Friday, June 29, 2012

Breviary History #4

A continuation of a series on 20th century liturgical books that aimed to open up the Divine Office of the laity. By guest blogger Jim McCauley

Liturgical Readings, 1943

St. John’s Abbey was not the only American Benedictine Abbey with an interest in the Liturgical Movement. Another was St. Meinrad’s Archabbey in St. Meinrad, Indiana. Abbot Ignatius Esser (Abbott 1930-1955) also saw the need to open up the riches of the Breviary. However, Abbot Esser saw a lacunae in the Short Breviary – the rich Sunday homilies found in the Office of Matins were missing. As anyone who knows the pre-1960 Roman Breviary knows, the Sunday Office once had a third nocturn that contained the gospel of that Sunday, and then a patristic homily that explained the gospel. The other thing was that many of these readings were simply very difficult for those who were weak in Latin to understand. Abbott Esser had the readings translated into English. The Book was titled Liturgical Readings: The Lessons of the Temporal Cycle and the Principal Feasts of the Sanctoral Cycle According to the Monastic Breviary (1943). The untitled preface states:

“The present translation is dedicated to those men and women who are desirous of reading and meditating upon the words of the Fathers of the Church, but who have been hindered from so doing by an insufficient knowledge of Latin. In this translation the Latin idioms have been rather closely adhered to for the purpose of comparative study.”

The book was a success, and was kept in print through at least 1954. The book is especially valuable as it provides the readings for the octaves suppressed in 1955 –Epiphany, Ascension, Corpus Christi, Sacred Heart, Assumption, All Saints, and Immaculate Conception, as well as Pentecost, suppressed in 1969. Unfortunately, this book is rare today. Perhaps the publishers at the Baronius Press will use this as the basis for a supplemental volume to their new three volume Roman Breviary.

The images we have here is one of the front cover and another of the inside title page.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Solemnity Alert! Bratwurst Okay this Friday!


Don't forget to begin the solemnity of St. Peter and Paul tonight with Evening Prayer I.

Those of you who observe year-round Friday abstinence from meat will be pleased to remember that solemnities don't count.

We are serving beer and brats tomorrow night after our second Fortnight 4 Freedom lecture, taking advantage of this solemnity in the extreme. (title of lecture: What's the Big Deal About Contraception?)

So, do you think Sts Peter and Paul approve of this method for drawing people to learn why the Church holds this moral teaching which most of them don't like or follow?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Welcome,Wine&Cheese, &Weekly Q&A

A hearty welcome to new blog followers.  Here's to J. H. Rose,  Vicki, and Teresa.

It's been an interesting week here. The house is being re-sided and a room remodelled. As a result, there is furniture from that room strewn over the rest of the house, including a mattress and boxspring blocking a doorway between the living room and the dining room. Somewhere in this mess of furniture and whatnot is my missing computer mouse. This touchpad, alternating between over and under-sensitive, is driving me berserk.
 And  Tonight we have a double feature  Fortnight for Freedom lecture at Church: one  an overview of the current controversy, another one demonstrating how the healthcare mandate violates current laws regarding accommodating  religion in the workplace. Followed by a wine and cheese social.

So what was meant to be a quiet morning of writing is being overtaken with arrangements for glasses, ice, and table cloths.

I think I need that wine right now, even if it is only 10:20am!

But that's okay. First world problems are not really problems, I keep telling myself.
So this is why the Q&A post is a little late today. One resourceful reader just asked his question on last week's Q&A. Christopher said his parish was celebrating the feast of Sts Peter and Paul on Sunday instead of Friday (parish patrons, I guess), and wanted to know what he should do about his Hours? My answer was that it would make sense to follow his parish and do St. Peter on Sunday, and do the weekday on Friday.

So--any breviary related questions? Here's the place to ask.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Baptist, the Bonfire, and Demon Containment

The liturgical hours for the Nativity of John the Baptist--starting with tonight's evening prayer I--contain a string of antiphons which, read straight through, provide in themselves an excellent devotional on the conception, birth, and mission of the "greatest man born of woman". Reading ahead to the antiphons for tomorrow's vespers reminded me of why there is a traditional custom of lighting bonfires on this night: John was like a brilliantly shining light, says the third antiphon. Not to mention the daily repeated Benedictus where Zechariah, the prophet of the prophet, calls his little baby a light to reveal You to the nations.

 Of course, the bonfires predate the Baptist. It's one of those pagan customs co-opted by the Church when she co-opted Midsummer Night, exorcising its demons and baptizing whatever was harmless merriment. Now that the mighty prophet John owns June 24th, we can safely laugh at demons, fairies, leprechauns, and the other assorted lower classes of fallen angels thought to inhabit forests, rivers, meadows, and underground caves.  Hence the fitness of Shakespeare's comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream.  In this story, fairies take advantage of the power they have on this night to inflict magical love spells on hapless mortals who fall into the crossfire of a dispute between the King and Queen of the fairy kingdom. The redeemed can safely laugh at such things, since they have no reason to fear them.

Bottom and the Fairy Queen
Weather and zoning law permitting, light a bonfire tonight or tomorrow nght  in honor of St. John the Baptist. Otherwise, grill your dinner and tell your children the meaning of those lesser flames.
A St. John's Nativity bonfire
And don't miss Augustine's sermon in the Office of Readings.(check it on the ibreviary gadget on the left; click office of readings and scroll down to second reading.) I love his humble disclaimers that his thoughts may be unworthy of the dignity of this feast, but that the Holy Spirit within each listener will help him make the most of it. Better still is his illustration of how John belonged to both old and new testaments: As a representative of the past he is born of aged parents; as a herald of the new era, he is declared a prophet while still in his mother's womb.  

I wonder if this tiny pre-born prophet has been designated a patron of the pro-life movement? Could anyone who is more in the know about all things pro-life shed some light on this?