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)

17 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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