Friday, February 27, 2015

Don't Know Much About St. Aelred...

..but I do know that one of my top ten favorite readings from the  Office of Readings was written by him. In case you didn't do this hour today, just get a look at this. I can't even edit it down to "highlights" since every single sentence is so powerful:

The perfection of brotherly love lies in the love of one’s enemies. We can find no greater inspiration for this than grateful remembrance of the wonderful patience of Christ. He who is more fair than all the sons of men offered his fair face to be spat upon by sinful men; he allowed those eyes that rule the universe to be blindfolded by wicked men; he bared his back to the scourges; he submitted that head which strikes terror in principalities and powers to the sharpness of the thorns; he gave himself up to be mocked and reviled, and at the end endured the cross, the nails, the lance, the gall, the vinegar, remaining always gentle, meek and full of peace.

In short, he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before the shearers he kept silent, and did not open his mouth.

Who could listen to that wonderful prayer, so full of warmth, of love, of unshakeable serenity—Father, forgive them—and hesitate to embrace his enemies with overflowing love? Father, he says, forgive them. Is any gentleness, any love, lacking in this prayer?

Yet he put into it something more. It was not enough to pray for them: he wanted also to make excuses for them. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. They are great sinners, yes, but they have little judgment; therefore, Father, forgive them. They are nailing me to the cross, but they do not know who it is that they are nailing to the cross: if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; therefore, Father, forgive them. They think it is a lawbreaker, an impostor claiming to be God, a seducer of the people. I have hidden my face from them, and they do not recognise my glory; therefore, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

If someone wishes to love himself he must not allow himself to be corrupted by indulging his sinful nature. If he wishes to resist the promptings of his sinful nature he must enlarge the whole horizon of his love to contemplate the loving gentleness of the humanity of the Lord. Further, if he wishes to savor the joy of brotherly love with greater perfection and delight, he must extend even to his enemies the embrace of true love.

But if he wishes to prevent this fire of divine love from growing cold because of injuries received, let him keep the eyes of his soul always fixed on the serene patience of his beloved Lord and Savior.
How is lent going for all of you? I've been busy with the birth of a grandson,the 18th birthday of my youngest child, and a legal guardianship hearing for said child since he is mentally disabled. So I fear I"m only just barely aware of lent at this point. I did settle on some good spiritual reading: This lovely book of passages curated from the letters of St. Francis deSales, and in addition to that, this commentary on the parables of Jesus by the incomparable Fr. George Rutler.  Both are from the excellent Sophia Institute Press.  

If you have any Liturgy of the Hours questions for me, fire away. 


  1. Sometimes the Lenten crosses that we bear are not the crosses which we choose, but are crosses thrust upon our back and shoulders for our ultimate spiritual benefit.
    May God continue to bless you on your journey with your youngest son. The responsibility that you have with him is at times a cross, but he blessings are immeasurably more, too!

  2. Thank you for posting this reading from the Office, it is so powerful!

  3. I have two LotH questions I've never been clear on.

    First, the rubrics make a reference to solemnities and feasts of patrons of places or churches, etc. As I understand it, this means that in certain circumstances, a Memorial can be elevated to a Feast or maybe even a Solemnity, and even new Feasts can be created if necessary. But I've never really seen any guidelines on how a layperson can know which patrons they should be doing this for or how to do it.

    Second, do you know of any guidelines on when optional memorials should be celebrated? I once saw someone comment (not here) that the intent of optional memorials was that you weren't supposed to celebrate them unless there was a good reason for doing so. But the person didn't elaborate and I've never been able to find any further information about this.


    1. A good reason for observing an optional memorial could simply be that you like that particular saint. A memorial can be observed as a feast if that saint is a patron, for example, if this is the saint your parish church is named for. If you are attached to a particular religious order, e.g. if you belong to a third order or other lay association of that order, you would celebrate a saint who belonged to that order at a higher level than memorial. In a more informal way, a layperson could take it upon himself to celebrate any saint whose life or teachings were a big influence in his life as a feast, so long as there wasn't already an official feast on the calendar, and its not a Sunday nor a weekday during lent, because in general the church avoids feasts or solemnities during lent. (with a few exceptions such as St. Joseph and the Annunciation.

  4. Hi.....question. There seems to be two areas of prayer. For example there is a morning prayer in the proper of seasons and morning prayer in the psalter. Am I correct in this? How is it determined which to pray or do we pray both? Thank you.

    1. I'm guessing you are using the one-volume breviary (Christian Prayer). During Ordinary Time you do everything, start to finish, from the psalter (not counting the occasional saint's feast). But during the holy seasons of advent,Christmastide, lent, and Eastertide, you only use the psalter up to the end of the third psalm, then switch to the proper of seasons for the reading and on to the end.

    2. No I am using Vol II. So for example today's Morning Prayer I would start in the psalter at pgs 1383 - 1387 and then finish with the readings in the proper of seasons at pgs 224 - 226?

    3. Okay now I see why you would not recommend the St. Joseph guide to beginners. It list the page numbers opposite.

      My goal is to not use a guide at all. :) Your book will go a long way to that end but I have a question as I read chapter 4. Is Psalmody and Psalter referring to the same thing?

    4. You ask great questions, John. The word psalmody just refers to the three psalms (or 2 psalms+canticle, or one psalm divided into three sections as the case may be) that starts off each day in the psalter. The term "psalter" refers to the entire four-week section. Weaning oneself off the St. Joesph guide is a great goal.