Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Last Sunday was Septuagesima Sunday beginning the two and a half week preparation period for Lent.  If you're in an Ordinariate parish or a traditional Roman Rite parish, that is.  Pauline Rite folks don't get to ease into it.  They will be going along minding their own ordinary time business when BAM in the middle of an ordinary time week it's ashes on the forehead, only one meal and a bit on the day and it is well-and-truly Lent.  Could be a shock to the system.

The Blessed Ildefonse Cardinal Schuster gives a little Septuagesima history in volume II of his Liber Sacramentorum.  Herewith:

The Eastern usage regarded Saturday and Sunday as festival days, and therefore as exempt from the Lenten fast; so, in order to complete the forty days of Lent, the Greeks anticipated the penitential season by some weeks, and from this Sunday onward abstained from the use of meat. In the following week they abstained also from milk 'and similar foods, and finally on the Monday of Quinquagesima they commenced the rigid fast in preparation for Easter. 
Among the Latins the custom varied at different times.   By beginning the Lenten cycle with the First Sunday in Lent, there remain indeed, as St .Gregory remarks, forty days of preparation for Easter, but of these only thirty-six are devoted to fasting. In order to supply the four missing days, pious persons and ecclesiastics began, in quite early times, to abstain from meat on the Monday after Quinquagesima (In carnis privio or in carne levario = Carnival); but it is not until the time of St Gregory that we find in the antiphonary the liturgical consecration of the caput jejunii on the Wednesday of Quinquagesima.  
The piety of the more devout, however, was not satisfied by these four supplementary days. The Greeks began earlier, and, living as they did beside them in Rome during the Byzantine period, the Latins could do no less. St Gregory therefore instituted, or at least gave definite form to, a cycle of three weeks' preparation for Lent, with three solemn stations at the patriarchal Basilicas of St Lawrence, St Paul, and St Peter, as though to begin the Easter fast under the auspices of the three great patrons of the Eternal City.  
The order of the stational cycle has been reversed, and begins on this day with the station at St Lawrence, which holds the fourth place only among the papal basilicas, the reason for this change being that it was not considered advisable to remove the first Lenten station from the Lateran, where ever since the fourth century the Popes had been in the habit of offering the sacrificium quadragesimalis initii, as the Sacramentary calls it.  
It would seem that the three Masses of Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima date from the time of St Gregory, since they reflect the terror and grief that filled the minds of the Romans in those years during which war, pestilence, and earthquake threatened the utter destruction of the former mistress of the world.  
The Introit is taken from Psalm xvii: "The groans of death surrounded me, the sorrows of hell encompassed me: and in my affliction, I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice from his holy temple." 
From this Sunday until Maundy Thursday the Gloria in Excelsis is omitted in Masses de tempore.  Originally it was sung only at Christmas and Easter, but later it came to be used on all Sundays, except those in Lent, and also on the feasts of martyrs, but only by special privilege. The collect, which immediately follows the litany on days of fasting and penance, truly represents, therefore, the ordinary and normal form of the litany as used in the ancient liturgy of the Mass and of the divine office.  
The collect betrays the deep affliction which weighed on the soul of St Gregory at the sight of the desolation of Rome and of all Italy during his pontificate.  "O Lord, we beseech thee, graciously hear the prayers of thy people; that we who are justly afflicted for our sins may for the glory of thy name be mercifully delivered."

 The Blessed Cardinal goes on to give some of the proper texts of the Mass and a bit of explanation of them.  Most of that can be found in your missal.  But there are a final couple of paragraphs on "the uncertainty of eternal salvation".  These are worth posting, too:

How great is the uncertainty of eternal salvation! Cum metu et tremore vestram salutem operamini, as the Apostle says (Phil. ii I2); this is the fruit of to-day's meditation on the Epistle of St Paul and on the parable of the vineyard.  
How many and how striking were the miracles worked by almighty God during the forty years that Israel wandered in the desert!  The heavenly food, the miraculous water, the cloud and the column of fire, the Red Sea and the Jordan parting before them; and yet out of the many thousands for whom these wonders were worked, the greater number fell away, and only two reached the final goal. 
Thus, it isn't enough for us to have been baptized, to have been called by God to a holy state, to the dignity  of the priesthood, to have become the object of his special predilection by the frequent opportunities he has given us of receiving the holy sacraments and of hearing his gracious word.  It is necessary to labour diligently -- operamini -- to follow the narrow way that leads to life eternal; it is necessary to imitate the chosen few -- that is the saints -- in order to be saved together with them.  Never can we apprehend these divine truths with greater clearness than when we meditate upon them, as in today's station, beside the tombs of the martyrs, who, in order to gain their heavenly reward, were ready to sacrifice wealth,  youth, and even life itself.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Squatter's Rights

Since I got a new pad for the Matins chair, my pal from next door has commandeered it most mornings.   Actually, he wasn't too unhappy with plain wicker.   But the pad has definitely met with feline approval.  As usual, you can click on the picture and get a better view of His Haughtiness.

Free At Last

No, not in the Martin Luther King, Jr sense.   It's just jury duty: I finally  got dismissed this morning and I am free of it for at least a year.

And after all those warnings I can finally talk about it  Except there's nothing to say.  I have no idea what went on.  After an endless series of hurry-up-and-wait, lectures on my civic duty, and, oh, come back tomorrow.  And then, oh, don't need y'all after all.  You can go.

I'm not complaining, mind.

But it doesn't make for much of a blog post.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Romish and Feudal Superstitions

"My favourite kind"  as Professor Parker put it on her Twitter feed.  (Mine, too.)

If you click on the picture above and make it larger you will learn all about wassailing the orchard.  Very useful document, should you happen to have an orchard.

(Now, I think I've got this straight:  the above was originally clipped and saved by the redoubtable Cecil Sharp and found in the archives of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (the EDFSS) and posted on its Twitter Feed and subsequently re-tweeted today by Professor Parker at @ClerkofOxford. )

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Epiphany in Braid Scots

Someone has put up the Epiphany lections in braid Scots.  What a delight.

Than Herod, whan he had hiddlinslie ca’t the Wyse men, inquairet o’ them eidentlie what time the stern had kythet. An’ he sendet them til Bethlehem, an’ said, "Gang an’ seek eidentlie for the young childe; an’ whan ye hae fund him, bring me back word, that I may come an’ wurship him alsua." And whan they had heard the king they set out; an’, lo, the stern whilk they saw in the east gaed afore them, till it cam’ an’ stude ower whare the young childe was. An’ whan they saw the stern they rejoicet wi’ verra grit joy. An' whan they had come intill the hous, they saw the young childe wi’ Mary his mither, an’ fell doun an’ wurshippet him: an’ whan they had openet their thesaures, they propinet untill him giftes, gowd, frankincense, an’ myrrh. An’ bein’ wаrnet in a dream that they shudna return till Herod, they gaed awa intill their ain countrie bie anither way.

The rest is here.  The lesson in Matthew is the same in the traditional Roman Rite and the Pauline Rite, likewise the old Book of Common Prayer.  Ephesians, however, is cut down in the Pauline Rite but expanded in the Prayer Book.  The excerpt from Isaiah is new in the Pauline Rite.  There's some Isaiah in the old Roman Breviary but it's a different selection.  So whatever your liturgical predilections this Epiphany, there's a bit of it available on line in Braid Scots.

Monday, January 01, 2018

1 January 2018

A pair of collects for New Year's Day:

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy Only Begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure Virgin: grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

O GOD, who by the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary hast bestowed upon mankind the reward of eternal salvation: grant, we beseech thee, that we may know the help of her intercession, through whom we have been accounted worthy to receive the Author of our life, Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

This afternoon was dedicated to long-overdue correspondence, which, alas, is still not finished.  I've had enough of the keyboard for today but something needed to go up on The Inn for the first of the new year.  So a couple of prayers for the new year from the Prayer Book via the Ordinariate rite is going to have to do.  One could do worse.