Wednesday, October 31, 2018

All Saints

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I Vespers: Helisachar or Rabanus Maurus:  9th Century

Amalarius of Metz: Prologue of the Antiphonary: Helisachar, Abbot of St. Maximin in Trier

Upon the verses which one shall find scarcely altered if perchance he considers it worth his while to consult the present volume, the priest of God Helisachar—a person with excellent education, most zealous in reading and divine worship, and the first among the first men of the most excellent emperor Louis—labored and sweated. And not only did he labor mightily in this present business but whomsoever he was able to assemble around himself from his students.

Christe, redémptor ómnium,
consérva tuos fámulos,
Beátæ semper Vírginis
placátus sanctis précibus.

Beáta quoque ágmina
cæléstium spirítuum,
prætérita, præséntia,
futúra mala péllite.

Vates ætérni iúdicis
apostolíque Dómini,
supplíciter expóscimus
salvári vestris précibus.

Mártyres Dei íncliti
confessorésque lúcidi,
vestris oratiónibus
nos ferte in cæléstibus.

Chori sanctárum vírginum
monachorúmque ómnium,
simul cum sanctis ómnibus
consórtes Christi fácite.

Sit Trinitáti glória,
vestrásque voces iúngite
ut illi laudes débitas
persolvámus alácriter. Amen.

O Christ, redeemer of all, may it please you to preserve your servants by the holy prayers of the blessed Ever-Virgin. And through the blessed hosts of heavenly spirits drive away past, present and future evils. Prophets of the eternal Judge and Apostles of the Lord we humbly ask to be saved by your prayers. Illustrious Martyrs of God and brightly shining Confessors by your intercession carry us up into heaven. Choirs of holy Virgins and all monks with all the saints make us to share in Christ. Glory to the Trinity, that with your voices joined we may eagerly offer to Him due praises. Amen.

Ad Officium lectionis

Christe, cælórum habitátor alme,
vita sanctórum, via, spes salúsque,
hóstiam clemens, tibi quam litámus,
  súscipe laudis.

Omnium semper chorus angelórum
in polo temet benedícit alto,
atque te sancti simul univérsi
  láudibus ornant.

Vírginis sanctæ méritis Maríæ
atque cunctórum páriter piórum,
cóntine pœnam, pie, quam merémur
  daque medélam.

Hic tuam præsta celebráre laudem,
ut tibi fidi valeámus illam
prósequi in cælis Tríadi canéntes
  iúgiter hymnos. Amen.

O Christ, loving dweller in the heavens, the life of the saints, their way and hope of salvation, mercifully receive the sacrifice, which we offer unto you. The choir of all the holy angels ever bless you in the height of heaven, and all the saints together adorn you with praises. By the merits of the holy Virgin Mary and equally the prayers of all the holy ones, check the punishment, O holy one, which we deserve and grant us healing. Here may we faithfully celebrate your praise and in the heavens ever sing hymns to the Trinity. Amen.

Lauds & II Vespers: 10th Century

Iesu, salvátor sǽculi,
redémptis ope súbveni
et, pia Dei Génetrix,
salútem posce míseris.

Cœtus omnes angélici,
patriarchárum cúnei
ac prophetárum mérita
nobis precéntur véniam.

Baptísta tui prǽvius
et cláviger æthéreus
cum céteris apóstolis
nos solvant nexu críminis.

Chorus sacrátus mártyrum,
sacerdótum conféssio
et virginális cástitas
nos a peccátis ábluant.

Monachórum suffrágia
omnésque cives cǽlici
ánnuant votis súpplicum
et vitæ poscant prǽmium.

Sit, Christe, tibi glória
cum Patre et Sancto Spíritu,
quorum luce mirífica
sancti congáudent pérpetim. Amen.

O Jesus, Savior of the world, come to the aid of the redeemed, and holy Mother of God pray for the salvation of the wretched. May all the angelic hosts, the merits of the cohort of patriarchs and prophets pray for our pardon. May the Baptist your forerunner and Peter the heavenly key bearer with the other apostles undo the bonds of our sins. The holy choir of martyrs, the praise of the priests, the chastity of virgins wash us from our sins. May the intercessions of monks and of all the citizens of heaven favor the prayers of the humble and seek for us the reward of life. O Christ to you be glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, by whose wondrous light the saints rejoice forever. Amen.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Patrimony: John Mason Neale on the Miserere Psalms

Patrimony: John Mason Neale on the Miserere Psalms

 PSALMUS 57 (56)
2 Miserere mei, Deus, miserere mei,
quoniam in te confugit anima mea;

Hugh of S. Victor says well that this is the third Psalm which begins with Miserere — the 51st and 56th having already done so; and this because of our threefold danger from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. " This," says S. Bernard, " is to me the one source of all my expectations, the one fountain of all promises : Miserere mei, Deus, miserere mei.

2 Miserere mei, Deus, quoniam conculcavit me homo,
tota die impugnans oppressit me.

1 Be merciful unto me, O God, for man goes about to devour me : he is daily fighting, and troubling me. 2 Mine enemies are daily in hand to swallow me up : for they be many that fight against me, O thou most Highest. We must take the whole Psalm 56, S. Augustine says, but more especially these first two verses, in connection with the title: "When the Philistines took him in Gath;" for Gath, by interpretation is a winepress. And according to that very favorite medieval metaphor, that spices only give out their strength when they are bruised, — as the strings of the lyre require to be strung to their full extent before they can give out their sweetest melody, — so and even more plainly, the grape cannot yield that juice which makes glad both God and man, until it has been exposed to, and so to speak suffered in, the winepress. So Adam of S. Victor:

Parum sapis vim sinapis,
Si non tangis, si non frangis ;
Et plus firagrat quando flagrat
 Tus injectum ignibus.

You have little taste of the power of the mustard,
If you do not touch it, if you do not break it,
And incense smells stronger
When it is thrown into the fire and burns.

PSALMUS 51(5o)
3 Miserere mei, Deus, secundum misericordiam tuam;
et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

How could one pass over this verse without quoting the words of S. Bernard?  Do away mine offenses. How shouldst Thou not, O good Jesus, do them away? How should we not run after Thee ? When we perceive that Thou despisest not the poor, abhorrest not the evil-doer, didst not keep off from the penitent thief, didst allow Thy feet to be kissed by her that was a sinner, didst receive the Syrophe- nician woman, didst accept her that was taken in adultery, in the very act ; didst turn Levi the publican into Matthew the Evangelist ; didst, out of the very spectators of Thy crucifixion, call one who was to be among the very chiefest of Thine Apostles." This is what S. Bernard takes as the in- nermost meaning of our first verse ; and all the saints, and all the holy commentators whom I might reckon up by hundreds, have but repeated, have but diluted, his words ; have but, knowing what they know of the terrible struggle between the new and the old nature — between the first and the Second Adam, said something, each according to his own capability, which might throw some small light on the first verse of the most wonderful of Psalms.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Prayer and Desire

It was Dom Cuthbert Butler who argued in Western Mysticism that a principal difference between Western and Eastern spirituality was that in the East the emphasis was on denying desire and in the West the emphasis was on embracing and redeeming desire. It is not at all hard to think of exceptions to the rule:  St. Athanasius and St. John Chrysostom in the East; in the West the author of The Cloud of Unknowing and the Dionysian apophaticism of St. Thomas Aquinas. But it is true that the pillars of the Western tradition, St. Augustine, St. Gregory the Great, St. Bernard, were convinced that you could not get rid of desire, no matter how hard you try, and what is needed is not the abolition of desire but desiring the right things.  What prayer ‘does’ is cause you to desire what you ought to desire.

This week in the Office of Readings we have read Augustine’s Letter to Proba, an excellent example of the probity of desire. Anicia Faltonia Proba was the widow of the wealthiest man in the Roman Empire. Three of her sons held the consulship. After Alaric led a Gothic army into Rome in 410 and pillaged the city, Proba, with a considerable retinue of widows and younger women, took refuge in Africa and established a community of religious women in Carthage. Proba asked Augustine how she ought to pray, and he advised her on the kind of person she ought to be, and what she ought to pray for.

From the Office of Readings last Sunday:

Why he should ask us to pray, when he knows what we need before we ask him, may perplex us if we do not realize that our Lord and God does not want to know what we want for he cannot fail to know it, but wants us rather to exercise our desire through our prayers, so that we may be able to receive what he is preparing to give us. His gift is very great indeed, but our capacity is too small and limited to receive it. That is why we are told: Enlarge your desires, do not bear the yoke with unbelievers.

The deeper our faith, the stronger our hope, the greater our desire, the larger will be our capacity to receive that gift, which is very great indeed. No eye has seen it; it has no color. No ear has heard it; it has no sound. It has not entered man’s heart; man’s heart must enter into it [I Cor. 2:9]. In this faith, hope and love we pray always with unwearied desire.

However, at set times and seasons we also pray to God in words, so that by these signs we may instruct ourselves and mark the progress we have made in our desire, and spur ourselves on to deepen it. The more fervent the desire, the more worthy will be its fruit. When the Apostle tells us: Pray without ceasing [I Thes. 5:16], he means this: Desire unceasingly that life of happiness which is nothing if not eternal, and ask it of him who alone is able to give it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Legenda Aurea: St. Luke

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Luke is as much to say as arising or enhancing himself. Or Luke is said of light, he was raising himself from the love of the world, and enhancing into the love of God. And he was also light of the world, for he enlumined the universal world by holy predication, and hereof saith S. Matthew, Mathei quinto: Ye be the light of the world. The light of the world is the sun, and that light hath height in his seat or siege. And hereof saith Ecclesiasticus the twenty-sixth chapter: The sun rising in the world is in the right high things of God, he hath delight in beholding. And as it is said Ecclesiastes undecimo: The light of the sun is sweet, and it is delightable to the eyes to see the sun. He hath swiftness in his moving as it is said in the Second Book of Esdras the fourth chapter. The earth is great and the heaven is high and the course of the sun is swift, and hath profit in effect, for after the philosopher, man engendereth man, and the sun. And thus Luke had highness by the love of things celestial, delectable by sweet conversation, swiftness by fervent predication and utility, and profit by conscription and writing of his doctrine.


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Dom Anselmo Lentini
At Lauds and Vespers
Pláusibus, Luca, cánimus, triúmphum
quo nites fuso rútilo cruóre,
atque præcélsis méritis adéptam
  rite corónam.

Luke, we sing in praise of the triumph
by which you shine in shedding red blood
and the excelling merits
which rightly earned you  a crown.

Spíritus ductu, studiósus orbi
mira quæ pastor dócuit supérnus
Christus ac fecit míserans amóre,
  tradis amánter.

Lead by the Spirit, full of zeal, you lovingly handed over
to an amazed world what Christ the supreme Pastor
taught and did in merciful love.

Próvidus chartis pérhibes venústis
gesta quæ Iesu célebrant alúmnos,
eius et gentis nova quæ patéscunt
  in nova sæcla.

Looking ahead to a new age you put forth in beautiful  pages
the deeds which celebrate the disciples of Jesus
and which reveal to the nations new things.

O comes Pauli, speculátor alti
cordis illíus sed et æmulátor,
cáritas Christi fac ut usque nostrum
  pectus adúrat.

O companion of Paul, observer and imitator of his
heart, may the charity of Christ also set fire
to our hearts. 

Tu malis nostris médicus fer artem,
confer et lætum fídei levámen,
ut Deo tandem potiámur, ipsi
  semper ovántes. Amen.

You, a doctor, bring  healing to our
ills and confer  the glad relief of faith
that we may obtain to God
rejoicing in him always.  Amen.