Saturday, January 29, 2011

Psalm 86 - Versions and Notes

Sometimes I do a little Scripture study...

Psalm 86 (87 according to the Hebrew) caught my attention at Sext on Friday; it put me in mind of the Anglicans now coming into full communion.

Herewith, various versions of the psalm, then my notes thereon, culled from various sources:

Psalm 86 (87)

Vulgate (the Gallican Psalter, based on the Greek of the Septuagint):

1a Filiis Core. Psalmus cantici.

1b Fundamenta ejus in montibus sanctis: * 2 diligit Dominus portas Sion super omnia tabernacula Jacob.
3 Gloriosa dicta sunt de te, * civitas Dei.
4a Memor ero Rahab, et Babylonis * scientium me.
4b Ecce alienigenæ, et Tyrus, et populus Æthiopum, * hi fuerunt illic.
5 Numquid Sion dicet: Homo † et homo natus est in ea: * et ipse fundavit eam Altissimus?
6 Dominus narrabit in scripturis populorum, et principum: * horum, qui fuerunt in ea.
7 Sicut lætantium omnium * habitatio est in te.

Neo-Vulgate (a modern correction of the Vulgate by reference to the Hebrew &c.):

1 Filiorum Core.  Psalmus.  Canticum.

Fundamenta ejus in montibus sanctis;
2 diligit Dominus portas Sion super omnia tabernacula Jacob.
3 Gloriosa dicta sunt de te, civitas Dei! —
4 Memor ero Rahab et Babylonis inter scientes me; ecce Philistæa et Tyrus cum Æthiopia: hi nati sunt illic.
5 Et de Sion dicetur: « Hic et ille natus est in ea; et ipse fundavit eam Altissimus ».
6 Dominus referet in librum populorum: « Hi nati sunt illic ».
7 Et cantant sicut choros ducentes: « Omnes fontes mei in te ».

Douay-Rheims (rendering the Vulgate):

[1a] For the sons of Core, a psalm of a canticle.

[1b] The foundations thereof are in the holy mountains: * [2] The Lord loveth the gates of Sion above all the tabernacles of Jacob.
[3] Glorious things are said of thee, * O city of God.
[4a] I will be mindful of Rahab and of Babylon * knowing me.
[4b] Behold the foreigners, and Tyre, and the people of the Ethiopians, * these were there.
[5] Shall not Sion say: This man † and that man is born in her? * and the Highest himself hath founded her.
[6] The Lord shall tell in his writings of peoples and of princes, * of them that have been in her.
[7] The dwelling in thee is * as it were of all rejoicing.  [NB reversing the Latin]

Greek Orthodox Translation from the LXX (Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, 1997):

A Canticle Psalm, for the Sons of Kore.

His foundations are in the holy mountains; the Lord loveth the gates of Sion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God.
I will make mention of Raab and Babylon to them that know me.
And lo, the foreigners and Tyre and the people of the Ethiopians, these were born there.
A man will say: Mother Sion; and: That man was born in her; and: The Most High Himself hath founded her.
The Lord shall tell it in the writ of the peoples and the princes, even these that were born in her.
How joyous are all they that have their habitation in thee.

Prayer Book Version (lying somewhere between the Vulgate and the Hebrew):

Psalm 87. Fundamenta ejus

HER foundations are upon the holy hills : the Lord loveth the gates of Sion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
2. Very excellent things are spoken of thee : thou city of God.
3. I will think upon Rahab and Babylon : with them that know me.
4. Behold ye the Philistines also : and they of Tyre, with the Morians; lo, there was he born.
5. And of Sion it shall be reported that he was born in her : and the most High shall stablish her.
6. The Lord shall rehearse it when he writeth up the people : that he was born there.
7. The singers also and trumpeters shall he rehearse : All my fresh springs shall be in thee.

Revised Standard Version (from the Hebrew):

A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.  A Song.

[1] On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
[2] The Lord loves the gates of Sion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
[3] Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.  Selah
[4] Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia — “This one was born there,” they say.
[5] And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her”; for the Most High himself will establish her.
[6] The Lord records as he registers the peoples, “This one was born there.”  Selah
[7] Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.”

Notes on Psalm 86 (culled from various sources)

Seven verses – the number of perfection.

The seventh verse describes the perfect joy of heaven.

Triple praise of God’s city: “in the holy mountains… gates* of Sion… city of God… Sion” [*gates, a Hebraism for the city itself]

Fivefold category: “Rahab… Babylon… alienigenæ [MT: Philistia]… Tyre… Ethiopians”
Plus two more – sevenfold: “Homo et homo
Plus two more – eightfold, ninefold: “peoples… princes [the latter, LXX & Vulg. only]”

Three titles of the Deity: the Lord… (of) God… the Highest / Most High… the Lord

The foundations on the holy hills are the Apostles and Prophets, and Christ Jesus Himself the chief foundation stone (Eph 2:20); the gates, likewise the Apostles (Rev 21:12) and Christ Himself the Gate.  Twelve, three facing each of the cardinal points, for entrance is only by Triune baptism.

Rahab was a converted prostitute, saved alone out of Jericho (that is, the sinful world) with all her house.

Babylon, the type of the city of this world – for even Babylon can be converted and made Jerusalem.

The Church gathered from the nations exclaims in amazement: these are all my children, born of me!

All the nations of the Fertile Crescent: Egypt, called Rahab elsewhere in Scripture (Ps 88:10; Is 30:7); Babylon; Tyre, standing for all Phoenicia; Philistia; and faroff Ethiopia, south of Egypt.

Greek MSS have “Mother Sion” – St Paul alludes to this in Gal 4:26, “Jerusalem which is our mother”.

Sion shall be the mother and city of all peoples, reborn as her adopted children, recorded by the Lord in his register as her citizens.

“Princes” (MSS and versions) = “singers” (Text. Rec.) “dancing there”, lit. “as dancers” – i.e. the nations, made citizens, are permitted to sing and dance in the liturgy.

Use of Psalm 86 in the Breviary:

Since 1912, as the third psalm at Friday Sext.

On feasts of the Dedication, of Our Lady, of Virgin(s) and of non-Virgin(s), as the third psalm in the second Nocturn of Matins.
Brev. S.O.P.:
Aña.  Erit mihi Dominus in Deum, et lapis iste vocabitur domus Dei.  T.P.  Alleluja.  (Comm. Ded. Eccl.)
Aña.  Veniat dilectus meus in hortum suum, ut comedat fructum pomorum suorum.  (Comm. B.M.V.)
Aña.  Læva ejus sub capite meo, et dextera illius amplexabitur me.  (Comm. V. & n-V.)

Most Holy Name of Jesus – third psalm in second Nocturn:
Aña.  Omnes gentes, quascumque fecisti, venient et adorabunt coram te, Domine: et glorificabunt nomen tuum.

Circumcision (Octave Day of Christmas) – third psalm in second Nocturn of Matins:
Aña.  Homo natus est in ea, et ipse fundavit eam Altissimus.  (Ps 86:5b)
Similarly, in Epiphanytide – first psalm in third Nocturn of Matins, apart from on the Epiphany itself (so on the Octave Day):
Aña.  Homo natus est in ea, et ipse fundavit eam Altissimus.  (Ps 86:5b)

In the (Roman) Little Office, as the third psalm at Matins on Tuesday and Friday:
Aña.  Sicut lætantium omnium nostrum habitatio est in te, sancta Dei Genitrix.  (Ps 86:7 plus underlined words)

Use of Ps 86 in the Monastic Breviary:

Friday Matins, second psalm in first Nocturn (said together with Ps 85).

On feasts of the Dedication, of Our Lady, of Virgin(s) and of non-Virgin(s), as the second psalm in the second Nocturn of Matins.  Brev. Mon.:
Aña. Non est hic aliud, nisi domus Dei et porta cæli.  (Comm. Ded. Eccl.)
Aña.  Sicut lætantium omnium nostrum habitatio est in te, sancta Dei Genitrix.  (Comm. B.M.V.)
Aña.  Trahe me post te, in odorem curremus unguentorum tuorum; oleum effusum nomen tuum.  (Comm. V. & n-V.)

Circumcision and Epiphany – second psalm in second Nocturn of Matins:
Aña.  Homo natus est in ea, et ipse fundavit eam Altissimus.  (Ps 86:5b)

Most Holy Name of Jesus – sixth psalm in first Nocturn:
Aña.  Omnes gentes, quascumque fecisti,venient, et adorabunt coram te, Domine, et glorificabunt nomen tuum.

Anglican Use of Psalm 87 (1662 BCP):

The second of three psalms at Morning Prayer on the 17th of each month.

Having Trouble Accessing This Blog?

David Schütz alerts me that my blog (amongst others) seems to take an inordinate time to load – anyone else having trouble?  (I suppose that those not contacting me may well be having such trouble!)

Being stupid, I don't know the reason for my blog acting like this.  Help!

God's Blessings to Tunisia and Egypt

All should be glad at the overthrow of the petty tyrant of Tunisia, and – we pray – may God grant the same favour to the people of Egypt.

It is excellent to see them rising up against oppression and violence: the Lord grant that they have the victory.

Pray for those injured and for the families of those hurt and killed.

Pray that the military and police see that their duty lies in rejecting immoral orders to cow the populace, and rather in siding with calls for democratic, peaceful, just and non-violent reform.

Pray that the West gives Mubarak (pretended victor in the latest of Egypt's rigged elections) a cold shoulder, if not a hard shove off his throne!

Mercy, and justice!

Friday, January 28, 2011

All'Aglio e Olio

Elizabeth David, via a book! long ago gave me the recipe for my fasting dinner to-night.  I was going to have salmon, but, having to dine alone, I fixed on a simpler supper (and had had sardines in a bread roll for a late lunch in any case).

So, dinner was pasta all'aglio e olio: boil some pasta (David suggested spaghetti, I used penne, all I had to hand this evening), and meanwhile dice up lots of garlic to be heated up in good olive oil; once all is ready, mix it all together and serve.  I added a sprinkle of salt.

Earlier, I gave blood to-day, the first time since last year (I donate on and off), and I commend doing so to all.

It is interesting, though, to note the strict rules the Red Cross still applies: no one who's spent six months or more in the U.K. during the Mad Cow epidemic, no one who's had a tattoo in the past year, no one who's been in prison, no one's who's used drugs even once, no one who's visited a harlot, no one who's committed unnatural acts may donate blood.  

Isn't it remarkable, when the voices of morality are cowed by those of vice, that even now, in this dark age, the Red Cross's standards of hygiene still remind us that certain grave sins, not only disordered and degrading, are also notorious ways to catch foul diseases?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Read Old Books!

A passage in an essay by John Dunlap struck me:

Down in the stacks at the main library on campus [at Santa Clara University], I pulled a copy of Jacques Maritain's memoir The Peasant of the Garonne, a book I hadn't read in years. ... Paging through the book, I noticed that the due slip in the back recorded a steady stream of check-out dates until 1971. Apparently, no one in the university had looked at this famous book for 32 years.
On a hunch, I looked up a few other Maritain titles. Then I got into it, and spent the next hour combing the stacks and pawing through the library's huge collection of, to me, familiar Catholic writers: Knox, Guardini, Newman, Chesterton, Belloc, Gilson, Pieper, Benson, Dawson, Lunn, Dimnet. With few exceptions (often as not, a date when I myself had checked out the book), the due slips told the same story, again and again: a long series of check-out dates stopping, suddenly, in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Isn't that appalling!  The treasures of piety unopened!  One could add to this list several notable Dominicans, such as Vann, or McNabb.  There were so many great writers in the cause of Catholicism in the first half of the twentieth century, whether clerical or lay: to think they now lie forgotten.

There has been too much forgetting in the Church of Christ: too much of that pernicious hermeneutic of rupture, too much of a tendency to work toward achieving what Pol Pot planned for Cambodia: Year Zero.  Too many Catholics reject everything in the Church between the first century and Vatican II.  They are too stupid to see that that invalidates all the claims of the Church; then again, they may not believe any such claims, and prefer a therapeutic, subjective religion making no great demands.

Now, I've always been the eccentric who borrows the books that no one else has for years... and my own books at home feature treasures old as well as new.  Certainly, I've read some Newman, some Belloc, though not as much as I should. 

Just to list a few older (let's be honest and say pre-Conciliar) authors I have to hand:
  • Knox (2 books);
  • Chesterton (5 books);
  • Bl Columba Marmion (5 books);
  • Abbot Anscar Vonier (9 books, incl. his Collected Works).
Other authors of importance in my reading, overlapping into the time after the Council, would include Louis Bouyer, Pius Parsch, Joseph Jungmann (though I have read them critically).

It reminds me that just about the first work on the Mass that I read was Daniel Rock's Hierurgia (1833), published in 1830; and the other was Fortescue's The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy (1912).

I tend to trust older works of theology, published before about 1960, or better still, even earlier; whereas I do check the bona fides of modern writers.

Of course, I am very glad to read good solid reliable modern authors, such as Aidan Nichols, or Paul Haffner, or John Saward – indeed, I've just ordered several books by the two last-named theologians.

Quaintly, I even like Catholic books to bear both imprimatur and nihil obstat.

In my opinion, too many "Catholic" books to-day are full of psycho-babble.

Do readers have any thoughts to add?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Greek Translation Needed

A friend of mine sent me some interesting things to read, one featuring a copy of an icon of St Sabbas – patron of this blog, as it happens (see my very first post) – complete with an improving text.  Unfortunately, said text being in Greek, I can't quite puzzle it out.  Here it is:

Ὁ άγαπῶν τόν Θεόν καταφρονείτω τῶν φθειρομένων καί προτιμάτω τήν γνῶσιν αὐτοῦ.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

St Ildephonsus in Praise of the Virgin

To-day being Saturday, Our Lady's day, in honour of the Ever-Virgin I post this excerpt below from the little book of St Ildephonsus of Toledo on the perpetual virginity of Holy Mary (lib. de virginitate perpetua Sanctæ Mariæ, cap. 1, circa finem), partly in the original Latin, and partly - filling in the gaps - in a modern Italian translation (one being the descendant of the other).


('Tis said that, so pleased was the Virgin by his defence of her honour, she condescended to come down from heaven to Toledo Cathedral, and bestowed upon him a chasuble; the Feast of the Descent was celebrated in after ages at Toledo as a memorial of this.)

Ecce enim virgo ex Deo, virgo ex homine, virgo attestante angelo, virgo judice sponso, virgo ante sponsum, virgo cum sponso; indubitata virgo, etiam dubitante sponso.  Virgo ante Filii adventum, virgo post Filii generationem; virgo cum Filii nativitate, virgo post Filium natum.
Feconda per il Verbo, ripiena del Verbo, fecondissima per il Verbo, degna del parto del Verbo; per l’umana natività, per la legge umana, per i costumi umani, per la condizione umana, per l’umana verità, illæsa, incorrupta, inviolata, intemerata, integerrima davvero.  Ma per divina grazia, per divino favore, per divino dono, per divina invenzione, per divino consenso; 
Novo opere, nova efficacia, nova operatione, novo effectu, novo partu, cum conceptu virgo, per conceptum virgo, in conceptu virgo, post conceptum virgo, per partum virgo, in partu virgo, cum partu virgo, post partum virgo.  Virgo cum nascituro, virgo cum nascente, virgo post Filium natum.  Conjunx dicta et virgo, conjunx assumpta et virgo, conjunx credita, et virgo cum conjuge simul et prole perennis virgo, ignota semper conjugio, ignota complexa, ignota tactu, ignota maritali collegio.
E allora certamente, allora indubbiamente, allora sicuramente, allora veramente vergine santa, vergine beata, vergine gloriosa, vergine onorabile.  Ma dopo la generazione del Verbo incarnato; dopo la nascita del Dio fatto uomo; dopo la generazione dell’uomo assunto in Dio; dopo la nascita dell’uomo unito a Dio, vergine piú santa e santissima; vergine piú nobile e nobilissima; vergine piú onorabile e onorabilissima; vergine piú augusta e augustissima.

Ave Maria!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Vernacular Liturgy: Dolphins, bless the Lord

While in a very interesting bookshop off Cuba Street in Wellington, I found a useful book: Lauds, Vespers and Compline in English (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1965).  It advertises itself as being reprinted from (in conformity with Sacrosanctum concilium) "an officially approved edition of the Roman Breviary".

Therefore, I have this week (recovering from my holiday) been using this book for Lauds, Vespers and Compline: it's curious to pray in English again.  I find the translation of the psalms used - the Confraternity version adapted to the Breviary - strangely reminiscent of the Grail Version.  It is most useful as regards the Office Hymns, which it wisely translates as prose.

Some of the phrases used are a little odd: this morning, for the feast of St Agnes, the Sunday psalms being appointed, I was amazed to read in the Benedicite, "You dolphins and all water creatures, bless the Lord"!  I thought cetus meant whale; but perhaps the translators understood it to signify cetaceans in general.

Gossec - Dies Iræ

On the train from Wellington up to Tongariro National Park, I whiled away the time by listening to my latest acquisition, a CD (how quaint) of François-Joseph Gossec's setting of the Requiem Mass (1760).  It has a grandiose quality...

Herewith, the opening of the Dies iræ:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Let Quarrels Die

There has been an unhappy run-in between friends of my acquaintance.

May I suggest that the only one pleased by such division is, not Christ, but Satan?

(I say this as a sinner who has himself a nasty temper.)

Prayer is in order: as Aquinas says, in his Catena Aurea (quoting St Augustine on John 13:14; and cf. James 5:16a), may we wash one another’s feet by confessing our faults one to another, forgiving one another’s faults, and praying for one another’s faults.

Ubi caritas comes to mind, and my favourite English version thereof:


R.  Ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est.
V.  Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
V.  Exsultemus et in ipso jucundemur.
V.  Timeamus et amemus Deum vivum.
V.  Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.
R.  Ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est.
V.  Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur:
V.  Ne nos mente dividamur, caveamus.
V.  Cessent jurgia maligna, cessent lites.
V.  Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus.
R.  Ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est.
V.  Simul quoque cum beatis videamus
V.  Glorianter vultum tuum, Christe Deus:
V.  Gaudium, quod est immensum atque probum.
V.  Saecula per infinita saeculorum.
R.  Ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est.


Antiphon: Where there is charity and love,
there the God of love abides.

1. The love of Christ has gathered us as one, 
Rejoice in him with joy which he imparts; 
Let us revere and love the living God 
And love each other with unfeigning hearts. Antiphon.

2. And so when we are gathered here as one, 
Let quarrels die and envious rancour cease; 
Be our resolve all bitterness to shun 
And in our midst be Christ, his love and peace. Antiphon.

3. Oh, lead us, Master, by your saving grace, 
To where the blessed glory in your sight; 
There let us see and love you face to face, 
Gathered once more in everlasting light. Antiphon.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In prole mater, in partu virgo

Over at the latest website of Sentire cum Ecclesia (whereby David Schütz appears to be on the way to as many instantiations as Doctor Who), yours truly has been intervening in a big way in the discussion about what is meant by Our Lady's virginity in partu, attempting to defend the traditional doctrine thereof.  

(Warning: this topic is sometimes discussed with too much expatiation of details that really require a holy reserve.)

With the Church, we pray in honour of the Ever-Virgin (from the Dominican Little Office of Our Lady):

Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata: da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos.

(Vouchsafe me to praise thee, sacred Virgin: give to me strength against thine enemies.)

— Antiphon at Prime


In prole mater, in partu virgo, gaude et lætare, Virgo Mater Domini.

(In offspring a mother, in birthgiving a virgin, rejoice and be glad, Virgin Mother of the Lord.)

— Antiphon at Sext

Beata mater, et intacta virgo, gloriosa Regina mundi, intercede pro nobis ad Dominum.

(Blessed Mother, and intact Virgin, glorious Queen of the world, intercede for us with the Lord.)

— Antiphon at None

Post partum, Virgo, inviolata permansisti: Dei Genetrix, intercede pro nobis.

(After childbirth, O Virgin, thou didst remain inviolate: Mother of God, intercede for us.)

— Antiphon at Lauds

Monday, January 17, 2011

Goodbye for Now New Zealand

Please of your charity pray for me as I fly back to Australia this morning from my New Zealand holiday.

I certainly give thanks for a very pleasant holiday, and hope to return here soon.

Having got up at 2:45 am (!!!), I am somewhat feeling the effects of bizarre travel arrangements that seemed such examples of prudent money-saving at the time...

In any case, arising with the Cistercians in the wee small hours at least gave me a chance for Matins en route to the airport on the shuttle bus.

St Antony, pray for us.

P.S.  I arrived home twelve hours after I got up this morning.  It's good to be back, and to have a rest.  Holidaying can be wearying.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Reprobated Abuses

Sunday 16th January 2011: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ordinary Form Mass at Auckland’s Cathedral of St Patrick and St Joseph, 4.30 pm.

The music was quite decent, the congregation filled the cathedral, the use of the new words for the Ordinary of the Mass was pleasing, but some elements of the service!

To begin with, the servers wore green monklike scapulars over their albs; one suspects that these are changed to match the liturgical colour of the day.  How ridiculous.

Secondly, the responsorial psalm sung did not appear to be the correct one, nor was it taken from the approved Grail Version, but was in a transparently “neutered” paraphrase, omitting any male pronoun referring to God (how stupid, given that the new words for the Mass employ such pronouns).

I pass over the earnest, chatty, smiling banter of the celebrant.  As one Dominican used to say in booming tones, “He means well”.

Betraying a distorted view of the Mass, the altar candles were not lit until the Preparation of the Gifts began.

More serious still, two glass carafes of wine were placed on the altar alongside the chalice, and were consecrated in due course.  This is a reprobated abuse, according to Redemptionis sacramentum, n. 106 (quoted below).  I will be complaining of this scandal to the priest, the Bishop, the Nuncio and the Congregation for Divine Worship.

As I saw also in Wellington, the priest did not make any act of reverence after consecrating and elevating the Host (at least he genuflected after consecrating and elevating the Chalice).  This is either liturgical minimalism gone too far, or an outward manifestation of a distorted view of the consecration.  He ought obey the rubrics which specify that he must “genuflect in adoration”.  Who is this who refuses to bend the knee in worship of his Saviour?

Most scandalously – the grossest sacrilege – at communion time, a layperson poured out the Most Precious Blood from the carafes into a half-dozen or so chalices.  This surely is another reprobated abuse about which I plan to complain.

Both these abuses are condemned in Redemptionis sacramentum, n. 106:
However, the pouring of the Blood of Christ after the consecration from one vessel to another is completely to be avoided, lest anything should happen that would be to the detriment of so great a mystery. Never to be used for containing the Blood of the Lord are flagons, bowls, or other vessels that are not fully in accord with the established norms.
Indeed, glass vessels are in and of themselves explicitly reprobated in n. 117 (my underlining):
... Reprobated, therefore, is any practice of using for the celebration of Mass common vessels, or others lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit or which are mere containers, as also other vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily. ...
Indeed, according to n. 173, these two abuses are in and of themselves grave matters (as I underline below):
Although the gravity of a matter is to be judged in accordance with the common teaching of the Church and the norms established by her, objectively to be considered among grave matters is anything that puts at risk the validity and dignity of the Most Holy Eucharist: namely, anything that contravenes what is set out above in nn. 48-52, 56, 76-77, 79, 91-92, 94, 96, 101-102, 104, 106, 109, 111, 115, 117, 126, 131-133, 138, 153 and 168. Moreover, attention should be given to the other prescriptions of the Code of Canon Law, and especially what is laid down by canons 1364, 1369, 1373, 1376, 1380, 1384, 1385, 1386, and 1398.
This document was promulgated in 2004: I think after seven years some obedience ought be given it.

Another strange thing: the Prayer after Communion was read while the priest and congregation remained seated.

What a pity I missed the Mass I intended to attend, where such abuses would have been absent; however, in God’s Providence I am called to act now so as to try and avert further mischief of this sorry sort.

For the record, I do not attribute malice or deliberate dissent to the priest and so forth!  No doubt they love Our Lord and would be shocked to think they were acting improperly.  This sort of strange carrying-on has flourished because of much misguidedness and lack of proper oversight.  Hopefully they will take to heart what the Church requires of her ministers when offering the sacred liturgy, once their attention is drawn to their mistakes.

Searching for a Mass in Auckland

Trust not in Diocesan websites.  Having caught a bus out to Holy Family, Te Atatu Peninsula – which took half an hour to get there – I found out from the friendly priest there that the time for the Latin Mass was changed over a month ago, and he has told the Diocese repeatedly, but to no avail: they still list the old time, hence my feeling deflated.  At least I could read Lauds to Sext on the bus back, after whiling away the long wait with lunch at a coffeeshop nearby.

I really should have known better than to trust in a Diocesan website – I should have called Father up and checked with him, I know.  It wasn't his fault; indeed, he kindly told me that Fr Meuli has a 7pm Latin Mass at Titirangi.  (Unfortunately, to get there it's a long way to go by bus on a Sunday evening, especially as I have an early flight to catch to-morrow, and I've found that taxis in N.Z. are quite expensive.)  I think I'll go to the 4.30pm Ordinary Mass at Auckland Cathedral, which is very close to where I'm staying.

As to the Diocesan website: why is it that Catholic bureaucracy tends to be so mediocre and inefficient?  I wonder if they could survive in the real world.  One of my colleagues at work refers to such little people as "nunny bunny types", since they manifest, as laity, some of the worst caricatures of dilly silly post-Vatican II religious women, right down to poor dress sense, inefficiency and passive aggression when challenged.  ("I'm a victim," they wail when rightly criticised, "You're oppressing me!"  Boo hoo, get a life.)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Coromandel

Two hours each way on the ferry across the Hauraki Gulf, to and from Coromandel, and then about three hours being driven around 100 km across every twisty road leading across that verdant, hilly peninsula... a very enjoyable if tiring Saturday!  (I still feel as if I'm aboard ship.)

My trip was a long-overdue visit to Rev Christopher, whom I knew as a Dominican student in Melbourne, and has since transferred to Auckland Diocese: praise God, he was deaconed in late December, and will be priested on the 7th of May, God willing.  I plan to make this my excuse to revisit New Zealand...

It was good to see him and his parents, all in excellent spirits.  I benefitted from a tasty light lunch, a good bushwalk and a quick tour of some of the sights of the Coromandel.  Many thanks, old friend.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Taxi to Auckland

After a most comfortable stay at the Chateau Tongariro, what with tramping over hill and dale in the volcanic landscape roundabout, enjoying excellent service and meals when back at that establishment, the only let-down was being told that the train was late... and then finding out, too late, that the wrong train was late, and mine had been on time, and I'd missed it.

Full credit to the Chateau, however, since it was instead arranged, seeing as this mixup had occurred, that one of the staff travelling to Auckland give me a lift in her car: and four hours later, I'm here.  The trip was faster and more enjoyable than the rattly old train, seeing as we had a pleasant conversation en route.

I plan to tell all about my tour of New Zealand "by taxi".

Overland to Auckland

This afternoon I depart Tongariro for Auckland, taking the Overlander the rest of the way through to the top of the North Island (jokingly called "Sydney for beginners", a Kiwi friend told me).  I have the weekend here before flying back home early on Monday.  (Most perversely, my holiday involves very many early mornings!)

Hopefully I will catch up with an old friend, just recently ordained a deacon and, Deo volente, to be priested later this year.  I'm glad of an excuse to come back to Aotearoa later on in 2011: this holiday now draws rapidly to its end; amusingly, looking back to late May and early June 2009, I found that my first trip here was also for eleven nights.  That said, I wouldn't mind staying longer sometime in the future: God defend New Zealand.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

To Mt Doom

Off to Mount Doom... or rather, by train to the lower slopes of Mt Ruapehu near Mt Ngauruhoe, used as a backdrop in a certain film.  Unlike the hobbits I will not be bedding down in the wilderness, nor tiptoeing around Sauron, but staying at a luxury chalet in Tongariro National Park (the first in N.Z. and one of the first in the world, gifted to the Crown by the local Maori chief back in 1887).  I do hope the volcanoes behave themselves.

While I'll be unable to hear Mass to-day, I will try and mark the Baptism of the Lord and the Octave Day of the Epiphany.  It's a good day to renew one's own baptismal vows (for the which a plenary indulgence may be gained):
O Christ Jesus, I acknowledge Thee as Universal King.  For Thee all creatures have been made.  Exercise over me all Thy rights; renewing my Baptismal vows I renounce Satan and all his works and pomps and I promise to live as a good Christian.  Especially do I pledge myself to work with all my power for the triumph of the rights of God and of Thy Church.  Divine Heart of Jesus I offer Thee all my poor actions to obtain that all hearts may recognise Thy Sacred Royalty, and that thus the reign of Thy peace may be established throughout the entire world.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ordinary Mass in Wellington Cathedral

This morning I went along to Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Wellington, at 8.30am on Wednesday 12th January.

The chapel after Mass, the candles &c. having been packed away.

Mass, being in the Ordinary Form, was for Wednesday of the 1st week in Ordinary Time [sic].

The liturgy, a simple said service, was basically normal for a weekday celebration in the Ordinary Form in Australasia (no server, a layperson coming up to read the first reading and later to act as Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, a short boring homily), excepting:

1. The celebrant said “In the name of the Father…” in Maori:

Ki te ingoa o te Matua, o te Tamaiti, o te Wairua Tapu.

2. In N.Z., the new words and responses for the Ordinary of the Mass are being introduced already; there were booklets provided, endorsed by the local episcopate, which many were using; it was good to say “And with your spirit” (though I noticed some didn’t, I forgot later on, and the priest himself got confused between the old and new words at points, such as during the formulæ of offering up the bread and wine at the Preparation of the Gifts, and in the Embolism – switching over to the new version takes practice).

3. Instead of the responsorial psalm, a portion of Psalm 105 was read chorus contra chorum: I don’t know if this is the correct psalm for today; I do recall that the psalm can be read in this manner, but what of the response? and furthermore, the version was the Grail version, but “inclusified” by replacing references to God as “he/him” with “God” – the manic avoidance of pronouns is very clunky, not to mention illicit – yet this curious translation is in a book printed for the Cathedral!

4. There were, thankfully, no prayers of the faithful: I say so because too often, if the priest asks the congregation to add their own prayers, and as too often all remain seated on their behind rather than standing, the whole thing degenerates into a Quaker prayer meeting rather than integrates into the larger liturgical act.

5. A wooden paten was used – surely Redemptionis Sacramentum reprobates this?  Maybe it was gilded on the inside…

6. To my surprise, no one stood at the Orate fratres, but followed the former practice of standing only for the Prayer over the Gifts – hasn’t N.Z. implemented this yet?  Even in the booklet with the new words there is no mention of this, but it says to stand at the old point instead.  I noticed the same in Italy – even at Mass in St Peter's!

7. Greatly to my shock and scandal (I think I may have gasped), the priest didn’t genuflect or even bow afte elevating the Host, and only bowed, not genuflected, after elevating the Chalice – it is a foolish abuse to only “reverence” the Sacrament once, just perhaps betraying a distorted idea of the consecration of the Host as not complete until the Chalice is also consecrated, or more likely out of misguidedly overzealous liturgical minimalism; at the end of Mass he only bowed (I didn’t notice what he did at the start).  He may have a health problem meaning he cannot genuflect, but otherwise it was a sorry example of gross irreverence that certainly scandalized me and set a bad example for the faithful.  "Irreverence can scarce be separated from impiety" (Council of Trent, Decretum de observandis et evitandis in celebratione missæ, l7th September 1562).

8. The priest elevated, not the paten and chalice, but the Host over the chalice at the Doxology at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer (which was the “Swiss” one, using the variant referring to Christ as Mediator and including “joys and sorrows”, quoting Gaudium et spes).  How amusing that he thus did something Tridentine!

9. The annoying N.Z. modern version of the “Our Father” was used – I cannot bring myself to do so, so I said the traditional one under my breath (their booklet contains both).  Where exactly does permission for this N.Z. peculiarity come from?  Won't it ipso facto be done away with by the new translation, seeing as there will be one English-language Missal?

I shouldn't gripe too much, as I suspect Mass in the vernacular is usually done in a pretty slapdash manner in most places: I joked years ago with a friend that when at Mass in a new place, one tends now to classify the liturgical abuses (and oddities) present as "normal" or "unusual".

And they wonder why – even without any other motive – I prefer the Extraordinary Form...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Prayer in Time of Floods

"So let every good man pray to you in the time of need. The floods of water may reach high but him they shall not reach." (Ps 31(32):6)

Again from the Psalms, inspired as they are by the Holy Ghost, and so teaching us how to pray:

Psalm 69(68):2-3,16

Salvum me fac, Deus: * quoniam intraverunt aquæ usque ad animam meam.
Infixus sum in limo profundi: * et non est substantia.
Veni in altitudinem maris: * et tempestas demersit me.
Non me demergat tempestas aquæ, neque absorbeat me profundum: * neque urgeat super me puteus os suum.

Save me, O God: * for the waters are come in even unto my soul.
I stick fast in the mire of the deep: * and there is no sure standing.
I am come into the depth of the sea: * and a tempest hath overwhelmed me.
Let not the tempest of water drown me, nor the deep swallow me up: * and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.


From the Anglican Patrimony:


From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine, 
Good Lord, deliver us.  (BDW)

O ALMIGHTY Lord God, who for the sin of man didst once drown all the world, except eight persons, and afterward of thy great mercy didst promise never to destroy it so again; We humbly beseech thee, that although we for our iniquities have worthily deserved a plague of rain and waters, yet upon our true repentance thou wilt send us such weather, as that we may receive the fruits of the earth in due season; and learn both by thy punishment to amend our lives, and for thy clemency to give thee praise and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  (1662 BCP)

Flood Disaster in Queensland

Of your charity, pray for all victims of the recent flooding in Queensland, especially as a result of the flash flooding in Toowoomba and environs, the dead and missing.  Pray, too, for those in Brisbane and elsewhere who are being evacuated as waters rise ever higher.

In the Lockyer Valley, including Toowoomba, nine are confirmed dead, many of them children, and sixty-six are still missing, with many feared drowned.

Prayers in Tribulation and for the Dead:

Kyrie, eleison!  Christe, eleison!  Kyrie, eleison!
Pater noster...
V/.  Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
R/.  Sed libera nos a malo.
V/.  Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R/.  Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
Oremus.


Ne despicias, omnipotens Deus, populum tuum in afflictione clamantem: sed propter gloriam nominis tui, tribulatis succurre placatus.  Per Christum Dominum nostrum.  R/.  Amen.


V/.  Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine.
R/.  Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
V/.  Requiescant in pace.
R/.  Amen.
Oremus.


Fidelium, Deus, omnium conditor et redemptor, animabus famulorum famularumque tuarum remissionem cunctorum tribue peccatorum: ut indulgentiam, quam semper optaverunt, piis supplicationibus consequantur.  Qui vivis et regnas per omnia sæcula sæculorum.  R/.  Amen.

Brisbane is now bracing for higher floods than struck in 1974, and similar threats face Ipswich.

While I've been crossing Cook Strait on a luxury ferry in clear skies, others have been awaiting help as the skies rain down yet more back in Australia, making conditions well-nigh impossible for rescue flights; while the sea is like a millpond here, Queenslanders have been swept away and drowned in raging waters.

Not having watched television since I took off for my New Zealand holiday, I only read of the Toowoomba disaster to-day while en route to Wellington, and it was just as I booked in at the hotel desk and turned toward the lifts that I saw a television broadcasting roving coverage of the ongoing emergency.

Travel Journal: 11th January

Tuesday 11th January: feria after Epiphany

I am really beginning to think there is something perverse about a holiday which requires me to get up far earlier than normal!  This morning, in order to catch the train, I was down for breakfast at my hotel shortly after six, before getting the shuttle bus to the station in order to board in time for the departure at seven.

New Zealand's rail system seems somewhat quaint, no offence intended!  A rather plummy, jolly announcer's voice (pre-recorded) instructed us as to dropping off our luggage at the luggage car before boarding, in tones that could have come from a British holiday camp of the nineteen-fifties.  The trains, while their interiors are comfortable, look quite old and none too classy – the suburban trains in Melbourne and Perth are more up-to-date.  I was a little underwhelmed by the catering arrangements on board also: not a dining car, but simply a kiosk dispensing (quite decent) snacks to be eaten back at one's seat.

Furthermore, the train rattled and rolled quite remarkably, at least in comparison to the suburban railways to which I'm accustomed.  As it sped across the plains of North Canterbury, it was quite an effort to walk down the aisle of the carriage without being thrown into someone's lap.  After a while, the twisty route between the mountains and the sea proved more comfortable, and by the time we reached the shep stations and then vineyards of Marlborough all was well: I struck up an informative conversation with an English couple who proved seasoned travellers (the husband works for B.A.).

To-day is cloudy, which obscured the view of the Alps and the Kaikouras, but the view of the valleys, rivers and lower hills, not to mention the Pacific coast complete with fur seals resting atop the seaside rocks, was very pleasant.  We had a five-minute stop at Kaikoura, allowing us – again, how quaint an announcement – "to stretch your legs and have a cigarette" if one so desired.


After over five hours on the TranzCoastal, it was bliss to board the Kaitaki at Picton for the passage across Cook Strait to Wellington – because I had booked a first class ticket, and was able sink down gratefully into a couch, plied with complimentary eats and drinks, and given access to free wireless internet.  Now I must finish my pinot gris while passing through Queen Charlotte Sound.

North by Land and Sea

Back on the move again: by train on a twisting track, where precipitious mountains run down into the ocean, from Christchurch north to Picton (retracing my own drive eighteen months ago 'mid snow and ice as far as Blenheim); then east and a little south by ferry to Wellington, capital of New Zealand, crossing to the North Island.

Pray for the poor souls lost on the Wahine, back in 1968: so stormy the day, the ferry sank in Wellington harbour within sight of land yet out of range of all help – I do hope Cook Strait doesn't live up to its murderous reputation as a very nasty stretch of water.  "For those in peril on the sea" indeed!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Photos Being Added Below

I have finally managed to start uploading some of my New Zealand happy snaps, which I am adding to my travel journal posts below: simply scroll down to see the scenes I've been blogging about.

Travel Journal: 9th January

Again, I just wanted to sleep in... I eventually headed downstairs to breakfast, and then off (via a rather expensive taxi) to Mass at Mother of Perpetual Succour Catholic Oratory, for the Feast of the Holy Family (which I have thus kept twice, whereas I missed the Epiphany entirely this year).  


Low Mass was offered up by the famous, redoubtable Fr Rizzo, F.S.S.P., who is manning the Christchurch Latin Mass scene until the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer finally get their new men ordained and then send one out here (Fr Marshall having decided to join the Latin Mass apostolate in Melbourne).


As I recall has long been his practice, while Fr arranged the veiled chalice on the altar and went to open the missal before beginning Mass, he briefly instructed us as to the significance of this feast.  There were two servers, the usual notices, together with the Epistle and Gospel in English, read out before the sermon, and the Third Confiteor – thanks be, since I am used to this from Fr Rowe's Masses in Perth, and tend to say it secretly to myself out of habit if it is omitted, as it is in Melbourne, Hobart and Sydney.  

After Mass, there were the Leonine Prayers, then a special blessing of families from the Ritual, together with an aspersion with Epiphany water – for this, the ciborium was brought forth from the tabernacle, so the blessing was coram Sanctissimo, made more solemn by being before the Sacrament simply exposed – and thirdly the "Hail Queen of heaven" heartily sung out for a recessional.

Finally, after a brief retreat to the sacristy, Fr Rizzo returned to bless an engaged couple, using the approved formula from the Ritual.  All this took just an hour.

Worship done, I was glad to meet some of the parishioners, and renew my acquaintance with others: several recognized me from the Christus Rex Pilgrimage.  Fr Rizzo was personable as ever.  We all had a cup of tea and some cake in the adjoining house, and then I was invited to visit some live Kiwis...


Chris and Nancy, plus several of their children (Greg, Ruth and Hannah) very kindly took me back to their home at Rangiora, about 30 km outside of Christchurch, for lunch, and I ended up spending a very happy afternoon with them and several other visitors, including Br Paul, F.Ss.R., and Daniel, who's about to return to Ezechiel House in Sydney to complete his first year of studies with the F.S.S.P., ere he go to the U.S.A. for the remaining six years of seminary training.

Br Paul kindly dropped me off at my hotel at about six o'clock, and before dinner I took a long walk around the local Botanic Gardens.  Another beaut day.

Return to Christchurch

I was last here on Whit-Wednesday, 2009: 'tis good to be back in this very attractive city, albeit somewhat the worse for wear after the earthquake it suffered last year.

In the Traditional Calendar (well, since the feast was settled on the Sunday within the Epiphany Octave in 1921 by Pope Benedict XV, as by a happy coincidence the former Mass of this day had the same appointed Gospel), this Sunday is the Feast of the Holy Family: my plan is to hear Mass at the chapel of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, the Catholic Cathedral being closed temporarily for repairs.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Travel Journal: 8th January

Saturday 8th January: Our Lady on Saturday (formerly, in the Octave of the Epiphany)

My bed was so comfortable... why not sleep a little longer?  I compromised by reading the morning Office in bed, finishing a little before eight.  To-day again dawned astoundingly clear and bright, with nary a cloud in the sky, and such a sight of the perpetual snowfields on the high peaks (which feed the glaciers) seeming so near in the morning light.


Breakfast done, time to catch the bus for Greymouth.  I had a pleasant conversation en route with some Canadians, who agreed with me about the dodgy "bushman's" centre that we were forced to stop at for elevenses: it was pretty poor, even crass.


Thankfully, our next stop, Hokitika, proved a beautiful neat little town, and I was glad to make a visit at St Mary's Church, a handsome edifice consecrated Deiparæ Virgini Mariæ; best of all, the sanctuary had not be mucked with, the high altar and sedilia and (parts) of the altar rails still in situ, so it would be a work of a few minutes to move out the forward altar and such temporary bric a brac.



We caught the train at Greymouth for the trip over the Southern Alps to Christchurch.  I must say, while pretty, it wasn't as scenic as the bus trip from Queenstown to Franz Josef, nor the bus trip to Milford Sound that I took back in 2009; then again, in winter, with the Alps in snow, it would then be very fine.

Walking around Christchurch at first one is all but unaware that a great earthquake struck the city back in September: but gradually the number of fenced-off buildings, and the odd bit of fallen masonry, even of a few properties in process of demolition, begins to bring home to one the destruction caused.  It is as if one were visiting genteel relations fallen on hard times: at first, all would appear painfully normal, but gradually one's attention would be drawn to the signs of straitened circumstances, forced economies and disrepair.  I hasten to add, I hope that Christchurch is not too dazed by the swingeing blow it received, and the city seems bustling and prosperous despite it all.

Four months after the Earthquake in Christchurch

Not a church, but a unique example of parliamentary Gothic: 
the meeting-place of the former Provincial Council of Canterbury – 
badly damaged by the Earthquake

To-morrow, off to Mass for the feast of the Holy Family at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.

Glaciers to Christchurch

To-day I'll continue my trip across New Zealand, departing the glacier country, passing first by coach to Greymouth (pray for the lost miners and their grieving families), then back across the Alps to Christchurch on the TranzScenic train via the tunnel under Arthur's Pass: it should prove a very pleasant route.

Amusingly, I was told when visiting the Transalpine Redemptorists in Christchurch back in 2009 that they often got phonecalls enquiring about booking seats on that train!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Travel Journal: 7th January

From the pages of my diary:

Friday 7th January: Feria after the Epiphany (would that it were still the old Octave)



Arising at six, I strolled out onto the balcony of my room: though the sun had not yet risen above the peaks of the Remarkables, the light of morn was bright and strong, and inspiring for Lauds.  Breakfast done, time to board the bus for Franz Josef.

Bizarre interlude number one – I have been amusing myself trying to put N.Z. placenames into Cyrillic: thus Queenstown is Квинстаун, Kvinstaun; and my objective for to-day, Franz Josef Glacier, is apparently Ледник Франца-Иосифа (thanks, Wikipedia); which I reach via Ванака and Хааст.  I can't wait to get to Крайстчёрч, Kraystchyorch!

The road threads its way through the Kawarau Gorge, and I marvel that eighteen months ago I drove through this.  On the bus one can relax and take in the scenery; last time I deliberately focussed on the road.  The Kawarau River is in spate.  Further on, Wanaka was a brilliant spot to visit, with Lake Wanaka whipped up by winds off the Alps, every wave white-crested, and surf breaking over the beach onto the grassy sward by the waterfront, the lake being swollen by the recent heavy rains that have hammered the South Island, and in imminent danger of flooding.


The road ran north by Lake Hawea (also high) and then back to the northernmost reaches of Lake Wanaka.  All along, the scenery was magnificent, with mountain after mountain: to quote an Australian poet, they "raise their torn and rugged battlements on high".  The Haast Pass was something, with beech forest grading into rainforest, and ever the peaks so high above, all streaked with landslides and waterfalls.  Mountains and rivers here are wild, still eroding rather than long-eroded as the gentler, older landscape of Australia.

What providence: to-day and this weekend the West Coast is having fine weather, after three weeks' rain, and in a climate where it normally rains every second day, and has 5 metres or more of precipitation a year.  It is gloriously sunny.  Afternoon tea at the South Westland Salmon Farm: quite the best smoked salmon with cream cheese and red onion.

Mount Cook is the snow-covered peak just left of centre

Just before reaching Fox Glacier township, we had the luck to catch sight of Mount Cook, normally wreathed in cloud (hence the local Maori name Aoraki, Cloud-Piercer).  Just after the Village, we crossed the Alpine Fault, the strikingly markèd line where the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates rub against each other, and which is long overdue for a colossal magnitude 9 earthquake (the last one was before European settlement).

At last, after this eight-hour bus trip, Franz Josef township, and my accommodation.  I had time to relax for half an hour or so before being shuttled up to the glacier car park, giving me two hours (5 to 7 p.m.) to walk the two kilometres to the very mouth of the glacier, from which black forbidding cavern (as in some mediæval image of hell) issues forth the furiously churning Waiho River, the colour of wet concrete, and strewn with ice blocks.







Once returned safely to town (a village really, of about 300 souls, almost entirely given over to tourism), I was glad to find the tiny church of Our Lady of the Alps open for prayer: how convenient at the hour of Vespers.  I noted the stained glass windows either side of the outer doors featured St Bernard, for he is the patron saint of mountaineers.  A copy of the famous photograph of Bl Pier Giorgi Frassati, that keen mountaineer, smoking a pipe halfway up an alpine ascent would be a fine addition!

A sign explained that, as Mass is only celebrated monthly, the Blessed Sacrament is not in fact reserved in the Tabernacle.

Dinner followed: some excellent local whitebait, a specialty of the West Coast, washed down with a pint of Speight's Old Dark.

A correction: a pint is not the same as, but is bigger than a "handle", which in turn is bigger than a "12oz", whatever that is.

Some quick research... beer being still traditionally measured in Imperial fluid ounces, a "12oz" is 350ml (an uncommon size for beer in Australia, as being already bigger than a middy or half pint), a pint is 20oz or 570ml, and a handle must be in between I suppose (at least going on the prices).

Our Lady of the Alps, pray for us.
St Bernard, pray for us.
Bl Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us.

Over the Alps to the Glaciers

God willing, this morning I head off bright and early on a coach trip to the West Coast, passing through Wanaka before crossing the Southern Alps via the Haast Pass.  I hope I sight Mt Aspiring on the way.

By late afternoon I should be at Franz Josef Glacier.  (Pray for two Australians, their parents' only children, who were killed there a few years ago when imprudently they ventured too close and the ice collapsed upon them.  I plan to keep further back...)



Our Lady of the Alps, Our Lady of the Snows, pray for us.

Travel Journal: 6th January

First, an update on the 5th (still in Australia), then yester-day the 6th, my first in New Zealand:

Wednesday 5th January: feria

Not the Vigil of the Epiphany, alas!  Lauds, then Low Mass, then Prime coram sanctissimo (for they have Exposition at Our Lady's altar after Mass) at St Aloysius… breakfast back at the apartment, then Terce before departing for a day-trip to the upper Yarra Valley.  We drove to Warburton (Sext, and lunch), then, via Healesville, to Tarrawarra Abbey, where I visited my friend Br Luke.  It is nigh on six years since he joined the Abbey, and in fact next week he will renew his vows for a year, before, God willing, taking his solemn vows on the 12th of January 2012 (which, according to the modern Martyrology, and I suspect the Cistercian Calendar, is the feast of St Benedict Biscop, Abbot).  It has been three years since I last visited him, and seven years since I last made a retreat at the Abbey.  The community – founded by Irish Cistercians of the Strict Observance in 1954 – numbers but sixteen; he is at present the only brother in formation.  Before leaving the Abbey, I paid a visit to the Abbey Church, said None, Kyrie and Pater for Br Luke, and a Salve in honour of Our Lady of Tarrawarra (a rather mannish painting of whom hangs at the west end of the choir).

We drove back via Warrandyte.  For dinner: Vietnamese, I think… which turned out to be delicious; the Soc Trang style mini-pancakes and pork “casserole” (or hot-pot rather) were excellent.

To-morrow: off to New Zealand!  Alas, I must needs arise at six o’clock in order to get to the airport in time for my flight.  Why is it that I always get up earlier on holidays than on work days?  How perverse!

Thursday 6th January: Epiphany of the Lord

Happy Theophany!  Three wonders we celebrate this day: the Adoration of the Magi, those first-fruits of the Gentiles, presaging the conversion of the whole world to Christ, led unto Him by the agency of a marvellous star, intimating that the true philosophy raises men’s eyes from nature to nature’s God; the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan (which is the main focus of this feast in the East, but which is rather contemplated in first place on the Octave Day of the Epiphany in the West); and the Miracle at Cana (which, in the Traditional Roman liturgy, is more strictly focussed on in the Mass of the first Sunday after the Octave of the Epiphany).

On my way over to New Zealand, I had the words and music of that great carol, “We three kings of Orient are,” playing as it were in my mind.  I imagined the scene somewhat as depicted for one of the Medici dukes by one of the masterly painters of old, whose name escapes me: a caravan of gloriously caparisoned camels approacheth, bearing Eastern lords richly drest, one European or Caucasian, one African or Ethiopian, and one Asian or Chinese (yes, I know they were Magi, and therefore “Persians”, but to see them thus bespeaks the whole family of mankind)… then my mind tipped over into whimsy, recalling what Bp Jarrett once told me of an Anglo-Catholic church in England, whose structure and liturgy was so grand that “one wouldn’t have been surprised to see the sacred ministers approaching the altar on elephants!”  How wide an aisle would be needed for three Indian elephants to walk abreast, and how expansive a cope for the deacon-atop-elephant and subdeacon-atop-elephant to hold each edge thereof for the celebrant-atop-elephant as he aspersed the people with holy water before Mass…

I should mention that I nearly missed my flight (though given my thoughts, I could well have just floated off into the sky in a daze), since I managed to misread a crucial sign, sending the car over the Westgate Bridge toward Geelong rather than the Bolte Bridge toward Tullamarine Airport – thank God indeed that it proved possible to turn off at the far end, recross the bridge, find the right way and still get checked-in on time.  In any case, the flight was delayed.

I was pleased that the route of the flight took us over Wilson’s Promontory, then down parallel to the islands in eastern Bass Strait that mark the chain of hills submerged since the last Ice Age, finally turning away toward New Zealand when only a short way east of southern Flinders Island, with the mountains of the mainland of Tasmania in view on the horizon.  To my slight disappointment, thick cloud covered N.Z. – then again, how true to its name Aotearoa, “Land of the Long White Cloud.”  It was a goodly sight, the verdant landscape, a mixture of rich farmland and great high hills or rather glacier-carved mountains, when at last we broke through the cloud decks not far short of Queenstown, just before we landed.  Truly, each was “an high hill, as the hill of Bashan” (Ps 68(67):15b, P.B.V.).

After checking in at my hotel, I did as pledged and drank to the health of N.Z. a “handle” of beer (a good dark porter) at Speight’s Alehouse – apparently a “handle” is the local term for a pint, it being served in a beer mug with, well, let the reader understand.  But before that, I did pay a visit to the Master of this and all places, returning to the local Catholic church of St Joseph.


Down on the waterfront, I admired the clear waters of Lake Wakatipu, ducks idly bobbing in the crystal-clear water by the wharf in the foreground with great mountains wreathed in mist and cloud in the background, and had some delicacies at Patagonia Chocolates: I went there last time, and am a creature of habit.  The proprietors seem to have a Spanish background: the rich, dark caramel was definitely dulce con leche, if that is the right term, and the very name alfajor employed for caramel sandwiched between biscuits, then dipt in dark chocolate, speaks for itself.

I had arranged beforehand to take the gondola ride up to the Skyline establishment, with a stunning view overlooking Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, atop Bob’s Peak: have I previously blogged about my fear of heights?  The 450 metre vertical ascent was rather… confronting, especially toward the top, as the gondola car began to swing, the ascent slowed to a crawl, and the trees previously to either side receded below, providing a very broad view in all directions.  My legs began to get that jellified feeling.  Vertigo is an embarrassing complaint for a bloke.  The descent (prudently facing inward, having enjoyed the heady view quite sufficiently) proved much easier: my unintentional desensitization programme continues!