Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Amalarius of Metz: On Compline

Compline (completorium)  is so-called because at that point our daily consumption of food and drink, which are necessarily consumed for the sustenance of the body, together with ordinary speech, is complete (completur). And thus monks, in accordance with Saint Benedict's rule, see to the closing of their mouths and keep them distant from ordinary conversation from the time of this office until they return to work again. And it is not inappropriate that this time of night, in which all things are silent, can be called quietude. Among those who divide the night into seven parts, the first part is called twilight, the second vespers, and the third quietude, which we are now discussing. And I think that it is so-called because, at this moment, all things are quiet.

In some sense this office corresponds to that commendation through which man commends himself to God when he leaves this world. Sleep is the image of death. And just as the mind of the dead man is withdrawn from mortal things and given over to forgetfulness of the suffering of this world, so in some sense is the spirit of the sleeping man withdrawn from its usual thoughts and from every temporal occupation.

In the four Psalms we commend the four elements of our body to the Lord, as the vesicle makes clear, saying: "Keep me, Lord, the apple of your eye. Protect me under the shadow of your wings." Everyone—even those with tenuous understanding—recognizes how many more external dangers can befall a man when he is asleep than when he is awake

Augustine, writing on a verse from the first Psalm that is sung during Compline, explains this: "'In peace in the selfsame I will sleep and I will take rest.' For it is right that such people hope for all manner of mental withdrawal from mortal affairs, and for forgetfulness of the miseries of this world.

The second Psalm continues up to the verse in which Christ laid down his spirit on the cross. In that verse, we desire that we be brought into conformity with his sleep — that is, that our members rest while our heart is vigilant.

The third Psalm is filled with words of prayers that request the Lord's protection. In Roman usage it is also sung on Good Friday after the reading, where (according to Hosea) our mortification after the example of Christ is revealed, together with our resurrection after two days. Through this Psalm, the author of the Office advises us, in accordance with its words, that our mind should be intent on beseeching God amid all our dangers and difficulties; and thus, because our sleep has some likeness to the sleep of those who have left this world under the Lord's protection, the same Psalm is recited at Compline.

In some sense the fourth Psalm also recalls the intention of those who are in difficulty and nevertheless pass from this difficulty to peace, saying: "In the nights lift up your hands to the holy places." Thus Augustine in his treatise on the same Psalm: "For the night is a sorrowful thing, and the day is a joyful thing." And after a little: "Therefore, 'Bless the Lord.' When? At night. When Job blessed him, what a sorrowful night it was! All his possessions were taken away; the sons who had kept them were taken away. What a sorrowful night! But let us see if he does not give his blessing during the night: 'The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. As it has pleased the Lord, so was it done. Blessed be the name of the Lord. '"+

The vesicle that follows, as we said above, clarifies the full task of the office—namely, a request for the Lord's protection amid the dangers of the night. And the subsequent hymn of Saint Simeon reveals the peace that the soul of the one praying desires—namely, that it may rest without any disturbance from this world. This is what Simeon prayed for when he wished to pass from this life to the other life, and said: "Now dismiss your servant in peace, Lord, according to your word."

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Monday: Weeks 1 & 3:

Lauds: St. Ambrose

In a general audience (October 24, 2007), Pope Benedict XVI referred to Ambrose: “Dear brothers and sisters, I would like further to propose to you a sort of ‘patristic icon,’ which, interpreted in the light of what we have said, effectively represents ‘the heart’ of Ambrosian doctrine. In the sixth book of the Confessions, Augustine tells of his meeting with Ambrose, an encounter that was indisputably of great importance in the history of the Church. He writes in his text that whenever he went to see the Bishop of Milan, he would regularly find him taken up with catervae of people full of problems for whose needs he did his utmost. There was always a long queue waiting to talk to Ambrose, seeking in him consolation and hope. When Ambrose was not with them, with the people (and this happened for the space of the briefest of moments), he was either restoring his body with the necessary food or nourishing his spirit with reading. Here Augustine marvels because Ambrose read the Scriptures with his mouth shut, only with his eyes (cf. Confessions, 6, 3). Indeed, in the early Christian centuries reading was conceived of strictly for proclamation, and reading aloud also facilitated the reader’s understanding. That Ambrose could scan the pages with his eyes alone suggested to the admiring Augustine a rare ability for reading and familiarity with the Scriptures. Well, in that ‘reading under one’s breath,’ where the heart is committed to achieving knowledge of the Word of God – this is the ‘icon’ to which we are referring -, one can glimpse the method of Ambrosian catechesis; it is Scripture itself, intimately assimilated, which suggests the content to proclaim that will lead to the conversion of hearts. Thus, with regard to the magisterium of Ambrose and of Augustine, catechesis is inseparable from witness of life. What I wrote on the theologian in the Introduction to Christianity might also be useful to the catechist. An educator in the faith cannot risk appearing like a sort of clown who recites a part ‘by profession.’ Rather – to use an image dear to Origen, a writer who was particularly appreciated by Ambrose -, he must be like the beloved disciple who rested his head against his Master’s heart and there learned the way to think, speak and act. The true disciple is ultimately the one whose proclamation of the Gospel is the most credible and effective.”

 “It will be asked: ‘In what sort was the Son begotten?’ As one who is forever, as the Word, as the brightness of eternal light, (Hebrews 1:3)  for brightness takes effect in the instant of its coming into existence.” Ambrose de Fid. 1:79

Splendor patérnæ glóriæ, (1)
de luce lucem próferens, (2)
lux lucis et fons lúminis,
diem dies illúminans,

Verúsque sol, illábere
micans nitóre pérpeti,
iubárque Sancti Spíritus
infúnde nostris sénsibus.

Votis vocémus et Patrem,
Patrem perénnis glóriæ,
Patrem poténtis grátiæ,
culpam reléget lúbricam.

Infórmet actus strénuos,
dentem retúndat ínvidi,
casus secúndet ásperos,
donet geréndi grátiam.

Mentem gubérnet et regat
casto, fidéli córpore;
fides calóre férveat,
fraudis venéna nésciat. (3)

Christúsque nobis sit cibus,
potúsque noster sit fides; (4)
læti bibámus sóbriam
ebrietátem Spíritus.

Lætus dies hic tránseat;
pudor sit ut dilúculum, (50
fides velut merídies,
crepúsculum mens nésciat.

Auróra cursus próvehit;
Auróra totus pródeat,
in Patre totus Fílius
et totus in Verbo Pater. Amen.

1)      Heb. 1:3: the brightness of God’s glory;
2)     Nicene Creed: Lumen de lumine; 
3)     the Arian heresy; 
4)     Eucharistic reference;
5)     Faith as pure or modest as the dawn;
Hope as the heat of noon; mind know no darkness.
6)     Totus = dawn, totus = the Son, totus = the Father. 

Radiance of the Father’s glory, bring forth light from light, Light of light and Source of light, Day illuminating day. And true Sun descend upon us, glittering with perpetual glow, ray of the Holy Spirit, pour out upon our thoughts. In prayer we call upon the Father, the Father of endless glory, the Father of powerful glory, take away our devious sin.  Shape our manly deeds, blunt the teeth of the envious one, turn to good our difficulties, grant us the gift to act. May he direct and rule our minds, our bodies keep chaste and faithful, may faith burn bright, and know no venomous deceit. May Christ be our food, faith our drink; let us joyfully drink the Spirit’s sober drunkenness. May this day pass happily; our modesty like dawn, faith enkindled as noonday, the mind ignorant of nightfall.  Dawn in its course advances, may full dawn come: the Son wholly in the Father, the Father wholly in his Word. Amen.

When the Office of Readings is said in the daytime: 18th Century

Ætérna lux, divínitas,
in unitáte Trínitas,
te confitémur débiles,
te deprecámur súpplices.

Summum Paréntem crédimus
Natúmque Patris únicum,
et caritátis vínculum
qui iungit illos Spíritum.

O véritas, o cáritas,
o finis et felícitas,
speráre fac et crédere,
amáre fac et cónsequi.

Qui finis et exórdium
rerúmque fons es ómnium,
tu solus es solácium,
tu certa spes credéntium.

Qui cuncta solus éfficis
cunctísque solus súfficis,
tu sola lux es ómnibus
et præmium sperántibus.

Christum rogámus et Patrem,
Christi Patrísque Spíritum;
unum potens per ómnia,
fove precántes, Trínitas. Amen.

Eternal light, Divinity, Trinity in unity, weak as we are we give you thanks, humbly we pray to you. We believe in the highest Father, the only Son of the Father, and the Spirit, the bond of love which joins them. O truth, O Love, O end of all and happiness, teach us to hope and believe, to love and follow you.  The end and the beginning, you are the source of all things, you alone our consolation, you the certain hope of those who trust in you.  You alone do all things, you alone are sufficient for all things, you the only light for all and only hope for those who hope in you. We ask Christ and the Father and the Spirit of both Christ and the Father, the single power behind all things, assist us as we pray. Amen.

Vespers: St. Gregory the Great?

Imménse cæli cónditor,
qui, mixta ne confúnderent, (1)
aquæ fluénta dívidens,
cælum dedísti límitem,

Firmans locum cæléstibus
simúlque terræ rívulis,
ut unda flammas témperet,
terræ solum ne díssipet:

Infúnde nunc, piíssime,
donum perénnis grátiæ,
fraudis novæ ne cásibus (2)
nos error átterat vetus.

Lucem fides invéniat,
sic lúminis iubar ferat;
hæc vana cuncta térreat,
hanc falsa nulla cómprimant.

1)      Gen.1:7: God divides the waters above and below;
2)     The new fraud is also old =the temptation of Adam;
3)     Lux brings not just physical light but also grace;

Infinite Creator of heaven, you who separated the flowing waters and set a limit to the sky, so that the two not be mixed and confused. Fortifying a place for the heavens and also for the rivers of the earth,  that water might temper heat and the soil of earth not be dried up. Pour now, most holy, into us the gift of endless grace, that no occasions of new deceit or ancient deception destroy us. May light find faith, thus be supported by the beam of light; so may all vanities be removed, and no falsehood compromise our faith.

Thursday, January 10, 2019


I Vesperas: saec. X?

Walpole: pp. 310-311; An alphabetical hymn, which in various places and times was sung for Christmas, Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord. 

A Patre Unigénite, (1)
ad nos venis per Vírginem,
baptísmi rore cónsecrans
cunctos, fide regénerans.

De cælo celsus pródiens (2)
éxcipis formam hóminis, (3)
factúram morte rédimens, (4)
gáudia vitæ lárgiens.

Hoc te, Redémptor, quæsumus:
illábere propítius,
clarúmque nostris córdibus
lumen præbe deíficum.

noctem obscúram rémove,
omne delíctum áblue,
pie medélam tríbue.

O Christe, vita, véritas,
tibi sit omnis glória,
quem Patris atque Spíritus
splendor revélat cælitus. Amen.

(1)   Walsh and Hutch: This the Mozarabic version of the hymn: baptísmi rore cónsecrans “but the notion that the Cross consecrates our baptism is a traditional theme”. Ambrose: “what is water without Christ’s cross”; Milfull: evidence for crucem instead of baptisma.
(2)   Celsus = Altissimus; prodit = coming into the world.
(3)  Formam as in Phil. 2.7.
(4)   Factúram= that which is created.
(5)   Mane nobíscum, Dómine makes the hymn appropriate for Vespers;

Only-begotten from the Father, you come to us through the Virgin, consecrating all men by the dew of baptism, regenerating them by faith. You are heavenly, going forth from heaven, taking the form of man, freeing creation from death, and granting joy of life. O redeemer, we ask of you: graciously pour out the bright and deifying light upon our hearts. Stay with us, O Lord, remove the obscurity of night, wash away all sin, graciously grant healing. O Christ, life and truth, to you be glory, whom the celestial glory of the Father and the Spirit revealed. Amen.

Laudes: novus

Iesus refúlsit ómnium
pius redémptor géntium;
totum genus fidélium
laudis celébret cánticum.

Denis ter ævi círculis
iam parte vivens córporis,
lympham petit baptísmatis
cunctis carens contágiis.

Felix Ioánnes mérgere
illum treméscit flúmine,
potest suo qui sánguine
peccáta mundi térgere.

Vox ergo Prolem de polis
testátur excélsi Patris,
fluítque virtus Spíritus
sancti datrix charísmatis.

Nos, Christe, voce súpplici
precámur, omnes prótege,
ac mente fac nitéscere
tibíque mundos vívere.

O Christe, vita, véritas,
tibi sit omnis glória,
quem Patris atque Spíritus
splendor revélat cælitus. Amen.

Jesus shines forth, the holy Redeemer of all nations, may all the faithful celebrate him with a canticle of praise. Having lived thirty years in the body already, he sought the water of baptism, although he had no sin. Happy John feared to immerse him in the river, the one who by his blood takes away the sins of the world.  The voice of the Father from heaven testifies that Jesus is his Son and the power of the Holy Spirit, the giver of graces, flows upon him.  We humbly pray you, O Christ, to protect us all, and make us with shining minds to be cleansed and so live for you.   O Christ, life and truth, to you be glory, whom the celestial glory of the Father and the Spirit revealed. Amen

Ad Officium lectionis & ad II Vesperas: saec. X

The first four stanzas of the hymn Implente munus debitum are taken from the last part of the hymn Inluxit orbi iam dies: see Walpole pp. 314-316.

Implénte munus débitum (1)
Ioánne, rerum cónditor
Iordáne mersus hac die
aquam lavándo díluit,

Non ipse mundári volens
de ventre natus Vírginis,
peccáta sed mortálium
suo lavácro tóllere.

Dicénte Patre quod «meus
diléctus hic est Fílius»,
suménte Sancto Spíritu
formam colúmbæ cælitus,

Hoc mýstico sub nómine
micat salus Ecclésiæ;
Persóna trina cómmanet
unus Deus per ómnia.

O Christe, vita, véritas,
tibi sit omnis glória,
quem Patris atque Spíritus
splendor revélat cælitus. Amen.

(1)   The lines in this stanza have been altered from the original:
Iohanne Baptista sacro
implente munus debitum,
Iordane mersus hac die
aquas lavando diluit,

John now fulfills his duty: the Creator of all things is this day plunged into the Jordan River, by his washing he washes the water. He who was born from the womb of a Virgin does not himself seek to be cleansed but by his washing to take away the sins of mortal men.  The Father proclaims “this is my beloved Son” and the Holy Spirit descends from heaven in the form of a dove. By this mystical word the salvation of the Church is revealed; the three Persons remain one God through all things.  O Christ, life and truth, to you be glory, whom the celestial glory of the Father and the Spirit revealed. Amen.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Ambrosian Epiphany Hymn

 The Mozarabic version has five additional stanzas, one more on the changing of water into wine, three on the feeding of the 5000, one on the Lord taking our flesh from the Virgin.

Illuminans Altissimus
Micantium astrorum globos,
Pax, vita, lumen, veritas,
Jesu, fave precantibus.

Seu mystico baptismate,
Fluenta Jordanis retro
Conversa quondam tertio,
Praesentem sacraris diem.

Seu stella partum Virginis
Coelo micans signaveris,
Et hac adoratum die
Praesepe Magos duxeris.

Vel hydriis plenis aqua
Vini saporem infuderis:
Hausit minister conscius
Quod ipse non impleverat.

Gloria tibi, Domine,
Qui apparuisti hodie,
Cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu,
In sempiterna saecula. Amen.


Most High God! thou that enkindlest the fires of the shining stars! O Jesus! thou that art peace, and life, and light, and truth, hear and grant our prayers. This present day has been made holy by thy mystic Baptism, whereby thou didst sanctify those waters of the Jordan, which, of old, were thrice turned back. It is holy by the Star shining in the heavens, whereby thou didst announce thy Virginal Mother’s delivery, and didst, on the same day, lead the Magi to adore thee in thy Crib. It is holy, too, by thy changing the water of the pitchers into wine; which the steward of the feast, knowing that he had not so filled them, drew forth for the guests. Glory be to thee, O Lord Jesus! that didst appear on this Day! and to the Father and to the Holy Ghost, for everlasting ages. Amen.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Ambrosian Epiphany Preface

From the heavens over Jordan's bed the thunder rolled, telling us that you were there; it showed us the Savior, who had come to us from heaven; it showed us you, the Father of the eternal Light. You opened the heavens, blessed the air and cleansed the waters, and through the Holy Spirit, who appeared like a dove, you showed us your only Son.

This was the day when the waters received your blessing and took away the curse that had been laid on us. Now they can wash all sins away, if only men will believe; now they can make new children for God, adopting them to eternal life. Our birth in the flesh destined us to a life in time, our sin made us the prisoners of death; but now eternal life is open to us and we are called back to glory in the kingdom of heaven.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Continuation, if not the Octave, of Epiphany

“The Magi of the Gospel are but the first in a vast pilgrimage in which the beauty of this earth is laid at the feet of Christ: the gold of the ancient Christian mosaics, the multi-coloured light from the windows of our great cathedrals, the praise of their stone, the Christmas songs of the trees of the forest are all inspired by him, and human voices like musical instruments have found their most beautiful melodies when they cast themselves at his feet. The suffering of the world too–its misery–comes to him in order, for a moment, to find security and understanding in the presence of the God who is poor.” — Pope Benedict XVI

Saturday, January 5, 2019

St. Augustine, Homily 200 for the Epiphany

St. Augustine, Homily 200 for the Epiphany

Magi come from the East to adore the Virgin's Child. Today we celebrate this event; we pay our respects and deliver a sermon in keeping with the feast. This day first shone resplendently for the Magi; its anniversary is renewed by us with a festal rejoicing. They were the first-fruits of the Gentiles; we are a nation of Gen- tiles. The words of Apostles announced His birth to us; a star was, as it were, the language of heaven for them; like the heavens, therefore, the Apostles announced the glory of God to us. Why should we not recognize as heavens those who have become the abode of God, as it is written: The soul of the just is the seat of wisdom? [Wis. 71 For, through these heavens [the Apostles], the One who made and who dwells in the heavens has sounded forth. The earth trembled at the sound and now, behold, it believes. O mighty mystery! The Lord lay in a manger, yet He drew the Magi from the East. He was hidden in a stable, yet He was acknowledged in the heavens, so that, thus recognized in the heavens, He might be manifested in the stable and that this day might be called the Epiphany or, in the Latin derivative, the Manifestation. Thus, at one and the same time, He set His seal of approval on His high and His lowly estate, so that He to whom the heavens bore witness by a starry sign might, when sought, be found in an insignificant dwelling where, helpless in His tiny frame and wrapped in swaddling clothes, He might be adored by the Magi and feared by the wicked.

Now, then, my dearly beloved sons and heirs of grace, look to your vocation and, since Christ has been revealed to both Jews and Gentiles as the cornerstone, cling together with most constant affection. For He was manifested in the very cradle of His infancy to those who were near and to those who were afar—to the Jews whose shepherds were nearby; to the Gentiles whose M gi were at a great distance. The former came to Him on the very day of His birth; the latter are believed to have come on this day. He was not revealed, therefore, to the shepherds because they were learned, nor to the Magi because they were righteous, for ignorance abounds in the rusticity of shepherds and impiety amid the sacrileges of the Magi. He, the cornerstone, joined both groups to Himself since He came to choose the foolish things of the world in order to put to shame the wise and to call sinners, not the just [Mt. 9, 13], so that the mighty would not be lifted up nor the lowly be in despair.