Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Exultet


The Easter Proclamation or Exultet from the Holy Saturday liturgy is one of the most sublime chants in the Roman rite, although it has gone through some changes over the years. Here is the authorized English translation from the 1970 Missale Romanum:

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!
Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!
Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!
My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.
Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.
It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!
This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.
This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.
This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!
This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.
This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.
What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.
O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!
Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!
Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."
The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.
Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!
Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.
Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.
(For it is fed by the melting wax,
which the mother bee brought forth
to make this precious candle.)
Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!
May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.
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The Perfect Digestive Biscuit

From The Guardian:
Originally conceived as a medicinal aid for the digestion-obsessed Victorians, the fact it's not allowed to be sold under that name in the US should tell you everything you need to know about the healthful properties of the average digestive biscuit. I'm not knocking the commercially produced variety – they're comfortingly familiar, even if certain big brands keep meddling with the recipe in the name of progress – but when palm oil features in the ingredient list, it's hard not to wonder whether you might be better off if you made your own. Get the recipe right, and you're set for life. (Read more.)
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Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

"My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!...I gave you a royal scepter, but you gave me a crown of thorns." ~from the Improperia.
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Queen Mary Prays over the Sick on Good Friday

From Nobility. It is always bittersweet for me to read about how much potential for being a great ruler Mary Tudor had. To quote from a contemporary report:
On [Good] Friday morning the offertory was performed according to custom in the Church of the Franciscan Friars, which is contiguous to the palace. After the Passion, the Queen came down from her oratory for the adoration of the Cross, accompanied by my lord the right reverend Legate, and kneeling at a short distance from the Cross moved towards It on her knees, praying before It thrice, and then she drew nigh and kissed It, performing this act with such devotion as greatly to edify all those who were present.
Her Majesty next gave her benediction to the rings, the mode of doing so being as follows: An inclosure (un riparo) was formed for her Majesty to the right of the high altar by means of four benches placed so as to form a square, into the center of which she again came down from her oratory, and placing herself on her knees within this inclosure, two large covered basins were brought to her, filled with rings of gold and silver, one of these basins containing rings of her own, whilst the other held those of private individuals (particolari), labelled with their owners’ names. On their being uncovered she commenced reciting a certain prayer and psalms, and then taking them in her two hands (pigliandoli a mano per mano), she passed them again and again from one hand to the other, saying another prayer, which commenced thus:—
Sanctifica, Domine, annulos istos.”

This being terminated, her Majesty went to bless the scrofulous, but she chose to perform this act privately in a gallery, where there were not above 20 persons; and an altar being raised there she knelt and recited the confession, on the conclusion of which her Majesty turned towards my Right Reverend Lord the Legate, who gave her absolution; whereupon a priest read from the Gospel according to St. Mark, and on his coming to the words— “Super ægros manus imponet et bene habebunt,” she caused one of those infirm women to be brought to her, and kneeling the whole time she commenced pressing, with her hands in the form of a cross, on the spot where the sore was, with such compassion and devotion as to be a marvel, and whilst she continued doing this to a man and to three women, the priest kept ever repeating these words:
Super ægros manus imponet et bene habebunt.”
Then on terminating the Gospel, after the words—
In principio erat verbum,”
and on coming to the following, namely,—
Erat lux vera quæ illuminat omnem hominem in hunc mundum,”
then the Queen made the sick people again approach her, and taking a golden coin called an angel, she touched the place where the evil showed itself, and signed it with this coin in the form of the cross; and having done this, she passed a ribbon through a hole which had been pierced in the coin, and placed one of these round the neck of each of the patients, making them promise never to part with that coin, which was hallowed, save in case of extreme need; and then, having washed her hands, the towel being presented to her by my Lord the Right Reverend the Legate, she returned to her oratory. (Read entire article.)
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Plague Victims

In medieval London. To quote:
The skeletons provide a rare opportunity to study the medieval population of London, according to osteologist Don Walker, of the Museum of London Archaeology.

He said: "We can start to answer questions like: where did they come from and what were their lives like?

"I'm amazed how much you can learn about a person who died more than 600 years ago."
Analysis of the skeletons' bones and teeth indicates that:
  • Many of the skeletons appear to suffer signs of malnutrition and 16% had rickets.
  • There is a high rate of back damage and strain indicating heavy manual labour.
  • The later skeletons from the 1400s had a high rate of upper body injury consistent with being involved in violent altercations.
  • 13 of the skeletons were male, three female, two children, the gender was undetermined in the other seven skeletons.
  • 40% grew up outside London, possibly as far north as Scotland - showing that 14th Century London attracted people from across Britain just as it does today.
Mr Carver said: "We can see from the people here that Londoners weren't living an easy life.

"The combination of a poor diet and generally a struggle means they were very susceptible to the plague at that time and that's possibly one of the explanations for why the Black Death was so devastating." (Read more.)
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Franz Joseph Washing the Feet of the Poor

In accord with the ancient custom.
In 1850, Franz Joseph participated for the first time as emperor in the second of the traditional Habsburg expressions of dynastic piety: the Holy Thursday foot-washing ceremony, part of the four-day court observance of Easter. The master of the staff and the court prelates chose twelve poor elderly men, transported them to the Hofburg, and positioned them in the ceremonial hall on a raised dais. There, before an invited audience observing the scene from tribunes, the emperor served the men a symbolic meal and archdukes cleared the dishes. As a priest read aloud in Latin the words of the New Testament (John 3:15), “And he began to wash the feet of the disciples,” Franz Joseph knelt and, without rising from his knees, washed the feet of the twelve old men in imitation of Christ. Finally, the emperor placed a bag of twenty silver coins around the necks of each before the men were led away and returned to their homes in imperial coaches.(Read more.)
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The Queen and the Nuns

How Anne of Austria as Regent for her son Louis XIV turned to contemplative nuns to restore peace in France. To quote:
The Abbot-Duke was utterly opposed to the foundation of new monasteries. Paris, he argued, was already cluttered with too many cloisters vying for economic support. He had promised the Queen Regent, Anne of Austria, that he would forbid the foundation of new monasteries in his territory. Already, for lack of resources, six ancient communities under his authority had ceased to exist. In vain did the Countess of Châteauvieux beg the Queen to make an exception; the Queen remained inflexible.

Divine Providence was at work, all the same. “We know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.” (Romans 8:28) France was in complete turmoil. Forces in rebellion against the crown were gaining ground. The court was obliged to flee to Compiègne. The Queen Regent learned, to her dismay, that the rebellion had spread from Paris and Bordeaux to Orléans and Angers. In desperation she turned to the Abbé Picoté, a priest of Saint-Sulpice, and beseeched him to make whatever vow he thought necessary to obtain from God the return of peace, order, and stability to France.

The good priest, knowing absolutely nothing of Mother Mectilde’s proposed foundation, vowed that if tranquility were restored to France, the Queen would found a house of religious vowed to adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament in reparation for the outrages committed against the Sacred Body of Christ. The Abbé Picoté, in all likelihood, had heard that the consecrated Host was, more than once, trampled under foot by soldiers, and even fed to their horses. Miraculously, no sooner was the vow made in the name of the Queen, than the whole situation changed. On 21 October 1652, Louis XIV entered Paris in triumph. The revolt was over; peace returned.
In the meantime, the Abbé Picoté learned of Mother Mectilde’s project. Struck by the affinity between the vow he had made in the name of the Queen and the foundation that Mother Mectilde desired to undertake, he spoke of it to the Queen on 8 December 1652 while the latter was in retreat at the Benedictine abbey of Val-de-Grâce. The graces of the retreat must have been in operation because he found the Queen well disposed. In execution of her vow, the Queen ordered the Duke of Verneuil to authorize the foundation in his territory of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The Duke-Abbot immediately entrusted the whole affair to his Vicar General, Dom Roussel, a Benedictine of the Congregation of Saint-Maur, and the prior of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. (Read more.)
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Cussing

From The Catholic Gentleman:
I’ll come right out and say it: Profanity isn’t always a sin—but it easily can be. But how are we supposed to know? Here are three principles I see in judging the morality of our speech.

The first principle is intent. What’s the purpose? For example, if you are furious with someone, and you tell them to go to hell (or worse), your intent is obviously to hurt the other person with your words. This kind of angry speech is always prohibited, even if no profane words are used. Jesus makes this clear when he strongly condemns hateful language: “But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.” Of course, there are plenty of other motivations for using profanity besides anger, but the point is, examining our motives will help us determine if we are sinning or not.

The second principle is degree. It is well known that some profanities are more offensive than others, such as words that have an obviously crude and sexual connotation. The f-word is undoubtedly considered the most obscene word in the English language, for example, and I don’t see any cases in which its use can be justified. Frequency is also important. If every other word in your vocabulary is a vulgarity, it’s probably a sign of a deeper problem.

The third principle is graciousness. ”Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt,” says St. Paul— which is pretty funny since “salty language” is a euphemism for profanity. Anyway, we know what the great apostle means. Our speech should literally be grace-full. It should build up the hearer. (Read more.)
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