Tuesday, April 30, 2019

St. Pius V

The shepherd who became a Shepherd.
Born to impoverished Italian nobility, the son of Paolo Ghislieri and Domenica Augeria. Worked as a shepherd as a boy. Received an excellent training in piety and holiness, including a scholastic education from a Dominican friar; he joined the Order himself in 1518, taking the name Michele. Studied in Bologna, Italy. Ordained in 1528 in the diocese of Genoa, Italy. Teacher of philosophy and divinity in Genoa. Professor of theology in Pavia, Italy for sixteen years. Master of novices and prior of several Dominican houses, working for stricter adherence to the Order’s Rule. Inquisitor in Como and Bergamo, Italy. Commissary general of the Roman Inquisition in 1551. On 4 September 1556 Michele was consecrated Bishop of Nepi e Sutri, Italy against his will. Inquisitor in Milan and Lombardy in 1556. Created cardinal on 15 March 1557. Grand inquisitor on 14 December 1558. Part of the conclave of 1559 that elected Pope Pius IV. Bishop of Mondovi, Italy on 17 March 1560. As bishop, Michael worked to lead his flock with words and examples, and served as a continual messenger encouraging personal piety and devotion to God. Chosen 225th pope in 1566.
Upon his ascension to the papacy, Pius V immediately faced the task of enacting the reforms of the Council of Trent. New seminaries were opened, a new breviary, new missal, and new catechism were published; foundations were established to spread the Faith and preserve the doctrine of the Church. Pius spent much time personally working with the needy. He built hospitals and used the papal treasury to care for the poor. Pius faced many difficulties in the public forum, both in the implementation of the Tridentine reforms and in interaction with other heads of state. At the time of his death he was working on a Christian European alliance to break the power of the Islamic states. (Read more.)

Monday, April 29, 2019

Two Dominican Saints

Catherine Delors writes of her patroness, St. Catherine of Siena, who spoke truth to power.

And Terry reminds us that yesterday was the feast of St. Peter of Verona, who was murdered by the Cathars. According to one account:
Saint Peter Martyr was born in the year 1205 at Verona in Italy. His family belonged to a religious sect called the Cathars meaning "pure ones", which were popular in the region of Verona at that time. The Cathars were perceived as dangerous as they spread the word that Rome had betrayed and corrupted the original purity of the message of Christianity. Peter of Verona (Peter Martyr) received a good education and attended a Catholic school and went on to study at the University of Bologna where he met met Saint Dominic and then joined the Dominican Friars, forsaking the beliefs of the Cathars and adhering to the traditional Catholic Faith. His preaching was so successful that he attracted the attention of Pope Innocent III. Pope Innocent III had come to power in 1198 and had been determined to began a programme of conversion for the Cathars. By 1229 Inquisition he established an Inquisition to discover the leaders and followers of Catharism. Pope Innocent IV became Pope in 1243 and in 1252 appointed Peter Martyr the Inquisitor for Lombardy. Cathars who refused to recant were dealt with severely and punishments ranged from being sentenced to galley slaves or burned at the stake. In 1252 St. Peter Martyr was murdered by the hired Cathar assassins of two noblemen of the Venetian States whom he had handed over to the secular authorities accused of adhering to Catharism, and who, in consequence, had been imprisoned. St. Peter Martyr was attacked with an axe receiving wounds to his head and then stabbed in the heart.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Low Sunday

It is Divine Mercy Sunday. Father Mark says it better than I ever could. To quote:
The Church is a community of wounded persons who have contemplated the glorious wounds of the Risen Christ. Our wounds are the means by which the mercy of the Risen Christ penetrates into the secret places of the soul. Those who have no wounds, or those who pretend to have none, shut out the healing mercy of Christ. A certain kind of virtue — self-sufficient and hard — renders one impenetrable to the balm of Divine Mercy. Those who know themselves to be wounded and who expose their wounds to the radiance of Christ’s glorious wounds, experience the power of his resurrection. These alone are sent forth by Christ to carry on his work of healing mercy in the world. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Eighth Day

From Abbot Gueranger:
Let, then, the week with its Sabbath pass by; what we Christians want is the eighth day, the day that is beyond the measure of time, the day of eternity, the day whose light is not intermittent or partial, but endless and unlimited. Thus speak the holy Fathers, when explaining the substitution of the Sunday for the Saturday. It was, indeed, right that man should keep, as the day of his weekly and spiritual repose, that on which the Creator of the visible world had taken his divine rest; but it was a commemoration of the material creation only. The Eternal Word comes down in the world that he has created; he comes with the rays of his divinity clouded beneath the humble veil of our flesh; he comes to fulfil the figures of the first Covenant. Before abrogating the Sabbath, he would observe it as he did every tittle of the Law; he would spend it as the day of rest, after the work of his Passion, in the silence of the sepulchre: but, early on the eighth day, he rises to life, and the life is one of glory.
'Let us,' says the learned and pious Abbot Rupert, 'leave the Jews to enjoy the ancient Sabbath, which is a memorial of the visible creation.... But our Sabbath has been transferred from the seventh to the eighth day, and the eighth is the first. And rightly was the seventh changed into the eighth, because we Christians put our joy in a better work than the creation of the world.... Let the lovers of the world keep a Sabbath for its creation: but our joy is in the salvation of the world, for our life, yea and our rest, is hidden with Christ in God.'

The mystery of the seventh followed by an eighth day, as the holy one, is again brought before us by the number of weeks which form Eastertide. These weeks are seven; they form a week of weeks, and their morrow is again a Sunday, the glorious feast of Pentecost. These mysterious numbers-which God himself fixed when he instituted the first Pentecost after the first Pasch-were adopted by the Apostles when they regulated the Christian Easter, as we learn from St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Isidore, Amalarius, Rabanus Maurus and from all the ancient interpreters of the mysteries of the holy Liturgy. 'If we multiply seven by seven' says St. Hilary, 'we shall find that this holy season is truly the Sabbath of sabbaths, but what completes it and raises it to the plenitude of the Gospel, is the eighth day which follows, eighth and first both together in itself. The Apostles have given so sacred an institution to these seven weeks that, during them, no one should kneel, or mar by fasting the spiritual joy of this long feast. The same institution has been extended to each Sunday; for this day which follows the Saturday has become, by the application of the progress of the Gospel the completion of the Saturday, and the day of feast and joy.'
From the Easter Sermon by Saint John Chrysotom:
 Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful servant? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!
Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward; If any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor. The deed He honors and the intention He commends.
  Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!
Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaias foretold this when he said, "You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."
Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with. It was in an uproar because it is mocked. It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated. It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive. Hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see. O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?  Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated! Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

Mystery of Faith

Fr. Angelo explores the mystery at hand.
Indeed, the New Garden of Paradise is the Heart of Mary and it is like the enclosed space of the Cenacle where the first Mass was celebrated. It is like Garden of the Agony of Jesus where He resigned Himself to the Chalice of Suffering. And it is like the Garden of the Passion and Resurrection, where the New Tree of Life grows and bears fruit. Her virginal womb is truly the Virgin Earth from which grows forth the Tree of Life, and, one way or another, it is the exemplar for the enclosed space in which the Victim and Victor is laid and from which He rises. It is the true Grail of the Blood of Christ where we enter into The Mystery of Faith. St. Louis de Montfort writes that devotion to Mary is the secret that the Holy Spirit unseals for us (The Secret of Mary, 20). We are invited to enter this Enclosed Garden and Fountain Sealed, if we are willing to be humble in the face of the mysterium fidei.
The Easter mystery is all about sacrificial love, Christ’s, first of all, then ours in the Heart of the Immaculate Coredemptrix, the one in whom the mysteries we celebrate are fully realized. The Great Sacrifice makes Jesus present as our food, and in Him, in our participation in that Sacrifice through Holy Communion, we are incorporated into the mystery, mysticism and transformation in preparation for our own resurrection. This is what we celebrate as we witness the Bride of Christ decked out in all Her liturgical glory. This is the real secret of liturgical reform and its only real object.
May the Peace of Easter be yours. (Read more.)

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Exultet

The Easter Proclamation or Exultet from the Holy Saturday liturgy is one of the most sublime chants in the Roman rite, although it has gone through some changes over the years. Here is the authorized English translation from the 1970 Missale Romanum:


Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,

that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

(For it is fed by the melting wax,
which the mother bee brought forth
to make this precious candle.)

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

Holy Saturday

From Fish Eaters:
It was to the Limbo of the Fathers that Christ descended, a place of the dead that was emptied through His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension, and no longer exists. By this "Harrowing of Hell," as His Descent is sometimes called, the doors to Heaven were swung open so that those who die in a state of grace may enter in, alleluia! Adam, Eve, Noe, Abraham, Moses, the good thief on the cross -- all the righteous were illuminated by the Presence of Christ in the place of death, making Sheol itself a paradise. They remained there with Him until His Bodily Resurrection when the the "bars of Hell" were broken down and they were later able to enter into Heaven itself with His glorious Ascension.

Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began....He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him -- He who is both their God and the son of Eve.. "I am your God, who for your sake have become your son....I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead." [Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 452C; LH, Holy Saturday, OR]
Because of this great silence, today there will be no Mass (until the Vigil Mass tonight, which technically is Easter); instead, there is a solemn service. Today is traditionally a day of abstinence in addition to being a day of fasting, until the Vigil Mass, when the Lenten Fast ends. Though this fasting requirement was abolished in the new Code of Canon Law, traditional Catholics follow the traditional practice. In some churches today, priests will bless Easter baskets containing the foods eaten tomorrow (in other places, the baskets will be blessed after the liturgy tomorrow). Baskets bearing Easter bread, Easter eggs, meats, butter, horseradish, and salt are brought to church, blessed, and taken home to await the great feast tomorrow.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday


Fr. Mark quotes the Desert Fathers: 
Abba Joseph related that Abba Isaac said, 'I was sitting with Abba Poemen one day and I saw him in ecstasy and I was on terms of great freedom of speech with him, I prostrated myself before him and begged him, saying, 'Tell me where you were." He was forced to answer and he said, "My thought was with Saint Mary, the Mother of God, as she wept by the cross of the Saviour. I wish I could always weep like that."
The Divine Mercy novena begins today. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

"My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!...I gave you a royal scepter, but you gave me a crown of thorns." ~from the Improperia.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Holy Thursday


Let us prepare for the Last Supper with Our Lord. Dom Gueranger writes of the Mass of the Lord's Supper in The Liturgical Year, Vol. VI:
The Mass of Maundy Thursday is one of the most solemn of the year; and although the feast of Corpus Christi is the day for solemnly honouring the mystery of the holy Eucharist, still, the Church would have the anniversary of the last Supper to be celebrated with all possible splendour. The colour of the vestments is white, as it is for Christmas day and Easter Sunday; the decorations of the altar and sanctuary all bespeak joy, and yet, there are several ceremonies during this Mass; which show that the holy bride of Christ has not forgotten the Passion of her Jesus, and that this joy is but transient. The priest entones the angelic hymn, Glory be to God in the highest! and the bells ring forth a joyous peal, which continues during the whole of the heavenly canticle: but from that moment they remain silent, and their long silence produces, in every heart, a sentiment of holy mournfulness. But why does the Church deprive us, for so many hours of the grand melody of these sweet bells, whose voices cheer us during the rest of the year? It is to show us that this world lost all its melody and joy when its Saviour suffered and was crucified. Moreover, she would hereby remind us, how the apostles (who were the heralds of Christ, and are figured by the bells, whose ringing summons the faithful to the house of God), fled from their divine Master and left Him a prey to His enemies.
Fr. Mark explains the mystery of the Sacred Triduum, saying:
The annual celebration of "the most sacred Triduum of the crucified, buried and risen Lord" is the liturgical, theological and spiritual center of the Church's life and "the culmination of the entire liturgical year." The Paschal Triduum begins with the Vesperal Mass of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday, continues through the Friday of the Lord's Passion, reaches its summit in the Solemn Paschal Vigil, and comes to a close with Sunday Vespers of the Lord's Resurrection.

Gregorian Chant
As an integral element of the Sacred Triduum, Gregorian Chant takes its place in the complexus of sacred signs by which the Paschal Mystery is rendered present to the Church, and the Church drawn into the Paschal Mystery. The chant of the Church is thus essentially related to the Paschal Mystery and to the new life which it imparts. The transcendent value of liturgical chant, especially during the annual celebration of the Paschal Triduum, is properly theological and spiritual. The chants of the Paschal Triduum constitute therefore a point of reconciliation and unity "between theology and liturgy, liturgy and spirituality." What Father Alexander Schmemann wrote concerning the Paschal Triduum of the Byzantine liturgy and its hymnography is also true, mutatis mutandis, of the liturgy of the Roman Rite and of its proper chants:
The liturgy of the Paschal Triduum -- Holy Friday, Great and Holy Saturday and Sunday -- reveals more about the "doctrines" of Creation, Fall, Redemption, Death and Resurrection than all the other "loci theologici" together; and, let me stress it, not merely in the texts, in the magnificent Byzantine hymnography, but precisely by the very "experience" -- ineffable yet illuminating -- given during these days in their inner interdependence, in their nature; indeed as epiphany and revelation. Truly if the word mystery can still have any meaning today, be experienced and not merely "explained," it is here, in this unique celebration which reveals and communicates before it "explains"; which makes us witnesses and participants of one all-embracing Event from which stems everything else: understanding and power, knowledge and joy, contemplation and communion.
The Whole Person in the Whole Church
Participation in the sacred liturgy makes "witnesses and participants" of those who thus experience the Paschal Mystery as something revealed and communicated, men and women capable of saying, "We have seen the Lord" (Jn 20:24). Paradoxically, while each worshiper must enter personally into the Paschal Mystery, making a personal profession of faith at Baptism, and uttering a personal Amen to the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, the effect of such a personal engagement is participation in the Body of Christ and the unity of the Holy Spirit. The saving mystery of Christ's death and Resurrection embraces and sanctifies the integral human person within the communion of the Church. The symbolic language of the liturgy therefore engages the human person bodily, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. (Read entire post.)


"And there appeared to Him an angel from Heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony, he prayed the longer." Luke 22:43

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Wednesday of Holy Week

Madonna of the Precious Blood
From Vultus Christi:
We confess the self-emptying obedience of Christ, obedience even to the death of the cross, calling him LORD. We summon the entire cosmos — things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth — to adoration of his Name! Already, we lift our eyes to the see the glory of the risen and ascended Christ. The very melody of the introit scales an entire octave to soar into the heights, obliging us to “seek the things that are above” (Col 3:1). Dame Aemiliana speaks of “the irresistible, shining tone of triumph with which today’s Mass straightaway puts the approaching shadows of evening to flight.” Like Saint Stephen at the hour of his death, we see Christ in the glory of God the Father. “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). The Crucified is our Kyrios, the triumphant king, raised up into the glory of the Father.
[...]

The Communion Antiphon begins today with a mysterious word, a word of the suffering Christ, given to sustain us. Potum meum cum fletu temperebam. “I mingled my drink with weeping” (Ps 101:10). The chalice is given Christ by the Father. “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk 22:42). The chalice of Christ’s sufferings is made full when he adds to it his own tears, the tears of a Man, the tears of God. This is the chalice offered us in the Eucharist: a communion with the suffering Christ, a communion in his blood and in his tears. He mingled his drink with weeping to make our drink sweet. He was lifted up and thrown down (cf. Ps 101:10) that we who are thrown down might, by grace, be lifted up. He became withered like the grass (cf. Ps 101:11) that the garden of the kingdom might be planted and flourish and grow beautiful among us. (Read more.)
Precious Blood of Jesus

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tuesday of Holy Week

 From Vultus Christi:
The Eucharist is the awful reality of the Christus passus. The mystery of the suffering Christ is made present to us and for us. For our healing, his wounds are pressed against ours. For our cleansing, his Blood flows impetuous like a torrent. For our life, his breath is given over in death. The Eucharist is the Crucified “lifted up and drawing all men to himself”(cf. Jn 12:32). It is the Eucharist that causes us to cry out, “O great Passion! O deep wounds! O outpouring of Blood! O death suffered in every bitterness, give us life.” (Read more.)


Scott Richert discusses the spirit of sacrifice and Holy Week.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Monday of Holy Week

From Father Mark at Vultus Christi:
Our own experience of struggle and of wrestling with evil allows us to enter into the prayer of Christ given us in the Propers of today’s Mass, not as spectators looking on from the sidelines, but as participants. Today’s Introit is taken from Psalm 34, a passionate appeal for vindication. “Judge, O Lord, those that wrong me, fight against those that fight against me: take hold of arms and shield, and arise to help me, O Lord, the strength of my salvation” (Ps 34:1-2). This is the prayer of the suffering Christ to the Father; because it is His prayer, it is ours. “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him Who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard for His godly fear” (Heb 5:7). It is precisely this prayer of Christ, His costly, agonizing prayer “out of the depths” (Ps 129:1), that is given us in the psalms. (Read more.)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Palm Sunday


After this, I saw a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb. Apocalypse 7:9-10
It is the triumphant entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem as He comes there to die. Let us grasp the palms which celebrate His martyrdom and our own. I have always loved Palm Sunday, since I was a small child. There is a sense during this week of weeks of being transported beyond time and space into the Jerusalem of old. All Christians become citizens of Jerusalem during Holy Week as we watch the greatest drama in the history of the world unfold. The Passion of Our Savior is the source and center of all tragedy, of all poetry, of all great art, of all the love, hope, and tears that ever were and that ever will be. We are confronted with our own weakness and sin as we see ourselves not only as helpless but as guilty. It is only in immersing ourselves in the bitter suffering and abandonment of Our Lord Jesus Christ that the chaos, turmoil and useless agony of life and the world make any sense at all.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Passion of the Church

As we suffer with Christ, we also suffer with His Church. Father Angelo offers a magnificent commentary on why liturgy is not magic and how we must die with Christ in order to live.
The sacred liturgy offers us an opportunity, in this most holy of weeks, to enter into the history of our Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection.  Our presence at the Sacred Triduum is a proclamation of our faith in that the Christ of History and the Christ of Faith are one and the same.  Some scripture scholars have the tendency to demythologize the gospel accounts, and, inversely, some commentators on the liturgy have the tendency to mythologize the Easter liturgy.  In fact, the gospels are historical and the liturgy brings us into contact with that sacred and sacramental history.

Christopher West, as I have mentioned many times before, has tended to sexualize the liturgy.  Most recently, he reposted his Easter commentary on St. Augustine’s reference to the Cross as a marriage bed.  Of course, the patristic analogy is fine.  It is the agenda with which I have a problem.   Inevitably liturgical eroticism connects Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with Hieros Gamos, which is Jungian and best and Wiccan at worst.  It is where myth meets alchemy and shamanism.

Gnostics, liturgical wreckers and liturgical reformers alike have treated the liturgy like magic: “Just do it like this and everything will get better.”  “Change it” or “Don’t you dare change it,” has only served to confirm, however wrongly, what our enemies have said all along, that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is hocus pocus.
Our liturgy is not a gnostic play, an allegorical wedding that symbolizes human life on a psychological, or on some universally valid “spiritual” or “mystical” level.  Our mysticism, our mystagogy is based on real history, otherwise we are of all men most miserable. (1 Cor 15:19).

The Sacraments are neither magic nor mythology.  Alchemy is a lousy metaphor for Christian transformation, but it is a good metaphor the reduction of spirituality to human manipulation. A “chymical wedding” is paradise calculated, prognosticated and resolved upon, and left unrealized.

Some of the liturgical magicians look to the Easter liturgy for an occult answer to even the misery of impurity. Liturgical eroticism is not the answer because sensuality and the imagination gives too free access to demonic.  The Angelic Doctor made distinctions.  The Demonic Doctor makes an infinite amount of distinctions.  His eros is never the impure kind:  “The lumen Christi takes care of that.  Just think sublimely, mystically.  Spiritual marriage is never impure.”  In fact, the Sacraments lead to bliss only by a harder road: the one Jesus took.

But Catholics should not be Roman Missal thumpers either, who think humanity’s problems will be solved simply by the black and red of missal older than 1962.  The Sacred Liturgy is not a wand to be waved over the post-conciliar Church, but a mystery to be assimilated.  The Tree of Life has not been transplanted from paradise.  The old tree points to the new, and the new is a bridal bed of pain.  Why should the liturgy not be painful?  We can be like teenagers who don’t like going to Mass because we don’t get anything out of it.
The Sacred Liturgy is not an academic exercise any more than it is mythological drama.  The unity of the Church depends in a very great part upon the liturgy, and the average Catholic has a real life to live.  He is not a monk.  He is not a scholar, liturgist or controversialist.  He just wants to go to Mass.  He has no agenda, and He probably is not visionary in his outlook.  He is just trying to make it through the week.  He needs to identify with Christ, not with the brocade on a dalmatic.

True mysticism passes by way of real, practical and concrete ascetism that bears down upon the will.   The saint is not an austere superman, but one who has broken his stubborn and recalcitrant will.  There is a big difference.  Liturgical precision and reverence should be a given.  Respect for tradition and an understanding that neither antiquarianism nor novelty are valid principles in liturgical reform must be presumed.  But the fastidious and academic preoccupation, the pained observations of everything than does not conform with the ideal resolved upon, is a sign of a will that is very much like that of the liturgical innovator.  Lest this assessment itself becomes excessively academic, I should just summarize by saying our hope should be that the liturgy break the selfish will.

Holy Week is the Way of the Cross and it is a hard road.  It resists euphemisms and cannot tolerate self-serving stupidity and effeminate mystagogery.  Our passion play is reality.  “Hosanna in the highest!” and “Crucify him!” come out of the same mouths.  It is supreme irony that we solemnize our fickleness, the fact that our piety so often misses the point.  It is a harsh reality we need to face:
I have given my body to the strikers, and my cheeks to them that plucked them: I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me, and spit upon me. The Lord God is my helper, therefore am I not confounded: therefore have I set my face as a most hard rock, and I know that I shall not be confounded (Isaias 50:6-7).
 Our Lord was like a Lamb, silent before His sheerer (53:7).  Our face is set like flint when our mouths are closed and our hearts are open.  Christ is our High Priest and Victim, not a magician.  The grace is there for us even in the demystified, lowly Novus Ordo.  We should stop deflecting our attention from the real problem by indulging a magical way of thinking and set our face like flint against our selfish will.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Vexilla Regis

From A Clerk at Oxford:
This season, from this present day until the holy Eastertide, is called Christ's Passion-tide, and all God's servants in the holy church with their divine liturgies honour and hold in mind his Passion, through which we were all redeemed. Our books say, too, that we should keep this fortnight with great devotion, because of the approach of the holy Passion and the glorious resurrection of our Saviour. In these days we omit in our responses 'Gloria Patri', in mourning for the holy Passion, except if a great feast-day occurs then.

This is the opening of Ælfric's sermon for the Fifth Sunday in Lent. As he explains, the last two weeks before Easter are traditionally Passiontide, Cristes ðrowung-tid, a season with its own customs and character of deepening solemnity for genealæcunge þære halgan ðrowunge 'because of the approach of the holy Passion'. Along with practices such as that mentioned by Ælfric of omitting 'Gloria Patri' in the liturgy, the season has its own hymns, most famously 'Vexilla Regis Prodeunt': (Read more.)

Jesus Wept

"If thou hadst known, in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!" Luke 19:42.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Passiontide


Today we veil the statues and pictures of our home altar with purple cloth, in observance of Passiontide. Although the Fifth Sunday of Lent is not designated as "Passion Sunday" on the new calendar, it is still permissible to cover the statues and sacred images during this week and the next. It really helps to create a spirit of mourning in honor of the sufferings of Our Lord. The Church offers a treasury of beautiful hymns which draw the soul into the mystery of Christ's passion and death.

As Abbot Gueranger writes in The Liturgical Year, Vol VI:
Let us hope that, by God's mercy, the holy time we are now entering upon will work such a happy change in us, that, on the day of judgment, we may confidently fix our eyes on Him we are now about to contemplate crucified in the hands of sinners. The death of Jesus puts the whole of nature in commotion; the midday sun is darkened, the earth is shaken to its very foundations, the rocks are split; may it be that our hearts, too, be moved and pass from indifference to fear, from fear to hope, and, at length from hope to love; so that having gone down with our Crucified to the very depths of sorrow, we may deserve to rise with Him unto light and joy, beaming with the brightness of His Resurrection, and having within ourselves the pledge of new life, which shall then die no more.
During Passiontide, it is good to reflect upon the nature of envy and jealousy, for it is envy and jealousy which killed Jesus.
Envy disrupts social life generally. It sets the child against the father, brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, and nation against nation. It kills friendship, undermines business relationships, and hinders reconciliation. It is one of the chief sources of misunderstanding, criticism, hatred, vengeance, calumny, detraction, and perverse attacks upon private life.

Envy and greed, the source of the world's unrest and wars, are sins against charity, because they make us seek what belongs to others. Often, even at the cost of harm to our neighbor, we want what does not belong to us....The envious person becomes distrustful, unjust, suspicious. Envy makes its victims ill-tempered, sad, and unapproachable....

Jealousy implies the fear of being displaced by a rival, or of being deprived of that which is rightfully ours or of that which we think ought to be ours. Jealousy is anther form of envy. Jealousy has to do with our own possessions, whereas envy has to do with the possessions of others. We resent an intrusion upon that which belongs to us, and we are prone to become vengeful at this disregard of our rights and claims.

Jealousy goes a step further than envy; it not only tries to lessen the good opinion others enjoy and criticizes those who are praised and rewarded, but is characterized by an excessive love of our own personal good and brings on a fear that we will be deprived of it. Jealousy prefers to see good left undone rather than lose a single degree of praise.
(Excerpt from The Hidden Power of Kindness by Father Lawrence Lovasik, Sophia Institute Press, 1999, pp.62-63)

Friday, April 5, 2019

Our Lady of Sorrows

Remembering the Sorrowful Mother. From the Stabat Mater:
Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifíxi fige plagas
cordi meo válide.


Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Jesus Goes Up Alone onto a Mountain to Pray

 James Tissot, 1894. "And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and he passed the whole night in the prayer of God." St. Luke 6:12

Monday, April 1, 2019

Saint Nuno

The great champion of Portugal and devoted servant of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a canonized saint of the Order. According to Pope Benedict XVI:
The seventy years of his life take place in the second half of the 14th Century, and the first half of the 15th Century, which saw that nation solidify its independence from Castille and extend through the Oceans - not without a particular design by God -, opening new routes which would lead to the arrival of the Gospel of Christ unto the ends of the Earth.

Saint Nuno considers himself an instrument of this higher design, and engages himself in the militia Christi, that is, in the service of testimony that every Christian is called to give to the world. His characteristics are an intense life of prayer, and an absolute trust in Divine help.

Even though he was a superlative soldier and a great leader, he never let his personal gifts be placed above the supreme action which comes from God. Saint Nuno made an effort not to place obstacles to the action of God in his life, imitating Our Lady, to Whom he was most devoted, and to Whom he publicly ascribed his victories. At the end of his life, he retired to the convent of the Carmel [Lisbon], which he had ordered to be built.
HERE is a biographical account. More HERE.
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