Saturday, 7 October 2017

7 October - The Battle of Lepanto - Don John of Austria defeats a much larger Muslim Turkish navy....

The battle of Lepanto, 7 October 1571


On 7 October 1571, Don John of Austria, son of the Emperor Charles V, commanding the navies of the Pope and the Emperor, together with the navies of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and of Spain and Venice, defeated a much larger Muslim Turkish navy off the coast of Greece at a place now called Naupactos.

To the men of his day this place was called by its Roman name:

Lepanto

How did this extraordinary victory come about?

The answer is simple enough. it was obtained - yet again - by the most powerful weapon known to men: the holy Dominican Rosary chaplet of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Prior to this, one of the greatest naval battles of Roman Christendom, the Pope, St Pius V, himself a Dominican friar, ordered the praying of the Holy Rosary throughout the length and breadth of Christendom, just as was later to be done before the Battle of Vienna in 1683.

As a result the feast of our Lady of Victory (later our Lady of the Rosary) was instituted by the popes for an everlasting memory.

Let us hear what Abbot Prosper Gueranger OSB of Solesmes says of that great battle and feast in his great work, The Liturgical Year (the book read to St Therese of Lisieux when she was a child):

"Soliman II, the greatest of the Sultans, taking advantage of the confusion caused in the West by Luther, had filled the 16th century with terror by his exploits. He left to his son, Selim II, the prospect of being able at length to carry out the ambition of his race: to subjugate Rome and Vienna, the Pope and the Emperor, to the power of the crescent.

The Turkish fleet had already mastered the greater part of the Mediterannean, and was threatening Italy, when, on 7 October 1571, it came into action, in the Gulf of Lepanto, against the pontifical galleys supported by the fleets of Spain and Venice.

It was Sunday; throughout the world the confraternities of the Rosary were engaged in their work of intercession. Supernaturally enlightened, St Pius V watched from the Vatican the battle undertaken by the leader he had chosen, Don John of Austria, against the 300 vessels of Islam.


Don John of Austria

 
The illustrious Pontiff, whose life's work was now completed, did not survive to celebrate the anniversary of the triumph; but he perpetuated the memory of it by an annual commemoration of our Lady of Victory.

His successor, Gregory XIII, altered the title to our Lady of the Rosary, and appointed the first Sunday of October for the new feast [now celebrated on 7 October, the actual day of the battle - ed], authorising its celebration in those churches which possessed an altar under that invocation.

A century and a half later, this limited concession was made general. As [now Venerable]Innocent XI, in memory of the deliverance of Vienna by King Jan Sobieski, had extended the feast of the most Holy Name of Mary to the whole Church, so, in 1716, Clement XI inscribed the feast of the Rosary on the universal calendar, in gratitude for the victory gained by Prince Eugene of Savoy [commander-in-chief of the Imperial forces] at Peterwardein, on 5 August, under the auspices of our Lady of the snow. This victory was followed by the raising of the siege of Corfu, and completed a year later by the taking of Belgrade."

After Vienna, Peterwardein and Belgrade, the Muslim Turks were finally routed and never again troubled Roman Christendom.

Such was - and is - the extraordinary power of the Holy Rosary of St Dominic.

Beads of Paternosters and Aves have been said from very early times and were commonly said by the knights and sergeants of the Military religious Orders when in battle and on campaign, when they could not say their Office.

St Dominic formalised the current Dominican Rosary prior to the Battle of Muret in 1213 (that battle was again won on 12 September - the day after the mysterious 9/11) when he prayed for Count Simon de Montfort and his 700 knights as they sallied forth against a huge army of 50,000 Albigensians - rather like Theoden of Rohan against the massive army of Saruman and Isengard in The Lord of the Rings.

Like Theoden, de Montfort and his knights routed the Albigensians by charging straight into their midst. They gained the Albigensian headquarters and when their leader, the heretic King Peter of Aragon, was slain, the Albigensians fled.

Nevertheless, Count Simon wept over the corpse of King Peter whom he had known and admired as a soldier and whom he had hoped could be spared, powerful heretic and enemy though he was.

Thus the day was won and the tiny Catholic army triumphed over the huge heretic army. This, again, was another great victory obtained by the all-powerful Rosary of our Lady.

Small wonder, then, that our Lady has so often appeared and asked her children to pray the Holy Rosary for victory and peace, as she did to St Bernarde of Lourdes (St Bernadette) and later to the little shepherds at Fatima in 1917 during the Great War.

When we face fearful odds in the cause of right we must turn to our Lady and to her powerful weapon - the sword of the spirit - the chaplet of the Holy Rosary.


 


Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
St Dominic, pray for us!
St Pius V, pray for us!
Ven Innocent XI, pray for us!

...

Saturday, 1 July 2017

1st July - the Feast of the Precious Blood and the first day of the Battle of the Somme....


The Feast of the Precious Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ...

The Precious Blood of Christ was poured out for our salvation in expiation of our sins

Devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord God, existed from the time of the Passion of our Lord.




In Catholic belief, the Blood of Christ is precious because it is Christ’s own great ransom paid for the redemption of mankind. As there was to be no remission of sin without the shedding of the blood of the Lamb of God, Christ the “Incarnate Word” not only offered his life for the salvation of the world, but he offered to give up his life by a bloody death, and to die upon the Cross for the salvation of mankind.

The modern Feast of the Precious Blood, celebrated in Spain in the 16th century, was later introduced to Italy by Saint Gaspar del Bufalo in the 19th century.




In 1848-9, the red revolutionaries staged an uprising and takeover in Papal Rome, led by the very people whom the Pope had released from prison upon his elevation to the Pontificate.

Blessed Pope Pius IX had granted a parliamentary constitution to the Papal States, released political prisoners and ordered the gates of the Roman Jewish ghetto to be demolished (which the orthodox Jews later complained about because orthodox Jews prefer to enclose themselves in a ghetto every Friday shabbat).


Blessed Pope Pius IX

For these liberal gestures, the revolutionaries did not thank the Pope…they seized the opportunity to attack him all the more, shameless hypocrites that they were.

On 15 November 1848, on his way to open the new Parliament of the Pontifical States (the Cancelleria now occupied by the Roman Rota and the Roman Signatura), Count Pellegrino Rossi, the Pope’s new liberal-minded Prime Minister, after opening the gates with his key was surrounded by a revolutionary mob and stabbed to death.


Count Pellegrino Rossi,
papal Prime Minister murdered by red revolutionaries in cold blood...

The stabber was Angelo Brunetti, known as “Ciceruacchio” a brutal revolutionary thug and fanatical Italian nationalist who supported other nationalist fanatics like Giuseppe Garibaldi, repudiating Catholicism for the proto-Fascism of Giuseppe Mazzini.


Angelo Brunetti
who brutally murdered Count Rossi in cold blood on the steps of the Cancelleria

Brunetti who, like most Italian nationalists, hated Catholic Austria that ruled northern Italy, was captured by Austrian police trying to commit more terrorist acts and was justly tried, convicted and shot.

During the Roman revolution, the Pope’s personal prelate was shot by revolutionaries whilst walking in the gallery of the papal Palazzo. The Palazzo was surrounded by fanatical revolutionaries and the Pope barely escaped with his life out of the back door disguised as a simple priest standing on the back of a carriage.

Blessed Pope Pius IX went into exile at Gaeta in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

A Roman Republic was declared in February 1849. 

The Pope responded from his exile by excommunicating all active participants. 

The Republic was openly hostile to the Catholic Church, celebrating Good Friday with huge fireworks on Saint Peter's Plaza and desecrating Saint Peter's Basilica on Easter Sunday with a secular Republican victory celebration.

The public finances were spent liberally leading to an early financial disaster; palaces, convents and churches were plundered for valuables and art work. In addition to the official pillaging, private gangs roamed through the city and the countryside, murdering, raping and stealing and spreading fear among the citizens of the Papal States.

They were, as usual, a disgusting gang of murderous thugs of the sort that prevailed in France during the French revolution and fit only for the lower reaches of Hellfire.

As Blessed Pope Pius IX went into exile he had as his companion Father Giovanni Merlini, third superior general of the Fathers of the Most Precious Blood.


Blessed Pope Pius IX,
disguised as a simple priest, escapes the murderous Italian nationalist revolutionaries by fleeing from the back of the papal palace to a coach which takes him into exile to Gaeta in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies... 

After they had arrived at Gaeta, Don Merlini suggested that His Holiness make a vow to extend the feast of the Precious Blood to the entire Church, if he would again recover possession of the Papal States.

On 30 June 1849, the day the French army conquered Rome and sent the fanatics of the red revolution packing, the Pope sent his domestic prelate, Joseph Stella, to Father Merlini with the message: 

“The Pope does not deem it expedient to bind himself by a vow; instead his Holiness is pleased to extend the feast [of the Precious Blood] immediately to all Christendom”.

On 10 August of the same year, he officially included the feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the General Roman Calendar for celebration on the first Sunday in July, the first Sunday after 30 June, the anniversary of the liberation of the city of Rome from the insurgents.

Later, Pope St Pius X moved the feast to 1 July.


Pope St Pius X who tried to prevent the Great War from breaking out...

In Blessed Pope John XXIII's 1960 revision of the General Roman Calendar, the feast was classified as of the first class.

Shamefully and disgracefully, the feast was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969, by order of Pope Paul VI.


The Battle of the Somme – the precious blood of innocent young men is poured out on the battlefield for the sins of faithless old men...

The very same fanatical revolutionaries and secularists who had sought to topple the Pope, later succeeded in 1870 and Blessed Pope Pius IX became a prisoner of the Vatican (to which palace he had moved from the Quirinal, as being safer).

A conspiracy of secularists all over Europe was now bent upon destroying Christian monarchy altogether and replacing it with secular republicanism, modelled upon revolutionary France.

This conspiracy, often led by Freemasons and other sectaries, led directly to World War I in which the revolutionaries hoped to see Christian monarchy swept away forever.

Only Pope Benedict XV and the young Austrian Emperor, Blessed Charles I, (who came to the Austrian throne in November 1916) were striving for peace and an end to the brutal war.


Blessed Emperor Charles of I of Austria tried to send the Great War...

They did not succeed.

On 1 July 1916, the British army launched its planned offensive near the Somme river to coincide with a similar French offensive, further south.




It was believed that a massive artillery bombardment would obliterate the German opposition and the infantry, followed later by cavalry, would be able simply to walk over no-man’s-land, into the German trenches leading to the war’s end.

The generals could not have been more wrong.

The Germans had built deep dugouts and were able to survive the terrible shelling. They quickly came out of their dugouts with their machine guns intact and re-mounted them ready to defend their positions.

The advancing British and Empire troops were massacred in huge numbers, covering the battlefield in the precious blood of young men.

The first day on the Somme was, in terms of casualties, the worst day in the history of the British army, which suffered 57,470 casualties, of which nearly 20,000 died.




These casualties occurred mainly on the front between the Albert–Bapaume road and Gommecourt, where the attack was defeated and few British troops reached the German front line.

One writer has opined that, even a century later:

“‘the Somme’ remains the most harrowing place-name” 

in the history of the British Empire and Commonwealth.


Millions of women learned by cold telegram of the death of their husbands, sweethearts, brothers and sons killed in that most brutal war that deprived so many women of future husbands and families and the nation of its best young men...

The battle was largely in vain since any ground gained was later re-taken by the Germans.

The first day of Battle of the Somme is a paradigm for the whole war: a war engineered by sour, old men, secularists by and large, seeking the end of Christian monarchy and not caring how many young men they killed in the process.

These young men thought they were fighting for justice and died fighting heroically and innocently, for the most part, spilling their precious blood as the price for a world saturated by sin, unbelief, cynicism and evil.




All over the battlefields of France in that war were left the shattered remains of bodies amidst smashed churches and broken crucifixes symbolising a kind of renewed crucifixion of Christ, a holy sacrifice shared by millions of innocent young men who were slaughtered on the battlefields and who gave up the precious blood of their young lives in a kind of expiation for the faithless sins of the generation of old men and politicians who were content to send them out to die in a war that should never have been.


Battlefield graveyard and cemetery of the First World War in France...

It was a war that wrecked the remnants of Christendom and opened the way for the horrors of Communism and Nazism.

Let us then pray for the millions who died in that most awful of wars and, in this centenary year of Fatima, remember the pleas of our Lady who came to the world, in the midst of that terrible war, to warn us of the consequences of sin and faithlessness.

And let us pray for the millions of innocent young men who died in that terrible war.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them....

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis....







At a Calvary near the Ancre
by Wilfred Owen
One ever hangs where shelled roads part.
In this war He too lost a limb,
But His disciples hide apart;
And now the Soldiers bear with Him.

Near Golgotha strolls many a priest,
And in their faces there is pride
That they were flesh-marked by the Beast
By whom the gentle Christ's denied

The scribes on all the people shove
And bawl allegiance to the state,
But they who love the greater love
Lay down their life; they do not hate.


Here dead we lie
by A E Housman 
Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure, 
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.




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Saturday, 13 May 2017

FATIMA CENTENARY - 100 YEARS - 13 May 1917 to 13 May 2017

Let us rejoice...

...at the centenary of the apparition of our Lady at Fatima
13 May 1917 to 13 May 2017
as the Pope canonises the visionary shepherd children
St Jacinta
and
 St Francisco




St Jacinta, Sister Lucia, St Francisco...
Thank God for the  beautiful innocence of these simple but saintly children...

 The story of Fatima...

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, appeared six times to three shepherd children ("the Three Seers") near the town of Fatima, Portugal between 13 May and 13 October 1917.

Appearing to the children, the Blessed Virgin told them that She had been sent by God with a message for every man, woman and child living in our century. Coming at a time when civilization was torn asunder by war and bloody violence, She promised that Heaven would grant peace to all the world if Her requests for prayer, reparation and consecration were heard and obeyed. Our Lady said:

"If my requests are granted ... there will be peace"

Our Lady of Fatima explained to the children that war is a punishment for sin and warned that God would further castigate the world for its disobedience to His will by means of war, hunger and the persecution of the Church, the Holy Father and the Catholic Faithful. God's Mother prophesied that Russia would be God's chosen "instrument of chastisement," spreading the "errors" of atheism and materialism across the earth, fomenting wars, annihilating nations and persecuting the Faithful everywhere. Our Lady said:

"If y requests are not granted, Russia will spread its errors throughout the world, raising up wars and persecutions against the Church. The good will be martryed, the Holy Father will suffer much and various nations will be annihilated."

In all Her appearances at Fatima, the Blessed Mother repeatedly emphasized the necessity of praying the Rosary daily, of wearing the Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel and of performing acts of reparation and sacrifice.

To prevent the terrible chastisement at the hands of Russia and to convert "that poor nation", our Lady requested the solemn public Consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart by the Pope and all the Catholic bishops of the world. She also asked that the Faithful practice a new devotion of reparation on the first Saturday of five consecutive months ("The Five First Saturdays").

The heart of our Lady's Message to the world is contained in what has come to be called the "Secret" which she confided to the Three Seers in July 1917.

The Secret actually consists of three parts, the first two of which have been publicly revealed.

The first part of the Secret was a horrifying Vision of hell "where the souls of poor sinners go" and contained an urgent plea from Our Lady for acts of prayer and sacrifice to save souls.

The second part of the Secret specifically prophesied the outbreak of World War II and contained the Mother of God's solemn request for the Consecration of Russia as a condition for world peace. It also predicted the inevitable triumph of Her Immaculate Heart following Russia's consecration and the conversion "of that poor nation" to the Catholic Faith. 

The last part of the Secret (often called the "Third Secret") has not yet been made public, but was written down by Lucia Dos Santos, the last living Fatima seer, in 1944 and has been in the possession of the Holy See since 1957.

Most informed sources speculate that this portion of the Secret concerns chaos in the Catholic Church, predicting widespread apostasy and a loss of faith beginning in the seventh decade of the 20th Century.

Can anyone now doubt that such is exactly what has happened to the Catholic Church in our time....an unprecedented crisis of faith and authority. 


From the film On the 13th Day...


Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
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Thursday, 4 May 2017

INVENTIO CRUCIS - 3rd May - the Feast of the Invention (finding) of the True Cross by Empress St Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine the Great


INVENTIO CRUCIS

3rd May

the Feast of the Invention (finding) of the True Cross by Empress St Helena, 
mother of the Emperor Constantine the Great...




Here is the Roman Empress St Helena pictured with the True Cross.

The Feast of the Invention (Finding) of the True Cross is another great feast that was done away with by the wrecker Bugnini.

St. Helena, mother of Constantine the great, is often depicted holding a cross because according to the tradition she found the true cross in Jerusalem.

The Roman Emperor Constantine was elected Emperor by the Roman Army at Eboracum (York in Britain) in 312, and in the following year, legalized Christianity with the Edict of Milan.

About this time, Constantine’s mother, St. Helena, converted to Christianity.

With the authority of her son, St. Helena went to Palestine in search of the Holy Cross about the year 324.

St Helena built churches marking the place of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and the site of the Ascension.

Three crosses were found in a rock-cistern as well as the titulus (the wood plaque inscribed with the words Jesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum in Hebrew, Greek and Latin - "Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews"). The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built over the site.


TITULUS CRUCIS
a sacred relic in the Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, displayed in reverse so that the words can be better seen and an ancient reconstruction placed over the top of the reliquary showing what is written on the now very old wood of the titulus proclaiming our Lord King of the Jews in the 3 sacred languages.


A woman, dying from a terminal disease, was brought to the spot. She touched the crosses, one by one. After she touched the third cross, she was cured, thereby identifying the true cross.

St Ambrose preached that when St. Helena found the true cross:

"she worshipped not the wood, but the King, Him who hung on the wood. She burned with an earnest desire of touching the guarantee of immortality."


St Cyril of Jerusalem, in his letter to the Emperor Constantius (Constantine’s son and successor), stated "The saving wood of the cross was found at Jerusalem in the time of Constantine."

In his fourth Catechetical Lecture, he wrote:

"He was truly crucified for our sins. For if you would deny it, the place refutes you visibly, this blessed Golgotha, in which we are now assembled for the sake of Him who was here crucified; and the whole world has since been filled with pieces of the wood of the Cross."

Many of the older depictions of the crucifixion show a skull with two crossed bones at the foot of the cross. The tradition is that Adam was buried at Calvary. When our Lord died, His Precious Blood flowed down, through cracks in the earth, onto Adam's skull.

In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem one finds the Chapel of Adam underneath the Chapel of Golgotha.

The Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, which comes much later on 14 September, is the feast marking the day when the Emperor Heraclius re-captured the True Cross from the Persians who had stolen it from Jerusalem.

It was on that great feast day that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict gloriously reigning, ordered the freeing of the traditional Roman rites which, he declared, had never been abrogated (numquam abrogatam).

A truly glorious victory of the Holy Cross indeed!

On these great feasts, let us remember the words of St. Francis of Assisi:


"We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee, because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world."

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Sunday, 30 April 2017

GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY - "Ego sum Pastor bonus..."


Ego sum Pastor bonus, allelúja: et cognósco oves Meas, et cognóscunt Me Meæ. Allelúja, allelúja.

I am the good Shepherd, alleluia: and I know My sheep, and Mine know Me, alleluia, alleluia.

The Gospel is from John 10: 11-16:

In illo témpore: Dixit Jesus Pharisæis: "Ego sum Pastor bonus. Bonus pastor ánimam suam dat pro óvibus. Mercenárius autem et qui non est pastor, cujus non sunt oves própriæ, videt lupum veniéntem, et dimíttit oves, et fugit: et lupus rapit et dispérgit oves: mercenárius autem fugit, quia mercenárius est, et non pértinet ad eum de óvibus. Ego sum Pastor bonus: et cognósco oves meas, et cognóscunt me meæ. Sicut novit me Pater, et ego agnósco Patrem: et ánimam meam pono pro óvibus meis. Et alias oves hábeo, qum non sunt ex hoc ovíli: et illas opórtet me addúcere, et vocem meam áudient, et fiat unum ovíile, et unus pastor."

At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: "I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep and flieth: and the wolf catcheth and scattereth the sheep: and the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling, and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good Shepherd: and I know Mine, and Mine know Me, as the Father knoweth Me, and I know the Father: and I lay down My life for My sheep. And other sheep I have that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd."


Take note all pastors and bishops and be not hirelings but true shepherds.

We should also note that our Lord says He has sheep that are "not of this fold" who shall hear His voice - perhaps better than those who are currently of His Flock - and they shall become part of the Flock, too.

This should teach us to be humble and not to presume or become complacent. Some who are not currently of the Flock may be judged better than us to sit amongst the saints in Heaven.

Let us pray for them, also, and remember that the Catholic Church is for all, including those who are not yet members. It is not a convenient little club only for cradle Catholics.

God chose the Israelites but all but a few later rejected Him and he transferred His favour to the Gentiles who converted to Him and loved Him better than many of His own chosen people.



 
Lord Jesus, Good Shepherd of us, your flock, have mercy on us and protect us!


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Saturday, 22 April 2017

QUASIMODO SUNDAY - "As newborn babes, alleluia, desire the rational milk without guile..."


Dominica in Albis Deponendis

(Sunday when the newly baptised finally put off their white garments of Easter)

also called

Quasimodo Sunday

or

Low Sunday
 
or

Close-Pasch

and

the Feast of Divine Mercy


Buoninsegna. Christ appears to the Disciples. 1308-11.



"Quasimodo geniti infantes, alleluia, rationabile sine dolo lac concupiscite.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."

"As newborn babes, alleluia, desire the rational milk without guile. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia" 
[1 Peter 2:2; Introit for the Mass of Low Sunday]



Our Lord appeared first to St Mary Magdalene and then the women at the tomb (Luke 24:1-10).
 
Later on the Day of Resurrection, Sunday, the first day of the week, he appeared to the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) and then he appeared again to them in a closed room in Jerusalem and gave them the power, as priests, to forgive sins (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25).
 
8 (Jewish) days later (Jewish and Roman days start at sundown), on the following Sunday, he appeared to them again and cured the doubts of St Thomas the Doubter (John 20:26-29).
 
He then appeared to them a 3rd time, by the sea of Tiberias, when there was a miraculous draught of fish and he heard St Peter's confession for denying him 3 times (John 21:1-23).
 


"Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you. And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. 

He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. Now Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. 

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you. Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. Thomas answered, and said to him: My Lord, and my God. Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed."
[John 20:19-29; Gospel of Low Sunday]


 

Caravaggio. Doubting Thomas. 1602-1603.


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Sunday, 16 April 2017

EASTER SUNDAY - "I have seen the Lord!"


Happy Easter to all!

Christus surrexit,
sicut dixit,
alleluia!

Christ is risen
as He said!
Alleluia!



Correggio. Noli me tangere. 1525

"When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome, bought spices so that they might come and anoint Jesus...and on a sabbath morning they came to the sepulchre after sunrise...and looking up they saw that the stone was rolled back. Alleluia!"
[Taverner, Dum transisset sabbatum from Mark 16, sung at the Easter Vigil mass of Holy Saturday night]

"The Angels said to her 'Woman, why are you weeping?'. She said to them 'Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him'. Saying this she turned round and saw Jesus standing but she did not know that it was Jesus. Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him 'Sir, if you have carried Him away tell me where you have laid Him and I will take Him away'. And Jesus said to her 'Mary'. She turned and said to Him in Hebrew 'Rabboni!'".
[John 20]
"She went and said to the Disciples 'I have seen the Lord!' "[John 20.18]


John Taverner (1490-1545). Dum Transisset Sabbatum. Sung by the Tallis Scholars.

Dum transisset Sabbatum,
Maria Magdalene et Maria Jacobi et Salome
emerunt aromata ut venientes ungerent Jesum.
Alleluia!
Et valde mane una sabbatorum veniunt ad monumentum orto iam sole ut venientes ungerent Jesum.
Alleluia!
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Alleluia!

And when the Sabbath was past,
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome
had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
Alleluia!
And very early in the morning, the first day of the week,
they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun that they might come and anoint him.
Alleluia!
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
Alleluia!
[Dum Transisset Sabbatum - taken from the Gospel of St Mark, Ch16]



Carl Heinrich Bloch. The Resurrection. 1881.

Victimae paschali laudes
immolent Christiani
Agnus redemit oves:
Christus innocens Patri
Reconciliavit peccatores.
Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando,
Dux vitae mortuus, regnat vivus.
Dic nobis Maria, quid vidisti in via?
Sepulcrum Christi viventis,
Et gloriam vidi resurgentis:
Angelicos testes, sudarium et vestes.
Surrexit Christus spes mea:
Praecedet vos in Galilaeam.
Credendum est magis soli
Mariae veraci
Quam Judaeorum
Turbae fallaci.
Scimus Christum surrexisse
a mortuis vere:
Tu nobis, victor Rex, miserere.
Amen. Alleluia.

[Wipo of Burgundy, Victimi Paschali Laudes. 1040. Sung on Easter Sunday]

Surrexit Christus hodie! Alleluia!

Christ is risen today! Alleluia!
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Saturday, 15 April 2017

EASTER VIGIL - the Twelve Prophecies...time to restore them


The Twelve Prophecies.

Yes, twelve.

What are the Prophecies? They are the readings at the Easter Vigil.

The Easter Vigil is one of the oldest of ceremonies in the Christian Church.

During it the Catechumens are given their last instruction, in the porch of the Church, before being introduced into the Church, one by one, during the reading of the Prophecies.

The rest of the congregation listen to the Prophecies which are the story of salvation from the Creation of the World to the Birth and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

So far as we are able to tell there have always been 12 Prophecies. They begin at Genesis with God creating the world and end with the story of Nebuchadnessar, the later Epistle and Gospel telling of the Resurrection of Christ.

These ceremonies are thus of ancient and most hallowed and sacred origin. None but the most impious would dare to interfere with such ancient rites which come to us from the earliest of times in the Church.

The structure of the Vigil has been as follows:

1. The Blessing of the Fire and the Paschal Candle (with the grains of incense in the shape of a Cross) and the singing of the Exultet by a Deacon, followed by the Procession into Church and the spreading of Lumen Christi, the Light of Christ (signified by slowly re-lighting the lamps in the Church).

2. The Prophecies, sung just as the Catechumens, dressed in white robes, are, one by one, introduced into Church.

3. The Blessing of the Baptismal Water (if there is a Font) by which the Catechumens will be baptised.

4. The Litany of the Saints during which the Catechumens are baptised.

5. The Solemn Mass of the Vigil during which the Neophytes, newly baptised, will communicate.

This is then followed by Compline of the Easter Vigil (now Solemn Lauds of Easter Day since the Vigil is celebrated around midnight and not in the afternoon or morning).

Until Bugnini's cut and paste job of 1955, the Easter Candle was not lit directly from the Easter fire but rather from a three-branched olive stem housed in a candelabrum which was lit, to signify the Holy Trinity and the olive branch of peace, first from the Easter fire. From this triple branch, introduced into the Church with the chant of Lumen Christi, as now, was then lit the Easter Candle, standing in the Sanctuary atop its pillar, to symbolise the Pillar of Fire that, by night, led the Children of Israel out of bondage. Thereafter, the lamps of the Church were then slowly lit - not all at once in a rush but slowly - to symbolise the gradual spreading of the Light of Christ throughout the world.

This was but some of the most ancient, most fitting and beautiful symbolism that the irreverent Bugnini dared to interfere with.

Moreover, in the early Church and right up until around 1100AD or thereabouts, the ceremonies began late in the evening and did not conclude until daybreak. Psalms, chants and prayers were sung - as they still are among the Greeks - and ceremonies and rituals were carried out in search of Christ's sacred but resurrected Body by way of demonstration that He had risen in deed and would not return until the morrow when He would first be seen by St Mary Magdalene and mistaken for the gardener.




 
John Taverner (1490-1545). Dum Transisset Sabbatum.
The Holy Women come early on the Sabbath to the tomb to anoint the Body of Jesus but He is not there - Allelluia!
 

There is a lot of talk about how it was wrong to celebrate the Vigil during the day and not at night and that this was an abuse which crept in over the years. This is true and I see no reason for not returning the Vigil to its place at night. It is not an issue.

That argument is a distraction from the main issue which is that the 12 Prophecies were cut from 12 to 4 by the scheming and devious Bugnini when he "reformed" the Easter Triduum in 1955.

He did this in his usual underhand way by soothing the concerns of Pope Pius XII that the changes were small and reasonable. The Pope was deceived by Bugnini - and he was not the first so to be deceived!

The changes are major and all the worse for being done to so ancient a ceremony that comes to us from the earlies times, hallowed as they are by ancient usage and tradition.

The necessity for the 12 Prophecies, quite apart from their being ancient, hallowed and traditional, is that they tell the story of salvation from Creation to Christ.

Cutting them to only 4 is thus a complete nonsense since it does not tell the story of salvation but only a few unconnected bits i.e. Genesis, Exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea, a short piece from Isaiah and a reversion back to Deuteronomy.

Bugnini has done little more than take a pair of scissors to the 12 Prophecies and cut 8 of them out more or less arbitrarily.

By what conceivable right did this relatively minor Vatican official dare to do such a thing to so ancient and hallowed a right? And how can his arbitrary slashing be in any way right or conducive to edify the people? It is but a piece of wonderful impudence introduced by a kind of deception.

Indeed, so impudent was it that, when the new rites were being constructed, he felt that he had to restore some of the readings so that, in the Novus Ordo, it is possible, once again, to have most, if not all, of the 12 ancient Prophecies.

In this sense, then, and ironically, the Novus Ordo Easter Vigil is superior to that of 1955 and 1962!

The Greeks were, and remain, horrifed by what they regard as yet further blasphemy by the Latins in interfering with the ancient ceremonies, since they, the Greeks, still continue with the full ancient ceremonies that have been in place since the earliest times.

Even today, the Greek Church begins the ceremonies in the late evening and continues near enough until dawn, the Faithful, having processed around the Church in search of their Crucified Lord, waiting threafter with expectation, chanting and praying, for their Resurrected Saviour.



The empty tomb....
 
It makes us Latins look weak indeed by comparison!

Now we are weaker still, since Bugnini chopped the Prophecies by a third.


In the Basilica of St John Lateran, there were, in effect, 24 Readings since the ancient Propheices were sung twice over, once in Greek and once in Latin, another ancient ceremony.

Moreover, from the days of the early Church right up until the late 19th century - and in various places even well into the 20th century - the Deacon sang in the Exultet not only prayers for the Pope and bishops but also prayers for the Roman Emperor and the civil rulers.




Emperor Charles IV at prayer, wearing the ancient imperial crown. 1375.
Detail from a votive panel of Jan Ocko of Vasim.
 
This ancient prayer was not formally removed from the Exultet until Bugnini removed it in 1955, although Pope Pius XII, under strong pressure from Republican American prelates in 1942 when the Vatican was under the immediate threat of the Nazi Republicans, allowed it to be left out.

Let me conclude with that ancient prayer for the Roman Emperor, prayed throughout the Catholic world for so many centuries during the Easter Vigil:

EASTER VIGIL – THE EXULTET
PRAYERS FOR THE ROMAN EMPEROR

(The lamps were traditionally lit but gradually from the Paschal fire halfway through the Exultet to signify the Resurrection of Jesus Christ)

Respice etiam ad devotissimum imperatorem nostrum (Nomen) cujus tu, Deus, desiderii vota praenoscens, ineffabili pietatis et misericordiae tuae munere, tranquillum perpetuae pacis accommoda, et coelestem victoriam cum omni populo suo.

Regard also our most devout Emperor [Name] and since Thou knowest, O God, the desires of his heart, grant by the ineffable grace of Thy goodness and mercy, that he may enjoy with all his people the tranquillity of perpetual peace and heavenly victory.

Restore to us our 12 ancient Prophecies, O Lord!



A Pillar of Fire by night went before the Children of Israel...



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