Archive for April, 2010

Psalms in the Liturgy: Judica Me Deus

April 29, 2010

After the Mass has properly begun, the priest begins to pray at the foot of the altar the forty-second psalms, “Judica me, Deus,” “Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy.” The antiphon, verse 4 of this same psalm, is recited as well: “Et introibo ad altare Dei,” “I shall go unto the altar of God, to the God who makes joyful my youth.”

Historically, this penitential act occurred at the beginning of Mass, at the foot of the altar, from the time when the Roman l liturgy spread into Gall-Frankish territory. On the other hand, the psalm did not gain an entrance into many arrangements through the later Middle Ages and after. Contemporary monastic liturgies such as the Carthusian and Dominican did not even insert Psalm 42 when they were established in the 13th century. Though whenever it was inserted, only a single verse was recited, Introibo ad altare Dei. Such was the case with the beginning of the psalm text, Dirigatur, Domine, oratio mea. The recitation of Psalm 42 is omitted in RequiemMasses, and in Masses de tempore during Holy Week. However, it is not omitted in festal or votive Masses during this time. Even when the psalm itself is omitted, the antiphon Introibo is said once. This is appropriate especially during Good Friday when no actual sacrifice is offered.

The antiphon Introibo contains the fundamental thought of the forty-second psalm which indicates the special point of view in which it is to be taken and recited. “It gives the key to the liturgical and mystical understanding of the psalm with regard to its application to the celebration.” It expresses the sentiment which animates the priest: he is powerfully attracted to the altar. The altar of God is a terrible place, yet there the priest stands, an unworthy servant of the Most High. “He remembers the words of St. Chrysostom: ‘When the priest calls upon the Holy Ghost and offers the tremendous Sacrifice: tell me in what rank should we place him? What purity shall we require of him, what reverence.’”  He longs to ascend there to perform his sacred duty, to draw near to the Lord and to be united to Him. “By the words iuventutem meam the priest may indeed, also, acknowledge that from his early days God has been his delight and bestowed on him a thousand joys.”  The lament includes a vow to give thanks in the Temple. It is a pure expression of yearning for God with no expectation of reward or other benefit. As such, its omission during periods of penitence comes as a result of the psalm’s intent, which is to banish sorrow and to awaken a joyful mood in the one praying. The approach to the altar is one of happiness and joy, and so the Syrians call the Mass simply Kurobho, “approach.”

St. Ambrose relates the meaning of this psalm with those who have just been baptized: “The cleansed people, rich with these adornments, hastens to the altar of Christ, saying: I will go to the altar of God, to God who makes glad my youth; for having laid aside the slough of ancient error, renewed with an eagle’s youth, it hastens to approach that heavenly feast. It comes, and seeing the holy altar arranged, cries out: You have prepared a table in my sight.”

These prayers “at the foot of the altar,” as Jungmann explains, only existed after the year 1000. This is because before the eleventh century, as a rule, there were no steps up to the altar—not even a platform. Yet by the ninth century, these prayers had been inserted:“On the way to the altar, Psalm 42 was spoken in common, and upon arrival at the altar two oration were added in conclusion, one of which is our Aufer a nobis. In the witnesses to this particular arrangement of the entry there are found in addition various apologiae, forerunners of our Confiteor, included in a variety of ways and in an assortment of forms. They are either added at the beginning or inserted somewhere in the middle or subjoined at the end. This arrangement quickly took the lead over other plans of a similar kind…Very seldom was there any clear transfer of the psalm to the altar steps. Often this transfer occurred because the chasuble was put on the altar, as was the custom especially at private Mass. In other cases the rubric was left indefinite. This diversity of practice corresponded to the variety in spatial arrangements. Often the distance from sacristy to altar was very short. In order not to prevent the psalm’s being said with proper care and to lend it greater importance, it was not begun until the steps were reached. This must have been the origin of the arrangement now found in the Missal of Pius V.”

Friends, This is How It’s Done

April 28, 2010

From the amazing Solemn Pontifical Mass which occurred last week in Washington DC, Bp. Slattery enters into the presbyterium prior to vesting. A cappa magna in action! What a glorious age the Church is entering into!

H/T to Fr. G

Psalms in the Liturgy: Asperges

April 27, 2010

The very nature of the religion of the Old Testament, as a religion of revelation, implied a heavy leaning on the reading of the sacred books. The worship of the ancient Israelites naturally adopted the use of the Psalms from the very beginning. The use of such psalms was commonplace in every aspect of Jewish prayer, from the heights of the Temple, to the local synagogue and even within the lowliest household. As such, it was inevitable that the Church would also embrace the psalms which she would inherit from the Jews—songs which belonged to the person of the Messiah, who is her bridegroom. Before the Mass has ever begun, the fiftieth  psalm (LXX) is recited during the rite of sprinkling with holy water. The psalm, whose antiphon begins with the ninth verse, “asperges me Domine hyssopo,” “you shall sprinkle me, O Lord, with a branch of hyssop” is selected to accompany this rite for the obvious imagery it invokes. As the sprinkling rite continues, the body of the psalm, verse 3, is recited, “Have mercy on me, God, according to your great mercy.” At the end of the rite, the Minor Doxology is sung, followed by the antiphon Asperges.

Historically, this has never been considered a part of the formal Mass, even from antiquity. It is possible that this rite developed in the West during the eighth or ninth centuries. Still, the recitation of Psalm 50 was always included in the private prayers at the foot of the altar before the beginning of Mass. From Easter to Pentecost, the antiphon verse 9 is replaced by the Vidi Aquam, “I saw water flowing from the Temple,” an allusion to Ez. 40. Likewise verse 3 is replaced by Psalm 117:1, “Give praise to the Lord for He is good.” This change is made in light of the events of the Passion as the Church moves from asking the Lord for His mercy, to rejoicing in having received it abundantly. The bond between the two sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion is pronounced clearly in this rite. This is a visible reminder of our baptism and the necessity of purification from our sins. We may not receive the Lord unless He wash away the stains of our sins through baptism. The prayer is composed by a sinner, who feels the weight of his sins more than his sickness. The priest here relies on the Lord to be purified before he should dare to ascend the steps of the altar of sacrifice.

It is St. Augustine who properly explains the imagery that the psalm presents: “Hyssop we know to be a herb humble but healing: to the rock it is said to adhere with roots. Thence in a mystery the similitude of cleansing the heart has been taken. Do thou also take hold, with the root of your love, on your Rock: be humble in your humble God, in order that you may be exalted in your glorified God. You shall be sprinkled with hyssop, the humility of Christ shall cleanse you.” (Expositio Ps 50)

Catechisme En Images

April 24, 2010

The Particular Judgment, the soul is judged by Christ at the moment of death. One such soul is blessed to eternal happiness with God, the other is pulled away from God forever to suffer with the evil spirits.

In Detail:

H/T to Roman Catholic Homilies.

Bless Him

April 19, 2010

Pope Benedict was in Malta and he fell asleep. Well we love him!

Ad Multos Annos, Sancte Pater

April 16, 2010

Also it’s the Holy Father’s 83rd birthday today.

Roll Out the Red Carpet!

April 16, 2010

It is an honor to think we’ve been nominated again for this year’s most coveted online award, the Cannonball Catholic Blog Awards. It’s always fun to see what blogs are popular reading especially the new ones. It’s been a long year full of hard work on the site, making sure we have quality as well as quantity–and you are no easy crowd to please! It’s an amazing honor that anyone reads this simple blog at all, and I do it as a small labor of love which seeks no award. Still the “contest” is all in good fun and really I imagine it’s a celebration of all Catholic bloggery and a light-hearted way to look at the phenomenon of the so-called Catholic “blogosphere”–a unique medium that is changing and growing rapidly.

If we win, we’ll be sure to put the trophy next to our other various awards and prizes (below). I mean, I’ll try to make room for it somewhere.

Pictured: The reliquary treasury of St. Paul Outside the Walls (NOT my personal trophy room)

Strength Against Adversity

April 15, 2010

Peace be to you. Everyone ought to know more about the Society of St. Pius X. It is an asset to the Church. They refuse outright the heresies of Modernism and Moral Relativism in an age where Joe Catholic wants entertainment instead of beauty and truth. I got into a lot of trouble in my seminary days for showing public support for their incorporation into the Church, resulting once in my being accused of the sin of schism. Well I continue to show my support and without reserve or apology. Though the liberal media and liberals within Church governance want them to be hated, I say they are upright. Would that they would soon join us.

*Edit, because I have more to say*: This post is not meant to be as explosive as some have interpreted it. It is clearly the wish of the Supreme Pontiff that the SSPX participate some day in the fullness of communion with the Church. His wishes will never be actualized if people are too afraid to support them.

Images from various SSPX liturgies:

The Glory of the Churrigueresque

April 13, 2010

Massive-scale, incredibly detailed highly decorative and ornate sculpture marks the height of Spanish Baroque architectural style, which reached its height in Mexico at the 1778 completion of the church of La Enseñanza, Mexico D.F.

Thanks to Cesar S. for the photos. Keep submitting, folks!

Cathedra of St. Sophia Cathedral

April 9, 2010

It is a shame we must be separated from the Greek Orthodox church, their liturgy is steeped in tradition and in general untouched by the ills of modernity.

From Cathedrals of California: