And, good heavens, there was a great downpour at some point in the night or early morning-- I missed it altogether. But there wasn't a drop of water in the air while I was out; 0500ish. It is Wednesday in the 3rd Week of Lent; Holy Mass will be streamed from Saint-Eugène at the usual hour (a missa cantata, perhaps, it being Wednesday?)-- it is Ego autem in Domino sperabo (Introibo) with (in the 'Extraordinary Form' of 1960/1962) a commemoration of the Forty Martyrs. The Gradual and Tract are the same as on Ash Wednesday: Miserere mei, Domine, and Domine, non secundum peccata nostra.
Am listening to Sir James MacMillan's Visitatio Sepulchri, from back in the 90s ('texts from a 14th century Easter Day liturgical drama and the Te Deum, in Latin'). Let us see if it or one of its three scenes is on YouTube. Eh; the entire album is-- Sun-Dogs occupies about the first 22 or 23 minutes.
Now I must fuss with a chore or two.
We already know the Church of St Balbina on the Aventine [where is the collecta]; that of St Sixtus [the statio] is at no great distance on the Via Appia, and before the body of the martyr Pope Sixtus II (260-6) was carried thither from the cemetery of St Callixtus, it was known as the titulus of Tyridis after the name of its foundress. A convent of virgins was attached to it which was afterwards given by Honorius III (1216-27) to St Dominic. In ancient times the scrutiny of the catechumens who wished to be admitted to holy baptism on Easter Eve began today; the Mass, therefore, has a distinctly catechetical character, especially in the lessons. The Introit is taken from Psalm XXX. The soul exsults in the Lord because her hope in him has not been in vain. The Collect prays that by uniting our corporal fast with the interior purification of the spirit, which keeps us free from all sin, we may more readily hope to obtain pardon. It is well always to bear in mind the penitential character which Lent assumed in those days for such as were preparing to receive baptism. They were, as a rule, adults or convertiti, and therefore Lent was for them more especially the time for doing penance, for bewailing their sins, and for preparing themselves for the life-giving ablution in remissionem peccatorum.
The Lesson, from Exodus XX 12-24, with the solemn announcement of the Decalogue, is intended especially for the catechumens. The New Testament presupposes the Old Testament, of which it is the continuation, and the Gospel law of love is but the confirmation and final perfection given by the Word made flesh to the Mosaic law. Christian teaching therefore begins with the Decalogue and ends with the sermon preached by our Lord at the Last Supper. It is necessary to note that the original order of the lessons on the days of the baptismal scrutinies has been somewhat altered; the Roman documents of the 8th century prescribe for to-day’s lesson the passage from Ezechiel XXXVI-- Effundam super vos aquam-- which in our present Missal is read on the following Wednesday, when the second scrutiny took place. The Gospel for today, instead of being from Matthew XV, as in the Missal of Pius V, was the passage Confiteor tibi Pater, from Matthew XI, which is now that of the feast of St Matthias. Probably these alternative extracts used at the scrutinies had no fixed place, but varied, as did the scrutinies themselves, which from being only three in the 7th century became seven.
The Gradual is from Psalm VI: 'Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; heal me, O Lord. All my bones are troubled: and my soul is troubled exceedingly'. St Paul describes this state as the stipendium peccati, the wages of sin-- viz., affliction and death. The Gospel (Matthew XV 1-20) recalls the previous lesson from Exodus. Our Lord answers the futile questions of the Pharisees concerning the observance of the traditions of the Sanhedrim, by accusing them of having perverted the Decalogue, and instances the case of those sons who, acting on the traditions of the Talmud, which were intended to benefit the ministers of the Temple, allowed their parents to die of starvation. The sanctity of the Pharisees was wholly exterior, and consisted in the rigid performance of certain rites, whereas Jesus Christ insisted on the spiritual quality of our worship; not that outward rites are to be neglected, for it is necessary that our entire being, both body and soul, should adore and serve God according to its proper nature; but it is evident that the soul must take the chief part as being called to worship the Father in spiritu et veritate. The body should merely be its instrument and servant. The Offertory comes from Psalm CVIII: 'Lord, be merciful to me for thy name’s sake, because thy mercy is sweet.' This is the ultimate and decisive motive of the love which God bears to man. It is not our merits, nor is it our worth which impels him to love us, but he loves gratuitously: he loves because he is Love, and by loving us he creates in us those virtues which correspond to his love; he makes us good-- imagini bonitatis suae conformis.
In the Secret we beseech God to accept our sacrifice and our prayers, that His grace may defend us from all dangers. These last words may be noted in connection with the history of Sixtus II and his six deacons who were surprised in the neighbouring cemetery of St Callixtus whilst they were celebrating the eucharistic synaxis, and were decapitated on the sacred altar, thus uniting their own sacrifice to that of Christ.
The ways of life of which the antiphon for the Communion (Psalm XV) speaks are those of the cross, of the sepulchre, and of the descent into Limbo, by which Christ passed to the glory of the resurrection. God tries a soul in the crucible of suffering before revealing Himself in His heavenly splendour. The Post-Communion asks that the heavenly banquet may sanctify the faithful, obtain the pardon of their sins, and dispose them to merit that which God has promised. In the Oratio super populum the priest-- as though still moved by the cruel death of Sixtus II and his deacons who were martyred not far from there-- again implores the protection of God, that being freed from danger we may with an untroubled mind devote ourselves to his holy service. Respect and deference to parental authority, which is the first of all natural authorities, are the essential conditions and the basis of all social order. The child-- and in many ways humanity is still a child-- before he can understand must believe in the authority of those who teach him and guide him. Without this obedience all education and progress is impossible.
If modern society is now beginning to realize all the horror of the state of anarchy into which it has fallen, it must seek the first cause of this evil in the fact that the foundations of social order have been demolished, and that the law of egoism and the worship of the State have taken the place of the Decalogue.
Francis X. Maier noted the forthcoming book of Mons Charles Chaput OFM, Things Worth Dying For, at The Catholic Thing last week.
... Americans have always been a practical people. Sensible persons in flyover country (i.e. those darkling colonies outside Carthage on the Potomac and the DC/Boston corridor) will be tempted to shrug this nuttiness [M. is referring to the fools who imagine they can invent their own version of reality] off as a kind of self-hypnosis, certain to run its course and collapse. That’s a mistake. If the last century taught any lesson, it’s that poisonous ideas can have astonishing durability and a bitterly high cost in suffering. They also spread and mutate unless they’re stopped. And stopping them requires people of courage and honesty....
Courage, honesty, honor.
Today one begins a novena to Saint Joseph, if one is so inclined, before his feast on the 19th. The Salutations of Saint John Eudes, so called because in French each short prayer begins je vous salue: the Ave addressed by the Archangel to Our Lady is put into French this way.
It is also the feast of Saint Marie-Eugénie (19th century), of Saint Macarius (4th century), and of Saint John (17th century).
V. Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum. R. Deo grátias.