Thursday, August 31, 2017

Blessed Ildefonso Schuster of Milan and the Divine Office

I learned from a Facebook friend that yesterday (August 30) is the observed memorial of Blessed Ildefonso Cardinal Schuster, archbishop of Milan during World War II.

I came across Cardinal Schuster several years ago while writing a booklet to go with an Ignatius Press release of an Italian film about Blessed Carlo Gnocchi, Father of Mercy. Not to get too sidetracked from my subject, but Blessed Carlo was an Italian military chaplain who, after the war, founded homes for the many war orphans and in particular those maimed by landmines.  Cardinal Schuster was a mentor of his.

Then, this month, I bought an audiobook of Beneath a Scarlet Sky, a novel centered on the life of a teenage boy who, under the direction of a priest, helped many Jews cross the alps into Switzerland during the war. Cardinal Schuster and other Catholic clergy figured prominently in this book, since he spearheaded an underground railroad to save Jews from death in concentration camps.

So yesterday, as I finished the novel, I found a post on Facebook telling me that it was Cardinal Schuster's memorial on local calendars where he is venerated. (This would be Italy for certain, and also that of the Benedictine order, since he was originally a Benedictine monk.)

Don't ask me why an Italian had a German sounding name. I guess his father had German blood.


Anyhow, the facebook post that alerted me to the memorial also quoted these lovely words from Blessed Schuster about the breviary, which he in turn had found on the New Liturgical Movement website:


I close my eyes, and while my lips murmur the words of the Breviary which I know by heart, I leave behind their literal meaning, and feel that I am in that endless land where the Church, militant and pilgrim, passes, walking towards the promised fatherland. I breathe with the Church in the same light by day, the same darkness by night; I see on every side of me the forces of evil that beset and assail Her; I find myself in the midst of Her battles and victories, Her prayers of anguish and Her songs of triumph, in the midst of the oppression of prisoners, the groans of the dying, the rejoicing of the armies and captains victorious. I find myself in their midst, but not as a passive spectator; nay rather, as one whose vigilance and skill, whose strength and courage can bear a decisive weight on the outcome of the struggle between good and evil, and upon the eternal destinies of individual men and of the multitude. (Blessed Card. Ildefonso Schuster, Archbishop of Milan, 1929-54)

27 comments:

  1. That is a very beautiful quotation, Daria.
    It moved me and strengthened me - thank you.

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  2. That quote alone makes me want to name a future son Ildefonso!

    A few days ago I received A Short Breviary (1954 complete edition), which James I. McAuley had promoted on this blog before, and we conversed about on a different post. It is fantastic! If I manage to snag another copy online at some point, it may even displace the Little Office of the BVM as our family prayer.

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    1. Ha! I'm not sure that future hypothetical son would thank you for that. Yes, that Short Breviary is a great little book.

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  3. Hi Open question to anyone: are the hymns in the Office in the Psalter restricted for that particular office for example can i choose a hymn to the Sacred Heart for Vespers 1 of the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary time or a hymn to Our Lady or one from the Common of the dedication of a church to mix them up a bit or do the hymns HAVE to come from the Psalter? Thanks

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    1. It is my opinion that all these hymns listed in the psalter are actually "suggestions". My proof is that different breviary publisher (Pauline, Catholic Book PUblishing,etc.) give different selections. There are "official" breviary hymns, and they often give these as a second choice on ibreviary. But the General Instruction say that other suitable hymns may be substituted for the official ones. So yes, substitute anything that is appropriate. Do be mindful of the liturgical season (advent, lent, etc.) but you really have plenty of leeway in ordinary time. Not sure I'd choose a hymn. Personally I'd choose a Christocentric hymn for a Sunday rather than a Marian one, but I'm not trying to place my feelings as a rule.

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    2. On Lulu.com, you can find for very cheap (something like $17) all the official hymns of the modern LOTH in English. It is called "Hymnal for the Hours," assembled by Fr. Samuel Weber OSB. I believe Daria had promoted it before on this blog as well. It is a fantastic resource.

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  4. Hi Daria, thank you for your post on Card Schuster. He is very dear to us who know St Josemaria Escriva.

    On another note I thought I would share this link with you. It's well worth a read, as well we need to pray lots for our priests... Best wishes, Norman


    http://www.sconews.co.uk/opinion/53925/the-tech-making-life-easier-for-priests/

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  5. I tried to find a Benedictine calendar with Blessed Schuster, but I was unsuccessful:
    http://www.swissamericanmonks.org/uploads/8/1/1/6/8116527/2017_liturgical_calendar.pdf

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  6. Hi Daria, I revisited a post between us in terms of memorials and i was reading a paragraph in my Ordo titled the Divine Office and it stated that psalms are to be taken "wholly or partly taken from the repeating 4 week psalter" and i believe, as far as I'm aware I've been doing that right in terms of i take everything from the common but i never use sunday Psalms and use Vespers 2 hence taking partly from the 4 week Psalter in light of reading this have i necessarily been doing this correctly?

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    2. May i ask your preference Daria? As i take everything hymn antiphons etc from the common just not the Psalms i take them from the current weekday

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    3. Personally, I use both psalms AND antiphons from the current weekday on most memorials, and only commemorate the saint by using what is in the proper of saints for his/her day. I make the exception when the memorial (optional or otherwise) is a saint that is especially important to me, e.g. St. John Paul II. In this case I use the full common with the proper. I think this is okay since the General Instruction encourages us to "adapt" the office to local custom and devotion (so long as it does not conflict with a day that is of greater precedence), and you can't get much more "local" than here in my own home, where we happen to really love St. John Paul II. It hadn't occurred to me until your post to entertain the possibility of using antiphons from the commons with the current weekday psalter. I don't think that option appears in the General Instruction but would have to look it up again. I think that would be a legitimate "adaptation" to suit your personal needs and devotion, but that is only my opinion.

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    4. I just noticed--and you probably did as well--that today's weekday psalter is really more suited to the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows than the common of the Blessed Virgin.

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    5. That is, for the Office of Readings.

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    6. Having used "A Short Breviary" for the last 3 weeks now, as you know, there is only one Common for all major feasts (Doubles of the 2nd Class and above, this being 1954) that don't use the regular weekly psalter.

      Of course, all the Common's psalms are very festal and celebratory in character. It is very... interesting... to use them paired with today's Antiphons (e.g. Ant. "Depart from me, * I will weep bitterly; labor not to comfort me" for Ps 99 "Sing joyfully to the Lord, all the lands; serve the Lord with gladness..." for the second psalm at Lauds, or "From the sole of His foot * to the hair of His head there is no soundness in Him." with Ps 150!)

      At first, I found it jarring.

      But then began to find it was even more fruitful fodder for meditation on Divine incomprehensibility and all the (humanly) apparent paradoxes in His Providential plans... It was also a good reminder that, much like Job (whose book the traditional Roman rite is reading through this month at Matins), the Blessed Mother also never ceased to love, praise and trust in God even in the midst of her greatest sorrow.

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  7. Why are there German names in northern Italy? As you remember from Beneath the Scarlet Sky Italy shares a border with Austria. Up until the late 19th century Italy was not a united country but was divided into many smaller kingdoms. Northern Italy was a land that was often fought over. It was often a part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, ergo Germanic families often migrate to this area.

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  8. I know we are only in September, but i was flicking through my Morning evening and night prayer book to the 25th Sunday of the Year and i stumbled across the Advent/ Christmas section now my book only has the vespers 2 of Christmas and vespers 1 of christmas attached to the antiphons and Lauds shows i have to use Sunday week 1 as its not attached, then i got really really confused with the Octave from the 26th-30th any help way in advance to put my mind at rest would be a great help God Bless.

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    1. Mitchell, I can't get to the advent volume of my 4-volume breviary right now, but I can tell you that the Octave of Christmas is very interesting and a little tricky. As with the Octave of Easter, each day observes the solemnity all over again, but there are also saints feasts each day as well (or solemnities of Holy family and Mary Mother of God). So you celebrate the saint's feast in the morning, and then usually repeat Christmas vespers in the evening. The morning prayer psalms during the week are Sunday week I. My breivary has good instructions each day in the proper of seasons, explaining when to go to proper of saints and when to use proper of seasons. Which breviary do you use?

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    2. I use the Collins version of Morning evening and night prayer

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    3. I don't own a copy of that one, so I can't describe to you where to go each day. But I assume there are instructions similar to mine. If not, you can always write again when its closer to Christmas. I'll give you blow by blow instructions then if you need them.

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    4. Thanks Daria much appreciated. I would go back to doing the full office but with how I say memorials of the saints I'm not sure if it would be liturgically correct. Also as well my current job may not permit me time wise to honour each hour correctly so I may find myself doing None at 6:30pm for example then vespers an hour or 2 later.

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    5. I know of someone who works nights and sleeps most of the day, so she does morning prayer when she wakes up a 6pm since that it when her day begins. Makes sense to me.

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    6. I know Vatican II placed a strong emphasis on restoring the hours to their proper times, and I think that is all well and laudable, but I'm also a big believer in the fact that (1) better earlier or later than never, (2) God is not bound by time, his creation, and (3) our prayers, engaging the timeless and eternal God, can transcend time and sanctify it both beforehand and after the fact.

      That's why I don't fret when I don't get to do the daytime hours at their "proper" times. (What's "proper" anyhow? Theoretically, Matins should be at midnight, Lauds at 3 AM. Yet they have been said together for centuries at various times, whether anticipated the evening before, at midnight, around 2-3 AM, or later just before dawn.)

      I personally often concatenate all the day hours and say Terce through None either earlier in the morning, around lunchtime, or just before Vespers in the late afternoon/evening. Heck, you can even say them AFTER Vespers. Yes, the order of the hours is important, but if it's important for you that you say the full Office each day, then just say it when you can, even if it ends up being out of order. You'll still "honor each hour." Relax!

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  9. Apropos of nothing, but this might be of interest to fellow Office-lovers: http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2017/09/the-ordinariate-office-online.html#.Wcqws1tSypp

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    1. Thanks for the link to the Anglican ordinariate office. I've been curious about it, but not sufficiently curious to wish to spend money for a prayer book. (Plus different people have different opinions as to which version is optimal, so I have no confidence about making a purchase.)

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    2. I hear you. Wise financial decision!

      All of us are sitting on pins and needles waiting for the CDF to finally approve - it's been sitting with them for months, if not over a year. Until then, it's a bit of a DIY, but Mr. Covert and his website have done more to keep the flame alive than anyone.

      My understanding is that, as laid out on his website http://prayer.covert.org/ it is as close to the final version as we can get until we finally hold the Real McCoy, imprimatur and all, in our hands.

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