October 25: SS Chrysanthus and Daria, Martyrs, Memorial

According to the Wikipedia:

"Saints Chrysanthus and Daria (3rd century - c. 283) are saints of the Early Christian period. According to legend, Chrysanthus was the only son of an Egyptian patrician, named Polemius or Poleon, who lived during the reign of Numerian. His father moved from Alexandria to Rome. Chrysanthus was educated in the finest manner of the era. Disenchanted with the excess in the Roman world, he began reading the Acts of the Apostles.

He was then baptized and educated in Christian thinking by a priest named Carpophorus. His father was unhappy with Chrysanthus's conversion, and attempted to inculcate secular ways into his son by tempting him with prostitutes, but Chrysanthus retained his virginity.

He objected when his father arranged a marriage to Daria, a Roman Vestal Virgin. Chrysanthus converted his new bride and convinced her to live with him in a chaste state. Since Vestal Virgins take a vow of chastity during their 30-year term of service Daria's agreement to live in a chaste marriage would not be surprising.

They went on to convert a number of Romans. When this illegal act was made known to Claudius, the tribune, Chrysanthus was arrested and tortured. Chrysanthus's faith and fortitude under torture were so impressive to Claudius that he and his wife, Hilaria, two sons named Maurus and Jason, and seventy of his soldiers became Christians. For this betrayal, the emperor had Claudius drowned, his sons beheaded and his wife went to the gallows. Daria was sent to live as a prostitute, but her chastity was defended by a lioness. She was brought before Numerian and ordered to be executed by stoning and then burial alive in a deep pit beside her husband. They were entombed in a sand pit near the Via Salaria Nova, the catacombs in Rome."

Tuesday of St Benedict - Matins in the Office of St Benedict

St Benedict, Servandus and the death of Bishop Germanus (Dialogues ch 35)

I noted a few weeks ago that on 'unimpeded Tuesdays' and Office of St Benedict used to be said, and described First Vespers of that Office. Today I want to look at the Matins of this Office.

It would be lovely to see this custom revived, not least because one can't help but think its abolition contributed to the loss of any sense of St Benedict as a real person and founder of the Order in so many monasteries in the twentieth century. At Matins, for example, the readings included a series of extracts from the Life of St Benedict by St Gregory the Great.

At the very least, we can say some of its prayers, or say it devotionally - and if you do, can I urge you to offer it for the new Benedictine foundation being established in Australia?

Matins of St Benedict on Tuesdays

 The invitatory antiphon (for Psalm 94) is Regem confessorum Dominum Venite Exsultemus Iie from the Common of Confessors).

The hymn is Quidquid antiqui, which you can listen to below.  The text can be found in the Liber Hymnarius for the feast of St Benedict on 21 March.

The psalms and antiphons are of Saturday, and there are three readings with responsories.

The three responsories are:

1. R.  Sanctus Benedictus plus appetiit mala mundi perpeti quam laudes atque pro deo laboribus fatigari *quam vitae hujus favoribus extolli.
V. Divina namque praeventus gratia, magis ac magis ad superna animo suspirabat
*quam vitae hujus favoribus extolli.
(Nb: the chant can be found in the Processionale monasticum)

2. R. O laudanda sancti Benedicti merita gloriosa qui dum pro Christo patriam mundique sprevit pompam adeptus omnium contubernium beatorum *et particeps factus praemiorum aeternorum
V. Inter choros Confessorum splendidum possided locum et ipsum fontem omnium intuetur bonorum.

(Chant in the Liber Responsorialis for the transit of St Benedict)

3. R:Sanctissime confessor Christi Benedicte, monachorum pater et dux * intercede pro nostra omniumque salute.
V. Devote plebi subveni santa intercessione, ut tuis adjuta precibus regna consequatur.
 Intercede pro nostra omniumque salute.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto
Intercede pro nostra omniumque salute.

(Chant in the Liber Responsorialis for the transit of St Benedict)

The readings for the Office were different for each month, and I've put the appropriate ones for October up in full over at my Lectio Divina blog, but they basically consist of 2 Corinthians 12:1-6 (reading 1) and then chapter 35 of St Gregory's Dialogues Bk II, divided into two readings.

The collect is:

Excita Domine, in Ecclesia tua Spiritum, cui beatus Pater noster Benedictus Abbas servivit; ut eodem nos repleti studeamus amare quod docuit.  Per Dominum...in unitate ejusdem Spiritus.

Raise up, O Lord, in thy Church, the Spirit wherewith our holy Father Benedict was animated: that, filled with the same,  we may strive to love what he loved, and to practise what he taught.  Through Christ...

Ordo for the twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday 23 October  – Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost, Class II

Matins: Sunday 4 of October

Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Aeterne Reum Conditor; canticle antiphon MD 482*

Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 482*

Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 482*

Monday 24 October - Class IV [EF/***in some places, St Raphael]

All as in the psalter; collect, MD 482*

For St Raphael, MD 51** ff

Tuesday 25 October  – Class IV; SS Chrysanthus and Daria, memorial

All as in the psalter; collect, MD 482*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [327]

Wednesday 26 October - Class IV [EF: Commemoration of St Evaristus]

All as in the psalter; collect, MD 482*

Thursday 27 October - Class IV

All as in the psalter; collect, MD 482*

Friday 28 October - SS Simon and Jude, Class II

All from the Common of Apostles except for the collect, MD [327]

Saturday 29 October - Saturday of Our Lady

Matins to None: At Matins, reading of Saturday 4&5; Lauds to None, MD (129) ff

I Vespers of Christ the King, MD [318] ff

Our Lady of Cana update

Image result for jesus turns water into wine

Just to let you know the website for the new monastery being established in Australia is now live, so do go take a look, and keep those donations rolling in!

You might also want to consider using the contact page to let them know you have made a donation, so that they can acknowledge it, as this note from Fr Pius Mary suggests suggests:
 Over the past few days since I made public the upcoming establishment of monastic life in Tasmania, several persons have already generously sent donations directly to our bank account. 
I have sent out a letter of thanks to all whose names appear on the bank receipts and whom I know, but some contain no name and others a name I am not familiar with. Until can determine the identity of each donor and effectively thank them personally, I would like to here send out a message of thanks to all those who help us financially. 
Every little bit counts, and will make it possible for us to commence our monastic life in the near future. Along with all the aspirants and close collaborators of the community, I thank you and assure you of a special place in our daily Masses and prayers. May Our Lady of Cana and Saint Joseph bless you and yours abundantly.

October 21: St Hilarion

Dominique Papety - Temptation of Saint Hilarion.jpg
The Temptation of Saint Hilarion, by Dominique-Louis-Féréa Papety, 1843–44
Saint Hilarion (291 - 371) was an anchorite.  According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

"Hilarion was the son of pagan parents... As a boy Hilarion's parents sent him to Alexandria to be educated in its schools. Here he became a Christian, and at the age of fifteen, attracted by the renown of the anchorite, St. Anthony, he retired to the desert.

After two months of personal intercourse with the great "Father of Anchorites", Hilarion resolved to devote himself to the ascetic life of a hermit. He returned home, divided his fortune among the poor, and then withdrew to a little hut in the desert of Majuma, near Gaza, where he led a life similar to that of St. Anthony. His clothing consisted of a hair shirt, an upper garment of skins, and a short shepherd's cloak; he fasted rigorously, not partaking of his frugal meal until after sunset, and supported himself by weaving baskets. The greater part of his time was devoted to religious exercises.

Miraculous cures and exorcisms of demons which he performed spread his fame in the surrounding country, so that in 329 numerous disciples assembled round him. Many heathens were converted, and people came to seek his help and counsel in such great numbers that he could hardly find time to perform his religious duties.

This induced him to bid farewell to his disciples and to return to Egypt about the year 360. Here he visited the places where St. Anthony had lived and the spot where he had died. On the journey thither, he met Dracontius and Philor, two bishops banished by the Emperor Constantius. Hilarion then went to dwell at Bruchium, near Alexandria, but hearing that Julian the Apostate had ordered his arrest, he retired to an oasis in the Libyan desert. Later on he journeyed to Sicily and for a long time lived as a hermit near the promontory of Pachinum. His disciple, Hesychius, who had long sought him, discovered him here and soon Hilarion saw himself again surrounded by disciples desirous of following his holy example.

Leaving Sicily, he went to Epidaurus in Dalmatia, where, on the occasion of a great earthquake (366), he rendered valuable assistance to the inhabitants. Finally he went to Cyprus and there, in a lonely cave in the interior of the island [site pictured above], he spent his last years. It was during his sojourn in Cyprus that he became acquainted with St. Epiphanius, Archbishop of Salamis. Before his death, which took place at the age of eighty, Hilarion bequeathed his only possession, his poor and scanty clothing, to his faithful disciple, Hesychius. His body was buried near the town of Paphos, but Hesychius secretly took it away and carried it to Majuma where the saint had lived so long. Hilarion was greatly honored as the founder of anchoritic life in Palestine."

Brush up your rubrics: When are the hours properly said?

I had a query recently about the extent to which it is permissible to join together hours, with a reference to Cardinal Richelieu's infamous practice of saying the entire Office at midnight each night.

Accordingly, this week I thought I might provide a refresher on just what the rubrics are on this subject, and some of the issues around them.

The rules around saying the hours at the proper time

The rules for saying the Benedictine Office using the Diurnal are governed both by overarching Church law, and the rubrics of the 1963 breviary.

In particular, Universae Ecclesiae sets out that breviaries are to be used as they were, so technically the relevant provision of the current Code of Canon law, 1175 arguably doesn't apply:
In carrying out the liturgy of the hours, the true time for each hour is to be observed insofar as possible.
In reality, however, the 1963 rubrics for the Benedictine Office say virtually the same thing, saying that the canonical hours are intended for the sanctification of the hours of the natural day and accordingly should be said as near to their proper time as possible (General Rubrics of the Breviary, Bk II, 137).  There is no provision, as far as I can see, for joining of hours (ie saying more than one under the same set of concluding prayers) other than Matins and Lauds, though this was done in earlier versions of the Office.

There are good reasons for this, as most of the hours have specific associations with the time of day that are mentioned in the hymns, psalms and prayers set for each hour.  Terce, for example, is associated with Pentecost, that took place 'at the third hour', and this connection is alluded to in the hymn.

So what are the proper times?: The rubrics

The general principles for when the hours should be said are set out in the Benedictine Rule in various chapters (both in the liturgical section of the Rule, and in the discussion of the arrangement of the day) and make it clear that St Benedict was fairly flexible (within certain limits) about when most of the hours are said.  As a result, may monasteries do things like say Sext and None one after the other, or join Terce to Mass.

The two absolutes, if you read the Rule, would seem to be that Matins needs to be said in the dark of the night (with an instruction to rise at the eighth hour of the night), and to start Lauds at first light.

Experience has shown, however, that while St Benedict's timetable for the Night Office, of rising at the 'eighth hour of the night' (around 3am depending on the time of sunset), might arguably have worked well in Monte Cassino, at other latitudes with much greater variations in the number of daylight or night hours, adjustments may need to be made.  There are several ways this can be done, including saying Matins the day before (which is permitted in the 1963 rubrics 'for a just cause', but not before 2pm ("Matutinum, ex iusta causa, horis post meridianis diei praecedentis anticipare licet, non tamen ante horam quartamdecimam"); saying Matins at midnight and then going back to bed until Lauds (done by at least one contemporary Benedictine women's monastery); or cutting down or out the gap between Matins and Lauds.

The 1963 rubrics also specify that Lauds should be said first thing in the morning when said in common or in choir (ie cannot be anticipated), but can be said 'when convenient' if said by oneself.

They also allow Vespers in Lent and Passiontide to be said any time after midday (in consideration of the fasting rules set out in the Rule) when said in common or in choir (or a time convenient if said alone).

The final provision is that Compline is always said as the last hour of the day (but in this case the Pater Noster etc in the opening section is omitted, and examen done privately) in, even if Matins is anticipated.


For those with a formal obligation to say the Office, however, there has to be some more flexibility, and the rubrics do provide that it is sufficient to say all of the hours within a twenty-four hour period.

In this light I recently came across some timely advice for hermits on what to do if you sleep in for Matins (I think from St Basil, but I can't currently lay my hands on the reference): viz close the windows and doors (to simulate darkness outside) and get on and say it, however late it may be!

For laypeople though, if you sleep through Matins or Lauds, or can't say the proper hour at more or less the correct time (plus or minus a few hours), I would suggest that the appropriate solution is to just skip the hour: you have no obligation to say any or all of the hours. If you really want to say the psalms, just say them, it doesn't have to be part of the Office.

Best practice?

Either way, we should not, in my opinion, just be ruled by law, but should also consider why we are praying the 'liturgy of the hours' (and the name is not just a modern invention!).

Though St Benedict doesn't set out an explicit rationale for each of the hours, he probably thought he didn't need to: he could assume that his readers were familiar with the expositions of the subject provided by SS Cyprian, Basil, Cassian  and many others of the Fathers.

I've tried to summarise the key associations/rationales often cited in the table below by way of an aid.

Time of day to be said

Matins (not in Diurnal)

Darkness, very early morning

Ps 118: at midnight…;

Anna prayed in the temple day and night (Lk 2:37);

Paul and Silas prayed at midnight;

Watching for the second coming

First light
Psalm 118: Seven times a day

Hour when lamps trimmed, incense offered, morning sacrifice in tabernacle and temple;

Rising of the sun/Son - celebrates the Resurrection.

First hour after sunrise -  before starting work
First hour when workmen recruited for the vineyard (Mt 20:1-6).

Consecrate first thoughts and work of day to Christ the first and last.

 Literally the third hour after sunrise - mid-morning
In honour of the Trinity;

Labourers in the vineyard recruited;

Hour of Pentecost

The sixth hour after sunrise,  
Midday - lunchtime
In honour of the Trinity;

labourers in the vineyard recruited;

Visitors to Abraham (Genesis 18);

Hour Peter prayed, vision of the gentiles (Acts 10);

Time of the crucifixion

The ninth hour after sunrise - mid-afternoon
In honour of the Trinity;

Labourers in the vineyard recruited;

Peter and John prayed at the temple (Acts 3);

Cornelius prayed at this hour (Acts 10);

Death of Jesus on the cross.

 As the sun is setting - early evening
Labourers in the vineyard recruited (11th hour);

Lighting of the lamps and evening sacrifice in tabernacle and temple;

At setting of sun, ask the true Sun/Son to come again.

Before bed
Prayer before sleep, asking for a resurrection from the little sleep that mimics the sleep of death;

Hour Christ prayed with his disciples in the Garden;

Fulfils four night hours of Nehemiah 9:3 (with Vespers, Matins and Lauds)

St Peter of Alcantara (EF); SS John de Brebeuf and Isaac Jogues, St Paul of the Cross (OF), Oct 19

Today's saints in the Ordinary Form include two North American martyrs.  St Jean de Brebeuf was a Jesuit martyred in 1649, while St Isaac Jogues was martyred in New York State in 1646.

Also in the OF today St Paul of the Cross:

"At Rome, the birthday of St. Paul of the Cross, confessor, founder of the Congregation of the Cross and Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, whom Pius IX canonized on account of his remarkable innocence of life and his penitential spirit, assigning the 28th of April as the day of his festival."

And in the EF:

"At Arenas, in Spain, St. Peter of Alcantara, confessor, of the Order of Friars Minor who was canonized by Clement IX on account of his admirable penance and many miracles."