Sunday, October 31, 2010

Time to Pray for the Faithful Departed

Of course, we should always pray for the faithful departed. Still, it is especially encouraged during the month of November, especially the beginning of the month.

There are a couple of ways to gain plenary indulgences for the dead during this week. These are listed in section 1 of no. 27 of the current Enchiridion:

"A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted to the faithful who,
  1. on any day and each day from November 1 to 8, devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, if only mentally, for the departed;
  2. on All Souls' Day (or, according to the judgment of the ordinary, on the Sunday preceding or following it, or on the solemnity of All Saints), devoutly visit a church or an oratory and recite an Our Father and the Creed."

Again, it should be mentioned that, in addition to the act above performed, the other three conditions must be met for a plenary indulgence within a few days of the act: Communion, Confession, and prayer for the Holy Father's intentions (for which an Our Father and Hail Mary will suffice). It is best that the Commnion and prayer for the Holy Father's intentions be on the same day as the act. One confession can apply to multiple plenary indulgences, but only one communion. And of course, one may only gain a single plenary indulgence in a day.

Today would also be a to remember praying for the dead daily, as All Saints' Day begins this evening. We might certainly use that most common prayer for the dead, the Requiem aeternam:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
In the coming days, it would be good also to pray the Office of the Dead, either from the Liturgy of the Hours or the Breviary. Praying the prayer Requiem aeternam above, as well as Lauds and Vespers of the Office of the Dead, are enriched with a partial indulgence. The former may be used after meal prayers and the Angelus.

I regret that I did not get this post up earlier, as it would be a great place to mention the Novena in preparation for All Souls, which was explicitly mentioned in no. 260 of the Directory of Popular Piety. I will include one such novena prayer here:

O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, give to the souls of Thy servants departed full remission of all their offenses that, through pious supplications, they may obtain the pardon of which they have always been desirous. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

V/. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
R/. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V/. May they rest in peace.
R/. Amen.

Despite missing out on the novena, we can at least go on with the Octave. Let's get to praying for the Poor Souls!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today we will turn to that oldest, most popular of the Little Offices, which is also the one which has long been a part of the Church's liturgy. Of course, that is the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary (not to be confused with the much shorter Little Office of the Immaculate Conception).

The last edition of this Little Office was published with the Breviary reforms of 1961. It was not revised in the wake of the post-Conciliar reforms. Nevertheless, it is indulgenced even in the latest version of the Enchiridion. One version of this text may be found here.

The earliest reference to an Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary was in the eighth century at Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino. As this devotion originated in monastic communities, it was common to pray the Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary immediately after the Hour of the Divine Office itself. For laity living in the world, one can imagine that it might be rather difficult to undertake this practice, especially as the Little Office is as long as the Hours in the Divine Office (though Matins is sometimes longer). However, as the text is generally identical from day to day (with some daily changes to the psalms in Matins, as well as seasonal changes for Advent and Christmas, plus some other minor variations) it became popular for use among the laity in place of the Divine Office. One can understand that it would be much easier to use than the full Divine Office, leading to its more frequent use.

It came to be found in the devotional books of the laity, especially Books of Hours. For instance, it was one of the major components of the English Book of Hours known as The Prymer. It was accompanied by the Office of the Dead, Litany of Saints, Penitential Psalms, and Gradual Psalms, all devotions which would have originated (with the exception of the Litany) with monastic communities.

There are certainly some great places to go for information on this particular Little Office. Theo Keller's site certainly provides some good background. The blog Psallite Sapienter provides some good reviews of different editions. Despite the critique of the Baronius Press edition on that blog, I find it refreshing to have ready access to the chants (even if the psalms are unfortunately not fully pointed for chanting). It should be noted that the Carmelites continue to have their own version of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It seems to me that, for Catholics generally, it is best to use the 1961 Roman version.

In keeping with the practice of our forerunners, this Little Office would be excellent at any time. However, those times during which it would most be appropriate on Saturdays, during the months of May, October, and December. While the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception would also be good to use during this last month, the particular Advent character of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary argues for its use as well.

This should wrap up our series on the Little Offices. For the other Little Offices, see the following links:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Catechetical Opportunities

I'm happy to hear that my wife and I are getting prepared for catechetical work with kids in our parish. It's also wonderful that I have been able to start working with the kids in the Youth Ministry program. In about a month, I will give a presentation to our RCIA group on the first three Commandments. The Powerpoint Presentation for this last effort is about 80% done (I would like to comb through the Cathechism one more time, and add more art). I am grateful for these opportunities, and pray that I will have more to come.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tallahassee Vespers: At a Crossroads

Our latest Sung Sunday Vespers was indicative of the progress which we have made. The mistakes were few and far between. Everyone sang the hymn very well together. There were only a few mistakes in the psalmody. The execution of the Salve Regina at the end of the prayer was quite good.

We are now at a point where our Sunday Vespers needs to grow. The problem will be determining how best to go about doing this. So far, we have grown by word-of-mouth and by posting events on Facebook on both our "Tallahassee Liturgy of the Hours/Divine Office" page, and on the "Una Voce Tallahassee: Latin Mass Community" page. The real growth will occur once we reach out to the bulletins of the several parishes in the area (there are four in the city of Tallahassee, plus a chapel for Florida A&M).

Once we advertise in the bulletin, however, we will need to have the resources for participation for the people who come. We could either try to do a big event for which we have rehearsals (for instance, on Christ the King), with handouts for participation, perhaps trying to link Vespers with Adoration. Alternatively, we can advertise in one of the four bulletins, seeking to draw people in from a single parish.

Currently, my inclination is to do the latter. Advertising within our own parish for people who are willing to sing the parts should draw out some of the more committed who will join weekly. Once we have a good idea of how many are willing to do this, we can advertise in the other parishes. Finally, we can create a more major event, during which I would expect a larger group to attend.

Such are my plans at present. I will seek the input of my cohorts. We know that we need to grow. The question is how we do it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Litanies: Litany of the Sacred Heart

Today, being Friday, we'll focus on the Litany of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Like the Litany of St. Joseph, it was only approved for public prayer relatively late, in this case by Pope Leo XIII in 1899. This Litany is actually a composite of other litanies, primarily from the 17th century (please see the link above for more information). While virtually all litanies were forbidden from public use in 1601 (that of All Saints and of Loreto being exceptions), there was a slight loosening of this prohibition in the 19th century, during which the other approved Litanies received their approbation.

In structure, it is much like the other litanies which we have seen: the Kyrie, invocation of the three members of the Trinity to have mercy on us (first individually, then as a unity), the come petitions to the Heart of Jesus to have mercy upon us, followed by the invocations of the Agnus Dei. One of the notable features is that the series of petitions to the Heart of Jesus are 33 in number, reflecting the number of years which Jesus is said to have lived on earth.

Like other devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (for instance the Little Office of the Sacred Heart, mentioned in an earlier post), it seems best suited for Fridays, especially the First Fridays of the month and the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (third Friday after Pentecost). Additionally, it is well suited to every day during the month of June, which is typically held in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and is the month in which the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus usually falls. Like the other approved litanies, it is enriched with a partial indulgence

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

Thursday often devoted to the Eucharist, it seemed a good day to post on the Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, (found here). This is the last of the approved litanies to receive its approbation, which was given by Pope Bl. John XXIII in 1960 (which can be seen in AAS 52, pp. 412-13).

The structure begins and concludes like the other litanies. However, the response to the 25 petitions is "save us" (salva nos). It is noted for these petitions recalling biblical passages in the Directory of Popular Piety (no. 178).

In many ways, we can look upon this Litany as the most neglected of the six approved litanies. This might owe to its very recent approbation (which was quickly followed by a rejection in many quarters of anything traditional, leaving this rather new devotion to develop little following). While the other approved litanies are included in the Manual of Prayers published by the Midwest Theological Forum, for example, this prayer is unfortunately omitted. Fortunately, however, the U.S. bishops have seen fit to print it both in the Manual of Indulgences (translating the newest version the Enchiridion) and the book Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers.

This Litany is most suitable for every day of the month of July, which is traditionally devoted to the Precious Blood. Unfortunately, in the revised Roman Calendar, there is no longer a Feast of the Precious Blood. This is quite remarkable especially owing to the devotion to the Precious Blood which was held by Bl. John XXIII. However, this does not prevent priests from celebrating a Votive Mass of the Precious Blood. It may also be suitable for Thursdays (because of the Eucharist) or Fridays (because of the Passion). Like the other approved litanies, it is enriched with a partial indulgence.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The New Cardinals-Designate

A few thoughts on the new Carndinals-Designate:
  • Is anyone actually surprised that either Burke or Wuerl were named Cardinals? Both hold positions which are considered cardinalatial, and the latter's predecessor just turned 80.
  • Did anyone actually think that Dolan was going to become a Cardinal this time around when there were so many appointments to lead positions in the Curia in the last couple of years? There wasn't much room to include residential archbishops, so it certainly didn't make sense that anyone would be included when his predecessor was still an elector.
  • Who else was interested to see that the continent receiving the second largest contingent of electors this round was Africa (with 4, to Europe's 11). In one case, there was a nod of respect to the Coptic Catholics, honoring their Patriarch. In another case, an Archibishop Emeritus was named for some reason. Even so, I wonder if we can make something of the rapid growth of the African Church playing some part in the creation of a proportionately large number of Africans.
  • Of the Europeans named, eight were from the Curia, only three from residential sees. This might be more recognition of the need to have Cardinals head most of the dicasteries of the Curia. It makes me wonder if there will be a lessening of the number of Cardinals overall from Europe in the future (though I imagine the number of Italians will remain high, if not for Curial connections, then for the need to have people in the running for the next Pope who definitely speak Italian).
These are some of my observations. What did you notice?

Indulgenced Prayers to St. Joseph

Today being Wednesday, it's a good time to look at devotions to St. Joseph. In particular, it would be good to look at indulgenced prayers to St. Joseph.

We have already looked at the Little Office of St. Joseph and the Litany of St. Joseph, both enriched with partial indulgences. In addition to these, we find the following text in no. 19 of the current Enchirdion:

A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who invoke St. Joseph, spuose of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with a duly approved prayer (e.g., Ad te, beate Ioseph).

The particular prayer mentioned by way of example is provided here:

To you, O blessed Joseph, do we come in our tribulation, and having implored the help of your most holy spuose, we confidently invoke your patronage also. Through hat charity which bound you to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and through the paternal love with which you embraced the Child Jesus, we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance which Jesus Christ has purchased by his Blood, and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities. O most watchful Guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ; O most loving father, ward off from us every contagion of error and corrupting influence; O our most mighty protector, be kind to us and from heavven assist us in our struggle with the power of darkness. As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril, so now protect God's Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example and your aid, we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness, and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven. Amen.

The prayer was composed by Pope Leo XIII, and can first be seen referenced in his encyclical, Quamquam Pluries no. 6. The prayer was originally intended for use after the Rosary (hence the reference to "having impored the help of your holy spouse"). In the last pre-Vatican II edition of the Raccolta, the prayer is indulgenced for "3 years" generally, but "7 years" on Wednesdays or after the Rosary during October. This latter point indicates to me that it was early used independently of the Rosary. Nevertheless, it is probably best said after the Rosary, both on Wednesdays and during the month of October.

There are additional prayers to St. Joseph which we might consider to be "approved" by the Church. In this regard, I would look to what is said in the Directory of Popular Piety no. 222.:

St. Joseph plays a prominent part in popular devotion: in numerous popular traditions; the custom of reserving Wednesdays for devotion to St. Joseph,popular at least since the end of the seventeenth century, has generated several pious exercises including that of the Seven Wednesdays; in the pious aspirations made by the faithful(305); in prayers such as that of Pope Leo XIII, A te, Beate Ioseph, which is daily recited by the faithful(306); in the Litany of St Joseph, approved by St. Pope Pius X(307); and in the recitation of the chaplet of St Joseph, recollecting the Seven agonies and seven joys of St. Joseph.

Of these, the most common form of the devotion of the Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys of St. Joseph are found in the Raccolta no. 470. I'm certainly no canonist, but I would imagine this to constitute "approval." The reference to "Seven Wednesdays struck me as odd, and probably referring instead to the "Seven Sundays of St. Joseph" (it doesn't look like the document received the best proof-reading, as evidenced also by the misspelling of the Ad te, Beate Ioseph).

Additionally, the prayers to St. Joseph before and after Mass in the Roman Missal could probably be considered approved as well. While these prayers might primarily be in place for the preparation of the priest, they are certainly suitable for the use of the faithful as well.

While prayers and devotions to St. Joseph are generally considered best during the month of March and Wednesdays, we might also consider at least some of them appropriate also during Advent. It is my opinion that they could enhance devotion especially to the Incarnation, whose celebration is anticipated in this season. As the season also includes the celebration of the Immaculate Conception of the Blesssed Virgin Mary, some devotions to St. Joseph may give a fuller sense of the Holy Family during this time, and the preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Vespers in Tallahassee: Week 5 Report

We met yesterday for our fifth sung Sunday Vespers. The singing is really starting to come together. Most of the dragging while chanting the psalms has ceased. The execution of the Salve Regina after Vespers was near perfect. We learned the setting in the Mundelein Psalter for the English version of the Lucis Creator Optime, and executed it very well. There were both fewer mistakes and greater cohesion.

It is nice to see that our group has grown together. The next step is likely our growing outward. We may take some time before advertising in the bulletins of the four parishes in Tallahassee for new members. Even so, the time is growing shorter 'til we will do so.

I should also note that the rector of the C0-Cathedral informed me of his support of our efforts. I invited him to join us for the evening, but he already had an appointment. Nevertheless, he mentioned that we especially ought to bring into our number those in the community considering the priesthood or religious life (as the Co-Cathedral is right outside Florida State University, there are many college students considering their vocations within the parish). I think this is a great idea, and hope to make efforts in that regard very soon.

I would ask for your prayers for the success of this group. While it might not be possible to have a sung Sunday Vespers everywhere, I certainly believe that every city ought to be able to have at least one (preferably at the Cathedral or Co-Cathedral). We are doing what we can to allow this movement to grow here in Tallahassee. Please support us with your prayers, and consider doing the same in your own community.

Seasonal Hymns in the Mundelein Psalter

I've mentioned before how much I like the Mundelein Psalter for providing English versions of the Latin hymns of the Liturgy of the Hours. I, for one, think it's wonderful to sing hymns by St. Ambrose or St. Gregory the Great during Sunday Vespers.

Unfortunately, the seasonal hymns are not laid out in an easy-to-read setting. By this, I mean that the notes are provided at the top of the page, rather than above the corresponding verses. This makes it rather difficult to follow. (There is an additional problem with the Vespers hymn of Easter missing a note, thus having only seven notes for an eight beat line of text, but that's another story)

I arranged an easier-to-read setting of Conditor Alme Siderum for our little Tallahassee group. I did not see this to be prohibited by the book itself, especially as we are not selling the material. Thus, we ought to be able to prepare easier for the transition from Ordinary Time into Advent. To set the chants, I used the font StaffClefPitchesEasy, which I find to be incredibly easy to use (round note chant notation).

This way, I think we will be able to continue using the Mundelein Psalter primarily, while supplementing it with other material when appropriate.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Vespers Hymn and Rite of Acceptance

A couple of things on my mind today. Tonight at Vespers, we will sing an English adaptation of the hymn Lucis Creator Optime. This hymn was written by St. Gregory the Great back in the sixth century. Thinking about this reminds me of the great connection which we have to our ancestors.

It is remarkable to think that this evening, our little schola (if I can dare to call us this) will sing a hymn which was sung before the reforms in the wake of Vatican II. They will sing a hymn in use before the reforms following the Council of Trent. They will sing a hymn which was sung throughout the Middle Ages. They will sing a hymn composed during a time of great durress while the Western Empire was all but lost. They will sing a hymn from the liturgy which helped evangelize Europe.

I'm aware that a great number of hymns of the Office were "reformed" under Pope Urban VIII by altering the traditional text. While these revisions were generally removed in the post-conciliar reform following Vatican II, the original text was not always restored. While I am unsure the extent to which this particular hymn has been altered, I remain happy knowing that this text, however much it may have been revised, has retained a place of honor in our tradition.

Today, my parish's RCIA group underwent the Rite of Acceptance, wherein they have taken a greater commitment in being catechumens. Given what was stated earlier, it is wonderful to think of the great gift of expression of faith which is being given to them from the tradition. It is also exciting to think of how they will contribute to this tradition. It is interesting to see them amazed (and often overwhelmed) by the rich language of symbols and traditions into which they are being drawn. What will they give back to the God, their Church, their families?

Please pray for those who have undergone the Rite of Acceptance that God will lead them along their journey. I hope that we may join in our pilgrimage together, ultimately having the opporutnity to see our Lord face to face.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Little Office of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Today we begin to wrap up our series on the Little Offices. The Little Office of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ was approved by the S.C.R in 1921. It was subsequently indulgenced. Some changes were made to the rubrics in 1932.

Throughout history, there had been a number of Little Offices of the Passion. One was even composed by St. Francis of Assisi. The one which was indulgenced, however, is a fuller Office. It was composed by the Passionist Fr. Aloysius of St. Charles, in order to fulfill the requirements of litugical law while allowing for a shorter Office for missionaries and retreat masters.

I will admit that I had great trouble locating this prayer, and making sure that I had the prayer which was explicitly indulgenced. The front matter of the 1953 edition of the Little Office of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by the Confraternity of the Passion confirms that it is the indulgenced version. I suppose it is possible that the text was changed since 1948 (the time of the last revision, apparently). If anyone is aware of such a change to this Little Office, I would be grateful to know of it.

In order to give a sense of how the text is presented, it seems best to quote from the front matter of the 1953 edition:

The Hours of this Little Office follow Christ in His Passion and commemorate His different sufferings. At matins and Lauds the Passion Office commemorates the prayer and bloody sweat of Jesus in the Garden. In monasteries these two hours are said in the middle of the night. Prime and Tierce, the morning prayers of the Church, recall the scourging and crowning with throns. Sext and None are said during hte day and honor Jesus carrying His Cross and being crucified. The evning prayer, Vespers, recalls Jesus' last words and death. Finally the Church's night prayer, Compline, commemorates Jesus taken down from the Cross and laid in the tomb (p. 7).

So that anyone might not be confused which Little Office of the Passion is enriched with the partial indulgence, I thought it would be good to provide the psalms listed in each hour. Numbers correspond to the Vulgate numbering for the Psalms:

  • Matins: 94; Noct. 1 (Sun., Mon., Thurs.) 2, 3, 12; Noct. 2 (Tues., Fri.) 21 i, 21ii, 21iii; Noct. 3 (Wed., Sat.) 24i, 24ii, 24iii.

  • Lauds: 50, 5, 66, Is. 12:1-6, 145.

  • Prime: 34i, 34ii, 34iii.

  • Terce: 37i, 37ii, 42.

  • Sext: 53, 54i, 54ii.

  • None: 68i, 68ii, 68iii.

  • Vespers: 114, 119, 139, 140, 141.

  • Compline: 19, 63, 142.

I heartily recommend the use of this prayer. It would be best used on any Friday, and any day during Lent (especially during the last two weeks, traditionally called Passiontide, which includes Holy Week).

If anyone would be able to tell me whether I would be able to post this text without infringing copyright, I would be greatly appreciative! It has been approved for use of the whole Church, and rightly belongs to the whole Church. I hope that we all may be able to make use of it.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Our Lady of the Rosary: The Rosary and October

    Today, October 7th, is the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. October is in fact that month of the Rosary. You will hear it said that it commemorates the victory of a Christian fleet against an invading Muslim force at the Battle of Lepanto. More than anything, however, it commemorates the power of this prayer to Jesus through Mary, as exemplified by the victory given to that outnumbered fleet.

    The Rosary, of course, has a long history ante-dating this event battle. Prayer beads had long been used with various styles of prayer from very early times. Indeed, they are also found in non-Christian cultures. Among Christians, as early as the seventh century, there was a practice among the laity to recite 150 Hail Marys, in imitation of the 150 Psalms, which were sung by monks throughout the week. It is out of this "Psalter of Mary" that the Rosary was to emerge, and it is still sometimes called by this name.

    At its core, praying the Rosary consists of three sets of five "decades." These decades consist of one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, and one Glory be. During each decade, one meditates on a Mystery (that is, a revealed truth) about Our Lord (or his Blessed Mother, those these mysteries be seen as an extension of the mystery of Our Lord, as they pertain to God's love for her). Offering a rosary is understood to consist in essence of praying five such decades. Nevertheless, various additions have been made to this prayer. I am not aware of any version of the Rosary where these decades are not preceded by an additional Our Father and three Hail Marys.

    The beginning of the prayer varies according to local custom. In the United States (and I believe all of the English speaking world) the practice is to begin with the Sign of the Cross and the Apostles' Creed while holding the crucifix attached to the Rosary. In Rome, the practice is to begin with the opening words of the Divine Office: "Lord, open my lips. And my mouth will proclaim your praise. God, come to my assistance. Lord, make haste to help me. Glory be . . ."Hail, Holy Queen (Salve Regina). This is usually followed by a collect (concluding prayer). Additionally, the Litany of Loreto (about which more will be written on Saturday) can follow. Finally, the prayer to St. Joseph might be made after the Rosary.

    This certainly does not exhaust the possibilities of praying the Rosary, or the adaptations which can be made by an individual or group. For instance, one might desire to pray the Memorare before the Rosary in order to better set a prayerful mood. Moreover, various prayers may be added, for vocations, peace, etc

    It should not go without saying that in 2002 John Paul II, in the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, introduced five new optional mysteries for meditation during the Rosary, known as the Luminous Mysteries. These include 1) the Baptism in the Jordan; 2) the Wedding at Cana; 3) the Proclamation of the Kingdom and Call to Repentance; 4) the Transfiguration; and 5) the Eucharist.

    It should be noted that this has caused a great deal of consternation among a number of traditionalists. The primary reason is that it appears to sever the practice from its roots as substitution or complement for the Psalter (i.e., as "Mary's Psalter"). Nevertheless, one could argue that there are already various chaplets offered using Rosary beads anyway. We can see this simply as another of those chaplets.
    Regarding the Rosary, we find the following text in the Enchiridion no. 17 sec. 1:

    • A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who
    • 1. devoutly recite the Marian rosary in a church or oratory, or in a family, a religious community, or an association of the faithful, and in general when several of the faithful gather for some honest purpose.
    • 2. devoutly join in the recitation of the rosary while it is being recited by the Supreme Pontiff and broadcast live by radio or television.
    • In other circumstances, the indulgence will be partial

    Praying the Rosary under these circumstances is indeed one of six ways in which a member of the faithful may gain a plenary indulgence on any day. The other ways would include: 1) devoutly reading Sacred Scripture for 30 minutes; 2) devoutly praying before the Blessed Sacrament for 30 minutes; 3) praying the Stations of the Cross; 4) praying the Akathistos hymn under the same circumstances as the Rosary; 5) praying the Paraclesis service under the same circumstances

    In this month of October, and on this Feast Day, we have a great opportunity to renew or take up this practice for the first time.

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    Litanies: Litany of St. Joseph

    While it might seem a little out-of-order to write on the Litany of St. Joseph before the Litany of Loreto (Blessed Virgin Mary), it seemed appropriate as Wednesday is traditionally held in honor of St. Joseph.

    This Litany (found here, here, and here) is much shorter than the two which we have previously treated. It begins normally, with the Kyrie, "Christ, hear us," and invocation of the Trinity (though the version in the current Manual of Indulgences omits the "Christ hear us"). Thereafter, we ask Holy Mary to pray for us, followed by St. Joseph. Following this, Joseph's intercession is invoked under a series of titles. It concludes with the Agnus Dei, a versicle to St. Joseph, and a collect.

    Like many devotions to St. Joseph, it appears to have been approved late. Indeed, the version which we have was not approved and indulgenced until 1909.

    As Wednesdays and the month of March are especially suited to St. Joseph, these times seem best for reciting this prayer. As with all Litanies, it lends itself well to common recitation. Of course, this does not limit the number of times when one might make use of this prayer, especially for fathers (who might have recourse to this model of fatherhood).

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Litanies: Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus

    For our next installment on the approved litanies, we turn to the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus (found, for instance, here and here). This litany was first indulgenced by Pope Sixtus V in the late 16th century. However, despite being indulgenced, it appears that it was not "approved" until the reign of Bl. Pius IX, whose approval gave the prayer its current form. It may have originated with St. Bernardine of Siena or St. John Capistrano. Like the other five approved litanies, it retains a partial indulgence.

    Looking at the structure, it appears to follow that of the Litany of the Saints fairly closely. It begins with the Kyrie and "Jesus, hear us," followed by the same invocation of the Trinity as in the longer Litany of Saints. Thereafter, it invokes Jesus in both his human and divine qualities. It further recognizes him as the models of various charisms. Thereafter, like in the Litany of Saints, we ask for deliverance from various forms of evil, and deliverance by means of various acts in Jesus' life. It concludes with the Agnus Dei, Jesus hear us, and a collect.

    This litany was provided as a prayer suitable to the morning by F.X. Lasance in his Prayer Book for Religious. In this respect, it is complemented by the Litany of Loreto (of the Blessed Virgin Mary) in the evening. It would also be an excellent practice to recite this prayer daily during the month of January, which is traditionally devoted to the Holy Name of Jesus (especially on the Memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus, Jan. 3rd).

    Solemnity of the Nativity of the Sweet Baby

    Saturday was the Solemnity of the Natvity of my beloved daughter. She was born one year ago. In truth, she took a giant leap forward by now being able to use a new, forward-facing car seat (thanks to her Mimi!).

    A great time was had by all. She was able to see her grandparents, aunt, uncle, and two cousins (on my wife's side). There was much eating, a visit to a pumpkin patch and hay ride (they really have autumn in Atlanta, unlike here in Tallahassee!), her aunt's chocolate cupcakes, and a birthday party. The only bad thing was our Sweet Baby's unfortunate tummy ache, as she is not used to chocolate. It was still cute seeing her eat it.

    I would ask for your prayers that she have another great year this year. It has been a blessing to see her grow so much in such a short time. She's already starting to walk some. I'm really looking forward to her language acquisition (we'll probably start with just English and Latin; Greek, Hebrew, etc. can come later).

    Litanies: Litany of the Saints

    Today, we will begin a new series on Litanies. This is part of our broader series on Indulgences. There are six Litanies enriched with a partial indulgence: the Litany of the Saints, the Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, the Litany of Loreto (for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Litany of the Most Sacred Heart, the Litany of the Most Precious Blood, and the Litany of St. Joseph. By far, the oldest of these is the Litany of the Saints. It is thus a good idea to turn first to this prayer, so important to our tradition, and well-used in both our Liturgy and Popular Devotions.

    * * *

    The Litany of Saints is of undetermined antiquity. We can generally say that some form of it was common at the time of St. Gregory the Great, who ordered his Litania Septiformis. The practice of litanies used in procession goes back to the legalization of Christianity under Constantine. As there were sacred processions in the contemporary Pagan practice, so the Christians invented their own. One general practice during these processions was a series of invocations followed by a standard response. This has become what we know now as Litany. One can see that it would be easy to sing or recite such a prayer in procession, as only one needs to know the invocations, while the rest may simply offer the response.

    The form adopted for the Litany of the Saints can be seen coming from the practice of the Roman processions. The most important of these would be held on the day of the Major Litany (April 25, St. Mark's Day, supplanting the Pagan procession of the Robigalia on the same day). It was also used for the Minor Litanies: the Rogation Days asking for a good harvest, on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Thursday.

    The Litany of the Saints is used at numerous points in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite. However, there are different forms of this Litany used in each. In the case of the Ordinary Form, the Litany of the Saints used at the Easter Vigil has a rather short listing of Saints, and does not include the invocations to the Trinity before the invocation of the Saints to "have mercy on us." In the Rite of Baptism, there are only a handful of Saints invoked (oddly, this Litany is preceded by the Prayer of the Faithful, which is also a Litany).

    A full form of the Litany may be found here, including both English and Latin text. Another easier-to-follow English version may be found here. Nevertheless, names of other Saints may be inserted at the appropriate place in the Litany (for instance, the patron of the parish or diocese). It is forbidden, however, to insert the names of those who are not venerated as Saints into the Litany (for this reason, we ought to avoid using the form of the Litany which includes the name of Origen in any liturgical celebration).

    There are innumerable times during which this prayer may be said: during processions, obviously, and at those points appointed in the Liturgy; during an evening vigil; as a preparation for liturgical prayer; as a form of intercession for some particular need; on Sundays, uniting ourselves with the full Communion of Saints, on behalf of the Faithful Departed, expecially on Mondays, on which we especially traditionally remember the Poor Souls. It may also be used for processions to the church during Lent (and seems appropriate also on the Solemnity of All Saints, Nov. 1st).

    This prayer is well-suited for prayer in common. It can be recited with minimal training for those who respond. It can likewise be easily chanted (especially with the settings we have for the Litany in the Easter Vigil). It is enriched with a partial indulgence.

    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    Little Office of the Immaculate Conception

    As we treated the Little Office of St. Joseph on Wednesday and the Little Office of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday, so today, Saturday, we focus on the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception. You can find this text here and here.

    Along with the other four explicitly indulgenced Little Offices (Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Little Office of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Little Office of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and Little Office of St. Joseph), it is enriched with a partial indulgence.

    This particular Little Office is said to have been composed by St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, the lay Jesuit. According to the immutable and infallible arbiter of all truth that is Wikipedia, he is likely not the original author of this text. Nevertheless, he can probably be credited with its promotion.

    In structure, it is fairly similar to the other two Little Offices which we have treated. The Introductory Verse might strike one as being rather odd, as it changes the addressee from God (as is the case of the psalm verse it mimics) to Our Lady. This addressing of Our Lady also occurs in the short responses and concluding versicles.

    The hymns are notable for their highly symbolic language. It draws mostly upon Old Testament types for the Blessed Virgin. The more poetic among us might take great delight in these texts.

    For those who would want to use these prayers seasonally, rather than every day, the best times seem to be Saturdays (dedicated to Our Lady or the Immaculate Conception) or December. In the case of the Latter, the Novena of Preparation for the Immaculate Conception especially seems an excellent time for this Little Office.

    It is true that the Directory of Popular Piety (101) warns against observing December simply in honor of Our Lady or the Immaculate Conception. There is great wisdom in this, given that the primary focus on Advent is the coming of Our Lord (both in his Nativity and in the parousia to come). Nevertheless, I personally do not believe that this Little Office would conflict, but rather complement, this devotion to Our Lord. However, I can understand the concerns of those who believe that it would. In their case, I would at least advocate the use of this Little Office during the Novena of the Immaculate Conception. I would especially recommend this because devotion to Our Lady during Advent is so encouraged in the same Directory (101-02).

    It turns out that there is a small booklet available with these prayers. I was able to get a copy at Aquinas and More. It's small and cheap, and easily fits into another prayer book or Breviary. Give this Little Office a look!

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Little Office of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

    On Wednesday, we treated the Little Office of St. Joseph. Today, on account of Fridays (especially First Fridays) being held in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we focus on the Little Office of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (found here ).

    It was mostly composed by one Fr. Croiset, then modified by a Fr. Gallifet. The present version was indulgenced by Pope Leo XIII, and this has subsequently been reaffirmed. It remains one of the five explicitly indulgenced Little Offices.

    Like the Little Office of St. Joseph, does not have any psalmody. Rather, it has the traditional opening and conclusion for the Office, with a hymn, antiphon, versicle, and prayer between. The antiphons ask, in various ways, for the Heart of Jesus to convert our own hearts toward our Savior. The hymns are quite beautiful and vivid as well.

    Like the Little Office of St. Joseph, these brief prayers seem very suitable immediately after praying the corresponding Hour of the day. This is especially so on Fridays (and First Fridays at that), or else in the month of June, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Likewise, for those laity who do not have the full Office, it may serve as a way of sanctifying the day, fulfilling the Lord's command to "pray without ceasing."

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Sung Vespers vs. Recited Vespers: Practicality & Effectiveness

    I was asked recently by one Ryan Ellis via Twitter what I thought about a recited communal Vespers from a practical standpoint. It's a very fair question, and one deserving a better response than can be contained in 140 characters.

    First, the obvious thing to say is that it is much easier to teach a group to recite Vespers in common than it is to teach them to sing Vespers in common. If we were to compare this to the Mass, it is much easier to have a Mass fully recited than one which is even partially sung. In the barest sense of the word "practical," it is more practical to recite Vespers in common.

    However, aside from the merely aesthetic reasons for having a sung Vespers, we might consider its effect upon a congregation. Consider your average daily Mass, for instance: it's a Low Mass in English. Very few people show up. Granted, a lot of people won't come to a daily Mass because of their work or school schedule conflicts. Even so, I have heard people who attended daily Mass tell me that they didn't like it simply because there was no singing involved. In other words, they did not feel like they were able to adequately join in a period of worship without the singing.

    I would imagine that the effect would be even greater in the Hours, where so much more of the essence of the texts is that of song. You open with an acclamation (which generally ought to be sung), followed by a hymn and three psalms (or two psalms and a canticle). After the reading (which need not necessarily be sung) you have a responsory (which should) and a Gospel Canticle (ditto). One can debate whether to sing the Intercessions, Lord's Prayer, and Collect. As a dialogue, the conclusion probably ought to be sung.

    So essentially, at its heart, you have six or so texts which, by their nature, can be considered songs. They need not always be sung (in fact, the General Instruction seems to argue for a case by case approach to the feasibility and manner of singing each psalm). Even so, given ancient practice, one would think that the psalmody and hymn at the very least ought to be sung if possible.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with a group of the faithful gathering to pray one or more the Hours using recitation rather than singing. In fact, there is a group at my parish that has started to do just that on weekdays. I find our efforts to be complementary rather than competitive. Nevertheless, just as I believe that a sung Mass will draw more people, I believe that a sung Vespers will draw more people. Further (and this is just assumption), I believe that a sung Vespers has greater ability to inspire people to recite the other hours in common than vice versa.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    The Little Office of Saint Joseph

    In the coming days, I hope to post on the now little-used prayers known as the Little Offices. Indeed, the subject for today is so little-used that I am not sure which prayer text is indeed indulgenced. As Wednesday is often kept as a day in honor of St. Joseph, it seems a good idea to start with the Little Office of Saint Joseph. It was initially indulgenced in 1921, and again in 1932. With the reform of the Enchiridion under Paul VI, it was retained as one of the five explicitly indulgenced Little Offices.

    I have been unable to guarantee that I am providing the text of the indulgenced Little Office of Saint Joseph. My best guess as to the text of the prayer is found here. The Latin form of this text is also found in the Coeleste Palmetum, while the English translation was used in F.X. Lasance's Prayer-Book for Religious. Thus, I think it is a pretty good guess that this same prayer was later explicitly indulgenced. However, I have been unable to locate the documents issued by the Apostolic Penitentiary which provided the indulgence. If anyone knows where to locate these documents, I would be very grateful. The first was issued May 10, 1921, and the second March 18, 1932. Just as a hunch, I would expect these documents to include the official Latin version of these prayers.

    In regard to the prayers themselves, I find the antiphons to be quite noteworthy. Between Prime and Sext, they are texts from Scripture specifically relating to Joseph. Indeed, with the other three antiphons (taken from the psalms) they generally tell the story of Joseph in Salvation History, and his efforts to defend his family, culminating in a period of rest at night. The hymns match the texts of the antiphon, expanding upon their themes.

    Recovering this prayer would be excellent not only for Wednesdays, but also for the month of March, traditionally held in honor of St. Joseph. If indeed this short Office is the indulgenced Little Office of Saint Joseph, it would certainly be easy to use for those whose lives are too busy perhaps for the fuller Liturgy of the Hours or Breviary. It may also be good as an additional devotion after each Hour during March or on Wednesdays. It also might be a particularly worthy devotion for fathers, as St. Joseph is a model for and patron of fathers.

    The Liturgy of the Hours and Grassroots Liturgical Renewal

    There have been many movements toward a renewal of the liturgy in these last few months and years. Perhaps the most noteworthy project right now is the movement for a free collection of propers for the Mass. Nevertheless, even once this project is finished, it must have support of pastors in order to be implemented in parishes. How might ordinary laity engage in renewing and reforming the liturgical practice in their own parishes?

    The primary answer is to stake out that ground which is currently not held or even contested by anyone in the parish. We know that Sacrosanctum Concilium called for Sunday Vespers to be celebrated in common in parishes. Individual Catholic laity may certainly join in praying the Hours together, with or without clergy (though clergy are to take their appropriate roles when they are present). The Catholic laity are certainly not forbidden to gather together as a community to pray. If they meet for a sung Vespers, learn how to chant the psalms, etc., they have undertaken a vital step in renewing the liturgical life of their parish.

    Moreover, they have something which they can bring to their pastor, inviting him to join with them. I can't imagine many priests saying "no." They may then ask for the permission to use the parish church when no other event is scheduled in the evening. Again, I can't imagine a priest here saying, "no." Finally, they can invite him to take his own proper role in leading the prayers of the people (as well as any associate pastors or deacons). While some priests may not opt for this option, it's probably safe to say that many will.

    This may lead to further opportunities for renewing the liturgical life of the parish. Think, for instance, of all those daily Low Masses in almost every parish in the country. Even Solemnities receive this treatment, so long as they are not also Holy Days of Obligation. If a group is able to sing the simple chants of the Mundelein Psalter, they are probably able to sing the chants of By Flowing Waters, which sets the texts of the Simple Gradual. You might then be able to provide the chants from the Psalter for the Entrance, Offertory, and Communion. While there might be some opposition to such an offer before starting a Sunday Vespers, once competence is shown, it's easy to imagine such opposition subsiding.

    We have many opportunities out there. We should seize them. Don't just fight to change the way things are. We can work together to improve things as they now stand, and start things that aren't yet being done.

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    First Tallahassee Sung Vespers a Success!

    I am pleased to report that our first attempt at a sung (mostly chanted) Sunday Vespers was quite successful. First, we did a walk-through of the Order of the Hour of Vespers. Then we went through the relevant sections of the book. Thereafter, we began to practice singing the psalm tones (with the aid of the recordings provided by the webpage). Finally, we prayed the hour of Vespers, singing the psalms and cancticles with their antiphons, hymn, opening verse, Lord's Prayer, Collect, and conclusion.

    The psalmody was sung according to the settings provided in the Mundelein Psalter. We did not learn the setting provided for the hymn this week (we hope to do this when the hymn repeats in Week III). Rather, we sang it to the tune of "Old Hundreth," which everyone knew. The responsory was also sung according to the setting provided.

    In total, the whole event took about an hour. That was all! I would like to reiterate how easy it can be to get a group together using this book to sing the prayers of the Hours. After someone with even moderate musical ability has mastered this book at home, s/he can easily gather a group at the parish to form a schola or choir.

    In the coming weeks, we will be refining our sound. Certainly, there were mistakes. Nevertheless, our group took it in stride much better than I had anticipated. Perhaps it was the movement of the Holy Spirit. Or maybe they all just learn more quickly than I do. Maybe it was that inherent Catholic quality, where none of us know how to sing, but all of us know how to harmonize. Whatever it was, the sound at times was, in my opinion, glorious.

    These are the first baby steps. A few weeks from now, we hope to invite our clergy to take part with us. Thereafter, we hope that we may prepare for leading the parish (and perhaps the wider Tallahassee community) in this prayer. I certainly think that it would be great if we could lead our community in Vespers during a larger period of Eucharistic Adoration (perhaps on the Solemnity of Christ the King?). However, we must remember: one thing at a time. I am certain that we will be successful in the end, and God will be glorified by our little choir, then our parish, and even our Tallahassee community, joining in this evening sacrifice of praise.

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Updated ICEL Chant Settings

    I am happy to say that the ICEL chants which will appear in the revised Roman Missal next year have been updated. A hat tip is in order to Gotta Sing, Gotta Pray. The link to the page with the ICEL chants is here.

    There were numerous complaints about changing the Order of Mass after recognitio had been granted in 2008. Even so, I believe that both those who are excited about the new translation, as well as those who are apprehensive, can take heart that the chants which will appear in the Missal itself have already been amended. I recommend taking a look at the setting based on Credo III. The changes from the 2008 version to the 2010 seemed rather seemless to me.

    I respect those who are troubled by this new translation. Nevertheless, I hope that they can understand my joy in the reclamation of ancient melodies for use in the modern liturgy. I hope that soon, we may not only pray, but sing, the words of the Creed together.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Issues at RCIA: What are we Supposed to Say?

    My wife went through RCIA last year. Given her recent experience making the jump (or plunge) into the Church, and given my being a Catholic geek, we figured that, between the two of us, we ought to be able to help anybody with any questions they might have. Hence we decided to join up with the team this year. There's a great group, and it's great to see the people who led Danielle along last year.

    Last week, when we broke up from the large group into small groups, there were questions over how to know what responses one should make in the liturgy. I thought it would be best if the group was able to have a copy of the Order of Mass, and thought it would be wonderful if there was a pdf booklet online. As it turns out, there is indeed such a pdf booklet, which may be found here!

    Of course, we are soon moving into a period where even those who have been Catholics for their whole lives will need to learn these responses again. Indeed, we are already fortunate enough to have the new translation of the Order of Mass. I for one find them to be quite beautiful and generally an improvement on the previous translation (even if there are some parts that could probably be smoothed out a bit). While the new translation is certainly easy to access, it seems like it would be a great idea to put it in a booklet form as well. If anyone has done this, I would love to know. Also, we can have a challenge to make such a booklet.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Ecumenical Evening Prayer of the Papal Visit

    If you're like me, you've been following the information coming out about Benedict XVI's Apostolic Journey to the UK. A lot has been said about the relative use of Latin vs. English in the Missal for the journey (i.e., the Prefaces and Eucharistic prayers will be in Latin). I have heard relatively little comment, however, on the Ecumenical Evening Prayer (Vespers, or Evensong). It can be found here, starting on page 57 (but really starting on page 60) of the document.

    I find it noteworthy that the option chosen for the ecumenical gathering was a Vespers service. In the United States, for instance, the liturgy from the Book of Blessings for ecumenical gatherings was chosen for the comparable event. It is probably fair to say that we can see in this a recognition of the retention of the practice of praying the Hours in the Anglican tradition, as the style comes from the Anglican form of Evensong. The use of the more traditional version of the psalm and Magnificat might also point to the Holy Father's preference for sacral, beautiful language for the liturgy.

    Owing to the publication of Anglicanorum Coetibus, we can be sure that the Holy Father sees great worth in the Anglican patrimony. Evensong would certainly count among this patrimony. We can probably see in this an affirmation of the Anglican Use Catholics, as well as those who may soon come into full Communion with the Church under the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus.

    In the future, even in our parishes, I believe that Vespers would be an excellent way to engage in ecumenical prayer. This goes whether we use the texts of the Liturgy of the Hours, or those of the Anglican Use Book of Divine Worship.

    I'm curious to know what you might think about this. Please let me know!

    Sunday Sung Vespers in Tallahassee

    I am happy to report on a local experiment to have a sung Vespers in Tallahassee. Probably a good chunk of the people who would be drawn to this blog will be familiar with the following text from the Vatican II Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy:
    Pastors of souls shall see to it that the chief Hours, especially Vespers, are celebrated in common in church on Sundays and the more solemn feasts. And the laity, too, are encouraged to recite the divine office, either with the priests, or among themselves, or even individually (SC 100).

    Just before this statement, the Constitution reads: "It is, moreover, fitting that the office, both in choir and in common, be sung when possible (SC 99).

    As such, a small group of laity in Tallahassee, FL are seeking to institute a Sung Sunday Vespers at 5:00 on Sundays. At the beginning, we will use the Mundelein Psalter, because it is easy to use and easy to learn. Also, it is fully in keeping with the approved ICEL text of the Roman Rite Ordinary Form Liturgy of the Hours, while providing the actual Latin hymns (along with English translations) from the Latin edition.

    It is interesting to see on a number of blogs that many believe that we are "rolling back" the reforms of Vatican II. Many of us seeing the implementation of the Council finally coming. If we were to implement a Sung Vespers, think of the opportunities:
    • A setting of worship much more suitable for ecumenical gatherings than the Mass (as we can see from the example of John Paul II and Benedict XVI every Jan. 25 for the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul)
    • A way to more fully encourage the sanctification of the day, wherein the community has the opportunity to gather for worship in the Morning Mass, but the evening Sacrifice of Praise.
    • A greater familiarity with the Psalter, our truly divinely inspired prayer book (and, for that matter hymnal). As we rarely hear the propers sung or recited during the liturgy through an accident of history, an embrace of Sunday Vespers can be all the more crucial in implementing a greater call for familiarity with Scripture.
    These are just a few of the ideas that could come to mind. Our first meeting, to learn to sing the hours, is scheduled for this Sunday, September 19th. I ask for your prayers in this endeavor, and hope that our actions here may encourage others to act in a similar fashion.

    Sunday, August 8, 2010

    The Paraclesis

    I regret being away for so long. There have been a lot of family and other duties with which to deal. Suffice it to say, I am rather liberated at this moment to begin writing here again.

    Before the big absence in posting, I was attempting to bring up devotional practices especially relating to the Church year. It is firmly my intention to resume that practice.

    * * *
    As you may be aware, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is fast approaching. The feast is often viewed as the primary feast of our Blessed Mother, likely owing to it being the closest thing that she has to a dies natalis. It is the day we commemorate her Dormition (her falling asleep, as the Feast is called in the East), and her being assumed into heaven body and soul.

    Naturally, one would expect popular devotions regarding the Blessed Virgin to grow around this Feast. There are a number of western devotions. Today, however, I would like to focus upon a particular devotion from the Byzantine tradition called the Paraclesis.

    The Paraclesis (or Paraklesis, as it is sometimes phonetically transcribed) is a supplicatory prayer to Mary. It is appropriate "in every adversity and affliction, as well as during the Fast of the Theotokos, August 1st to 14th, in preparation for the Feast of the Dormition" (Publicans Prayer Book, 463). Since 1999, it has been especially recommended to the whole of the Church in the Enchiridion of Indulgences. No. 23 sec. 1 of the Enchiridion states that:
    A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who devoutly recite the Akathistos hymn or the Office of the Paraclisis in a church or oratory, or in a family, a religious community, or an association of the faithful, and in general when several of the faithful gather for some honest purpose. In other circumstances, the indulgence will be partial.

    Readers may notice that this is virtually the same language that the Enchiridion uses with regard to the Rosary in no. 17. To express how much this prayer is esteemed by the Church, we would need to recall that aside from the Rosary, Akathistos, and Paraclesis, the only other ways to gain a plenary indulgence on any day are 1) 30 minutes of reading (or listening to the reading of) Sacred Scripture; 2) 30 minutes adoring the Blessed Sacrament; and 3) Walking and praying the Stations of the Cross (or 15 minutes reading and meditating on the Passion, if one is legitimately prevented). This should remind us that this prayer is suitable for any time, but especially for the time in preparation for the Assumption.

    The term used for the order of this service is a canon, which in the the Byzantine tradition consists essentially of nine "odes," these are in turn divided into thirds, with additional texts inserted after the third, sixth, and ninth odes (interestingly, in the "small" Paraclesis, the second ode is omitted). Before the prayer proper, there are a number of additional prayers, including the usual Trisagion prayers, a couple of psalms, and some litanies. In order to see the basic structure, we could turn to this version of the Small Paraclesis.

    When using the prayer myself, I use the version found in the Publicans Prayer Book. Helpful rubrics are provided throughout. My only regret is that the text of the Gospel from Luke is not included in the prayer book itself. I hope that you will give this prayer a look, especially in preparation for the Solemnity of the Assumption. As the Vigil of the Assumption was traditionally a fast day in the Western Church, it seems a most appropriate day for this devotion.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    Antiphonale Romanum II

    There's a much better post on Antiphonale Romanum II over at the New Liturgical Movement website. I recommend taking a look at it, if interested in singing Vespers in chant.

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    Chants for Vespers Now Published by Solesmes

    For those wanting to chant Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours, the chants for Sundays and Major Feasts has finally been published. It is published under the title Antiphonale Romanum II, as it is the first in a series providing music for the Roman Office. Solesmes has released the edition. The following is a google translation of the page from their website (apologies for not providing my own, as I am not very proficient in French):

    Vespers Sing Sunday in Gregorian chant, and according to the present liturgy is finally possible, nearly thirty years after the publication of Liturgy Horarum.

    The Antiphonale Romanum II is a book of 800 pages of paper bible, the usual format of books of Gregorian chant at Solesmes. The volume is adorned with a beautiful cover skai marble, an elegant dark red, reinforced backs, and two favorites, touge and gold.

    The book contains all the elements necessary to singing of Vespers for Sundays and festivals of the year. That is to say, hymns, antiphons, psalms and hymns, readings, short-responses, prayers of intercession and the concluding prayers. At the end of the book, a chapter explains in detail the rules of song from each of these genres.

    The book follows the provisions of the Liturgy of the Hours, by using the wealth of content Gregorian chant in medieval manuscripts and the later tradition. The proposed melodies are edited in accordance with the requirements of the critical current musicology.

    These melodies are presented in their pastoral edition is tailored to the needs of amateur choirs: all the verses of hymns are noted, and pointed to the letterpress each verse adaptation of the psalm tones.

    In accordance with the wishes of Vatican II (Sacrosanctum Concilium n. 100) is by editing the volume of Vespers for Sundays and festivals that began publication of Antiphonale Romanum.

    I greet this with great enthusiasm, and hope everybody else does, as well.

    Sunday, January 3, 2010

    Feast of the Epiphany: Home Blessings and Prayer for Migrants

    The Solemnity of the Epiphany is one of the more ancient Christian Feasts. Sometimes, the celebration of the Nativity was celebrated on Jan. 6 in ancient days (especially in the East). However, the Roman practice eventually prevailed everywhere of celebrating that day on Dec. 25. The Epiphany was the date for commemorating the 1) the visit of the Magi, 2) the Jesus' baptism in the Joran, and 3) the miracle at Cana, transforming water to wine.

    While in the East the day tends to focus on Jesus' baptism in the Jordan, in the West the focus has primarily been on the visit of the Magi. For this reason, the tradition of blessing homes and praying for migrants has developed.

    Also, this day reveals Jesus as the way of salvation for the Gentiles. As the Magi were guided by a star from afar to adore the Savior, so Christ is the light for the path of all Gentiles. This concept of "revealing" is also connected with the liturgical Proclamation of Easter, which occurs today. Every parish should seek to have this chanted (or at least recited) on this day. The text for this proclamation may be found at the USCCB website. Here is the pdf file of the chant.

    As mentioned, it is traditional to bless the home on the Epiphany. The Directory of Popular Piety says the following about this tradition:

    the blessing of homes, on whose lentils are inscribed the Cross of salvation, together with the indication of the year and the initials of the three wise men (C+M+B), which can also be interpreted to mean Christus mansionem benedicat, written in blessed chalk; this custom, often accompanied by processions of children accompanied by their parents, expresses the blessing of Christ through the intercession of the three wise men and is an occasion for gathering offerings for charitable and missionary purposes.

    Here is a traditional example of the Blessing of the Home for Epiphany. It appears that, if a priest is not present, the father of the family may lead the family in the prayer of blessing (the holy water and chalk must be previously blessed by a priest, however).

    BLESSING OF HOMES on Epiphany

    As the priest comes into the home he says:

    P: God's peace be in this home.

    All: And in all who live here.

    P. Ant.: Magi from the East came to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasure chests they presented Him with precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial. Alleluia.

    Canticle of the Magnificat

    Luke 1.46-55

    P: "My soul * extols the Lord;

    All: And my spirit leaps for joy in God my Savior.

    P: How graciously He looked upon His lowly maid! * Oh, see, from this hour onward age after age will call me blessed!

    All: How sublime is what He has done for me, * the Mighty One, whose name is 'Holy'!

    P: From age to age He visits those * who worship Him in reverence.

    All: His arm achieves the mastery: * He routs the haughty and proud of heart.

    P: He puts down princes from their thrones, * and exalts the lowly;

    All: He fills the hungry with blessings, * and sends away the rich with empty hands.

    P: He has taken by the hand His servant Israel, * and mercifully kept His faith,

    All: As He had promised our fathers * with Abraham and his posterity forever and evermore."

    P: Glory be to the Father.

    All: As it was in the beginning.

    Meanwhile the home is sprinkled with holy water and incensed. At the end of the Magnificat the antiphon is repeated. Then the priest says Our Father (the rest inaudibly until:)

    P: And lead us not into temptation.

    All: But deliver us from evil.

    P: Many shall come from Saba.

    All: Bearing gold and incense.

    P: Lord, heed my prayer.

    All: And let my cry be heard by you.

    P: The Lord be with you.

    All: And with your spirit.

    Let us pray.

    God, who on this day revealed your only-begotten Son to all nations by the guidance of a star, grant that we who now know you by faith may finally behold you in your heavenly majesty; through Christ our Lord.

    All: Amen.

    Responsory: Be enlightened and shine forth, O Jerusalem, for your light is come; and upon you is risen the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary.

    P: Nations shall walk in your light, and kings in the splendor of- your birth.

    All: And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.

    Let us pray.

    Lord God almighty, bless + this home, and under its shelter let there be health, chastity, self-conquest, humility, goodness, mildness, obedience to your commandments, and thanksgiving to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. May your blessing remain always in this home and on those who live here; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.

    This prayer has been taken from the following website.

    The form from the more recent Book of Blessings is here, and can be done. I added to this the directions for chalking the door in brackets. While there is no indication for using the chalk and holy water for the newer rite, it would be in greater continuity with our tradition. If you do not have blessed chalk or holy water, however, you can still say the prayer of blessing for your home.

    All make the sign of the cross as the minister says:

    Blessed be the name of the Lord.

    All reply:

    Now and for ever.

    One of those present or the minister reads a text of sacred Scripture, for example:


    Listen to the words of the holy gospel according to Luke:

    Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come in this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.


    Lord God of heaven and earth,
    you revealed your only-begotten Son to every nation
    by the guidance of a star.

    Bless this house
    and all who inhabit it.
    Fill them with the light of Christ,
    that their concern for others may reflect your love.

    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
    R/. Amen.

    [After the prayer of blessing, the leader may sprinkle holy water in the rooms of the house. Then the people may take chalk, previously blessed by a priest, and inscribe on the lintels of the main door to the home a) the first two digits for the year; b) + C + M + B +; c) the last two digits of the year. E.g., for the year 2010, it would read 20 + C + M + B + 10. One might go to a priest some days beforehand and ask him to bless the chalk.]

    I hope this may help you celebrate this day.

    Additionally, today is an excellent day for remembering Migrants and Itinerants. Here is a prayer from the book Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers:

    Dear Jesus you came into this world as a migrant We welcome you, Jesus
    There was no room for your family at the inn We welcome you, Jesus
    Along with the angels in heaven We welcome you, Jesus
    Along with the shepherds who wandered the hills We welcome you, Jesus
    Along with the Magi who traveled from the East We welcome you, Jesus
    Your family became refugees fleeing from Herod We welcome you, Jesus
    In Egypt you were an alien We welcome you, Jesus
    In your public life you did not have a place to rest We welcome you, Jesus

    Dear Jesus, we see you today We welcome you, Jesus
    In refugees fleeing war and violence We welcome you, Jesus
    In immigrants seeking a better life We welcome you, Jesus
    In migrant workers who enrich our land with their labor We welcome you, Jesus In seafarers and other people on the move We welcome you, Jesus

    Let us pray. Dear Jesus, you are the refuge of people on the move. We ask you to grant immigrants, refugees, and other migrants peace, protection, and comfort. Help us to recognize that whenever we welcome the stranger in your name, we welcome you. Teach us to recognize your presence in every human being. Bring us together as one family, at the banquet table of your love, with you who live and reign with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.
    R/. Amen.

    Also, as we commemorate the Magi giving gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Lord, today would be an excellent day for giving gifts that are particularly religious, in the event that you already gave gifts on Christmas. Finally, if you didn't move your figures of the Magi into the Nativity scene last night, DO IT NOW (unless you are celebrating the Epiphany on Wednesday, of course)! I hope you enjoy a beautiful Solemnity of the Epiphany.

    Saturday, January 2, 2010

    Month of January: The Holy Name of Jesus

    The Month of January is held in honor of the Holy Name of Jesus. Already yesterday, during the Gospel, we heard that, after he was circumcised, Jesus was given his name. In the old calendar, the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus was then celebrated on the Sunday between Jan. 1 and the Feast of the Epiphany (or on Jan. 2, if there was no intervening Sunday).

    Under the rubrics of the new calendar, the Feast of the Holy Name was initially suppressed, and then restored as an optional memorial on Jan. 3 (Jan. 2 now celebrating Sts. Basil and Gregory Nazianzen, who are commemorated on Jan. 1 in the East). In the intervening time, however, much devotion to the Holy Name has certainly dried up.

    Today would be an excellent time to remember to bow our heads when speaking his name (e.g., at the two points when we say his name in the Gloria). Further, we should recall that Our Salvation does have a name: that he is a person who was given by God the Father to us. Having just concluded Christmas, we have been reminded that God has been born for us as a little Child, and indeed now loves us with a human Heart. It reminds us to love him in return, and we know the name to call him.

    Of the six approved Litanies, one is the Litany of the Holy Name. It would be good if we were to pray this name throughout this month. This prayer, carrying a partial indulgence, might be the best way to commemorate the Holy Name month, reminding us never to take it in vain. I hope that we can renew devotion to the Holy Name this year.