Today is the feast of the Holy Family. Here is the Immaculate Heart of Mary Schola joined by a few of the monks of Papa Stronsay singing Vespers of this feast day in 2019. You can follow with this booklet. The hymn at 18.02 is particularly beautiful.
The collect of the feast is a mission statement for every family:
COLLECT O Lord Jesus Christ, You sanctified home life with untold virtues by being subject to Mary and Joseph. May they assist us to imitate the example of Your Holy Family, so that we may share with them their eternal happiness; who lives and rules with God the Father . . .
For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names:That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father Phillipians 2:9-11
The Latin original is by St Bernard of Clairvaux and the translation below is by Fr Edward Caswell, a convert from Anglicanism and collaborator of Saint John Henry Newman. There isn’t a suitable recording of this hymn online to share but nonetheless, the English provides material for hours of meditation.
Jesus, the very thought of Thee With sweetness fills the breast! Yet sweeter far Thy face to see And in Thy Presence rest.
No voice can sing, no heart can frame, Nor can the memory find, A sweeter sound than Jesus’ Name, The Saviour of mankind.
O hope of every contrite heart! O joy of all the meek! To those who fall, how kind Thou art! How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah! this Nor tongue nor pen can show The love of Jesus, what it is, None but His loved ones know.
Jesus! our only hope be Thou, As Thou our prize shalt be; In Thee be all our glory now,And through eternity. Amen.
During Advent, the Sacred Liturgy is replete with references to the Blessed Virgin Mary who bore the Word Made Flesh in Her womb. From prophesies about the tender shoot that came from the root of Jesse to chant motifs appearing in the propers, Our Lady is evoked and invoked continually.
Today, I was astounded to learn that the origin of the Hail Mary that we pray so regularly finds its origin in the offertory chant of today’s Mass. I was aware that the ‘Holy Mary Mother of God’ part of the prayer was added later but according to the liturgical scholar Fr Lasance, the first time that the angelic salutation (Hail Mary) and the greeting of St Elizabeth (Blessed art thou among women) were placed together was in the offertory chant of today’s Mass.
This chant dates back to the Gregorian Antiphonary (compiled by Pope Gregory the Great, 6th century) used in the early Roman basilicas which was widely considered to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore untouchable- and we sang it this morning!
The sequence of the Requiem Mass is both an exquisite piece of poetry and a striking meditation on the four last things. It is quite astounding that this prose was supressed in the new Mass of Paul VI and even the tract is replaced with the Alleluia! This is key to understanding the principle ‘lex Orlando, lex credendi’ because this change in the prayer of the church signifies a significant change in belief.
The Dies Irae provides a sobering meditation to us and excites a keen desire to pray for the Holy Souls. May we all redouble our efforts to assist them by our prayer, fasting, almsgiving, indulgences and Masses.
In a lighter note, here is a presentation about the influence that the chant of the Dies Irae has had on popular culture.
In 1926, Pope Pius XI, the year after instituting The Feast of Christ The King, inaugurated the penultimate Sunday of October as World Mission Sunday. It must have been in the mind of the pontiff that the two are intimately connected and that the mission of the Church is to grow the kingdom of Heaven and establish the Kingship of Jesus Christ in every sphere of life.
There are many reasons that I am blessed to be involved in Immaculate Heart Parish. Before I converted to Catholicism I had the pleasure of being involved in music making in the Anglican tradition and in my last post I inherited a strong choral tradition and had a beautiful three manual Mirlees pipe organ to play.