Dominica in Albis, Dominica in Octava Paschae...

Yesterday was the final day, well, yesterday through None was the final day for the antique, very simple form of the Office-- three Psalms and lessons at Matins, no hymns, no antiphons. Today we have returned to the usual 18 Psalms and 9 lessons at Matins, all the ordinary 'fixtures' of a Sunday (although the antiphon of a four-fold Alleluia is used quite a lot, I think, during the day), the Eastertide hymns of Aurora lucit rutilat and Ad coenam Agni providi. Alas, we are done with the beautiful sequence Victimae paschali laudes until next Easter Vigil. Holy Mass today is Quasi modo geniti infantes, alleluia (Introibo)-- so today is also called 'Quasimodo Sunday' in some places. And in others, 'Low Sunday', presumably by comparison with the glories of Easter Sunday.

The nuns at the Abbey of Our Lady at Jouques sing the Introit here. 

It is interesting to note that the Gradual is replaced by a second Alleluia with its verse from today-- I dragged myself out of bed at 0145 this morning to follow the live-stream from Saint-Eugène.

Alleluia, alleluia. V/. In die resurrectiónis meæ, dicit Dóminus, præcédam vos * in Galilæam. 

Alleluia. V/. Post dies octo, jánuis clausis, stetit Jesus in médio discipulórum suórum, et dixit: * Pax vobis. Alleluia.

Am trying to follow Canon Guelfucci's homily, ahem. A statement from Mons Aupetit is being read by someone who appears to be a layman but in France, who knows. His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah has sent a letter of support that Fr Guelfucci is reading after the Archbishop's statement. He ended by putting on his mask, ha, with what I imagine was a knowing wink to the congregation. I believe there are 'scruteurs' from the Archevêché for the time being, tsk. 'Fuck you' would be my private response in the face of such episcopal and fraternal 'support' but of course Fr Guelfucci is much wiser and more prudent than I am. 

M. Janva at Le Salon Beige posted the text of his Eminence's letter, here. (The photograph was taken, presumably, when the Cardinal visited Saint-Eugène in 2015.)

Cher monsieur le curé,

'I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of his flock will be scattered' (Mt 26, 31), said Jesus in the night of Holy Thursday citing the Prophet Zacharias: 'Strike the shepherd so that the sheep may be scattered' (13,7). This phrase of the Holy Scripture came spontaneously to mind when I took notice of the numerous articles and reports relating to this year's Paschal Vigil at the church of Saint-Eugène-Sainte Cécile in Paris.

I would like to express to you, as well as to M. l'abbé Gabriel Grodziski, my support and my compassion in this trial that has touched you as pastor, therefore a pastor of souls, and ask you with all good will to transmit to the parishioners of the church Saint-Eugène-Sainte-Cécile the assurance of my fervent prayers, in particular at the altar of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

I remember with joy and thanksgiving my visit in March 2015 which allowed me to appreciate the parish's welcome, the fervor of which touched me. 

I bless you all de tout coeur and confide you to Our Lady Consolatrice and to Saint Joseph, the Protector of the universal Church to whom this year is consecrated. 

Wishing you good courage and confidence in God in every trial in the Light of Easter that we celebrate now in joy, I ask you to accept my most cordial sentiments in the Risen Christ, with the assurance of my prayers for your priestly ministry at Saint-Eugène-Sainte-Cécile. 

Robert Card. Sarah

The servers have appeared for the Communion of the people, hmm [well, one of them anyway is M. l'Abbé de Labarre, masked]. An antiphon, from 'the ancient rite of the Gauls' sung before the proper Communion.

Veníte, pópuli: ad sacrum et immortále mystérium et libámen agéndum: cum timóre et fide accedámus, mánibus mundis: pœniténtiæ munus communicémus: quóniam Agnus Dei propter nos Patri sacrifícium propósitus est. Ipsum solum adorémus: ipsum glorificémus cum Angelis clamántes: Alleluja.

M. Sebastian Robles performed the Sarabande et gigue of François Campion at the Communion; I hope he remains a regular adjunct to the Schola Sainte-Cécile. Vespers seems to be happening as usual; surely it will not be sung by Messieurs Guelfucci, Grodziski, and de Labarre only. I have a sudden access of doubt about the particle [his surname is indeed de Labarre].

William Kilpatrick's essay at Catholic World Report about the media reactions to the murders on the 23rd of last month in Boulder (I knew nothing about this terrible incident since I don't much 'follow the news') is worth reading. 

Orthodox Islam has no doctrine of racial supremacy, but it does have a well-developed doctrine of religious supremacy. Moreover, sharia law books explicitly state that the lives of Muslims are more valuable than the lives of Jews, Christians, and pagans. It will be interesting to see how the case of Ahmad Al Issa turns out. But don’t expect his case to be resolved for a long time, and don’t expect the media to keep you informed of its progress. If the media remains true to form, it will drop the Boulder story within a very short time. If too much attention is paid to Al Issa and his faith, people may begin to wonder if there is not, after all, a connection between Islam and violent jihad.

It must be judged that, at Vespers, everyone is sufficiently 'distanced'-- with the chanters and schola who are ordinarily in the sanctuary in the choir loft (although I suppose it's possible that they're scattered about in the nave)-- because none of the servers are masked. There was only the one server, at the departure, anyway; the other two 'servers' were in fact MM. Grodziski and de Labarre in surplices. I was keeping my eye on the chatting and really cannot see particulars very well unless I've maximized the viewing window eliminating sight of the chat. 

Saint Guthlac of Crowland is the protagonist of the story that Dr Eleanor Parker (A Clerk of Oxford and Patreon) tells in her weekly email; a nobleman become hermit, with the assistance of Saint Bartholomew he is able to conquer the demons and make a very Eden in his little corner of the wilderland. 

... Guthlac has a reciprocal relationship with his bird companions: they bless him with their voices and he feeds them as they cluster around his hands, glad of his help. They're a happier replacement for those winged demons, and their appearance is a sign of renewed life and peace - nature healing. Charmingly, the birds are called hungrige and grædum gifre, 'hungry' and 'eagerly greedy', which you might imagine evokes them swooping and squabbling for food from the hermit's hand. The same words are used of the bird-like soul in The Seafarer, when in spring it soars out of the sailor's breast and roams across the waves.

As the saint helps the birds, so God and St Bartholomew protect him--  Bartholomew is described here as a heorde, which means 'guardian, protector', but is also the same as the second element in 'shepherd', so it's almost as if Guthlac himself is an animal in Bartholomew's protective keeping. Altogether there's a lovely sense that the natural world is responding to Guthlac, giving back to him, and he's tending to it now that his demons have left him free to do so. The most beautiful line here is perhaps genom him to wildeorum wynne, siþþan he þas woruld forhogde,  'he took his joy in wild creatures, after he rejected the world'. Having left behind the pleasures of human society, Guthlac finds new joys in his solitude.


 Am less uncomfortable than usual in citing so much of Dr Parker's text because she does admit that she is 'recycling' Saint Guthlac and his "lovely bit of springtime poetry" and, after all, my pages here are not The Lamp or The New Criterion

Dom Prosper's instruction for today, Low Sunday, Sunday in albis, is lengthy but remains pertinent in our own age, or is even more so now that when it was written.

We will select, for our today’s instruction, the important lesson given by Jesus to His disciple, and through him to us all. It is the leading instruction of the Sunday, the Octave of the Pasch, and it behooves us not to pass it by, for, more than any other, it tells us the leading characteristic of a Christian, shows us the cause of our being so listless in God’s service, and points out to us the remedy for our spiritual ailments. 

Jesus says to Thomas: ‘Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed'. Such is the great truth, spoken by the lips of the God-Man: it is a most important counsel, given, not only to Thomas, but to all who would serve God and secure their salvation. What is it that Jesus asks of His disciple?  Has He not heard him make profession that now, at last, he firmly believes?  After all, was there any great fault in Thomas’s insisting on having experimental evidence before believing in so extraordinary miracle as the Resurrection? Was he obliged to trust to the testimony of Peter and the others, under penalty of offending his divine Master? Did he not evince his prudence, by withholding his assent until he had additional proofs of the truth of what his brethren told him? Yes, Thomas was a circumspect and prudent man, and one that was slow to believe what he had heard; he was worthy to be taken as model by those Christians, who reason and sit in judgement upon matters of faith. And yet, listen to the reproach made to him by Jesus. It is merciful, and withal so severe! Jesus has so far condescended to the weakness of His disciple, as to accept the condition, on which alone he declares that he will believe: now that the disciple stands trembling before his risen Lord, and exclaims, in the earnestness of faith, 'My Lord! and my God', oh! see how Jesus chides him! This stubbornness, this incredulity, deserves punishment: the punishment is, to have these words said to him: 'Thomas, thou hast believed, because thou hast seen’.  

Then, was Thomas obliged to believe before having seen? Yes, undoubtedly. Not only Thomas, but all the Apostles were in duty bound to believe the Resurrection of Jesus, even before He showed Himself to them. Had they not lived three years with Him? Had they not seen Him prove Himself to be the Messias and the Son of God by the most undeniable miracles? Had he not foretold them that He would rise again on the third day? As to the humiliations and cruelties of His Passion, had He not told them, a short time previous to it, that He was to be seized by the Jews in Jerusalem, and be delivered to the Gentiles? That He was to be scourged, spit upon, and put to death? After all this, they ought to have believed in His triumphant Resurrection, the very first moment they heard of His Body having disappeared. 

As soon as John had entered the sepulchre, and seen the winding sheet, he at once ceased to doubt; he believed. But it is seldom that man is so honest as this; he hesitates, and God must make still further advances, if He would have us give our faith! Jesus condescended even to this: He made further advances. He showed Himself to Magdalene and her companions, who were not incredulous, but only carried away by natural feeling, though the feeling was one of love for their Master. When the Apostles heard their account of what had happened, they treated them as women whose imagination had got the better of their judgement. 

Jesus had to come in person: He showed Himself to these obstinate men, whose pride made them forget all that He had said and done, sufficient indeed to make them believe in His Resurrection. Yes, it was pride, for faith has no other obstacle than this. If man were humble, he would have faith enough to move mountains. To return to our Apostle. Thomas had heard Magdalene, and he despised her testimony; he had heard Peter, and he objected to his authority; he had heard the rest of his fellow-Apostles and the two disciples of Emmaus, and no, he would not give up his own opinion. How many there are among us, who are like him in this! We never think of doubting what is told us by truthful and disinterested witnesses, unless the subject touch upon the supernatural; and then, we have a hundred difficulties. It is one of the sad consequences left in us by original sin. Like Thomas, we would see the thing ourselves: and. that alone is enough to keep us from the fulness of the truth. 

We comfort ourselves with the reflection that, after all, we are disciples of Christ; as did Thomas, who kept in union with his brother-Apostles, only he shared not their happiness. He saw their happiness, but he considered it to be weakness of mind, and was glad that he was free from it! How like this is to our modern rationalistic Catholic! He believes, but it is because his reason almost forces him to believe; he believes with his mind, rather than from his heart. His faith is scientific deduction, and not generous longing after God and supernatural truth. Hence, how cold and powerless is this faith! how cramped and ashamed how afraid of believing too much! Unlike the generous unstinted faith of the saints, it is satisfied with fragments of truth, with what the Scripture terms diminished truths. It seems ashamed of itself. It speaks in whispers, lest it should be criticized, and when it does venture to make itself heard, it adopts phraseology, which may take off the sound of the divine. As to those miracles which it wishes had never taken place, and which it would have advised God not to work, they are a forbidden subject. The very mention of a miracle, particularly if it have happened in our own times, puts it into state of nervousness. The lives of the Saints, their heroic virtues, their sublime sacrifices, it has repugnance to the whole thing. It talks gravely about those who are not of the true religion being unjustly dealt with by the Church in Catholic countries; it asserts that the same liberty ought to be granted to error as to truth; it has very serious doubts whether the world has been made the loser by the secularization of society. 

Now, it was for the instruction of persons of this class, that Our Lord spoke those words to Thomas: 'Blessed are they who have not seen, and have believed'. Thomas sinned in not having the readiness of mind to believe. Like him, we also are in danger of sinning, unless our faith have certain expansiveness, which makes us see everything with the eye of faith, and gives our faith that progress which God recompenses with superabundance of light and joy. Yes, having once become members of the Church, it is our duty to look upon all things from a supernatural point of view. There is no danger of going too far, for we have the teachings of an infallible authority to guide us. ‘The just man liveth by faith.’ Faith is his daily bread. His mere natural life becomes transformed for good and all, if only he be faithful to his Baptism. Could we suppose, that the Church, after all her instructions to her neophytes, and after all those sacred rites of their Baptism which are so expressive of the supernatural life, would be satisfied to see them straight way adopt that dangerous system, which drives faith into a nook of the heart and understanding and conduct, leaving all the rest to natural principles or instinct? It could not be so. 

Let us, therefore, imitate St. Thomas in his confession, and acknowledge that, hitherto, our faith has not been perfect. Let us go to our Jesus, and say to Him: Thou art my Lord and my God! But, alas! I have many times thought and acted as though Thou wert my Lord and my God in some things, and not in others. Henceforth, I will believe without seeing; for I would be of the number of those, whom Thou callest blessed.

Blessed Ildefonso's essay wisely explains the proper of the Mass.

The Antiphon for the Introit which precedes Psalm 80 is taken from the 1st Epistle of St Peter (2,2), where he calls upon the neophytes to taste the delights which the Lord has freely prepared for them at the commencement of their Christian life. 'As new-born babes, alleluia, desire ye the rational milk without guile, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia'. Psalm 80: 'Rejoice to God our helper: sing aloud to the God of Jacob'. When the Lord comforts us with his consolations, let us accept them, as did Job, de manu Domini. If to us he gives milk and sweets, as to children, let us not despise them as though the more solid food of adults were more suitable to us. God knows best what we need, and it is a great secret of the spiritual life always to remain before God in the same dispositions of sincerity, humility, and confidence as when we were still in our spiritual infancy. 

In the Collect we pray thus: 'Grant, we beseech thee, almighty God, that we who have celebrated the Easter rites may, through thy bounty, ever cleave to them in our life and conversation'. To 'bring our actions into harmony with the Easter rites' means to live a life of resurrection and innocence. The Lesson (1 John 5, 4-10) is especially directed against the gnosis which denied the divinity of our Lord, holding that the divine nature had united itself to his human nature at the moment of his baptism in the Jordan, and that it had left him on Calvary. St John is insistent in his teaching that the Word was hypostatically united to the human nature and not alone at his baptism; non in aqua solum, sed in aqua et sanguine; that is, from the instant of his virginal conception in the most chaste womb of Mary. He who preserves this Catholic faith retains within himself the testimony of God, whilst God alone can infuse into the human heart this ray of his own unapproachable light. The alleluiatic verse in place of the Gradual comes from the Gospel of St Matthew (28,7): 'Alleluia, alleluia. On the day of my resurrection, saith the Lord, I will go before you into Galilee. Alleluia'. This solemn and general manifestation was promised by our Lord, not so much for the sake of the eleven Apostles to whom he appeared several times at Jerusalem as for the sake of the multitude of his disciples and believers, to whom he did indeed show himself, as St Paul tells us, when they were assembled together to the number of over five hundred. The verse from St John (20,26) is, as it were, a prelude to the Gospel that follows: 'After eight days, the doors being shut, Jesus stood in the midst of his disciples, and said: Peace be with you, Alleluia.' 

The Gospel (John 20,19-31) tells us of two separate manifestations of Jesus to the Apostles: the first on the evening of Easter Day, when he instituted the sacrament of Confession, the other eight days later, when he showed his wounds to Thomas. The fact that the power of remitting sins was given to the Apostles on the day of the resurrection itself is very significant. That was a day of triumph and rejoicing: it was fitting, therefore, that on such a day the divine compassion should institute that Sacrament which takes away sorrow and mourning in this world and calls sinners to a new life of sanctity. In memory of that fact Catholic tradition still imposes on the faithful the duty of receiving absolution from a priest before receiving their Easter Communion. In Italy, the act of performing one’s Easter duties is described in the language of the people, which is always so expressive and reflects their hereditary Catholic teaching, as 'making one’s Easter'; so close is the connection which exists between the resurrection of Christ and the sacrament of penance. In ancient times the reconciliation of public penitents took place on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. 

Jesus appeared the second time in the supper-room to confute the unbelief of Thomas, who refused to believe unless he both saw and felt the place of the wounds; and God allowed this weakness in order that the remedy which cured it might serve as a preventive against the incredulity of all future generations. There is no room for doubt concerning the resurrection of our Lord; he was seen and also touched before being believed in by those who were far from being disposed to admit its truth. The Offertory is the same as that of Easter Monday. The Greek Church celebrates a special feast on the 2nd Sunday after Easter in honour of the holy women-- the 'ointment-bringers', that is, the women who carried sweet spices to the sepulchre. The Latin Liturgy intermingles their praises in all the Offices of Easter Week. 

In the Secret we beg almighty God to receive the gifts which the Church makes to him rejoicing, that this paschal joy may be a token of that eternal happiness which we hope for in heaven. A holy Christian joy, such is the characteristic of our faith; a joy which proceeds from the ineffable treasures, both moral and dogmatic, contained in the Gospel, from the holy Sacraments, from sanctifying grace, from the training received from our Mother the Church. Those who are outside her Communion cannot realize the fountain of inward spiritual joy which fills the soul more and more as it becomes more completely penetrated by the spirit of the Catholic Church. More joy, still more joy-- this should be our watchword in a holy crusade against that morbid sentimentality which threatens to find its way into the devotion of the faithful. More joy-- and in order to possess it, we must return to its true fountain-head, Catholic piety. 

In the Communion (John 20,27) we repeat the words of our Lord to Thomas. By partaking of the sacrament we also touch by means of faith the wounds in Christ’s hands and side, and confess his resurrection, inasmuch as we believe that the flesh with which we are spiritually nourished is not the lifeless body of the Crucified, but the glorious body of a God immolated indeed for us, but now risen and alive once more. The Post-Communion is of a general character: 'We beseech thee, O Lord our God, that thou wouldst make the most holy mysteries which thou hast granted to make our renewal sure, a healing remedy for us both now and always'. St Thomas Aquinas expresses the same thought in his Antiphon O sacrum convivium. By means of the holy Eucharist our Lord makes us partakers of the whole mysterium fidei, both of his passion and of his resurrection. At the altar we receive the flesh of the victim that was slain, and thus are sown in our souls the seeds of death, of a spiritual death, that is to say, to our corrupt nature, to sin and to the spirit of the world. At the same time Jesus who remains under the eucharistic veil is Jesus truly risen, glorious and triumphant, who unites us to himself in order to give us a share in his joy, his victory, and his risen life. The Blessed Sacrament produces in us this double effect, accomplishing that which St Paul said to his first converts (Col. 3,3): 'You are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God'. 

It is also the feast of Saint Gemma (20th century), of Saint Stanislaus (11th century), and of Saint Philip (2nd century).

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