. From this the vigil of the dead got in time to be celebrated daily, both in monasteries, and by the chapters of the secular clergy, and even in parish churches. ' Agenda mortuorum per totum annum, celebratur,' writes John of Avranches. [Jo. Abrin. De Off. Eccl. p. 71.] At Cluny the Vespers of the dead were said after Vespers of the day, and Lauds of the dead after Lauds. As for the Nocturns of the dead, they were recited every night after supper, in choir:
Post coenam cum psalmo L. [Miserere] in ecelesiam reditur . . .; agitur officium vel quod a nostratibus vigilia vulgo appellator . . .; ipsum quoque officium nunquam agitur modo, nisi cum novem lectionibus et responsoriis, et collectis quae ipsum officium sequuntur.'

[Udalric, Consuetud. i. 3.]

It is, as we see, the entire nocturnal office, with its nine psalms, nine lessons, and nine responds. The writings of S. Peter Damian furnish us with proof that this daily Office of the Dead was, in the eleventh century, practised in Italy just as it was in France, and that certain clergy, who found it too heavy a burden to recite both the canonical Office of the day and the Office of the Dead, even confined themselves to the latter, as being shorter and simpler. He relates the story of 'a certain brother' who was accustomed to say neither the Office of the Season nor of saints' days, but only the Office of the Dead. Well, he died, and as soon as he appeared before the tribunal of God, the devils made accusation against him with vehemence, that, neglecting the rule of the ecclesiastical state, he had refused to render to God His due, in the matter of the Divine Service. But the Virgin Mary and along with the Blessed Queen of the world, all the choirs of saints intervened, to save the soul of this friend of the dead. [Petr. Damian. Opusc. xxxiv. pt. 2. No. 5.] So at least the story was told to S. Peter Damian by a tender-hearted visionary, his friend the Bishop of Cumae, not that either of them had any intention of encouraging the daily recitation of the Office of the Dead to the prejudice of the canonical hours,
'eclesiasticae institutionis regulam.'

[Similarly, in the thirteenth century, as Salimbenus tells us; ' Item iste Patriarcha [Antiochenus] parvae litteraturae fuit, sed recompensabat hunc defectum in aliis bonis quae faciebat: nam largus eleemosynarius fuit et cotidie cum IX lectionibus officium defunctorum dicebat' (Salimb. ad annum 1247). - ' This patriarch of Antioch was illiterate, but he made up for this defect by the good he did in other ways: for he was a liberal almsgiver, and every day said the Office of the Dead, with all nine lessons.']

Here is another legend of the same period. A pilgrim of Aquitaine, returning from Jerusalem, lost his way one day, and found himself close to a barren and desolate little islet, inhabited by a hermit. This holy man extended hospitality to the wandering pilgrim, and asked him, since he belonged to Aquitaine, if he knew a monastery called Cluny, and its abbot, Odilo. The pilgrim replied that he did. 'Listen, then,' said the hermit; 'in this place we are quite close to the regions where the souls of sinners undergo the temporal penalty of sins committed on earth; and from where we are we can hear them lamenting that the faithful, and, in particular the monks of Cluny, are so niggardly as to offering up prayers for the mitigation of their sufferings and their release from them. In God's name, good pilgrim, if you ever get back to your country, seek out the abbot of Cluny, and beseech him, from me, to redouble - both he and his congregation - their prayers, vigils, and almsgivings, for the deliverance of these souls in pain, and so increase the joy of heaven and the grief of the devil.' On hearing this from the pilgrim, S. Odilo (d. 1049) ordained that, in all the monasteries of his congregation, the morrow of the feast of All Saints should be devoted to the commemoration of all the faithful departed [Jotsald, Vita Odil. ii. 13 ; Udalric, Consuetud. i. 42.] - one more liturgical creation of the abbey of Cluny, propagated thence throughout the West, and finally received at Rome: one more proof, the last we shall give, of the preponderating influence of Cluny on the formation of the 'Modernum Officium.'

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Office for the Dead, Dominican Rite

A brief comparison of the Traditional Office for the Dead in the Dominican Rite with the Roman Rite.

I recently undertook to say the Office for the Dead in the Dominican rite for a deceased acquaintance who was a Tertiary of the Order, so have been reflecting on the minor variations between these forms of the Office. The differences are minor but, to the careful liturgical observer, interesting.

The main difference is in the order of the responsories at Matins, with a characteristic version of the final responsory Libera me (other religious orders seem to have had variations on that one as well). Otherwise, there is a different Magnificat Antiphon at Vespers, and a few minor variations to the text, as outlined below.

The Roman Office for the Dead may be consulted on the website which also contains a brief introduction to this Office.

There is also a general introduction in the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

According to Fr William Bonniwell, in his History of the Dominican Liturgy,

"The final choral obligation of the friars was the office of the dead. The addition of it to the Divine Office is also attributed to Innocent III. This office is believed to have originated at Rome in the eighth century. The body of the deceased was brought to the church in the evening; after its arrival the office would begin. It was really a vigil, and as such had vespers, three nocturns and lauds. That is why Humbert refers to this office as the "vigil." Humbert speaks of two different kinds of office for the dead, the vigil of nine lessons and the vigil of three lessons. The former is what is known commonly today as the office of the dead; it was said every week, though there were exceptions to the rule. The latter office, which has disappeared from the Dominican rite, needs some explanation. It was said as follows: on Sunday and Wednesday, the psalms of the first nocturn, together with its antiphons, versicle, lessons and responds; on Monday and Thursday, the psalms, etc., of the second noctum; on Tuesday and Friday, those of the third nocturn. The prayers used in the office were the same as those used to-day for "familiares and benefactors of the Order." The entire community did not say the office; only the hebdomadarian of the week, with the deacon, subdeacon and friar who were assigned for that week to the Mass of the Dead. But the ordinary adds: "Any others who wish to do so, may be present." This office was recited nearly every day."
(Second edition, 1945, pp146-7)

The variations in the Dominican from the Roman rite are as follows:

There is no Pater or Ave (or Credo) said before the hours.

There is no versicle and response V. Audivi vocem etc. at Vespers and Lauds after the psalmondy.

However, this is converted into an antiphon in its own right which is used at the Magnificat at Vespers instead of the Roman Omne quod dat mihi. Here is the text from the Dominican Antiphonal of 1933:

The Pater noster is said silently after the Magnificat and Benedictus, i.e. the last two lines are not said as versicle and response, unlike in the Roman rite.

After Psalm 145 or 129 the following is used:

V. A porta ínferi.
R. Erue, Dómine, ánimas eórum.
V. Dóminus vobíscum.
R. Et cum spíritu tuo.
V. Dómine, exáudi oratiónem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te véniat.)
Then the Collect.

After the Collect is said only:
V. Requiéscant in pace.
R. Amen.

There is never an invitatory and psalm Venite exsultemus before Matins; whereas in the Roman rite this is used whenever Matins of 3 nocturns is recited.

The Pater noster in each nocturn, before the readings, has its final two verses said as versicle and response.

The responsories of the first nocturn are the same as in the Roman rite. The responsory after the third reading does not contain V. Requiem aeternam etc. at the end, unlike in the Roman rite.

The responsory after the first reading of the second nocturn is Heu mihi etc. which is used in the Roman rite after the second reading; the responsory after the second reading is Ne recorderis etc. which is used in the Roman rite after the third reading; the responsory after the third reading is as follows, which is a variant of that used in the Roman rite after the second lesson of the third nocturn:

R. Dómine, secúndum actum meum noli me judicáre: nihil dignum in conspéctu tuo egi; * ídeo déprecor majestátem tuam, ut tu, Deus, déleas iniquitátem meam.
V. Amplius lava me, Dómine, ab injustítia mea, et a delícto meo munda me: quia tibi soli peccavi. * ideo deprecor majestatem tuam, ut tu, Deus deleas iniquitatem meam.

The responsory after the second reading of the third nocturn is Memento mei etc. which is a variant of that used in the Roman rite after the first reading of the second nocturn:

R. Meménto mei, Deus: quia ventus est vita mea, * Nec aspíciat me visus hóminis.
V. Et non revertetur oculus meus, ut videat bona. * Nec aspíciat me visus hóminis.

After the final reading of the third nocturn, the following responsory is used, which is a variant on that used in the Roman and other rites. This responsory is an ancient composition, and seems to have many variants.

R. Líbera me, Dómine, de morte aetérna in die illa treménda: * Quando caeli movéndi sunt et terra: * Dum véneris judicáre saeculum per ignem.
V. Dies illa, dies irae, calamitátis et misériae, dies magna et amára valde. * Quando caeli movéndi sunt et terra.
V. Tremens factus sum ego, et tímeo, dum discússio vénerit, atque ventúra ira. * Dum véneris judicáre saeculum per ignem.
V. Creator omnium rerum, Deus, qui me de limo terrae formasti, et mirabiliter proprio sanguine redemisti, corpusque meum, licet modo putrescat, de sepulcro facies in die judicii resuscitari: exaudi, exaudi me, ut animam meam in sinu Abrahae Patriarchae tui jubeas collocari.
R. Líbera me, Dómine, de morte aetérna in die illa treménda: * Quando caeli movéndi sunt et terra: * Dum véneris judicáre saeculum per ignem.

The versicle Creator omnium rerum isn't in the Roman. Here's a translation:

Creator of all things, O God, who formed me out of the dust of the earth, and wonderfully redeemed me with Thine own blood, and although I now decay, will make my body rise again from the sepulchre on the day of judgement: graciously hear me, so that you may command my soul to be placed into the bosom of the Patriarch Abraham.

(This chant is from the Dominican Antiphonale of 1862).

It is intended to follow up this article with similar ones on the Office of the Dead in the liturgies of other religious orders.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Octaves of Feasts

Octaves of Feasts

An octave is 8 days of commemoration of a major feast, including the day itself. The 8th day is called the octave day, and always falls on the same day of the week as the feast itself. So the octave day of Christmas is New Year's Day.

The first octave that was kept was the dedication of the Churches of Tyre and Jerusalem, under Constantine - these solemnities, in imitation of the dedication of the Jewish Temple, lasted eight days. In the fourth century, Easter and Pentecost were given octaves, and from this time onwards the celebration of octaves is becomes more frequent. In the sacramentaries of Gelasius and St. Gregory, on the octave day the office of the feast is repeated, but there was no provision for the intermediate days.

Amalarius tells us that it was customary in his time to celebrate the octaves of the feasts of SS. Peter and Paul and other saints. By the thirteenth century, perhaps under the influence of the Franciscans, octaves were extended to many other feasts.

In the Tridentine calendar of 1568, octaves were celebrated by the same office being repeated on each day of the octave. Some octaves overlapped, especially in the period after Christmas, so there were multiple commemorations of octaves.

In the calendar, as reformed by Pope St Pius X in 1911, there are:

Privileged Octaves

1. Octaves of the first rank: Easter and Pentecost - no other feast may be celebrated during this time;

2. Octaves of the second rank: Epiphany and Corpus Christi - the octave days are greater doubles, and the days within the octave are semidoubles, being displaced only by doubles of the first class;

3. Octaves of the third rank: Christmas, Ascension, Sacred Heart - displaced by any feast day above rank of simple;

Common octaves

Immaculate Conception, Assumption, Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, Solemnity of St. Joseph, SS Peter and Paul, All Saints, and the principal patron saint of a church, cathedral, order, town, diocese, province, or nation - displaced by any feast day above rank of simple.

Simple octaves
Saint Stephen, Saint John the Evangelist, Holy Innocents, Saint Lawrence, Nativity of Mary, and secondary patrons - kept as doubles of the second class, octave day was a simple, no days within the octave commemorated.

In later reforms, octaves have come under the knife, as have vigils, the alleged principle being for greater simplicity. In the reform of 1955, only the octaves of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost were kept, and during these octaves there are no commemorations.

In the Novus Ordo, the octave of Pentecost was suppressed. This appears to have been a mistake, and took Paul VI by surprise when, on Whit Monday, he appeared at his private chapel to celebrate mass, and was met with green vestments, rather than the accustomed red for the Holy Spirit. "But, it's Whit Monday." "You've abolished it, Your Holiness."

One octave which is not celebrated liturgically, but is often observed, is the "Octave of prayer for Christian unity," which runs from 18th January to 25th January - from St Peter's Chair at Rome to the Conversion of St Paul. This was started in 1908, approved by Pope St Pius X, and Pope Benedict XV encouraged its observance throughout the church.

The Catholic encyclopaedia on Octaves:

Saturday 5 November 2011

'Work of Human Hands' on Youtube

"Work of Human Hands: A Theological Critique of the Mass of Paul VI" by Fr Anthony Cekada was published in 2010 by Philothea press - and has been praised highly in traditionalist periodicals, including 'Christian Order' and 'Usus Antiquior', although not necessarily supporting all of Fr Cekada's theological positions.

The book is a serious work of substantial scholarship, and is well worth reading by anyone seriously interested in what went wrong with the liturgical reforms of the 1960s and 1970s (which are, of course, still with us).

For those who want a briefer overview, there is now a Youtube channel, which is going to include a number of short videos, presented by Fr Cekada, about the content of his book. Each video will give an overview of a chapter from the book.

Fr Cekada argues that the difference between the two rites is not simply a matter of "beauty, preference and sentiment." Rather, "The doctrinal ideas behind the new rite are different to the doctrinal ideas behind the old rite." There is a different theology of the real presence and the purpose of the mass, which lies behind the difference in gestures, ritual, and language.

Two videos are already posted:

1. Old Mass of New: What's the Fuss?

2. The Liturgical Movement: The Change Agents

For more information about the book, including extracts, see the Philothea press: -

It's also worth visiting the website that provides supplementary information and commentary about the book, including reviews by other traditionalists:

Thursday 27 October 2011

The Divine Praises

Act of Reparation for Blasphemy and Profanity

Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be His Most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most Holy.
Blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her Glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints. Amen.

These were originally written in Italian by Fr Luigi Felici SJ in 1797, in a shorter version. The invocations have been gradually added since then.

For the Propagation of the Faith

Missa pro Fidei Propagatione

Deus misereátur nostri, et benedícat nobis: illúminet vultum suum super nos, et misereátur nostri: ut cognoscámus in terra viam tuam, in ómnibus géntibus salutáre tuum. * Confiteántur tibi pópuli, Deus: confiteántur tibi pópuli omnes.
May God have mercy upon us, and bless us: may He cause the light of His countenance to shine upon us, and may He have mercy upon us: that we may know Thy way upon earth, Thy salvation in all nations. * Let the people confess to Thee, O God : let all people give praise to Thee.
(Psalm 66:2-4 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus, qui omnes hómines vis salvos fíeri et ad agnitiónem veritátis veníre: mitte, quaesumus, operários in messem tuam, et da eis cum omni fidúcia loqui verbum tuum; ut sermo tuus currat et clarificétur, et omnes gentes cognóscant te solum Deum verum, et quem misísti Jesum Christum, Fílium tuum, Dóminum nostrum.
O God, who desirest that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of Thy truth: send, we beseech Thee, labourers into Thy harvest, and grant them grace to speak Thy word with all trust: that Thy words may run and be glorified : and that all nations may know Thee the one true God, and Him whom Thou hast sent.

Lesson from the Book of Wisdom.
Have mercy upon us, O God of all, and behold us, and show us the light of Thy mercies : and send Thy fear upon the nations, that, have not sought after Thee : that they may know that there is no God beside Thee, and that they may show forth Thy wonders. Lift up Thy hand over the strange nations, that they may see Thy power. For as Thou hast been sanctified in us in their sight, so Thou shalt be magnified among them in our presence. That they may know Thee, as we also have known Thee, that there is no God beside Thee, O Lord. Renew Thy signs, and work new miracles. Glorify Thy hand, and Thy right arm. Raise up indignation, and pour out wrath. Take away the adversary, and crush the enemy. Hasten the time, and remember the end, that they may declare Thy wonderful works. Give testimony to them that are Thy creatures from the beginning, and raise up the prophecies which the former prophets spoke in Thy name. Reward them that patiently wait for Thee, that Thy prophets may be found faithful : and hear the prayers of Thy servants according to the blessing of Aaron over Thy people, and direct us into the way of justice, and let all know that dwell upon the earth that Thou art God, the beholder of all ages.
(Ecclus. 36:1-10,17-19)

Confiteántur tibi pópuli, Deus, confiteántur tibi pópuli omnes: terra dedit fructum suum.
V. Benedícat nos Deus, Deus noster, benedícat nos Deus: et métuant eum omnes fines terrae.
Let people confess to Thee, O God: let all people give praise to Thee: the earth hath yielded her fruit.
V. May God, our God, bless us, may God bless us: and all the ends of the earth fear Him.
(Gradual. Psalm 66:6-8.)

Allelúja, allelúja. V. Jubiláte Deo, omnis terra: servíte Dómino in lætítia: introíte in
conspéctu ejus, in exsultatióne. Allelúja.
Alleluia, alleluia. Sing joyfully to God, all the earth, serve ye the Lord with gladness : come in before His presence with exceeding great joy. Alleluia.
(Psalm 99:1.)

Sequéntia sancti Evangélii secúndum Matthaeum.
In illo témpore: Circuíbat Jesus omnes civitátes et castélla, docens in synagógis eórum, et praedicans Evangélium regni, et curans omnem languórem et omnem infirmitátem. Videns quia erant vexáti, et jacéntes sicut oves non habéntes pastórem. Tunc dicit discípulis suis: Messis quidem multa, operárii autem pauci. Rogáte ergo Dóminum messis, ut mittat operários in messem suam.
Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. At that time : Jesus went about all the cities and towns, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease, and every infirmity. And seeing the multitudes, He had compassion on them : because they were distressed and lying like sheep that have no shepherd. Then He saith to His disciples : the harvest indeed is greats but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He send forth labourers into His harvest.
(St Matthew 9:35-38.)

Afférte Dómino, pátriae géntium, afférte Dómino glóriam et honórem, afférte Dómino glóriam nómini ejus: tóllite hóstias, et introíte in átria ejus: adoráte Dóminum in átrio sancto ejus.
Bring unto the Lord, O ye kindred of the Gentiles, bring unto the Lord glory and honour, bring unto the Lord glory unto His name: bring sacrifices and come into His courts, adore ye the Lord in His holy court.
(Psalm 95:7-9. Offertory)

Protéctor noster, áspice, Deus, et réspice in fáciem Christi tui, qui dedit redemptiónem
semetípsum pro ómnibus: et fac; ut ab ortu solis usque ad occásum magnificétur nomen tuum in géntibus, ac in omni loco sacrificétur et offerátur nómini tuo oblátio munda.
Behold, O God our protector, and look upon the face of Thy Christ, who gave Himself a ransom for all: and grant that from the rising of the sun even unto the setting thereof Thy name may be exalted among the Gentiles, and that in every place a clean offering be sacrificed and offered to Thy name.

Laudáte Dóminum, omnes gentes: laudáte eum, omnes pópuli: quóniam confirmáta est super nos misericordia ejus, et véritas Dómini manet in ætérnum.
Praise the Lord all ye nations: praise Him all ye people: for His mercy is confirmed upon us; and the truth of the Lord remaineth for ever.
(Communion Psalm 116:1-2.)

Redemptiónis nostrae múnere vegetáti: quaesumus, Dómine; ut, hoc perpétuae salútis auxílio, fides semper vera profíciat.
Refreshed by this gift of our redemption, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that by means of this help to our eternal salvation the true faith may ever advance.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Book Review: "In the Name of the Father."

"In the Name of the Father: Homilies for Sundays and Feast days in the Extraordinary Form Calendar," edited by Julien Chilcott-Monk. Canterbury Press Norwich. £19.99 list price.

In the Name of the Father: Homilies for Sundays and Feast days in the Extraordinary Form Calendar

This is an excellent book for those who attend the old rite of mass on Sundays and feast days. It contains short homilies on the Gospels of the Sundays and major feast days throughout the year. That this should have been published now is a very welcome development, and indicates a wish by those who attend the old mass to nourish their spiritual life on it, and to engage in Lectio Divina based on the readings in it. Books of this type were of course common in the past. For the Novus Ordo, they still are, although the style isn't necessarily the same as that presented here.

The idea from this book was from one of the Oratorian fathers of Oxford - Fr. Dominic Jacob - to whom the book is dedicated. Most of the contributors, other than the editor, are priests of the Oxford Oratory, or other priests with either an Oratorian or an Oxford connection. Most of them will be well known to regular attenders of the old rite in southern England. One or two Oratorians are omitted, which is a pity - their erudition would have added to the book.

The first sermon I read, for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, by Fr Anton Webb, was a masterly exposition of the Gospel of the day. The miracles of healing that Our Lord worked in Capernaum, related in the Gospel of St John and in the Synoptics, are compared. They are not the same miracle: in the one, the centurion, a gentile, shows great faith to the extent of not needing our Lord to come in person; in the other, by contrast, a ruler, a Jewish official from Herod's court, shows very limited faith, and needs to check on the time that the miracle took place to be reassured. Different qualities of faith, but even the limited faith of the ruler had its value. "We all have small beginnings and advance at different rates ... the greater example of the centurion urges us to press on and never to think that we have enough faith."

The sermon for the 21st Sunday after Pentecost, by Fr Nicholas Schofield, has a different flavour. It is certainly not lacking in learning, with a reference to St Augustine, and such examples from history as we would expect from the author. However, the sermon overall recalls us to the basic realities of the spiritual life - death, judgement, hell and heaven - in a thoroughly traditional, yet not pessimistic, manner. The liturgical year is passing away; so is this world. Let us always live mindful of its end, and our own. "These considerations should not make us morbid or lead us to despair. Rather, they challenge us to examine our lives, to make the most of God's grace and continual mercy, and strive for holiness."

The Sermon for All Saints Day, by Fr Dominic Jacob, is one that I have heard in church, so I greet it as an old friend. We envisage a great gulf between the saints in heaven, and ourselves in the here and now. We marvel at the words and works of the great saints - more admiration than emulation, often. But we are called to join them, that countless host that no man can number, who are commemorated on this day, so that eventually this will be our feast day too. Also, remember, that the saints weren't born as such - many of them started out with their full share of human failings. "We see in them what we are called to be, and are encouraged because they too experienced failure, trial and sin, yet by God's grace were strengthened to overcome the weakness of human nature."

There is a diversity of style in these sermons: some show biblical scholarship, some knowledge of the Fathers, some great insight into the spiritual life, some knowledge of the saints, and others simple piety and devotion. What they have in common is a straightforward focus upon the faith, and spiritual life, rather than merely academic points, or merely commonplace anecdotes. It is all practical - what must we do, and what must we know, to be saved - and a lot of learning is worn lightly. In the preface, Monsignor Antony Conlon - himself a skilled preacher - explains that genuine preaching isn't about artistry or stirring up the emotions, so much as the preacher putting his gifts at the service of the Church, in a spirit of docility and humility. He suggests that the Novus Ordo can encourage a style of preaching which is excessively autobiographical, with more emphasis on entertainment than on obedience, sacrifice and self-control. "Some forms of preaching thought to be pastorally effective remain only on the level of the ethical and humanitarian, and ignore the doctrinal and catechetical." These faults are absent from this volume, and it is better for it.

One further defect of many sermons, that isn't mentioned, is that they are often too long. I have heard too many a preacher, who would have given an excellent short sermon in ten minutes, lengthen it to twenty minutes or longer, and thereby ruin his good work. Few mass-goers have the patience to listen to long sermons with attention, and few preachers have the time or the talent to deliver engaging long sermons. The time for lectures is not during mass. Although the sermons in the book vary in length, they are all short, and in this also would be good models for others to follow.

Having praised the book highly, now to its main defect. It is regrettable that content which is of such high quality, and from a reputable publisher, should have been presented rather shoddily. It has, in fact, an air of being rushed, with the usual processes of copyediting and proof-reading being neglected. Those things that can be corrected by a spell-check are correct, but Latin words, punctuation, and some of the facts, are incorrect.

Some blemishes I noticed fairly quickly were:
1. The Transfiguration is referred to, both in the contents and in its proper place, as being on 4th August (rather than 6th);
2. Sometimes the S - standing for saint - has a full stop and sometimes not; at one point, John Henry Newman is referred to by the initials JHM;
3. In the preface, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum is referred to as Romanum Pontificum;
3. Multiple typos in the Latin texts, for example:
In Anniversario Dedicatione Ecclesiae - should be Dedicationis, since it's the church that is dedicated, not the anniversary;
In Exultatione S. Crucis - should be Exaltatione;
Under 2nd February, the Nunc Dimittis is quoted inaccurately - plebes is given instead of plebis, and a similar error is made on 6th Sunday after Pentecost;
On Pentecost, terrarium is given instead of terrarum;
Famillae is given instead of Familiae for the Holy Family.
(This list isn't exhaustive.)

Now anybody can make an odd typo. It seems a pity, though, that there are so many typos in the Latin. If Latin sentences are given, they should at least be checked, and the impression given here is that nobody has cared enough to do this. This detracts from the quality of the book.

Overall, definitely worth having. Royalties from sale of the book will go to the Oxford Oratory "Renewal and Reaffirmation" appeal. The renovation of the Oratory Church is partially complete, but much more money is needed to finish the task, and this is a cause well worth supporting. From the Oratory Lodge, it costs the list price of £19.99; it's cheaper on Amazon, but less goes to the Appeal!

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Mr Lazlo Kiss, Requiescat in Pace

Mr Lazslo Kiss, the webmaster of the excellent Divinumofficium website, died unexpectedly on 11th July.

Further details are available on the Rorate Coeli blog.

May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace.

His site is valuable for providing the texts for the daily office and for the mass, both in Latin and English (and Hungarian), and in several different versions. I've personally used it as an easy and accessible way of saying the Breviary in the two versions I use most commonly i.e. the immediately pre-1911 and immediately post-1911 forms. By providing 6 different versions of the office, from Monastic pre-Tridentine through to 1960 newcalendar, it was possible to see clearly the evolution of the office over that period.

It would appear from the Rorate Coeli blog that a new home has been found for the website.

May Mr Kiss rest in peace, and may his work on earth continue.


Thursday 28 July 2011

Commemorations at Vespers

Commemorations of the Blessed Virgin, of St Joseph, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and for Peace. 

I've commented before that I am keen on extra commemorations during Holy Mass or during the Divine Office. These could be of secondary saints, or an octave, for example. This evening - 28th July - was First Vespers of St Martha, with a commemoration of SS Nazarius and Celsus, and a separate commemoration of SS. Felix, Simplicius, Faustinus and Beatrice.

The format of a commemoration is easy. The Magnificat antiphon, versicle and response, and collect, of the office that would have been said had those saints been commemorated. See below for some examples.

However, there was a further delight today. Since the office of St Martha is a semi-double in rank, there are also a number of standard commemorations - or suffragia - which are recited at certain times of the year, typically for ferial offices or those of feasts of rank less than double. (See the rubrics for full details, if you need them).

According to the St Pius X version of the breviary, which was in force from 1911 up to 1955 - and is still commonly used today by many right-minded traditionalists - there is one commemoration: of All Saints.

According to the Tridentine breviary, which was in force up to 1911 - and which is the subject of renewed interest among traditionalists - there are four separate commemorations: of the Blessed Virgin, of St Joseph, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and for Peace.

Here are these four commemorations in translation. For the original Latin you might look at the excellent divinumofficium website, which allows comparisons of the different versions of the breviary from pre-Tridentine Monastic through to 1960. I have pinched the translations from the same source.

Ex-Anglicans, or those who have been illicitly visiting the rites of our separated brethren, will recognize the prayer for peace, which was retained by Cranmer in his bastardized office of Evensong.

Incidentally, if you follow the revised rubrics post 1955, your life is a lot easier but less enriched. You simply have vespers of the double feast of SS. Nazarius, Celsus, Victor, and Innocent. No commemorations of other saints, no commemoration of Our Lady, St Joseph, SS Peter and Paul. And no prayers for Peace required.

Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ant. O Holy Mary, be thou an help to the helpless, a strength to the fearful, a comfort to the sorrowful; pray for the people, plead for the clergy, make intercession for all women vowed to God may all that keep thine holy remembrance, feel the might of thine assistance.

V. Pray for us, holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord God, unto all thy servants, that they may continually enjoy soundness both of mind and of body, and by the glorious intercession of the Blessed Mary, always a Virgin, may be delivered from present sadness, and enter into the joy of thine eternal gladness.

Commemoration of St. Joseph

Ant. Behold a faithful and wise servant whom his Lord hath made ruler over His household.

V. Glory and riches shall be in his house.
R. And his righteousness endureth for ever.

Let us pray.
O God, who, in thine unspeakable foreknowledge, didst choose thy blessed servant Joseph to be the husband of thine own most holy Mother; mercifully grant that now that he is in heaven with thee, we who on earth do reverence him for our defender, may worthily be holpen by the succour of his prayers to thee on our behalf.

Commemoration of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

Ant. Peter the Apostle, and Paul the Teacher of the Gentiles, have taught us thy law, O Lord.

V. Thou shalt make them princes over all the earth.
R. They shall be mindful of thy Name, O Lord.

Let us pray.
O God, whose right hand caught the Blessed Peter when he walked upon the water, and began to sink, and thrice delivered his fellow-Apostle Paul from the deep of the sea, when he suffered shipwreck graciously hear us, and grant, for the sake of them both, that we also may attain everlasting glory.

For Peace.

Ant. Give peace in our time, O Lord, for there is none other that fighteth for us, but only Thou O Lord.

V. Peace be within thy walls.
R. And prosperity within thy palaces.

Let us Pray.
O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; so that, with our hearts set to obey thy commandments, and freed from the fear of the enemy, we may pass our lives in peace under thy protection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ etc.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Prayer for Priests


O Jesus, Eternal Priest, keep Thy priests within the shelter of Thy Sacred Heart, where none may touch them.
Keep unstained their anointed hands, which daily touch Thy Sacred Body.
Keep unsullied their lips, daily purpled with Thy Precious Blood.
Keep pure and unearthly their hearts, sealed with the sublime mark of Thy priesthood.
Let Thy holy love surround them, and shield them from the world’s contagion.
Bless their labours with abundant fruit,
and may the souls to whom they minister be their joy and consolation here on earth,
and in heaven, their everlasting crown.
Mary, Mother of Priests, pray for priests and vocations to the priesthood.

St. Therese of Lisieux

The devil hates priests. He works day and night to draw them into sin and error. He slanders the name of good priests. He tries to prevent the ordination of good men to the priesthood. He tries to drive them to despair or presumption. He delights when they can be ensnared in his devices, when he can parade them as a scandal before the world. His real enemy is the Eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ Our Lord. May Our Lord defend His priests; may Mary, the mother of priests, keep them from harm. May the glories of the priesthood be exalted before the world, and be a terror to the enemies of the Church. Amen.

Monday 6 June 2011

Lots of Commemorations

I always appreciate commemorations at Lauds and Vespers, and yesterday (Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension) was a fine specimen. Three commemorations, according to the very fine Ordo from the St Laurence Press: St Norbert, St Boniface, and the Octave of the Ascension.

Commemorations can arise when one feast is displaced by another - for example, yesterday St Boniface was displaced by the Sunday. They can arise when 1st vespers of one saint is recited, but the saint of the day just finishing is commemorated. And during an octave, the octave can also be commemorated. The week after Christmas can get exciting, since several octaves overlap (depending on which rubrics you're using). It all gets complicated, which is why we need fine people like the St Laurence press to keep us on the straight and narrow.

All of this is, of course, simplified in the various Novi Ordines, where virtually nothing is commemorated, and there are virtually no octaves. Dull.

The way a commemoration takes place is that, after the main collect for the day, the Antiphon for the Magnificat (or Benedictus, at Lauds) is recited, together with the versicle and response, and then the collect of the feast being commemorated.

Commemorations for the Sunday in the Octave of the Ascension, AD MMXI

For St Norbert

O holy Priest and Bishop, thou worker of so many mighty works, and good shepherd to Christ's flock, pray for us unto the Lord our God.

V. The Lord loved him, and adorned him.
R. He clothed him with a robe of glory.
Let us pray.

O God, who didst appoint Saint Norbert, thy Confessor and Bishop, to be an excellent preacher of thy holy word, and through him hast enriched thy Church with a new offspring : grant, we beseech thee; that, by the intercession of his merits, we may of thee be enabled to perform those things which he taught both in word and in deed. Through etc.
For St Boniface
If any man shall come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
V. The righteous shall flourish like a palm-tree.
R. And shall spread abroad like a cedar in Libanus.

Let us pray.
O God, who by the labours of blessed Boniface, thy Martyr and Bishop, didst vouchsafe to call many nations to the knowledge of thy Name: mercifully grant that we, who as on this day do keep his feast, may by his advocacy find favour in thy sight.

For the Octave of the Ascension

Father, I have manifested thy Name unto the men whom thou hast given me: and now I pray for them, not for the world, because I come to thee, alleluia.

V. God is gone up with a merry noise, alleluia.
R. And the Lord with the sound of the trumpet, alleluia.

Let us pray.
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that like as we do believe thine only-begotten Son our Saviour to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell. Who liveth etc.

Thursday 2 June 2011

Meditations for the Octave of Corpus Christi by St Alphonsus Liguori, Day 4

by St Alphonsus Liguori



"Jesus, knowing that His hour was come, that He should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end" (St. John xiii. 1). Jesus knowing that the hour of His death was come, desired to leave us, before He died, the greatest pledge of His affection that He could give us; and this was the gift of the Most Holy Sacrament: "He loved them to the end;" which St. Chrysostom explains, 'He loved them with extreme love' He loved men with the greatest love with which He could love them, by giving them His whole Self. But at what time did Jesus institute this great Sacrament, in which He has left us Himself ? On the night preceding His death: "The same night in which He was betrayed" (writes the Apostle), "He took bread; and giving thanks, broke and said, Take ye and eat; this is My Body" (1 Cor. xi. 23, 24). At the very time that men were preparing to put Him to death, He gave them this last proof of His love. The marks of affection which we receive from our friends at the time of their death, remain more deeply impressed on our hearts; for this reason did Jesus bestow on us this gift of the Blessed Sacrament just before His death. With reason, then, did St. Thomas call this gift 'a sacrament and pledge of love;' and St. Bernard, ' the love of loves;' because in this Sacrament Jesus Christ united and accomplished all the other acts of love which He had shown us. Hence St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi called the day on which Jesus instituted this Sacrament, 'the day of love.'


O infinite love of Jesus, worthy of being loved with a like infinite love! Thou, my Lord, dost love men so much; how is it, then, that men love Thee so little in return? What more couldst Thou do to make Thyself loved by them? O my Jesus, Thou art so amiable and so loving; make Thyself, I pray Thee, known; make Thyself loved. When shall I love Thee as Thou hast loved me? Oh, discover to me more .and more the greatness of Thy mercy, in order that I may burn ever more and more with Thy love, and always seek to please Thee. O beloved One of my soul, would that I had always loved Thee! Alas, there was a time when I not only did not love Thee, but despised Thy grace and Thy love! I am consoled by the sorrow which I feel for it, and I hope for pardon through Thy promise to forgive him that repents of his sins. To Thee, O my Saviour, do I turn all my affections; help me, through the merits of Thy Passion, to love Thee with my whole strength. Oh, that I could die for Thee, as Thou didst die for me! O Mary, my Mother, do thou obtain for me the grace from henceforth to love God alone.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Octave Day of the Solemnity of St Joseph

Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Confessor, and Patron of the Universal Church

Adjutor, et protector noster est Dominus: in eo laetabitur cor nostrum, et in nomine sancto ejus speravimus, alleluja, alleluja. Qui regis Israel, intende: qui deducis, velut ovem, Joseph.
The Lord is our helper and protector : in Him our Heart shall rejoice, and in His holy name we have trusted, alleluia, alleluia. * Give ear, O Thou that rulest Israel: Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep.
(Psalm 32:20-21 and Psalm 79: 2 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus, Qui ineffabili providentia beatum Joseph sanctissimae Genitricis Tuae Sponsum eligere dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus: ut quem protectorem veneramur in terris, intercessorem habere mereamur in caelis.Let us pray. O God, Who in Thine unspeakable providence didst vouchsafe to choose blessed Joseph for Thy most holy Mother's Spouse : grant, we beseech beseech Thee, O Lord, that we who revere him as our protector upon earth, may become worthy to have him for our intercessor in Heaven.

The continuation of the holy Gospel according to Luke.
At that time: It came to pass when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, Heaven was opened: and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape as a dove upon Him: and a voice came from Heaven: "Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased." And Jesus Himself was beginning about the age of thirty years: being (as it was supposed) the son of Joseph.
(St Luke 3:21-23)

Friday 29 April 2011

Prayer for the Royal Wedding

Prayer for the Royal Wedding.

Heavenly Father,
we ask your blessing
upon his Royal Highness, Prince William and Catherine
as they pledge their love for each other in marriage.
May your love unite them through their lives.
Grant them the strength to serve you,
our country and the Commonwealth
with integrity and faithfulness.
Through Christ our Lord.

Thursday 17 February 2011

A hymn by Fr Faber, suitable to times of trouble

The Blogosphere is buzzing with rumours about a document expected from Rome on the Traditional Mass. Will it help, or hinder? Encourage others, or drive us all back into the catacombs? Is this the start of a new Golden Age, or is the End upon us.

The best advice, as always, is "to hope, to pray, and don't worry." And to resolve to act in accordance with our consciences, informed and enlightened by the Faith which does not pass away.

For we put not our trust in princes, or in any work of man - even bishops (considered as men, rather than their office, of course). For our trust is in the Lord, and His Immaculate Mother; sure in the promise that the gates of Hell will not prevail, even when it appears that they already have!

1. O purest of creatures!
Sweet mother, sweet maid;
the one spotless womb
wherein Jesus was laid.
Dark night hath come down
on us, mother, and we
look out for thy shining,
sweet star of the sea.

2. Deep night hath come down on
this rough-spoken world.
And the banners of darkness
are boldly unfurled;
and the tempest-tossed Church,
all her eyes are on thee.
They look to thy shining,
sweet star of the sea.

3. He gazed on thy soul,
it was spotless and fair;
for the empire of sin,
it had never been there;
none ever had owned thee,
dear mother, but he,
and he blessed thy clear shining,
sweet star of the sea.

4. Earth gave him one lodging;
‘twas deep in thy breast,
and God found a home where
the sinner finds rest,
his home and his hiding-place,
both were in thee;
he was won by thy shining,
sweet star of the sea.

5. Oh, blissful and calm
was the wonderful rest
that thou gavest thy God
in thy virginal breast;
for the heaven he left
he found heaven in thee,
and he shone in thy shining,
sweet star of the sea.

Saturday 12 February 2011

6th Sunday after Epiphany

6th Sunday after Epiphany

"God," says St. Paul in the night office for this Sunday, "hath spoken to us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things." Who being the brightness of His glory and the figure of His substance and upholding all things by the word of His power, making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high. "To which of the angels hath he said at any time: Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten Thee!" And again, when He bringeth the first begotten into the world he saith: "And let all the angels of God adore Him " (First Nocturn, Introit).

St. Athanasius remarks that the Apostle affirms the superiority of Christ to the angels, by way of showing the difference between the nature of the Son and that of His creatures (Second Nocturn). Similarly the Mass for to-day brings out the divinity of our Blessed Lord. He is God because He utters things hidden in God and unknown to the world (Gospel). His word, compared by Him to a tiny seed cast into the field of the world, and to a little leaven in the lump, is divine because it calms our passions and brings forth in our hearts those marvels of faith, hope and charity of which we read in the Epistle.

Of the Church, stirred to greater effort by our Lord's words, we have an excellent figure in the three measures of meal, the whole of which was leavened by the expanding force of the yeast (Gospel), and in the mustard tree, the largest of its kind, where the birds of the air gladly come for shelter.

We must constantly meditate on our Lord's doctrine, that like leaven it may pervade and transform our hearts, and like the mustard tree may spread abroad its fruits of holiness in those of our neighbour.

May God's kingdom, to which Christ its King has called us, be extended even more and more.

Adorate Deum omnes Angeli ejus: audivit et laetata est Sion, et exsultaverunt filiae Judas. * Dominus regnavit, exsultet terra, laetentur insulae multae.
Adore God, all ye his Angels: Sion heard and was glad, and the Daughters of Juda rejoiced. * The Lord hath reigned, let the earth rejoice, let many islands be glad.
(Psalm 96:7-8,1 from the Introit of Mass)

Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut semper rationabília meditántes, quae tibi sunt plácita et dictis exsequámur, et factis.
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that ever meditating on the truths Thou hast proposed for our intelligence, we may in every word and work of ours, do that which is pleasing to Thee. (Collect)

The continuation of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

At that time, Jesus spoke to the multitudes this parable: "The kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field: but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and dwell in the branches thereof." Another parable He spoke to them: "The kingdom of Heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened." All these things Jesus spoke in parables to the multitudes: and without parables He did not speak to them: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world."
(St Matthew 13:31-35)