Destroying the barriers of hell …

R. Our Shepherd is gone from us, he who is the Fountain of living water: and at his departure the sun was darkened * That evil one who took captive our first parent is also taken into captivity, in that today our our Saviour hath broken the gates of death and burst thereof the bars asunder.

V. He hath destroyed the barriers of hell, and overthrown him that had the power of death. That evil one who took captive our first parent is also taken into captivity, in that today our our Saviour hath broken the gates of death and burst thereof the bars asunder.

~ Response iv, for Tenebrae of Holy Saturday, Anglican Breviary.

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The Tenebrae Offices

Palm Sunday ended we have arrived at Holy Week. The ancient and beautiful offices of Tenebrae are around the corner. Both the modern Roman Rite and the Prayer Book tradition claim to have been reformed on the basis of primitive Christian practice. Sadly, none of that is true. Had the reformers of the 16th and 20-ieth century really reformed the Office on the primitive Church they would have looked a lot like … well … like the Tenebrae Offices. But they don’t.

In the Roman Rite the 1962 version of the Breviary presents us with a severely mutilated version if the traditional Divine Office but still retaining several basic features of what has since (at least) the fourth century characterized the Divine Office. In the Book of Common Prayer and in the (Roman) Liturgy of the Hours even these traces have been carefully erased.

Gregory DiPippo has written a series of articles about the reforms enforced upon the Roman Church during the 1950-ies where reformers were determined to mutilate the Office as much as was Thomas Cranmer in the 16th century. The beauty and profundity of the ancient Office – surely characterized by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – shines through very clearly in the ancient Office: Tenebrae and the Divine Officce of the Triduum.

Gregory Wassen +

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St. Patrick of Ireland

March 17Feria Tertia – St. Patrick of Ireland, d.

In Ireland this Feast is a double of the first class

Psalms and Antiphons from the Psalter at all Hours.

Matins: Invitatory & Hymn from Common 7 (though Common 10 could also be used). Matins is of one Nocturn according to Rule 2 (p. xli-xlii). Lesson i is from Common 7 with its respond; Lesson ii is the Legend of St. Patrick w/ the third respond from the second Nocturn of Common 7, Lesson iii is from the Incipit and Homily for the Feria (p. C257-8). Te Deum.

Lauds: Psalms and Antiphons from Psalter all else from Common 7, except Collect from E116 w/commemoration of Feria (Ant. Ben. from C258, V/R p. A22, Collect C258 (We beseech thee). Preces & Suffrage are not said.

Hours: from Chapter of the feast. At Prime & Compline no Preces.

Vespers: from Chapter of the Feast of St. Cyril, using Common 8, Collect E116 w/commemoration of St. Patrick using Table 7c & Feria (Ant. on Magn. C238, V/R A42, Collect of Vespers c238 (Have mercy).

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Loaves & Eucharist

The Fourth Sunday in lent has some interesting things going on. Not in the least the Gospel passage from John chapter 6 – which is infamous for its eucharistic teaching. Today’s passage, however, concerned the miraculous multiplication of bread. This passage, from its context. ought to be read as speaking concerning the Eucharist. The Church further emphasizes this in the way she consecrates the elements (of bread and wine) during the Sacrifice of the Mass:

1 AT that time: Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.
2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.
4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.
5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.
8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him,
9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.
14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

During the Mass the consecration of the bread follows the prayer Qui pridie:

Who the next day afore he suffered took bread into his holy and reverend hands, and his eyes being lifted up to heaven unto thee, God Almighty his Father, rendering thanks unto thee, he blessed, he brake, and gave to his disciples saying: Take and eat this, ye all.


In the Gospel passage Jesus lifts up his eyes and as he does so he notices a multitude of people. Jesus took loaves of bread and gave thanks (to the Father) and proceeds to distribute the bread to the disciples who in their turn distribute to the people who consume it. There is so much to unpack here!

First of all it must be noticed that the Liturgy of the Church at the point of consecration reminds us of the Gospel reading of today. And as she does this she gives a clue as to how that Gospel is to be understood. The action Jesus performs and the words in which his actions are recorded in the Gospel speak beyond their surface. Beyond “their letter” and could be read as an “allegory” not unlike what St. Paul was on about in today’s Epistle!

This allegory does not entail the idea that Jesus did not undertake such an action. The literal meaning of a Scripture story is not undone or destroyed by an allegorical reading. St. Augustine of Hippo can perhaps help us understand:

The miracles wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ were verily divine works, and they stir up the mind of man to rise by a perception of what is seen by by the eye unto an apprehansion of God himself.

~ Anglican Breviary, Lesson vii for Fourth Sunday in Lent p. C253.

And he continues:

Therefore this miracle is done outwardly before us, that our souls may inwardly thereby be quickened. The same same is shewn to our eyes to furnish food for thoughts. Thus, by means of his works which are seen, we may come to feel awe toward him that cannot be seen. Perchance that we may thereby be roused up to believe, and if we attain unto belief, we shall be purified to such good purpose that we shall begin to long to see him.

~ Anglican Breviary, Lesson ix for the Fourth Sunday in Lent p. C254.

In other words the things done by our Lord and recorded in our Scriptures are signs of something beyond what they are on the surface. This is, of course, precisely what St. Augustine wrote in his Teaching Christianity concerning things and signs in Scripture. Not all things in Scripture are signs, but some sure are.

What the similarities and the immediate context (Chapter 6) of today’s Gospel tell us about what the multiplication of bread means is that we are too look at this thing as a sign of the Eucharist! This thought – I hope – leads to more questions which will lead us to meditate on this passage and to pray at Mass more attentively. Because if we do that I am certain that the Lord will indeed “stir up our minds” and a desire to be with God will be aroused in us, and that in the end we can “apprehend God himself.”

Bread (and wine) is – of course – bread. But in the Mass, during the consecration, something happen. Bread is no longer simply bread but has become the very Body of Jesus Christ. For this we must learn to read and understand by faith of which allegory is a necessary part.

Gregory Wassen +

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Lent III – 2015

Matins: Invitatory, Hymn, Pss & Antiphons as for Sunday in Lent. Nocturn I: Genesis 37 (p. C237-8). Nocturn II: Ambrose (p. C238-9). Nocturn III: Luke 11 & Venerable Bede (p. 239-41).

Lauds & Hours: Pss of Lauds 2 Antiphons, Chapter Ant. on Ben. from Proper of the Season “When a strong man” p. C241. Hymn from Ordinary for Lent (p. A22). Collect p. C241 w/commem of St. John of God (Table 9b, Collect p. E110).  Preces are said.

Vespers: Pss & Ants as for Sunday in the Psalter. Chapter from Lauds, Hymn as in the Ordinary for Lent (p. A41). Ant. on Magn. “A certain woman” p. C241. Collect from Lauds w/commem. of St. John of God (Table 9c, Collect p. E110). Ave, Regina caelorum.

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Ordo for Lent 2 (based on the Simple Kalendar)

Sunday – March 1st

I Vespers: all as in the Psalter & Ordinary for Lent. Commem. of St. David (Table 7a). Matins: All as for Sunday in the Psalter & Ordinary for Lent (remember no Alleluia‘s & Te Deum in Lent). Lauds & Hours: all as in the Psalter & Ordinary for Lent (Lauds 2) w/commem. of St. David (Table 7b) Preces are said at all Hours (the Preces are said at all Hours throughout Lent, kneeling). II Vespers: all as in the Psalter for Lent w/commem of St. Chad p. S19 (Table 7a).

Monday – March 2nd 

Monthly Office of the Dead & Requiem suggested instead of Daily Office below. If the suggestion is followed than after Sunday Vespers there immediately follows the Vespers of the Dead. Matins & Lauds are from the Office of the Dead (p. H1).

Matins: all as in the Psalter & Ordinary for Lent w/commem. of St. Chad (adding Legend of St. Chad to the last lesson of Matins). Lauds & Hours: All as in the Psalter (Lauds 2) & Ordinary for Lent. Collect “Grant we beseech” & commem. of St. Chad (Table 7b). Vespers: all as in the Psalter & Ordinary for Lent. Collect: “Assist us ..” & commem. of St. Aelred p. S20 (Table 10a)

Tuesday – March 3d

 Matins: all as in the Psalter & Ordinary for Lent add Legend of St. Aelred to last lesson of Matins. Lauds & Hours: All as in the Psalter (Lauds 2) & Ordinary for Lent. Collect “O Most merciful” & commem. of St. Aelred (Table 10b) Vespers: all as in the Psalter & Ordinary for Lent. Collect: “We beseech thee ..” & commem. of St. Casimir (Table 9a).

Wednesday – March 4th

Matins: all as in the Psalter & Ordinary for Lent w/commem. of St. Casimir (adding Legend of St. Casimir to the last lesson of Matins). Lauds & Hours: All as in the Psalter (Lauds 2) & Ordinary for Lent. Collect “We beseech thee.” Vespers: all as in the Psalter & Ordinary for Lent. Collect: “O God, the restorer ..”

Thursday – March 5th

Matins: all as in the Psalter & Ordinary for Lent. Lauds & Hours: All as in the Psalter (Lauds 2) & Ordinary for Lent. Collect “Grant us.” Vespers: all as in the Psalter & Ordinary for Lent. Collect: “Assist, O Lord” & commem. of Sts. Perpetua & Felicity (Table 13a).

Friday – March 6th

Matins: all as in the Psalter & Ordinary for Lent adding the Legend of Sts. Perpetua & Felicity to the last Lesson of Matins. Lauds & Hours: All as in the Psalter (Lauds 2) & Ordinary for Lent. Collect “Almighty God” & commem. of Sts. Perpetua & Felicity (Table 13b). Vespers: all as for the Feast of a Doctor using Common 8 for what is not given as proper w/commem. of the Lenten Feria (use Vespers Collect).

Saturday – March 7th

Matins: all as for the Feast of a Doctor using Common 8 for what is not given as Proper. The Legend is divided at the asterisks into 3 parts for the 2nd Nocturn. Commem. of Lenten Feria instead of Lesson ix ! Lauds & Hours: all as for the feast using Commoin 8 for what is not given as proper w/commem. of Lenten Feria (use Lauds Collect). Vespers: all as in the Psalter for Saturday in Lent w/commem. of St. Thomas (no Preces due to the commemoration a double feast, Table 8c). 

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The purpose of worship

Lauren Pristas, writing about the collects contained in the Old and New Roman Missals, reminds us that “we are shaped by our worship” (Collects of the Roman Missals, location 186 Kindle edition). This is well-known it seems since I have heard it said and confirmed many times over by many different people. What I do not often hear is what Pristas writes a few passages on: “The formation 0f which we speak is not the purpose of worship but its effect …” This is a helpful and very necessary reminder that even though worship catechizes that is not the purpose of worship. Again Pristas: “… it is unfitting to ascribe any utilitarian purpose to worship, for in true worship the human person adores and honors God for his own sake.” In other words: worship is not primarily for us but it is primarily for God. Worship is not the place for biblical, catechetical, or other studies.

This is, of course, not to deny that worship does indeed form and shape us. It most certainly does. The point is that worship was not designed to be catechesis or Bible study. Nor should it be. The opus Dei or “work of God” has two components. The first is the worship and adoration of God for his own sake. The second is, as Pristas wrote, the effect of the first we are shaped and formed by the kind of worship we perform. In other words the work of God is a work we perform to God for his sake, and it is also a work performed on us. For as we worship we are formed and shaped. Our habitual actions will – over time – become character and part of how we think and perceive. Worship is how we are re-created in the Image of God.

This is the point of traditional worship. The times, places and people that have been part of its creation have been “means” by which the Holy Spirit has created this worship or liturgy. The same process is to be recognized behind what we call “tradition” or perhaps even “holy tradition.” In fact, I would argue that it is the process which lies behind the Christian Bible(s). Anyone feeling any unease with changing, re-editing, or correcting a presumably outdated Scripture ought to have equal scruples concerning doing such violence to tradition and our worship. Even if such changes are deemed “necessary” for pastoral, theological, simplification, or any other such reasons (excuses? ).

It has been argued that there is – for example – great didactic value in the new liturgies designed under the direction of Annibale Bugnini. This may very well be so. The same could be said of Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer it has great didactic value and no doubt great pastoral sensitivity, theological focus, and simplicity can be claimed for it. It is specifically designed to be so. Chiefly by Dr. Cranmer. In various manuals and introductions to the Book of Common Prayer one can find these claims made by middle of the road, Anglo Catholic, and even Protestant lovers of the Prayer Book. Talking to the various sorts of Anglicans, be they clergy or lay, will provide a very similar result.

And yet …

Is this pastoral sensitivity, theological (namely biblical) focus, and oversee able simplicity really a benefit? Has our worship since the Reformation not been (and for Rome since the Liturgical Revolution) been re-oriented from worship for (toward) God to the interests (no matter how carefully couched) of man? Iow has our liturgy become anthropocentric rather than theocentric? To put it more bluntly and simply: has our worship of God become too much the worship of self? It seems to me that a good case could be made that the Reformation and the Revolution mentioned above had done more damage than good. If such a case convinces us that it is indeed so, than a return to tradition, a return to traditional worship, may very well restore not just the didactic benefits of the (Anglican) Breviary and the (Anglican) Missal but it first and foremost reorients our worship toward God. As worship of God, for God’s sake, it will once again have its “side effect” of recreating us in the Image of God.

Gregory Wassen +

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