Friday, September 25, 2009

Prophecies for Immaculate Conception Novena

I have begun arranging a Novena for the Immaculate Conception. While there are several versions of an Immaculate Conception Novena already available, I took to heart the text from the Directory on Popular Piety, n. 102, which states that
"The novena of the Immaculate Conception, wherever it is celebrated, should highlight the prophetical texts which begin with Genesis 3,15, and end in Gabriel's salutation of the one who is "full of grace" (Lk 1, 31-33). (Popular Piety, n. 102)
Clearly, this gives me two of nine texts. I thought that I would be able to use the types given in Pius IX's Ineffabilis Deus, which, in addition to providing the above two texts, also provides some eight others pointing toward the Immaculate Conception. If any of them may appear unsatisfactory, I can always include the "Emmanuel" prophecy.

I thought it also good to base this around a preexisting Immulate Conception Novena prayer. Then, I have added the Litany of Loreto at the beginning as an option to use for the Novena, and a recommendation for a Marian hymn at the end ("Immaculate Mary" or the Magnificat).

I am almost done with the Advent section. I still do not know what to do for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Suggestions are welcome. Meanwhile, I do have some ideas of my own.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Popular Piety

I have not finished the section on the Stations of the Cross. However, I have pushed on with other aspects of the Prayerbook. I have begun using the Directory on Popular Piety issued a few years ago by the Vatican as guide of sorts. It is especially a guide for the celebrations throughout the Liturgical Year.

This endeavor has been worthwhile in pointing me toward some devotions which are not common in United States but which might be beneficial. For instance, I remember a few years ago hearing about the Via Lucis, or the Stations of Light. This devotion would be particularly useful during Easter, and is patterned after the Stations of the Cross. While I believe it would be for families or even parishes to continue celebrating the Stations of the Cross on Fridays even during Easter, the Stations of Light seem an excellent devotion for Sundays of Easter.

Moreover, it was interesting to see the CDW recommending devotion to the Most Precious Blood. In all major Prayerbooks of which I am aware, the Litany of the Precious Blood is not included, despite the fact that it is one of the five litanies included in the Enchiridion of Indulgences. This includes the American Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers.

It would be an excellent thing if we were able to restore devotion to the Precious Blood in the life of the Church of the United States. Indeed, this whole endeavor ought to go some way in restoring a sense of Catholic identity. I pray that this endeavor will succeed, and I hope that there are those out there with suggestions as to how this might succeed.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Arranging the Stations

Until today, I have not really accomplished much on the work of posting the various settings of the Stations mentioned in my previous blog post. Much of the problem has been concern over copyright. This really isn't a problem with the Via Crucis of St. Alphonsus Liguori. However, meditations for Scriptural Stations was a bit of a problem.

I decided to go to the Vatican website to use the readings provided there for the Stations. For Good Friday, 2005, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger used Scripture readings for the traditional Stations, pulling from the gospels of Luke and Matthew, but also the books of Lamentations and Isaiah. I decided to use these readings as the meditations of the second setting, which will be followed by Collects from the Missal.

Similarly, I can use a Scriptural Way of the Cross (i.e., with Stations drawn entirely from Scripture, without the traditional two extra falls of Jesus and Veronica wiping his face). There are readings for this on the Vatican website, which can similarly be joined with Collects.

Nevertheless, I may want to find another form of prayer rather than the Collects. It seems best to draw from the Liturgy itself. However, this may be a case where the Collects of the Liturgy are not specific enough. Should someone have another idea, I am open to suggestions.

There is more to come, I am sure. I hope all are well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

Today is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. At Mass today, you may have the opportunity to hear sung or recited the sequence Stabat Mater. It is one of only four sequences left after the publication of the Missal of Paul VI in 1970. Indeed, when the Missal of Pius V was published, it was only one of five sequences. The others in use in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form of the Mass are the Victimae Paschali Laudes at Easter, Veni, Sance Spiritus at Pentecost, and Lauda Sion at Corpus Christi. The additional sequence for the Usus Antiquior is the Dies Irae for the Requiem Mass.

The Sequence, of course, is sung before the Gospel. The Stabat Mater, however, is also (sometimes) sung with a verse after each Station during the Stations of the Cross. It is for this reason that I chose today to announce the second part of the Prayer Book Project, which is settings of the Stations of the Cross (I could also add the Seven Sorrows).

John Paul II, in the Good Friday, 1991 Stations at the Colliseum, introduced a Scriptural Way of the Cross, drawing on texts from the Gospels. As the essentials for engaging in the way of the cross are fourteen crosses erected by the proper authority which are to be walked at least by the leader of those making the devotion, it seemed an excellent idea to include a Scriptural Way of the Cross in the new prayer book. This manages to respect our Tradition, while at the same time finding a new expression for it.

Nevertheless, it is best to not only have this setting, but also the traditional fourteen stations included. As the Way of the Cross of St. Alphonsus Liguori is a particularly venerable expression of the traditional form, I thought it best to include this version. Particularly, it is easy to celebrate when only one book, as the peoples' responses are the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. Also, it includes the verses of the Stabat Mater.

Additionally, it seemed best to also include a Patristic Way of the Cross, providing meditations on particular scenes from the traditional stations with meditations by the Fathers of the Church. For the setting of the Seven Sorrows, I thought it best to include one with Scripture Meditations as well as Traditional Meditations.

Now, I just need to finish the Rosary portion of the project.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

Today is kept in honor of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It is one of four Feasts of the Lord (i.e., feasts rather than solemnities, which are the highest grade of celebration). As a Feast of the Lord, it would replace the Sunday celebration of a Sunday Through the Year (aka. Ordinary Time). The other three Feasts of the Lord are the Presentation (Feb. 2, aka. Candelmas), the Transfiguration (Aug. 6), and the Dedication of St. John Lateran (which makes sense only once we realize that this church is the Cathedral of Rome, and thus, in a sense, the Mother Church dedicated to the worship of God throughout the world, or at the very least of Western Christianity).

Veneration of the Holy Cross, on which our Savior died, has long been a part of our faith. We ought always to remember that the Lord himself bore the Cross for us, and only through this action was he able to redeem us. It is of course important to remember that we have our own crosses to bear. As the Monsignor at my parish reminded, Fulton Sheen once remarked: "The cross without Christ is unbearable, and Christ without the cross is unrealistic."

On this day, the Holy Church has provided the the hymn Vexilla Regis Prodeunt as the hymn proper to the celebration of Vespers. Unfortunately, in the English versions of the Liturgy of the Hours (with the exception of the Mundelein Psalter), it is not included as an option. In order to avoid any copyright issues, I thought you might want to try this link for the English translation. Toward the bottom, there is a link for the Latin text as well.

The Rosary portion of the project continues. I am halfway with the third setting (including Medium Scripture Readings, Patristic Readings, and Collects). I hope to finish tonight, that we might announce the next phase of the project tomorrow, on the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


This post is to solicit ideas for the contents of the prayer book. What devotions do you envision being included within the this book? Remember, the book is intended for parishes and families. I am particularly interested in knowing what Novenas people would want included, as there are a great variety of Novenas. Please leave comments, if you will.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

To Jesus through Mary

Today is the Feast of the Nativity of Mary. It is one of the 10 High Feast Days in the Eastern Church, while (like the Transfiguration) a little less emphasized in the Western Church. Nevertheless, it is one of the feasts in honor of our Lady, coming nine month after her Immaculate Conception (just as the Nativity of Jesus, Christmas, is celebrated nine months after the Solemnity of the Annunciation).

Given the particularly Marian character of this day (or what's left of it -- I'm writing this at about 11:00 pm), it seemed best to present the first part of the project of the prayer book under construction. The first part of the prayer book (or at least the first part of the prayer book which I am writing) contains four different settings of the Rosary.

One might wonder why there might need to be four different settings of the Rosary. Typically, I assume that when someone prays the Rosary, it is based upon the bare minimum Rosary card they might receive when first introduced to this prayer (especially in the case of converts, or those of us who grew up in an environment where "Catholics just don't do that anymore"). Sometimes, they might have a prayer book or small Rosary devotion book which contains brief meditations such as "Consider how the apostles were over-joyed to see the Risen Lord." Sometimes the meditations can be quite elaborate.

John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, proposed that we use Scripture as the primary meditation text for the Rosary itself. Thus, after one begins the Rosary with the Apostles' Creed, Our Father and Three Hail Marys, they proceed to announce the first mystery. After announcing the first mystery, it is proper to present the text from Scripture relating to the Mystery then announced. Thereafter, one continues to meditate on the Mystery of Our Lord with Mary, praying the Lord's Prayer and the ten Hail Marys. Moreover, that this prayer may be more intimately tied to the Sacred Liturgy, it was proposed that Collects (the prayers said after the Kyrie and Gloria in the Mass, and before the Readings) conclude the prayer. This is an excellent idea, as there are suitable Collects from our Tradition for each of the Mysteries.

When John Paul II's death was announced to the world, a priest who was a spokesperson for the Vatican, after announcing the death, began to lead the people gathered in St. Peter's Square in prayer. The prayer chosen was the Rosary. During this particular Rosary, after the announcement of the Mystery, the priest read a passage from Scripture, followed by a passage from the Catechism. Given that they were in Rome, the Rosary was, of course, in Italian. For much of the last five and more years since this event, I have often looked for an arrangement of the Rosary such as this, to no avail.

I have also had the blessed opportunity to become acquainted with the Blog What Does the Prayer Really Say?, wherein Fr. Z, the author, began a Patristic Rosary project. For those who do not know. Patristic Literature refers to those writings lasting from the end of the New Testament writings (beginning with the Apostolic Fathers) through to the the sixth or seventh century (generally ending with St. Gregory the Great in the West and St. John Damascene in the East). As ressourcement was a goal of Vatican II, i.e., going back to the ancient sources, it is understandable that anyone seeking to implement devotions in the "Spirit of Vatican II" would certainly want to include such a measure in the life of their parishes and families.

There have been some publications which have sought to include readings from Scripture alongside Collects. In particular, I can mention A Prayer Book of Catholic Devotions: Praying the Seasons and Feasts of the Church Year, by William G. Storey and published by Loyola Press. This prayer book gives short Scripture verses for each Mystery of the Rosary, as well as Collects for each. Additionally, citations of longer passages are provided. Unforunately, the longer passages are not themselves included within the text, meaning that one would need to thumb through one's own Bible while trying to pray the Rosary, or else type out their own devotional text. In addition, the prayers concluding the reading are not, as far as I can tell, from the Liturgy (although some are certainly inspired by liturgical prayers).

Another publication worth mentioning is the booklet The Rosary with the Luminous Mysteries: Scripture Meditations and Prayers from the Liturgy. I admit that I have used this much more frequently in my own personal prayer life. It is small and easily portable. It also provides images of each of the Mysteries of the Rosary as well. Unfortunately, the Scripture Meditations are often Paraphrases. Moreover, after a brief verse from Scripture for the Third Luminous Mystery, we are met with a non-Scriptural commentary of the need to go to Confession (not a bad thing in itself, and something intimately tied to the Mystery; nevertheless, the meditation should consistently be from Scripture).

Despite what I see as shortcomings of these two publications, I do not want to seem ungrateful for the inspiration they have provided. Without having access to them, I do not believe that I would have been inspired to make this prayer book. Moreover, the variety of forms of Scripture Meditations, especially combined with other texts for meditation, have inspired me to make four settings of the Rosary in my prayer book. Those settings may be found as follows:

  • The First Setting consists of short readings from Scripture, largely inspired by the work of A Prayer Book of Catholic Devotions. I have not yet decided (mostly because I do not know the costs that will be associated with the endeavor) whether to include images with this first setting or not.
  • The Second Setting will have a medium-sized reading from Scripture followed by a reading from the Catechism for each mystery, with a Collect from the Liturgy to conclude each decade.
  • The Third Setting will contain identical medium-sized readings from Scripture as those of the Second Setting, but followed by relevant readings from the Fathers of the Church. The Collects concluding the decade are also identical to those of the Second Setting.
  • The Fourth Setting will include long readings from Scripture. The same collects as found in the Second and Third Settings will similarly be used in this setting.
Thus far, I have been able to set the First, Second, and Fourth Settings. I will take some time in finding appropriate Patristic readings. I hope to be finished with this section within the next couple of days. Thereafter, we should be approaching the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross and the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. That would be a perfect time to mention the plans for the Stations of the Cross, and perhaps the Seven Sorrows.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Excellent Resources

In this post, I hope to lay out some works which I have been using, and which I believe ought to belong in every Catholic family's library.

First, of course, we must consider having a Bible. Despite the rather loose translation (anyone familiar with Greek or Hebrew can readily attest), I often use the New American Translation just for the sake that it is, for the most part, the current language of the American Catholic liturgy.

After this, I would include The Catechism of the Catholic Church. When I was a teenager, I saw this text primarily as the official proof-text manual of the Church. To the contrary, if you ever take the time to read it straight through, it is a well presented argument for the contents of the faith. The smaller Compendium of the Catechism is certainly not without value. It can be a quick reminder for those already familiar with Catholic doctrine. with the traditional question/answer format, it is excellent for work with children, and can certainly be used in evangelization as the bare synthesis of the faith. This was the first resource my fiancee used when she was deciding to convert. The only problem with using this volume for evangelization is the unfortunate dearth of Scripture references (they have them, I just want more).

In regard to the liturgy, One would certainly need a Daily Roman Missal. At the very least, one would need a Sunday Missal, which would also include the texts for the Holy Days of Obligation and Major Feasts. Of course, it is understandable if one might want to hold off on getting a new missal for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, as the new, improved translation is not yet available, but soon on the way. For those who have the opportunity, a Daily Roman Missal (1962) for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite would be an excellent investment. I currently do not have one (nor do I have easy access to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass). Nevertheless, for those who have the opporutunity to attend this beautiful expression of our faith, it would greatly benefit them.

The liturgy is not merely confined to the Mass itself. As such, I would strongly recommend the use of the four-volume Liturgy of the Hours, as it is the only version published in the United States to include all the hours. These hours are the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer (including Midmorning, Midday, and Midafternoon), Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer. These might be better recognized by their traditional names of Matins (or Vigils), Lauds, Terce, Sexte, None, Vespers, and Compline.

Most of our liturgy ought to be sung. Indeed, all of the texts of the Liturgy of the Hours may be set to music, in keeping with the tradition of our Rite. The one-volume Mundelein Psalter includes music for all the principle hours of the Roman Rite (Lauds and Vespers, along with settings for Compline). Further, the Mundelein Psalter website .mp3 recordings for all the major psalm-tones used, as well as verses for the hymns. I would recommend it over the four-volume Liturgy of the Hours, particularly for beginners. While the more musically-inclined might groan at the lack of set antiphons for the the psalms, beginners like me are ecstatic to finally have some vehicle toward the re-enchantment of our sacred liturgy.

Finally, I would like to give a brief shout-out to the Manual of Prayers, compiled by Rev. James Watkins for the Pontifical North American College in Rome. It is beautifully bound, and makes liberal use of the traditional prayers and devotions of our liturgy. A nearly full expression of the post Vatican II Rite of Reconciliation for Individual Penitents is included, as well as St. Alphonsus Liguori's Stations of the Cross, a setting of the Seven Sorrows, the Seven Last Words, etc. It includes many prayers in Latin, Spanish, and Italian, given that it is intended primarily for American Seminarians in Rome. Therein lies its only problem for my purposes: I (and I believe many others) are in desperate need of a prayer book drawing on the best of our tradition. Moreover, we are in need of texts inspired by the intentions of the Servant of God John Paul II, infusing Scripture more deeply into our devotions. I owe much to this last volume, but I hope to give it a complement. It certainly serves as an excellent model.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lex Orandi

After many years of not finding any physical prayer book suitable for devotions of individuals, families, and parishes, I finally got the bright idea to create my own. This blog is to express my intentions for the creation of this prayer book, as well as to solicit ideas for what it ought to contain. The book shall be respectful of the tradition of the Catholic Church, presenting traditional renderings of the Rosary, Stations of the Cross, Seven Sorrows, etc. Nevertheless, in a spirit of continuity of tradition, and influenced by the forces behind the Vatican II, it is my intention to provide meditation texts from Scripture, and the Fathers of the Church, for these traditional devotions. I will certainly include a Scriptural Way of the Cross alongside that of St. Alphonsus Liguori.

Over the last two decades, the Holy Fathers John Paul II and Benedict XVI have worked strenuously to reassert awareness of the Church's Lex Credendi. This may especially be seen by the completion of The Catechism of the Catholic Church and The Catechism of the Catholic Church: Compendium. I would recommend everyone have both of these.

Similarly, John Paul II sought to instill in everyone a great sense of the Lex Vivendi, the rule of living called for by the Gospel. This may be seen especially in his catecheses on the Theology of the Body.

In the present, and especially for the last decade or two, there has been a great movement especially toward strengthening the Lex Celebrandi, the rule of celebrating of the Church. As a Cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, was instrumental in giving life to this movement. Even now, he is supportive of those who hope to bring liturgical praxis into greater continuity with our tradition, respecting the authentic reforms called for by Vatican II while also allowing greater use of Extraordinary Form of the Mass of the Roman Rite, a priceless treasure we should never lose.

Among the reforms sought are restoring Gregorian Chant to having "pride of place," in the music of the liturgy, as the music proper to the liturgy. The work done at is essential to this work. Further, there has been a movement to a literal, richer, more poetic translation of the Roman Missal. At any rate, Latin teachers would no longer have to give our Mass translations a failing grade.

In the wake of these movements toward a greater enculturation, there remains the matter of the Lex Orandi, the rule of praying. John Paul II began much work in this direction, particularly with the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross. Starting in 1991, he created a new Scriptural Way of the Cross, also consisting of fourteen crosses as stations. In 2003, he authored the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae. In this text, introduced the Luminous Mysteries to the traditional Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries. Further, he advocated that, after announcing the mystery, that a text from Scripture be used for meditation, with the decade concluded with a Collect from the Liturgy.

In English, we need a prayer book that fully respects the great traditions of our Church and preserves the best of the older forms in their integrity. Also, we are in need of forms of these devotions drawing on the ancient wisdom of the Scriptures and the Patristic literature. This in no way disrespects the fruitful development of the Middle Ages, but rather seeks to breathe in the air that is ever ancient, and ever new.

Such is my project, and such is my endeavor to make some small contribution toward strengthening the Church's timeless Lex Orandi.