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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Saturday, 25 April 2015

April 25 The Greater Litanies

The Greater Litanies 

Station at St Peter's

The Church celebrates to-day two solemnities which have nothing in common: The Greater Litanies, so called on account of their Roman origin, and the feast of St. Mark which is of later date.

In ancient Rome, on April 25th, used to be celebrated the pagan feast of Robigalia. It consisted principally of a procession which, leaving the town by the Flaminian gate, went to the Milvian bridge and ended in a suburban sanctuary situated on the Claudian Way. There a ewe was sacrificed in honour of a god or goddess of the name of Robigo [god or goddess of frost.] The Greater Litany was the substitution of a Christian for a pagan ceremony - its itinerary is known to us by a convocation of St. Gregory the Great. It is approximately the same as that of the pagan procession. All the faithful in Rome betook themselves to the church of St. Laurence in Lucina, the nearest to the Flaminian Gate. Leaving by this gate, the procession made a station at St. Valentine's, crossed the Milvian bridge and branched off to the left towards the Vatican. After halting at a cross, it entered the basilica of St. Peter for the celebration of the Holy Mysteries.

This litany is recited throughout the Church to keep away calamities, and to draw down the blessing ol God on the harvest. "Vouchsafe to grant us to preserve the fruits of the earth, we pray Thee, hear us," is sung by the procession through the countryside.

The whole Mass shows what assiduous prayer may obtain, when in the midst of our adversities (Collects, Offertory) we have recourse with confidence to our Father in heaven (Epistle, Gospel, Communion).

If the feast of St. Mark is transferred, the Litanies are not transferred, unless they fall on Easter Sunday. In which case they are transferred to the following Tuesday.

The Mass throughout points to the efficacy of the prayer of the just man when humble, sure and persistent. Elias by prayer closed and opened the heavens (Epistle), and our Lord shows us by two parables that God Kives His Holy Spirit to whosoever asks Him, because He is good (Gospel, Alleluia). In our afflictions let us place our trust in God and He will hear our prayers (Introit, Collect).

Exaudivit de templo sancto suo vocem meam, alleluia: et clamor meus in conspectu ejus, introivit in aures ejus, alleluia, alleluia. * Diligam te, Domine, virtus mea: Dominus firmamentum meum, et refugium meum, et liberator meus.
He heard my voice from His holy temple, alleluia; and my cry before Him came into His ears, alleluia, alleluia. * I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength; the Lord is my firmament, my refuge and my deliverer.
(Psalm 17:7,2-3 from the Introit of Mass)

Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui in afflictione nostra de tua pietate confidimus; contra adversa omnia, tua semper protectione muniamur.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that we who in our affliction confide in Thy mercy, may be ever defended by Thy protection against all adversity.

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