Octave Day of Christmas

Friday 1 January 2010

Octave Day of Christmas
or, the Circumcision of Our Lord
1st Class, White


Deus, qui salútis ætérnæ, beátæ Maríæ virginitáte fœcúnda, humáno géneri præmia præstitísti: tríbue, quæsumus; ut ipsam pro nobis intercédere sentiámus, per quam merúimus auctórem vitæ suscípere, Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum Fílium tuum: Qui tecum vivit et regnat...

Let us Pray:

O God, who by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary hast bestowed upon mankind the rewards of eternal salvation: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may experience her intercession for us, through whom we have been made worthy to receive the Author of Life, Jesus Christ They Son, our Lord: Who with Thee...

(image: breviary.net)

Seventh Day in the Christmas Octave

Thursday 31 December 2009

7th Day in the Octave of Christmas
2nd Class, White


Gregem tuum, Pastor ætérne, placæatus inténde: et per beátum Silvéstrum Summum Pontificem perpétua protectióne custódi; quem totíus Ecclésiæ præstitísti esse pastórem. Per Dóminum...

Let us Pray:

Look forgivingly on Thy flock, Eternal Shepherd, and keep it in Thy constant protection, by the intercessed of blessed Silvester Thy Sovereign Pontiff, whom Thou didst constitute Shepherd of the whole Church. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ...

(image: detail of image Constitutum Constantini, courtesy of Wikipedia)

Consecrated Hands for Consecrated Things

Some say the "consecrated hands for consecrated things" slogan is a myth.

Well, this "myth" comes from a certain Thomas Aquinas, an obscure, backwards, low-grade medieval theologian, who must be wrong, because everything before 1969 was wrong(!).

The dispensing of Christ's body belongs to the priest for three reasons. First, because, as was said above (Article 1), he consecrates as in the person of Christ. But as Christ consecrated His body at the supper, so also He gave it to others to be partaken of by them. Accordingly, as the consecration of Christ's body belongs to the priest, so likewise does the dispensing belong to him. Secondly, because the priest is the appointed intermediary between God and the people; hence as it belongs to him to offer the people's gifts to God, so it belongs to him to deliver consecrated gifts to the people. Thirdly, because out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest's hands, for touching this sacrament. Hence it is not lawful for anyone else to touch it except from necessity, for instance, if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency.

Summa Theologica, p.III q.82 a.3

By the way, a myth is essentially "truth in allegorical form". Lord, save us from liturgical commentators.


Of course in some regions deacons' hands were consecrated (see Epistle of Gildas and Pontifical of Egbert of York), but the ministry of deacon was always pertaining the chalice.

The deacon, as being nigh to the priestly order, has a certain share in the latter's duties, so that he may dispense the blood; but not the body, except in case of necessity, at the bidding of a bishop or of a priest. First of all, because Christ's blood is contained in a vessel, hence there is no need for it to be touched by the dispenser, as Christ's body is touched. Secondly, because the blood denotes the redemption derived by the people from Christ; hence it is that water is mixed with the blood, which water denotes the people. And because deacons are between priest and people, the dispensing of the blood is in the competency of deacons, rather than the dispensing of the body.

ST III q.82 a.3

As for the doctrine, Cardinal Ferdinando Antonelli himself, once said, I remember it well: “How come that we make liturgists who know nothing about theology?”

- Msgr Bartolucci


How eloquent therefore, even if not of ancient custom, is the rite of the anointing of the hands in our Latin ordination, as though precisely for these hands a special grace and power of the Holy Spirit is necessary! To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained, one which indicates an active participation in the ministry of the Eucharist.

Dominicanae cenae, John Paul II, 1980
(as seen on Rorate Cæli)

Sixth Day in the Christmas Octave

Wednesday 30 December 2009

6th Day in the Octave of Christmas
2nd class, White

Dom Guéranger notes:

This is the only day within the Christmas Octave which is not a Saint's Feast. During the Octaves of the Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost, the Church is so absorbed in the respective mysteries that she puts off everything that could share her attention; whereas during this of Christmas, there is only one day which does not celebrate the memory of some glorious Saint, and our Infant Jesus is surrounded by a choir of heroes who loved and served him. Thus the Church, or, more correctly, God - for God is the first author of the cycle of the year - shows us how the Incarnate Word, who came to save mankind, desires to give mankind confidence by this his adorable familiarity.

(image: breviary.net)

Fifth Day in the Christmas Octave

Tuesday 29 December 2010

5th Day in the Octave of Christmas
2nd Class, White


Deus, pro cujus Ecclésia gloriósus Póntifex Thomas gládiis impiórum occúbuit: præsta, quæsumus; ut omnes, qui ejus implótant auxílium, petitiónis suæ salutárem consequántur efféctum. Per Dóminum...

Let us Pray:

O God, for the sake of whose Church the glorious bishop Thomas fell by the sword of ungodly men: grant, we beseech Thee, that all who implore his aid, may obtain the good fruit of their petition.
Through our Lord...



From the Baronius Missal:

Saint Thomas à Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, is the Martyr of the liberties of the Church in the XIIth Century. Henry II, King of England, wished him to sanction customs contrary to the liberties of the Church. St Thomas knew that to make this divine society subservient to the secular power, would be to violate her very constitution, and therefore as Bishop he would willingly suffer death in defence of the Church of Christ. He was slain in his Cathedral by the King's soldiers on December 29th, 1170.

(image: earliest known portrayal of Thomas Becket's murder in Canterbury Cathedral, courtesy of Wikipedia)

Majestic Irish Cathedral Destroyed by Fire

Christmas 2009
The north-central Irish Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise has suffered the tragic loss of its 150-year old cathedral yesterday morning in what may have been an act of arson. Just a few hours after the bishop celebrated Midnight Mass, the fire broke out. By the time it was extinguished the beautiful interior was completely gutted.

A video showing the destroyed cathedral can be seen here. The Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Dr Colm O'Reilly, has said he will restore St Mel's Cathedral in Longford , though it will cost over €2 million. Bishop O'Reilly said he celebrated midnight mass to a packed Cathedral. He said that it was an extraordinary contrast the next morning. Construction on St Mel's started in 1840 and it opened in September, 1856.

More on this story here.

Though details of any fundraising efforts have yet to emerge, the Diocese can be contacted as follows:-
The Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois
Diocesan Office,
Ballinalee Road.
Co. Longford.
Phone: +353 (0)43-3346432
Fax: +353 (0)43-3346833
Email: ardaghdi at iol.ie
(image: RTÉ)

Holy Innocents

Monday 28 December 2009

Holy Innocents

2nd Class, Red


Deus, cujus hodiérna die præcónium Innocéntes Mártyres non loquéndo, sed moriéndo conféssi sunt : ómnia in nobis vitiórum mala mortífica ; ut fidem tuam, quam lingua nostra lóquitur, étiam móribus vita fateátur. Per Dóminum.

Let us pray.

O God, whose praise the martyred Innocents did this day proclaim, not be speaking but by dying, do to death in us all the malice of sinfulness, that our lives may also proclaim thy faith, which our tongues profess. Through.


Holy Innocents, from the Baronius Missal:

It is because Herod believed the words of the Magi and of the high Priests whom he consulted that he sees a rival in the Infant of Bethlehem and with jealousy pursues the Child, born King of the Jews. It is this God-King that the Innocents by dying confess; their passion is the exaltation of Christ.

And a Blogger notes:

Guéranger comments (Vol. 2, Bk. 1, pg. 280) that the Holy Innocents received a Baptism of Blood. This is certainly possible. However, they were all Jewish males, and the common opinion among the Fathers and Doctors of the Church was that circumcision obtained the forgiveness of original sin before the preaching of Christ. (See St. Thomas's article on the effect of circumcision.) If that is correct, then the Holy Innocents were already cleansed from original sin, and would certainly have obtained salvation no matter how they died.

While Tradition does say that the Innocents received a Baptism of Blood, the circumstance of their death did not obtain salvation for them, but added a certain splendor to their heavenly crowns because they were made like Christ (the intended victim) in their deaths.

(image: The Holy Innocents, by Giotto di Bondone)

Sunday within the Octave of Christmas

Sunday 27 December 2009

Sunday within the Octave of Christmas
2nd Class, White


Omnipotens sempitérne Deus, dírige actus nostros in beneplácito tuo: ut in nómine dilécti Fílii tui mereámur bonis opéribus abundáre:
Qui tecum vivit...

Let us Pray:

O Almighty and everlasting God, direct our actions according to Thy good pleasure; that in the Name of Thy beloved Son we may deserve to abound in good works:
Who with Thee...


Commentary on the Collect for Sunday (Fr John Zuhlsdorf, The Wanderer 2005):
In the functionally superior Lewis & Short Dictionary we learn that beneplacitum means "good pleasure, gracious purpose". The preposition in using the ablative case indicates a condition, situation or relation rather than a reference to space where or time when something was occurring. In the Vulgate beneplacitum translates the original Greek eudokia in, e.g., Eph 1:9; 1 Cor 10:5. Other phrases are used for eudokia too (e.g., bona voluntas in Luke 2:14, the famous "peace on earth to men of good will" or "peace on earth good will toward men"). Paul wrote eudokia at the beginning of 2 Thessalonians (1:11-12), rendered as voluntas bonitatis in the Vulgate:

...oramus semper pro vobis ut dignetur vos vocatione sua Deus et impleat omnem voluntatem bonitatis et opus fidei in virtute ut clarificetur nomen Domini nostri Iesu Christi in vobis et vos in illo secundum gratiam Dei nostri et Domini Iesu Christi… we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfill every good resolve (omnem voluntatem bonitatis) and work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (RSV).

We can find connections between 2 Thessalonians and our Collect at several points: mereamur in the Collect with dignetur in Paul (both having to do with meriting or being worth of), beneplacitum with voluntas bonitatis, bona opera with opus fidei (good works flowing from lived faith), nomen Filii with nomen Domini Iesu Christi. Taken in the sense of "gracious purpose" we can make a connection to Paul's vocatio too, our "calling" or the purpose for which God placed us on this earth with a part of His plan to fulfill.

Abundo means, "to overflow with any thing, to have an abundance or superabundance of, to abound in." If we go back to the idea of the preposition in and the ablative indicating place or location in space, (in beneplacito tuo) we have an image of our good works originating in God and, coming from Him, overflowing out from us. Some Protestants are under the false impression that Catholics think we can "earn" our way to heaven by our own good works, as if our good works had their own merit apart from God. Catholics believe, however, that true good works always have their origin in God, but the works are truly our works as well since we cooperate with God in performing them. Therefore, having their origin and purpose in God, they merit the reward of God's promises. Whenever we find a reference to works in these liturgical prayers, do not forget the Catholic understanding of good works.

(image: breviary.net)

St Stephen, Protomartyr

Saturday 26 December 2009

SANCTI STEPHANI, Protomartyris
St Stephen, Deacon & Protomartyr
2nd Class, Red
(2nd Vespers of St. Stephen,
w. commem. of 1st Vespers of Sunday in the Octave)

Concéde, quæsumus, omnípotens Deus: ut nos Unigéniti tui nova per carnem Natívitas líberet; quos sub peccáti jugo vetústa sérvitus tenet. Per eúmdem Dóminum.

Let us pray.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that the new birth, in the flesh, of thine only-begotten Son, may deliver us whom slavery from of old doth keep under the yoke of sin. Through the same.


From matins, the Office of Readings for today(1), the feast of St Stephen, the first martyr:

From the Acts of the Apostles:

The members of the Council...became furious and ground their teeth at him in anger. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw God's glory, and Jesus standing at the right side of God. "Look!" he said. "I see heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!"

...Then they all rushed together at him at once, threw him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses left their cloaks in charge of a young man named Saul. They kept on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" He knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord! Do not remember this sin against them!" He said this and died. And Saul approved of his murder.

From a sermon by St Fulgentius of Ruspe:

Yesterday we celebrated the birth in time of our eternal king; today we celebrate the triumphant death of a soldier.

...The love then that brought Christ down from heaven to earth, lifted Stephen from earth to heaven. The love that showed itself first in the kind, shone forth next in the soldier. And Stephen, so as to deserve to win the crown -- which is what his name means -- had love as his weapon and by it was everywhere victorious. Through love of God he did not yield to the raging of the Jews, and through love of his neighbour he prayed for those who were stoning him...

Trusting in the strength of love he overcame the cruel raging of Saul, and so won for himself as a companion in heaven, the man who had been his persecutor on earth. ...And now Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he enjoys the brightness of Christ; he exults with Stephen, he reigns with Stephen.

What a really true life must there be now, brethren, where Paul is not put to confusion although he killed Stephen, but where, instead, Stephen rejoices in the fellowship of Paul; for in both of them love itself rejoices. In Stephen, love overcame the ferocity of the Jews, in Paul it covered a multitude of sins, and in both of them love deserved to inherit the kingdom of heaven.

Love, therefore, is the origin and source of all good things; it is a most excellent defence, the road that leaves to heaven. Whoever walks in love can neither stray nor be afraid. Love guides, love protects, love leads to the end.

(1) - Divine Office, vol. I, pp. 46* - 50*.



Benedictines of Norcia to Broadcast Christmas Matins, Vespers and Masses

by Shawn Tribe

Just a reminder that the Benedictines of Norcia make available their Masses and the Divine Office online for your edification. (Listen here)

Readers will be interest to know that they will be posting their Christmas Matins and Vespers, as well as the Midnight Mass and Mass at Dawn between now and tomorrow.

These will be coming from their Basilica church, and accordingly, the acoustics promise to be particularly good.

[They also now have an RSS feed, which is most useful. This functions correctly with Google Reader, and more importantly - as a Podcast - with Apple iTunes. -- Mark.]

(reproduced from The New Liturgical Movement)

Christmas Day

Friday 25 December 2009

The Nativity of Our Lord
1st Class, White

Christmas is the only day of the year which keeps the old custom of celebrating its Feast at midnight. At this hour we call to mind that Mary in her spotless virginity gave to the world its Saviour. In the midst of darkness, the Light was born. Therefore the Church celebrates Christmas on December 25th, the time of the year when the days begin to lengthen. The custom of having three Masses originated in Jerusalem. A Mass was said in Bethlehem at a very early hour in the morning. Later a second Mass was celebrated in the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem. About midday a third Mass was celebrated.
-- Baronius 1962 Missal

1) Midnight Mass: "Dominus Dixit"

The Midnight Mass specially recalls the temporal birth of Jesus:


Deus, qui hanc sacratíssimam noctem veri lúminis fecísti illustratióne calréscere: da, quæsumus; ut, cujus lucis mystéria in terra cognóvimus, ejus quoque gáudiis in cœlo perfruámur:

Qui tecum vivit et regnat...

Let us Pray:

O God, Who hast made this most holy night to shine forth with the splendor of the true Light: grant, we beseech Thee, that we, who have known the mysteries of His light on earth, may enjoy also His happiness in heaven.

Who with Thee liveth and...

2) Dawn Mass: "Lux Fulgebit"

The Mass at Dawn especially recalls the spiritual birth of Jesus in our souls, and commemorates the adoration of the shepherds:


Da nobis, quæsumus, omnípotens Deus: ut, qui nova incarnáti Verbi tui luce perfúndimut; hoc in nostro respléndeat ópere, quod per fidem fulget in mente.

Per eúmdem Dóminum...

Let us Pray:

Grant us, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we on whom the new light of Thy Incarnate Word is poured, may show forth in our works that brightness, which now doth illuminate our minds by faith.

Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who...

3) Daytime Mass: "Puer Natus Est"

The Third Mass during the Daytime recalls especially the eternal generation of Jesus, and celebrates the dignity of the Son of God:


Concede, quæsumus omnípotens Deus: ut nos Unigéniti tui nova per carne Natívitas líberet: quos sub peccáti jugo vetústa sérvitus tenet.

Per eúmdem Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum Fílium tuum...

Let us Pray:

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the new birth of Thine only-begotten Son in the flesh may set us free, who are held by the old bondage under the yoke of sin.

Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God...


(image: breviary.net)

notes: Christmastide

Notes for the Liturgy during Christmastide

1. At Christmas each Priest may celebrate three Masses (and retain the three stipends): Mass of the night, Mass at dawn, and Mass of the day. Priests who celebrate three Masses without interruption must follow these guidelines: (i) there is no ablution, even of water, after the first and second Mass; the Priest should purify his fingers in the ablution bowl; at the first two Masses the Chalice is simply recovered with the purificator, pall and veil and left on the corporal; and (ii) at the Offertory, a new Host is brought by the server. The Priest does not wipe the Chalice before he pours the wine and the water.

2. At the second Mass on Christmas Day there is a commemoration of St. Anastasia, even at a sung Mass. At the third Mass there is no Last Gospel; the Last Gospel of the Epiphany formerly said at this point has been suppressed.

3. The faithful who received Communion at Midnight Mass may also receive Communion at another Mass during the day.

4. The Communicantes of Christmas is used from December 25h through to January 1st (Octave Day of the Nativity): at midnight, "noctem sacratissimam"; at the other Masses, "diem sacratissimum".

5. On December 29th, 30th, and 31st, the Proper is taken from the Mass Puer Natus during the Octave of the Nactivity. On January 2nd, the Proper is taken from the Mass of the Octave Day of the Nativity (January 1st). On January 7th to 9th, the Mass is of the Epiphany. On January 12th, the Mass is of the first Sunday of the Epiphany.

6. A Plenary Indulgence may be gained by publicly saying or singing the Te Deum in thanksgiving on December 31st; a Plenary Indulgence may also be gained by publicly saying or singing Veni Creator Spiritus on January 1st.

7. The Gloria is said at every Mass of the seaons, even of the feria, during Christmastide.

8. The Daily Mass for the Dead is prohibited on all ferias of Christmastide and throughout the former Octave of the Epiphany.

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

Christmas Eve

Thursday 24 December 2009

Vigil of the Nativity of Our Lord
1st Class, Violet
(1st Vespers of Christmas)


Deus, qui nos redemptiónis nostræ annua exspectatióne lætíficas: præsta; ut Unigénitum tuum, quem Redemptórem læti suscípimus, veniéntem quoque Júdicem secúri videámus, Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum Fílium tuum : Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus. Let us Pray:

O God, who makest us glad with the yearly Expectation of the birth of thine only Son Jesus Christ: grant that as we joyfully receive him for our Redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold him when he shall come to be our Judge.

Who liveth and reigneth with thee.

(image: breviary.net)

Greater Feria (Wednesday)

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Greater Feria
2nd Class, Violet
(Lauds II, Preces; Mag. Ant. 'O Emmanuel')

"O Emmanuel"

"O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, Desire of all nations and their Salvation: Come and save us, O Lord our God."

Dom Guéranger reflects:

"We adore thee, O Emmanuel! in this thy journey, and we reverence the fidelity wherewith thou fulfillest all that the prophets have written of thee, for thou wouldst give to thy people the certainty of thy being the Messias, by showing them, that all the marks whereby he was to be known, are to be found in thee. And now, the hour is near; all is ready for thy Birth; come, then, and save us; come, that thou mayest not only be called our Emmanuel, but our Jesus, that is, He that saves us."

Here is a recording of the Antiphon, courtesy of the Oxford Dominicans:

And to finish off, a recording of the great Advent hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel:

For more on the history of the hymn, please see this article by the great chant expert Mary Berry, reproduced at NLM here.


Greater Feria (Tuesday)

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Greater Feria
2nd Class, Violet
(Lauds II; Mag. Ant. 'O Rex')

"O Rex Gentium"

"O King of Nations, and their Desire; the Cornerstone, who makest both one: Come and save mankind, whom thou formedst of clay."

Dom Gueranger continues to reflect on Mary's journey to Bethlehem carrying the unborn Jesus. How, he asks, will her human heart bear simultaneously the intensity of a mother's love for her baby and the love of a creature for her God.

"But thou supportest her, O thou the Desired of Nations! for thou, too, longest for that happy Birth, which is to give the earth its Saviour, and to men that Cornerstone, which will unite them all into one family. Dearest King! be thou blessed for all these wonders of thy power and goodness. Come speedily, we beseech thee, come and save us, for we are dear to thee, as creatures that have been formed by thy divine hands. Yes Come for thy creation has grown degenerate; it is lost; death has taken possession of it: take it thou again into thy almighty hands, and give it a new creation; save it; for thou hast not ceased to take pleasure in and love thy own work."

Here is a recording of the Antiphon, courtesy of the Oxford Dominicans:


St Thomas, Apostle

Monday 21 December 2009

St Thomas, Apostle

2nd Class, Red
(Mag. Ant. 'O Oriens';
2nd Vespers of St Thomas, w. commem. of feria)


Da nobis, quæsumus, Dómine, beáti Apóstoli tui Thomæ solemnitátibus gloriári: ut ejus semper et patrocíniis sublevémur; et fidem cóngrua devotióne sectémur. Per Dóminum.

Let us pray.

Grant us, we beseech thee, O Lord, to glory in the solemn festival of blessed Thomas, thine Apostle, that we may both be helped continually by his patronage and imitate his faith with befitting devotion. Through.


"O Oriens"

"O Day-Spring, Brightness of the Light everlasting, and Sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death."

In his commentary on the fifth great 'O' antiphon, Dom Guéranger directly addresses Jesus in Mary's womb, there hidden and unrecognised as she makes her way with Joseph among the crowds on the journey to their native town, "there to be enrolled as the Edict commands". He imagines the indifference with which Mary and Joseph are regarded, if indeed they are noticed at all. Therefore it is no surprise that passeres-by give no thought to the Child, who is obviously so soon to be born.

"And yet this Child is thyself, O Sun of Justice! Oh! increase our Faith, but increase too our love.....Dearest Jesus! who thus traversest the world thou hast created, and who forcest not the honage of thy creatures, we wish to keep near thee during the rest of this thy journey: we kiss the footsteps of Her that carries thee in her womb; we will not leave thee, until we arrive together with thee at Bethlehem, that House of Bread, where, at last, our eyes will see thee, O splendour of eternal light, our Lord and our God!"

Here is a recording of the Antiphon, courtesy of the Oxford Dominicans:

Link: (image: The Incredulity of St Thomas by Caravaggio)

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Sunday 20 December 2009

Fourth Sunday in Advent
(Rorate Sunday)
1st Class, Violet
(Mag. Ant. 'O Clavis David')


Excita, quæsumus, Dómine, poténtiam tuam, et veni : et magna nobis virtúte succúrre; ut per auxílium grátiæ tuæ, quod nostra peccáta præpédiunt, indulgéntia tuæ propitiatiónis accéleret : Qui vivis.

Let us pray.

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy power, and come; make haste to our aid with thy great might ; that, by the help of thy grace, that which is hindered by our sins may be hastened by thy merciful forgiveness.

Who livest and reignest.


"Jesus' public life begins with his baptism by John in the Jordan. (Cf. Lk 3. 23; Acts 1. 22) John preaches 'a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.' (Lk 3. 3) A crowd of sinners (Cf. Lk 3. 10-14; Mt 3. 7; 21. 32) --tax collectors and soldiers, Pharisees and Sadducees, and prostitutes--come to be baptized by him. 'Then Jesus appears.' The Baptist hesitates, but Jesus insists and receives baptism. Then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes upon Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims, 'This is my beloved Son.' (Mt 3. 13-17) This is the manifestation ("Epiphany") of Jesus as Messiah of Israel and Son of God." (CCC 535)


"O Clavis David"

"O Key of David, Scepter of the house of Israel; that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth, and no man openeth: come, and bring forth from the prisionhouse the captive, who sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death."

Dom Guéranger reflects:

"....thy Mother's womb affords thee the sweetest rest, and thou receivest from her the profoundest adoration and the tenderest love. But, dear Jesus, it is thine own blessed will that thou leave this loved abode. Thou hast, O Eternal Light, to shine in the midst of this world's darkness, this prison where the Captive, whom thou art come to deliver sits in the shadow of death. Open his prison-gates by the all-powerful Key. And who is this Captive, but the human race, the slave of error and vice? Who is this Captive, but the heart of man, which is thrall to the very passions it blushes to obey? Oh! come and set at liberty the world thou has enriched by thy grace, and the creatures whom thou has made to be thine own Brethren."

Here is a recording of the Antiphon, courtesy of the Oxford Dominicans:


Please note: on Sunday 20th December there will be Solemn Latin Vespers and Benediction at 6.30pm at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Balornock, Glasgow. All are welcome to join the Schola - now ending its inaugural year - for this opportunity to pray with the ancient music of the Church.

Please see edinburghschola.blogspot.com for updates and further information.

(image: breviary.net)

Ember Saturday in Advent

Saturday 19 December 2009

Ember Saturday in Advent
2nd Class, Violet
(Lauds II, Preces at Lauds only;
Mag. Ant. 'O Radix';
1st Vespers of IV Sunday Advent)


Deus, qui cónspicis, quia ex nostra pravitáte afflígimur : concéde propítius ; ut ex tua visitatióne consolémur : Qui vivis et regnas.

Let us pray.

O God, who seest us to be sorely afflicted by reason of the frailty of our mortal nature : grant, we beseech thee, that we may be relieved by thy gracious visitation.

Who livest and reignest with the Father.


"O Radix Jesse"

"O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at whom kings shall stop their mouths, whom the Gentiles shall seek: Come and deliver us, and tarry not."

Most commonly the following passages are cited as sources for this:
he following passages as sources:
Isaias 11:1: And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.

Isaias 11:10: In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious.

Micha 5:1: Now shalt thou be laid waste, O daughter of the robber: they have laid siege against us, with a rod shall they strike the cheek of the judge of Israel.
However, Isaiah 11:10, Romans 15:12, and Revelation 5:5, are also sometimes cited.

Dom Guéranger reflects:

"Go forward, O Mother of God and Mother of Men!......our hearts are with thee and count thy steps.....Come, then, O Root of Jesse thus hid in this ark of purity; thou wilt soon appear before thy people as the 'standard' around which all that would conquer must rally. Then, their enemies, the kings of the world, will be silenced, and the nations will offer thee their prayers. Hasten thy coming, dear Jesus! come and conquer all our enemies and deliver us."

Here is a recording of the Antiphon, courtesy of the Oxford Dominicans:

(image: catholic-resources.org, illustrating Lk. 3:1-6, the Gospel for both this and the IVth Sunday in Advent)

Ember Friday in Advent

Friday 18 December 2009

Ember Friday in Advent
2nd Class, Violet
(Lauds II, Preces; Mag. Ant. 'O Adonai')

Excita, quæsumus, Dómine, poténtiam tuam, et veni : ut hi, qui in tua pietáte confídunt, ab omni cítius adversitáte liberéntur : Qui vivis.

Let us pray.

Stir up thy power, O Lord, we beseech thee, and come: that we, who put our trust and confidence in thy mercy, may speedily be delivered from all our adversities.

Who livest and reignest with the Father.



"O Adonai"

"O Adonai and Leader of the house of Israel, who appearedst in the Bush of Moses in a flame of fire, and gavest him the law in Sinai: Come and deliver us with an outstretched arm."

Dom Guéranger reflects:

"......thou comest not to terrify, but to save us.

"Thy chaste Mother........prepares for thee, O Sun of Justice! the humble swathing-bands, wherewith to cover thy nakedness, and protect thee, the Creator of the world, from the cold of that mid-night hour of thy Nativity! Thus it is that thou willest to deliver us from the slavery of our pride, and show man that thy divine arm is never stronger than when he thinks it powerless and still. Everything is prepared, then, dear Jesus! thy swathing-bands are ready for thy infant limbs! come to Bethlehem, and redeem us from the hands our our enemies."

Here is a recording of the Antiphon, courtesy of the Oxford Dominicans:

(image: breviary.net)

Greater Feria (Thursday)

Thursday 17 December 2009

Greater Feria (Thursday)

2nd Class, Violet
(Lauds II; Mag. Ant. 'O Sapientia')


Excita, quæsumus, Dómine, poténtiam tuam, et veni : et magna nobis virtúte succúrre; ut per auxílium grátiæ tuæ, quod nostra peccáta præpédiunt, indulgéntia tuæ propitiatiónis accéleret : Qui vivis.

Let us pray.

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy power, and come; make haste to our aid with thy great might ; that, by the help of thy grace, that which is hindered by our sins may be hastened by thy merciful forgiveness. Who livest.


Today begins the “'O' Antiphons”, a collection of antiphons sung with the Magnificat at Vespers from 17 to 23 December in the Roman Rite, date back at least to the reign of Charlemagne, and there is an English poem based on them by Cynewulf (fl. 8th century). The well-known Advent hymn, “O come, O come, Emmanuel” (Veni, veni, Emanuel), is a metrical text based on the antiphons.

The initial letters of the antiphons,

ignoring the ‘O’, spell out the reverse acrostic, ‘SARCORE’ – ‘ero cras’, ‘I shall be [with you] tomorrow’, a hidden counterpart of the joyful iteration of ‘cras’ which rings like a bell through the liturgy of the last week of Advent.

(The New Oxford Book of Carols, ed. Hugh Keyte and Andrew Parrott, p. 45)

For December 17

O Sapientia,
quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter,
suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

O Wisdom,
who proceeds from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching out mightily from end to end,
and sweetly arranging all things:
come to teach us the way of prudence.

(English translations of the Latin taken from the Dominican Life website.)

Here is a recording of the Antiphon, courtesy of the Oxford Dominicans:


Please note: on Thursday 17th December there will be Solemn Latin Vespers and Benediction at 5.00pm (please note the altered time) in St Mary's RC Cathedral, Edinburgh (Scotland) to celebrate this feast.

All are welcome to join the Schola for this opportunity to pray with the ancient music of the Church.

This is the twelfth of monthly sung Vespers sung by the new Edinburgh Schola. Please see edinburghschola.blogspot.com for updates and further information.

(image: Wikimedia Commons; text: The Confessing Reader)

Ember Wednesday in Advent

This coming Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are Ember Days under the classical Roman Calendar. At the beginning of the four seasons of the year, the Church celebrated Ember Days to thank God for his blessings during the past year and to implore further graces for the new season.

Their observance is no longer required by many Catholic bishops conferences, however they are naturally of benefit and merit. Ember Days were marked by fasting and abstaining from meat as one would do on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday. They are intended to consecrate to God the four seasons in nature, and to prepare by penance those who are about to be ordained. Ordinations were often conferred at this time, so it is traditional to pray for Vocations at this time! Something to remember.

The New Advent Catholic Encyclopaedia has a good small article on Ember Days. Also, Fr John Zühlsdorf, of What Does the Prayer Really Say? makes an argument for greater sacrifice and penance here.


Wednesday 16 December 2009

Ember Wednesday in Advent
2nd Class, Violet
(Lauds II, Preces)

Præsta, quæsumus, omnípotens Deus : ut redemptiónis nostræ ventúra solémnitas, et præséntis nobis vitæ subsídia cónferat, et ætérnæ beatitúdinis præmia largiátur. Per Dóminum.

Let us pray.

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God : that the coming festival of our redemption may obtain for us the comfort of thy succour in this life, and in the life to come the reward of eternal felicity.




news from Baronius Press: Roman Breviary - Breviarium Romanum

This just in from Baronius Press:

Many of you have been eagerly awaiting the release of the Roman Breviary which has been plagued with constant delays and we are very grateful for all the emails and prayers of support that we have received.

The good news is, that after a long search, we have found a censor who has kindly agreed to undertake the tedious and very responsible task of carefully checking through our work to ensure that a Concordat Cum Originali can be granted. We ask you to join us in praying for the censor, that the work is completed as quickly as possible.

Once the Concordat Cum Originali is granted, the Breviary will be sent to the printers. At this point we will post full information on our website detailing costs and how to pre-order.

  • It is based on the popular three-volume Collegeville Breviary in Latin & English, originally published in 1963.
  • Follows the text and rubrics promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII – the form of the traditional Breviary approved in Pope Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum.
  • St Jerome’s traditional Gallican psalter from the Vulgate is given in the text of all the hours.
  • Scriptural texts in English follow the Confraternity translation (a 1940s revision of Challoner’s Douai-Rheims Bible), which have been thoroughly revised to conform to the Vulgate text.
  • Extracts from the Rituale Romanum (including the most commonly used litanies) given in an appendix.
  • Contains Penitential Psalms and the Office for the Dead.
  • Prayer card to include common prayers in Latin and English.
  • A copy of Learning the Breviary will be included.
for more information, see www.baroniuspress.co.uk

Third Sunday of Advent

Sunday 13 December 2009

Third Sunday of Advent
(commonly called "Gaudete Sunday")
1st Class, Violet


Aurem tuam, quæsumus, Dómine, précibus nostris accómmoda: et mentis nostræ ténebras grátia tuæ visitatiónis illústra : Qui vivis.

Let us pray.

Incline thine ear, we beseech thee, O Lord, to our prayers: and make bright the darkness of our minds by the grace of thy visitation.

Who livest and reignest.


This collect is now used for the Monday in the 3rd Week of Advent in the Missal of Pope Paul VI, however, like so many it is also in the Gelasian Sacramentary and the Gregorian.

(image: breviary.net)

The Immaculate Conception

This year the Church celebrates the 155th anniversary of the proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception which affirms that Mary was conceived without Original Sin.

For centuries, the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady was defended by saints, theologians and laymen. However, it took centuries of theological debate to establish a consensus in the Church. Only in 1854, did Blessed Pope Pius IX, after consulting with the bishops of the whole world, proclaim this dogma in his Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, thus affirming as revealed truth that Our Lady was preserved from Original Sin from the very moment of her conception.

Many defended this position because they felt that the glory of the Most Holy Trinity would be tarnished if the Mother of the Word Incarnate were not the most perfect of all creatures. It would also be against God’s wisdom and mercy if the Savior’s mother did not receive the highest transcendental gifts of nature and grace.

The Immaculate Conception and America

The Immaculate Conception is particularly significant for Americans.

Americans join with Catholics the world over in celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. They are filled with joy this year which marks the 155th anniversary of the proclamation.

However, this feast is especially dear to Americans because Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the nation’s patroness. Even before the proclamation of the dogma, the American bishops collectively placed the nation under the protection of the Immaculate Conception at the first Council of Baltimore in 1846. The pope ratified this decision on February 7, 1847.

The special place of Our Lady under this invocation led Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington to ask the Holy See to grant a plenary indulgence for those who visit the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in the nation’s capital for the year ending on December 8, 2004.

Reconciling Christ’s Universal Redemption

Although the Immaculate Conception can be found in Revelation and is part of the Deposit of Faith, it is not expressed with all the clarity of other truths like the Resurrection of Our Lord.

The main objection to the dogma revolved around the fact that, according to the dogma of Christ’s universal redemption, all men were redeemed from Original Sin by the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ. However, if Our Lady was conceived without Original Sin, it would seem that she could not be redeemed from it by the merits of Christ.

How can these two assertions be reconciled? How does one explain the truth of the whole matter?

As Pius IX explains in his Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Mary Most Holy by the same merits of her Divine Son has been redeemed in a special, preventive manner, preserving her from Original Sin. As the Pope says, “the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God …. her soul, in the first instant of its creation and in the first instant of the soul's infusion into the body, was, by a special grace and privilege of God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, her Son and the Redeemer of the human race, preserved free from all stain of original sin. And in this sense have the faithful ever solemnized and celebrated the Feast of the Conception."

While this simple formulation resolved the problem, it took several centuries to uncover. This is not surprising since the solution of delicate theological problems often takes a long time to resolve. Thus, in 1854, the Pope used the authority given him by Our Lord Jesus Christ to safeguard and infallibly interpret Revelation and defined the dogma once and for all.

Popular Piety Affirmed Dogma

Already in the fifth century, Saint Augustine affirmed that “piety imposed the recognition of Mary as not having sin.”1 Popular devotion took up this belief and the feast of the Immaculate Conception was already celebrated in the Oriental Catholic Church as early as the sixth century. Beginning in the eleventh century, theologians made detailed studies into the matter and verified the fact that popular devotion had grown. Popular enthusiasm for the feast increased so much that it was celebrated all over Europe in 1476.

Taking a Vow

In the sixteenth and especially the seventeenth century, the topic became such a burning issue that “in Spain it became impossible to sustain from the pulpit a contrary opinion [to the Immaculate Conception] since the people would react against such preachers with murmurs, clamor and even violence.”2

Beginning in 1617, the University of Granada in Spain began the custom of making a “votum sanguinis”, which was a vow to defend the Immaculate Conception even to the point of shedding blood in its defense. This practice soon spread to religious orders, universities, confraternities and other entities.

The heretical theologian Muratori contested the vow labeling it imprudent, “unenlightened” and even gravely irresponsible. He started a debate on the subject arguing that one cannot risk one’s life for a doctrine that has not yet been defined. This thesis was refuted by the great Catholic moralist Saint Alphonsus Liguori. He favored the vow for two reasons: a) there was a universal consensus among the faithful in respect to the subject; b) a universal celebration of the feast of the Immaculate Conception was already established.3

In Defense of the Immaculate Conception

Great defenders and preachers of the privilege of the Immaculate Conception included: Saint Leonard, Saint Peter Canisius, Saint Robert Bellarmine and many others.

The desire to defend the Immaculate Conception was so great that some universities would refuse to admit any students who did not swear to defend this special privilege of the Virgin. Even civil authorities would demand such an oath as was the case of the congressmen who declared Venezuela’s independence. They swore to defend independence, the Catholic religion and the mystery of the Immaculate Conception.4

Was the Debate Justifiable?

Some modern Catholics who are not well informed or deformed by today’s religious relativism might object: Was not such an obstinate defense of this privilege of Our Lady exaggerated?
Such Catholics do not understand the profundity of the dogma and its implications. As Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira explained: “the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, considered in itself clashed with the essentially egalitarian spirit of the Revolution that since 1789 has despotically reigned in the West. To see a simple creature so elevated over others by an inestimable privilege conceded to her at the first moment of her existence, cannot help but pain the children of the Revolution that proclaim absolute equality among men as the principle of all order, justice and good.”5

This is one more reason why the Church celebrates this marvelous privilege of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. This justification of the privilege was so well expressed by the French orator Bossuet who said the Immaculate Conception represented “flesh without fragility, senses without rebellion, life without stain and death without suffering.”6

The feast of the Immaculate Conception is an excellent opportunity to ask her special intercession for our country. May she protect us against the evils of abortion, same-sex unions, and so much promiscuity that is destroying the family. May she protect our brave troops that are selflessly shedding their blood in Iraq, Afghanistan and so many other places. Let us pray for all families struggling to be faithful to the Church and to raise their children in the love and reverent fear of God.


1. André Damino, Na escola de Maria, Ed. Paulinas, 1962, p. 39. [back]
2. “A cura di Stefano de Fiores e Salvatore Meo, Tratado De Natura et Gratia,” Nuovo Dizionario de Teologia, 42, PL 44, 267, Ed. Paolinas, 1986, Milan, p. 614. [back]
3. Ibid, p. 614. [back]
4. Caracciolo Parra-Perez, Historia de la Primera República de Venezuela, Biblioteca de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, Caracas, 1959, II Vol. [back]
5. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, “Primeiro marco do ressurgimento contra-revolucionário,” Catolicismo, February 1958. [back]
6. André Damino, op. cit., p. 36. [back]

(text: Holy Family Apostolate/America Needs Fatima)

Priests Training Conference (Ushaw)

LMS Residential Training Conference for Priests Wishing to Learn the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) at Ushaw College, Durham.

The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales (LMS) is organising a residential training conference for priests wishing to learn the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) at Ushaw College, Durham, one of England’s most prestigious seminaries.

The conference will run from Monday 12 April to Friday 16 April 2010 (i.e. Low Week) and will feature Traditional liturgies in Ushaw’s magnificent neo-Gothic St Cuthbert’s Chapel together with a Gregorian Chant schola and polyphonic choir.

Expert tuition in the celebration of Mass in the Usus Antiquior will be provided on a small group basis. There will be tuition in Low Mass, Missa Cantata and Missa Solemnis and there will be streams for beginners and more advanced students. There will be a keynote lecture and 1962 Missals and altar cards will be available.

There will be opening and closing High Masses, daily Mass and Devotions, and Rosary. There will also be a closing Conference dinner with guest speaker.

The subsidised fee to participants is only £115.00 which includes all accommodation, meals and training materials. There are limited places and priests are asked to register as soon as possible.

Further details and registration forms can be obtained from the LMS office (Tel: 020 7404 7284, e mail: info at latin-mass-society.org) or from the conference organiser, Mr Paul Waddington (Tel: 01757 638027, e mail: paul at gooleboathouse.co.uk).

Paul Waddington said, “This is the second time the LMS has organised such a training conference at Ushaw College and we are delighted to be going back. I hope the laity will tell their priests about this wonderful opportunity to learn the Usus Antiquior in the setting of one of England’s finest Catholic seminaries.”

Latin Mass Society, 11-13 Macklin Street, London WC2B 5NH
Tel: 020 7404 7284
E mail: info at latin-mass-society.org
Website: latin-mass-society.org

(photo: Fr Ray Blake)

Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
1st Class, White


Deus, qui per immaculátam Vírginis Conceptiónem dignum Fílio tuo habitáculum præparásti : quæsumus ; ut qui ex morte ejúsdem Fílii tui prævísa, eam ab omni labe præservásti, nos quoque mundos ejus intercessióne ad te perveníre concédas. Per eúmdem Dóminum.

Let us pray.

O God, who in the foreknowledge of thy Son's most precious death didst consecrate for him a dwelling-place by the immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin : mercifully grant that she who was preserved from all defilement ; may evermore pray for us until we attain unto thee in purity of heart.

Through the same.


The entirety of Dom Prosper Guéranger's commentary on this feast is available in English here, courtesy of CatholicCulture.org.

(image: LMS Birmingham)