A beautiful day but it was cold...

When I went out to do my errands earlier. I had to stop the rosary on the beads because my first fingers had become too distracting. The bank, the library returns box, the supermarket, the UPS store. At the last I had the train ticket for the Holy Week-in-Portland adventure printed, since I don't have a printing machina at home; the fellow quite kindly, generously did the job gratis, refusing my however many cents. It was not-- as has been suggested-- the senior discount which is after all a discount not a general policy enjoining employees to print out email attachments free of charge. 

No, I am not wearing the green (unless one is vision-challenged and perceives the yellow of my compression stockings as green; since I'm wearing the usual overalls it would greatly mystify me to be told that someone had seen today's stockings, however) and am only commemorating the feast of Saint Patrick. It is otherwise of course the Wednesday in the 4th Week of Lent; the Mass is Dum sanctificatus. Holy Mass is indeed streamed from Saint-Eugène at 1100. 

There are two lessons before the Gospel in today's Mass, the first from the Prophet Ezekiel and the second from the Prophet Isaias. I'm sure Dom Prosper and Blessed Ildefonso will explain why this is. Glancing and skimming, Cardinal Schuster says the second lesson is from the Apostle's epistle to the Colossians and not Isaias at all (or I am misunderstanding the translation). Divinum Officium gives the first lesson from Ezekiel and then two Graduals and a Tract before the Gospel but not a second lesson. Dom Prosper agrees that there are three lessons altogether, from the two Prophets and from Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist. 

It is complicated because in the ancient past, today would be the day when the catechumens at Rome experienced the rite in aperitione aurium, of the opening of the senses in preparation for receiving the great Gift of Baptism at Easter. I think I'll leave out the Benedictine Cardinal's texts of the ancient rites; there is presumably a better edition extant today.

The Church of St Mennas [where is the collecta] was probably built in the 4th century by the Alexandrian colony in Rome. It stood on the left bank of the Tiber at the first milestone on the Via Ostiensis, nearly opposite, therefore, to the other Alexandrian sanctuary of the martyrs Cyrus and John, which was on the other bank of the river in the Via Portuensis. The devotion of his fellow-countrymen caused the Egyptian saint to become popular in Rome, so much so that his natalis on November 11 was still honoured in the 7th century by the celebration of the station at his sanctuary, where on one occasion St Gregory the Great himself delivered the sermon. Today’s station is held at St Paul’s because he is the prototype and model of catechumens, on account of his conversion on the way to Damascus, where he was blinded by the light from heaven. The ceremony is also known as in aperitione aurium, because the miracle which Christ worked upon the deaf man was renewed in a spiritual sense upon the candidates for baptism, to whom the Pontiff explained for the first time with solemn rites the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the beginning of the four Gospels. Thus the ears of the catechumens, deaf hitherto to the words of truth, were opened at length to hear the tidings of eternal life. The entire Mass is inspired by the thought of the sacrament of baptism. The Introit comes from Ezechiel (XXXVI 23-26), where God promises to his people that when he shall be sanctified in them he will gather them again from every land in which they have been scattered, and will pour upon them a cleansing water and fill them with a new spirit. This Collect follows: 'O God, who grantest the reward of their merits to the just, and pardon to sinners through their fasts; have mercy on thy suppliants, that the confession of our guilt may prepare us to receive the forgiveness of our sins'. In early times after this collect the deacon invited the catechumens to enter the basilica for the aperitio aurium. We will describe this ceremony according to the Ordines Romani....

As early as the 9th century there were read in Rome on this day, as on the most solemn occasions, the two lessons given in our present Missal. Originally, however, as they had already been read at the first scrutiny in the preceding week, the Ordines Romani prescribed for today’s station these other lessons in aurium aperitione....

The tremendous mysteries are about to begin, and, according to the rule of the arcanum, the excommunicated, the penitents and the catechumens are dismissed. The doorkeepers stand on guard at the entrances of the church, the subdeacon watches the vima and the deacon proclaims: 'Let the catechumens retire; he who is still a catechumen, let him retire; let all catechumens go forth'. The catechumens being gone, the holy Sacrifice begins. The parents and the future godparents were admitted that they might present the oblation in the name of their godchildren, whose names were afterwards read by the deacon from the diptychs. The Offertory is taken from Psalm LXV, and is a hymn of thanksgiving to God for having been called to the grace of baptism and to a holy Christian life: 'O ye Gentiles, bless the Lord our God, and make the voice of his praise to be heard; who hath set my soul unto life, and hath not suffered my feet to be moved: blessed be the Lord, who hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me'. 

The Secret is as follows: 'We humbly beseech thee, almighty God, that by these sacrifices our sins may be cleansed away; for thus thou bestowest upon us true health of mind and body'. The Communion is from St John’s narrative of the cure of the man born blind, which is read in today’s Gospel. The spittle with which our Lord made clay and gave sight to the eyes of the blind man is a symbol of the waters of baptism, which illuminate the soul of the neophyte. 'The Lord made clay of spittle, and anointed my eyes: and I went, and I washed, and I saw, and I believed in God'. After the Communion the deacon announced the day and the place of the next scrutiny. The Post-Communion is the following: 'May the sacraments we have received, O Lord our God, both fill us with spiritual food and defend us by bodily succour'. The Oratio super populum is invoked in these words: 'Let the ears of thy mercy, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy suppliants; and that thou mayest grant the desires of those who seek, make them to ask what is pleasing to thee'. 

One often speaks nowadays of a vocation to the priesthood or to the religious life, but too little is said of the call to the Christian life, which is bestowed on us through the grace of holy baptism. Yet the religious vocation itself does but develop and realize in us to the fullest extent the call to a Christian life, by means of the counsels of perfection. These are not two separate forms of Christianity, as some modem Protestants have supposed, for the Christianity of the Gospel and that of the monastic rule are but one and the same Christian profession, in which the baptismal promises are ratified and more perfectly carried out in the religious state. The monk or religious is therefore merely a perfect Christian, one who, having taken to heart the call to follow Christ which he received at his baptism, walks in his footsteps on the narrow road of the counsels of perfection. This does not mean, however, that the simple layman is not to live in a holy state, nor that he is dispensed from aiming at perfection in his own sphere of life. On the contrary, the more he is surrounded by the dangers and temptations of the world, the more must he jealously guard his Christian vocation by carrying out to the utmost of his power the promises he made in baptism. The sacrament of regeneration holds for each one of the faithful the place of the religious profession; the catechumenate is equivalent to the noviciate; the promises made at baptism represent the vows of the clergy; the white robe is the religious habit; while the Gospel is the rule of life which each one takes upon himself faithfully to observe. 

That is certainly one way of looking at the consequences of the Holy Sacrament. At Saint-Eugène, I don't know whether two lessons were read before the Gospel because, alas, I had become preoccupied elsewhere and forgot to push the button for Mass until 1110-- in time for the second Gradual (or, what ought to have been the second Gradual) Beata gens and the Tract following: so whether one or two lessons preceded it, whether it was the only Gradual, eh. I could write and ask but I think not. And, being that I arrived so late, it would of course be a Wednesday when a schola is present; the motet at the Offertory was lovely, and the final hymn which I didn't recognize-- it is not the Schola Sainte-Cécile, I think, but the choir of the Fraternity of Saint Peter, not that I can recall the proper name just now. I'm guessing that those folks sing at the several churches served by the FSSP. La Chorale Saint-Pierre, perhaps.

Post Vesperas. Certainly, it seems to me that Dom Prosper does a less fussy job of explaining about the catechumens and their preparations today for the Sacrament, the 'feria of the greater scrutiny' as he puts it, citing some unidentified source. I do intend to search for an English version online but never quite seem to get around to it, tsk.

I began yesterday to say the Hours of Our Lady's Office after the Roman, according to the Carthusian Rite. My memory confirms the authenticity of some of what I am seeing in this document-- one turns up such interesting discoveries online-- but more of it I am taking at the compiler's word. I have no recollection at all, e.g., of the hymn Memento salutis author but I have convinced myself that, yes, perhaps I do, very vaguely, yet... me being me I'd have thought that the author instead of auctor would have stuck in my mind, as the variations in the Salve Regina misericordiae did. Time will tell.   

It is also the feast of Saint Gertrude (7th century), of Saint Paul (8th century), and of the Blessed Manuel (20th century).

V. Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum. R. Deo grátias.