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.

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    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.