Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Former Octave day of St Benedict

Lorenzo Monaco, The Death of Saint Benedict. 1409, London NG.jpg
Lorenzo Monaco
UK National Gallery

In the old Octave of St Benedict, the first Nocturn readings were as for the feast.  The third Nocturn readings were a sermon of St John Chrysostom on Romans.  The second Nocturn readings continued the reading of St Gregory's Dialogues book II, and were from chapters 35 and 37.

Reading 5: The man of God, Benedict, being diligent in watching, rose early before the time of matins (his monks being yet at rest) and came to the window of his chamber where he offered up Manuscript illustrationhis prayers to almighty God. Standing there, all of a sudden in the dead of the night, as he looked forth, he saw a light that banished away the darkness of the night and glittered with such brightness that the light which shone in the midst of darkness was far more clear than the light of the day.

During this vision a marvelously strange thing followed, for, as he himself afterward reported, the whole world, gathered together, as it were, under one beam of the sun, was presented before his eyes. While the venerable father stood attentively beholding the brightness of that glittering light, he saw the soul of Germanus, Bishop of Capua, in a fiery globe, carried up by Angels into heaven.

Reading 6: Then, desiring to have some witness of this notable miracle, he called Servandus the Deacon with a very loud voice two or three times by his name. Servandus, troubled at such an unusual crying out by the man of God, went up in all haste.  Looking out the window he saw nothing else but a little remnant of the light, but he wondered at so great a miracle.

The man of God told him all that he had seen in due order. In the the town of Cassino, he commanded the religious man, Theoprobus, to dispatch someone that night to the city of Capua, to learn what had become of Germanus their Bishop. This being done, the messenger learned that the reverent prelate had departed this life. Enquiring curiously the time, the messenger discovered that he died at the very instant in which the man of God beheld him ascending up to heaven.

Reading 7: In the year that was to be his last, the man of God foretold the day of his holy death to a number of his disciples. In mentioning it to some who were with him in the monastery, he bound them to strict secrecy. Some others, however, who were stationed elsewhere he only informed of the special sign they would receive at the time of his death.

Six days before he died, he gave orders for his tomb to be opened. Almost immediately he was seized with a violent fever that rapidly wasted his remaining energy. Each day his condition grew worse until finally, on the sixth day, he had his disciples carry him into the chapel where he received the Body and Blood of our Lord to gain strength for his approaching end. Then, supporting his weakend body on the arms of his brethren, he stood with his hands raised to heaven and, as he prayed, breathed his last.

Reading 8: That day two monks, one of them at the monastery, the other some distance away, received the very same revelation.  They both saw a magnificent road covered with rich carpeting and glittering with thousands of lights. From his monastery it stretched eastward in a straight line until it reached up into heaven. And there in the brightness stood a man of majestic appearance, who asked them, "Do you know who passed this way?"

"No," they replied.

"This, he told them, is the road taken by blessed Benedict, the Lord's beloved, when he went to heaven."

Thus, while the brethren who were with Benedict witnessed his death, those who were absent knew about it through the sign he had promised them. His body was laid to rest in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, which he had built to replace the altar of Apollo.

That cave in which he first dwelled [at Subiaco], even to this very time, works miracles, if the faith of those that pray there requires the same.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Seventh day in the former Octave of St Benedict


Ebersmunster Abbatiale236.JPG
Alsace, Bas-Rhin, Église abbatiale Saint-Maurice d'Ebersmunster
Photo credit: Ralph Hammann


The readings for the old Octave for March 27 were from chapter 21 and 32 of St Gregory's Life of St Benedict.

Reading 1: At another time, there was a great dearth in the same country of Campania: so that all kind of people tasted of the misery: and all the wheat of Benedict's monastery was spent, and likewise all the bread, so that there remained no more than five loaves for dinner. The venerable man, beholding the monks sad, both rebuked them modestly for their pusillanimity, and again comforted them with a promise. "Why," said he, "are you so grieved in your minds for lack of bread? Indeed, today there is some want, but tomorrow you shall have plenty."

And so it fell out, for the next day two hundred bushels of meal were found in sacks before his cell door, which almighty God sent them: but by whom, or what means, that is unknown to this very day: which miracle when the monks saw, they gave God thanks, and by this learned in want, not to make any doubt of plenty.

Reading 2: Being on a day gone out with his monks to work in the field, a country man carrying the corpse of his dead son came to the gate of the Abbey, lamenting the loss of his child: and inquiring for holy Benedict, they told him that he was abroad with his monks in the field. Down at the gate he laid the dead body, and with great sorrow of soul ran in haste to seek out the venerable father. At the same time, the man of God was returning homeward from work with his monks: whom so soon as he saw, he [the country man] began to cry out: "Give me my son, give me my son!"

The man of God, amazed at these words, stood still, and said: "What, have I taken away your son?" "No, no," said the sorrowful father, " but he is dead: come for Christ Jesus' sake and restore him to life."

The servant of God, hearing him speak in that manner, and seeing his monks on compassion to solicit the poor man's suit, with great sorrow of mind he said: "Away, my good brethren, away: such miracles are not for us to work, but for the blessed Apostles: why will you lay such a burden on me, as my weakness cannot bear?" But the poor man, whom excessive grief enforced, would not give over his petition, but swore that he would never depart, except he raisee up his son.

"Where is he, then?" said God's servant.

He answered that his body lay at the gate of the Abbey: to which place when the man of God came with his monks, he kneeled down and lay on the body of the little child, and rising, he held up his hands towards heaven, and said: "Behold not, O Lord, my sins, but the faith of this man, that desires to have his son raised to life, and restore that soul to the body, which you have taken away."

He had scarce spoken these words, and behold the soul returned again, and therewith the child's body began to tremble in such sort that all which were present beheld it in strange manner to pant and shake. Then he took it by the hand and gave it to his father, but alive and in health. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Readings for day six in the former Octave of St Benedict




As I've noted previously, prior to the 1911 breviary reforms the feast of St Benedict on March 21 had a privileged octave.  It was only a commemoration on March 25 due to the feast of the Annunciation, but the readings for March 26 were from Chapters 8&11 of St Gregory's Life of the saint.

The readings

Reading 1: The holy man, changing his place, not for all that changed his enemy. For afterward he endured so much the more grievous battles, by how much he had now the master of all wickedness fighting openly against him. For the town, which is called Cassino, stands on the side of a high mountain, which contains, as it were in the lap thereof, the foresaid town, and afterward so rises in height the space of three miles, that the top thereof seems to touch the very heavens.

In this place there was an ancient chapel in which the foolish and simple country people, according to the custom of the old gentiles, worshipped the god Apollo. Round about it likewise on all sides, there were woods for the service of the devils, in which even to that very time, the mad multitude of infidels offered most wicked sacrifice. The man of God coming there, beat the idol into pieces, overthrew the altar, set fire to the woods, and in the temple of Apollo, he built the oratory of St. Martin, and where the altar of the same Apollo was, he made an oratory of St. John.  By his continual preaching, he brought the people dwelling in those parts to embrace the faith of Christ.

The old enemy of mankind, not taking this in good spirit, presented himself to the eyes of that holy father, not privately or in a dream, but in open sight. With great outcries the devil complained that Benedict had offered him violence.

The noise which he made, the monks heard, but the enemy they could not see. The venerable father told them he appeared visibly to him most foul and cruel, and as though, with his fiery mouth and flaming eyes, he would have torn him in pieces.  What the devil said to him, all the monks heard; for first he would call him by his name, and because the man of God did not answer him, then would he fall reviling and railing at him.  When he cried out, calling him "Blessed Benedict," and yet found that he gave him no answer, immediately he would turn his tune, and say: "Cursed Benedict, and not blessed: what have you to do with me? and why do you thus persecute me?"

Wherefore new battles of the old enemy against the servant of God are to be looked for, against whom willingly he made war, but, against his will, he gave him occasion of many notable victories.

Reading 2: Again, as the monks were making of a certain wall somewhat higher, because that was requisite, the man of God in the meantime was in his cell at his prayers. To whom the old enemy appeared in an insulting manner, telling him, that he was now going to his monks, that were at work: whereof the man of God, in all haste, gave them warning, wishing them to look to themselves, because the devil was at that time coming among them. The message was scarce delivered, when as the wicked spirit overthrew the new wall which they were a building, and with the fall slew a little young child, a monk, who was the son of a certain courtier.

At which pitiful chance all were passing sorry and exceedingly grieved, not so much for the loss of the wall, as for the death of their brother: and in all haste they sent this heavy news to the venerable man Benedict; who commanded them to bring to him the young boy, mangled and maimed as he was, which they did, but yet they could not carry him any otherwise than in a sack: for the stones of the wall had not only broken his limbs, but also his very bones.

Being in that manner brought to the man of God, he bid them to lay him in his cell, and in that place on which he used to pray; and then, putting them all forth, he shut the door, and fell more instantly to his prayers than he used at other times. And O strange miracle! for the very same hour he made him sound, and as lively as ever he was before; and sent him again to his former work, that he also might help the monks to make an end of that wall, of whose death the old serpent thought he should have insulted over Benedict, and greatly triumphed.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ordo for the fourth week of Lent (March 26-1 April)

For those saying Matins, you can find notes on where to find the texts and chants, as well as a translation of the readings and responsories here (note that where I publish more detailed notes on Matins on the Benedictine Matins blog, I will try and so so a week in advance so you have time to find and practice the chants).

If you are new to the Office, check out the more detailed notes on the Benedictine Office on this page.



Sunday 26 March – Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday), Class I

Matins: Invitatory (Non sit vobis), hymn (Ex more), readings and responsories of the Sunday

Lauds: Antiphons etc, MD 223* ff with psalm scheme 1 (Ps 50, 117, 62)

Prime to None: Antiphons (and chapter verses etc), MD 226-7*

Vespers: Psalms and antiphons of Sunday; chapter, hymn as per I Vespers; versicle and Magnificat antiphon MD 227*

Monday 27 March - Monday in the fourth week of Lent, Class III; St John Damascene, Memorial

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 227-8*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [106-7]

Tuesday 28 March –- Tuesday in the fourth week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 228-9*

Wednesday 29 March –- Wednesday in the fourth week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 229-30*

Thursday 30 March –- Thursday in the fourth week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 230*

Friday 31 March - Friday in the fourth week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 230-1*

 Saturday 1 April - Saturday in the fourth week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to None: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 231-2*

Vespers: I Vespers of First Passion Sunday, MD 232*ff

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Feast of the Annunciation

c. 1420, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona
Those looking for the texts and chants of Matins for the feast of the Annunciation can find sources for them, along with the texts of the readings and responsories, at the Benedictine Matins blog.

In the meantime, enjoy one of the responsories for the feast sung by the monks of Norcia.



Readings for the fourth day in the Octave of St Benedict



The readings for March 24 in the former Octave of St Benedict come from chapter 6 of Book II of St Gregory's Dialogues:

Reading 1: At another time, a certain Goth, poor of spirit, that gave over the world, was received by the man of God; whom on a day he commanded to take a bill, and to cleanse a certain plot of ground from briers, for the making of a garden, which ground was by the side of a lake. The Goth as he was there laboring, by chance the head of the bill slipped off, and fell into the water, which was so deep, that there was no hope ever to get it again.

Reading 2: The poor Goth, in great fear, ran to Maurus and told him what he had lost, confessing his own fault and negligence: Maurus forthwith went to the servant of God, giving him to understand thereof, who came immediately to the lake: and took the handle out of the Goth's hand, and put it into the water, and the iron head by and by ascended from the bottom and entered again into the handle of the bill, which he delivered to the Goth, saying: "Behold here is thy bill again, work on, and be sad no more."

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Readings for the Third day in the Octave of St Benedict


Sacro Speco, Subiaco  — The cave in which Saint Benedict lived
Subiaco, the holy cave



Continuing my little series posting the readings from what was once the Octave of St Benedict, here are the readings, taken from chapters 1&3 of Book II of St Gregory's Dialogues, for the third day of the Octave at Matins.

Reading 1: But Benedict, desiring rather the miseries of the world than the praises of men: rather to be wearied with labor for God's sake, than to be exalted with transitory commendation: fled privately from his nurse, and went into a desert place called Subiaco, distant almost forty miles from Rome: in which there was a fountain springing forth cool and clear water; the abundance whereof does first in a broad place make a lake, and afterward running forward, comes to be a river. As he was travelling to this place, a certain monk called Romanus met him, and demanded whither he went, and understanding his purpose, he both kept it close, furnished him what he might, vested him with the habit of holy conversation, and as he could, ministered and served him.

The man of God, Benedict, coming to this foresaid place, lived there in a narrow cave, where he continued three years unknown to all men, except to Romanus.  He lived not far off, under the rule of Abbot Theodacus, and very virtuously stole certain hours, and likewise sometime a loaf given for his own provision, which he carried to Benedict.

And because from Romanus' cell to that cave there was not any way, by reason of a high rock which hung over it, Romanus, from the top thereof, on a long rope, let down the loaf, on which also with a band he tied a little bell, that by the ringing of it the man of God might know when he came with his bread, and so be ready to take it. But the old enemy of mankind, envious of the charity of the one and the refection of the other, seeing a loaf on a certain day let down, threw a stone and broke the bell. Yet, for all that, Romanus did not cease to serve Benedict by all the possible means he could.

Reading 2: As God's servant daily increased in virtue and became continually more famous for miracles, many were led by him to the service of almighty God in the same place. By Christ's assistance he built there twelve Abbeys; over which he appointed governors, and in each of them placed twelve monks. A few he kept with himself; namely, those he thought would gain more profit and be better instructed by his own presence.

At that time also many noble and religious men of Rome came to him, and committed their children to be brought up under him for the service of God. Evitius delivered Maurus to him, and Tertullius, the Senator, brought Placidus. These were their sons of great hope and promise: of the two, Maurus, growing to great virtue, began to be his master's helper; but Placidus, as yet, was but a boy of tender years.

Once was...The Octave of St Benedict

Church of St Peter , Affile


I was flicking through an old breviary this morning to look something else up, and stumbled across something I'm sure I knew, but had forgotten, namely that long ago (ie before the 1911 calendar reforms), the feast of the transitus of our Holy Father St Benedict actually came with a first class  Octave.

As I'd dearly love to see more octaves revived one day, I thought I would briefly describe the rubrics for it, as set out in my 1892 breviary, and provide the readings (from the Dialogues).

The rubrics for the Octave of St Benedict (during Lent)

At Matins the invitatory verse and hymn were as for the feast (Regem confessorum Dominum and Quidquid antiqui).  I won't set them out in full (acquire one of the older breviary reprints!), but the first Nocturn had one antiphon and versicle for each day, said with the psalms of the day of the week; the second Nocturn similarly had an antiphon for each of the five days.  There were two readings of the feast, with the third from the ferial Lent day.

At Lauds and the other hours, all was said as on the feast, but with a commemoration of the Lent day.  Vespers was as for Second Vespers, except on the seventh day, when it was said as for I Vespers of the feast.

Readings for day 2 in the Octave (Dialogues chapters 1-2)

Reading 1: There was a man of venerable life, blessed by grace, and blessed in name, for he was called "Benedictus" or Benedict. From his younger years, he always had the mind of an old man; for his age was inferior to his virtue. All vain pleasure he despised, and though he was in the world, and might freely have enjoyed such commodities as it yields, yet he esteemed it and its vanities as nothing.

He was born in the province of Nursia, of honorable parentage, and brought up at Rome in the study of humanity. As much as he saw many by reason of such learning fall to dissolute and lewd life, he drew back his foot, which he had as it were now set forth into the world, lest, entering too far in acquaintance with it, he likewise might have fallen into that dangerous and godless gulf.

Therefore, giving over his book, and forsaking his father's house and wealth, with a resolute mind only to serve God, he sought for some place, where he might attain to the desire of his holy purpose. In this way he departed, instructed with learned ignorance, and furnished with unlearned wisdom.

Reading 2: Benedict having now given over the school, with a resolute mind to lead his life in the wilderness: his nurse alone, who tenderly loved him, would not by any means give him over. Coming, therefore, to a place called Enside and remaining there in the church of St. Peter, in the company of other virtuous men, which for charity lived in that place, it fell so out that his nurse borrowed of the neighbors a sieve to make clean wheat, which being left negligently on the table, by chance it was broken in two pieces, Whereupon she fell pitifully weeping, because she had borrowed it. The devout and religious youth Benedict, seeing his nurse so lamenting, moved with compassion, took away with him both the pieces of the sieve, and with tears fell to his prayers; and after he had done, rising up he found it so whole, that the place could not be seen where before it was broken.

Coming straight to his nurse, and comforting her with good words, he delivered her the sieve safe and sound: which miracle was known to all the inhabitants thereabout, and so much admired, that the townsmen, for a perpetual memory, hanged it up at the church door, to the end that not only men then living, but also their posterity might understand, how greatly God's grace worked with him on his first renouncing of the world. The sieve continued there many years after, even to these very troubles of the Lombards, where it hung over the church door.

More anon...

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Feast of St Benedict

Jan Verkade

Happy feast day!

An appropriate day, I think, to meditate on the Benedictine Office as a wonderful monument of tradition that has been passed down to us as part of the patrimony of the Benedictine Order, and the Church more broadly.

Though abandoned today by many claiming to be Benedictines, the Benedictine Office is, I believe, absolutely integral in shaping within us the spirituality that our holy Father St Benedict set out in his Rule.

And down the ages it has inspired some wonderful words and music, such as the Matins hymn in the recording below.

We should therefore, I think, pray especially today for vocations for the various traditionally oriented monasteries who are keeping alive this wonderful gift to the Church.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Benedictine Ordo for Third week of Lent (March 19-25)

This week gives not one but four days off Lent, in the form of the Sunday and feasts of SS Joseph, Benedict and the Annunciation.

For those who are interested in saying Matins on these days, please do check the notes on my Benedictine matins blog, where I will provide details of where to find the texts including the chants for responsories etc.  You can find notes for this weeks Class I days via these links:


Sunday 19 March – Third Sunday of Lent, Class I

Matins: Invitatory (Non sit vobis), hymn (Ex more), readings and responsories of the Sunday

Lauds: Antiphons, etc from MD 212* ff with psalm scheme 1 (Ps 50, 117, 62)

Prime to None: Antiphons etc, MD 215*

Vespers: Psalms and antiphons of Sunday; chapter etc as per I Vespers; versicle and Magnificat antiphon, MD 216* with a commemoration of St Joseph, MD [86]

Monday 20 March – St Joseph, Class I (transferred)

Matins: All of the feast with twelve readings and responsories

Lauds: Festal psalms with antiphons etc of the feast, MD [87] ff, with a commemoration of the feria, MD 217*

Prime: Antiphon 1 of Lauds

Terce to None: Antiphon, chapter etc of the feast

Vespers: Antiphons of Lauds; psalms from I Vespers of Apostles, MD (2); chapter etc from I Vespers of the feast, MD [84]; Magnificat antiphon, MD [91]; commemoration of St Benedict, MD  [93-4]

Tuesday 21 March – St Benedict, Class I

Matins: All of the feast with twelve readings and responsories

Lauds: Festal psalms of Sunday with antiphons and texts of the feast; MD [94] ff; commemoration of the feria, MD 217-8*

Prime: Antiphon 1 of Lauds

Terce to None: Antiphons, chapters etc of the feast

Vespers: As for I Vespers, MD [91]; Magnificat antiphon, MD [99]; commemoration of the feria, MD 218*

Wednesday 22 March - Wednesday in the third week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 218-9*

Thursday 23 March – Thursday in the third week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 219-20*

Friday March 24 – Friday in the third week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to None: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 220*

Vespers: I Vespers of the Annunciation, MD [100] ff with a commemoration of the feria, MD 220*

Saturday 25 March – Annunciation of the BVM, Class I

Matins: Invitatory, hymn, psalms and antiphons from the Common of the BVM; readings and responsories of the feast

Lauds: Festal psalms of Sunday with antiphons and rest of the feast, MD [102] ff; commemoration of the feria, MD 220-1*

Prime: Antiphon 1 of Lauds

Terce to None: Antiphons from Lauds, proper texts MD [104] ff

Vespers: As for I Vespers, MD [100], Magnificat antiphon, MD [106]; commemoration of the Sunday, MD 221*

Thursday, March 16, 2017

St Benedict medals

Picture

On the subject of upcoming feasts, can I draw you to a special offer by way of fundraising activity for the Monastery of St Benedict at La Garde-Freinet in France.

Many will know of the monastery for the work of the monks there organising the Sacra Liturgia Conference and related events.

And they are currently offering a special 20% discount on St Benedict medals in the lead up to the feast of the saint next week.

So please do take advantage of the offer and obtain your medal, and help support the community at the same time!

Feast of St Patrick (March 17)


Sf. Patrick al Irlandei


March 17 marks the feast of St Patrick in many places, and for those who say (or want to say) Matins, of the feast, I have posted notes on where to find the various texts required on my Benedictine Matins blog.

For those interested, I have also set up a facebook group where you can discuss posts or ask questions (I envisage the main focus for this being Matins at the moment, but happy to have questions and discussion on broader issues relating to the trad Benedictine Office there as well).

St Patrick

St Patrick lived in the fifth century and is lauded as the apostle to Ireland.  Kidnapped by pirates at the age of 16, and forced into slavery as a shepherd, he converted to Christianity and spent long hours in prayer.  He eventually managed to escape and make his way home.  He had a vision, though,calling him to return:

You can read his own account of his story here, but here are a few key extracts:
My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many. My father was Calpornius. He was a deacon; his father was Potitus, a priest, who lived at Bannavem Taburniae. His home was near there, and that is where I was taken prisoner. I was about sixteen at the time. At that time, I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity in Ireland, along with thousands of others.... 
After I arrived in Ireland, I tended sheep every day, and I prayed frequently during the day. More and more the love of God increased, and my sense of awe before God... It was there one night in my sleep that I heard a voice saying to me: “You have fasted well. Very soon you will return to your native country.” Again after a short while, I heard a someone saying to me: “Look – your ship is ready.” It was not nearby, but a good two hundred miles away. I had never been to the place, nor did I know anyone there. So I ran away then, and left the man with whom I had been for six years. It was in the strength of God that I went – God who turned the direction of my life to good; I feared nothing while I was on the journey to that ship... 
A few years later I was again with my parents in Britain. They welcomed me as a son, and they pleaded with me that, after all the many tribulations I had undergone, I should never leave them again. It was while I was there that I saw, in a vision in the night, a man whose name was Victoricus coming as it were from Ireland with so many letters they could not be counted. He gave me one of these, and I read the beginning of the letter, the voice of the Irish people. While I was reading out the beginning of the letter, I thought I heard at that moment the voice of those who were beside the wood of Voclut, near the western sea. They called out as it were with one voice: “We beg you, holy boy, to come and walk again among us.” This touched my heart deeply, and I could not read any further; I woke up then. Thanks be to God, after many years the Lord granted them what they were calling for.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Ordo for the Second week of Lent (March 12-18)

For notes on the rubrics during Lent, check here, and for links to posts on the saints whose feasts occur during March check here.

St Gregory the Great OSB isn't celebrated in the liturgy this year, but you can read Pope Benedict XVI's General Audience on him here and here.

Friday is the Feast of St Patrick, a solemnity (Class I) in most places, so has I Vespers, and at Lauds and Vespers, commemorations of the ferial day are made.


Sunday 12 March –– Second Sunday of Lent, Class I 

(Note: nothing of the feast of St Gregory appears in the Office this year)

Matins: Invitatory (Non sit vobis), hymn (Ex more), readings and responsories of the Sunday

Lauds: Antiphons, MD 201* ff with psalm scheme 1 (Ps 50, 117, 62); chapter etc, MD 201* ff

Prime to None: Antiphons and chapter verses, MD 204-5* 

Vespers: Psalms and antiphons of Sunday; chapter etc as per I Vespers; versicle and Magnificat antiphon, MD 205*

Monday 13 March – Monday in the second week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds: Antiphons and psalms of the psalter; chapter, responsory and hymn from the Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; Benedictus antiphon and collect of the day, MD 206*

Prime: Antiphon for the season (Vivo ego)

Terce to None: Antiphon, chapter and versicle for the season; collect of Lauds

Vespers: Antiphons and psalms of the psalter; chapter, responsory and hymn from the Ordinary of Lent, MD 193-5*; Magnificat antiphon and collect of the day, MD 206*

Tuesday 14 March – Tuesday in the second week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 206-7*

Wednesday 15 March – Wednesday in the second week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 207-8*

Thursday 16 March – Thursday in the second week of Lent, Class III

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 208-9*

[in some places: I Vespers of St Patrick with a commemoration of the feria, MD 22**]

Friday 17 March - Friday in the second week of Lent, Class III [***in some places, St Patrick, Class I]

For St Patrick, see MD 22** (for Matins, common of a confessor bishop)

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 209-10*

Saturday 18 March – Saturday in the second week of Lent, Class III; St Cyril, Memorial

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to None: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 210*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [83]

I Vespers of the Third Sunday of Lent, Antiphons and psalms of Saturday, rest from MD 210* ff

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The hymns for Lent

Today being the first Sunday of Lent, the hymns of the Office all change.

At Matins, Lauds and Vespers there are hymns for the season. And at the other hours, a Lenten psalm tone is used, the same one for Prime to None, with a separate one for Te Lucis at Compline.

Accordingly, I thought I'd try and point you to sources (written and audio) for these various chants in case you want to try learning them.

Matins: Ex more docti mystico (the fast as taught by holy lore)

The modern Liber Hymnarius (Solesmes) provides a version of this hymn which you can hear sung at the online Liber Hymnarius.  The Nocturnale Romanum provides a slightly different version of this chant that I suspect is the older version, but I'm not absolutely certain of that.  And there are recordings of a quite different chant tone around, but I haven't been able to locate a hard copy version of it.

Lauds: Iam Christe sol iustitiae

You can hear the hymn sung here.

Prime to None

I haven't been able to locate a recording of the hymn alone (if you know of one please let me know), but go to one of the Le Barroux Office websites and you should be able to find the current tone (or an archived recording).

Vespers: Audi Benigne Conditor



Compline: Lenten tone for Te Lucis

You can hear it here (last in the list).

Saturday, March 4, 2017

First week of Lent (March 5-11)

This week marks the start of Lent proper, so far as the liturgy is concerned, so do make sure you take a look at 'the Ordinary of the ferial Office in Lent', which is set out in the Farnborough edition of the Monastic Diurnal at MD 190*ff.

The rubrics for Lent

For those saying Matins (not in the Diurnal):

  • the invitatory antiphon on weekdays is the same as throughout the year. On Sundays there is a special invitatory verse;
  • the hymn is for the season of Lent and is the same each day (Ex more);
  • the readings during the week are usually patristic, relating to the Gospel of the Mass set for that day; and
  • the chapter verse for Nocturn II is for the season (Is 1:16-18).

At Lauds and Vespers:

  • chapters, hymns, etc of the season replace those in the psalter section;
  • the canticle antiphons are proper for each day.
  • Each day there are two sets of collects: the first for use from Matins to None (excluding Prime); the second for Vespers.

At Prime there is an antiphon for the season; Terce, Sext and None add seasonal chapters and versicles.

It is also important to be aware that when a feast displaces the Lent texts, a commemoration of the day is made at both Lauds and Vespers using the respective collects, canticle antiphon and versicle that occurs before the relevant canticle at that hour.

Matins

You can find the English version of the Matins readings over at my lectio divina blog.  And for those interested in learning to pray Matins more or less according to the 1963 rubrics, do take a look here and also consider joining my facebook group.

Ordo for the first week of Lent


Sunday 5 March – First Sunday of Lent, Class I

Matins: Invitatory (Non sit vobis), hymn (Ex more), readings and responsories of the Sunday

Lauds: Antiphons and proper texts from MD 186* ff, with psalms of Sunday (Ps 50, 117, 62)

Prime to None: Antiphons etc, MD 188* ff

Vespers: Psalms and antiphons of Sunday; rest from I Vespers, Magnificat antiphon, MD 190* ff                       

Monday 6 March - Monday in the first week of Lent, Class III; SS Perpetua and Felicitas, memorial

Matins: Ordinary of Lent: Invitatory as for throughout the year; hymn of the season (Ex more); chapter verse Is 1:16-18; three readings of the Lent day

Lauds: Antiphons and psalms of the psalter; chapter etc from the Ordinary of Lent, MD 190* ff; Benedictus antiphon and collect of the day, MD 195*; for the commemoration, MD [74]

Prime: Antiphon for the season (Vivo ego) as noted in the psalter

Terce to None: Ordinary of Lent as noted in the psalter section; collect of Lauds

Vespers: Antiphons and psalms of the psalter; chapter, responsory and hymn from the Ordinary of Lent, MD 193*ff; Magnificat antiphon and collect of the day, MD 195-6*

Tuesday 7 March – Tuesday in the first week of Lent, Class III; St Thomas Aquinas, memorial

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190* ff; Benedictus antiphon and collect of the day, MD 196*; for the commemoration, MD [75]

Prime to None: Ordinary of Lent

Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 193*ff; Magnificat antiphon and collect of the day, MD 196*

Wednesday 8 March   – Ember Wednesday of Lent, Class II

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; Benedictus antiphon and collect of the day, MD 197*

Prime to None: Ordinary of Lent 

Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 193*ff; Magnificat antiphon and collect of the day, MD 197*

Thursday 9 March – Thursday in the first week of Lent, Class III; St Frances of Rome, memorial

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects of the day, MD 197-8*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [75-6]

Friday 10 March – Ember Friday of Lent, Class IIThe Forty Martyrs, memorial

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to Vespers: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; canticle antiphons and collects, MD 198-9*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [76]

Saturday 11 March – Ember Saturday of Lent, Class II

Matins: Ordinary of Lent; three readings

Lauds to None: Ordinary of Lent, MD 190*; Benedictus antiphon and collect, MD 199*

Vespers: I Vespers of the Second Sunday of Lent.  Psalms and antiphons of Saturday, rest from MD 199* ff


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Saints of the martyrology: St Chad of Mercia (March 2)

St Chad, Lichfield Cathedral


From the martyrology:
At Lichfield in England, St. Chad, bishop of Mercia and Lindisfarne, whose excellent virtues are mentioned by St. Venerable Bede.
According to St Bede, St Chad was one of four brothers who became students of St Aidan (a disciple of St Columba) at the monastery of Lindisfarne.  When St Aidan died in 651, all four travelled to Ireland to complete their education.

St Chad returned to Northumbria by 664, taking over as Abbot of Lastingham Monastery after his brother Cedd died from the plague.

He was appointed archbishop of York by King Oswy, replacing the exiled Wilfrid.  His appointment was highly irregular though, and so when the newly appointed Archbishop Theodore arrived in England, he instructed Chad to step down, and restored Wilfrid to his position.

St Chad accepted Theodore’s charges of impropriety with such humility and grace that Theodore subsequently ap­pointed him as the bishop of Mercia. He established a see at Lichfield.  As bishop he established monasteries and undertook a great deal of missionary work before he too died of the plague.

The wikipedia entry on the saint relates the story of his holy death:
Bede tells us that Owin was working outside the oratory at Lichfield. Inside, Chad studied alone because the other monks were at worship in the church. Suddenly Owin heard the sound of joyful singing, coming from heaven, at first to the south-east, but gradually coming closer until it filled the roof of the oratory itself. Then there was silence for half an hour, followed by the same singing going back the way it had come. Owin at first did nothing, but about an hour later Chad called him in and told him to fetch the seven brothers from the church. Chad gave his final address to the brothers, urging them to keep the monastic discipline they had learnt. Only after this did he tell them that he knew his own death was near, speaking of death as "that friendly guest who is used to visiting the brethren". He asked them to pray, then blessed and dismissed them. The brothers left, sad and downcast.
Owin returned a little later and saw Chad privately. He asked about the singing. Chad told him that he must keep it to himself for the time being: angels had come to call him to his heavenly reward, and in seven days they would return to fetch him. So it was that Chad weakened and died after seven days – on 2 March, which remains his feast day. Bede writes that: "he had always looked forward to this day – or rather his mind had always been on the Day of the Lord". 
Many years later, his old friend Egbert told a visitor that someone in Ireland had seen the heavenly company coming for Chad's soul and returning with it to heaven. Significantly, with the heavenly host was Cedd. Bede was not sure whether or not the vision was actually Egbert's own.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Learning matins

I'm regularly asked for information on how to say Matins.

So for those interested, I've set up a separate blog (easier to read and post boxes and diagrams on) where I will post some material to assist on this.

The posts will be a mix of material on the structure of the hour and its rubrics, background on the prayers it includes, and aids to a deeper understanding of the text.

Happy Lent!

The Office in Lent - Ash Wednesday to the Saturday before the first Sunday of Lent

During Lent the liturgy becomes much more elaborate, and the Office reflects that.

Forty days?

However these first few days of Lent not all that much changes in the Office.

That is because this period was something of a later (albeit now ancient!) add-on to Lent to make up the correct number of days, given that Sundays are not counted for fasting and penitential purposes.

Of course, under the modern rubrics we still don't quite make it to forty days, due to the several first class feasts (this year, SS Patrick, Joseph, Benedict, and the feast of the Annunciation) that normally intervene.

The rubrics

Ash Wednesday marks the official start of Lent, so far as the Office is concerned, but most of the Office stays as if it were still Septuagesimatide.  The liturgy does intensify:

  • there are canticle antiphons for both Lauds and Vespers; and 
  • there are two collects used each day, the first for Matins to None, the second for Vespers.
But the rest of the Office at Lauds to Vespers remains that of  'throughout the year'.

During Lent the concluding prayers of the hour are normally said while kneeling in choir.  The gestures and body postures for the Office are not essential in private recitation, but still a good way of helping you pray I think, so worth considering.