Overcast and grey but there's always the promise...

Of future sunlight, somewhere if not here, although one of the weather mages is gambling on a sunny afternoon with temperatures in the mid-50s. It is Thursday in the 3rd Week of Lent (Introibo; the Mass is Salus populi ego sum)-- in spite of the housemate's attempt at confusing me by taking out the trash bin and the recycling bin last evening: the WMEs come on Fridays and we take the bins out the afternoon or evening before, Thursdays. Today. And the recycling isn't being picked up this week, either (every second week it happens), but since I myself have regularly to check the calendar he gets a pass there. The fact that none of the other six customers of this particular trash collection business on Morningside Drive had their bins out would have given me pause, I imagine. 

This morning's more serious confusion arose because after praying Matins and Lauds of today, of Thursday, of the Lenten feria, the collect turns out to be more suitably that of the martyrs Saints Cosmas and Damian, whose feast is on September 27th. 

Magníficet te, Dómine, sanctórum tuórum Cosmæ et Damiáni beáta solémnitas: qua et illis glóriam sempitérnam, et opem nobis ineffábili providéntia contulísti. Per Dóminum nostrum.

The collect of the feast.

Præsta, quǽsumus, omnípotens Deus : ut, qui sanctórum Mártyrum tuórum Cosmæ et Damiáni natalítia cólimus, a cunctis malis imminéntibus, eórum intercessiónibus, liberémur. Per Dóminum nostrum.

The first book my eyes lit on was the second volume of Blessed Ildefonso's Liber sacramentorum and he didn't fail to enlighten me-- or at least to provide an explanation. I put some sentences in bold typeface. (But the last paragraph is in bold because I heartily approve the Benedictine Cardinal's sermon therein.)

Today the place of meeting is at the Basilica of St Mark [the collecta], which, richly ornamented with gold and precious marbles, rises near the famous balnea pallacina, where, according to Cicero, the murder of Sextus Roscius took place. For us Catholics the church is far more important, because under its venerable altar rest the bodies of the martyrs Abdon, Sennen, and Hermes, transferred thither by Gregory IV (827-44). The stational basilica [that of Saints Cosmas and Damian] we have already noticed as the place of the collecta on the second Monday in Lent. The Greeks were in the habit of celebrating a day of festival in honour of the Holy Cross in the middle of Lent, making a break, as it were, in the long period of fasting. In Rome this solemnity is deferred to the Sunday following [Laetare Sunday, we say], but Gregory II instituted this station at the Church of SS Cosmas and Damian, in order not altogether to deprive the faithful of that innocent satisfaction in the very middle of Lent. The two martyrs are known as 'Anargyri', moneyless-- that is, they belonged to that class of pious Byzantine doctors who despised money and gave their healing services gratis. Moreover, considering the rigour of the Lenten fast in those days, it is easy to understand that many persons must have needed to have recourse to these heavenly physicians. 

The Mass has been adapted to the occasion; it refers chiefly to the anniversary of their martyrdom, and the frequent mention of health, sickness, and healing recalls the great popularity of the veneration paid to the Holy Anargyri in those early days. The Introit is scriptural in spirit, but does not seem to be derived from any particular text; it belongs to a cycle of non-psalmodic introits proper to the last Sundays after Pentecost, and was adapted by Gregory II to the feast of the martyrs Cosmas and Damian. 'I am the salvation of the people, saith the Lord: from whatsoever tribulation they shall cry to me, I will hear them; and I will be their Lord for ever'. 

The Collect refers to the natalis of the two saints: 'May the blessed solemnity of thy saints Cosmas and Damian magnify thee, O Lord; by which thou hast both granted eternal glory to them, and help to us by thy ineffable Providence'. 

The Lesson from Jeremias (VII 1-7) follows, in which are described the conditions of purity of heart which God demands of the faithful if they wish to experience the efficacy of his presence in the Ark of the Covenant. It is vain to boast of the glory of his sanctuary, and to suppose that a mere outward symbol of religion is the best that we can give to the Lord. He wills that we should pay him exterior worship, and in the Book of Leviticus he has deigned to dictate its ritual; but above all he loves the religion of the spirit. The Gradual (Psalm CXLIV) is taken from the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, and later was adapted also to the Mass of Corpus Christi: 'The eyes of all hope in thee, O Lord; and thou givest them meat in due season. Thou openest thy hand and fillest every living creature with blessing.' The Gospel from Saint Luke (IV 38-44) describes the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law and other miracles worked by Jesus on the sick and on those possessed by devils at Capharnaum. Whilst the Doctors of the Law make a show of not recognizing the Messias and of not understanding his mission, the needy and the suffering press round him and beg him to help them and not to depart from them. How blessed is our necessity, which evokes in us humility and lowliness of spirit, the two virtues that above all others move the heart of Jesus to pity. This touching scene of Capharnaum was repeated at Rome in the 5th century at the shrine of the Anargyri

The Offertory (Psalm CXXXVII) is that of the 19th Sunday after Pentecost. The faithful no longer fear tribulations and calamities, for God has made known to them his protection through the intercession of his martyrs. He will deliver them from peril, and, stretching forth his hand, will bring them to safety. The following beautiful Secret commemorates the natalis of the martyrs: 'In the precious death of thy just ones, O Lord, we offer to thee that sacrifice from which martyrdom received its whole beginning'. 

The Communion is from Psalm CXVIII: 'Thou hast commanded thy commandments to be kept exceedingly: O that my ways may be directed to keep thy justifications.' In the Post-Communion we again find the same certainty that the sacrifice will obtain for us a sure salvation, which we implore to-day through the merits of the martyrs Cosmas and Damian. The Oratio super populum begs God that whilst his heavenly mercy increases the number of the faithful, it may also sanctify their minds that they all may obediently follow the divine commandments. 

Why is it that the ancient sanctuaries of the martyrs, the very tombs of the Apostles themselves, are no longer the scenes of such miracles and graces as those of the early days of Christianity? The Lord treats us as he treated the people of Israel. On account of our sins, and especially on account of disbelief, he is silent as the Saviour was silent in the house of Herod. Therefore the sanctuaries once dear to Christian hearts fall into ruins, and are even profaned, just as befell the sanctuaries of Shiloh and of Sion: the cause and the result in both cases are the same.


Since the Introit is only indirectly from the Sacred Scriptures, am I to guess that it is more likely to have survived the liturgical workshops of the 60s and remain in Missale and Graduale (e.g. sung by the nuns at Jouques) or less likely to have survived? I'll go with 'less likely'... and I'm wrong, happily enough. The nuns at Jouques do sing Salus populi ego sum and this means it's in the 1974 Graduale Romanum

Now I must go read what Dom Prosper had to say about today's Liturgy.

Post Nonam. Gregory DiPippo will post at New Liturgical Movement soon; "Guéranger's idea about the Byzantine influence on this particular station, which is followed by Schuster, doesn't really makes any sense". Hmm.

Post Vesperas. The essay is here. I don't immediately see anything to quarrel with and so I won't; while I love reading Dom Prosper and Blessed Ildefonso, it is true that their imaginations sometimes created scenarios and rationales not entirely authentically historical.

... This Mass is unique in that three of its prayers, the Collect, Secret and Post-Communion (but not the prayer “over the people” at the end), were originally composed for the feast of the Saints to whom the station church is dedicated; in the Old Gelasian Sacramentary, the oldest sacramentary of the Roman Rite, they are assigned to the feast of Ss Cosmas and Damian on September 27th. It is not at all evident why the compilers of the Gregorian Sacramentary decided to move them from the feast to the station without altering their wording, so that the Collect speaks of the “blessed solemnity of Cosmas and Damian”, and the Secret of the sacrifice offered “in the precious death of Thy just ones.” (On the feast itself, these prayers are replaced with the ones found in the Missal of St Pius V.) The only other prayer of a stational Mass that refers to a Saint in this way is the Collect of Sexagesima Sunday, which mentions St Paul, at whose tomb the station is held. However, this prayer was composed specifically for the Mass of Sexagesima, and does not refer to the day as a feast, nor is there any mention of St Paul in the other prayers....

It is also the feast of Saint Eulogius (9th century), of Saint Rosina (5h century), and of Blessed Thomas (17th century).

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