Returned twenty minutes ago from the morning...

Walk; it's about 40 degrees F. out there and as I left the house I felt a single drop of rain, a few more when I was beginning the first decade, but it was only as I was returning and wondering at the Coronation of Our Lady that it started to rain in earnest, although gently. 

Began the Office of Our Lady, de Beata, according to the form in the Carthusian books the day before yesterday but this morning was the first time I said Matins (or, I suppose more precisely, the first time in more than twenty years). Forty minutes, eh, but of course I was fussing a bit it being new to me, and it became evident that I can't kneel for that entire time. And I may have misremembered the start time, too. Let's say half an hour-- that is Matins and Lauds together. A half hour in the early mornings is going to be a challenge. It is Thursday in the 4th Week of Lent (Introibo), and from the 1910 Office onward the feast of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church. It will be remembered that I am using the 1570 Office instead so that I can follow the Lenten feriae, although I commemorated Saint Patrick at Lauds and Vespers yesterday and Saint Cyril today. Tomorrow, however, is the feast of Saint Joseph. Have to go out both first thing (the pharmacy  and the supermarket) and then again at 1145 for Holy Mass at Saint Mary's at 1215. Tsk. Holy Mass will be streamed from Saint-Eugène at what is now the usual hour, 1100. These video recordings are of the antiphona ad CommunionemDómine, memorábor iustítiæ tuæ solíus. 

Time for Prime, which is also quite lengthy because this is the Hour to which the Carthusian Office attaches the so-called missa sicca. But it can be added at Terce instead. Time will tell which works best here. Am wondering why the Salve sancta Parens isn't added to the canonical Office-- I have no recollection of this arrangement at all-- I suppose because the Hour of Our Lady always follows the canonical Hour. But perhaps this is the version of missa sicca for the Office de Beata? I certainly have no recollection of there being two forms of it, none. 

It is taking some adjusting, the Office de Beata. One kneels throughout, and remains covered (in my case, my theatre piece of a skullcap) except at the beginning and end of an Hour-- which means during the Gospel lessons. I don't recall what happens in choir for the Te Deum or the Gloria of the Mass; it occurs to me now that one uncovers when taking veniam, as happens once in the Te Deum at any rate. Since one is kneeling one doesn't bow at the Gloria Patri or bow one's head at the Divine Name-- so when I am standing, because I can't kneel for the time being, what ought I to do....  As with the Roman Office, of which I have very little direct experience, I'll settle on doing what works here; I reckon I could write a letter but one doesn't like to unnecessarily disturb whoever is prior or procurator these days in Vermont. 

In former lives, I owned books that I'd give-- what is the expression-- give my eye teeth to have back but the only book I truly regret having lost? misplaced? lent to someone who proceeded to lose it? is a small 18th or 19th century Carthusian diurnale-- it would have contained the Hours except Matins and perhaps Lauds-- that I was allowed to take with me when I left. Dominus dedit, Dominus abstulit.... Let us see what Cardinal Schuster has to say about today's Mass. I totally forgot and it is long after Vespers, tsk.

The Church of St Quiricus [wherein is the collecta] at the foot of the Quirinal was dedicated by Pope Vigilius probably to the holy deacons Stephen and Lawrence, but later, under Byzantine influence, its title was changed, and it took that of the Oriental martyrs Quiricus and Julitta, who are especially venerated in the oratory of Santa Maria Antiqua in the Forum Romanum. The stational basilica is the ancient Titulus Equitii, erected in the time of Pope St Silvester. Afterwards two oratories arose beside it, through the zeal of Pope Symmachus, the one dedicated to St Martin of Tours, and the other to Pope St Silvester, the first two confessors after the martyrs to whom liturgical cultus was paid. These soon attracted all the popular devotion, so that the ancient founder of the title being completely forgotten, the church became known simply as the Basilica of SS Silvester and Martin. Sergius I (687-701) undertook extensive restorations of the building, but his death occurring whilst the work was in progress, they were completed under Leo IV, who also annexed a monastery to the church so as to provide for the divine Office. The basilica is enriched by the bodies of many ancient martyrs brought thither in the 9th century from the extramural cemeteries. The Blessed Cardinal Tommasi (d. 1713) was titular priest of the church, and was by his desire buried there. 

As today’s station dates only from the time of Gregory II, the sung parts of the Mass are borrowed from those of other feasts. The Introit is that of the Friday in the September Ember week, and is taken from Psalm CIV: 'Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord: seek the Lord and be strengthened: seek his face evermore'. To seek the Lord means to make his glory the end of all our actions; to live and work in his presence, for him only and not for ourselves. In the Collect, which is the same as that after the first lesson of yesterday, we invoke for those who mortify their flesh by fasting, the joy of the Holy Ghost and of a fervent devotion. It is impossible to unite the consolations of the spirit and those of the senses, their desires are diametrically opposed to each other. When the senses are pleased, the spirit becomes as it were clouded by the physical satisfaction, whereas the more the soul imprints on the flesh the stigma of the cross, so much the more does it feel itself become free and pure, and its vision clear and penetrating. 

The two Lessons tell us of two miracles, one worked by Eliseus and the other by Our Lord, in raising the dead to life. Whilst the choice of these lessons may perhaps have been inspired by thoughts of the neighbouring cemetery of the Via Merulana, they contain also an interesting allusion to St Martin of Tours (316-400), who was greatly celebrated among the early Christians, because in fide Trinitatis trium mortuorum suscitator meruit esse magnificus. The miraculous restoration of the dead to life reminds us further that the sacred fast and Holy Communion give us a special right to the glorious resurrection of the body at the last day. The first lesson comes from the Fourth Book of Kings (IV 25-38), in which it is related how the child, who could not be brought back to life by the staff of Eliseus, was nevertheless raised up by the breath of the prophet. This should be a lesson to superiors, and indeed to all of us in our dealings with our neighbour, that the strongest methods are not always the most efficacious; for, as the holy Bishop of Geneva [Saint François de Sales] wittily said: 'More flies can be caught with a spoonful of honey than with a barrel of vinegar'. The Gradual, from Psalm LXXIII, is borrowed from the 13th Sunday after Pentecost: 'Have regard, O Lord, to thy covenant, and forget not to the end the souls of thy poor. Arise, O Lord, judge thy own cause: remember the reproaches of thy servants'. The covenant of Jehovah is the promise of the Messiah made to Abraham and to the Patriarchs, and, unlike the ancient joint pact made between God and Israel by the mouth of Moses, is purely voluntary and irrevocable. 

The Gospel narrative (Luke VII 11-16) of the raising to life of the widow’s son at Naim has also been borrowed from the 15th Sunday after Pentecost. The widowed mother is a type of the Church, who by her prayers and her tears obtains from God the conversion of sinners and their return to grace. The bearers of the bier represent our senses and our passions; these greatly disturb and confuse the soul, which, thinking itself to be alive, is really dead. The first grace which we receive from God is that which causes these evil powers to halt, and in the calm and quiet which ensue the soul begins to reflect on its own condition. How much then is the grace of God needed to drive away all those illusions that blind us to that which we really are. In this we are like the angel of the Apocalypse to whom God said : Nomen habes quod vivas, et mortuus es (Apoc. III 1). The Offertory is from Psalm LXIX, and was a special favourite with the Fathers of the desert, who used to recite this verse as an ejaculatory prayer many times during the day: 'O Lord, make haste to help me: let all those be confounded that desire evils to thy servants'. The tender heart of the Father cannot resist the voice of a son who calls for help, and God is ever at our side in whatever hour we call lovingly upon his name. The prayers and the sacrifice offered by the Church, the mystic bride of Christ, are always pleasing and efficacious in the sight of God. But when accompanied also by the devotion of the faithful, the Eucharistic Sacrifice becomes still more pleasing to God and of greater benefit to the faithful. This is the thought so gracefully expressed in today’s Secret. In other words, the Eucharist and the other sacraments derive their power indeed from divine institution, but the benefit we receive from them depends very much on our own disposition, just as a nourishing and delicious food may be less salutary and suitable in its effects on a weakly and disordered constitution. 

The Communion is taken from Psalm LXX: 'O Lord, I will be mindful of thy justice alone: thou hast taught me, O God, from my youth: and unto old age and grey hairs, O God, forsake me not'. As the years pass by, we learn by bitter experience that all in this world is vanity and affliction of spirit apart from God, and seeing everything that we cherish slip away from us-- youth, health, fame and fortune-- being moreover wearied and prematurely old, we turn at last to the Saviour and cling to him whom alone we never wish to lose. He is the one faithful friend, the same in prosperity and in adversity, as Holy Scripture says: Omni tempore diligit qui amicus est



In the Post-Communion we pray that our coldness and unworthiness in receiving the heavenly food may not cause the sacrament instituted for the remission of sins to turn to our judgement and condemnation. This prayer is inspired by the well-known words of St Paul in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, in which he says of those who receive the Holy Eucharist unworthily: judicium sibi manducant et bibunt. In the Oratio super populum the priest begs God to take away from his faithful children those sins which now weigh heavily upon them, so that in the future their conduct may always be pleasing to him and that they may be assured of the grace of his protection. This is the perfect order established by God-- first our sins must be taken away, then we must live in accordance with his commandments, for thus only may we rely on the divine favour. 

Let us consider again the beautiful story of the prophet Eliseus raising the child of the Sunamite woman to life. He lays himself gently upon him, his face against the dead child’s face, his hands upon his hands, his feet upon his feet and, adjusting himself so as to cover the little body, he thus brings it back to warmth and life. Here we have an example of the discretion needed by superiors in dealing with those under their care. Above all there is necessary a spirit of prudent toleration to weigh carefully that which they demand of others, and to judge the powers of those who receive their commands. We must not consider only that which ought to be done; it is equally essential to realize how much it is possible for ourselves, or for others, effectively to accomplish. 

Why was the feast of Saint Joseph imposed on the Friday of the 4th Week of Lent, suppressing the relation in Saint John's Gospel of the raising of Lazarus? Why? Because, idiota, the feast is fixed on the 19th, not on the feria sexta-- in other words, the feast eliminates the Gospel of Saint Lazarus once every... six or seven years, I believe it is. This is what happens when I attend to such matters toward the end of the afternoon, tsk. While I don't understand why the Roman liturgy mages would eliminate the series finale, as it were, once in seven years is much better than every year. I look forward to Blessed Ildefonso and Dom Prosper's words of wisdom tomorrow. Dr Foley at New Liturgical Movement noted this page at the site of the Oblates of Saint Joseph in his post today: evidently, the 19th has been the date of Saint Joseph's feast for centuries in the West, although there seems to be a certain possibility that it, the date, was in origin people mistaking a martyr Saint Joseph for the Spouse of the Mother of God. 

It is also the feast of Saint Alexander (3rd century), of Saint Anselm (11th century), and of the Blessed Illuminata (15th century).

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