Saturday, 28 February 2009

Lent II

The Miserere (which is Psalm 50 in traditional CATHOLIC Bibles) is the ultimate psalm of penitence. It features prominently throughout the liturgical year but, as you would expect, nowhere more prominently than during Lent. Incidentally, both Psalms 55 and 56 also begin with the words Miserere Mei Deus. During Lent, Psalm 50 is included in all Sunday and Weekday Vespers (on Sundays from Septuagesima), and, most famously, during Tenebrae of Holy Week.

Psalm 50 is one of the Seven Penitential Psalms. The others are Psalms 6, 31, 37, 101, 129 and 142. The lenten devotion of reciting the Seven Penitential Psalms was common throughut Christendom and deserves to be common again.


The setting in this video is that of Allegri and is the most famous musical setting of Psalm 50. It is one of the three settings (that of Abbot Giuseppe Baini on Wednesday, that of Tommaso Bai on Thursday, and Allegri's on Friday) that were annually sung during the Tenebrae in the Papal Chapel.

These settings acquired a considerable reputation for mystery and inaccessibility because the Holy See forbade the making of copies of the music held by the Sistine Chapel Choir, threatening any publication or attempted copy with excommunication. However, a young Mozart attended the ceremonies of Holy Week at the Vatican in 1770 and transcribed them from memory afterwards. Although, it must be admitted that the version that emerged is a conflation of the settings of Allegri and Bai.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Lent I

As with Advent, the season of Lent is forgotten by the modern mind. Penance, preparation, patience are all too much for it. For the modern mind, it must be fun, easy and instant. As with the hymns of Advent, the hymns of Lent can be one means of restoring the spirit of Lent. The wisdom of the Church has foreseen this need and ensures that, since the organ is silent during Lent to increase the sense of penance and simplicity, the hymns of Lent are simple enough to sing unaccompanied. Here is the first 'theme song' of Lent, Attende Domine.


Attende Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi. "Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon us, who have sinned against Thee" is the constant refrain of this hymn, and the constant refrain of the Liturgy (and, hopefully, of the penitent soul) during Lent. The hymn is in Mode V and is based upon a tenth century lenten litany from the Mozarabic Rite. While most of the modern Gregorian Chant derives from the music of the Papal Chapel or the Frankish Imperial Chapel, some has been adopted, on account of its beauty and depth, from the Mozarabic Liturgy of the Visigothic Kingdom of Spain.

The gradual decline of the Mozarabic Rite began about the middle of the eleventh century, being reduced to the use of only a few Chapels and Parishes by the beginning of the twentieth century. However, the chant of the Rite survived longest in common use, being commonly used in alternation with Gregorian Chant, most notably in the Cathedral of Toledo.

Despite such set-backs as the slaughter of the whole college of Chaplains of the Mozarabic Chapel at Toledo Cathedral by Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War, the Rite has survived and a commission by the Archbishop of Toledo led to the republication of the liturgical books towards the end of the twentieth century.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The liturgical vision of Vatican II

It is reported that the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, has written a forward to a book based upon the diaries and notes of Cardinal Fernando Antonelli, O.F.M. (1896-1993). In the forward, Archbishop Ranjith is quoted as saying:

"Some practices which Sacrosanctum Concilium had never even contemplated were allowed into the Liturgy, like Mass versus populum, Holy Communion in the hand, altogether giving up on the Latin and Gregorian Chant in favor of the vernacular and songs and hymns without much space for God, and extension beyond any reasonable limits of the faculty to concelebrate at Holy Mass. There was also the gross misinterpretation of the principle of 'active participation'."

"Basic concepts and themes like Sacrifice and Redemption, Mission, Proclamation and Conversion, Adoration as an integral element of Communion, and the need of the Church for salvation--all were sidelined, while Dialogue, Inculturation, Ecumenism, Eucharist-as-Banquet, Evangelization-as-Witness, etc., became more important. Absolute values were disdained."

"An exaggerated sense of antiquarianism, anthopologism, confusion of roles between the ordained and the non-ordained, a limitless provision of space for experimentation-- and indeed, the tendency to look down upon some aspects of the development of the Liturgy in the second millennium-- were increasingly visible among certain liturgical schools."

The book, in its English edition, is entitled True Development of the Liturgy and is written by Msgr. Nicola Giampietro, O.F.M. Cap. who is on the staff of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Msgr. Giampietro has previously published Il Card. Ferdinando Antonelli a gli sviluppi della riforma liturgica dal 1948 al 1970 in Italian.

[The full text is now available on the blog New Liturgical Movement. 9th March, 2009]

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Golden with Hope

As already noted, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be celebrated according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII in St. Coca's Parish Church, Kilcock, at 11 a.m., on Saturday, 21st March, 2009, to honour the Holy Year of Saint Paul.

The Parish of Kilcock was, for many years, under the Pastorate of the saintly Fr. John McWey, from whose notebooks a collection of reflections, thoughts and prayers was published last year under the title Golden with Hope.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

St. Farnan of Downings

Most Rev. Dr. Comerford, in his entry for the Parish of Caragh and Downings in his historical work on the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, gives us the following information on St. Farnan of Downings:

"Here are the ruins of an old Church, measuring, according to Father O’ Hanlon (Lives I.S.S. 2, p. 564.) 42 ½ feet by 16. Tradition states that this Church occupies the site of the cell of St. Farnan, whose feast occurs in the Irish Calendar on the 15th of February. This Saint flourished in the sixth century, and was descended from King Niall of the Nine Hostages. Beside the ancient cemetery is the Well of St. Farnan; and it possesses - so the local story goes - the valuable property, imparted to it by the blessing of the Saint, that those who drank of it never afterwards have any relish for intoxicating drinks. The Dun from which this place probably takes its name (Dooneens, “the little fort,”) may still be seen a short distance from the village of Prosperous, on the left of the road to Caragh. The only doubt about its being so arises from the fact that, instead of being small, it, on the contrary, is one of considerable dimensions."

St. Farnan of Downings, pray for us!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Fifth Monthly Mass in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin

After last month's visit by the Bishop, February's monthly Mass would always struggle to exceed its immediate predecessor. The presence of a new celebrant, Fr. Simon Leworthy, FSSP, might have created a flutter of interest. The switching on of the main lights and the flood of sunlight at the beginning of Mass certainly created a different atmosphere in the Church.

A view from the pews at the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar

A sprinkling of snow earlier in the morning may well account for the smaller congregation. Besides Celebrant and server, 13 people were present for the Mass, not quite half the size of last month's congregation, although that number could be increased to 15, if the Parish's Sacristy Staff were to be counted. On the positive side, the local people attending were in a clear majority (as were the members of St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association, if that is noteworthy).


Fr. Leworthy celebrated the Mass of Septuagesima and, in his sermon, said that these are two-and-an-half weeks to prepare to receive the ashes of repentence.

Fr. Leworthy reads the Epistle at the Ambo

Happily, the use of the Maniple has been restored, although, unfortunately, at the loss of the Chalice Veil. However, a complete and most welcome innovation was the use of an Altar Crucifix, which had been absent for the first four months.

The Sanctuary flooded with light at the Offertory

Saturday, 7 February 2009

The Hallowing of Time

The Catholic Church, both in its wisdom and in its understanding of humanity, has many means of sanctifying time. Today, set between Candlemas, which brought Christmastide to a close, and Septuagesima, which opens the long period of preparation for Easter, is an excellent moment to consider the lesser cycles that sanctify time which are blessed by the Church.

Liturgically, we have Ember Days, seasonal periods of prayer and fasting, or Rogations, the twice-yearly occasions for rogating or imploring the mercy and goodness of God.

We also have the dedication of days and months to particular devotions. One traditional method, for example, dedicates Monday to the Holy Ghost, Tuesday to the Holy Angels, Wednesday to St. Joseph, Thursday to the Blessed Sacrament, Friday to the Sacred Passion, Saturday to Our Lady and Sunday to the Most Holy Trinity. The cycle of Votive Masses in the Missal varies from this formula slightly, dedicating Monday to the Most Holy Trinity and including the Holy Ghost on Thursday, while including the Holy Apostles in the dedication of Wednesday.

Of the days dedicated, the most familiar and the most commonly practised, even in our own day, is the dedication of Saturday to Our Lady. The visions of Simon Stock and the children of Fatima would seem to be confirmation from Heaven of this venerable tradition. However, the origin of the dedication of Saturday seems to originate in the Court of Charles the Great (742-814) with the monk Alcuin of York, who composed two Masses in honour of Our Lady for Saturdays. By the 11th Century, the devotion was well established in the Universal Church when St. Peter Damien famously promoted the devotion and Pope Urban II prescribed prayers to Our Lady on Saturdays for the success of the first Crusade.

The dedication of months is also very traditional and frequently enriched with Indulgences. One traditional method devotes January to the Holy Name of Jesus, March to St. Joseph, May to Our Lady, June to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, July to His Precious Blood, September to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, October to the Holy Rosary, November to the Holy Souls, and December to the Holy Infancy. Most of these are derived from liturgical feasts ocurring during the month.

The tradition of special devotions to Our Lady during the month of May can certainly be traced to the High Middle Ages, the Cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfonso X of Castille being frequently cited. The dedication of the entire month to Our Lady may have taken until the 17th Century to be widespread. However, to Pope Clement VIII we owe the custom of the Crowning of Images of Our Lady, now strongly associated with May.

The origin of the dedication of June to the Sacred Heart is less clouded in the mists of history. We owe it to Angéle de Saint Croix, a Parisienne schoolgirl of the 1830s, who was inspired to propose it to the Superioress, not because the feast of the Sacred Heart falls in June, since it is a movable feast dependent upon the timing of Easter, but because Angéle felt that, if Our Lady had a whole month of May, the Sacred Heart should have a whole month of June.

The Superioress recommended her to make the suggestion to the Archbishop when he visited the school the following week. This she did and the Archbishop responded immediately, dedicating the month of June to the Sacred Heart of Jesus throughout the Archdiocese for the joint intentions of the conversion of sinners and the return of France to the practice of the faith. The devotion soon spread and became universal throughout the Church.

In such ways, the Church recommends to the Faithful to dedicate each moment of time to God and to His Angels and Saints, to sanctify time and, by doing so, to sanctify ourselves.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Let us pray for our Pope!


Dominus conservet eum,
et vivificet eum,
et beatum faciat eum in terra,
et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius. (Ps. xl:3)

Monday, 2 February 2009

The Purification of Our Lady

Today is the feast of the Purification of Our Lady and the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple or Candlemas. It marks the fortieth day after the Birth of Our Lord and the end of the Season of Christmastide.

Risë Stevens, seen here singing with Bing Crosby in Going My Way, was one of the great voices of the New York Metropolitan Opera. This clip captures a sense of that time when popular culture deferred to Catholic Culture, a time when Catholics deferred to Catholic Culture, a time when men were men and Popes were Pius.

Going My Way starred Bing Crosby as Fr. O'Mally and Barry Fitzgerald as Fr. Fitzgibbon. It won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Director, Best Original Song, Best Original Story and Best Screenplay and three further nominations in 1945. It was followed by The Bells of St. Mary's, starring Bing Crosby again as Fr. O'Mally and Ingrid Bergman as St. M. Benedict. The Bells of St. Mary's won one Oscar and seven nominations in 1946. Going My Way was reprised as a television series in 1962-3 starring Gene Kelly in the Crosby role and Leo G. Carroll in Fitzgerald's.

Leo McCarey, the writer and director on both films, was one of the outstanding Catholics of the so-called 'golden age' of Hollywood, amassing 3 Oscars and a further 10 nominations.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Pilgrimage to Kildare

Pilgrimage to honour St. Brigid of Kildare on Saturday 14th February 2009 commencing with a procession to St. Brigid's Well departing from St. Brigid's Parish Church Kildare Town at 12.30 pm.

Holy Mass in the Traditional Latin Rite in St. Brigid's Parish Church Kildare Town at 2.30 pm followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.