Wednesday, December 26, 2012

26 December -- ". . .on the feast of Stephen. . ."

"Wenceslaus" fits nicely on the pipe scale, I might add.

In Ireland St Stephen's Day was the day for hunting the wren, an old  custom that almost died out and with a few changes is making a come-back:

There, it was the feast of St. Stephen or Wren Day. At one time, groups of small boys would hunt for a wren, and then chase the poor bird until they either caught it or it died from exhaustion. It was then tied to the top of a pole or holly bush, which was decorated with ribbons or colored paper. Early in the morning on St. Stephen's, the wren was carried from house to house by the boys, who wore straw masks or blackened their faces with burnt cork, and dressed in old clothes. At each house, the boys sang the Wren Boys' song. There are many versions and variations, including the following:

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
 On St. Stephen's Day was caught in the furze,
 Although he is little, his family is great,
 I pray you, good lady, give us a treat.
 My box would speak, if it had but a tongue,
 And two or three shillings, would do it no wrong,
 Sing holly, sing ivy - sing ivy, sing holly,
 A drop just to drink, it would drown melancholy.
 And if you draw it of the best,
 I hope in heaven your soul will rest;
 But if you draw it of the small,
 It won't agree with these wren boys at all.

Often, those who gave money were given a feather from the wren for good luck and then the money that had been collected was used to hold a dance for the entire village.
More here.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Date of Christmas

An excerpt from Fr James Buckley, F.S.S.P.'s column in the December 2012 newsletter of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter:

Ten years after the eastern patriarchate of Antioch began celebrating the feast of Christmas on December 25, Saint John Chrysostom in a homily to his congregation said that the Western churches had from the very commencement of Christianity kept it on this day. Moreover, the holy doctor provided arguments for this date drawn from reason and from Scripture.

As Abbot Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B. writes in his Liturgical Year, volume 3, page 2, Saint John declared that "the Church of Rome had every means of knowing the true day of our Savior's birth, since the acts of Enrollment, taken in Judea by command of Augustus (Luke 2:3-5) were kept in the public archives of Rome." In arguing from Scripture, Gueranger continues, Saint John "reasons thus: we know from the Sacred Scriptures that it must have been in the fast of the seventh month that the priest Zachary had the vision in the temple (cf: Leviticus 23:24: 'The tenth day of the seventh month is the day of Atonement when you shall. . .offer an oblation to the Lord" -- the seventh month corresponds to the end of September and the beginning of October); after which Elizabeth, his wife, conceived John the Baptist; hence it follows that the Blessed Virgin Mary, having, as the Evangelist Saint Luke relates, received the Angel Gabriel's visit, and conceived the Savior of the word in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, that is to say in March, the birth of Jesus must have taken place in the month of December."

A Child of the Snows

There is heard a hymn when the panes are dim,
  And never before or again,
When the nights are strong with a darkness long,
  And the dark is alive with rain.

Never we know but in sleet and in snow,
  The place where the great fires are,
That the midst of the earth is a raging mirth
  And the heart of the earth a star.

And at night we win to the ancient inn
  Where the child in the frost is furled,
We follow the feet where all souls meet
  At the inn at the end of the world.

The gods lie dead where the leaves lie red,
  For the flame of the sun is flown,
The gods lie cold where the leaves lie gold,
  And a Child comes forth alone.

--G.K. Chesterton

What time was Midnight Mass last night?

9:00 p.m.

I'd have told you in time for you to attend but our internet connection was down all day yesterday. I finally got it back up this morning. Considering that I've lived most of my life without an internet -- without, indeed, knowing what an internet might be -- the feeling of disconnect from life without an internet connection is quite amazing.

In any event, I missed the 'net and you missed a beautiful Mass last night. Here's a little of what you missed:

More pictures.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

So. . . .why reindeer?

Most efficient choice all the way 'round.  Santa knows what he's doing.

Creative Minority Report gives the details here.

December 23 -- O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium et salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.

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

This is the last of the commentaries "Oriens" did on the O antiphons in that mail-list many years ago.  I can't tell you which one.  I got from someone who copied it to a different list, the old CinGreg which was itself taken down several years ago.

'Emmanuel' derives from Isaiah 7:14,

'Ecce virgo concipiet, et pariet filium,
Et vocabitur nomen eius Emmanuel'

'Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
And his name shall be called Emmanuel.'

This is referred to the birth of Christ in St Matthew's Gospel:

'Hoc autem totum factum est,
ut adimpleretur quod dictum est a Domino per prophetam dicentam:
Ecce virgo in utero habebit, et pariet filium,
et vocabunt nomen eius Emmanuel,
quod est interpretatum Nobiscum Deus.'

'Now all this was done,
that it might be fulfilled which was said by the Lord through the prophet,
saying: Behold, a virgin shall have a son in her womb, and bear him,
and they shall call his name Emmanuel,
which is, being translated, God with us.' (Matthew 1:22-23).

Emmanuel, 'God with us', is perhaps the most important title in the

'Rex', 'King' is a title often applied to Christ in the New Testament,
e.g., at Matthew 2:2, 'Ubi est qui natus est rex Iudaeorum?' 'Where is
he that has been born King of the Jews?' Or the title placed on the cross:
'Hic est Iesus rex Iudaeorum' 'This is Jesus, King of the Jews' (Matthew

'Legifer', 'lawgiver' equates Jesus with Moses who gave the law to the
Israelites on Mount Sinai. Jesus is portrayed as giving a new law, e.g.
in his delivery of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7. Or cf. John 13:34,
'Mandatum novum do vobis: ut diligatis invicem, sicut dilexi vos' -
'A new Commandment I give you, that you should love one another,
as I have loved you.' ['Mandatum' here gives us 'Maundy' as in Maundy
Thursday, the day of the Mandate].

'Exspectatio gentium' has already been mentioned with reference to 'O
Clavis David'. It derives from Genesis 49:10,

Non aufertur sceptrum de Iuda,
Et dux de femore eius,
Donec veniat qui mittendus est,
Et ipse erit expectatio gentium.

'The sceptre shall not be taken away from Judah,
nor the leader from his thigh,
until he comes who is to be sent,
and he will be the expectation of the nations.'

'Salvator', 'Saviour', is applied regularly in the OT to God, and equally
regularly in the NT to Jesus. The equation is made explicit in the last
words of our antiphon, 'veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster' -
 'Come and save us, O Lord our God'.

In England, there was an eighth antiphon, 'O virgo virginum', 'O virgin of
virgins', applied to Mary; an example of English exuberance spoiling
the careful and spare patterning of the Roman liturgy. I shall not go into it
now, but rather wish all list-members a very happy Christmas, Hannukah,
Ramadan or whatever. I shall switch on again in the New Year.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

December 22 -- O Rex Gentium

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

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

Another exegeses of the Advent “O” antiphon from the same author:

The key text here is Haggai 2:8, 'Et movebo omnes gentes, Et veniet
Desideratus cunctis gentibus' 'And I shall shake all nations, and the
Desired One will come to all nations.' Haggai is a prophet writing at the
time of of what is called the Restoration, that is, the return of the Jews
to the holy land after the exile in Babylon, the rebuilding of the temple
and the restoration of public and religious institutions. As Haggai
writes, these things do not yet amount to much, but he forsees a time
when the glory of the restored temple with exceed that of Solomon's
original building. Christians see this prophecy fulfilled in Christ.

The phrase 'Rex Gentium' I have not found exactly, but cf. Psalm 2:6-8,

Ego autem constitutus sum Rex ab eo
Super Sion, montem sanctum eius,
Praedicans praeceptum eius.
Dominus dixit ad me: Filius meus es tu;
Ego hodie genui te.
Postula a me, et dabo tibi gentes haereditatem tuam,
Et possessionem tuam terminos terrae.

'Yet have I set my King:
upon my holy hill of Sion.
I will preach the law, whereof the Lord hath said unto me:
Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
Desire of me, and I shall give thee the heathen [i.e. nations]
for thine inheritance:
and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.'

The corner-stone goes back ultimately to Isaiah 28:16,

Ecce ego mittam in fundamentis Sion lapidem,
Lapidem probatum,
Angularem, pretiosum, in fundamento fundatum;

'Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious
corner stone'

This is quoted at 1 Peter 2:6. St Paul at Ephesians 2:20 also refers to
Christ as 'ipso summo angulari lapide Christo Iesu' - 'Jesus Christ himself
being the chief corner-stone.' In context, Paul explores the meaning of this
image as referring to the Jews and Gentiles as it were coming to God from
two directions, and meeting in Christ, as two walls meet and join in the
corner-stone. 'Who makest both one' refers to Ephesians 2:14,
'qui fecit utraque unum'.

'Quem de limo formasti' derives from Genesis 2:7, 'Formavit igitur Dominus
Deus hominem de limo terrae.' Again Jesus is identified with the God of
Creation, the God of Genesis.

A number of texts have been combined to produce a coherent theology:
Christ is the Lord of all nations, both Jews and Gentiles, as a corner-stone
supports both walls; he is the agent through whom both were made, and
will lead both to a destiny greater than anything in their previous existence.         "Oriens"

Friday, December 21, 2012

Last Call. . . .it's this evening

December 21 -- O Oriens

O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ et sol iustitiæ: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris et umbra mortis.

O Dayspring, Brightness of Light Everlasting, and Sun of Righteousness:  Come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

Today Fr East's ("Oriens") wonderful explication of the “O” antiphons is resumed.
(My copy of his posts for the 19th and 29th of December remain among the missing.

My illustrious namesake derives his title from the Song of Zechariah, or
Benedictus, which I quoted yesterday. Luke 1:78-79,

Per viscera misericordiae Dei nostri:
In quibus visitavit nos, Oriens ex alto,
Illuminare his qui in tenebris et in umbra mortis sedent . . .

'Through the bowels of compassion of our God,
Through which the Dayspring from on high has visited us,
To illuminate those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death . . .'

Notice that our antiphons are proceeding in a chronological direction
through the Bible; not in the texts quoted, which are from here, there
and everywhere, but in the events alluded to: Creation - Exodus - Jesse -
David - and now the beginning of the Gospel, John the Baptist.

The symbolism of light is often applied to Christ in the NT, but for
specifically eternal light we should look to Isaiah 60, which is all about
light. The chapter begins,

Surge, illuminare, Ierusalem, quia venit lumen tuum,
Et gloria Domini super te orta est.

'Arise, shine, Jerusalem, for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.'

Note orta, 'risen', the past participle of orior, of which Oriens is the
present participle. At verse 19 of this chapter we find,

Non erit tibi amplius sol ad lucendum per diem,
Nec splendor lunae illuminabit te;
Sed erit tibi Dominus in lucem sempiternam.

'The sun shall be no more thy light by day;
neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee:
but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light.'

This is taken up in the Book of Revelation, or Apocalypse:

Et civitas non eget sole, neque luna ut luceant in ea, nam claritas Dei
illuminavit eam, et lucerna eius est Agnus.
(Rev. 21:23)

'And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it;
for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.'

We should also note the Second Letter of St Peter, 1:19,

Et habemus firmiorem propheticum sermonem: cui benefacitis attendentes
quasi lucernae lucenti in caliginoso donec dies elucescat, et lucifer
oriatur in cordibus vestris.

'We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereto ye do well that ye
take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn,
and the day star arise in your hearts.'

The 'Sun of Righteousness' comes from Malachi 4:2,

'Et orietur vobis timentibus nomen meum Sol iustitiae, et sanitas in
pennis eius.'

(note again the use of orior)

'And there shall rise upon you who fear my name the Sun of Righteousness,
with healing in his wings.'

To quote a much later writer who continued this highly creative tradition
of turning the scriptures into liturgy:

"Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true, the only Light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise,
Triumph o'er the shades of night;
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Daystar, in my heart appear."

(Charles Wesley).

Or again, by the same author - I quote it in his original form; we are
more familiar with it in the slightly altered form it received from G.
Whitefield, M. Madan and others:

"Hail the heavenly Prince of peace!
Hail the Sun of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings."


Thursday, December 20, 2012

20 December -- O Clavis David

O clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel:  qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit:  veni et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris et umbra mortis.

O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel; that openest and no man shutteth, and shuttest and no man openeth: Come and bring the prisoners out of the prison-house, them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

The fourth of the "O" antiphons is chanted today at Vespers. This post, like the others in the series, is a re-run from a few years ago. But it's a part of the Advent/Christmas office I'm particularly fond of. This text is taken from Parsch’s “The Church’s Year of Grace”, vol. I:

“The six-pointed star is the Jewish symbol for the shield or key of David. To Jews it is still a symbol of God and His most holy Name. It also was for them a sign of the promised Messiah (star of Balaam [Is this right? Shouldn’t that be ‘star of Bethlehem’? Did Balaam have a star? –jpc-]). It should, then, be perfectly obvious that Christ is the “Key of David,” i.e., the One who opens all the secrets and mysteries of the Old Testament. The scepter implies a true fullness of power over God’s kingdom.

“Reflections. (a) The figure. Substantially the passage is from Apocalypse 3:7, where Christ speaks of Himself as the ‘Key of David, who opens and no one shuts; who shuts and no on opens.’ But there also is a passage in Isaias (22:22) which corresponds almost word for word with our antiphon. The Old Testament text, however, is not messianic; it is directed to the faithful civil ruler whom God supports: ‘I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder. He will open and no one will shut; he will shut and no one will open.’ The symbol of handing over the keys denotes the conferral of supreme authority. With the keys he becomes chief executive and all his transactions are divinely approved. Evidently St. John borrowed the passage from Isaias and applied it to Christ, a precedent followed by the liturgy. The antiphon puts additional stress on Christ’s power by adding the title: ‘Sceptre of the house,’ or better, ‘over the house of Israel.’

“(b) Exegesis. . . . . .

“Lastly, the petition in our antiphon is somewhat more extended than on previous days. Christ holds the keys to the prison where Satan keeps men enchained. Through original sin mankind languishes in prison; redemption includes deliverance from this imprisonment. The antiphon describes it very realistically: Captive mankind sits in darkness and in the black shadows of death. Imagine an ancient prison (they called it a ‘lion’s den’). May Christ the Redeemer, we plead, unlock this prison, He has the key. May He convert the countless pagans whom Satan still holds captive; may He loose the bonds of sin and show sinners the rising light of Christmas. And are there no passions, no evil enticements from which He must free me?”

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 19 --O Radix Iesse

O radix Iesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur:  veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare.

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

As in past years, a commentary form Dr Pius Parsch's  "The Church's Year of Grace":

“The burden of the text is taken from various sections of the book of Isaias (see 11:1; 11:10; 52:15). Let us try to unravel the liturgical synthesis. In spirit the prophet saw how Judah and the kingdom of David would be destroyed. But there would remain a holy root. From the stump of Jesse (the name of David’s father) springs forth a twig, a twig that becomes a banner unto all nations. In its presence kings will become reverently silent, and the nations adore. It is clear that the prophet is speaking of the Messiah. David’s royal line was dethroned with the exile and thereafter remained shrouded in oblivion – Jesse’s stump. But with Christ a new branch buds out of the old root; the throne of David is again occupied. “And the angel said to Mary: The Lord God will give unto Him the throne of David His Father and He will reign in the house of Jacob forever.” Christ is of the root of Jesse, both as a descendant of David and as occupant of the royal throne. The wording of the prophetic text, however, does not pass over our Savior’s external lowliness and poverty.

“The bulk of the antiphon is devoted to a description of the kingdom. The small twig becomes the unifying principle about which the nations will gather like soldiers and citizens about their flag. With yearning the peoples will assemble around Him, will turn and acknowledge Him as Ruler. The Messiah’s glory will be so great that even kings will stand dumbstruck in wonder and awe.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"The Blessed Virgin Mary Looking Shortly to be Delivered"

From Fr Mark's Vultus Christi:

Yes, today, December 18th, is one of the liturgy's loveliest old Advent festivals of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that of the Expectatio Partus. Established in 656 by the bishops assembled for the Tenth Council of Toledo, it was kept by nearly the entire Latin Church. Mother Mectilde de Bar, writing in 17th century France, left some splendid sermons on the feast. The Marquess of Bute calls it, in his fine old translation of the Breviary, "The Blessed Virgin Mary Looking Shortly To Be Delivered." It was also called in Spain, and elsewhere, Nuestra Señora de la O, and this because, after Vespers, the clergy in choir used to give voice to a loud and protracted "O" to express the yearning of the universe for the advent of the Redeemer.

Do click and read the rest of it here.

December 18 -- O Adonai et Dux

O Adonai et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammæ rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in bracchio extento.

O Adonai, and Leader of the house of Israel, who appearedst in the Bush to Moses in a flame of fire, and gavest him the Law in Sinai:  Come and redeem us with outstretched arm.

The following is one of a few short essays that I copied from a vanished mailing list (it's 2d incarnation still exists but is something of a shadow of its prior self).  This was itself a reposting from a different list.  My note says it was by someone who signed himself "Oriens" but was, in fact, a priest, William East.  In any event, it's a fine insight into today's antiphon.  I hope Fr East doesn't mind my re-, re- posting it yet again.


"Adonai" means "Lord" and is the name used in the Jewish tradition for
God. The divine name, spelt with the consonants JHWH, was probably pronounced
"Yahweh"; however, it came to be considered too holy to pronounce at all,
and the Masoretic vowel-signs for the word Adonai were attached to the
consonants. This was a signal for the reader to say "Adonai" rather than
"Yahweh" when reading aloud. The convention was misunderstood by some
(though not all) of the reformers, who combined the consonants of JHWH and
the vowels of Adonai to create the quite novel word Jehovah.

Our antiphon, then, identifies Christ very directly with the God of the
Old Testament, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3) and gave
him the Commandments on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20).

The phrase 'domus Israel', 'house of Israel'; is used many, many times in
the OT as a name for the Hebrew people, and also a few times in the NT.

The phrase 'in brachio extento', 'with outstretched arm' is characteristic
of the Book of Deuteronomy in describing God's mighty act of delivering
Israel from bondage to the Egyptians; cf. Deut. 26:8, 'et eduxit nos de
Aegypto in manu forti, et brachio extento.'

The O-Antiphons therefore begin by associating Christ with God in
Creation: he is the Sapientia, Wisdom, who was with God and was God in the
beginning, without whom nothing was made; in other words, with the God of Genesis.
Then they move on to associating him with the God of the Exodus, which in
the NT itself is regarded as a type of Christ's redeeming passion (cf.
Luke 9:30-31, the Transfiguration: 'And behold, two men talked with him, Moses
and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his Exodus, which he was to
accomplish at Jerusalem.')

Several more of the antiphons compare the redemption wrought by Christ
with deliverance from situations of imprisonment or slavery mentioned in the

Curiously, none mentions the Exile in Babylon, which is alluded to so
plainly in the first verse of our Latin hymn:

Veni, veni, Emmanuel,       O come, O come, Emmanuel,
captivum solve Israel,        Redeem thy captive Israel,
qui gemit in exilio,             That into exile drear is gone
privatus Dei Filio.              Far from the face of God's dear Son.

That allusion is down to our hymnographer; and a happy and creative
enough allusion, it seems to me.

Roses are red. . . .

. . . .except when they're not.

Gaudete Sunday's rose vestments:





and here

and another one here.


The St Gabriel Possenti Society

The St Gabriel Possenti Society has been linked over in the left-hand column for a very long time.  But have I ever mentioned it over here?  I don't think so.

Perhaps I should remedy that now.


Monday, December 17, 2012

From the Archives: An Advent Consideration

This has appeared in The Inn before but it's worth putting forward again considering the season that's in it:

This little appreciation, slightly dated and all the more charming for it, is taken from "Christmas In Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan" by Clement A. Miles. The date on it is 1912.
Whatever may be his attitude towards Catholicism, or, indeed, Christianity, no one sensitive to the music of words, or the suggestions of poetic imagery, can read the Roman Breviary and Missal without profound admiration for the amazing skill with which the noblest passages of Hebrew poetry are chosen and fitted to the expression of Christian devotion, and the gold of psalmists, prophets, and apostles is welded into coronals for the Lord and His saints. The office-books of the Roman Church are, in one aspect, the greatest of anthologies.
Few parts of the Roman Breviary have more beauty than the Advent offices, where the Church has brought together the majestic imagery of the Hebrew prophets, the fervent exhortation of the apostles, to prepare the minds of the faithful for the coming of the Christ, for the celebration of the Nativity.
Advent begins with a stirring call. If we turn to the opening service of the Christian Year, the First Vespers of the First Sunday in Advent, we shall find as the first words in the “Proper of the Season” the trumpet-notes of St. Paul: “Brethren, it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” This, the Little Chapter for the office, is followed by the ancient hymn, “Creator alme siderum,” chanting in awful tones the two comings of Christ, for redemption and for judgment; and then are sung the words that strike the keynote of the Advent services, and are heard again and again.
Rorate Cæli desuper, et nubes pluant Iustum
(Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down the Righteous One).
 Aperiatur terra et germinet Salvatorem
(Let the earth open, and let her bring forth the Saviour).”

Rorate, coeli, desuper—Advent is a time of longing expectancy. It is a season of waiting patiently for the Lord, whose coming in great humility is to be commemorated at Christmas, to whose coming again in His glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead the Christian looks forward with mingled hope and awe. There are four weeks in Advent, and an ancient symbolical explanation interprets these as typifying four comings of the Son of God: the first in the flesh, the second in the hearts of the faithful through the Holy Spirit, the third at the death of every man, and the fourth at the Judgment Day. The fourth week is never completed (Christmas Eve is regarded as not part of Advent), because the glory bestowed on the saints at the Last Coming will never end.

The great Eucharistic hymn, “Gloria in excelsis,” is omitted in Advent, in order, say the symbolists, that on Christmas night, when it was first sung by the angels, it may be chanted with the greater eagerness and devotion. The “Te Deum” at Matins too is left unsaid, because Christ is regarded as not yet come. But “Alleluia” is not omitted, because Advent is only half a time of penitence: there is awe at the thought of the Coming for Judgment, but joy also in the hope of the Incarnation to be celebrated at Christmas, and the glory in store for the faithful.

 Looking forward is above all things the note of Advent; the Church seeks to share the mood of the Old Testament saints, and she draws more now than at any other season, perhaps, on the treasures of Hebrew prophecy for her lessons, antiphons, versicles, and responds. Looking for the glory that shall be revealed, she awaits, at this darkest time of the year, the rising of the Sun of Righteousness. Rorate, coeli, desuper—the mood comes at times to all idealists, and even those moderns who hope not for a supernatural Redeemer, but for the triumph of social justice on this earth, must be stirred by the poetry of the Advent offices.

It is at Vespers on the seven days before Christmas Eve that the Church's longing finds its noblest expression—in the antiphons known as the “Great O's,” sung before and after the “Magnificat,” one on each day. “O Sapientia,” runs the first, “O Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the Most High, and reachest from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: come and teach us the way of prudence.” “O Adonai,” “O Root of Jesse,” “O Key of David,” “O Day-spring, Brightness of Light Everlasting,” “O King of the Nations,” thus the Church calls to her Lord, “O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations, and their Salvation: come and save us, O Lord our God.”

December 17 -- Sapientiatide begins

The "O Antiphons", the special Magnificat antiphons for the seven days before Christmas (eight days, in the old English tradition) begin tonight.

O Sapientia, quæ ex ore Altissimi prodisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiæ.

O Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the Most High, and reachest from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things:  Come and teach us the way of prudence.

Fr Mark posts an excellent meditation on the first O Antiphon here.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Third Sunday of Advent

Christum gaudium et exsultationem omnium eum exspectantium, invocemus, dicentes:
-Veni, Domine, et noli tardare!
-1 Vespers, preces

Traditionalists in "The Economist"

Apparently, traditionalism is now trendy.

The Economist says so here.

If so, that's going to require a whole lot of redefinition.  Traddies have spent the last half century criticizing the trendies. . . .but if now traddies are the trendies. . . .mercy.

In the words of the immortal Pogo, "We has met the enemy and he is us."

Post Election Analysis

"This is the best post election analysis I have read to date --- Both in its brevity and in its painful honesty." said someone in the comments to this piece in Chronicles.

And so it is:

Reasons for voting Democrat:

More freebies, welfare, government jobs, grants; satisfaction of leftist ideological malice; if you are a minority, the pleasure of sticking it to Whitey.

Reasons for voting Republican:

Unless you are a big capitalist, a defense contractor, an employer of illegal immigrants, or a politician hoping for the perks of office, there are none.*

*Historical note: The Republican Party prospered pretty well for a century and a half by never doing anything for its voters except giving them a sense of respectability, of superiority to the immigrant herd and Southern barbarians.  But now, except in the clueless boondocks, it is more respectable to be a Democrat.  (Some people have voted Republican in the hope of slowing down the Democrat destruction of the country, but they have been and are certain to continue to be disappointed.  To keep doing the same thing over and over although it never works is one of the definitions of insanity.  However, in this case it is not so much insanity as desperation and inability to think outside the box.)
- Prof Clyde N. Wilson
 "Desperation."  Yes, that pretty much sums up my rationale.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

More Nuns. . . .

 The Ordinariates have a few already (f''r'instance) and now there are more:

At the 10 o'clock Mass in our church on 1st January 2013 a group of Anglican nuns from the Community of St Mary the Virgin (CSMV) in Wantage, Oxfordshire is to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

Eleven sisters from the historic Anglican community will join the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the structure established by Pope Benedict XVI to enable groups of Anglicans to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church whilst retaining elements of their liturgical, spiritual, and pastoral heritage. The group includes the Superior of the community, Mother Winsome CSMV.

You can read the rest here.

(Mother Winsome.  I'm enchanted.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent Lessons & Carols

Friday, December 07, 2012

On Tweeting in Latin

 Probably not going to be a world-beater.  She only mentions one instance from the opening of the new Academia Pontificia Latinitatis in Rome.

Although, @fatherz does it on occasion, even if it's usually just a quote from the LotH.  I wonder what else might be out there. . . .

"[T]he trend for 'touchy-feely-smiley-dancey folk' worship had 'repulsed' young people and 'put them off going to church in their droves' ".

"A leading Scots lay Catholic has claimed the music sung in churches is "lousy" and is the reason why young people have stopped going to Mass."   The article is in the online edition of Scotland's The Herald here

It certainly puts me off daily Mass at what is otherwise one of the most orthodox parishes in this area.

ADDENDUM:  Damian Thompson in tomorrow's Daily Telegraph weighs in on church music:

That’s the view of our blogger Rupert Myers, who can’t stand “Christmas tourists” who treat carols like karaoke. Fair enough, but there’s another reason why people restrict their worship to carol services. They’re the only time in the year when you can go to church and be confident that the music won’t be crap.

Put it this way: if you suggested to your typical “with-it” vicar or Catholic priest that the congregation ought to sing Mendelssohn, you’d get a mini-sermon about the dangers of “inaccessible” classical music. But when you sing Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, you are performing Mendelssohn, whether you know it nor not. Other carols are not written by such famous composers, but they’ve survived because they marry touching words to a bloody good tune.

You can find the rest here.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Vesper Hymn for Advent

John Mason Neale's translation:

Creator of the stars of night,
 Thy people’s everlasting light,
 Jesu, Redeemer, save us all,
 And hear Thy servants when they call.

Thou, grieving that the ancient curse
 Should doom to death a universe,
 Hast found the medicine, full of grace,
 To save and heal a ruined race.

Thou cam’st, the Bridegroom of the bride,
 As drew the world to evening-tide;
 Proceeding from a virgin shrine,
 The spotless Victim all divine.

At Whose dread Name, majestic now,
 All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;
 And things celestial Thee shall own,
 And things terrestrial, Lord alone.

O Thou Whose coming is with dread
 To judge and doom the quick and dead,
 Preserve us, while we dwell below,
 From every insult of the foe.

To God the Father, God the Son,
 And God the Spirit, Three in One,
 Laud, honor, might, and glory be
 From age to age eternally.

December 6 -- St Nicholas

Today is the feast of St Nicholas, the patron saint of children, scholars, boatmen, fishermen, dock workmen and sailors, coopers and brewers, travelers and pilgrims, and those who have unjustly lost a lawsuit.  Robbers took him for their patron, too, seeing as how he went about at night with bags of money.  Of course, he was distributing rather than collecting, but the robbers don't seemed to have placed much emphasis on that detail.

Here's a Slovak hymn to St Nicholas much as it is sung locally at Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church:

A more professionally produced version of the same tune (at least for the first 2:20):

I love the old collect for St Nicholas in the Roman Rite.  The new one isn't bad but the old one gets right to the heart of the matter with wonderful bluntness:

O God, Who didst adorn Thy blessed bishop, Saint Nicholas, with power to work many and great miracles : grant, we beseech Thee ; that by his prayers and merits we may be delivered from the flames of hell.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

"A gehennæ incendiis liberemur", indeed.

(And nothing increases a saint's reputation like giving an arch-heretic a punch up the bracket.)

St Nicholas in medieval England.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

December 5 - Bl Philip Rinaldi, S.D.B.

Unless you were a Salesian boy, you probably never heard of Blessed Philip.  He was the third successor of Don Bosco as Rector Major of the Salesian Order and the last one personally trained by him.  There's a short life of him here.

I wonder: do the Salesian still tell the boys they teach of the history of the Order and its founders?

December 5 -- Cheers!

"Taking judicial notice of the fact that ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment was consummated on December 5, 1933, the Supreme Court held that the National Prohibition Act, insofar as it rested upon a grant of authority to Congress by the Eighteenth Amendment, thereupon become inoperative, with the result that prosecutions for violations of the National Prohibition Act, including proceedings on appeal, pending on, or begun after, the date of repeal, had to be dismissed for want of jurisdiction."

Monday, December 03, 2012

They used to say the Chinese were inscrutable. . .

Americans now have a clear shot at the inscrutability title.

A Twitter post from Congressman Tom McClintock:

Election Fact: The same election that re-elected Obama also returned the second largest House GOP majority since WWII.

Christmas is ycumen in II

One year goes and then another, but the same warnings recur.  The frost or the rain comes again; the earth is stripped of  its brightness; there is nothing to rejoice in.  And then, amid this unprofitableness of earth and sky, the well-known words return; the Prophet Isaiah is read; the same Epistle and Gospel, bidding us 'awake out of sleep', (Rom 13:11) and welcome him 'that cometh in the Name of the Lord' (Mt 21:9); the same Collects beseeching him to prepare us for judgement.  O blessed they who obey these warning voices, and look out for him whom they have not seen, because they 'love his appearing' (2 Tim 4:8)!

From one of Bl John Henry Newman's sermons for the 1st Sunday of Advent, as quoted in the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Christmas is ycumen in

Mrs Vidal cited us to a lovely piece this morning in Crisis magazine on Christmas carols.  You can find it here.

At the moment I'm listening to one of the Charpentier pieces mentioned in it.  Have a listen.  A little rummaging around on the web can uncover a good deal of delightful stuff.