Roman Martyrology

Apparantly, tomorrow is Aaron's dies natali:

"In monte Hor depositio sancti Aaron, primi ex ordine Levitico Sacerdotis."

On Mount Horeb, burial of holy Aaron, the first ordained Levitical Priest.


New Encyclical Soon

The blogosphere had several mentions today of Pope Benedict XVI's third encyclical, Caritas in veritate, which is expected to be released this week.

I've just read Benedict's homily for first vespers of Peter and Paul at La Buhardilla, and it read to me as though this homily may be a sort of introduction to, or preparation for, the encyclical. Here is my translation of select paragraphs of the homily:

The same thought of the necessity of our renovation as a human person, Paul subsequently illustrated in two paragraphs of the Letter to the Ephesians, on which we will now briefly reflect. In the fourth chapter of the Letter, the apostle says that with Christ we have reached adulthood, a mature humanity. We cannot remain "children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (4:14). Paul wants Christians to have a "responsible" faith, an "adult" faith. The word "adult faith" in the last decades has become a diffuse slogan. It is often in the sense of the attitude of one who does not listen to the Church and its pastors, but has autonomously chosen what they want to believe and not believe--that is to say, a faith "by oneself". This is interpreted as "valiance", expressing oneself against the Magisterium of the Church. In reality, this is not necessarily valiance, because you can always be secure in public applause. In contrast valiance is necessary to join the faith of the Church, including if this contradicts the "scheme" of the contemporary world. It is this "non-conformism" of the faith that Paul calls an "adult faith". Scores change as infants, running after the winds and the currents of the time. Thus part of the adult faith, for example, is commitment to the inviolability of human life from the first moment of conception, opposition to this radical form of the principle of violence, precisely in defence of the more vulnerable human creatures. Part of the adult faith is to recognize that marriage between one man and one woman for all their life was ordained by the Creator, and newly re-established by Christ. Adult faith is not transported one place and another by any current. It objects to the winds of fashion. It knows that these winds are not the murmur of the Holy Spirit; it knows that the Spirit of God is expressed and is manifested in communion with Jesus Christ. But Paul does not stop with negation, but leads us to a grand "yes". He describes mature faith in a positive way with the expression: "rather, speaking the truth in love" (cf Eph 4:15). The new mode of thought, that gives us the faith, is develop first to truth. The power of evil is the lie. The power of the faith, the power of God, is the truth. The truth about the world and about ourselves becomes visible when we look at God. And God is visible to us in the face of Jesus Christ. Looking to Christ we recognize one thing more: truth and charity are inseparable. In God, both are one thing: this is precisely the essence of God. For this reason, for Christians truth and charity go in unity. Charity is the test of truth. Always we have to be measured according to this criterion, that the truth is transformed into charity and we are made true.

Another important thought appears in the verse of St Paul. The apostle says to us that, acting according to the truth in charity, contributes to making all--the universe--grow toward Christ. Paul, on the basis of his faith, is not interested only in our personal rectitude or in the increase of the Church. He is interested in the universe: "ta panta". The final end of the work of Christ is the universe--the transformation of the universe, of all the human world, of the entire creation. Who together with Christ serves truth in charity, contributes to the true progress of the world. Yes, it is completely clear that Paul knew the idea of progress. Christ, his life, suffering and resurrection, has been the true giant leap of progress for humanity, for the world. Now, in change, the universe has to grow towards Him. Where the presence of Christ is augmented, here is the true progress of the world. Here man is new and thus is transformed a new world.

Let us pray to the Lord, that he will help us recognize something of the enormity of his love. Pray that his love and his truth touch our heart. Ask that Christ live in our hearts and make us new men, who act according to the truth in charity. Amen.


The Birthday of St. John the Baptist

Today is John the Baptist's birthday. In the EF, yesterday was the vigil of this feast. I don't see why the OF did away with vigils. They're very nice, extend the feast, and during tempus per annum you get a bit of penance because their colour is purple.

The EF uses the psalms from the common of confessor bishops for Matins, which I find odd. We have a common of martyrs, so why not use those? I guess maybe since this isn't the feast of his martyrdom, that aspect of him isn't emphasized.

I always found it interesting that his birthday isn't tomorrow. It ought to be, to sync up perfectly with Jesus' birthday. One of my friends said an Eastern Catholic priest told her it's because since he is only human, and thus imperfect, that's why his feast is a day off.

For you music lovers, Fr Z says that today's vespers hymn, Ut queant laxis resonare fibris, is the original source for do-re-mi. Interesting, eh?

Posts on Confession

Fr Ray Blake has a couple of very good posts on confession, if you haven't read them yet.



The vocations director called just a little bit ago, and told me the Seminary accepted me in. Please pray for me that I'll persevere, because I am terrified.

On microphones

This is taken from Addleshaw and Etchells' "The Architectural Setting of Anglican Worship" (1948):

It is sometimes said that over-large buildings can be made suitable for [...] services by the installation of microphones and loudspeakers. But this is to misunderstand the nature of liturgy. A liturgical service is an act which is both corporal and natural. It is offered by the clergy and their people, each taking their allotted part. But it is something which is eminently natural, the act of a group of people who see each other, and through seeing each other, oddities and mannerisms included, become conscious that they are a homogeneous body engaged in a work of worship. But directly the people begin to reply not to a priest whom they see and hear reading his part of the service but to a voice coming through a loudspeaker placed either over their heads or behind their backs, the natural element in the liturgy begins to disappear, and with it too a sense that it is a corporate act of a group of people with bodies as well as souls.


Prayers for Priests

A Prayer for Priests

O Jesus, Eternal Priest, keep all Thy priests within the shelter of Thy Sacred Heart where none may harm them.
Keep unstained their anointed hands which daily touch Thy Sacred Body. Keep unsullied their lips purpled with Thy Precious Blood.
Keep pure and unearthly their hearts sealed with the sublime marks of Thy glorious priesthood.
Let Thy holy love surround them and shield them from the world's contagion.
Bless their labours with abundant fruit, and may the souls to whom they have ministered be here below their joy and consolation and in Heaven their beautiful and everlasting crown. Amen.
O Mary, Queen of the clergy, pray for us; obtain for us a number of holy priests.

A Prayer for Holiness in Priests

Grant, O Lord, that every hand laid upon Thee at the altar may be a friendly hand, whose touch is tender and consoling as Joseph's was; that the lips which form so many sacred words may never be profaned by frivolous or unworthy speech; that priests may guard, even in the noisy streets of the city, the impress of their noble functions, the bright token that they have but lately come down from Thy holy mountain; and in their garmentsthe fragrance of the altar, that everyone may find them living memorials of Thee, accessible to all, yet more than other men.
Grant that they may contract from the Mass of today a hunger and thirst for the Mass of the morrow, that the sacred anticipation be their last thought at night and Thy tender summons their first awareness in the morning; that Thy priests, filled with Thee and Thy good gifts may give largely to the rest of men who look to Thee. Amen.


Prayer for priests

Here is a translation, as I couldn't find an English version, of a prayer for the sanctification of priests by Pius XII, from La Buhardilla:

Oh Jesus, Eternal Priest, Good Shepherd, Fount of Life, who by the singular generosity of thy most sweet Heart, has given us our priests so that we may fully, in plenitude, comply with the designs of sanctification that your grace inspires in our souls, we beseech you: come and help us with the assistance of your mercy.

Be there, oh Jesus, living faith in their actions, unwavering hope in their tests, ardent charity in their purposes. May your word, ray of eternal Wisdom, be, by constant meditation, the daily food of his interior life; that the example of your life and Passion may be renewed in his conduct and his sufferings for our education, and alleviation and support in our sorrows.

Concede, oh Lord, detachment from all earthly interests and that they seek only your greater glory. Concede that they be faithful to their obligations with a pure conscience until the last breath. And when with death the body enters in your hands having completed the task well, give them, Jesus, who was their Master on the earth, the eternal recompense: the crown of justice in the splendour of the saints. Amen.


Marian Conference in South Carolina

If you're in the South, please consider attending the Greenville Marian Conference. It will include Mass, devotions, confession, and Adoration. It's 26 and 27 June in Greenville, quite north in South Carolina. It is affiliated with a wonderful parish which from what I know of it I would characterize as reform-of-the-reform. Mass will be celebrated by the newly-installed bishop of Charleston, Bp Guglielmone. Talks will be given by, among others, Marcus Grodi (who has a great show with converts on EWTN); Fr Dwight Longenecker (of Standing on my Head); and Fr Benedict Groschel (an awesome Franciscan, founder of the CFRs).

Catholics, go to get closer to your Mom. Southern Baptists, go to learn what Catholics really believe about Mary.

My endorsement: if I had more money/were closer to SC, I'd be there!

Adopt-a-Priest for the Year for Priests

This Friday, 19 June, the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, begins the Year for Priests. It is associated with St John Vianney, the parish priest who spent hours upon hours in the confessional. Its aim is to favour priests' struggle towards moral and spiritual perfection, upon which the effectiveness of their ministry principally depends. Our Pope reminds us that the Church and the sacraments are dependant upon priests for their very existence.

Plenary indulgences may be gained in this year for priests in different ways by priests and the faithful:

"(A) All truly penitent priests who, on any day, devotedly pray Lauds or Vespers before the Blessed Sacrament exposed to public adoration or in the tabernacle, and ... offer themselves with a ready and generous heart for the celebration of the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Penance, will be granted Plenary Indulgence, which they can also apply to their deceased confreres, if in accordance with current norms they take Sacramental Confession and the Eucharist and pray in accordance with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff. Priests are furthermore granted Partial Indulgence, also applicable to deceased confreres, every time they devotedly recite the prayers duly approved to lead a saintly life and to carry out the duties entrusted to them.

"(B) All truly penitent Christian faithful who, in church or oratory, devotedly attend Holy Mass and offer prayers to Jesus Christ, supreme and eternal Priest, for the priests of the Church, or perform any good work to sanctify and mould them to His Heart, are granted Plenary Indulgence, on the condition that they have expiated their sins through Sacramental Confession and prayed in accordance with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff. This may be done on the opening and closing days of the Year of Priests, on the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Marie Vianney, on the first Thursday of the month, or on any other day established by the ordinaries of particular places for the good of the faithful.

For this year for priests, the good people at Bevansinc. have started a prayer campaign for the priests of their diocese (Arundel and Brighton). I liked that idea so much that I've appropriated it for my own diocese, Denver. I ask any of you who happen to visit to contact me, and I will give you the name of a priest for whom you will pray daily during this year of priests (19 June 2009-19 June 2010). I imagine many of our priests will not get the whole year, as we're cutting it rather close to the start of the year, but better late than never. And if you fail to pray each day for your priest, that's ok. Just make an effort. Some fraction of daily prayers for a year is better than none. Sacrifices (e.g., penance, fasting, abstinence) for the intention of your priest would be fitting accompaniments to your prayer. Please pray especially for his sanctification. It would be wonderful if you adopted an Arundel and Brighton priest as well.


On Corpus Christi

There is even more in the Office today that indicates Corpus Christi should not be transferred to Sunday. Starting with the hymn for Matins, Sacris solemniis iuncta sint gaudia, which includes: "We are commemorating the Last Supper..."

An interesting thing in this hymn is that it teaches us that at the Last Supper they did in fact eat lamb. I have heard before that we know Jesus is the lamb of God because in the NT accounts there is no record that they ate the traditional lamb at this Passover meal. The hymn says, "...when, as we believe, Christ gave to His brethren the lamb and the unleavened bread, according to the law given to their fathers in former times. It is our belief taht after they had eaten the lamb, which was a type, and when the supper was over, the Body of the Lord was given to the disciples by our Lord's hands in such a way that the whole was given to all and the whole given to each." So they ate both the type (the lamb) and the fulfilment (Christ). It may well be that the writers of the NT omitted eating the lamb to make more clear the point of Christ as the lamb of God, but nevertheless they did eat lamb as well.

The responsory at the third lesson of Matins is about Elijah. It draws his story into that of the Eucharist, making connections I wouldn't have made. After reading the responsory I didn't even remember what it was talking about. The responsory is "Elias saw a hearth cake by his head. He arose, and ate and drank; * And, strengthened by that food, he walked as far was the mount of God. / If anyone eat of this bread, he will live forever. And, strengthened by that food, he walked as far as the mount of God. Gloria Patri. And, strengthened by that food, he walked as far as the mount of God." The story is from 1 K 19. After fleeing from Jezebel, Elijah is given a cake and some water, and then walks for 40 days from Judah to Mount Horeb.

Ps 22 (The Lord is my shepherd) is said today at Matins, which draws out the eucharistic imagery in that psalm. This meaning of Ps 22 has largely been lost in the OF of the Hours. In the OF, Ps 22 is said every other Sunday, whereas in the EF it is said at Prime of Thursday. Saying Ps 22 on Thursdays strengthens its eucharistic meaning, while saying it on Sundays obscures this meaning.

Se nascens dedit socium,
Convescens in edulium,
Se moriens in pretium,
Se regnans dat in praemium.

Seminary Interview

My application for the St John Vianney Seminary in Denver was accepted this year. The rector's secretary called me today to schedule my interview. It will be 22 June. Please pray that God's will be done in regards to this process.


Corpus Christi

Pange, lingua, gloriosi
Corporis mysterium,
Sanguinisque pretiosi,
Quem in mundi pretium
Fructus ventris generosi
Rex effudit gentium.

Nobis datus, nobis natus
Ex intacta Virgine,
Et in mundo conversatus,
Sparso verbi semine,
Sui moras incolatus
Miro clausit ordine.

In supremae nocte cenae
Recumbens cum fratribus,
Observata lege plene
Cibis in legalibus,
Cibum turbae duodenae
Se dat suis manibus.

Verbum caro panem verum
Verbo carnem efficit;
Fitque sanguis Christi merum;
Et si sensus deficit,
Ad firmandum cor sincerum
Sola fides sufficit.

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui;
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui;
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et iubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio. Amen.

It is the feast of Corpus Christi, a celebration of Christ's Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Tomorrow is the feast, but tonight is first vespers. Corpus Christi is held on a Thursday to associate it with Christ's having instituted the Eucharist on a Thursday. In the OF, it is moved by several bishops' conferences to the following Sunday, because, again, heaven forbid anyone attend Mass on a day other than Sunday. Because of the USCCB moving it in this way, I've just said first vespers in the EF, so that I can celebrate the feast on its proper day to the extent of my ability. It really is a shame that the bishops choose to move it. The Office makes it pretty clear that it is proper to a Thursday. When the first Proper part of the office is "Christ the Lord, Priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech, offered bread and wine.", there's a slight indication that this has something to do with Maundy Thursday. Moving this feast to a Sunday largely obscures the beautiful meaning and symbolism of the words we pray in the Divine Office.

I will be attending Mass in the OF on Sunday, and two of my students, Gabriela and David, will be receiving First Communion. Please pray for them. Their prep was a bit fast, but they know the essentials of canon law, and I am confident I have satisfied the precepts of canon 913.


Yesterday the Mormon missionaries dropped by. They came by a number of weeks ago, and I let them in. I wanted to be nice, and I thought it might be interesting to talk to them. And it really is. We've each gotten to know a bit more about what the other believes.

Their understanding of Church Authority is rather better than that of traditional Protestants. They maintain that at some point between the Ascension and the Council of Nicaea, the Catholic Church lost Christ's authority. They maintain that their ecclesial community is the Church that Christ re-instituted, and which has his authority. Rather better than those who started from some monk who wanted to fix the Church (Lutherans); from a horny king (Anglicans); from persons wanting to fix either of those ecclesial communities (other mainline Protestants); or from persons who like the bible but have no sense whatsoever of authority or tradition (non-denoms).

I managed to teach them a bit about the Catholic Church, and sent both of them off with a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I hope that our encounters will lead them in the future to the fullness of Truth.

I was rather happy that I presented a somewhat bible-knowledgeable picture of Catholics. One of their tactics with the loss of authority was that it was lost when the apostles were martyred. I pointed out that they appointed successors (e.g., Timothy). They said the successors were killed as well (e.g., Stephen). At that point I was able to 'lay the smackdown', as it were, and pointed out that Stephen clearly was not ordained to their apostolic office. He was only a deacon!

The point of that paragraph just now: Catholics read your bibles. Be prepared to talk to the Mormons and the JWs when they come around. Since you've got them there, you might as well sow seeds of Truth. And you won't be able to do that with them unless you know your bible.

The Mormon missionaries charged Catholic changes in doctrine, mentioning the following: selling indulgences; infant baptism/necessity of baptism; and asking the intercession of saints. Do look for updates on each of these topics in upcoming posts, as I want to have well-prepared answer next time they drop by.


Trinity Sunday

Today was Trinity Sunday, and I offer nuggets from today's Office in the Extraordinary Form:

In consequence of this essential unity the Father is wholly in the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Son is wholly in the Father and the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit is wholly in the Father and the Son. None of them exists apart from either of the others; for none precedes another in eternity, or exceeds another in greatness, or surpasses another in power. For in what pertains to the unity of the divine nature, the Father is neither anterior to the Son and Holy Spirit, nor greater than they. In the same way, the eternity of the Son cannot essentially be older than that of the Holy Spirit, nor can His immensity be more extensive than the Spirit's. - Lesson vi; From the book of St. Fulgentius, Bishop, on faith, addressed to Peter
We do not say that God's Son is merely a projection, as of one part from another, as some have thought. Nor do we accept that He is an expression without content, like the sound of a voice. We believe that the three names, that is, the three Persons, share one essence, one majesty, one power. For this reason we profess one God; for the unity of majesty prevents our giving the title "god" to many. - Lesson viii; From A homily of St. Gregory Nazianzen
I was struck by the appropriateness for this feast of the little chapter for the major hours: Rom. 11:33. It is very fitting, though I would never have thought about it in relation to this feast without the prompting of the liturgy: "Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!"

One of the neatest things about the hours today is that Prime includes the Athanasian Creed. This creed is a lengthy exposition on the nature of the Trinity, and includes an expansion on the Second Person of the Trinity. It's a shame the OF has lost the recitation of this creed.


Octave of Pentecost

Fr Ray Blake has started a petition that the Pentecost Octave be restored in the OF. It seems to allow only those in the UK to sign, though. If you are so inclined, please sign the petition.


Dur, you can sign the petition even if you're not in the UK. Fr Tim says just leave the region field blank if you're outside the UK. I'm daft sometimes.


Ember Days

Today is Ember Wednesday of Pentecost Week. Friday and Saturday will be ember days as well.

The liturgical year includes four sets of ember days: December, Lent, Pentecost, and September. Each set has three ember days, which are the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of a given week. The ember days are days of fasting and abstinence tied to nature and the turn of the seasons: December for winter, Lent for spring, Pentecost for summer, and September for autumn. Ember days invite us to "consider the wonder of the natural seasons and their relation to their Creator." They were long associated with ordination, ordinations having been held on Ember Saturdays.

So we should observe these ember days with fasting and/or abstinence, penance, thankfulness to God for the wonder of creation, and with prayers for priests and deacons.

The ember days have been dropped, naturally, in the OF, but are still celebrated in the EF.

More detailed articles on ember days can be found at Fr Z's and at the NLM.


On Pentecost

Today is Monday within the Octave of Pentecost, or Whit Monday. This octave has been dropped in the OF, so I am continuing to say the Hours in the EF. I will continue to do so through at least the Second Sunday after Pentecost, so as to have the traditional observance of Corpus Christi.

The things which struck me from the Office today were from the hymns. The Matins hymn is "Iam Christus astra ascenderat", which includes this stanza: "The day appointed was now at hand that would mark the beginning of the age of blessedness, for the cycle of seven days had revolved in the holy number of seven,". The hymn for Lauds, "Beata nobis gaudia", has this: "These things were done in holy mystery when the paschal season was over and the round of days had reached the sacred number that, by law, meant remission and freedom."

I knew Pentecost was 50 days after Easter, and I'm sure I had been told or had read the significance of it. But, it's one of those things I forget, so this was a nice reminder. It's good to have the reminders given us by God through the liturgy. The outpouring of grace associated with the Holy Spirit is appropriately placed 50 days after Easter. The reference to remission and freedom has to do with the cycle of seven and seven times seven years found in the Mosaic Law, at which points debts would be forgiven, land given back to its old owner, and things of that nature. Pentecost ties us to our Jewish roots, in its own form of the hermeneutic of continuity, given the Jewish symbolism of 50 and the fact that Pentecost was itself a Jewish feast before its appropriation by Christianity.

One of the odd things I don't really understand about the Hours for the Octave is the way Matins works. Even though they are liturgical days of the first class, they only have one nocturn. And not only that, they have three psalms instead of the customary nine. Why such important days have what seems to be a downgraded Matins, I don't understand.

The importance of keeping the octave of Pentecost is in importance of Pentecost itself. It is the capstone of Easter. Easter begins and ends with major, biblical Sunday feast days. The first of these, Easter, has an octave, so it is fitting that Pentecost have one as well. From the logical side of things, looking at Bugnini's reform, it doesn't make sense that the OF retained the Christmas octave (a second-class octave) but suppressed the Pentecost octave (first-class).

The suppression of the Penteocost octave denigrated the significance of the Paschal cycle of the liturgical year. It begins with a big deal, the Easter Vigil and then the Octave of Easter. But it now ends (in the OF) with Pentecost Sunday. And though the MR includes a Vigil Mass for Pentecost, it seems that it is rarely celebrated in parishes. Compare this to the EF, in which the end of Easter is an eight-day observance of Pentecost, which lasts all the way until Trinity Sunday. It should be clear that changing the end of Easter from a bang to a whimper has not served to highlight its importance to the faithful.