Tuesday 27 July 2010

The Blog of Arthur Crumly on the role of the MC at a Missa Cantata

The eminence grise of MCs, Mr Arthur Crumly, has updated his blog with instructions on the role of MC during a Missa Cantata.


The Missa Cantata seems to be subject to local variations more than any other form of mass. This is because the standard envisaged by the Missale Romanum, and the Roman commentators, was that of solemn high mass with the deacon and subdeacon. As Fr Hilarius Dale commented, the Missa Cantata was unknown in Rome, where there were always plenty of clerics to staff a high mass whenever needed. Not so in England, or most other places. The MC at a Missa Cantata takes on all the tasks of an MC at High Mass, but also some of the tasks of the deacon or subdeacon at High Mass - as appropriate. What precisely is undertaken by the MC gives rise to local variation.

Nonetheless, in England, through custom, a relatively standard form of Missa Cantata has evolved. It doesn't seem to correspond entirely to Fortescue-O'Connell, which is slightly different.

There is, on the SST website, a document produced for training purposes on the Missa Cantata which attempts to write down the standard pattern. Mr Crumly's notes are a welcome addition, and they also have helpful diagrams.

The current writer's observation is that the standard of serving at the Missa Cantata is often not a clear, precise, and confident as it might be. Worse, things are done which are just plain wrong. Servers and even MCs often seem oblivious of the fact that they aren't getting it right, but blunder on regardless. Furthermore, when given the opportunity to sign up for training, they do not enrol, so lose the chance to "share good practice" and improve the standard of serving in our churches.

It is to be hoped that all MCs, and those who regularly serve at sung mass, will read the notes of Mr Crumly and, having read them, learn them and put them into practice. If so, we can look forward to higher standards of altar service, to the greater glory of God.

Saturday 24 July 2010

St Mary Magdalen and Altar Servers

“Three saints," said our Lord to St. Bridget of Sweden, "have been more pleasing to me than all others: Mary my mother, John the Baptist, and Mary Magdalen.” The Fathers tell us that Magdalen is a type of the Gentile Church called from the depths of sin to perfect holiness; and indeed, better than any other, she personifies both the wanderings and the love of the human race, espoused by the word of God.

Dom Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, entry for the Feast of St Mary Magdalen, 22nd July.

"When he was in Bethania, in the house of Simon the leper, and was at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of precious spikenard: and breaking the alabaster box, she poured it out upon his head. Now there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said: Why was this waste of the ointment made? For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and given to the poor. And they murmured against her. But Jesus said: Let her alone, why do you molest her? She hath wrought a good work upon me. For the poor you have always with you: and whensoever you will, you may do them good: but me you have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come beforehand to anoint my body for burial. Amen, I say to you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she hath done, shall be told for a memorial of her.”
Gospel of St Mark 14:3-9

St Mary Magdalen deserves a high place of respect among the female saints to be revered by altar servers. As the words of the Gospel make clear, she served Him in person, with great attentiveness, in the days before His Passion and death. She served Him with great love, with great penitence, and with deep devotion. She did not spare cost, but offered up the alabaster box and the precious ointment - worth almost a year's wages to a labourer - to show honour to Our Lord. Some of the bystanders - including the apostle Judas Iscariot - were scandalized by this devotion, and Judas immediately after went to the Chief Priests, to betray Our Lord for silver.
Altar servers must also serve Our Lord with attentiveness, penitence, love and deep devotion. In this, we may imitate St Mary Magdalen. It is also a fact that there are many in the world today - including apostolic men who are called to know better - who are scandalized by the love and attention shown to Our Lord in the traditional liturgy of the Church. Like their predecessor, they are more concerned with worldly matters - feeding the poor, reforming society, the good opinion of the World - than with the service of Our Lord. Thus, despite their good intentions, they miss the point, and betray Our Lord.
The good altar server will do the opposite of these modern day Judases, and imitate St Mary Magdalen. Let us by unsparing in our attention to the service of Our Lord. Let us give Him the best we can offer. As altar servers, let us be "fidelis usque ad mortem" and commit ourselves to the service of our Eucharistic Lord all the days of our life.
Here is a prayer before Communion, which is easily memorized, and expresses well the dispositions we should have before approaching the Sacrament. It recognizes that we cannot, of ourselves, make ourselves worthy to receive Our Lord - only His grace can do that. We also need the intercession of the saints, especially His Blessed Mother, to enable us to approach the Sacrament without shame.
"Oh Lord, may I receive Thee in Holy Communion with the purity, humility, and devotion with which Thy Blessed Mother did receive Thee; with the penitence and love with which Holy Magdalen did receive Thee; and with the spirit and fervour of all the saints."
Finally, here is the Office hymn to St Mary Magdalen, written for the Roman Breviary by St Robert Bellarmine in the early 17th century, and translated by the Oratorian Fr Edward Caswall:

Father of lights, one glance of Thine,
Whose eyes the universe control,
Fills Magdalen with holy love,
And melts the ice within her soul.

Her precious ointment forth she brings,
Upon those sacred feet to pour;
She washes them with burning tears, 
And with her hair she wipes them o'er.

Impassioned to the Cross she clings,
Nor fears beside the tomb to stay;
Naught of the ruffian guard she recks,
For love has cast all fear away.

O Christ, Thou very love itself,
Blest hope of man through Thee forgiven,
So touch our spirits from above,
So purify our souls for heaven.

To God the Father, with the Son,
And Holy Paraclete, with Thee,
As evermore hath been before,
Be glory through eternity.

Saturday devotion to Our Lady

In Conceptione tua, Virgo Maria, immaculata fuisti; ora pro nobis Patrem, cujus Filium Jesum de Spiritu Sancto conceptum peperisti.

In they Conception, O Virgin Mary, thou wast immaculate; pray for us to the Father whose Son Jesus, after He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, thou didst bring forth into the world.

The Raccolta. Indulgence of 300 days.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

The Patriarch returns

One of the MCs of the SST, Mr Richard Hawker, has established a Blog entitled "When the Patriarch was returning." It is worth a visit.


The title of the blog is a reference to an Anglo-Catholic hymn, sung by members of the Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary; Mr Hawker belonged to this body in his younger, wilder, schismatic days.

It's a fine hymn, and a translation of a mediaeval Cluniac office hymn. I take the liberty of plagiarizing it here:

When the Patriarch was returning
Crowned with triumph from the fray,
Him the peaceful king of Salem
Came to meet upon his way;
Meekly bearing bread and wine,
Holy Priesthood's aweful sign.

On the truth thus dimly shadowed
Later days a luster shed;
When the great high-Priest eternal,
Under form of wine and bread,
For the world's immortal food
Gave his flesh and gave his blood.

Wondrous Gift! The Word who fashioned
All things by his might divine,
Bread into his body changes,
Into his own blood the wine;
What though sense no change perceives,
Faith admires, adores, believes.

He who once to die a Victim
On the cross did not refuse,
Day by day upon our altars,
That same Sacrifice renews;
Through his holy priesthood's hands,
Faithful to his last commands.

While the people all uniting
In the sacrifice sublime
Offer Christ to his high Father,
Offer up themselves with him;
Then together with the priest
On the living Victim feast.

Laud and honour to the Father,
Laud and honour to the Son
Laud and honour to the Spirit,
Ever three and ever one,
Consubstanial, co-eternal,
while unending ages run.

If you would like the Latin, visit the blog!

Thursday 15 July 2010

Saturday devotion - Flos Carmeli

16th July is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. To celebrate, here is the beautiful sequence, Flos Carmeli. The authorship of this sequence is attributed to St Simon Stock, the 13th century English Carmelite, who was honoured by the vision of Our Lady revealing the Brown Scapular to him, and promising that those who faithfully wear the scapular will not suffer eternal perdition.

Part of the relics of St Simon Stock were returned to Aylesford, in Kent, in 1951. There is also a relic of the saint at the Carmelite Church in Kensington High Street.

This chant is sung in the traditional Carmelite rite as the Sequence at mass - that is, the chant before the Gospel - on the Feast of St Simon Stock, and also on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Flos Carmeli,
vitis florigera,
splendor caeli,
virgo puerpera

Mater mitis
sed viri nescia
esto propitia
stella maris.

Radix Jesse
germinans flosculum
nos ad esse
tecum in saeculum

Inter spinas
quae crescis lilium
serva puras
mentes fragilium

fortis pugnantium
furunt bella
tende praesidium

Per incerta
prudens consilium
per adversa
juge solatium

Mater dulcis
Carmeli domina,
plebem tuam
reple laetitia
qua bearis.

clavis et janua,
fac nos duci
quo, Mater, gloria
coronaris. Amen.

Flower of Carmel,
Tall vine blossom laden;
Splendor of heaven,
Childbearing yet maiden.
None equals thee.

Mother so tender,
Who no man didst know,
On Carmel's children
Thy favors bestow.
Star of the Sea.

Strong stem of Jesse,
Who bore one bright flower,
Be ever near us
And guard us each hour,
who serve thee here.

Purest of lilies,
That flowers among thorns,
Bring help to the true heart
That in weakness turns
and trusts in thee.

Strongest of armour,
We trust in thy might:
Under thy mantle,
Hard pressed in the fight,
we call to thee.

Our way uncertain,
Surrounded by foes,
Unfailing counsel
You give to those
who turn to thee.

O gentle Mother
Who in Carmel reigns,
Share with your servants
That gladness you gained
and now enjoy.

Hail, Gate of Heaven,
With glory now crowned,
Bring us to safety
Where thy Son is found,
true joy to see.

Listen to the chant here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yoxgmG9PB4

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Communion in the Old Rite

Ecclesia Dei - no communion in the hand in the old rite!

The below letter has been reproduced from a German site, http://www.kreuz.net/article.11473.html

It confirms what we all should know, but which some have doubted.

"In reference to your letter of 15th June, this Papal Commission would like to point out that the celebration of Holy Mass in the extraordinary form envisages the reception of Holy Communion while kneeling, as the Holy Host is laid directly on the tongue of the communicant. There is no provision for the distribution of Holy Communion on the hand in this form of the Holy Mass."

The Secretariat of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

Saturday 3 July 2010

Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ

July 1st is the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord. This is a very appropriate devotion for an altar server, who serves at the Holy Mass; where the True Blood of Jesus Christ becomes really present under the appearances of Bread and Wine; where the Blood of Christ, the price of our redemption, is applied to our souls for our sanctification and salvation.

The entire month of July is devoted to the Most Precious Blood of our Lord, so this is an especially good prayer to use throughout this month.

I don't know how old this Litany is, who authored it. It was certainly included in early 20th century prayer books, and has the feel of being older, thought it was only approved for Public recitation by Pope John XXIII in 1960 (the pope had a special devotion to the precious blood).

The devotion to Jesus specifically in His most Precious Blood was popularized by St. Gaspar del Bufalo (1786-1837, feast Dec. 28) who founded the Missioners of the Most Precious Blood.

Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Blood of Christ, only-begotten Son of the eternal Father, save us.

Blood of Christ, Incarnate Word of God, save us.

Blood of Christ, of the New and Eternal Testament, save us.

Blood of Christ, falling upon the earth in Agony, save us.

Blood of Christ, shed profusely in the Scourging, save us.

Blood of Christ, flowing forth in the Crowning with Thorns, save us.

Blood of Christ, poured out on the Cross, save us.

Blood of Christ, price of our salvation, save us.

Blood of Christ, without which there is no forgiveness, save us.

Blood of Christ, Eucharistic drink and refreshment of souls, save us.

Blood of Christ, stream of mercy, save us.

Blood of Christ, victor over demons, save us.

Blood of Christ, courage of Martyrs, save us.

Blood of Christ, strength of Confessors, save us.

Blood of Christ, bringing forth Virgins, save us.

Blood of Christ, help of those in peril, save us.

Blood of Christ, relief of the burdened, save us.

Blood of Christ, solace in sorrow, save us.

Blood of Christ, hope of the penitent, save us.

Blood of Christ, consolation of the dying, save us.

Blood of Christ, peace and tenderness of hearts, save us.

Blood of Christ, pledge of eternal life, save us.

Blood of Christ, freeing souls from purgatory, save us.

Blood of Christ, most worthy of all glory and honor, save us.

Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Lord.

Thou hast redeemed us, O Lord, in Thy Blood. And made us, for our God, a kingdom.

Let us pray.
Almighty and eternal God, Thou hast appointed Thine only-begotten Son the Redeemer of the world and willed to be appeased by his blood. Grant, we beg of Thee, that we may worthily adore this price of our salvation and through its power be safeguarded from the evils of the present life so that we may rejoice in its fruits forever in heaven. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Latin version of this Litany is available from: http://www.fisheaters.com/litanypreciousblood.html
A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who recite this litany, which is approved for either private or public use.

Tota pulchra es Maria!

Saturday devotion to Our Lady.

Tota Pulchra es, Maria,
Et macula originalis non est in te.
Tu gloria Jerusalem,
Tu laetitia Israel,
To honorificentia populi nostri,
Tu advocata peccatorum.
O Maria,
O Maria,
Virgo Prudentissima,
Mater Clementissima,
Ora pro nobis,
Intercede pro nobis ad Dominum Jesum Christum.

Thou art all fair, O Mary,
The original stain is not in thee,
Thou art the glory of Jerusalem,
Thou, the joy of Israel,
Thou, the great honour of our people,
Thou, the advocate of sinners.
O Mary,
O Mary,
Virgin most prudent,
Mother most merciful,
Pray for us,
Intercede for us with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Indulgence of 500 days (S.C.Indul., March. 23,1904;S.P.Apost.,Dec.19,1936)