Category Archives: Sacred Liturgy

Quinquagesima Sunday -the Vocation of Abraham

WattsBe thou unto me a God, a protector, and a place of refuge, to save me: for thou art my strength and my refuge: and for thy name’s sake thou wilt be my leader, and wilt nourish me. In thee , O Lord, I have hoped, let me never be confounded: deliver me in thy justice, and set me free.

Introit for the Mass, Quinquagesima Sunday

The pre-lenten preparations continue today with the drawing of our attention to the penitential nature of Lent. As Abbot Granger called today, it is the day on which we recall the vocation of Abraham: “preserved those sacred truths” revealed to us by the Divine Majesty. The Church reminds us that Abraham is the model of what complete trust and belief in God ought to look like: from adoring idols to belief in a personal, loving and just God. We know that God chooses us, just as he chose Abraham.

Abbot Ælfric of Eynsham (c. 955 – c. 1010) gives us an insight into this liturgical season when he encourages his monks, saying: “Now a pure and holy time draws near, in which we should atone for our neglect. Every Christian, therefore, should come to his confession and confess his hidden sins, and amend according to the guidance of his teacher.”

So, the key here is to resolve with God’s grace to make time to pray , go to confess sins, fast, and give alms.

As a point of comparison, the Eastern Churches mark this Sunday by abstaining from dairy; this minor penitential day is called Cheesefare Sunday (a “good bye” to dairy products until Easter).

Sexagesima Sunday –God’s extravagance

GesimasWith Vespers tonight, we keenly recall in the Liturgy the extravagance of God. Sunday is Sexagesima in the Extraordinary Form–there are roughly 60 days until Easter.

Comparatively, the Eastern Churches have also begun their preparation for Lent. The Byzantine Church will have Meat Fare Sunday this weekend; it introduces the beginning of faithful’s abstinence of meat.

We observed Septuagesima Sunday last week, and next week we observe Quinquagesima Sunday. The “Gesimas” are the preparatory weeks before for the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday in the Latin Church. The sacred Liturgy is characterized by the absence of the organ unless to support the signing, the suppression of the Gloria in excelsis and the Alleluia, and the priest dons violet vestments.

Dom Prosper Guéranger gives us a terrific sense of today’s Liturgy.

Moreover, you may want to read Lauren Priests’ 2010 insightful article, “Parachuted into Lent: The Suppression of Septuagesima.”

The overarching theological theme is the covenant God made with Noah due the Flood. The Gospel of Luke gives us the narrative of the sower of the seed.   We know the Sower is the Lord;  the seed is His Word.

The Word has gone out to the ends of the earth by the Divine Sower ushering in for us what is known as the biblical Hundredfold. There is no place where He has not cast seed.  Hence, we believe that God is extravagant in sharing His Word, His Love, His Justice, His  generosity, and ultimately, Himself. Some may say, God is unreasonable in His generosity but that line of thinking is incoherent with Divine Revelation.

Our following the Word of God is live the Gospel making sure the the seed sown lands on good ground. kind of ground are you?

Saint Gregory the Great taught, “Man casts seed to the ground, when he places a good intention in his heart; and he sleeps, when he already rests in the hope which attends on a good work. But he rises night and day because he advances amidst prosperity and adversity, though he knows it not for he is as yet unable to measure his increase, and yet virtue, once conceived, goes on increasing.”

Septuagesima –running the race

septuagesima 2016We see in liturgical history, the Church in France in the thirteenth century there is a change in how we live the Lex Orandi tradition with the singing of Vespers on the eve of Septuagesima Sunday, the 9th Sunday before Easter (the Byzantine Church hears the gospel of the Prodigal Son thus beginning their preparation for Great Lent). At this time we ought to notice the visual and auditory elements change: organ is silenced, the Alleluia is buried, violet is worn for priestly vesture. This verse appears:

We are unworthy to sing a ceaseless Alleluia. Our sins bid us interrupt our Alleluia. The time is at hand when it behoves us to bewail our crimes.

Read more about this pre-Lent period by Dom Prosper Guéranger, OSB in his The Liturgical Year:

John Betjeman eulogized “Septuagesima” in his Poems in the Porch.

Septuagesima – seventy days
To Easter’s primrose tide of praise;
The Gesimas – Septua, Sexa, Quinc
Mean Lent is near, which makes you think.
Septuagesima – when we’re told
To “run the race”, to “keep our hold”,
Ignore injustice, not give in, and practise stern self-discipline;
A somewhat unattractive time
Which hardly lends itself to rhyme.

Holy Family Feast

holyfamToday the liturgical calendar for the Traditional Latin Mass observes the Feast of the Holy Family. In addition to the important theological and liturgical considerations, this feast day is special to the members of the Saint Gregory Society because in 1986 we had a solemn Mass initiating the work of the Society.

Something to pray about:

Christ’s human family is made holy by his presence in its midst. The primary lesson of the feast of the Holy Family, as celebrated within Christmastide, lies here. Just as the incarnate only begotten Son of God makes his family holy, so he wants to make our families holy as well. This purpose fits with the whole economy of salvation by which he comes to share our humanity in order to accomplish something that is completely beyond our capacities, namely, that, sharing in his divinity, we become children of the Father. The feast of the Holy Family is not simply intended to present an example to be imitated or a model to be reproduced, but the possibility of Christ’s transforming grace made actual in our own families.  When approving the feast of the Holy Family, Pope Leo XIII wrote: “When a merciful God determined to complete the work of human reparation which the world had awaited throughout long ages, He so established and designed the whole, that from its very inception, it would show to the world the sublime pattern of a divinely constituted family. In this [Holy Family] all men should see the perfect example of domestic unity, and of all virtues and holiness” (Neminem Fugit, 14 June 1892, §1).

Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P.
Vice President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei
Homily excerpt for the Feast of the Holy Family, 2016

Epiphany

EpiphanyIn the traditional form of our faith the Church celebrates the Epiphany on January 6th. The homage paid to the Holy Infant demonstrates that unbelievers, reading the signs given by God, point directly to Jesus as God-man, the promised Messiah, the King of Kings.

In a sermon Pope Saint Leo the Great taught:

“This is the day that David prophesied in the psalms, when he said: All the nations that you have brought into being will come and fall down in adoration in your presence, Lord, and glorify your name. Again, the Lord has made known his salvation; in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.

“This came to be fulfilled, as we know, from the time when the star beckoned the three wise men out of their distant country and led them to recognise and adore the King of heaven and earth. The obedience of the star calls us to imitate its humble service: to be servants, as best we can, of the grace that invites all men to find Christ.”

Saint Bonaventure reflects: “At the time of the Lord’s birth in Bethlehem of Judea, a star appeared to the Magi in the East, and its guiding light showed them the way to the humble King’s abode. Do not you yourself turn away from the brightness of this orient star that shows you the way, but rather, joining the holy kings, accept the testimony of the Jewish Scriptures concerning Christ and defeat Herod’s malice. With gold, frankincense, and myrrh, pay homage to Christ the King, truly God and truly human. In company with the first fruits of the Gentiles called to faith, adore, confess, and praise this humble God, who lies in a crib, and then, warned in a dream not to imitate Herod’s pride, return to your land in the footsteps of the humble Christ” (The Tree of Life, 6).

The image is a portion of a fresco, attributed to Giotto, c. 1315-20,  in the lower basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.