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 . . .
“Come, Holy Spirit, Creator Blest.” (Veni Creator) PLENARY INDULGENCE if recited on the first of January or on the feast of the Pentecost. Otherwise, a partial indulgence is granted to those who recite it. No 61 Enchiridion of Indulgences.
Conditions: Holy Commuion , Confession, Prayers for the Pope’s intentions (Ave, Pater, Gloria Patri).
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!
You will no doubt have sung this hymn already this year- we are half way through Advent already. This classic Advent hymn consists of the Magnificat Antiphons for the coming week leading up to Christmas. I’ll be posting about each of them individually so, in the meantime, enjoy this beautiful arrangement in Latin sung by the Gesualdo Six and the familiar English below.
For the feast of St Cecelia I’d like to share the St Cecelia Mass by Charles Gonoud. The work was premiered in 1855 in Saint-Eustache, Paris where is was the custom to premier a new Mass on our saint’s feast day.
November 22.–ST. CECILIA, Virgin, Martyr.
IN the evening of her wedding-day, with the music of the marriage-hymn ringing in her ears, Cecilia, a rich, beautiful, and noble Roman maiden, renewed the vow by which she had consecrated her virginity to God. “Pure be my heart and undefiled my flesh; for I have a spouse you know not of–an angel of my Lord.” The heart of her young husband Valerian was moved by her words; he ‘received Baptism, and within a few days he and his brother Tiburtius, who had been brought by him to a knowledge of the Faith, sealed their confession with their blood. Cecilia only remained. “Do you not know,” was her answer to the threats of the prefect, “that I am the bride of my Lord Jesus Christ?” The death appointed for her was suffocation, and she remained a day and a night in a hot-air bath, heated seven times its wont. But “the flames had no power over her body, neither was a hair of her head singed.” The lictor sent to dispatch her struck with trembling hand the three blows which the law allowed, and left her still alive. For two days and nights Cecilia lay with her head, half severed on the pavement of her bath, fully sensible, and joyfully awaiting her crown; on the third the agony was over, and in 177 the virgin Saint gave back her pure spirit to Christ.
Reflection.–St. Cecilia teaches us to rejoice in every sacrifice as a pledge of our love of Christ, and to welcome sufferings and death as hastening our union with Him.
Not long after converting and after having read St John Henry Newman’s Apologia and Loss and Gain, I discovered the Dream of Gerontius. I was aware of Elgar’s setting as a music student but hadn’t studied it or performed it but as a fresh convert, I was beguiled by Newman’s flawless prose- a creative and enthralling communication of the Church’s doctrine on the four last things. Coupled with Elgar’s music, the result is a monumental emersion in the realities of Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. There are too many things to comment on in this work so I’ll share my favourite performance.
Elgar was married in the Brompton Oratory and as a wedding gift, his best man gave him a copy of Newman’s poem, The Dream of Gerontius. When he had finished writing his setting of it, Elgar commented to his wife ‘this is the best of me.’ The link to the Brompton Oratory is significant to me because it was there that Mrs Pearce and I attended our first Traditional Latin Mass and I, as another Anglican friend of mine did, knelt at the Lady Altar and asked Her to guide me as to whether I should convert to Catholicism.
If you don’t have a lot of time to do some November reading, take time to immerse yourself in this dramatic presentation of the realities of death. And, Pray for the Holy Souls!
My contribution on the feast of St Luke is to share the only extended quote from Our Blessed Lady, the Magnificat which is found in St Luke’s gospel. A close associate of St Paul, St Luke had a tremendous devotion to Our Lady and there is a consensus that says that he gained the insights into the mysteries of the Nativity from Our Lady Herself.