Saturday 11 December 2010

Maiden yet a Mother

To celebrate the octave of the Immaculate Conception, Rorate Sunday, and the coming of Christmas, here is a hymn to our Lady. The original was by Dante Alighieri - the author of the Divine Comedy - and this translation is by Mgr Ronald Knox.

Maiden yet a mother,
daughter of thy Son,
high beyond all other,
lowlier is none;
thou the consummation
planning by God’s decree,
when our lost creation
nobler rose in thee!

Thus his day prepared,
he who all things made
‘mid his creature tarried,
in thy bosom laid;
there his love he nourished,
warmth that gave increase
to the root whence flourished
our eternal peace.

Noon on Sion’s mountain
is thy charity;
hope its living fountain
find, on earth, in thee:
lady, such thy power,
he, who grace would buy
not as of thy dower,
without wings would fly.

Saturday 20 November 2010

On Northern Shores our lot is cast ...

A Hymn by Blessed John Henry Newman in praise of St Philip Neri

On Northern shores our lot is cast,
Where faithful hearts are few;
Still are we Philip’s children dear,
And Peter’s soldiers true.

Founder and Sire! to mighty Rome,
Beneath St. Peter's shade,
Thy early vow of loyal love
And ministry was paid.

The solemn porch and portal high
Of Peter was thy home;
The world’s Apostle he, and thou
Apostle of his Rome.

And first in the old Catacombs,
In galleries long and deep,
Where martyr Popes had ruled the flock,
And slept their glorious sleep,

There didst thou pass the nights in prayer,
Until at length there came,
Down on thy breast, new lit for thee,
The Pentecostal flame;-

Then, in that heart-consuming love,
Didst walk the city wide,
And lure the noble and the young
From Babel’s pomp and pride;

And gathering them within thy cell,
Unveil the lustre bright
And beauty of thy inner soul,
And gain them by the sight.

And thus to Rome, for Peter's faith
Far known, thou didst impart
The lessons of the hidden life,
And discipline of heart.

And as the Apostle, on the hill
Facing the Imperial Town,
First gazed upon his fair domain,
Then on the cross lay down,

So thou, from out the streets of Rome
Didst turn thy failing eye
Unto that mount of martyrdom,
Take leave of it, and die.

And when you died, you did but go
In other lands to dwell,
A traveller now, who in his life
Ne’er left that one bare cell.

He travelled, and he travelled on,
He crossed the swelling sea,
He sought our island’s very heart,
And here at length is he.

Glory to God, who framed a Saint,
So beautiful and sweet;
Who brought him from St. Peter’s side
And placed us at his feet.

Saturday 6 November 2010

Prayer for the Deceased

As far as I know, no member of the the Sodality has yet gone to his eternal reward. But one benefit of belonging to a Catholic Sodality must be the prayers of ones co-sodalists, both in life and after death.

In the month of November, particularly, we pray for the deceased. Let us remember particularly all those who have served the Traditional Latin Mass, those who have been known to us, and also those who are unknown. Let us pray for deceased priests and bishops who have celebrated the Traditional Mass, in particular in the years from 1970 onwards, through whose dedication and apostolic work we still are able to attend and serve at the Mass of Ages. And for all those who have worked with devotion for the Traditional cause over the years.

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Incline Thine ear, O Lord, unto our prayers, wherein we humbly pray Thee to show Thy mercy upon the souls of Thy servants whom Thou hast commanded to pass out of this world, that Thou wouldst place them in the region of peace and light, and bid them be partakers with Thy saints. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

May their souls, and souls of all the the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.


For Sunday.

O Lord God Almighty, I pray Thee, by the Precious Blood which Thy Divine Son Jesus shed in the garden, deliver the souls in purgatory, and especially that soul amongst them all who is most destitute of spiritual aid; and vouchsafe to bring it to Thy glory, there to praise and bless Thee for ever. Amen.

Pater, Ave and De Profundis.

For Monday.

O Lord God Almighty, I pray Thee, by the Precious Blood which Thy Divine Son Jesus shed in His cruel scourging, deliver the souls in purgatory, and that soul especially amongst them all which is nearest to its entrance into Thy glory; that so it may forthwith begin to praise and bless Thee for ever. Amen.

Pater, Ave and De Profundis.

For Tuesday.

O Lord God Almighty, I pray Thee, by the Precious Blood which Thy Divine Son Jesus shed in His bitter crowning with thorns, deliver the souls in purgatory, and in particular that one amongst them all which would be the last to depart out of these pains, that it may not tarry so long a time before it come to praise Thee in Thy glory and bless Thee for ever. Amen.

Pater, Ave and De Profundis.

For Wednesday.

O Lord God Almighty, I pray Thee, by the Precious Blood which Thy Divine Son Jesus shed in the streets of Jerusalem when He carried the cross upon His sacred shoulders, deliver the souls in purgatory, and especially that soul which is richest in merits before Thee; that so, in that throne of glory which awaits it, it may magnify Thee and bless Thee for ever. Amen.

Pater, Ave and De Profundis.

For Thursday.

O Lord God Almighty, I pray Thee by the Precious Body and Blood of Thy Divine Son Jesus, which He gave with His own Hand upon the eve of His Passion to His beloved apostles to be their meat and drink, and which He left to His whole Church to be a perpetual sacrifice and the life-giving food of His own faithful people, deliver the souls in purgatory, and especially that one which was most devoted to this Mystery of infinite love, that it may with the same Thy Divine Son, and with The Holy Spirit, ever praise Thee for Thy love therein in eternal glory. Amen.

Pater, Ave and De Profundis.

For Friday.

O Lord God Almighty, I pray Thee, by the Precious Blood which Thy Divine Son shed upon the wood of the cross, especially from his most sacred Hands and Feet, deliver the souls in purgatory, and in particular that soul for which I am most bound to pray; that no neglect of mine may hinder it from praising Thee in Thy glory and blessing Thee for ever. Amen.

Pater, Ave and De Profundis.

For Saturday.

O Lord God Almighty, I beseech Thee, by the Precious Blood which gushed forth from the Side of Thy Divine Son Jesus, in the sight of, and to the extreme pain of his most holy Mother, deliver the souls in purgatory, and especially that one amongst them all which was the most devout to her; that it may soon attain unto Thy glory, there to praise Thee in her and her in Thee world without end. Amen.

Pater, Ave and De Profundis.

(Pope Leo XII., in order to hold out a greater inducement to the faithful to pray for the faithful departed, granted by a Rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov, 18, 1826 - An indulgence of 100 days, to all who say with contrite heart and devotion once a day the prayers assigned in the above mentioned exercise to each day in the week, with one Pater, Ave, and the De profundis.)

The English edition of the Raccolta, 1866 edition, is available in full here:

Sunday 31 October 2010

Our Lady, Queen of All Saints

"Let all, therefore, try to approach with greater trust the throne of grace and mercy of our Queen and Mother, and beg for strength in adversity, light in darkness, consolation in sorrow; above all let them strive to free themselves from the slavery of sin and offer an unceasing homage, filled with filial loyalty, to their Queenly Mother. Let her churches be thronged by the faithful, her feast-days honoured; may the beads of the Rosary be in the hands of all; may Christians gather, in small numbers and large, to sing her praises in churches, in homes, in hospitals, in prisons. May Mary's name be held in highest reverence, a name sweeter than honey and more precious than jewels; may none utter blasphemous words, the sign of a defiled soul, against that name graced with such dignity and revered for its motherly goodness; let no one be so bold as to speak a syllable which lacks the respect due to her name."
Pope Pius XII, From the Encyclical Letter, Ad Caeli Reginam, On the Queenship of Our Lady (11th October 1954)


Hail Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star
Guide of the wanderer here below
Thrown on life's surge, we claim thy care,
Save us from peril and from woe.
Mother of Christ, O Star of the sea
Pray for the wanderer, pray for me.

O gentle, chaste, and spotless Maid,
We sinners make our prayers through thee;
Remind thy Son that He has paid
The price of our iniquity.
Virgin most pure, O star of the sea,
Pray for the sinner, pray for me.

And while to Him Who reigns above
In Godhead one, in Persons three,
The Source of life, of grace, of love,
Homage we pay on bended knee:
Do thou, bright Queen, O star of the sea,
Pray for thy children, pray for me.

(Fr John Lingard)

Saturday 9 October 2010

Blessed John Henry Newman on Mary the Mother of God

Today is the first feast day of the Blessed John Henry Newman, and Monday is the Feast of the Maternity of Our Lady, so what better than the words of JHN on the Theotokos?

These are from 'Discourses to Mixed Congregations'.


Mere Protestants have seldom any real perception of the doctrine of God and man in one Person. They speak in a dreamy, shadowy way of Christ's divinity; but, when their meaning is sifted, you will find them very slow to commit themselves to any statement sufficient to express the Catholic dogma. They will tell you at once that the subject is not to be inquired into, for that it is impossible to inquire into it at all without being technical and subtle. Then when they comment on the Gospels, they will speak of Christ, not simply and consistently as God, but as a being made up of God and man, partly one and partly the other, or between both, or as a man inhabited by a special divine presence. Sometimes they even go on to deny that He was the Son of God in heaven, saying that He became the Son when He was conceived of the Holy Ghost; and they are shocked, and think it a mark both of reverence and good sense to be shocked, when they hear the Man spoken of simply and plainly as God. They cannot bear to have it except as a figure or mode of speaking, that God had a human body, or that God suffered; they think that the "Atonement," and "Sanctification through the Spirit," as they speak, is the sum and substance of the Gospel, and they are shy of any dogmatic expression which goes beyond them. Such, I believe, is the ordinary character of the Protestant notions among us on the divinity of Christ, whether among members of the Anglican communion, or dissenters from it, excepting a small remnant of them.

Now, if you would witness against these unchristian opinions, if you would bring out, distinctly and beyond mistake and evasion, the simple idea of the Catholic Church that God is man, could you do it better than by laying down in St. John's words that "God became man"? and could you express this again more emphatically and unequivocally than by declaring that He was born a man, or that He had a Mother? The world allows that God is man; the admission costs it little, for God is everywhere, and (as it may say) is everything; but it shrinks from confessing that God is the Son of Mary. It shrinks, for it is at once confronted with a severe fact, which violates and shatters its own unbelieving view of things; the revealed doctrine forthwith takes its true shape, and receives an historical reality; and the Almighty is introduced into His own world at a certain time and in a definite way. Dreams are broken and shadows depart; the divine truth is no longer a poetical expression, or a devotional exaggeration, or a mystical economy, or a mythical representation. "Sacrifice and offering," the shadows of the Law, "Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou fitted to Me." "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have diligently looked upon, and our hands have handled," "That which we have seen and have heard, declare we unto you"; such is the record of the Apostle, in opposition to those "spirits" which denied that "Jesus Christ had appeared in the flesh," and which "dissolved" Him by denying either His human nature or His divine. And the confession that Mary is Deipara, or the Mother of God, is that safeguard wherewith we seal up and secure the doctrine of the Apostle from all evasion, and that test whereby we detect all the pretences of those bad spirits of "Antichrist which have gone out into the world." It declares that He is God; it implies that He is man; it suggests to us that He is God still, though He has become man, and that He is true man though He is God. By witnessing to the process of the union, it secures the reality of the two subjects of the union, of the divinity and of the manhood. If Mary is the Mother of God, Christ is understood to be Emmanuel,: God with us. And hence it was that, when time went on, and the bad spirits and false prophets grew stronger and bolder and found a way into the Catholic body itself, then the Church, guided by God, could find no more effectual and sure way of expelling them than that of using this word Deipara against them; and, on the other hand, when they came up again from the realms of darkness, and plotted the utter overthrow of Christian faith in the sixteenth century, then they could find no more certain expedient for their hateful purpose than that of reviling and blaspheming the prerogatives of Mary, for they knew full sure that, if they could once get the world to dishonour the Mother, the dishonour of the Son would follow close. The Church and Satan agreed together in this, that Son and Mother went together; and the experience of three centuries has confirmed their testimony; for Catholics who have honoured the Mother still worship the Son, while Protestants, who now have ceased to confess the Son, began then by scoffing at the Mother.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

I probably shouldn't abuse my power by plugging events, but...

The Prior and community of the Dominican Priory of the Holy Cross Leicester are pleased to announce:


Celebrant: Bishop Malcolm McMahon, OP, Bishop of Nottingham

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Wednesday 8th December, 2010 at 7pm

Followed by the consecration of a Shrine to the English Martyrs.

I think I am correct that this will be the first Pontifical High Mass of a Bishop in his Diocese for a very long time indeed! It would be wonderful to have as many people as possible attend this.

Clergy are invited to sit in choir. Please bring Cotta and biretta, and stole if receiving communion. Please could you inform me at the e-mail address below.

If any clergy or servers who feel they would like to be part of the sanctuary party, please contact me at They would need to be free to attend a few rehearsals.

Richard Hawker,
Sacristan & Master of Ceremonies,
Priory of the Holy Cross,

Sunday 3 October 2010

Black Country Training Day

One of our members, Dr Matthew Doyle, who is LMS rep for Birmingham and the Black Country, reports that a successful training day was held yesterday, on the Feast of the Holy Angels, at St. Michael's Church, West Bromwich.

As a native of South Staffordshire, I am delighted to hear that tradition is making advances in the Black Country.

A full report can be found here:

Saturday 2 October 2010

Regina Angelorum. Prayer to Our Lady Queen of Angels

August Queen of Heaven, sovereign Mistress of the Angels, who didst receive from the beginning the mission and the power to crush the serpent’s head, we beseech thee to send thy holy angels, that under thy command and by thy power, they may pursue the evil spirits, encounter them on every side, resist their bold attacks, and drive them hence into the abyss of woe.

Most holy Mother, send thy angels to defend us and to drive the cruel enemy from us.

All ye holy angels and archangel, help and defend us. Amen.

O good and tender Mother! Thou shalt ever be our Love and our Hope.

Holy Angels and Archangels, keep and defend us. Amen

Regina Angelorum, ora pro nobis. Our Lady Queen of Angels, pray for us.

Friday 24 September 2010

Anima Mariae, sanctifica me!

Prayer to Our Lady of Good Success

(from a holy card distributed by the Sisters of the Conceptionist Convent of Quito with ecclesiastical approval)

Soul of Mary, sanctify me,
Body of Mary, purify me,
Heart of Mary, inflame me,
Sorrow of Mary, comfort me,
Tears of Mary, console me,
O Sweet Mary, hear me.

With thy benign eyes, look on me,
Through thy holy steps, guide me,
To thy Divine Son, pray for me,
Pardon for my sins, achieve for me,
Devotion to your holy Rosary, infuse in me,
Love for God and my fellow man, grant me,
Permit me not to ever be separated from thee.

In the hour of my death, comfort me,
From my enemies, defend me,
With the shield of thy holy name, defend me,
With thy mantle, cover me,
In the fatal instant of my agony, assist me,
From dying in sin, free me,
Into the arms of Jesus, deliver me,
To the eternal mansion, bring me,
So that, with the angels and saints
I can praise thee for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday 17 September 2010

Hail, Star of the Sea - a prayer by BLESSED JOHN HENRY NEWMAN

Ave Maris Stella

Truly art thou a star, O Mary! Our Lord indeed Himself, Jesus Christ, He is the truest and chiefest Star, the bright and morning Star, as St. John calls Him; that Star which was foretold from the beginning as destined to rise out of Israel, and which was displayed in figure by the star which appeared to the wise men in the East. But if the wise and learned and they who teach men in justice shall shine as stars for ever and ever; if the angels of the Churches are called stars in the Hand of Christ; if He honoured the apostles even in the days of their flesh by a title, calling them lights of the world; if even those angels who fell from heaven are called by the beloved disciple stars; if lastly all the saints in bliss are called stars, in that they are like stars differing from stars in glory; therefore most assuredly, without any derogation from the honour of our Lord, is Mary His mother called the Star of the Sea, and the more so because even on her head she wears a crown of twelve stars. Jesus is the Light of the world, illuminating every man who cometh into it, opening our eyes with the gift of faith, making souls luminous by His Almighty grace; and Mary is the Star, shining with the light of Jesus, fair as the moon, and special as the sun, the star of the heavens, which it is good to look upon, the star of the sea, which is welcome to the tempest-tossed, at whose smile the evil spirit flies, the passions are hushed, and peace is poured upon the soul.

Hail then, Star of the Sea, we joy in the recollection of thee. Pray for us ever at the throne of Grace; plead our cause, pray with us, present our prayers to thy Son and Lord - now and in the hour of death, Mary be thou our help.

Monday 6 September 2010

Nativity of Our Blessed Lady, 8th September

8th September is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary - our Lady's Birthday, in other words. Liturgically, only Our Lord Himself, His mother, and His cousin St John the Baptist, have their birthdays celebrated especially with a Feast Day. The Nativity of our Lady is, naturally, exactly nine months after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on 8th December.

The Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady is followed closely by the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary, on 12th, and the Seven Sorrows of our Lady on 15th. Next month will bring The Most Holy Rosary, and the Maternity of Our Lady, so there are plenty of Marian feasts to help us keep in mind the Glories of Mary.

In the Breviary, in the second nocturn of Matins, are readings from a Sermon by St Augustine. Here is a translation:

Dearly beloved brethren, the day for which we have longed, the Feast-day of the Blessed and Worshipful and alway-Virgin Mary, that day is come. Let our land laugh and sing with merriment, bathed in the glory of this great Virgin's rising. She is the flower of the fields on which the priceless lily of the valleys hath blossomed. This is she whose delivery changed the nature that we draw from our first parents, and cleansed away their offence. At her that dolorous sentence which was pronounced over Eve ended its course; to her it was never said: In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children. She brought forth a child, even the Lord, but she brought him forth, not in sorrow, but in joy. Eve wept, but Mary laughed. Eve's womb was big with tears, but Mary's womb was big with gladness. Eve gave birth to a sinner, but Mary gave birth to the sinless one. The mother of our race brought punishment into the world, but the Mother of our Lord brought salvation into the world. Eve was the foundress of sin, but Mary was the foundress of righteousness. Eve welcomed death, but Mary helped in life. Eve smote, but Mary healed. For Eve's disobedience, Mary offered obedience; and for Eve's unbelief, Mary offered faith. Let Mary now make a loud noise upon the organ, and between its quick notes let the rattling of the Mother's timbrel be heard. Let the gladsome choirs sing with her, and their sweet hymns mingle with the changing music. Hearken to what a song her timbrel will make accompaniment. She saith: My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden, for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is Mighty hath magnified me. The new miracle of Mary's delivery hath effaced the curse of the frail backslider, and the singing of Mary hath silenced the wailing of Eve.

Here is the collect for the day:

Famulis tuis, quaesumus, Domine, caelestis gratiae munus impertire: ut, quibus beatae Virginis partus exstitit salutis exordium; Nativitatis ejus votiva solemnitas pacis tribuat incrementum. Per Dominum, etc.

Let us pray.
Grant unto us thy servants, we beseech thee, O Lord, the gift of thy heavenly grace, unto whom thou didst give the first sight of a Saviour as the offspring of a Blessed Virgin, and grant that this Feast, which they keep in honour of the same Virgin, may avail them unto the increase of peace. Through our Lord, etc.

Saturday 28 August 2010

Prayer of Saint Augustine to the Blessed Virgin

This Saturday is the feast day of St Augustine of Hippo, Confessor, Bishop, and Doctor of the Church (354-430). This prayer of his, to our blessed lady, is therefore approximately sixteen centuries old. As we pray it, we unite with all the saints and the faithful, of all the Christian centuries, to give honour and praise to blessed Mary, Mother of God.

O blessed Virgin Mary, who can worthily repay thee thy just dues of praise and thanksgiving, thou who by the wondrous assent of thy will didst rescue a fallen world? What songs of praise can our weak human nature recite in thy honor, since it is by thy intervention alone that it has found the way to restoration. Accept, then, such poor thanks as we have here to offer, though they be unequal to thy merits; and receiving our vows, obtain by thy prayers the remission of our offenses. Carry thou our prayers within the sanctuary of the heavenly audience, and bring forth from it the antidote of our reconciliation. May the sins we bring before Almighty God through thee, become pardonable through thee; may what we ask for with sure confidence, through thee be granted. Take our offering, grant us our requests, obtain pardon for what we fear, for thou art the sole hope of sinners. Through thee we hope for the remission of our sins, and in thee, O blessed Lady, is our hope of reward. Holy Mary, succour the miserable, help the fainthearted, comfort the sorrowful, pray for thy people, plead for the clergy, intercede for all women consecrated to God; may all who keep thy holy commemoration feel now thy help and protection. Be thou ever ready to assist us when we pray, and bring back to us the answers to our prayers. Make it thy continual care to pray for the people of God, thou who, blessed by God, didst merit to bear the Redeemer of the world, who liveth and reigneth, world without end. Amen.

Sunday 15 August 2010

Devotions for the Assumption of Our Lady

To celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady, here are four antiphons from the Divine Office for the day:

Assumpta est Maria in coelum: gaudent Angeli, laudantes benedicunt Dominum.
Mary has been assumed into heaven: the Angels rejoice, and with praises they bless the Lord.

Maria Virgo assumpta est ad aethereum thalamum, in quo Rex regum stellato sedet solio.
The Virgin Mary has been assumed unto the heavenly chamber, where the King of kings sits on His starry throne.

Virgo prudentissima, quo progrederis, quasi aurora valde rutilans? Filia Sion, tota formosa et suavis es: pulchra ut luna, electa ut sol.
Virgin most prudent, where do you go, like the rosy dawn? Daughter of Sion, you are all beautiful and sweet: fair as the moon, chosen as the sun.

Hodie Maria Virgo coelos ascendit: gaudete, quia cum Christo regnat in aeternum.
This day the Virgin Mary ascended into heaven: rejoice, for she reigns for ever with Christ.

Saturday 14 August 2010

Pope Benedict XVI on St Tarcisius

In a General Audience in St Peter's Square, on 4th August this year, Pope Benedict XVI referred to St Tarcisius. A large group of mainly German altar servers presented the Pope with a statue of St Tarcisius. The Pope refers to the life of our saint as an inspiration to altar servers today, and calls us to greater fidelity to the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament:
"Martyrdom will probably not be required of us, but Jesus asks of us fidelity in small things, inner recollection, inner participation, our faith and our efforts to keep this treasure present in every day life. He asks of us fidelity in daily tasks, a witness to his love, going to church through inner conviction and for the joy of his presence."
The copy of the full address below is taken from: and is copyright of Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I would like to express my joy at being here with you today in this Square, where you have gathered festively for this General Audience, attended by such large numbers of the great European pilgrimage for altar servers! Dear boys and girls and young people, welcome to Rome! Since the vast majority of the altar servers present in the Square are German-speaking, I shall speak to them first of all in my mother tongue.
Dear altar servers, dear friends, dear German-speaking pilgrims, welcome to Rome! I greet cordially all of you and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State. He is called "Tarcisio" like your Patron Saint. You have had the courtesy to invite him and he, who is called Tarcisius after the Saint, is happy to be able to be here among the world's altar servers and the German altar servers. I greet my dear Brothers in the episcopate and in the Priesthood, and the Deacons who have wished to take part in this Audience. I warmly thank Bishop Martin Gächter, Auxiliary of Basel, President of "Coetus Internationalis Ministrantium", for his greeting to me, for the important gift of the statue of St Tarcisius and for the scarf he has given me. It all reminds me of the time when I too was an altar boy. I also thank Bishop Gächter on your behalf for the great work he carries out among you. I likewise thank your co-workers and all who got together to make this joyful meeting possible. My gratitude also goes to the Swiss sponsors and to all who have worked in their various capacities to make the large statue of St Tarcisius a reality.
How many of you there are! While flying over St Peter's Square in the helicopter I saw all the colours and the joy filling this Square! Thus not only do you create a festive atmosphere in the Square but you also fill my heart with joy! Thank you! The statue of St Tarcisius has come to us after a long pilgrimage. In September 2008 it was unveiled in Switzerland in the presence of 8.000 altar servers; some of you were certainly present. From Switzerland it travelled through Luxembourg on the way to Hungary. Let us greet it festively today, glad at being able to become better acquainted with this figure of the early Church. Later, as Bishop Gächter told us, the statue will be taken to the Catacombs of St Calixtus, where St Tarcius was buried. The hope that I express to all is that this place, namely the Catacombs of St Calixtus, and this statue, may become a reference point for altar servers, boys and girls, and for all who wish to follow Jesus more closely through the priestly, religious or missionary life. May they all be able to look at this strong and courageous boy and renew their commitment to friendship with the Lord, to learn to live with him always, following the path he points out to us with his word and the witness of so many Saints and Martyrs whose brothers and sisters we have become through Baptism.
Who was St Tarcisius? We do not have much information about him. We are dealing with the early centuries of the Church's history or, to be more precise, with the third century. It is said that he was a boy who came regularly to the Catacombs of St Calixtus here in Rome and took his special Christian duties very seriously. He had great love for the Eucharist and various hints lead us to conclude that he was presumably an acolyte, that is, an altar server. Those were years in which the Emperor Valerian was harshly persecuting Christians who were forced to meet secretly in private houses or, at times, also in the Catacombs, to hear the word of God, to pray and to celebrate Holy Mass. Even the custom of taking the Eucharist to prisoners and the sick became increasingly dangerous. One day, when, as was his habit, the priest asked who was prepared to take the Eucharist to the other brothers and sisters who were waiting for it, young Tarcisius stood up and said: "send me!". This boy seemed too young for such a demanding service! "My youth", Tarcisius said, "will be the best shield for the Eucharist". Convinced, the priest entrusted to him the precious Bread, saying: "Tarcisius, remember that a heavenly treasure has been entrusted to your weak hands. Avoid crowded streets and do not forget that holy things must never be thrown to dogs nor pearls to pigs. Will you guard the Sacred Mysteries faithfully and safely?". "I would die", Tarcisio answered with determination, "rather than let go of them". As he went on his way he met some friends who approached him and asked him to join them. As pagans they became suspicious and insistent at his refusal and realized he was clasping something to his breast that he appeared to be protecting. They tried to prize it away from him, but in vain; the struggle became ever fiercer, especially when they realized that Tarcisius was a Christian; They kicked him, they threw stones at him, but he did not surrender. While Tarcisius was dying a Pretoria guard called Quadratus, who had also, secretly, become a Christian, carried him to the priest. Tarcisius was already dead when they arrived but was still clutching to his breast a small linen bag containing the Eucharist. He was buried straight away in the Catacombs of St Calixtus. Pope Damasus had an inscription carved on St Tarcisius' grave; it says that the boy died in 257. The Roman Martyrology fixed the date as 15 August and in the same Martyrology a beautiful oral tradition is also recorded. It claims that the Most Blessed Sacrament was not found on St Tarcisius' body, either in his hands or his clothing. It explains that the consecrated Host which the little Martyr had defended with his life, had become flesh of his flesh thereby forming, together with his body, a single immaculate Host offered to God.
Dear altar servers, St Tarcisius' testimony and this beautiful tradition teach us the deep love and great veneration that we must have for the Eucharist: it is a precious good, a treasure of incomparable value; it is the Bread of life, it is Jesus himself who becomes our nourishment, support and strength on our daily journey and on the open road that leads to eternal life; the Eucharist is the greatest gift that Jesus bequeathed to us.
I am addressing those of you who are present here and, through you, all the altar servers of the world! Serve Jesus present in the Eucharist generously. It is an important task that enables you to be particularly close to the Lord and to grow in true and profound friendship with him. Guard this friendship in your hearts jealously, like St Tarcisius, ready to commit yourselves, to fight and to give your lives so that Jesus may reach all peoples. May you too communicate to your peers the gift of this friendship with joy, with enthusiasm, without fear, so that they may feel that you know this Mystery, that is true and that you love it! Every time that you approach the altar, you have the good fortune to assist in God's great loving gesture as he continues to want to give himself to each one of us, to be close to us, to help us, to give us strength to live in the right way. With consecration, as you know, that little piece of bread becomes Christ's Body, that wine becomes Christ's Blood. You are lucky to be able to live this indescribable Mystery from close at hand! Do your task as altar servers with love, devotion and faithfulness; do not enter a church for the celebration with superficiality but rather, prepare yourselves inwardly for Holy Mass! Assisting your priests in service at the altar helps to make Jesus closer, so that people can understand, can realize better: he is here. You collaborate to make him more present in the world, in every day life, in the Church and everywhere. Dear friends! You lend Jesus your hands, your thoughts, your time. He will not fail to reward you, giving you true joy and enabling you to feel where the fullest happiness is. St Tarcisius has shown us that love can even bring us to give our life for an authentic good, for the true good, for the Lord.
Martyrdom will probably not be required of us, but Jesus asks of us fidelity in small things, inner recollection, inner participation, our faith and our efforts to keep this treasure present in every day life. He asks of us fidelity in daily tasks, a witness to his love, going to church through inner conviction and for the joy of his presence. Thus we can also make known to our friends that Jesus is alive. May St John Mary Vianney's intercession help us in this commitment. Today is the liturgical Memorial of this humble French Parish Priest who changed a small community and thus gave the world a new light. May the example of St Tarcisius and St John Mary Vianney impel us every day to love Jesus and to do his will, as did the Virgin Mary, faithful to her Son to the end. Thank you all once again! May God bless you in these days and I wish you a good journey home!

Epigram by Pope Damasus

To celebrate the feast day of our Patron, St Tarcisius, here is the Epigram composed in his honour by Pope Damasus.

Par meritum, quicumque legis, cognosce duorum,
quis Damasus rector titulos post praemia reddit.
Judaicus populus Stephanum meliora monentem
perculerat saxis, tulerat qui ex hoste tropaeum,
martyrium primus rapuit levita fidelis.
Tarsicium sanctum Christi sacramenta gerentem
cum male sana manus premeret vulgare profanis,
ipse animam potius voluit dimittere caesus
prodere quam canibus rabidis caelestia membra.
(Damasi Epigrammata, Maximilian Ihm, 1895, n. 14)

At some point soon, I will attempt a translation, though I can't promise any great poetic merit.

Friday 13 August 2010

St Catherine's Trust Summer School

At the annual St Catherine's Trust summer school, which was held at Ardingly College in Sussex last week, a number of members were formally enrolled into the Sodality by our spiritual Director, Fr Andrew Southwell.

The summer school includes a session each afternoon in serving at the Traditional mass, with groups both for absolute beginners and for the more experienced. On the Friday, boys who qualified for full membership - i.e. who are able to serve Low Mass fluently and correctly - and who were willing to take on the commitments of membership were enrolled.

The ceremony of enrolment includes a promise by the candidates: "I offer myself to God almighty, to Blessed Mary ever virgin, and to our Holy Patron St. Tarcisius, and I promise to do my best to serve reverently, intelligently and accurately, having the glory of God and my own eternal salvation as my object."

Medals were blessed and distributed to full members, as can be seen in the picture above. The medal is currently a Sacred Heart medal on a royal blue ribbon. The royal blue ribbon symbolizes the Queenship of Mary, which is particularly appropriate since the feast of St Tarcisius is on 15th August, the Assumption of Our Lady. All members of the Sodality are encouraged to have a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is hoped in time that a specific medal for the Sodality will be produced, which as well as the Sacred Heart will include an image of St Tarcisius, and the motto "fidelis usque ad mortem." Until then, a generic medal of the Sacred Heart is being used.

All the newly enrolled members said together the Sodality prayer, and then Fr Andrew read the following collect (in Latin), before giving the final blessing:
"O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst come not to be served unto but to served, and who didst give to Blessed Tarcisius the grace of perseverance even unto death: grant to Thy servants, we beseech Thee, that while faithfully serving thy holy altars, they may, with faith like to his, worship Thee hidden in Thine adorable sacrament; and in their hearts and minds, O Lord, enkindle the love of Thy grace. Who livest and reignest, etc."

It should be noted that, given that our members are dispersed far and wide, all that is necessary for enrolment as a full member is application to the Secretary, with evidence of entitlement, and privately praying the prayers of commitment to the Sodality. Members may then wear the Sacred Heart medal, on the royal blue ribbon, to indicate membership.

However, where it is possible to be formally enrolled using the ceremony, this is encouraged, even where one is already a full member. The ceremony for full enrolment will be made available to MCs and priests who wish to use it, on application to the Secretary.

Saturday 7 August 2010

O Jesus living in Mary

O Jesus living in Mary:
Come and live in Thy servants,
In the spirit of Thy holiness,
In the fullness of Thy power,
In the perfection of Thy ways,
In the truth of Thy virtues,
In the fellowship of Thy mysteries,
Rule Thou over every adverse power,
In Thy Spirit, for the glory of the Father.

O Jesu vivens in Maria
Veni et vive in famulis tuis,
In spiritu sanctitatis tuae,
In plenitudine virtutis tuae,
In perfectione viarum tuarum,
In veritate virtutum tuarum,
In communione mysteriorum tuorum;
Dominare omni adversae potestati,
In Spiritu tuo ad gloriam Patris.
This prayer, which was written by Fr Jean Jacques Olier, S.S. (1608-1657), was described by St Louis de Montfort as "a synthesis of the spiritual life and a summary of our Compendium". It contains the spirit of perfect consecration to Jesus through Mary which was advocated by St Louis, and which has been a most powerful means of sanctification for many souls. It is worth using often.

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 -

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,

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:
A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who recite this litany, which is approved for either private or public use.