- Sunday, 10 June 2012 08:29
The feast of Corpus Christi has a rich fare to savor: prayers, Bible readings, music, and poetic texts. The point of the Church offering us this opportunity to honor the Eucharistic Presence is to extend in our lives a deeper grace given in Communion theology, to have a closer with the Lord in His promised hundredfold. It is, of course, a deepening in our lives what the Lord Himself did and gave to us on Holy Thursday with Eucharist and the priesthood.
The Sequence (the poetry which follows the second lesson at Mass and directly precedes the Alleluia verse), Lauda Sion Salvatorem, is ideally fitting for the sacred Liturgy. Google this masterpiece of poetry expressing theology in a way that stimulates prayer and deepens one’s faith.
The English priest Father Ronald Knox offers a perspective on what we’re doing in observing the great feast of the Lord’s Body and Blood. The following is taken from his meditation on Corpus Christi:
Like the Jewish Temple, the Christian altar is the rallying point of God’s people. The whole notion of Christian solidarity grows out of, and is centered in, the common participation of a common Table. The primitive Church in Jerusalem broke bread day be day from house to house; its stronghold of peace was not any local centre, but a common meal. Christian people, however separated by long distances of land or sea, still meet together in full force, by a mystical reunion, whenever and wherever the Bread is broken and the Cup blessed.
- Tuesday, 07 June 2011 17:31
In the days that lead up to the great solemnity of Pentecost meditating on the sequence for Pentecost, “Veni Sancte Spiritus” (Come Holy Spirit), is appropriate. Take the text of the “Veni Sancte Spiritus” use it for your Lectio Divina up to Pentecost, and perhaps in days following.
For many people in the pew, the Church’s use of the sequence 4 times a year jumps out of no where and it sinks into oblivion because it is infrequently spoken of in bulletins or in homilies. With rare exception priests sadly ignore the sequences. Today, the priest actually made the suggestion to pray with the Pentecost sequence, “Veni Sancte Spirtus”.
The sequence, as you know, is a poem of the Middle Ages that was composed for specific feasts of the Paschal Mystery, holy days and feasts of saints to draw our attention to the truth of the faith. It is the lex orandi tradition at its best. While not taken from the Bible, the sequence relates to us the major themes of sacred Scripture to which we need to give some attention. The sequence is sung after the second reading and right before the Alleluia verse (Gospel acclamation).
Here are but a few lines from “Veni Sancte Spiritus” to bring to prayer:
O most blessed Light fill the inmost heart of thy faithful.
Without your spirit, nothing is in man, nothing that is harmless.
Wash that which is sordid water that which is dry, heal that which is wounded.
Make flexible that which is rigid, warm that which is cold, rule that which is deviant.
The full text of the Pentecost sequence is noted here.
- Sunday, 05 June 2011 17:21
One of my missions in life is to help restore the use of liturgical sequences and the observance of octaves. The Liturgy of the Church is not only and primarily the worship of the Triune God but it also passes down to us what we believe and teaches us how to live. Well, I am not unique in wanting the restoration of sequences and octaves as others have similar ambitions. Care to join the “restore the sequence” effort? My friend Friar Charles at A Minor Friar reminded me of this work and he gives needed encouragement
Many of the sequences were excised, really abolished, from the Missal in the years following the Council of Trent and they were further reduced in number with the Missal of Paul VI. The 16th century redaction of the sequences seems to be based on Protestant criticism of medieval exegesis of Scripture and poetry in the Liturgy (sound familiar?). The Missal of Pope Paul made too many things optional and gave too many options; as you know, when human beings make things optional they become proscribed. Sadly, sequences are not in the liturgical framework of priests, liturgists or liturgical musicians; they’re barely on the agenda of seminary courses in sacred Liturgy. Even the patrimony of the religious orders have no interest in liturgical poems of their venerable founders.
The Solemnity of the Ascension had a sequence –a liturgical poem set to music– but it was jettisoned in the revision of the missal written by Adam of St Victor in the 12th century (d. c. 1177). Some have said that Adam of St Victor was the greatest poet of the Middle Ages (Gueranger) and the greatest Latin poet ever (John M. Neale). This is quite a claim of Digby S. Wrangham to make, but I’ll leave it to others to parse the distinctions. Wrangham’s collection of Adam’s texts is noteworthy.
Adam of St Victor’s text was translated into English by Digby S. Wrangham (which follows):
Postquam hostem et inferna Satan and the realms
Spoliavit, ad superna Having spoiled, to joys supernal
gaudia; Christ returneth back once more:
Angelorum ascendenti As His upward way
Sicut olim descendenti As before, when he descendeth,
obsequia. Angels set them to adore.
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