Sunday, May 31, 2009

'Mid Snow and Ice

I had to will myself to get through from Christchurch to Blenheim this afternoon... I was having such a nice time chatting with Fr Clement and his parishioners after Mass, but tore myself away at noon, filled up the car with petrol and got going. Despite some light rain and sleet (that's when you see snow falling but it hits the car as water, isn't it?) all was well and I had lunch at Cheviot (welsh rarebit, of all things).
The road through the coastal hills to the Kaikoura road gave me my first taste of things to come, with two stretches of snow on the road, albeit well cut through by earlier traffic. I was glad, and became gladder as I drove on, that I hadn't driven through this morning...
Driving along the coast road to Kaikoura was great, but I stopped in Kaikoura itself (the town sits on a richly fertile peninsula entirely hemmed about by great mountains and the sea, with the Seaward Kaikouras rising to 2000m straight out of the ocean, and the Inland Kaikouras even higher) unsure whether to go on, for the weather ahead looked very grim. Locals persuaded me to try, though they told me that there was snow to the north, right on Cook Strait at Picton...
Past Clarence - which is at sea level - there was snow on the road again, and from Kekerengu to Wharanui, right along the coast, the snow was high enough to scrape along the bottom of the car as I very slowly drove through it. (I have never driven in snow before, though I have been a passenger in a car passing through snowy country back in Tasmania years ago.) There was one car crashed off the road.
I had not known before of the many steep ranges of hills still to be negotiated along the road through the old province of Marlborough, between the coast and Blenheim, my destination. Before and after the town of Ward snow lay on the road, and also before Seddon - indeed, right by Lake Grassmere, at sea level! For me, the last unpleasant surprise was thick snow on the Wither Hills between the Awatere valley and the Wairau (where sits Blenheim), which haven't seen snow for 25 years, or so the locals tell me. At least the precipitous and winding road up and down them was clear, though it was nearly dark by the time I got through. Did I mention the huge glowering snowclouds? I do feel the Hand of Providence in that a patch of blue sky seemed to be following me along the way, whatever of the rest of the firmament above.
I said many prayers to my guardian Angel, to Our Lady and Our Lord Jesus. Once finished, I flopped on my knees and gave thanks! Very uncourageous of me I know, but I'm not used to driving through snow.

Psallite Sapienter in Christchurch

Fr Clement was kind enough to thank me for singing at his Pentecost Missa cantata this morning, referring to the motto of this blog: "Sing wisely".   I replied that I was sorry to have instead inflicted a dose of psallite insaniter upon the congregation - for, apart from a very competent organist, I alone was the choir this morning! For the record, I psalm-toned the propers (more or less) a capella, sang the Sequence, the Missa de Angelis and Credo III all accompanied on the organ (the people, about 30 being present, joining in), and beforehand we had the Pentecost Vesper hymn Veni Creator, while at the Offertory I sang the Ave maris stella and Regina caeli, and for Communion the Adoro te and the Ave verum (the last being accompanied). For a recessional there was a very nice setting of the Veni Creator in English, but one wholly unknown to me.  (I should add that Br Paul, Fr Clement's fellow Son of the Most Holy Redeemer, was the M.C. at the Mass.)

Fr's preaching was very clear and very helpful, starting from the observation that in the Old Testament the Feast of Pentecost, fifty days after the Passover commemorating the Exodus from Egypt, commemorated the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt Sinai. But the Old Law, being a list of rules without the grace to keep them, was a ministry of death as the Apostle says; for the law came by Moses, but grace and truth through Jesus Christ (St John i). It was for Christ to establish the New Law, written in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Who gives us the grace to keep the commandments with love, not with servile fear as of old. Hence Augustine could boldly say, Ama, et fac quod vis - "Love, and do what you will": because if we truly love God then we will only ever freely choose to do good, virtuous things. 

To serve the Lord out of fear alone may seem a secure way, but in fact it is very insecure, and oft leads to slips into sin and finally hypocrisy: for we did not receive a Spirit of timidity, as St Paul says, and to turn from love to fear is to lapse into Old Testament ways, when things were tough and even cruel. Fr Clement very importantly noted that such a lapse into Old Testament law-keeping in fear is probably the spiritual reason behind such terrible abuses of children as have been revealed to have taken place in Ireland in the early to mid-twentieth century: the fault was not liberalism or moralism (they didn't even have the dialogue Mass then, after all!) but what would be termed rigorism and Jansenism, issuing in cruelty and hypocrisy that covered up shameful deeds completely at odds with the sweet yoke and light burden of Jesus Christ.

Pentecost Sunday

Mass this morning should again find me at 10am at the chapel of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer in Christchurch, N.Z. (though I may have already heard Mass last evening) - but this afternoon I'll be doing the long drive north to Blenheim, via Kaikoura, which promises to be a most scenic excursion.

To-day is a good day to consecrate oneself to the Holy Ghost, Who is God together with the Father and the Son: for this is but reminding oneself and recollecting that one was forever consecrated to God in Baptism, so this is a renewal of such holy vows:

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit

O HOLY SPIRIT, Divine Spirit of light and love, I consecrate to Thee my understanding, heart and will, my whole being for time and eternity.  May my understanding be always submissive to Thy heavenly inspirations, and to the teaching of the Catholic Church, of which Thou art the infallible Guide; may my heart be ever inflamed with love of God and of my neighbour, may my will be ever conformed to the Divine Will, and may my whole life be a faithful imitation of the life and virtues of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and Thee be honour and glory forever. Amen.

Nihil obstat
MALACHY P. FOLEY, L.L.D., Lit.D. (Censor Librorum)

SAMUEL A. STRITCH, D.D. (Archbishop, Chicago)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Church of the Good Shepherd, Tekapo

My Aotearoa peregrination continued to-day, with a wonderful morning at the Hermitage, Mt Cook - looking out from my table at breakfast straight toward Mt Cook, shining white in the brilliant sun and clear sky, only 12 km away and still 3km higher above sea level than my vantage point (at 720m). Unfortunately the glacier tours have just finished for the season, and I didn't think I should linger longer than late morning, though I could have taken a few hours' walk to see the nearest of them...

Instead, I motored off down Lake Pukaki, to strike another strange New Zealand fog patch (I could only see a couple of roadside guideposts ahead of the car) that lasted from before the lake outlet to the crossing of the Pukaki-Tekapo canal, whereupon the cloudless sky and bright sunshine returned as abruptly as it had departed. At Lake Tekapo itself, I stopped at the Anglican-owned Church of the Good Shepherd, where Anglican and Presbyterian services are held, as well as the Catholic Mass; the church thus having the seal of approval, as it were, I did what heedless tourists rarely do and prayed there (Prime, Terce and Sext). I must say the scenery around is utterly magnificent - long ranges of snowcovered mountains up both sides of the lake and south of it also.

Driving on, I took the inland scenic route (what a superfluous term in N.Z., where everywhere has a million-dollar view), after coming through Burke's Pass and Fairlie (where travellers to Mt Cook in the olden days alighted from their train and took the two-day horsedrawn coach trip to the original Hermitage - tourism started there 125 years ago, and in fact my visit to Mt Cook coincided with their anniversary celebrations). The weather to-day, to repeat myself, was magnificent; on the road through to Geraldine I had a late lunch at a very picturesque spot, with again great snowy mountain ranges forming the backdrop to rolling hills and rich farmland. Then, on and on across the fertile Canterbury plains, not turning off to the ski fields at Mt Hutt but continuing on to Christchurch, twisting down and up again through the Rakaia gorge, praying I'd arrive in time...

And I did, arriving (thanks to a quick prayer to Our Lady for guidance) back at Bl Sacrament Cathedral just after the start of the dialogue Mass, enabling me to join in with the Confiteor as soon as I arranged the hassock on the floor and knelt down. I would estimate the congregation as numbering about 55. This being a Sunday Mass, Fr Rizzo celebrated (assisted by two servers) at the high altar, which looked beautiful, being properly dressed with crucifix, candles, altar cards, missal and the rest: it seemed so right. The Counter-reformation style of the basilica almost made me imagine I was in Rome of the late 16th C. - especially when, after the Gospel, Fr Rizzo went up a concealed staircase to the pulpit on the Epistle side, looking for all the world a contemporary of St Philip Neri as he preached there in his biretta!

His sermon (which I paraphrase, with my own explications) concerned Divine Revelation, beginning in Paradise with God the Father initially revealing His merciful love to our first parents, created as they were in His image and likeness, in the state of original justice that wonderfully figured forth a facet of His justice. But the sin that Satan lured them into so damaged them and all the human race that God perforce cast them forth, revealing thereby His justice, the justice they no longer represented in their fallen state. Down the long ages He revealed to man what He desired: sacrifice. This was his command, this was his covenant with Abraham, and with Moses. Man's sacrifices being, however, unable in principle to achieve that atonement which they represented, in due time God the Son took on our mortal nature, revealed Himself to men and walked among them, being seen on earth, testifying to His divinity and authority by miracles - and He established the New and Eternal Covenant, which perfectly teaches mercy and justice in His Sacrifice that takes our sins away; and having won our redemption, He is pleased to apply it to us by perpetuating its presence and fruits in the Mass, which is one sacrifice with Calvary. But Divine Revelation was not yet complete, not till the death of the last Apostle: for it was expedient that Christ should die, rise again and then return to heaven, since He promised to send the Holy Ghost the Paraclete, Third Person of the Trinity, to establish the Church, lead the Apostles into all truth, enable them to complete the process of Revealation by their writing (of the Scriptures) and their preaching (which oral teaching became Tradition), and Who would so strengthen our intellects that we could grasp the truths thus presented to us of God's plan of our salvation, and so inflame our hearts that we would wish willingly to live out our faith in hope and charity. Truth does not change - a changing truth is no true at all, but a falsehood, a lie. The expression of the truths of our Faith may, of course, vary from generation to generation, but it is the responsibility of the unchanging Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit whose Soul He Is, to guard against any heretical mispresentations of doctrine and morals, since, being indefectible and infallible, she can never fall into grievous error. Fr ended his sermon by noting that the pretended "gift of tongues" that beguile some are quite other than that recorded in the Acts of the Apostles at Pentecost - for then the gift of tongues was for understanding, giving the Apostles and their hearers the wonderful benefit of transmitting and receiving the Good News of salvation in Christ; whereas in many contemporary settings what is called the gift of tongues seems rather to be an emotional high than an intellectual enlightenment; for Catholics, faith and reason go together, the mind illumined by the Holy Ghost being able to grasp our Holy Faith, and communication of such supernatural truths is the hoped-for goal, whereas artless (or artful?) glossolalia seems to provide no such benefit. As he justly remarked, it is poor to speak of being "slain in the Spirit" - for if we have supernatural life, the life of grace, we live in the Spirit!
Mass, having begun at 5.30pm, ended at 6.30 pm with the Regina caeli.

Vigil of Pentecost

Pentecost is very dear to me; I was baptized on this feast, confirmed and houselled.  Despite all backslidings, I do consider myself called to have special devotion to the Holy Ghost; for this amongst other reasons I feel an affinity to St Philip Neri, who was so much the faithful instrument of the Third Person of the Trinity.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

(My N.Z. trip should see me motoring back to Christchurch to-day.  If all goes well, I can attend a Extraordinary Form Vigil Mass at the Cathedral, at 5.30pm...)

Friday, May 29, 2009

At the Hermitage

Yours truly is well and truly satiated, after an eight-course degustation dinner at the Hermitage, Mt Cook, N.Z. The bottle of Northburn Station rose was very pleasant also...
I have a mind to write to the bishops of New Zealand to protest the insane madness of their having their own modern version of the Lord's Prayer at Mass, since this impedes the (forgive me) "active participation" of the faithful, i.e. me. To-day, hearing a perfectly unexceptional Novus Ordo at St Joseph's, Queenstown (and boosting the attendance by 20%), at least I managed to pray that Prayer of prayers sotto voce, rather than utterly giving up as on previous occasions. I can only assume that, because there is a significant "Pasifika" (i.e. Polynesian) component to the demographics of the Church in N.Z., they have gone with a version suitable for, ahem, mission countries.
Other curious observations: here in the South Island they still have petrol station attendants who fill the petrol tank for you, without you having to self-service your vehicle - how quaint, that went out years ago back home -; and as well as wood and kindling for the home fires they also sell coal (the winters here being very fierce).
I have had now so ever many temporal consolations, and thank the Lord for these while waiting patiently upon the inscrutable dispositions of His Providence. To-morrow, back to Christchurch for the Vigil of Pentecost...

To Suffer, Not to Die

Languishing beneath the fiery darts of divine love, overwhelmed with heavenly graces, the Carmelite mystic and holy virgin Mary Magdalen de Pazzi oft exclaimed "To suffer, not to die!" Her Collect has us pray God we may imitate in purity and charity she whose feast we revere.

(My New Zealand holiday continues: I shall be driving this morning from Queenstown, a beautiful spot nestled between great snowtipped mountains on the shore of Lake Wakatipu - across which I went for a very pleasant cruise on a vintage steamship last night - and will head over the Lindis Pass through the snows to Mount Cook Village, nigh to that great peak, the highest in Australasia.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

St Augustine of Canterbury

By my schedule, I will be driving to Queenstown soon...

The Church bids us celebrate the feast of St Augustine (but not that wonderful Father and Doctor, that loving and lovable saint, beloved of the Middle Ages, by too many to-day rejected as cold) - the feast of St Augustine of Canterbury, sent to Kent by Pope St Gregory the Great, the Apostle of the English, and there received with joy by King Ethelbert and Queen Bertha; as the Pope commanded him, he converted the pagan Angles and Saxons (among them my ancestors) to Christianity, and established bishoprics to care for them, among them the metropolitical see of Canterbury, the capital of the Kingdom of Kent, of which he was the first shepherd.
As is too well known, some thousand years passed, and wicked kings and queens (all too likely, it is feared, thus to have perished in hell) dragged England away from true Christian belief into a perverted Erastian cult, whose chief marks are confusion in doctrine and practice, love of pretence (with purported priests, priestesses and even an Archdruid of Canterbury) and a misguided pride in itself - whereas, as St Edmund Campion made plain to the raw Anglicans of his day, all their fathers, bishops, saints and men of old do testify against them that they were loyal sons of Rome, rejoicing in the truth, and no Protestant mob, deceived and deceiving.
Pray for illumination of the intellect and inspiration of the will by the Holy Ghost, at the intercession of St Augustine of Canterbury, of all Saints of England, and of Our Lady of Walsingham, ut unum sint.
(I would blog on the Collect of to-day, but have not time now: it too recalls God's making use of St Augustine to bring the pagan English the light of true faith, and prays that all who wander in error may be reunited in one Church.)
Since I'm in N.Z., and here Anglicanism was brought also, pray likewise for these folk who strive to follow the Gospel such as they know it - I saw in the newspaper a few days ago some foolish man describing himself as a "Christian agnostic" - and he was a retired Anglican cleric of some standing! He had been speaking at the graduation ceremony of the University of Otago, telling the graduands to query all, and accept no Bible, Koran or Pope as sure judge of truth: what a vile liberal madness, complete with anti-Catholic jibe. Pray for him!
And after the example of his great namesake, Augustine of Hippo, let us pray Christ to stir up love and true charity in our hearts, that we be rekindled, and rekindle the flame of fire in others.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hole and Corner Mass

I think Luther somewhere inveighs against "hole and corner Masses" - even though he elsewhere postulated, like a forerunner of modernism, that "real Christians" would gather in tiny groups in houses for informal, and somehow therefore more "authentic", true-to-the-Gospel, "evangelical" liturgies.
Early morning before today's trip to Milford Sound found me walking into St Bernard's Church, Te Anau, and checking the time for Mass, which was set for 9am. I returned in due time and waited, waited... I finally walked round to see if there were a presbytery, saw a light on, knocked firmly, waited, knocked again, and was let in by the sole congregant, who was attending Mass as offered by an nice old priest, Fr FitzGibbon, who is hunched over with arthritis or such. By the time I arrived, Fr was already into the Canon - yes, the Roman Canon - and I joined the two of them for Holy Mass. Apparently, weekday Mass when they have it is in the house, not the church; when I asked politely if they could put out a notice to advertise this, they told me that no one ever had come before.
I was struck by several things: evidently Fr reads Mass with attention, but out of some little local New Zealand ringbound publication that substitutes for a Missal (ICEL has been consulted about this copyright issue I believe); and the readings had evidently been taken from a small people's massbook. The necessary vessels and linen were all there, but of the very simplest... Again, I could not join in the very prayer of prayers, the Lord's Prayer, because of the modern N.Z. version being used.
Contrast this with my experience serving private Low Masses: there would be absolutely no question of not using a proper altar, nor of not using a proper Missal, etc., unless driven by necessity - in my opinion, the changeover period in the sixties habituated the clergy and people to ad hoc devices such as reading from photocopies rather than from proper liturgical books, and from this stemmed the vile pseudo-cult of the informal as somehow more meaningful and authentic; which is an aberrant notion that Luther seems to have revived.
(Note: I mean no disrespect to Fr FitzGibbon, who is obviously not in the best of health and so can only do what he can do; it is the general principle of liturgical minimalism that I am critiquing. Indeed, Fr stands for what is right in that he read the Roman Canon, which few modernistic priests ever do - they find it too long and overly sacrificial.)

St Bede

According to my holiday plans, I will be visiting Milford Sound to-day*; but according to the calendar of holy days of the Holy Roman Church, the Breviary Office to-day is of St Bede the Venerable.

As he gave light to the Church by his erudition - such that even in his lifetime his writings were read at Matins, and thus he acquired his sobriquet in default of being a saint yet! - so may his wisdom enlighten us, and his merits assist us. (Collect of St Bede.)
* UPDATE: I've recently returned from Milford Sound: spectacular! The snow on the high peaks, the glacial valleys, the alpine pass, the mountain tunnel, the Southern beech forest, the sun brightly shining, the waters of the sound so still, the dolphins playing and fur seal basking, even a kea (bright green alpine parrot) turning tricks on the roadway...
On a humorous note, I've now seen the tallest mitre in the world: Mitre Peak, one mile high, a sheer mountain that rises straight out of the fiord that is Milford Sound... it's debatable which mitre is the second-tallest, however: that of the Armenian Patriarch - I saw him celebrate the Liturgy once - or that of a nineteenth century French prelate, which was apparently crenellated and battlemented, with a statue of the Immaculate Conception on the top!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Down South

Crossing the mighty Waitaki River - one of the strange braided rivers that rush down from the Southern Alps - I passed yesterday into Otago and the associated region of Southland: all settled in the mid-nineteenth century by Scotsmen, founding an antipodean colony, initially at least as a haven for Wee Frees (to this day, the largest denomination is Presbyterian... but in N.Z. this is now like the Uniting Church in Australia, alas). I did notice the use of such Scots words as "wee", though I'm not sure I've yet heard the Southland Burr (the pronunciation of all r's in words, even in the middle of a syllable or at its end - Scots and Americans do this, but not Australians). Prior to the abolition of the provinces in 1876, Otago with its capital at Dunedin (founded as a new Edinburgh) was the richest and most prosperous province, since conveniently enough for the canny Scots gold was discovered up country, thereby funding the University of Otago and other important public works... as well as attracting Irish Catholics, who soon enough had their own Bishop at Dunedin. (His cathedral, which I briefly visited and briefly mentioned in my last post, was also built by Francis Petre, as was the adjoining Priory... Petre also built the beautiful but grim lunatic asylum at Seacliff, scene of a wartime tragedy when many inmates, locked up for their own safety, were asphyxiated when a fire broke out; the buildings are all demolished now owing to unstable ground, poetically enough, but for an outbuilding now for - backpackers.)
Since I'm in Scotland of the South, last night I went to Scotia, an upmarket Scottish restaurant, and had haggis. (If Fr Z can blog about food, so can I.) The Dunedin-brewed Speight's beer I had with it was excellent: as the locals say, quoting a cryptic line of their national anthem, "Guard Pacific's triple star" (there are three stars on the Speight's logo). If I had wished for a whisky, there were ten pages of whiskies to choose from (by the bottle or dram), mostly single malts, including rare and expensive drops from closed distilleries...
By the way, Fr Clement Mary, F.Ss.R., had told me previously a suitably maudlin Scottish story about Dunedin: a Scotsman there, drunk, he rode his bicycle down Stuart Street - Dunedin's streets are notoriously steep, indeed the steepest street in the world is in Dunedin - and died when he lost control and crashed straight into the great statue of Robbie Burns that the guid burghers of Dunedin had erected in the centre of their city.
I didn't leave Dunedin this morning till nearly lunchtime (and had a good late breakfast after Mass of lamb's fry, in honour of St Philip); the day was cool but brilliantly sunny, until I struck a strange patch of thick mist for the 30 km between Balclutha and Clinton, right in the middle of the day, which disappeared as swiftly as it came. Very amusingly, the New Zealanders have renamed the road from Clinton to Gore the Presidential Highway! (Well, it almost happened...)
Travelling through N.Z. can be beguiling: it seems to an Aussie not really a foreign land, but then you see mountains such as never seen in Australia, with snow and everything, like in The Lord of the Rings or something (yes, I do realize where they filmed it)... the differences are very minor, such as the famous clipped New Zealand pronunciation of short "i" - so a man called Kim has his name said Km. Also, local newspapers use Maori words like hikoi (a protest march, I think) without comment, words not used in English elsewhere. (My Maori language exposure has been restricted to a CD of songs I have bought to play in the car - the harmonies are soaring, albeit with kitsch instrumentals - and watching some of an episode of "Kai Time" on the Maori Channel: a bizarre programme, with the host, a very macho Maori, going hunting deer and other introduced wildlife, talking in Maori except when giving orders to his Pakeha guide, actually being shewn shooting his prey, and then cooking a gourmet meal from his prizes, such as marinated deer steaks served with paua, a native abalone: surf and turf, Kiwi-style.)
The most confusing difference I've discovered is that the N.Z. $2 coin is larger than their $1 coin, whereas in Australia the reverse is the case; their coinage is, I must admit, lighter, smaller and more convenient than the Australian - a Yank once really annoyed me by complaining about our heavy great coins, but I will acknowledge the truth in his rude observation. Oh, and there's a roadsign that I can't understand: the sign is round, blue, with a red border and a red diagonal cross through it - I hope I haven't disobeyed it, I think it prohibits passing ...
Two pet peeves to end with: those absurdly small milk satchets that hotels provide - even with three of them you can hardly get enough milk into your cup of tea - and the horrid Porter's tea bags that N.Z. hotels supply - you need two of them to get a strong enough cuppa.
I sign off, from Te Anau on the borders of Fiordland. God defend New Zealand.

Amare Nescivi

St Philip will be pleased and highly amused: not only was he not even mentioned at Mass (which appeared to be a Votive of Our Lady, seeing as the Gospel read was of Our Lord's commendation of His Mother to St John at the Crucifixion), in line with his dictum "to love being unknown"; but I arrived and found it to be a - Novus Ordo children's Mass! (I suspect St Philip Neri would have perversely liked the Novus Ordo: he found the sacred solemnities of the Mass as celebrated in his day so moving that he had to distract himself with jokes in the sacristy and walking up and down before the altar lest he go into ecstasy and float off into the air! There is little fear of the aptly-named Ordinary Form causing such episodes - unless of course one can attend the sort of sumptuous liturgies that the English Oratorians have managed to render.)

I should explain: having driven around Dunedin trying to get to the Cathedral, I arrived at that handsome Gothic edifice, and found (after genuflecting to the Bl Sacrament in the side chapel) that Mass on weekdays is elsewhere, round the back of the Catheral... I ended up scurrying through the diocesan offices, up staircases and through passageways, before ending up in the chapel to the rear of St Dominic's Priory - built for Dominican sisters last century: there I found a teacher shepherding very tiny primary school students, who were attending Mass (as well as what I assume were the usual adult Mass-goers). By the time I had found my way there, the priest was about to read the Gospel.

Fr John Harrison (he introduced himself to me after Mass; he knows a priest friend of mine, Fr Greg, O.P.) then gave the sermon by questioning the children about who the Beloved Disciple was, and about how our mothers care for each of us - and then very beautifully explained how Mary is our mother and looks after us from heaven, and that we should turn to her in all our troubles, that she may intercede for us with God the Father, God the Son (who is her Son Jesus) and God the Holy Ghost. Despite this being a children's Mass - and I gritted my teeth and very nearly fled the chapel when I came in and realized what I could be in for - all was conducted juxta rubricas, even Fr's careful explanations of certain parts of the Mass (as provided for in the GIRM). I notice that the latest minor alterations to the rubrics have not yet reached New Zealand: no one stood until after replying to the Orate fratres, nor did anyone pay their due reverence before receiving the Sacrament (though doubtlessly they did so in their hearts).

The Eucharistic Prayer, being one of those "for children" was actually quite decent: it certainly talked of the Mass as a sacrifice, though when speaking of the fruits of communion it did use the term "meal" which I do greatly dislike as overly secular and reductionist: surely "feast" or "banquet" is more fitting? I did ask Fr after Mass about the Our Father - I was all ready to launch into it, but found no one saying "...who art in heaven"! So much for the one Mass even in English! Apparently this modern version of the Lord's Prayer crept in in N.Z. since its use during John Paul II's visit in 1986 (he was, after all, not terribly liturgically minded). I find it most ironic that I can say the Pater noster without difficulty, yet couldn't join in this very prayer in my own native tongue. How rude.

Mass ended - again in a manner surprising to an Australian - with the children (too young even to receive Communion) all singing a hymn to Our Lady in Maori: they were the majority of them Pakeha (British or European), and yet they all did so! This I must say I applaud, since after all the Maori are a good percentage of New Zealanders and their language is a recognized treasure; and the words of the hymn (see below) were excellent in sentiment. From my perspective, how inconceivable that any Australian congregation, aside from some in a former mission station in the far desert, would or could ever sing anything in any Aboriginal language!

Ka waiata ki a Maria

Ka waiata ki a Maria
Hine i whakaae
Whakameatia mai
Hei whare tangata
Hine purotu, hine ngakau
Hine rangimarie
Ko te whaea, ko te whaea
O te ao (o te ao).

I sing to Mary, our mother,
The one who heard God's call,
The call to be the mother
Of Our Lord (of us all)
Gentle woman, loving mother,
Our Lady Queen of Peace.
I sing to Mary,
the mother of Our Lord (of us all).

Happy Feast of St Philip Neri

I hope I get the chance to get to Mass to-day...

St. Philip, inflamed with the love of God and a desire of praising him worthily, after offering him all the affections of his soul, and the homages of all his creatures, seeing in their poverty and inability nothing equal to his infinite greatness, comforted himself in finding in the Mass a means of glorifying him by a victim worthy of himself. This he offered to him with inexpressible joy, devotion, and humility, to praise and honor his holy name, to be a sacrifice of perfect thanksgiving for his infinite benefits, of expiation for sin, and of impetration to obtain all graces. Hence in this sacrifice he satiated the ardent desires of his zeal, and found such an excess of overflowing love and sweetness in the closest union of his soul with his divine Redeemer.

(from Vol. V of The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company)

Last year I posted some liturgical texts from the Mass and Office of St Philip Neri; earlier this year I blogged about a reproduction painting of St Philip with Our Lady and sundry saints that I've purchased and had framed... these may be of interest.

(As this post appears, I should be preparing to drive through Otago and Southland to Te Anau; prayers for safe journeying please!)

Monday, May 25, 2009

F.S.S.P. Mass at Christchurch Cathedral

The Cathedral of the Bl Sacrament is a really beautiful building in high Counter-Reformation style - the supreme achievement of the N.Z. architect Francis Petre. Unfortunately, the interior decor (altar, sundry bits of carpet, etc.) are vintage 1970's, but the basilica itself being so spectacular it would be simple enough to improve its fittings and make them fitting to the overall style.

Take the Bl Sacrament Chapel: nasty carpet, secular chairs, a plain table for altar - but the tabernacle behind is quite fine. As I arrived, having walked over from my hotel, the server was putting the candlesticks and altarcards on the altar, and a crucifix above the tabernacle... soon enough Fr Rizzo came in to celebrate Mass, a dialogue Mass (no Third Confiteor, but still the pre-'62 custom of the people kneeling throughout except for standing for the Gospels and sitting for the Offertory).

To-day being the feast of that reforming Pope Gregory VII, who endured much in order to cleanse the filth from the lives of the clergy in his day, Fr Rizzo preached on the indefectibility and holiness of the Church, and the contrast between this and the foibles of her sinful members - as many have said, the great proof of her divine origin is that, despite the dreadful people that have had authority in her, she has lasted down the centuries and shall endure until the end of time. So too, in our own lives, being fallen men yet stamped with the seal of the Trinity in baptism, we sorrow at our human faults but trust in the Lord's grace which gives us hope for heaven.
As well as the Leonine Prayers, Fr led us in the Litany of Our Lady for the repose of the soul of one Br Lawrence, a Marist who died last night: Requiescat in pace. Amen.

After Mass, I had a quick word with Fr Rizzo in the sacristy: he's in fine form as always, ever so cheerful, sincere, unassuming and friendly - evidently his congregation love him. I hope to see him back here in Christchurch come Saturday evening, at his Vigil Mass. (Returning to my hotel for breakfast, I found Fr Rizzo on the front page of the newspaper! Apparently he had to conduct a funeral in very sad circumstances - the deceased having been involved in a murder-suicide, the estranged wife hoping for their son to attend, but the son himself being a fugitive on suspicion of crimes - and the police rather traumatized matters by appearing in great force at the very church and graveside, to the distress of the mourners.)

Novena to St Philip Neri: 9th Day

To-morrow is the feast of St Philip Neri: to-day is the eve of the feast, and the last day of his Novena.  Please consult my last year's posting of a pious passage from Fr Faber, so as to prepare the better for the feast... (and make use of Newman's Litany of St Philip).

Fittingly for the eve of one who was the Third Apostle of Rome, confidant of Popes, loyal son of the Apostolic See, unwearying accepter of crosses and tribulations, and zealous votary of primitive saints and martyrs, this day marks the feast of St Gregory VII, and St Urban I - both Popes, the latter a martyr, and the former all but a martyr, who expired saying "I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile."

In Christchurch, I and any other traditionalist Catholic am spoilt for choices, with two daily Latin Masses: 7.30am Mass with the F.Ss.R. at their chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, or 8.15am Mass with the F.S.S.P. at the beautiful Bl Sacrament Cathedral?  Well, as my hotel is less than a kilometre from the latter, I think I'll walk there... it will be nice to see Fr Rizzo again!

(According to my schedule, I will be driving down from Christchurch to Dunedin to-day.  Of your charity, pray for all tourists and travellers, including yours truly!)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

F.Ss.R in Christchurch

Wasting time over breakfast &c. nearly led me to be late for Mass, but in the event my map-reading bore fruit, and I arrived right on the stroke of 10 am at the Oratory of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Rutland Street, St Albans. (I later learnt the amusing coincidence from the celebrant that he had been a member of the Plymouth Brethren prior to his conversion, and that the present chapel used to belong to the same sect.) The congregation of about 25 were singing "O purest of creatures" as an entrance hymn; Low Mass with two servers followed.

Fr Clement Mary, F.Ss.R., is a Scotsman, and read Mass with excellent diction and pronunciation, since his accent better fits the continental vowels - I hope one day to hear Mark, the Scots blogger now soon to join the F.S.S.P., likewise praying at God's altar. It was not a dialogue Mass (the servers alone responded); before preaching, Fr read the Epistle and Gospel in English (for the Epistle and Sermon, he wore a biretta, having laid aside the maniple as usual, and read the Gospel bareheaded; before the sermon, we all said a Hail Mary); there was a Third Confiteor; and the Leonine Prayers were read kneeling after Mass. The final hymn was the Redemptorist favourite, "Mary from thy sacred image" - a fine old Dutch copy of the Icon of Perpetual Succour hung as an altarpiece.

Mass, as I had surmised, was of the Sunday after Ascension; it was noteworthy how to-day's Epistle is full of the best advice on the moral life (Luther rudely noted that "whoever arranged the readings from the Epistles was 'a friend of works'"), and very neatly divides up into the Little Chapters to be read at Terce, Sext and None this day.

The sermon itself reminded me in the best way of Fr Rowe's clear doctrinal preaching, adducing many useful examples from the saints: as the Dove of the Holy Ghost visibly appearing at the ear of Popes St Gregory the Great and Gregory VII, indicating their gracing with the Gift of Wisdom; and the illapse of the Spirit's ball of fire into the heart of St Philip Neri, permanently expanding his heart, fulfilling beyond measure his fervent prayers to be made a fit instrument of the Holy Ghost, to the extent that he trembled with joy and Divine love, needing to beg God to abate His consolations, lest he die. We ought have the greatest of devotion to the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, Equal to the Father and the Son: if we be in the state of grace, Love dwells in our souls, is the Soul of our soul, and thus (as St Teresa of Avila avers) we have no reason to seek after transient things and vain, seeing as nothing outside can compare with our heart's Treasure: we each of us are, like St Ignatius of Antioch, to be surnamed Theophorus, "God-bearer" - hence, grieve not the Spirit! He it is Who perfects our knowledge and love of Christ, and is the Sanctifier and Lifegiver. Thus the Blessed Virgin and the Apostles prayed, and only when He came was the work of saving souls made active and fruitful: all had been prepared by Our Lord, but it was expedient that He return to heaven, that the Holy Ghost come and fulfil all things.

Fr Clement was very pleasant to speak with at the parish cup of tea afterward, and explained that, several of their singers being away, it would be appreciated if I bolstered the choir for their sung Mass for Pentecost! (The Propers will be recto tono, it seems; but he wants me to sing the Sequence; the Ordinary will be good ol' de Angelis and I expect Credo III.) Veni, Sancte Spiritus! As Pentecost is very dear to me, this is a wonderful thing to be asked to assist in.

Canterbury Tales

I spent some time this afternoon in the Provincial Council buildings - now, pleasingly but bittersweetly, home amongst other things to a local franchise of the Belgian Beer Cafe: I drank some Leffe to the memory of the N.Z. Province of Canterbury (1853-1876), and nibbled some bitterballen... The motto of Christchurch - Fide Condita Fructu Beata Spe Fortis - had struck me as a noble one, but I wondered what the shade of Godley would make of the Establishment liberal Protestants now conducting the rites of civil religion, complete with lady ministers, in the de rigueur 19th C. Gothic cathedral his statue faces.
It riles me how historians, telling the tale of the victors, "of course" agree that centralism suited New Zealand, and the abolition of the provinces was "a good thing"; the reverse of course being true in Canada and Australia, but not I think solely on the usual grounds of "the tyranny of distance" - the Shaky Isles have their own distinctive regions, well and truly separated by geography quite fearsome. The modern-day Canterbury region has a larger population than Tasmania, and if it still had its own Parliament would be as effective (oh dear, what have I said?). I disagree fundamentally with unitary systems: they put too much power in the hands of the Central Government. How much better to still have 40-odd M.P.C.'s and a Superintendent...
Wandering round the streets of Christchurch this Sunday afternoon has been pleasant enough: the overcast skies and faint occasional whisper of drizzle is perfectly familiar to me from Tasmania, and the city doesn't look at all 'foreign' (but, after all, I am still in The Queen's Dominions). Earlier, Fr Clement opined that I don't have much of a stereotypical Australain accent (the spectrum does range from cultivated to general to broad), and this perversely pleased me, since being abroad has made me feel a bit anxious about people's perceptions - it's been a shock to think of being taken as "an Aussie" first, and New Zealanders can be ill-humoured about their trans-Tasman relations. However, seeing the two ANZAC memorials reminded me of shared blood; and of how in Australia we too often forget the second and third letters of ANZAC.
Passing through Victoria Square (having wended my way along the Avon River, past trees that I assume must be endemic, though my level of botany isn't up to identifying them - they were like trees in a Chinese painting, so twisted and gnarled), I was pleased to see a statue of the great James Cook, mapper and claimer of these islands, labelled Oceani Investigator Accerimus; and a statue of the great Queen Empress, under whose aegis New Zealand was settled.
Nearby, but to one side of the park, was a more recent Maori carven statue; earlier, I had been interested to see (and nearly purchased) a copy of the 1996 Ngati Tahu claims Act, whereby the Crown formally apologised to this, the Maori tribe of 80% of the South Island, for breaching its sacred obligations under the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, and gave compensation, as previously agreed to by both parties. As an Australian, I felt strangely moved by this, which demonstrated the great difference between the state of what were once known as native affairs in my country and this. What a difference - in Canberra, "We say 'Sorry'" - mere words - whereas in Wellington, "this Act binds the Crown" - to anyone knowing British law, this is a most potent statement. (The Maori chiefs, despite probably not knowing what the consequences of the Treaty they signed, received the promise in Queen Victoria's name of all the rights and privileges of British subjects for their people: thus the long-sought eventual recognition of their lawful entitlements, many centring around the vexed question of land very shadily expropriated.)
Some humour: walking back to my quarters, I had the Anglican Cathedral on my left (as is fitting: Et ab haedis me sequestra), and to my right was a mysterious building, centrally located but tucked away and reticent as to naming its utility or purpose; but its separate doors for men and women revealed plainly that it must be the - Opus Dei HQ.

Deo gratias

I have just learnt (see comment on last posting) that Peter, my mate from Bunbury, will enter the novitiate of the Carmelite Monks of Wyoming on Pentecost Sunday, receiving his name in holy religion, and the habit of the Order; to-day begins his preparatory retreat.
I'm sure all and sundry will join with him, his brother monks, his family and friends in storming heaven on his behalf, that he be a persevering and holy religious and, God willing, one day a priest.

Novena to St Philip Neri: 8th Day

This post was composed some days ago; hopefully as this appears on my blog, I am on my way to the 10am Sunday Mass in Rutland St, St Albans, Christchurch at the chapel of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer... ora pro me.

At home, this would be the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians; but, since yours truly is supposed to be in New Zealand, the Mass of Sunday after the Ascension will presumably be what I'll find celebrated.

(See here for a passage from Fr Faber in honour of St Philip, which may be used as part of the Novena in his honour, for which I intend to pray Newman's Litany of St Philip.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Let us journey to the Father

Having heard early Mass at Carmel (one can never tell if one's Communion will be viaticum - flying always reminds me of the Last Things), I was blessed to hear a good sermon: as Our Lord says, Whatsoever you ask of the Father in My Name, He will grant - we usually take this with ifs and buts and turn the quotation into a pretext for a disputation on Providence, etc.: instead, hear and heed this, and put it into effect by praying to the Father in Christ's Name, for indeed we have a marvellous God Who promises to hear and answer our petitions.  

At the end of Mass, the celebrant somewhat oddly, but rather pointedly, told us to continue our journey to the Father: and this is our hope, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Novena to St Philip Neri: 7th Day

(The first map of New Zealand, made by Captain Cook during his, the first circumnavigation thereof in 1769-1770.  The North Island is labelled Eaheinomauwe, and the South Island Toai Poonamoo - Cook's transcriptions of their Maori names Tehinga o Maui, a variant of Te Ika a Māui, and Te Wai Pounamu.)

I will appreciate readers sparing a prayer for a safe journey for me - I fly from here in Tasmania to the South Island of New Zealand this afternoon and evening.  (If I'm still in Australia when about to read Vespers, they would be first Vespers of Our Lady Help of Christians, whose proper Office I posted last year - but if I'm out of the country, it will be first Vespers of Sunday after the Ascension...)

As this is a Saturday, the Breviary celebrates Our Lady in the usual manner.

Prayers ought also be said in preparation for the feast of St Philip Neri, Confessor, Founder of the Oratorians - such as the soon-to-be beatified Cardinal Newman's Litany of St Philip.  Here is a link to a relevant text of Fr Faber that I posted last year; it may be used with profit as a meditation concerning St Philip.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Some Hymns for Ascensiontide

Always worth singing, and how appropriately in Ascensiontide:
What a pity that Wesley, in a sense the Newman (and Faber!) of his age, was kept from finding his true home in the Catholic Church; his hymns are certainly very Catholic in their doctrine, all unknowingly.

Novena to St Philip Neri: 6th Day

As part of the ongoing Novea to St Philip, one of Fr Faber's devout reflections may be accessed here; and his fellow Oratorian Ven. John Henry Newman's Litany of St Philip is well worth praying.

Pray for us, St Philip: 
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ascensiontide Magnificat Antiphon

If no feasts supervene, the ferial days of Ascensiontide - which for five centuries were celebrated as days in the Octave thereof - repeat a capitulo the texts of the feast itself (to a first approximation), and in particular the magnificent Magnificat antiphon of the Ascension is sung at Vespers (attentive chanters will note its similarity to the Advent O-Antiphons, upon which it may be based); it is very suitable to pray as part of a Novena in preparation for Pentecost:

O Rex gloriæ, Domine virtutum, qui triumphator hodie super omnes cælos ascendisti, ne derelinquas nos orphanos: sed mitte promissum Patris in nos, Spiritum veritatis, alleluja.

(O King of glory, Lord of powers, Who as One triumphant this day ascended above all the heavens, leave us not orphans: but send the promise of the Father into us, the Spirit of truth, alleluia.)

Ascensiontide Doxology

At Lauds and Vespers the Church sings the Salutis humanæ Sator (or, as it was prior to Urban VIII's rewording of the hymn, Jesu nostra Redemptio), the quasi-doxology of which is as follows:

Tu dux ad astra, et semita,
Sis meta nostris cordibus,
Sis lacrimarum gaudium,
Sis dulce vitæ præmium.  Amen.

(Thou Guide to heaven, and Thou the Way!
Be Thou the Goal where our hearts tend;
Be Thou our Joy 'mid tears; we pray,
Be Thou our life's sweet Prize and End.  Amen.)

Jam Ascendit

The Dominicans (and other religious orders) have a special form of the Regina cæli for Ascensiontide: they sing, not Resurrexit, sicut dixit, but Jam ascendit, sicut dixit - "Now He's ascended, as He said" (not "Jam's gone up"!).  These words, having the same number of syllables as Resurrexit, can be sung to the same tune.

As a private devotion, very suitable for Ascensiontide as we make with all the Church the original Novena and await the Promised Spirit, one may add a modification of the usual versicle ("for the Lord hath truly ascended"), plus an appropriate collect from the 1738 Paris Missal (for Friday after the Octave of the Ascension), as follows:

Regina cæli, lætare, alleluja:
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluja:
Jam ascendit, sicut dixit, alleluja:
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluja.

V/.  Gaude et lætare, Virgo Maria, alleluja.
R/.  Quia ascendit Dominus vere, alleluja.


Deus, qui nos Resurrectionis et Ascensionis Dominicæ solemnia celebrare fecisti: da famulis tuis, ut et advenientis Spiritus sancti gratiam purificatis mentibus suscipere mereamur.  Per eumdem Dominum... in unitate ejusdem Spiritus...

(God, Who hast made us to celebrate the solemnities of the Lord's Resurrection and Ascension: give unto Thy servants that we may also deserve to receive with pure minds the grace of the promised Holy Spirit.  Through the same our Lord... in the unity of the same Holy Spirit...)

Novena to St Philip Neri: 5th Day

The Lord ascends with trumpet blast: 
sing praise to our King, sing praise!

The Breviary bids this Thursday be the solemn annual remembrance of Our Lord's Ascension into heaven, marking the supreme triumph of His sacred humanity, evermore united body and soul to His Divine Person, raised up and exalted above all the heavens, and seated henceforth upon the throne of God: it is our triumph in hope, for if our Head has so ascended, so may we His members pray one day we shall join Him there, as sharers in His victory.

We ought have our thoughts on heavenly things, not on things of earth: raising our hearts to the Lord in heaven, it may also be profitable to lift up our eyes and contemplate the saints in glory, hidden with Christ in God, as we beg may be our part and portion after this life of trial has run its course.

For the same reason, let us henceforth invoke the Holy Ghost to come with yet more vehemence into our souls, to make us the saints that we are called to be - else never shall we enter heaven and there rejoice with all the saints.

Fr Faber provided meditations in preparation for the feast of his Father Founder, St Philip, which is upcoming, and happily coincides so closely with this sacred season of heavenly longing; here is a link to one I posted last year... also for the Novena, Newman's Litany of St Philip is most suitable.

St Philip Neri, pray for us unto Christ God, that He save our souls!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

To an Unknown God

Having had to get up very early in order to give my mum a lift to hospital for her operation, I decided to go on to the early Mass at Carmel and pray for her...  The first reading was from Acts, detailing St Paul's "interfaith dialogue" with the Athenians at the Areopagus: after somewhat slyly telling them that he'd noticed how very religious they are, in fact to the degree that they had an altar to an unknown god (meaning, one of their pretended deities which they may have forgotten to propitiate), he went on to boldly preach the True God and His Risen Son to them; some scoffed, but others where converted, as famously Dionysius the Areopagite.

I suppose this is the model for reaching out to non-Christians: even the most polytheistic cults tend to have some supreme being (usually imagined as so high and mighty as to be unconcerned and soi disant about things below), and the God they seek after so blindly is in fact the living God Who made heaven and earth, "in Whom we live and move and have our being" - and St Paul rightly and appropriately added, "for are we not all His children?" (quoting with approval one of the pagan poets).  We must start by affirming that there is, above whatever imagined "gods" anyone may have, One, Immense, Omnipotent, Everliving God, the Creator: and from this exercise in theodicy go on to proclaim what Divine Revelation reveals beyond this - that God the Creator of all is Three Persons, the Second of Whom took flesh and died for man's salvation, and established His Indefectible Church (or assembly of those called forth from the massa damnata), fully in possession of all the means of salvation (doctrine and sacraments), upon His first Apostle, Peter, and his successors, down to Benedict XVI now gloriously reigning.


It is now evening: my mum's come through the operation, and I'll soon go and visit her (and drive dad over to see her too).

Novena to St Philip Neri: 4th Day

To-day is the Vigil of the Ascension, as well as the last rogation day; as it is of the 2nd class, no commemoration is made of to-day's saint, but all comes from the Common of Eastertide and the Proper - despite it being a Vigil, the Preces are not read at Lauds, presumably because the joy of Easter trumps the usual sobriety and strictness of a Vigil.  With evening comes first Vespers of the Ascension...

While he is not feasted on this date this year, it is useful to recall St Bernardine of Siena, indefatigable preacher of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, and a fellow Italian saint dear to St Philip Neri's heart: what a joy to ceaseless hymn and repeat over and again the Name of Our Lord, the Name that brings salvation - Jesus, Jesus, Jesus...

I am using Newman's Litany of St Philip for this Novena. Last year I gave passages from Fr Faber for each day of St Philip's Novena; please click this link.


As to-day my mum is having an operation, if my readers could spare her a prayer I and she and all the family would be most grateful.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Confession and a Misprint

I have an admission to make: it was only last night - nearly six months after I moved to Tasmania from Western Australia - that I got around to bringing up from storage my prie-dieu (which I felt I really should use to kneel at for to say the Litanies of the Saints).

I no longer have "Catholic knees" - too much time spent standing or sitting, not enough spent meekly kneeling on my knees...  St Ambrose tells us the knee was made flexible to propitiate the wrath of God - Flectamus genua!  (At least my kneeler has padding, thanks be.)

As I've left my F.S.S.P. Breviary upstairs in the bedroom, I used my new Nova et Vetera Breviary to read the Litaniæ Sanctorum - and discovered a misprint: Per baptismum et sanctum, ieiunium tuum (note the incorrect comma).

Novena to St Philip Neri: 3rd Day

We celebrate a holy hermit and a Pope this day: St Peter Celestine, the only man freely to abdicate the Chair of the Fisherman.  No doubt St Philip, ever steadfast in refusing every high office pressed upon him - even the Cardinalate: when one Pope put the red hat on his head, he laughingly returned it - would have earnestly admonished his followers to imitate so extraordinary an example of humility.

For the Novena, pray for instance Newman's Litany of St Philip.

Consider what Fr Faber wrote of his spiritual father, the Founder of the Oratorians, which I quoted last year...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rogation Monday

I almost forgot to mention that, in fellowship with the Church of all times and in all places, to-day and the next two days are days of rogation - days when, directly before the Ascension of Our Lord, the Litanies of the Saints are sung in procession.  At least, that is what Traditionalists do, unlike the lazy majority of the Western Church since 1969!  I note that only this year the Church in Australia has finally got around to setting some days for special prayer...  (These three rogation days, in contradistinction to the Greater Litanies sung on the 25th of April, are the Lesser Litanies, and apparently stem from special days of prayer set aside in early Christian Gaul to avert pestilence.)  

According to the 1962 Breviary, the Minor Litanies are only of obligation to those bound to the Breviary AND who participate in a procession "or other peculiar supplications" (the Major Litanies remain of obligation, albeit if they are recited with the faithful in the vernacular, that fulfils the duty - these Greater Litanies are of Roman origin and are, as the name suggests, considered more important): but of course it is laudable sentire - et rogare - cum Ecclesia and pray these prayers.  (I must admit that, as in Australia, the 25th of March is ANZAC Day, devoted to the memorial of the fallen in war, I had entirely forgotten about the Major Litanies, but at least I now recall the Minor ones.)  If and only if the procession with Litanies is held is the Mass of Rogation celebrated; otherwise, only a commemoration of the Rogation Day is made in the usual manner at Mass.

Novena to St Philip Neri: 2nd Day

Philip Neri ever counselled his disciples to read saint's lives, to be attent to sermons, to be assiduous in prayer, to be habitues of the confessional. He lived in close communion with the saints of primitive times, and so would have gladly celebrated the Mass and Office of to-day's saint, Venantius, a martyr at Camerino under Decius - just as he hailed the students of the English College with the words Salvete flores martyrum, recognizing them as worthy heirs of the faithful of old, who would stand fast for Christ unto death.

One of Philip's devotees used to say,

"When I consider my sins I feel myself a lost man; but through the prayers of Father Philip I hope to be saved."

With such thoughts in mind, pray Newman's Litany of St Philip; and consult Fr Faber's meditation on St Philip, which I published here last year...
This is the Collect of St Venantius:

Deus, qui hunc diem beati Venantii Martyris tui triumpho consecrasti: exaudi preces populi tui, et praesta; ut qui ejus merita veneramur, fidei constantiam imitemur. Per...

(God, Who hast consecrated this day to the triumph of blessed Venantius Thy Martyr: hear the prayers of Thy people, and grant, that we who revere his merits, may imitate the constancy of his faith. Through...)

The Martyr's triumph is the irruption in his life of the Paschal Victory of Christ: it ought be for us not merely a cause of passing joy, but a serious call to imitation of such faith, a stedfast witness to Our Lord usque ad mortem - as the Apostle said, "Imitate me, as I imitate Christ." (I Cor. xi, 1.)
Apparently Pope Clement X was previously bishop of Camerino (a small town in the Marches of the Papal States), and he it was who composed the proper Office hymns for the feast of St Venantius, the patron of his former see:

Matins Hymn

Athleta Christi nobilis
Idola damnat gentium,
Deique amore saucius
Vitae pericla despicit.

Loris revinctus asperis,
E rupe praeceps volvitur:
Spineta vultum lancinant:
Per saxa corpus scinditur.

Dum membra raptant martyris,
Languent siti satellites:
Signo crucis Venantius
E rupe fontes elicit.

Bellator o fortissime,
Qui perfidis tortoribus
E caute praebes poculum,
Nos rore gratiae irriga.

Sit laus Patri, sit Filio,
Tibique sancte Spiritus:
Da per preces Venantii
Beata nobis gaudia. Amen.

Noble champion of the Lord!
Armed against idolatry!
In thy fervent zeal for God
Death had naught of fear for thee.

Bound with thongs, thy youthful form
Down the rugged steep they tear,
Jagged rock and rending thorn
All thy tender flesh lay bare.

Spent with toil, the savage crew,
Fainting, sinks with deadly thirst;
Thou the cross dost sign; and lo!
From the rock the waters burst.

Saintly warrior-prince! who thus
thy tormentors couldst forgive;
Pour the dew of grace on us,
Bid our fainting spirits live.

To thee, O Father, with the Son
And Holy Spirit, glory be;
Oh, grant us through thy martyr's prayer
The joys of immortality. Amen.

Lauds Hymn

Dum nocte pulsa lucifer
Diem propinquam nuntiat,
Nobis refert Venantius
Lucis beatae munera.

Nam criminum caliginem,
Stygisque noctem depulit,
Veroque cives lumine
Divinitatis imbuit.

Aquis sacri baptismatis
Lustravit ille patriam:
Quos tinxit unda milites,
In astra misit martyres.

Nunc angelorum particeps,
Adesto votis supplicum:
Procul repelle crimina,
Tuumque lumen ingere.

Sit laus Patri, sit Filio,
Tibique sancte Spiritus:
Da per preces Venantii
Beata nobis gaudia. Amen.

The golden star of morn
Is climbing in the sky;
The birthday of Venantius
Awakes the Church to joy.

His native land in depths
Of pagan darkness lay;
He o'er her guilty regions poured
The light of heavenly day.

Her in baptismal streams
Of grace he purified;
E'en those who came to take his life,
With him as martyrs died.

With the angels now he shares
Those joys which never cease;
Look down on us, O Spirit blest,
And send us gifts of peace.

Praise to the Father, Son,
And, Holy Ghost, to thee,
Oh, grant us through thy martyr's prayer
A blest eternity. Amen.

Vespers Hymn

Martyr Dei Venantius,
Lux et decus Camertium,
Tortore victo et judice,
Laetus truimphum concinit.

Annis puer, post vincula,
Post carceres, post verbera,
Longa fame frementibus
Cibus datur leonibus.

Sed ejus innocentiae
Parcit leonum immanitas,
Pedesque lambunt martyris,
Irae famisque immemores.

Verso deorsum vertice
Haurire fumum cogitur:
Costas utrimque et viscera
Succensa lampas ustulat.

Sit laus Patri, sit Filio,
Tibique sancte Spiritus:
Da per preces Venantii
Beata nobis gaudia. Amen.

Venantius, hail! God's martyr bright,
thy country's honour and her light;
Who didst with joy thy triumph sing,
thy judge and tortures conquering.

A child in years, he heeds no pain,
Nor dungeon damp, nor galling chain;
The tender youth for food is thrown
To lions, mad with hunger grown.

O wondrous sight! the beasts of prey
Their food reject, and turn away;
Then tamely lick the martyr's feet,
A tribute to his virtue meet.

Then downwards hung, his mouth exposed
To clouds of smoke beneath disposed,
Whilst with slow torches, burning clear,
His naked breasts and sides they sear.

Praise to the Father, and the Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One;
Oh! grant that through this martyr's prayer,
Your blissful joy we all may share. Amen.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Request for Prayers

My mum is going into hospital on Wednesday for an operation: of your charity, please keep her in your prayers.


Matthias (see comments) suggested Psalm 27 (26 in the Vulgate) as a good prayer to pray; here it is in the Grail Version familiar to me from the modern Divine Office:

Psalm 27(26) Dominus illuminatio

1 The Lord is my light and my help;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
before whom shall I shrink?

2 When evil-doers draw near
to devour my flesh,
it is they, my enemies and foes,
who stumble and fall.

3 Though an army encamp against me
my heart would not fear.
Though war break out against me
even then would I trust.

4 There is one thing I ask of the Lord,
for this I long,
to live in the house of the Lord,
all the days of my life,
to savor the sweetness of the Lord,
to behold his temple.

5 For there he keeps me safe in his tent
in the day of evil.
He hides me in the shelter of his tent,
on a rock he sets me safe.

6 And now my head shall be raised
above my foes who surround me
and I shall offer within his tent
a sacrifice of joy.

I will sing and make music for the Lord.

7 O Lord, hear my voice when I call;
have mercy and answer.
8 Of you my heart has spoken:
"Seek his face."

It is your face, O Lord, that I seek;
9 hide not your face.
Dismiss not your servant in anger;
you have been my help.

Do not abandon or forsake me,
O God my help!
10 Though father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.

11 Instruct me, Lord, in your way;
on an even path lead me.
12 When they lie in ambush protect me
from my enemy's greed.
False witnesses rise against me,
breathing out fury.

13 I am sure I shall see the Lord's goodness
in the land of the living.
14 Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.
Hope in the Lord!

Love of the Father, Love of God the Son

For a recessional after Mass at Carmel we sang "Love of the Father, Love of God the Son" - a beautiful, poetic hymn (to whose words close attention must be paid, an attention they will repay), with a pleasant if somewhat tricky tune by Orlando Gibbons.  

As Eastertide draws on, we approach with love and dread the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, addressing Him in prayer: "thou dost the mind from earthly dreams recall, / and bring, through Christ, to him for whom are all." For He is "the angels' armor and the saints' reward"; to Him as God, with the Father and the Son from Whom (as One Principle) He proceeds, we sing:

Eternal Glory, all men thee adore,
who art and shalt be worshipped evermore:
us whom thou madest, comfort with thy might,
and lead us to enjoy thy heavenly light.

Novena to St Philip Neri: 1st Day

To-day, besides being the fifth Sunday after Easter, marks the beginning of the Novena in preparation for the feast of St Philip Neri: for instance, recite Newman's Litany of St Philip.

Here's a link to my notes on this day last year...

Lowly St Philip, pray for us!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Novena to St Philip Neri 2009

It's that time of year again: the feast of St Philip Neri approaches (it falls on the 26th of May, which will find me en route from Dunedin to Te Anau in N.Z.), and so to-morrow, Sunday the 17th, is the first day of his Novena: nine days' prayer - for which I suggest Newman's Litany of St Philip.

Last year I also posted some of Fr Faber's meditations concerning St Philip; I will be setting posts linking back to these, since they may be of relevance.

Four Hebrew Words

While reading to-day's lessons from Matins (owing to laziness, I am skipping the psalms thereof at present), I noted the phrase aures Domini Sabaoth (the ears of the Lord of hosts),which cropt up in James v, 4 (the first two lessons being a concatenation of James v, 1-16: well worth reading and consideration).  There are four Hebrew words - leaving aside proper names of course - that occur in the New Testament and have passed into Christian use, untranslated and merely transliterated, of which Sabaoth is one; the others are Amen, Alleluia (otherwise spelt Hallelujah as the Milanese Rite does, plus some Protestants), and Hosanna.  

Our Lord many times - 75 times - in the Gospels prefixes His sacred utterances with the solemn asseveration "Amen, I say unto you" (as in the Synoptics) or with the redoubled "Amen, Amen, I say unto you" (as in St John's account)  - more's the pity that modern translations don't leave these Amen's as they are given in the Greek (I think of the Jerusalem Bible version that I hear read at Mass in the vernacular). Since it is indeed Very God, I Am, Who speaks, no wonder that St John in the Apocalypse records Our Jesus being surnamed "the Amen, the witness true and faithful" (Apoc. iii, 14)!  It is through Him that we sound the Amen to the glory of God (II Cor. i, 20).

Before the Gospel (except during the austerities of Septuagesimatide, Lent, fasting days and Requiems) - and elsewhere in the chants of the Liturgy during Eastertide, such the overflowing joy of the Church at the Resurrection of Her Master - the Hebrew word Alleluia is sung as a cry of almost inarticulate delight and joy: it stems from the Hebrew phrase that may be simply rendered Hallelu-Yah, "Praise God".  In the modern Divine Office, a canticle taken from Apocalypse xix is sung weekly at Vespers: in that passage Alleluia is the word included many times.

Sabaoth and Hosanna are mysterious words; we sing and shout them in the Sanctus prefacing the consecration of the Sacrament at Mass, joining in with the ceaseless Divine praise sung by the heavenly hosts: "the heavens are telling the glory of God..." - and since the Church is one, all His worshippers unite to magnify His Name, the Name of the Lord God of Hosts, Whose Son, the Blessed One Who came in His Name, and now comes again in the Eucharist, was once hymned with Hosannas ere He was crucified for us sinners and our salvation, and so rightly is lauded with the same words because His saving Sacrifice is made present hic et nunc upon the altar.  

In the New Testament, the word Sabaoth occurs twice: once, quoting Isaias, in Romans ix, 29; and again in James v, 4.  The Hebrew seems to signify God as the Lord of starry hosts.  Hosanna - the cry of the crowds and children on Palm Sunday (St Matthew xxi, St Mark xi, St John xii) - meant originally "Give victory now", but had by Our Lord's time become a stereotyped cry - a cry of victory: the Greeks call the Sanctus the Hymn of Victory (epinikion hymnon).