First Sunday of Lent

Sunday 1 March 2009

First Sunday in Lent
1st Class, Violet
No Gloria; Credo; Preface of Lent


Deus, qui Ecclésiam tuam ánnua Quadragesimáli observatióne puríficas : præsta famíliæ tuæ ; ut, quod a te obtinére abstinéndo nítitur, hoc bonis opéribus exsequátur. Per Dóminum.

Let us pray.

O God, who dost purify thy Church with the annual observance of Lent, grant unto thy household that what it strives to obtain from thee by abstinence it may secure with good works. Through.


Ash Wednesday

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Ash Wednesday

1st Class, Violet
No Gloria; No Credo; Pref. of Lent; Prayer over the people

Blessing and Imposition of Ashes before principal Mass. At the Mass following the Blessing of Ashes the Preparatory Prayers are omitted.


Præsta, Dómine, fidélibus tuis : ut jejuniórum veneránda solémnia, et cóngrua pietáte suscípiant, et secúra devotióne percúrrant. Per Dóminum.

Let us pray.

Grant, O Lord, unto thy faithful people, that they may both piously undertake the venerable solemnities of the Fast, and persevere in the same with unfailing devotion. Through.


Ash Wednesday is, from a liturgical point of view, one of the most important days of the year. In the first place, this day opens the liturgical season of Lent, which formerly began with the First Sunday and comprised only thirty-six days. The addition of Wednesday and three following days brought the number to forty, which is that of our Lord’s fast in the desert.

In the Old Law, ashes were generally a symbolic expression of grief, morning or repentance. In the Early Church, the use of ashes had a like signification and with sackcloth formed part of the public penances. The blessing of the ashes … was originally instituted for public penitents, but is now intended for all Christians, as Lent should be a time of penance for all.

(image: Spitzweg's Ash Wednesday)

notes: Lent

Notes for the Liturgy during Lent

1. February 25th: Ash Wednesday. Ashes are blessed and distributed before Mass. The Mass which follows begins with the Introit, the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar being omitted. Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence (see previous post).

2. Ferias of Lent are of the third class and take precedence over third class feasts.

3. Commemorations of the feria in Lent are privileged and must be made on feasts at all Masses, as well as at Lauds and Vespers.

4. On Sundays and ferial days during the entire season of Lent, the Altar is not ornamented with flowers, and the organ is silent except to sustain the choir.

5. On the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Lætare Sunday), violet vestments may be worn but rose vestments are preferred. Organ and flowers are permitted.

6. Fourth class votive Masses and fourth class Masses for the Dead are not allowed on ferial days during Lent.

7. In Churches where the faithful are accustomed to stand for the Collects and Postcommunion prayers at Mass, they should be instructed to kneel for these prayers on the ferias of Lent and Passiontide (not, however, on Sundays nor on feast days).

8. On each of the Fridays of Lent, a plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who, after Communion, recite the "Prayer Before a Crucifix" ("En Ego, o bone et dulcíssime Iesu...").

(excerpted/adapted from the 2009 Liturgical Ordo, Priestly Fraternity of St Peter)

St Matthias

Tuesday 24 February

St Matthias, Apostle
2nd Class, Red
Gloria; Tract; Credo; Preface of the Apostles


Deus, qui beátum Matthíam Apostolórum tuórum collégio sociásti : tríbue, quæsumus ; ut ejus interventióne, tuæ circa nos pietátis semper víscera sentiámus. Per Dóminum.

Let us pray.

O God, who didst join blessed Matthias to the company of thine Apostles, grant, we beseech thee, that by his intercession we may ever be aware of the depths of thy goodness round about us. Through.


Matthias, one of the seventy-two disciples of Jesus, was chosen as Apostle in the place of Judas. St Matthias preached the Gospel for more than thirty years in Judaea, Cappadocia, Egypt and Ethiopia. In AD 80, he was stoned at Jerusalem, and then beheaded.

Preparation for Lent: the Lenten Office

Investigating the upcoming Lenten Office in the Breviary (recalling that the Lenten Office begins with first Vespers of the first Sunday - Ash Wednesday and following days sticking to the ordinary of Septuagesimatide - and that Passiontide, the last two weeks of Lent, has its own propers), I was first of all struck by the fact that all the versicles and short responsories for Matins, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None and Vespers are taken from Psalm 90. This is surely no coincidence: they are appointed for precisely the same reason this glorious psalm of God's guard over us is used extensively in the Mass for the First Sunday of Lent, most especially as the longest Tract of the year - because in Lent we enter most openly into the spiritual combat with the forces of darkness, or, to be plain, into the lists against Satan and his devils: and so we need to supplicate the Lord to "save us lest we perish".

It is in this watchful spirit that the Byzantine Rite prays at the end of the Liturgy of the Presanctified during Great Lent: "O Master Almighty... Who by Thine ineffable forethought and great goodness hast led us into these hallowed days, for cleansing of souls and bodies, for subduing of passions, and for the hope of resurrection... grant also unto us, O Merciful Lord, to fight the good fight, to finish the course of the Fast, to keep the Faith undivided, to shatter the heads of unseen dragons, to show ourselves victorious over sin, and to come, without condemnation, blamelessly to worship Thy Holy Resurrection."

The little chapters for use at the Hours during Lent are drawn from the prophets Joel and Isaias; they are pertinent extracts from the passages of these seers read for the Epistle on Ash Wednesday (yielding Joel ii, 12-13 and 17), Friday after Ash Wednesday (providing Isaias lviii, 1 and 7), and Tuesday in the first week of Lent (supplying Isaias lv, 6 and 7). Likewise, the antiphons for the Little Hours in Lent are derived thus: Vivo ego (for Prime) comes from Ezechiel xxxiii, 11; while Commendemus and Per arma (for Sext and None) both stem from II Corinthians vi, 4-5 and 7 (that is, from the Epistle of the first Sunday of Lent).

Unfortunately, whilst it sounds Scriptural, I can't locate the source of Advenerunt nobis, the Lenten antiphon for Terce -

Advenerunt nobis dies pœnitentiœ, ad redimenda peccata, ad salvandas animas.

Any ideas?

(It must be noted that on the Sundays of Lent, the little chapters of the Day Hours and antiphons for the Little Hours are proper, usually drawn from the Epistle and Gospel of the day respectively, just as they are for Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima Sundays.)

The Invitatory anthem for Lent is a reworking of Psalm 126:2 plus phrases redolent of various New Testament passages while not reproducing any: "May it not be vain for you to rise in the morning before the light: For the Lord hath promised a crown to the vigilant." In other words, don't delay arising for Matins - as the Mohammedan muezzin cries, Prayer is better than sleep.

As to the Office hymns appointed, at Matins for Lent the hymn Ex more docti mystico is by St Gregory the Great; at Lauds, O sol salutis intimis (10th century?); and at Vespers, Audi benigne conditor, again by St Gregory.

Each day of Lent having its own proper Mass, at Matins the lessons are homilies on the Gospel of each day - however, on the Sundays, the first two lessons are from Scripture.

A final peculiarity: the Collect used at the Hours is of course that of the Mass of the day, with the important exception that the Collect of weekday Vespers is instead that of the Prayer over the People read at the end of Mass on that day in Lent, after the Postcommunion. It is said that this stems from the old custom that all fasted until after None on Lenten ferias, whereupon Mass was sung followed by Vespers, and only then did the faithful take food. During the middle ages, Mass - and Vespers - began to be said earlier and earlier on fast days, that the faithful could get stuck into their vittles sooner: with the result that the rubrics came to specify that Vespers had to be said before noon during Lent, a rule that endured down to the twentieth century!

(reproduced, with permission from the blog Psallite Sapienter)

Quinquagesima Sunday

Sunday 22 February 2009

Quinquagesima Sunday
2nd Class, Violet
No Gloria; Credo; Preface of the Holy Trinity
Commemoration of Chair of St Peter, Ap., at Low Masses
Commem. of St Paul, Ap., at Low Masses


Preces nostras, quæsumus, Dómine, cleménter exáudi : atque a peccatórum vínculis absolútos, ab omni nos adversitáte custódi. Per Dóminum.

Let us pray.

Of thy clemency hearken unto our prayers, O Lord, loose us from the bonds of sin, and keep us from all adversity. Through.


It is Jesus who, by the merits of His Passion, is to open the eyes of man as He did those of the blind man of Jericho, and deliver him alike from the bondage of sin and error.

(image: Biola University)

Sexagesima Sunday

Sunday 15 February 2009

Sexagesima Sunday
2nd Class, Violet
No Gloria; Credo; Preface of the Holy Trinity


Deus, qui cónspicis quia ex nulla nostra actióne confídimus : concéde propítius ; ut contra advérsa ómnia Doctóris Géntium protectióne muniámur. Per Dóminum.

Let us pray.

O God, who seest that we put not our trust in any deed of our own, mercifully grant that by the protection of the Teacher of the Gentiles, we may be defended against all adversities. Through.


Novena of Prayer for the Pope

To the members of the Confraternity of Saint Peter:-

Reading, England, February 12th, 2009: Novena for the Pope

Dear Members of the Confraternity of Saint Peter (CSP),

You are all well aware of the opposition which the Holy Father has faced in his efforts to reconcile the Society of Pius X. The current pressure from the media and others seems to not only threaten Pope Benedict's work with SSPX. It also seems as though some would like to see it work as a means to undermine his very teaching and governing authority for his pontificate.

Given these oppositions which the Holy Father faces; given the particular role of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter in working as a bridge for those who have grown apart from the Church in the last forty years; finally, given that we hold St. Peter as our patron and have a particular attachment to his successor, as also requested by our Superior General Very Rev Fr John Berg, FSSP, I would ask all of the members of the Confraternity of St. Peter to offer increased prayers at this time for strength for Pope Benedict XVI.

I suggest that each of our members may offer the following novena, which will be prayed as well by all our seminarians and priests, beginning on February 14th and concluding on the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, February 22nd.

Please remember that as a CSP member you can earn a plenary indulgence on that day, February 22nd, the second anniversary of the foundation of the CSP. On the same day the CSP chaplains will hold a meeting at the General House and will pray for all your intentions.

Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Armand de Malleray, FSSP,
General Chaplain CSP


Novena (February 14 to 22)

Pater Noster, 3 Ave Maria, Gloria Patri

V. Orémus pro Pontífice nostro Benedícto.
R. Dóminus consérvet eum, et vivíficet eum, et beátum fáciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in ánimam inimicórum eius.

V. Tu es Petrus.
R. Et super hanc petram ædificábo Ecclésiam meam.

Orémus. Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, miserére fámulo tuo Pontífici nostro Benedícto : et dírige eum secúndum tuam cleméntiam in viam salútis ætérnæ : ut, te donánte, tibi plácita cúpiat, et tota virtúte perfíciat. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.
R. Amen.

V. Mater Ecclésiæ, R. ora pro nobis.
V. Sancte Petre, R. ora pro nobis.

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory be.

V: Let us pray for our Pope Benedict.
R: May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.

V. Thou art Peter,
R. And upon this Rock, I will build My Church.

Let us Pray,
Almighty and everlasting God, have mercy upon your servant, Benedict, our Sovereign Pontiff, and guide him in your goodness on the way of eternal salvation; so that, with the prompting of your grace, he may desire what pleases you and accomplish it with all his strength. Through Christ Our Lord.

V. Mother of the Church. R. Pray for us
V. St. Peter. R. Pray for us

Fr Berg FSSP urges Novena for Pope Benedict

Link to Novena in Latin and Englsih is on sidebar of my Oasis blog. You can read part of Fr Berg's letter to Fr George in which he introduces the Novena and explains the reason for it.

(text to be posted here, shortly)

In Christo pro Papa

Urgent appeal to Priests for Masses for Pope Benedict

Please see my Oasis blog for this.

In Christo pro Papa

Spiritual Bouquet for Papa: URGENT UPDATE

Attention ITSOA, Pro Papa League, Oasis readers, contributors and followers..........

As reported earlier our last Spiritual Bouquet was delayed for various reasons. Two have been returned to me as undelivered and there is grave doubt that the other two ever reached Papa. I had prepared a composite up to Epiphany and it includes 834 Rosaries. Due to the short time scale, I have taken the unilateral decision of asking Fr. Byers to add them to his tally (see top of sidebar on my Oasis blog). Father is chaplain at the Sanctuaries in Lourdes and there is no doubt that knowledge of our offerings will reach our Holy Father through his initiative.

Two important points:

1. For any offerings you have made since Epiphany, please add to Fr Byers' tally by following the link on the sidebar to the left of this post.

2. I'm negotiating with Fr Byers, for a special Pro Papa League/ITSOA pool at "bloggingLOURDES". That way all our past offerings other than Rosaries can be added this time as well.

And for the future this will be a much less time consuming way for us to make sure that Papa knows we are answering his plea for out prayers.

I will keep you posted about developments and in case you do not all sees this communique, I will try to alert as many of you as possible through your blogs or emails.

In the meantime, please spread Fr. Byers' initiative amongst your own contacts. This may be a way to get those million Rosaries I suggested earlier on.

The language in the last para. of the Secretariat of State statement, makes it clear just how much his Holiness knows the need of our prayers.

Pray, pray, pray for our Most Holy Father Benedict.

God bless all here.

In Christo pro Papa,

Septuagesima Sunday

Sunday 8 February 2009

Septuagesima Sunday
2nd Class, Violet
No Gloria; Credo; Preface of the Holy Trinity


Preces pópuli tui, quæsumus, Dómine, cleménter exáudi : ut, qui juste pro peccátis nostris afflígimur, pro tui nóminis glória misericórditer liberémur. Per Dóminum.

Let us pray.

O Lord, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people : that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name. Through.


The three Sundays preceding Ash Wednesday are called Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima, which mean, respectively, the seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth day, that is, before Easter. They are mere names to correspond with the name of Lent (Quadragesima in Latin: fortieth): obviously they do not actually correspond with the period they indicate.

Man, victim of the sin of Adam and of his own sins, is justly afflicted, groans and sorrows encompass him.

On these Sundays the Glória in excélsis and Allelúia are omitted. except when the Mass of a feast is said, and purple vestments are used in preparation for Lent.


The Hallowing of Time

The Catholic Church, both in its wisdom and in its understanding of humanity, has many means of sanctifying time. Today, set between Candlemas, which brought Christmastide to a close, and Septuagesima, which opens the long period of preparation for Easter, is an excellent moment to consider the lesser cycles that sanctify time which are blessed by the Church.

Liturgically, we have Ember Days, seasonal periods of prayer and fasting, or Rogations, the twice-yearly occasions for rogating or imploring the mercy and goodness of God.

We also have the dedication of days and months to particular devotions. One traditional method, for example, dedicates Monday to the Holy Ghost, Tuesday to the Holy Angels, Wednesday to St. Joseph, Thursday to the Blessed Sacrament, Friday to the Sacred Passion, Saturday to Our Lady and Sunday to the Most Holy Trinity. The cycle of Votive Masses in the Missal varies from this formula slightly, dedicating Monday to the Most Holy Trinity and including the Holy Ghost on Thursday, while including the Holy Apostles in the dedication of Wednesday.

Of the days dedicated, the most familiar and the most commonly practised, even in our own day, is the dedication of Saturday to Our Lady. The visions of Simon Stock and the children of Fatima would seem to be confirmation from Heaven of this venerable tradition. However, the origin of the dedication of Saturday seems to originate in the Court of Charles the Great (742-814) with the monk Alcuin of York, who composed two Masses in honour of Our Lady for Saturdays. By the 11th Century, the devotion was well established in the Universal Church when St. Peter Damien famously promoted the devotion and Pope Urban II prescribed prayers to Our Lady on Saturdays for the success of the first Crusade.

The dedication of months is also very traditional and frequently enriched with Indulgences. One traditional method devotes January to the Holy Name of Jesus, March to St. Joseph, May to Our Lady, June to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, July to His Precious Blood, September to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, October to the Holy Rosary, November to the Holy Souls, and December to the Holy Infancy. Most of these are derived from liturgical feasts ocurring during the month.

The tradition of special devotions to Our Lady during the month of May can certainly be traced to the High Middle Ages, the Cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfonso X of Castille being frequently cited. The dedication of the entire month to Our Lady may have taken until the 17th Century to be widespread. However, to Pope Clement VIII we owe the custom of the Crowning of Images of Our Lady, now strongly associated with May.

The origin of the dedication of June to the Sacred Heart is less clouded in the mists of history. We owe it to Angéle de Saint Croix, a Parisienne schoolgirl of the 1830s, who was inspired to propose it to the Superioress, not because the feast of the Sacred Heart falls in June, since it is a movable feast dependent upon the timing of Easter, but because Angéle felt that, if Our Lady had a whole month of May, the Sacred Heart should have a whole month of June.

The Superioress recommended her to make the suggestion to the Archbishop when he visited the school the following week. This she did and the Archbishop responded immediately, dedicating the month of June to the Sacred Heart of Jesus throughout the Archdiocese for the joint intentions of the conversion of sinners and the return of France to the practice of the faith. The devotion soon spread and became universal throughout the Church.

In such ways, the Church recommends to the Faithful to dedicate each moment of time to God and to His Angels and Saints, to sanctify time and, by doing so, to sanctify ourselves.

(reposted, with permission, from St Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association)

Fasting and Abstinence

Fast and Abstinence according to the Discipline of 1962

Laws of Abstinence
  • Complete abstinence is defined as abstaining from meat and soup or gravy made from meat.
  • Partial abstinence is defined as allowing meat and soup or gravy made from meat, only once a day at the principal meal.
  • Abstinence applies to all those over seven years.
Laws of Fast:
  • On the days of Fast, only one full meal is allowed, two other meatless meals are allowed in addition to the principle meal but the total quantity of food for these two small repasts should not equal the amount taken at a full meal.
  • Partial abstinence is required on all days of Fast, except on days of complete Abstinence.
  • Eating between meals is not permitted though liquids may be taken.
  • Days of Fast apply to all those over 21 and under 59 years of age.
  • Laws of fasting and abstinence are not binding on those with medical conditions or those whose ability to work would be impaired.
  • There is no obligation for fast or abstinence on a Holy Day of Obligation even though it may fall on a Friday.
(excerpted/adapted from the 2009 Liturgical Ordo, Priestly Fraternity of St Peter)


notes: Septuagesima

Notes for the Liturgy during Septuagesima

The season of Septuagesima is a preparation for the season of Lent. The season begins with First Vespers on Saturday, February 7th.

1. The Gloria is omitted on Sundays and ferial days.

2. The Alleluia verse is suppressed, also the word Alleluia wherever it occurs. The Alleluia verse is replaced by the Tract on Sundays and feast days.

3. The ferial Mass is the Mass of the preceding Sunday, without the Tract.

4. Ant votive Mass can be said on ferial days of the fourth class, or the Mass of any Saint listed in the day's Martyrology (with Gloria).

5. During Septuagesima and Lent, "Laus tibi, Christe" replaces the Alleluia otherwise said after "Deus in adjutorium meum intende...Gloria Patri..." at the Hours of the Divine Office.

(excerpted/adapted from the 2009 Liturgical Ordo, Priestly Fraternity of St Peter)

Pray for the Pope

Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Benedicto!
Dominus conservet eum,
et vivificet eum,
et beatum faciat eum in terra,
et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius. (Ps. xl:3)


by Fr. John Berg FSSP

February 2 marks the end of the 40 days of Christmas, which some years even overlaps the beginning of the preparation for Lent, Septuagesima. Unfortunately this feast of the Purification is often overshadowed by the feast of St. Blaise and its blessing of throats on February 3. This feast of Our Lady, however, which is popularly know as Candlemas, has always been one of great solemnity in that it is the oldest feast of Blessed Virgin on the Church’s calendar. The very candles used for the blessing of throats are connected to the procession of candles which so strikingly sets apart the Mass of the Purification. At one time it was frequent to count the academic calendar by this feast. First semester was known as Michaelmas term (for the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, September 29), and the second as Candlemas term.

The feast celebrates the what is really a double event, the purification of Mary in the temple, and the presentation of Our Lord on that same day. According to the Law of Moses, after conceiving a child, the mother was unclean for a total of 40 days if the child were a male, and 80 days if it were female. For a man child this counted the week until his circumcision in the temple, and then a further 33 days in which she was to “touch no holy thing, neither shall she enter into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification be fulfilled” (Lev 12:4). At the same, according to the Law, it was commanded to “sanctify unto God every firstborn that openeth the womb among the children of Israel” (Ex 13:2). Thus, at the same time, Our Lord was presented in the temple as being offered to God.

One might at first be confused to think that Mary and Our Lord went through these rites of the Old Law since she was of course without any stain, being immaculately conceived and therefore needed no purification, while He had been consecrated to the work of His Father since the moment of the Annunciation, “Behold, I come to do thy will”. But this would be to misunderstand the role of the Old Testament and Christ’s relation to it. St. Augustine and St. Thomas are clear that the Old Law has all of its meaning insofar as it foreshadows the new, and thus prepares for its coming. This is why Our Lord insists that He has not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it, to show its full meaning it. Christ is of course the Primogenitus, in a sense entirely above what the Law of Moses means by it. He is the firstborn, being the uncreated Son of the Father, as He tells the Pharisees later “Amen, Amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am” (Jn 8:57), and they rightly understood that He is saying much more than “I was”, thus claiming Himself to be eternal as God. In his human nature He is also the firstborn among men as St. Paul tells us, having been predestined before all things in the plan of God, and being the Head (exemplar cause) of our birth in grace after having died in sin.

So too, Our Lady is the culmination of womanly purity, and being both virgin and mother, is the model for all women, both mothers, and those who are consecrated religious. In the New Law the rites of circumcision and presentation are replaced by the Sacrament of Baptism which they foreshadow. Although it is simply a blessing, and not a Sacrament, the Church has the special blessing of a woman after childbirth, which is commonly known as ‘churching’, and this rite has as its model the purification of Our Lady. In recent years, like so many riches of the Church’s liturgy, it has been largely cast aside and has even been misunderstood by some as a sign that the Church considers childbirth to be an unclean act. One look at the ceremony, however, shows that it is not based upon the shadow of the Law instituted by Christ, but rather upon its fulfillment in the Mother of God. The mother, carrying her newly baptized child, is lead by the priest into the church up to the altar, where she recites Our Lady’s Magnificat, asking to acquire the Blessed Virgin’s humility, and generosity, and ultimately docility to the Divine Will which may include sufferings, just as those prophesied by Blessed Simeon for the Blessed Virgin on the day of her purification “and thy own soul a sword shall pierce . .” (Lk 2:35). The prayer of blessing also explains well the idea that the bearing of children takes on a new meaning with the coming of Christ:

“Almighty, everlasting God, who by the childbearing of the Blessed Virgin Mary, hast for thy faithful turned the pains of child-bearing into joy, look with kindness on this Thy servant, who comes rejoicing to Thy holy temple to give thanks to Thee, and grant that after this life she and her child may, by the merits and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, attain to the joys of everlasting life ...”

As Pius XI explains in his encyclical on marriage, before Christ the command to husband and wife was to populate the earth, but after having raised natural marriage to being a Sacrament, the end is that of populating heaven. In this way the natural pains (which, alas, remain after the coming of Christ) are overshadowed by the supernatural joys.

The whole idea of the relationship of the Old and New Testament perhaps finds its best expression in this Feast of the Purification. In it, the Church Fathers see Christ as taking posession of the Temple, the Temple which He would destroy and rebuild in three days with His resurrection. This is seen in the prophesies of Simeon and Anna, who in a away stand for all of the just fathers of the Old Testament. All of the just before Christ are saved through Him and longed for their redeemer as Simeon, “just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel” (Lk 2:25). In Simeon and Anna we see models of some of the most important virtues of the Christian life. The most striking is or course perseverance through waiting and longing for Christ. All Jews, however, were awaiting and longing for the Messiah. What is striking is that so few recognized His coming. The questions arises: how could a people so well prepared for His coming through hundreds of years, by and large fail to see him? The answer lies in our ability for self-deception. Our tendency like the Israelites in the desert to form our image of God after our own ideas, instead of conforming ourselves to what God has objectively revealed of Himself.

If we consider it a bit we see how frequent this tendency is, both among those within and those outside the Church. There is a tendency in the face of a largely atheistic or at least agnostic society to think that belief in God, and being a ‘good guy’ is enough, as if it did not matter what the content of the word “God” meant. This is most evident in Modernists such as Feuerbach who would say that he believes in God and even in Christ but that ultimately God is no more than an image that man has of himself, which he is developing into.

This is a bit far-fetched or extreme as an example, but even among ourselves there is a constant tendency which we must fight of forming ‘our own idea about God’. Is it not telling that some of the truths most often denied even among Christians are those which Christ speaks of the most often such as the existence of hell? How many reason that hell cannot exist because “I don’t think God would do such a thing”? In the end it is simply saying: “I do not want God to be like this therefore it can not be like that”.

There is a beautiful verse from the Psalms which I have always thought especially fits this Feast, and the model we see in Blessed Simeon: “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him: to all that call upon him in truth” (Ps. 144:18). It expresses a central element in the spiritual life. There is a danger today to think that love of God (which is indeed the end of the spiritual life) means a vague fuzzy feeling about God. But love of God cannot exist without knowledge of God, since we can not love something we do not know, and an increase in love can only go hand in hand with deeper knowledge of the thing loved. If we want to grow in the spiritual life, and if we want to impart the love of God upon our children, we can not forget the importance of devoting time to knowing Him. This is not intended to mean that we must all strive for doctorates in theology, but too many of us lack constant nourishment for the spiritual life which can only come through knowing Christ further, whether it be through the Scriptures of spiritual writers of the Church. We also too rarely pray for this further knowledge and wisdom which are gifts of the Holy Ghost.

The beginning of this month, then, marks a good time to reflect upon our desire to know God, to know Christ, and then to conform to this knowledge. We must especially pray for those gifts of the Holy Ghost (too often forgotten a week after we have memorized them at our Confirmation), who led Blessed Simeon into the Temple that day to meet the Blessed Virgin and His Redeemer (Lk 2:27). It is only in this way that we can come to a deeper love of God, and “take Him into our arms” in a way analogous to Blessed Simeon on this day.

(written 2001; Fr Berg is the Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter)

February 2nd The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Candlemas) Pt. 1

'L'Annee Liturgique' has 48 pages for this Feast. In this inaugural year of 'In the Sight of Angels', shortage of time makes it impossible to do justice to them. In due course an attempt will be made to redress the omission.

I have decided instead for this year, to reproduce extracts from my own entry for Candlemas in 'Gardening with God: Light in Darkness'. This was of course based on obedience to the 'new' liturgy, but even so, I remember having difficulty in confining myself to the four pages I had allotted for this multi-faceted Feast. It is to be hoped that no-one will see the inclusion of my own work as an act of inappropriate temerity or arrogance. I am fully aware of Dom Gueranger's vast superiority over me!

A Light to lighten the Gentiles and, to be the glory of thy people Israel

"At Candlemas I am struck with wonder at the continuity of our faith and by the absolutely real connection we have with the old priest in the Temple, holding our Saviour in his arms. Each of us symbolically carries Him in the light of the candle we hold...................The collective light we make symbolises many more things than Simeon's prophecy as related to ourselves and our carrying the light of Christ within us. I shall reflect on some of them during the day. (Here is the result of that reflection in the year of writing, 2001)...............

"The light of Candlemas symbolises:

- the light of example in the submission of Mary and Joseph to the ritual of Purification, even though it was entirely inappropriate to Mary and her Child;

- the light of our realisation that Christ Himself willed it so. He submitted to the Law in order to purify it. He willed to become like us; He entered the Temple in demonstration that He had come to rebuild it.

- the light of His glorious kingship over Israel and over all the kingdoms on earth;

-the light of his sacred priesthood over all priests;

- the light of the Spirit that brought Simeon to the Temple to receive the Child that day;

-the light that spoke through Simeon of suffering, not only for Mary but for all Israel in the near future, and in the far distant future for them and all of us;

- the light that spoke of those who would reject, and those who would accept that great LIGHT in the darkness;

- the light that enabled Simeon to recognise the Child in his arms as the glory of His people, and enabled Anna to acclaim that Child as Messiah and Redeemer;

- the light that completed the cycle of prophecy immediately surrounding the birth of the Savious;

- the light of personal fulfilment and peace brought to Simeon and Anna by His presence;

- the light of Life He is to us;

- the light of Christ Himself."

copyright Jane Mossendew 2002

Purification of the B.V.M.

Monday 2 February 2009

The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

2nd Class, White
Gloria; Credo; Preface of the Nativity


Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, majestátem tuam súpplices exorámus : ut, sicut unigénitus Fílius tuus hodiérna die cum nostræ carnis substántia in templo est præsentátus ; ita nos fácias purificátis tibi méntibus præsentári. Per eúmdem Dóminum.

Let us pray:

Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech thy Majesty : that, as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh ; so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts, by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Who.


The Feast of Candlemas, which derives its origin from the local observance of Jerusalem, marks the end of the Feasts included in the Christmas cycle of the liturgy. It is perhaps the most ancient festival of Our Lady. It commemorates, however, not only the obedience of the Blessed Virgin to the Mosaic Law in going to Jerusalem forty days after the birth of her Child and making the accustomed offerings, but also the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, and the meeting of the Infant Jesus with the old man Simeon -- the Occursus Domini, as the Feast was originally termed. This is the principal theme of the liturgy on this day: Jesus is taken into the Temple "to present Him to the Lord." So the Lord comes to His own Temple, and is met by the aged Simeon with joy and recognition.

The procession on this day is one of the most picturesque features of the Western liturgy. The blessing and distribution of candles, to be carried lighted in procession, preceded the Mass today -- a symbolic presentation of the truth proclaimed in the Canticle of Simeon: Our Lord is the "Light for the revelation of the Gentiles." The anthems sung during this procession, eastern in origin, well express the joy and gladness of this happy festival, and the honor and praise we give to our Blessed Lady and her Divine Son by this devout observance.

The Blessing may not take place without being followed by the Procession, nor the Procession without being preceded by the Blessing. At the Mass which follows the Procession there are no Preparatory Prayers. Lit candles are held during the Procession and the Gospel and from the Sanctus to the end of Communion.