The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for the ‘Little Office’ Category

Month of Mary, Day 14: The Little Office Of The Blessed Virgin Mary

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 14, 2009

Some day I’ll get ambitious and post my own version of this with a fully linked table of contents so you don’t have to search through the pages for the days of the week.  A somewhat different and more popular version of the LO can be found HERE, very conveniently arranged.  Another well arranged site is run by the Third Order of St Dominic.  I have not been through the whole site yet but I did notice that the Lauds prayer ended with a commemoration of some famous Dominicans.

Posted in Books, Devotional Resources, Little Office, Our Lady | Leave a Comment »

The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Commentary on Matins (First Nocturn, Psalm 8)

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 6, 2009

The term “First Nocturn” refers to the Psalm used at Matins on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays.  These Psalms change for Tuesdays and Fridays (the Second nocturn), and for Wednesdays and Saturdays (the Third Nocturn).  My source’s commentary on the First Nocturn is 30 pages long, for this reason I’ll be posting only on Psalm 8 today.  The other two Psalms for the First Nocturn are 18 and 23, and these will also be dealt with in individual posts.

Antiphon: Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb.

The following psalm being concerned with the wonders of creation, the Antiphon directs our minds to Our Lady as the choicest and most perfect creature of God.  For if man be made a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor, how much more honorable and glorious is She whose Office and holiness is far above that of the highest Angel?  For which one of them could say to their God as She could say: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee? (Heb 1:5).

Argument: Defines what the Psalm is about according to the views of Venerable Bede and Tomasi.

Tomasi:  That Christ, the Son of Man, was made in His Passion a little lower than the angels.  The voice of the ancient Church speaking of Christ and of faith.  Also of the Ascension of our Savior and of the infants that glorified Him and that said Hosanna in the highest! The voice of the Church giving praise to Christ for the fiath of all creatures.

Venerable Bede:  (The first verse of the Psalm is actually a directive and reads: To the Leader; according to the Gittih.  “Gittih” is probably a reference to a musical tune and is derived from the word “Gath,” meaning wine-press.  The gathering of the vintage harvest was a time of great joy, and it seems that the directive is indicating that the tune which accompanied the text was to be joyful.  This helps explain Bede’s argument).  For the wine-press; that is, a vintage song of thanksgiving.  As in the wine-press when the grapes are bruised and the hardest pips crushed the sweetest wine pours forth, so when obstinacy and pride are crushed in the Church,  which is the true wine-press, at the commencement of these Psalms sings the praises of her Lord God, setting forth His majesty and the greatness of His operations.  Then she speaketh more plainly of the nature of man which, from the low and depraved condition whereto Adam’s fall had reduced it, He raised to the height of glory; and the one Person of Christ in its two distinct and inconfused Natures is unhesitatingly acknowledged.

8:1 O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is Thy Name in all the world.

O Lord our Lord. God’s name is twice repeated; for He is twice our Lord, in that He made us and in that He redeemed us.  he is our Lord also through our knowledge and love of Him.  We also are His servants; by the special claim He has to our life, by our holy vocation; therefore His interests are in a special sense ours.  Again, our Lord naturally suggests Him Who by mortal birth is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh (Gen 2:23); our Elder Brother, Who has shown to us the infinite tenderness and love of the Father.

How admirable is Thy name: The name of God implying perfection, all beauty, all riches, all power, all wisdom, and implying also that sweetest of all relations, taught us by our Lord Himself, the Divine Fatherhood.  But the name of our Lord is still more admirable; for it is the name of Jesus, name above all other names at which every knee shall bow (Phil 2:10); the name which is the joy of the faithful and the true revelation of the Father.

8:2  For Thy magnificence is lifted up above the heavens.

Commentators take this for the most part literally of the Ascension according to the words of St Paul: Who descended, He it is also Who ascended above all the heavens that He might fill all things (Eph 4:10); For then Christ, sitting at the right hand of  God the Father, sent the Holy Ghost and charged His Apostles to speak salvation in His Name as the only means of reaching heaven, and that He was constituted Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42).  Others, and especially the Angelic doctor, see here implied the infinite distance between Christ Who is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:24), and the very highest of the saints; not only the Apostles or the angels, but even Her who bare Him, Her whom Christian singers delight in styling the “new heaven.”  Father Lorin takes these words as implying the magnificence of glory of God is far beyond what we can gather from the Scriptures, which tell us of the mysteries of heaven, or from those wonderful manifestations of His power and wisdom, the seven sacraments.

8:3  Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou has perfected praise because of Thine enemies, that Thou mightest destroy the enemy and the avenger.

Literally, the Holy Innocents who thus glorified Christ by their death, and they cried Hosanna by their acclamations, as he Himself hath taught us (Matt 21:16).  Spiritually, the weaker members of the Church of whom the  Apostle writes: I have fed you with milk and not with strong meat (1 Cor 3;2).  And again, those who had the innocence and simplicity of babes; as the first-born of the Church, the Apostle, who, taught by their Lord to speak, fed by Him, like new-born babes with the sincere milk of the word (1 Pet 2:2), and called by Him His children (Jn 21:5).  So teach the Carmelite Angriani and Perez.  Also we may understand it of all religious souls who, in simplicity and innocence, look to God alone and receive from Him their meat in due season, the food of their souls, by the teaching of the Holy Ghost ever whispering to their conscience.

Because of thine enemies- for their conversion; or, if they will not turn, from their destruction, as it is written: The arrows of the little ones are made their wounds (Ps 63:8).

That Thou mightest destroy the enemy: for God has chosen the weak things of this world to confound the wise.

Avenger: Not only tyrants and unbelieving nations whom God has at various times raised up to chastise a sinful people, but the evil spirit himself who is only an instrument in his Creator’s hands, and whose power, like those other avengers, will be destroyed when the good designed to be done through them is accomplished.

2:4  For I see Thy heavens, the works of Thy fingers: the moon, and the stars, which Thou hast established.

The heavens, the works of Thy fingers: The whole course of events under God’s Providence, Who has declared that all things should work together for good to them that love Him (Rom 8:28).  Thy fingers, not hands, because, as St John Chrysostom says, this is but a small thing for God’s omnipotence.  .

The moon, that is, the Church, which is constantly renewed and receives all her light from the true Sun.  The stars, the Saints of God, as it is written: They that turn many to righteousness shall shines as the stars forever (Dan 12:3).  Note: He mentions not the sun, because the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:4, or, in some translations 3:20) was begotten not made.  Thus St Ambrose.  Again, the moon, says Jorgius, who was the confessor of Edward the First, denotes our ever dear and blessed Lady; and that for various reasons: as the moon draws all its brightness from the sun, and yet it is the most luminous object next to it, so Mary, made full of grace by Him whose countenance is as the sun shining in his strength (Rev 1:16), is the brightest of all the saints.  And yet, as the moon is nearest to earth, so our Lady is the lowliest of all in her humility.  As the moon rules the tides, so Mary by her prayers helps those who are tossed on the bitter surges of the world.  And as Easter, the festival of the Resurrection, follows the course of the moon, so the spiritual arising of the Man by the Incarnation followed the consent of Mary’s will to the message of the Angel.  The choirs of angels which are her fellows (Ps 44:15) and bear her company, are rightly compared to the stars; only less than the moon in glory and beauty.

8:5  What is Man that Thou art mindful of him? or the Son of Man that Thou visitest him?

When, therefore, the prophet considers all the things tending to man’s salvation, the Providence whereby all events work together for his good, the Church given him as a mother, the saints as examples and friends, his thoughts are naturally carried back to the one source of all, which is the Incarnation.  What is Man? The Psalmist answers in another place, Every man is bu vanity (Ps 39:12); and again, All men are liars (Ps 117:10).  Man: taken absolutely, as a sinner: the  Son of Man, those who are endeavoring to keep the law of God.  Thus St Augustine.  Also the Son of Man, our Lord’s own description of Himself.  In this sense the term is to be understood of His headship over the mystical body.

Visitest the Incarnation, was God visiting His people, as it is written: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He hath visited and redeemed His People (Lk 1:68).  And again, Thou visitest the earth and blessed it (Ps 65:9).

8:6  Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, with glory and honor hast Thou crowned him: and Thou hast set him above all the works of Thy hand.

The Carmelite says: For as much as Christ went not up unto joy, but first suffered pain, so here we see Him in His low estate first, and then in His glory; for the humility of His Passion was the merit of His exaltation.

Lower than the angels, in that He condescends to become mortal and passable.  A little lower:  And what marvel, then, of speaking in respect of His humanity, He saith: My Father is greater than I! (Jn 14:28).

With glory, as respects Himself; with worship, in reference to others.  Thus St Basil.  Again, a little lower, for it was but for a short time-a little, because He was mortal and passable of His own free will, and not like us, of necessity.  Glory, in the victory of the Resurrection; honor, on the throne of the Ascension.  And note, as St Albert the Great says, Christ is said to have many crowns, of which the chief are: the Crown of Mercy, wherewith He was crowned in the Incarnation and Nativity; the Crown of Sorrow, when the thorny diadem of the passion was given Him; that of Glory in the Resurrection and Ascension; and that of Dominion, which He will receive when the Court of the Redeemed gathers around Him.

Over the works of Thy hands: and therefore over those angels than whom for a season He was made a little lower.

8:7  All things Thou hast out beneath His feet, sheep and all oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field.

All things Thou hast put beneath His feet. Let the Apostle interpret: In that He put all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him (Heb 2:8).  But when He saith all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted Who did put all things under Him (1 Cor 15:27).  Note in these three verses of the Psalm we have the four living creatures of the Apocalypse (4:7) for these might denote the four parts of Christ’s works of mercy, as well as the four Evangelists.  What is man? Here we have the face of a man.  Thou hast made Him a little lower than the angels, there we have the ox, the animal fit for sacrifice; Thou hast crowned Him with glory and honor, there the victorious lion; Thou hast put all things under His feet, there the eagle that soars above everything else.  So thinks Rupertus.

Beneath His feet.  As the head of Christ is His Divinity, so His feet are His manhood; and to Him, as Man, is given the empire, which, as God, was always His, Who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature…that in all things He might have the headship (Col 1:15, 18).

Sheep: By these we understand those whose business in Christ’s Church is not to teach but to learn: My sheep hear My voice (Jn 10:27).

And all oxen: Those who labor in His word and doctrine; according to that saying of St Paul, quoting from Deuteronomy 5:4, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn (1 Cor 9:9).  For by these great profit is obtained in His Church; as it is written: Much increase is by the strength of the ox (Prov 14:4).

Yea: The word shows that a change of subject is made, namely, from the good to the wicked.

The beasts of the field: Those that own no master, but follow their own hearts’ lusts, like brute beasts, as St Peter teaches, made to be taken and destroyed (2 Pt 2:12).  For the wicked as well as the good are made subject to Christ.  Thus St Bruno, of Aste-Perez remarks, not only are the sheep, the lowly and the docile who hear the voice of the Shepherd, put under Him, but even the oxen, the powerful rulers of the earth; and the beasts of the field, the wandering and barbarous tribes which knew no law before.

8:8  The fowls of the air and the fishes of the sea, and whatsoever walketh through the paths of the seas.

The fowls of the air are the saints who rise above the world, but only by means of the sign of the Cross (A bird with extended wings forms a cross).

The fishes of the sea: ordinary Christians regenerated of water and of the Holy Ghost, and who are made fellows of Jesus Christ, the Divine Fish (The fish was an ancient symbol for Christ found throughout the catacombs.  The Greek letters for fish form an acrostic: Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior).

And whatsoever bad, as well as good, unholy, no less than holy; walketh through the paths of the seas, that is, exposed to the waves and storms of this troublesome world.  Thus Casiodorus.  But St Augustine will have the fowls of the air to be the proud and the ambitious, the fishes those who are restless and acquisitive.  While others see in the winged fowls the angels; in the fishes the evil spirits of the Abyss; or again, in a good sense the dwellers in the isles afar, and mariners in them who walk through the paths of the seas.  So Perez.

8:9  O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is Thy Name in all the world.

Admirable, not only because He is very God, as set forth in the first verse, but also because He is very Man, as taught in the succeeding verses.  Teh beginning and the ending of this Psalm is the same, as being in His praise Who is the First and the Last (Rev 22:13), the same yesterday, today, and for ever (Heb 13:8).

The Doxology: Glory be to the Father Who hath put all things under the feet of the Son of Man; Glory be to the Son Who vouchsafed to become Son of Man, made lower than the angels, but now crowned with glory and honor as Priest and King and Prophet; Glory be to the Holy Ghost, the Finger of God’s right hand by Whom the heavens were made.

Posted in Bible, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Little Office, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Our Lady, Quotes | 1 Comment »

The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Commentary on the Matins Hymn

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 3, 2009

The following is taken from Father Taunton’s public domain commentary on the little OfficeText in red represent my additions and notes.

The God, Whom earth and sea and sky,
Quem terra, pontus, sidera
Adore and Laud  and magnify;
Colunt, adorant, praedicant,
Who o’er their threefold fabric reigns,
Trinam regentem machinam
The Virgin’s spotless womb Contains.
Claustrum Mariae bajulat.

Creation, as we see it, consists of earth, sea, and sky, and the three form, as it were, the machinam (“fabric,” apparatus) by which God works out His will.  The Claustrum Maria means her reverend womb, which for nine months did carry the Lord of all things.   (“claustrum”=cloister, enclosure.  The translation of the Little Office I use reads: “Mary’s frame”). Mary was the Tabernacle of Emmanuel-God with us-and the Most High sanctified His resting place (see Ps 14:4).  The Ark of the Covenant in the Temple of Solomon was of incorruptible wood covered with plates of massive gold.  It only contained the tables of the Law, a pot of manna, and Aaron’s flowering rod.  But Mary, the true Ark of the Covenant, incorruptible by her immaculate Conception and adorned with the gold of charity, contained within her, as in a most peaceful cloister, the very Giver of the Law, the very Bread of Life, and the true High Priest, Himself, Whom all creation worhips, adores, and proclaims.

The God whose will by Moon and Sun,
Cui luna, sol, omnia
And all things in due course is done,
Deserviunt per tempora,
Is borne upon a Maiden’s breast,
Perfusa caeli gratia
By fullest heavenly grace possessed.
Gestant puellae viscera.

That is: Our Lady, filled with heavenly grace, doth bear Him, Whom moon, sun, and all things serve according to the seasons and times appointed to them: And God made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: He made also the stars.  And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good (Gen 1:16-18).  Notice the word perfisa, i.e., bathed through and through, soaked; like Gideon’s fleece was soaked with the dews of heaven (Judges 6:38); so Mary was full of grace.

How blest that Mother in whose shrine
Bedta Mater minere
The Great Artificer Divine,
Cujus supernus Artifex,
Whose Hand contains the earth and sky,
Mundum pugillo continens
Vouchsafed, as in His ark, to lie.
Ventris sub arca clausus est.

That is: “Blessed by the gift of the Holy Ghost is that Mother whose High Maker, that holdeth the world in His hand, is borne within the ark of her womb.  Our Lord is said to hold the world in His hand, for all the world is full little in regard to his greatness (i.e., the world is small when compared to His greatness).  And as a man may do what he wills with a thing he hath in his hand, so is everything in the power of His hand and all is kept in being by Him” (Myoure).  Artifex, i.e., artificer-one who works according to Art, according to design.  Art is the showing forth of the Beautiful; and in the Incarnation to which the verse refers, we have the most perfect manifestation of God’s art in adapting means to an end, in exhibiting the beauty of His power, and of His love, and of His wisdom.

Blest, in the message of Gabriel brought;
Beata caeli nuntio,
Blest, by the work of the Spirit wrought;
Fecunda sancto Spiritu,
From whom the great Desire of Earth
Desiderdtus gentibus
Took human flesh and human birth
Cujus per alvum fusus est.

Nuntio caeli-the message of Gabriel: Fecunda. (“Fecunda” can mean either “fertile,” or, “plentifully furnished.”  This last meaning can be synonymous with “blessed,” or “full of grace.”  obviously, “fecunda” can be used to sum up the Angel’s message to our Lady) Sancto Spiritu-“The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee(This is the high point of the Angel’s message of fecundity to Mary, see Lk 1:35). Desiderdtus gentibus: our Lord was the Longed-for One; the Desired of the nations: And the Desired of the nations shall come (Haggai 2:7).  His advent was the prayer of the prophets and holy ones of Israel: Drop down ye heavens from above and let the skies pour forth the Righteous, let the earth open and bring forth the Savior (Isa 45:8).  And when He came He told men that many kings had desired to see the things they saw (Lk 10:24); and that Father Abraham rejoiced to see His day, and saw it and was glad (Jn 8:56).  Fusus est:  poured forth as oil, or as light passing through a most pure crystal.  (In the translation the phrase Fusus est corresponds to the word “took” in the phrase “Took human flesh and human birth.”  The phrase can denote genorousity or liberality).

All honor, laud, and glory be,
Jesu, Tibi sit gloria,
O Jesus, Virgin-born, to Thee!
Qui natus est Virgine,
All glory, as is ever meet,
Cum Patre, et almo Spiritu,
To Father and to Paraclete.
In sempiterna saecula.

Amen.

This Doxology, or ascription of praise to the Adorable Trinity, is used for all the hymns in the Little Office.  Jesu, Tibi sit gloria: Our Lord as He is our thanksgiving, our Eucharist, so is He also our Praise.  Therefore to Him and through Him we give our praise to the Blessed Three in One.  The rememberance of His Mother, Qui natus est de Virgine, gives us the reason for the special act of worship-one of gratitude for the Incarnation which is Mary’s gift to mankind.  For, chosen herself by God, she freely consented to become the Mother of the Word made flesh.  Almo Spiritu: the revelation of the Holy Ghost to us is that of infinite love.   The Love of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to us (Rom 5:5).  In sempiterna saecula:  The glory we give to God lasts forever; for He is the Father of lights with Whom there is no variableness neither shadow of turning (James 1:17); the Eternal God, The Great I Am (Ex 3:14).  This thought makes our act of worship deeper and fuller and brings a stillness over our soul as we think of the never-changing, never ending glory, which, as an everlasting fire, surrounds the Eternal.

The Translation I Use:

The Lord, whom earth, and sea, and sky
With one adoring voice proclaim;
Who rules them all in majesty,
Enclosed Himself in Mary’s frame.

Lo, in a humble Virgin’s womb
O’ershadowed by almighty power,
He, whom the stars and sun and moon
Each serve in their appointed hour!

O Mother blest, to whom was given
Within thy body to contain
The Architect of earth and heaven,
Whose hands the universe sustain:

To thee was sent an angel down,
In thee the Spirit was enshrined,
Of thee was born that Mighty One,
The long-desired of all mankind.

O Jesus, born of Virgin bright,
Immortal glroy be to Thee;
Praise to the Father infinite,
And Holy Ghost eternally.

Amen.

The edition I use is entitled “THE LITTLE OFFICE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY in English, Simply Arranged for use by Lay People” which is published by Franciscan University Press Quincy University. They have an online store but it is temporarily closed.  The edition I have uses Father Knox’s translation of the Bible, which some may find archaic.    An apparently more modern version designed for the Secular Franciscans can be found HERE (scroll down).

Posted in Bible, Devotional Resources, Little Office, Our Lady, Quotes | Leave a Comment »

Father Tauton’s Commentary on Psalm 95

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 28, 2009

The following is a commentary on the most used of the inviatory Psalms, namely, Psalm 95 (94 in Vulgate, Septuagint, etc.).  It is taken from a commentary on the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Father Tauton, which work is in the public domain.  Some text from the Little Office, along with some commentary can be found by clicking on the words “The Little Office” in the link field below this blogs header.

AntiphonHail Mary! ful of Grace, the Lord is with thee.

“But for it sufficeth not to you to praise and to joy in God alone but you must stir others to the same.  Therefore, after Alleluia, or Laus Tibi, you begin the Inviatory, that is as much as to say, a ‘calling,’ or a ‘stirring,’ wherebey each of you stirreth and exhorteth others to the praising of God and of our Lady.  And thereby also you call them that hear you and desire the others that are absent to come and praise with you.  And thereto accordeth the Psalm Venite that followeth and is sung with the Inviatory” (Myroure, pp. 82-83).

As these words were said by the Angel, it will be well to say them with the same feelings of joy, love, and reverence with which he greeted our Lady.

Psalm 95 (94):  A Prayer of a Son for David

Argument: Cardinal Tomasi in the collection of arguments collected from Origen, gives the following as meanings of this psalm.  That Christ, the Good Shepherd, predestinates His sheep with eternal rest.  The voice of the Church to the Lord touching the Jews.  The voice of Christ to the Apostles touching the Jews.  The voice of the Church advising to repentance.

Venerable Bede in his exposition of the Psalms says concerning this one: “Praise denotes devotion of voice; song, cheerfulness of mind, for David, Christ our Savior, to the end that we may come together and rejoice, not in vain delights, but in the Lord.  The prophet forseeing the rejection of Christ, invites the chosen people to come and praise God.  Secondly, the Lord Himself speaks that the aforesaid people should not harden its heart lest that if befall them which befell their fathers who did not reach the Land of Promise” (Migne P.L. vol xciiim p. 478).

1.  Oh, come let us sing unto the Lord.  Let us heartily rejoice in God our savior.  Let us come before His Face in confession, and in psalms let us rejoice before Him.

St Augustine (in Ennarationes in Psalmos), commenting on this verse, remarks that the prophet invites us to rejoice, not in the world, but in the Lord.  In saying Oh come, he means that those who are far off are to draw near.  But how can we be far off from Him Whom is present everywhere?  By unlikeness to Him, by an evil life, by bad habits.  A man standing still in one spot draws near to God by loving Him, and by loving that which is evil he withdraws from God.  Although he does not move his feet, he can yet both draw nigh and retire; for in this journey our feet are our affections.  Come, as sick men to a doctor to obtain relief, as scholars to a master to learn wisdom, as thirsty men to a fountain, as fugitives to a sanctuary, as blind men to the sun.  Thus writes the Carmelite, Michael Angriani.  Let us sing to the Lord.  Why then do we find it said: Blessed are they that mourn and Woe to you that laugh (Matt 5:4 and Luke 6:25)?  Surely because they are blessed who mourn to the world, and the woe is to them that laugh to the world; but blessed are they who exalt unto the Lord, who know not how to be glad of violence, of fraud, of their neighbor’s tears.  He joys in the Lord, who in word, deed, and work, exults not for himself but for his maker.  Thus states St Peter Chrysologus (Migne, P.L., vol liii. p. 328). Our Savior. St Jerome in his version of the psalms translates these words simply as “Jesus our Rock.”

Let us come before His face, that is, says St Augustine, let us make haste to meet Him, not waiting till He sends to call us before Him.  Not that we can in anyway forestall His grace and bounty to us, but that we may offer our thanksgiving with sufficient promptness to avoid the charge of ingratitude.

In confession, which may either be the confession of God’s might and goodness, or of our frailty and sin, the confession of praise, or the confession of grief.  In this second sense we are called upon to come away from our sins, to come in penance to God before He comes in judgment.  Confession in the Psalms is often used s equivalent to thanksgiving, for if we confess our unworthiness we must be filled with gratitude to God for His mercy in granting us forgiveness and restoring us to His favor.   The Face of God often stands in Holy Writ for His wrath, e.g., Turn away Thy Face from my sins (Psalm 50:9); and also for offering sacrifice (see Hosea 5:5-6; Habakkuk 2:20.  Modern translations may read ‘before, ‘ or ‘presence.’).   The sacrifice of thanksgiving under the Mosaic code was an oblation of cakes of fine flour and wafer bread; and thus in this place, says Fr. Lorin, S.J., we see a prophecy of the Sacrifice of the New Law, that Eucharistic oblation of praise and thanksgiving wherein Christ is Himself offered to the Father.

And in psalms let us rejoice before Him.-Psalms, says St Ambrose, denote the combination of will and action in good works because the word implies the use of an instrument as well as of a voice (Migne, P.L., vol xiv).  And, says Denis, the Carthusian, we may rejoice in psalms when we are alone, as well as when joining with others in the offices of the Church, saying, Oh come all ye powers of my soul, my whole being and all that is within me, especially my reason, memory and will, let us be glad together in the Lord.

2.  For the Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods: For the Lord will not repel His people, for in His hands are all the ends of the earth, and the heights of the mountains doth He behold.

Says Fr. Corder, To us the words teach the mystery of the Eternal Son, pointing out that our Lord even in His mortal body is a great God, by reason of the Hypostatic Union, and also because He is the express Image of the Father; whence we find this very title given Him by the Apostle saying: Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).  Christ, says St Bruno, is moreover the King whom all the gods, all those saints and rulers of His Church whom He has made partakers of Him, obey and love: I have said ye are gods (Jn 10:34).

For the Lord will not repel His people, That Christian folk, says Cardinal Hugo, which He hath purchased with His own Blood, He will not reject it, crying, praying, seeking or knocking to Him.

In His hands are all the ends of the earth.-If we take this as descriptive of the power of God over creation there is no better commentary on them that the words of Isaiah: He hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance (Isaiah 40:12).  But the fuller explanation is to take it as showing that whilst false gods are worshipped in special places, He alone is Lord everywhere.  And thus we see here a reference to the Church, no longer confined to the narrow limits of one people, but made up from all the nations of the earth.  The ends of the earth may denote all the powers and faculties of man, a notion which is brought out better by the Hebrew-all the deep places of the earth.

The heights of the mountains are types of the exalted citizens of heaven: thus says Fr. Lorin.  St Bruno says the earth is often put for men of earthly nd groveling minds, mountains for the saints lifted high by contemplation of Divine things.

3.  For the sea is His and He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.  Come let us worship and fall down before God: Let us weep before the Lord who made us, for He is the Lord our God: but we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Besides the obvious interpretation concerning the wonder of creation, the sea, says St Augustine, denotes the Gentile nations tossed about in the bitterness and barreness of heathendom whom the Jews, in their spiritual pride, refused to believe God’s children.  Yet He made them, as it is written: Doubtless Thou art our Father though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: Thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer (Isaiah 63:16).   And His hands have formed the dry land. This land, differing from the sea in stability and in capacity of fruitfulness, denotes the Church or any holy soul.  It is dry, says St Bruno, because without the grace of God it can do nothing, as land will not bear unless it be watered, but gaspeth for Him as a thirsty ground (see Ps 144:6).  He formed it, which means more than he made it, implying that He gave shape and beauty and fulness to that which before was without form and void (Gen 1:2) by reason of Adam’s sin.  (Note: the commentator is applying a text about creation to the idea of re-creation.  Adam’s sin affected creation inasmuch as it caused disunity among men with one another and with God, as Genesis 3:8-13 shows.  Also, as a result of Adam’s sin, God cursed the earth so that in some ways it rebels against man, as we see in Gen 3:17-19.  In some sense it can be said that the earth is without form and is void because it no longer retains the fulness of purpose for which it was intended by God; this is why St Paul can write that “all creation groans in eager anticipation of the full revelation of the sons of God” in Romans 8:19).

We are to worship, that is, to bend the head as servants to their master, to fall down as subjects acknowledging their king.  To weep, for as Cassiodorus says: God calls His people first to rejoice, while they, yet, do not know the spiritual life, lest they be alarmed and repelled by its sorrows and austerities; but when they have once accepted the faith, He then summons them to repent of their sins (Migne, P.L., lxx).  But, says St Peter Chrysologus, they are tears of joy; for gladness, as well as sorrow, brings weeping, and grief for our past sins is blended with the hope of blessing and glory to come.  Some commentators, who take this Psalm as having special reference to our Lord’s nativity, see here a command to adore Him in the manger, undeterred ty the tokens of mortality and poverty around.

But we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.-St Augustine tells us that we are hereby taught that we, even as people, are sheep, in respect to God, needing Him as a Shepherd, and only to be satisfied with His green pastures.  Yet we are not unreasoning sheep to be driven with a staff.  We are guided with God’s Own hands, the very hands which made us and are so loving and ever heedful to prevent any harm that may come from negligence, ignorance, or malice of those inferior shepherds, to whom He commits, in a measure, the task of tending His flock.  He feeds us, says St Bruno, with Bread from heaven, as He once fed our spiritual forefathers with mann in the wilderness; and He cares for us as a shepherd cares for his flock, so that we need not be solicitous, but cast all our care on Him.  Says St Bonaventure, we must be like sheep in trustfulness, patience and innocence, and yet men in understanding, according to His Own saying: And ye My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord (Ezek 34:31).

4.  Today if ye shall hear His voice harden not your hearts, as in the provocation and as in the day of temptation in the desert: Where your fathers tempted Me, proved Me and saw My works.

Today, that is, daily while it is called today, as the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews explains in one of his threefold citations of this verse: But exhort one another daily while it is called today (Heb 3:13). So long as the night has not yet come, so long as the door of mercy is not shut.  today, at once, not deferring till tomorrow.

If you will hear His voice is the reply to the assertion in the previous verse: We are the sheep of His pasture; for the proof of being one of Christ;s flock is according to His own words-My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me (Jn 10:27).  This flock He gave in its entirety, both sheep and lambs, to His apostle Peter to be fed for Him (Jn 21:15-17).  So if we are fed by Peter we are fed by Christ, and belong to His one fold.  You call yourself His sheep; prove your claim, then, by hearing His voice.  And yet, as St Bernard tells us, there is no difficulty at all in hearing His voice; on the contrary, the difficulty is to stop our ears effectually against it, so clear is its sound, so constantly does it ring in our ears.  The Jews, remarks the Carmelite, sinned by refusing to listen to the voice of our Lord; and we also sin in the same way when we put off or refuse to repent.  Satan’s counsel, observes St Basil, is “today for me, tomorrow for God”; whereas, He that hath promised pardon to repentance hath not promised tomorrow to the sinner.

Harden not your hearts.-For in doing so, says St Albert the Great, you set yourselves in direct opposition to the will of God, which is to soften those hearts, in that He said: My doctrine shall drop as the rain, My speech shall distill as the dew (Deut 32:2), to moisten the dry ground that it may bring forth the tender buds of grace; whereas it is said of sinners that their hearts are stony: I will take the stony heart out of your flesh and I will give you a heart of flesh (Ezek 36:26); and of Leviathan, the type of evil power, His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of nether millstone (Job 41:24).

As in the provocation and as in the day of temptation.-Some commentators refer the word provocation to the resistance of the Jews to the authority of Moses and temptation to their unbelief in the providence of God: And he called the naem of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us nor not? (Exodus 17:7).  Cardinal Hugo points out that the words which follow in the wilderness, are an aggravation of guilt, because it was exactly there, in the absence of all other help, that the thoughts of the Jews should have been most firmly set on God Who had so wonderfully brought them out of Egypt.  Those who come out of the Egypt of sin or worldliness, who begin a life of repentance, are at first in the wilderness.  They are deserted by those they have left behind; and, not attaining yet to what they seek, they re much exposed, in that stage of spiritual progress, to the risk of rebellion, of unbelief in God, and of resisting the pleadings of the Holy Ghost.

Where your fathers tempted Me.-There is a stress on your fathers, implying that we are the same nations which sinned in a former period of its history and are therefore likely to fall again.  The Carmelite remarks, we may tempt God in several ways: His mercy, by careless prayer; His patience, by remaining in sin; His justice, by desiring revenge; His power, by not trusting Him during perils; His wisdom, by undertaking to teach others without previous study and meditation.

Proved Me.-This is more than tempting, which denotes the bare experiment, whereas proving implies its success, for the God, whose power they doubted, slew them all in the wilderness.

And saw My works.-That is, says Fr. Lorin, although they saw them, and that during forty continuous years, yet they did not believe and were never subdued, but renewed their experiment after each miracle and judgment.

5.  Forty years was I nigh to this generation, and said, these do always err in heart; in truth they have not known My ways.  Unto whom I swore in My wrath that they should not enter into My rest.

Forty years.-The writers do not fail to point out the mystical meaning of the number forty, repeated in the fasts of Elijah and our Lord, and in the great forty days after Easter; and they tell us that as ten is the first limit we meet in computation, so that this number and its multiples give all the subsequent names to sums, it serves as a type of fulness; while four, as denoting either the seasons of the year or the quarters of the heavens, extends that fulness to all time and place; and thus forty years stands here for the entire span of our earthly sojourn.  Remigius, monk as St Germain (see Migne, P.L. 131), points out the stress on years, because the journey of Elijah teaches us that the Israelites could have passed through the desert in forty days had they only been obedient (1 Kings 19:8).

Nigh.-Some commentators take this word in the sense that one who punishes is near the criminal, or of a teacher who keeps beside an idle and refractory pupil to compel his attention.  St Augustine explains it of God’s continual presence in signs and miracles; while St Bernard interprets it of an inward voice and inspiration.  The cause of God’s anger was the ingratitude of the children of Israel for His unceasing watch over them.

This generation.-And whereas this applies literally to the 60,000 who came up out of Egypt, and then by accommodation, to all living men at any time while it is called today, there is also a special fitness in taking it of the Jews after the Passion of Christ; for, says Perez of Valentia, the interval which lay between that and the final destruction of Jerusalem was almost precisely forty years, up to which time the door of hope was still open for Israel, and it was still today ere that terrible night set upon the Temple worship.

Always do these err in their heart.-This is much more forcible, observes Cardinal Hugo, than if it were said, they err in act; for the error of an act has a definite end, whereas the error of the will has no end.  Death puts an end to the evil doings of a sinner, not because he has lost the will to sin, but because he has no longer the power to do so.

For they have not known My ways.-The word known does not here signify acquaintance with God’s ways which may be gathered from reading or meditation, but that knowing which comes from a careful keeping to His ways themselves, that is, from living lives fruitful in good works.  And the ways of God, as St Bonaventure remarks, are all reducible to one, that is Jesus Himself, the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6); moreover, they all lead to the same heavenly country.  They are one way in their making, their maker, and their end; they are many ways according to the diversities of the working of grace, the variety of vocations and of disposition among those who journey home through the wilderness.

Unto whom I swore in My wrath that they should not enter into My rest.-This He did when the spies brought back evil reports of the Land of Promise and the children of Israel prepared to elect a leader to take them back to Egypt (Num 14:26).  It is a terrible warning, comments St Augustine.  We began the Psalm with rejoicing but we end with awful dread.  It is a great thing that God should speak; but how much more that God should swear.  A man who hath sworn is to be feared, lest he should, for his oath’s sake, do aught against his will.  How much more then ought we not to fear God Who cannot swear rashly?  Let no one say in his heart, that which he promiseth is true, that which he threateneth is false.  As sure as thou art of rest,happiness, eternity, immortality, if thou keep the commandments, so certain shouldest thou be of destruction, of the burning of everlasting fire, of damnation with the devil, if thou despise His Law.  He hath sworn that these shall not enter into His rest, and yet, it remaineth that some must enter therein (Heb 4:6), for it could not be designed for no occupant.  And this rest, which meant the early Canaan to the Jews of old, means for us that Sabbath of the heavenly Fatherland whereof the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us: Now there remained a rest to the people of God (Heb 4:9).  Even here, on earth, says the Carmelite, before reaching the blessed Land, there remaineth a rest for God’s people, whereof the weekly Sabbath is a sign and a pledge.  This is the rest from sin, common to all the just, and the rest from bodily cares and stilling of temptation, which comes in measure to contemplative saints; while, crowning all, there is the rest of the blessed, whence sorrow is banished for evermore.  Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief (Heb 4:11) and be included under the terrible oath of exclusion; and in prayer for grace that it may not be so, O come let us worship and fall down and weep before the Lord our Maker. Thus says the Carthusian.

Gloria Patri:

Glory be to the Father, the great King above all gods; Glory be to the Son, the Strength of our salvation; Glory be to the Holy Ghost who saith, Today if ye hear His voice harden not your hearts.

Next installment in this series will be a commentary on the Matin Hymn The God, Whom earth and sea and sky, Adore and laud and magnify.

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Matins: Commentary on the Hail Mary

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 24, 2009

This continues the commentary on the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Matins, the night office of the Church, is originally of monastic institution, and was a private devoition in preparation for the early morning Office of Lauds.  During this solemn hour we may think of some of the events connected with this time.  The Annunciation, the Birth of our Lord; His Own frequent prayers on the hill-tops of Judea; St Peter’s denial and repentance; our Lord in the tomb; the desolation of our Lady; the coming judgment like a thief in the night (1 Thess 5:2); the cry at midnight: Lo, the Bridegroom cometh, (Matt 25:6)and other such thoughts.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

After having united ourselves to our Lord’s intention, the Church sets before us, as the most perfect model of the union which can exist between the Creator and the Creature, Mary, the Mother of God made man.  The Church seems to say to us, with St Ambrose: “May there be in every one the spirit of Mary, that he may magnify the Lord” (Migne, P.L., vol. 15, p. 156)  And what this spirit was the Gospel tells us in these words: but His Mother kept all these words in her heart (Luke 2:51).

Hail Mary.- The pious author of the Myroure thus discourses on the Hail Mary: “The salutation is taken from the gospel of the greeting of the angel Gabriel and of Elizabeth; and it was the beginning of our health.  And therefore this word Ave (Latin, translated as “Hail)spelt backward is Eva (Latin spelling for Eve; for like as Eve’s talking with the fiend was the beginning of perdition, so our Lady’s talking with the angel, when he greeted her with this Ave, was the entrance of our redemption.  And so Eva is turned Ave; for our sorrow is turned into joy by means of our Lady.  For Eva is as much [as] to say ‘Woe’; and Ave is as much [as] to say as ‘joy,’ or without woe.  Therefore meekly and reverently thanking this glorious Queen of Heaven and Mother of our Savior for our deliverance, say we devoutly: Ave Maria, Hail Mary.  Mary is as much as to say ‘Star of the Sea,’ or ‘enlightened,’ or ‘Lady.’  For all that are here in the sea of bitterness by penance for their sins, she leadeth to the haven of health.  Them that are rightful she enlighteneth by [the] increasing of grace.  And she showeth herself ‘Lady” and Empress of power above all evil spirits in helping us against them both in our life and in our death.  Therefore we ought often and in all our needs call busily upon this reverend name, Mary.” (Myroure, pgs. 77-78)

Full of grace.- “Divers saints have divers gifts of grace, but never creature had the fullness of all graces but our Lady alone.  For she was filled in body and soul with the Lord and Giver of all graces” (ibid p. 79).  From the first moment of her being whe was prevented and so girt about with grace that original sin could find no place.  The Lord possessed me from the beginning of His ways (Prov 7:22). The garden enclosed, the spring shut up, the fountain sealed, that Solomon sings of, and likens his beloved to (Cant 4:12), are types of our Lady’s soul; and the grace within her was ever welling up in its fullness.  The Psalmist refers to her in these words: In the Sun He hath set His tabernacle (Ps 19:4); for more glorious than many suns, was the soul of her for nine months was the living tabernacle of God, and was adorned with the fullness of grace which was possible to any creature.

The Lord is with thee.- “For with her He was in her heart by excellence of grace, and in her reverend womb [by] taking there a body of our kind” (Myroure, p. 79).  These words were also used by the angel who appeared to Gideon when he was threshing wheat by the vine-press to hide it from the Midianites: The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor (Judges 6:12).  They were also the greeting Boaz gave to his reapers: The Lord be with you (Ruth 2:4); and they are enshrined in the Mass and Office in the oft-repeated words Dominus vobiscum.

Blessed art thou amongst women.- “For by thee both men and women are restored to bliss everlasting” (Myroure 29).  Other women in Scripture have had these words applied to them: Blessed above women shall Hael be (Judge 5:24), sings the inspired prophetess Deborah, of Heber’s wife, who with her hammer smote Sisera, the foe of Israel (Judges 4:21); and Ozias, the high priest, in like manner addresseth Judith after her triumph over Holophernes: Oh, daughter, blessed art thou of the most high God above all the women upon the earth (Judith 13:18).  These were types of our Lady.  The words were said to Blessed Mary first by the angel at the Annunciation(Lk 1:28, and were repeated at the Visitation by St Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Ghost(Lk 1:42), showing us that her blessedness is far above that of other women who were declared so only by their fellowmen.  Our Lady receives the testimony not only of man, but of an angel sent by God (Lk 1:26).

And blessed be the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.- “Blessed be the womb, and blessed the fruit thereof, which is life and good to the angels in heaven and to men on earth; that is, Jesus, that is to say, Savior.  For He hath saved us from sin and from hell; He saveth us daily from the malice of the fiend, and from perils, and He hath opened to us the way of endless salvation.  Therefore, endlessly be that sweet fruit blessed” (Myroure (p 79).

Jesus.- This, like the name “Mary,” is an addition to the words of Scripture, linking in one salutation the two names.

Holy Mary, Mother of God.- These words are of Ecclesiastical origin and should be very dear to us; for they proclaim that privilege for which all her graces were designed-the Divine Maternity.  When Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, taught that there were two persons in Jesus Christ, and that therefore Mary should not be called the Mother of God, the Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431), held under St Cyril of Alexandria, representative of Pope Celestine, declared the true doctrine of the Incarnation and that Mary, by rightful title, was to be called “Mother of God.”  These words are, therefore, an act of faith in the Incarnation; for the Mother is ever the guardian of the Child: And they found the Child with Mary His Mother. (Matt 2:11).

The remainder of the prayer is a natural act of the heart, and was formulated about the sixteenth century.  The Franciscans, in 1515, seem to have been the first to add them to the Breviary.  (The Little Office of Our Lady; a treatise theoretical, practical, exegetical, by E.L. Taunton.  Public domain text)

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Latin Mass Resources

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 18, 2009

The following resources are from sites in communion with Rome.

The Traditional Latin Mass in MichiganThis Sunday is the Second Sunday after Epiphany in the old calender.  This site has the lectionary readings listed, along with the Collect and an excerpt from a homily by St Augustine.

Sancta MissaAn online tutorial of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass based on the 1962 Missal.

Plain Man’s Guide to learning the Language of the Latin.   From the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.  They also offer a different learning guide here. A link to their entire resources is here.

The Old Roman BreviaryLatin and English texts side by side, automatically changes daily.  Links to the various hours are listed in Latin (Matutinum, Laudes, ect) below the icons.

The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin MaryI’ve linked to the English text but the site provides a link for the Latin as well.  There is also a link to an online commentary on the Office (click on “exegesis”).  They also have a feature that allows you to download a copy of the Office (available in Latin only ,Pdf format).  Once downloaded you can print it out.

Traditional Latin HymnsContains both text and musical notations.  Once you’ve accessed the text click on the “Please click here to start Midi” box to listen to the hymn.  Sample.

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Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Matins-Commentary on the Opening Prayer

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 8, 2008

The opening Prayer:

Oh, Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise (here make the little sign of the cross on the lips).  O Lord, incline to my aid, O Lord make haste to help me.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and always will be from ages to ages, Amen.

Alleluia (or), Praise to Thee, O Lord, King of eternal glory.

Commentary:

O Lord open Thou my lips, are words taken from the great Psalm of penitence, the Miserere (Ps. 51:12).  This verse is only said at Matins, and is the beginning of God’s service, in token that the first opening of your lips or mouth should be to the praising of God; and all the day after they should abide open and ready for the same and be so occupied and filled therewith that nothing contrary to His praising might enter us.  The sign of the Cross is here made on the lips, to consecrate them to the service of Him Who was crucified.  It reminds us, too, of that fiery coal which purified the lips of Isaiah in the vision, the year King Uzziah died: Woe to me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.  Then flew one of the Seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this has touched thy lips: and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.  Also I heard the Voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Then said I: Here I am; send me (Isa 6:5-8).  The prophet gained courage after his purification; so do we when the love of God, known to us by the Cross, touches our heart and kindles the fire within us.

Lord incline to my aid are words from Psalm 69:1 (70:1).  As we cannot do anything well any time of the day without His help, as He says Himself in His Gospel: Without Me you can do nought right (Jn 15:5), therefore both at Matins and at the beginnings of each hour you ask His help and say: God take heed unto my help.  And forasmuch as he that is doing of a thing and cannot bring it about hath need of hasty help, therefore feeling your need you pray our Lord to haste Himself and say: Lord haste Thee to help me.  And take heed that all this verse, both that part that is said by one alone and that that is answered by all together, is said in the singular number, as when you say ‘mine’ or ‘me,’ and not ‘our’ and ‘us,’ in token that you begin your praising and prayer in the person of Holy Church, which is one and not many.  For though there be many members of Holy Church as there are many Christian men and women, yet they make but one body, that is, Holy Church, whereof Christ is the Head.  And because that prayer that is said in the person and unity of Holy Church is never left unsped; therefore, trusting that our Lord has heard your prayer and is come to help you, you begin all together, lowly inclining, to praised the Blessed Trinity, as say: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. One Glory to all Three.  For the Three Persons are one God.  This word ‘Glory’ is no common English, and therefore you shall understand that ‘glory’ is called a good fame spoken of with praising.  Therefore when you bid ‘glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, you ask and desire that the Blessed Trinity should always be thanked and praised, and worshiped, for His endless goodness that is in Himself, and for all the benefits that He hath done and shall do to His creatures, oth of making creatures in the beginning and continually keeping of them in their being, and in the perfect end He shall bring all things to; and, therefore, you add to, and say: As it was in the beginning, is now, and always will be from ages to ages (now and always, without end).

Alleluia- And you shall not in praising delight you in the melody of the song nor of the notes, nor in your own voices; but all your joy and delight must set only in God; therefore anon after Glory be to the Father you say Alleluia, which is a word of joy and praising; and especially it betokens that unspeakable joy that is in heaven endlessly in praising and lauding God.  Therefore praising our Lord with such ghostly joy as you can have in Him here and desiring to praise Him in everlasting joy, you say Alleluia. Doctors say that Alleluia is as much as to say as ‘Praise God,’ or ‘The Praising of God,’ or ‘Father and Son and Holy Ghost,’ or ‘Light, Life, and Health.’  But because it is a word of joy therefore in times of penance, that is from Septuagesima till Easter, it is left, and instead thereof you say: Praise to Thee, O Lord, King of eternal glory. For though penance doing be praising to God, yet it is done in sorrow of heart and sharpness of body, and not in gladness and joy, namely, for sinful people.  And therefore, in time of penance we say Praise God not in joy, but in praising God, and not Alleluia, which is a word both of praising and joy. E. L. Taunton

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Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Matins-Commentary on the Hail Mary

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 7, 2008

Matins, the night Office of the Church, is originally of monastic institution, and was a private devotion in preparation for the early morning Office of Lauds.  During this solemn hour we may think of some of the events connected with this time.  The Annunciation, the Birth of our Lord; His Own frequent prayers on the hill-tops of Judea; St Peter’s denial and repentance; our Lord in the tomb; the desolation of our Lady; the coming to judgment like a thief in the night (1 Thess 5:2); the cry at midnight: Lo, the Bridegroom cometh (Matt 25:6), and other such thoughts.

After having united ourself to our Lord’s intention, the Church sets before us, as the most perfect model of the union which can exist between the Creator and the Creature, Mary, Mother of God made man.  The Church seems to say to us, with St Ambrose: “May there be in every one the spirit of Mary, that he may magnify the Lord” (Migne, P.L., Vol XVm p. 156).  And what this spirit was the Gospel tells us in these words: But His Mother kept all these words in her heart (Luke 2:51).

Hail Mary-The pious author of the Myoure thus discourses on the Hail Mary: “The salutation is taken from the gospel of the greeting of the angel of Gabriel and of Elizabeth; and it was the beginning of our health.  And therefore this word Ave (Hail) spelt backwards is Eva; for like as Eve’s talking with the fiend was the beginning of perdition, so our Lady’s talking with the angel, when he greeted her with this Ave, was the entrance of our redemption.  And so Eva is turned to Ave; for our sorrow is turned into joy by means of our Lady.  For Eva is as much [as] to say ‘Joy,’ or without woe.  Therefore meekly and reverently thanking this glorious Queen of Heaven and Mother of our Savior for our deliverance, say we devoutly to her: Ave Maria, Hail Mary.  Mary is as much as to say ‘Star of the Sea,’ or ‘enlightened,’ or ‘Lady.’  For all that are here in the sea of bitterness by penance for their sins, she leadeth to the haven of health.  Them that are rightful she enlighteneth by the increasing of grace.  And she showeth herself ‘Lady’ and Empress of power above all evil spirits in helping us against them both in our life and in our death.  Therefore we ought often and in all our needs call busily upon this reverend name, Mary.

Full of grace- “Divers saints had divers gifts of grace, but never creature had the fullness of all graces but our Lady alone.  For she was filled in body and in soul with the Lord and Giver of all graces.”  From the first moment of her being she was prevented and so girt about with grace that original sin could find no place.  The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways (Prov 8:22).  The garden enclosed, the spring shut up, the fountain sealed, that Solomon sings of, and likens his beloved to (Cant 4:12), are types of our Lady’s soul; and the grace within her was ever welling up in its fullness.  The Psalmist refers to her in these words: In the Sun He hath set His tabernacle (Ps 19:4); for more glorious than many suns, was the soul of her who for nine months was the living tabernacle of God, and was adorned with the fullness of grace which was possible to any creature.

The Lord is with you- “For with her He was in her heart by excellence of grace, and in her reverend womb [by] taking there a body of our kind.”  These words were also used by the angel who appeared to Gideon when he was threshing wheat by the vine-press to hide it from the Midianites: The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor (Judges 6:12).  They were also the greeting which Boaz gave to his reapers: The Lord be with you (Ruth 2:4); and they are enshrined in the Mass and Office in the oft-repeated words Dominus vobiscum.

Blessed art thou among woman-“For by thee both men and women are restored to bliss everlasting.”  Other women in Scripture have had these word applied to them: Blessed above women shall Jael be )Jud 5:24), sings the inspired prophetess, Deborah, of Heber’s wife, who with her hammer smote Sisera, the foe of Israel (Jud 4:21); and Ozias, the high priest, in like manner addresseth Judith after her triumph over Holophernes: Oh, daughter, blessed art thou of the most hig God aove all the women upon the earth (Judith 13:18).  These were types of our Lady.  The words were said to Blessed Mary first by the angel at the Annunciation (Luke 1:28), and were repeated at the Visitation by St Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Ghost (Luke 1:42), showing us that her blessedness is far above that of other women who were declared so only by their fellowmen.  Our Lady receives the testimony not only of man, but of an angel sent by God (Luke 1:26).

And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus-“Blessed be the womb, and blessed be the fruit thereof, which is life and good to angels in heaven and to men on earth; that is, Jesus, that is to say Savior.  For He hath saved us from sin and from hell; He saveth us daily from the malice of the fiend, and from perils, and He hath opened to us the way of endless salvation.  Therefore, endlessly be that sweet fruit blessed”

Jesus-This, like the name “Mary,” is an addition to the words of Scripture, linking in one salutation the two names.

Holy Mary, Mother of God-These words are of Ecclesiastical origin and should be very dear to us; for they proclaim that privilege for which all her graces were designed-the Divine Maternity.  When Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, taught that there were two persons in Jesus Christ, and that therefore Mary should not be called the Mother of God, the council of Ephesus, held under St Cyril of Alexandria, representative of Pope Celestine, declared the true doctrine of the Incarnation and that Mary, by rightful title, was to be called “Mother of God.”  These words are, therefore, an act of faith in the Incarnation: for the Mother is ever the guardian of the Child:-And they found the Child with Mary His Mother (Matt 2:11).

The remained of the prayer is a natural act of the heart, and was formulated about the sixteenth century.  The Franciscans, in 1515, seem to have been the first to add them to the Breviary.-E.L. Taunton

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May with Mary Day 10 Little Office of the BVM: Terce

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 10, 2008

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women; and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen

O Lord, open Thou my lips
And my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
O God, make speed to save me
O Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen. Alleluia.

Hymn. Castae Parentis viscera.

Within that Parent’s spotless breast
The Grace of heaven descends to rest;
The Maiden in her womb doth bear.
But how, her tongue may not declare.

Her bosom meek, all suddenly
Becomes the shrine of God Most High;
She knows not man, the Undefiled,
Yet she conceives the Holy Child.

Let glory everlasting be,
O Lord, Thou Virgin’s Son, to Thee,
With Father and with Paraclete,
To endless ages, as is meet. Amen.

Psalm 12o. Ad Dominum

When I was in trouble I called upon the Lord, and He heard me.
Deliver my soul, O lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.
What reward shall be given or done unto thee, thou false tongue? Mighty sharp arrows, with hot urning coals.
Woe is me, that I am constrained to dwell in Meshech, and to have my habitation among the tents of Kedar.
My soul hath lone dwelt among them that are enemies to peace.
I labor for peace, but when I speak unto them of peace, they make ready for battle. Glory be to the Father…

Psalm 121. Levavi oculos

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. From whence cometh my help?
My help cometh even from the Lord, who has made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; He who keeps watch over thee will not sleep.
Behold, He that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord Himself is thy keeper; the Lord is thy defense who stands at thy right hand.
So that the sun shall not burn thee y day; neither the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil; Yea! it is even He that shall keep thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in, from this time forth forevermore. Glory be to the Father…

Psalm 122.  Laetatus sum

I was glad when they said unto me, we will go into the house of the Lord.
Our feet shall stand in thy gates O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is built as a city that is at unity in itself.
For there the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord; to testify unto Israel, to give thanks unto the Name of the Lord.
For there is the seat of judgment; even the seat of the house of David.
O pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  They shall prosper that love thee.
Peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces.
For my brethren and companions sakes, I will wish thee prosperity.
Yea, because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek to do thee good.  Glory be to the Father…

Ant. Of Mary was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

The Little Chapter.- Isaiah 7:14

The Lord Himself shall give you a sign.  Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His Name Immanuel.
Thanks be to God.
God is in the midst of her, therefore shall she not be removed.  God is in her midst.
God shall help her, and that right early.  Therefore shall she not be removed.
Glory be to the Father…
God is in the midst of her.
Let us pray:

O God, Who hast bestowed upon mankind the gift of everlasting salvation, by the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may know that she intercedes for us, by whom Thou hast counted us worthy to receive the Author of Life, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord.  Amen.

 

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The Little Office Our Lady (Prime)

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 18, 2008

Say the Hail Mary. Then:

O Lord, open Thou my lips
And my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
O God, make speed to save me
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father….

Hymn. Castae Parentis viscera.

Within that Parent’s spotless breast
The Grace of heaven descends to rest;
The Maiden in her womb doth bear.
But how, her tongue may not declare.

Her bosom meek, all suddenly
Becomes the shrine of God Most High;
She knows not man, the Undefiled,
Yet she conceives the Holy Child.

Let glory everlasting be,
O Lord, Thou Virgin’s Son, to Thee,
With Father and with Paraclete,
To endless ages, as is meet. Amen.

Ant. Thou Son of God was made of the Seed of David.

Psalm 54. Deus, in nomine.

1. Save me, O God, for Thy Name’s sake; and avenge me in Thy strength.
2. hear my prayer, O God. Hearken unto the words of my mouth.
3. For strangers are risen up against me, and tyrants, which have not God before their eyes, seek after my soul.
4. Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.
5. He shall reward evil unto mine enemies. Destroy Thou them in Thy truth.
6. An offering of a free heart will I give Thee, and praise Thy Name, O Lord; for it is good.
7. For He hath delivered me out of all of my trouble; and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies. Glory be….

Psalm 96 Cantate Domino.

1. O sing unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the whole earth.
2. Sing unto the Lord, and praise His Name; be telling of His salvation from day to day.
3. Declare His glory unto the heathen; and His wonders unto the people.
4. For the Lord is great, and cannot worthily be praised; He is more to be feared than all the gods.
5. As for all the gods of the heathen, they are but idols; but it is the Lord That made the heavens.
6. Glory and worship are before Him; power and honor are in His sanctuary.
7. Ascribe unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, ascribe unto the Lord worship and power.
8. Ascribe unto the Lord the honor due His Name. Bring presents, and come into his courts.
9. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; let the whole earth stand in awe of Him.
10. Tell it out among the heathen that the Lord is King; and that it is he who has made the round world fast that it cannot be moved; and how that He shall judge the people righteously.
11. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea make a noise, and all that therein is.
12. Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it; then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord.
13. For He cometh, for He cometh to judge the world, and the people with His truth. Glory be…

Psalm 117 Laudate Dominum.

O praise the Lord, all ye heathen; praise Him, all ye nations.
For His merciful kindness is ever more and more towards us; and the truth of the Lord endureth forever.
Praise the Lord. Glory be…

Ant. The Son of God was made of the Seed of David according to the flesh.

The Little Chapter. Isa 11:1

There shall come forth a Rod out of the Stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of His Roots; and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him.
Thanks be to God. His Seed shall endure forever. And His throne, like as the sun before me, shall endure forever. Glory be... His Seed shall endure forever.

His dominion shall be from the one sea to the other. And from the flood unto the world’s end.
The Lord be with you. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray:

O Lord, defend Thy servants with the gifts of peace; and as they do hope for th aid of the prayers of the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary, give them safety from all enemies and freedom from all dangers. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.  (Excerpted from the Paris Psalter.  A public domain book).

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