Benedict’s Vision


In his Dialogues Pope St. Gregory the Great relates the story of St. Benedict seeing a remarkable vision. It follows upon his “forced” all-night meeting with his sister St. Scholastica. Benedict had been unwilling to grant Scholastica’s request to stay with her to “discourse about the joys of Heaven.” As he is about to leave God is willing to grant Scholastica’s request and He sends a rain o heavy Benedict can not return to his monastery but is forced to stay with his sister. The story closes with the following, important, words:

“Therefore, as is right, she who loved more, did more.”

Benedict, in spite of the strict adherence to his “rule” has not (yet) achieved the spiritual maturity of his sister. The end-goal of praktike is love, and love (as Evagrius says) enables spiritual knowledge (reserved for the mature). Scholastica loved more so that the point is not that Benedict did not love, but rather his sister loved more and is therefore in closer union with the God who is “charity” – or love. The implication is that God hears Scholastica because she enjoys a closer union with Him. This makes sense if we consider that spiritual life according to a “rule” commonly follows the pattern where one starts adhering to the rule out of fear to receive its punishments, but as one continues one’s heart becomes wider (Prologue 49) and following the rule becomes easier. Ultimately following visionofbenedictthe rule (praktike) leads to sweetness of love which is where Scholastica was already at.

At another time – the story of the vision begins – Benedict is (initially) alone in a tower and sees a vision. He is flooded with light. A light brighter than that of the sun. It is the deifying light of Prologue 9. Benedict has here reached the union with God his sister had already achieved before him. Benedict’s heart has been widened so it has become large enough to have God dwelling in it. This is what a rule is for. And this is why obeying the Rule is worth it. By it (the Rule) we are given a means to return to God from whom we had fallen away by disobedience. The author of the Rule is not Benedict himself. In the Rule Benedict never claims to be its author. Rather, reading the Prologue and the Epilogue together we can see that the “Father” demanding we listen to him is related the “holy and catholic Fathers” and that it is their teaching Benedict is trying to convey rather than his own.

Yet the holy and catholic Fathers also do not teach what they have themselves invented. It is not an accident that “father” is one of the titles of Jesus Christ. The Father speaking in Benedict’s Rule is Jesus Christ the True King (Prologue, 3). This would place the origins of the Rule with Him insofar as it conveys the teaching Jesus gave the holy and catholic Fathers. This is even more evident when we read the Prologue of a treatise called Admonition to a Spiritual Son which Benedict is paraphrasing in the first few verses of his Rule. The author of this treatise, which Benedict would have attributed to St. Basil the Great, unambiguously states that:

“These words are not from me, but proceed from divine origins; nor am I instructing you in a new doctrine but those things which I learned from my fathers.”

How can Benedict be so sure that his Rule is in fact Christ’s Rule? Because, as Benedict sees it, the Rule of Benedict is simply taken from Scripture: the Word of God. He is perfectly aware that his Rule is not a citation from Scripure, but he is forcefully claiming that the Rule is correct interpretation and application of Scripture. The Rule is not itself Scripture, but scriptural. Which is why Prologue 8-13 call the reader/listener to “hear” the divine voice which is Scripture! Hearing this divine voice and seeing the divine/deifying light go together. The light is needed to understand Scripture and the Scripture is needed to see the light.

From the study and application of Scripture – living the rule – our hearts are widened, we learn to love, and as loving persons we are united to God and see the world from His perspective (in his light). For the light engulfing Benedict is none other but the divine light of Scripture. The orthodox and catholic approach to Scripture brings the Scripture to life for us. It is not a dead letter for those who spiritually understand (and apply) it. In this scriptural light the creation also opens up and becomes – as it were, and as St. Anthony the Great said – a book testifying to God. Seeing the world gathered together under one beam of the sun, as in Benedict’s vision, is spiritual knowledge (physike as Evagrius would say) and the union with God (loving intimacy with Him) is “essential knowledge” (or to use another Evagrian term: theologike).

May the Rule of St. Benedict widen all of our hearts.

Fr. Gregory Wassen

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Ordo Feb. 22 -25


WEDNESDAY

February 22.

For this Feast the propers are used as on January 18th unless otherwise indicated for today (E101-103) what is not given as proper is taken from Common 7. 

St. Peter’s Chair at Antioch, Gd. White. At Matins: III Nocturns. All as for the Feast. At Lauds: All as for the Feast, Pss of Sunday (scheme 1). At Prime: all as for the Feast. At the Hours: All as for the Feast. At Mass: Statuit, as on January 18th without commem. of St. Prisca. II Vespers: all as for the Feast, w/commem. of St. Peter Damian (Table 8a).  At Compline of Sunday,no Preces.

THURSDAY

February 23.

Rule 1.

St. Peter Damian. D. White. At Matins: all as in the Ordinary & Psalter except: Inv. & Hymn from Common 8. Te Deum. At Lauds: from chapter of the Feast using common 8. No Preces, Psalm from scheme 1. At Prime: from chapter of the feast, ferial Psalms, no Preces. At the Little Hours: from the chapter of the Feast, ferial Psalms. At Vespers: of St. Matthias using Common 2 for what is not given as Proper. At Compline: as for Sunday, no Preces.

FRIDAY

February 24.

St. Matthias. Ap. D. II Class. At Matins:  III Nocturns. All as for the Feast using Common 2 for what is lacking in the Proper. Te Deum. At Lauds: all as for the Feast, Psalms of Sunday (scheme 1), No Preces. Prime & Hours: all as for the Feast. No Preces. Vespers: 2nd Vespers of St. Matthias. At Compline: as for Sunday, no Preces.

SATURDAY

February 25.

Sabbath Office of Our Lady – S. White. At Matins: All as in the Psalter & Ordinary, lessons i-ii from occurrent Scripture, Lesson iii for February in the Proper of Our Lady on the Sabbath. Te Deum. At Lauds: all as in the Psalter (LAUDS 1) & Ordinary except what is proper for the Season (p. C186), Preces are NOT said, Collect from previous Sunday, Common Commem. is said. At Prime and the Hours: from the chapter of the Feast, at Prime Dom. Preces are said. At Mass: Salve, sancta Parens, Gloria, 1st Oration of St. Mary on Sabbath, 2nd Oration of the Holy Spirit, 3rd Oration for the Church, no Creed, Preface of the BVM, Depart in Peace. Vespers: all as in the Ordinary & Psalter, except what is given as proper of the Season (QUINQUAGESIMA SUNDAY) p. C197, Collect from Sunday at Lauds.  At Compline: of the Feria, Dom. Preces are said.

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Ordo Sexagesima ~ 2017


SEXAGESIMA

February 19. 

In the Collect by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles is suggested instead of by thy power which would restore the original Collect to Sexagesima Sunday. 

Sunday, Sd, II Class., Violet. At Matins: All as in the Ordinary & Psalter except: Proper Invitatory, Lessons i-iii Genesis, iv-vi St. Ambrose, vii-ix Luke & St. Gregory, Te Deum is NOT said. At Lauds: all as in the Ordinary & Psalter (LAUDS 2) except what is given as proper on C191.Common Commemoration is said (p. A6). At Prime: all as in the Ordinary & Psalter, Athanasian Creed is said, Preces are said. At the Hours: All as in the Ordinary & Psalter, except what is proper to the Season. At Mass: Exsurge, Gloria is NOT said, first Oration: of the Sunday, second Oration of the Saints, third Oration ad libitum. Preface of the Trinity. II Vespers: all as in the Ordinary & Psalter except what is Proper for the Season (p. C192). Commem. of the Holy Martyrs and Missionaries in Africa (p. S16-17).  At Compline of Sunday,Preces.

MONDAY – in Sexagesima Week

February 20

Feast of the Martyrs and Missionaries of Africa – Sd. Red. At Matins: Inv. & Hymn from Common 6, Psalms & Antiphons of the Feria, lessons i-ii from occurrent Scripture, lesson iii Legend of the Feast (p. S16-S17). Te Deum. At Lauds: from the chapter of the Feast, Common 6, Collect S16, Common Commem. is said. At Prime and the Hours: from the chapter of the Feast, at Prime Dom. Preces are said. At Mass: Intret (except what is given as Proper), Gloria in Excelsis, Oration for the Feast, 2nd Oration of the Saints, 3rd Oration ad libitum, Common Preface, Depart in Peace. Vespers: all as in the Ordinary & Psalter except: from Chapter of the Feast of St. Valentine using Common 5, Common Commem. is said.  At Compline: of the Feria, Dom. Preces are said.

TUESDAY – in Septuagesima Week

February 21.

Feria – Violet. At Matins: All as in the Psalter & Ordinary except what is proper to the Season. Te Deum is not said. At Lauds: Lauds 2, Common Commem. is said. At Prime and the Hours:all as in the Psalter & Ordinary except what is proper to the Season. At Mass: Exsurge, no Gloria, Oration from Sexagesima, 2nd Oration for the Saints, 3rd Oration ad libitum, Common Preface, Let us bless. Vespers: all as for the Feast (E101-103) using the proper rubrics as on January 18th as is indicated for today’s Feast, commem. of St. Paul.  At Compline: of the Feria, no Preces.

To be completed shortly

 

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~A Rule to live By (i) ~


The 73 short chapters of the Rule of St. Benedict has shaped Western Christianity as a whole. It was written as a Rule to be used by a local community in ancient Italy but it is in use today by monastics and non-monastic Christians alike. This is not as strange as it may seem. Monastics are, after all, laity. A monastic receives tonsure, yes, but not ordination. It is therefore awkward – if not simply wrong – to speak in a contrasting way of monastic and lay spirituality. One of Benedict’s predecessors, Evagrius of Pontus, began his “rule” (often called “The Praktikos”) by defining Christianity rather than monasticism.

Christianity consists of three elements that loosely follow one another:

  1. praktike
  2. physike
  3. theologike

All Christians are called to become ascetics (and in that sense monastics). Baptism, as the Master (an early Christian ascetic and the author of The Rule of the Master) indicates, is the doorway to an ascetic life. This is nothing other than “casting off the works of darkness” and the “putting on of the armour of light (Romans 13, 12).” This is the element that Evagrius called praktike. It is the practice of Christianity. Taking Benedict at his word this is nothing harsh nor too difficult. Rather:

“We are, therefore, about to found a school of the Lord’s service, in which we hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome. But even if, to correct vices or to preserve charity, sound reason dictateth anything that turneth out somewhat stringent, do not at once fly in dismay from the way of salvation, the beginning of which cannot but be narrow. But as we advance in the religious life and faith, we shall run the way of God’s commandments with expanded hearts and unspeakable sweetness of love; so that never departing from His guidance and persevering in the monastery in His doctrine till death, we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ, and be found worthy to be coheirs with Him of His kingdom.”

From The Holy Rule; Prologue.

This school of the Lord’s service means we have things to learn and things to do. The word “service” here translates the Latin servitii which in its turn is used by Benedict as a close equivalent to the Master’s militia. The scola (school) is not a university where we engage in original and speculative studies. This school teaches a way of life. This way of life is taught via life in community under an abbot. For non-monastics this could, among the more common, take the form of a spiritual father mother relationship, spiritual direction, or perhaps the life of an Oblate or Third Order member. Spiritual direction under any of these forms above is a great privilege and to be encouraged. However spiritual direction is not always available. In such a case the advice of Fr. Jean Pierre de Caussade is as relevant as it has always been:

God continues to speak to-day as He spoke in former times to our fathers when there were no directors as at present, nor any regular method of direction. Then all spirituality was comprised in fidelity to the designs of God, for there was no regular system of guidance in the spiritual life to explain it in detail, nor so many instructions, precepts and examples as there are now. Doubtless our present difficulties render this necessary, but it was not so in the first ages when souls were more simple and straightforward. Then, for those who led a spiritual life, each moment brought some duty to be faithfully accomplished. Their whole attention was thus concentrated consecutively like a hand that marks the hours which, at each moment, traverses the space allotted to it. Their minds, incessantly animated by the impulsion of divine grace, turned imperceptibly to each new duty that presented itself by the permission of God at different hours of the day.

From Abandonment to Divine Providence, Ch. 1, section i.

If you do not have, and/or cannot find a spiritual director, father, mother or a Monastic Community to connect to then you will have Fr. de Caussade’s direction above. His first chapter will carry you a long way into the spiritual life if you will take his direction. For those of us who wish to measure our lives by the Rule of St. Benedict, but lack a monastic community, or a spiritual director, we can read and apply the Holy Rule via the guidance of Fr. de Caussade.

It is important, however, to emphasize that all of this assumes that you regularly participate in your local Parish or Community. It is essential for the spiritual life to not live it alone. Certainly not if you have only just begun your life as a Christian. Yes, there are hermits, and yes, Benedict values eremetism very highly, but the point of the Holy Rule is precisely that the life of a hermit is begun in community. Without communion in a community it is extremely difficult to learn even the basics of Christian faith and life.

Once the praktike has become habitual and we have achieved a certain “inner balance” our hearts are expanded as St. Benedict says and it begins to show fruits. Physike and theologike are, in a sense, fruits of the practice of Christianity. Our expanded hearts have become “wide” enough to receive God and to “know” Him. At first He speaks to us through created means (Scripture, but also the physical world in which we live) which is physike, and at last he will commune with us directly and without any mediation: theologike.

Fr. Gregory Wassen

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Ordo Septuagesima ~ 2017


SEPTUAGESIMA SUNDAY w/commemoration of the Seven Holy Founders

February 12. 

Last night the Alleluia was buried. It will not be said from now until Easter.

Sunday, Sd, II Class., Violet. At Matins: All as in the Ordinary & Psalter except: Proper Invitatory, Lessons i-iii Genesis, iv-vi St. Augustine, vii-ix Matthew 20 & St. Gregory, Te Deum is NOT said. At Lauds: all as in the Ordinary & Psalter (LAUDS 2) except what is given as proper on C180-181. Commemoration of Seven Holy Founders (p. E99). At Prime: all as in the Ordinary & Psalter,  No Preces. At the Hours: All as in the Ordinary & Psalter, except what is proper to the Season. At Mass: Circumdederunt, Gloria is NOT said, first oration: of the Sunday, second oration of the Seven Holy Founders, third oration of St. Mary, Preface of the Trinity. II Vespers: all as in the Ordinary & Psalter except what is Proper for the Season (p. C181). Commem. of St. Kentigern (Table 7a Collect from S2) & the Seven Holy Founders (p. E100 & Collect from Lauds) in that order. At Compline of Sunday, no Preces.

MONDAY – in Septuagesima Week

February 13

Feast of St. Kentigern – S. White. At Matins: Inv. & Hymn from Common 7, Psalms & Antiphons of the Feria, lessons i-ii from occurrent Scripture, lesson iii Legend of St. Kentigern (p. S2-S3 combining iv, v, vi into one lesson). Te Deum. At Lauds: from the chapter of the Feast, Common 7, Collect S2, Common Commem. is said. At Prime and the Hours: from the chapter of the Feast, at Prime Dom. Preces are said. At Mass: Statuit ei (except what is given as Proper), Gloria in Excelsis, Oration for St. Kentigern, 2nd Oration for St. Mary, 3rd oration for the Church, Common Preface, Depart in Peace. Vespers: all as in the Ordinary & Psalter except: from Chapter of the Feast of St. Valentine using Common 5, Common Commem. is said.  At Compline: of the Feria, Dom. Preces are said.

TUESDAY – in Septuagesima Week

February 14.

Feast of St. Valentine – S. Red. At Matins: Inv. & Hymn from Common 5, Psalms & Antiphons of the Feria, lessons i-ii from occurrent Scripture, lesson iii Legend of St. Valentine (p. E100). Te Deum. At Lauds: from the chapter of the Feast, Common 5, Collect p. E100, Common Commem. is said. At Prime and the Hours: from the chapter of the Feast, at Prime Dom. Preces are said. At Mass: In virtute tua (except what is given as Proper), Gloria in Excelsis, Oration for St. Valentine, 2nd Oration for St. Mary, 3rd oration for the Church, Common Preface, Depart in Peace. Vespers: all as in the Ordinary & Psalter except: from Chapter of the Feast of St. Valentine using Common 5, Common Commem. is said.  At Compline: of the Feria, Dom. Preces are said.

WEDNESDAY – in Septuagesima Week

February 15.

Feast of Sts. Faustinus & Jovita – S. Red. At Matins: Inv. & Hymn from Common 6, Psalms & Antiphons of the Feria, lessons i-ii from occurrent Scripture, lesson iii Legend of Sts. Faustinus & Jovita (p. E100-101). Te Deum. At Lauds: from the chapter of the Feast, Common 6, Collect p. E100, Common Commem. is said. At Prime and the Hours: from the chapter of the Feast, at Prime Dom. Preces are said. At Mass: Salus autem justorum (except what is given as Proper), Gloria in Excelsis, Oration for Sts. Faustinus & Jovita, 2nd Oration for St. Mary, 3rd oration for the Church, Common Preface, Depart in Peace. Vespers: all as in the Ordinary & Psalter except: Ant. Magn. p. C184-5 & Collect from previous Sunday. [Since tomorrow is the first open day in the month a Requiem is suggested for Mass. It is fitting to recite the Office of the Dead here if circumstances allow]  At Compline: of the Feria, Dom. Preces are said.

THURSDAY – in Septuagesima Week

February 16

Feria – Violet. At Matins: All as in the Psalter & Ordinary, lessons i-iii from occurrent Scripture. Te Deum is NOT said. At Lauds: all as in the Psalter (LAUDS 2) & Ordinary except what is proper for the Season (p. C186), Preces are said, Collect from previous Sunday, Common Commem. is said. [Since today is the first open day in the month a Requiem is suggested for Mass. It is fitting to recite the Office of the Dead here if circumstances allow] At Prime and the Hours: from the chapter of the Feast, at Prime Dom. Preces are said. At Mass: Requiem aeternam, (Daily Masses of the Dead), First Oration for Bishops & Priests, Second Oration for  Brethren, Kinsfolk & Benefactors, Third Oration For all the Departed, remember the special rubrics for saying Masses of the Dead (!). Vespers: all as in the Ordinary & Psalter Preces are said, Collect from previous Sunday, Common Commem. is said.  At Compline: of the Feria, Dom. Preces are said.

FRIDAY – in Septuagesima Week

February 17

Feria – Violet. At Matins: All as in the Psalter & Ordinary, lessons i-iii from occurrent Scripture. Te Deum is NOT said. At Lauds: all as in the Psalter (LAUDS 2) & Ordinary except what is proper for the Season (p. C186), Preces are said, Collect from previous Sunday, Common Commem. is said. At Prime and the Hours: from the chapter of the Feast, at Prime Dom. Preces are said. At Mass: Circumdederunt or Humiliavit (of the Passion or Five Wounds). Vespers: all as in the Ordinary & Psalter, except what is given as proper for the Office of Our Lady on the Sabbath (p. G1 and following), Common Commem. is said, no Preces.  At Compline: of the Feria, Dom. Preces are said.

SATURDAY – in Septuagesima Week

February 17

Sabbath Office of Our Lady – S. White. At Matins: All as in the Psalter & Ordinary, lessons i-ii from occurrent Scripture, Lesson iii for February in the Proper of Our Lady on the Sabbath. Te Deum. At Lauds: all as in the Psalter (LAUDS 1) & Ordinary except what is proper for the Season (p. C186), Preces are NOT said, Collect from previous Sunday, Common Commem. is said. At Prime and the Hours: from the chapter of the Feast, at Prime Dom. Preces are said. At Mass: Salve, sancta Parens, Gloria, 1st Oration of St. Mary on Sabbath, 2nd Oration of the Holy Spirit, 3rd Oration for the Church, no Creed, Preface of the BVM, Depart in Peace. Vespers: all as in the Ordinary & Psalter, except what is given as proper of the Season (SEXAGESIMA SUNDAY) p. C187, Collect from following Sunday at Lauds.  At Compline: of the Feria, Dom. Preces are said.

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~ Features of the Anglican Breviary (i) ~


In a previous post I tried to explain, briefly, what the Anglican Breviary is. The conclusion was pretty much that it is to Morning & Evening Prayer what the Anglican Missal is to Holy Communion. It is not, then, the abolishing of the Book of Common Prayer, but its catholic use.

Catholic or Protestant?

As such the Anglican Breviary has some peculiar features that the user ought to be aware off. The most important feature is that the Anglican Breviary, as its editors presume, is an Office in the Western Rite which received much of its shape from Cardinal Quignonez’s reformed Breviary. The latter is also behind much of the shape of the reformed Breviary of St. Pius X. Thus it seemed natural to the editors of the Anglican Breviary to look at the reformed Breviary of Pius X to provide a specifically catholic use of the Prayer Book. The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) and the Pian Breviary of 1911 are, to their minds, of the same stock. Though this may very well be disputed today, especially since the BCP reform was largely motivated by doctrinal intentions and the reformed Breviary of St. Pius X was not. It seems disingenuous (at the very least) to deny that the BCP was composed to contain and convey Protestant doctrine to its users. Yet due to the fact that the BCP has retained important elements from the previous tradition it need not be interpreted nor used in a Protestant way.

It would seem that Abp. Thomas Cranmer, besides having a talent to produce beautiful English liturgical texts, also had an ingrained attachment to tradition. He therefore removed and changed only those elements of the tradition he believed to be later, Medieval distortions and kept what seemed to him to be incorrupt. Cranmer believed that reformed Protestant doctrine was in large part not so much a “New Learning” as the re-discovery of an old truth. Other, more radical, Protestants may have wished to do away with tradition all together but for Cranmer this was far too radical. He believed it better to avoid Medieval additions and return to “the ancient fathers” (which is why he defers to them in his preface to the Prayer Book). The remaining traditional elements are patient of Catholic interpretation and use. This is what the English Office Book and the Anglican Breviary (among others) are doing. It is undeniable that Cranmer was factually mistaken but his traditionalism could very well make up for it. If we let it. The Prayer Book is patient of Calvinist use as much as it is of Catholic use and it depends on the context in which it is used which way it goes. The Anglican Breviary (and Missal) are a Catholic use of Cranmer’s Prayer Book. This may be in conflict with Cranmer’s mind but it could be argued that it is consistent with his intentions.

The first feature, then, is that the Anglican Breviary resolves the Prayer Book’s ambiguity in a Catholic direction (and in this sense completes rather than abolishes it).

Grown from the Altar Liturgy

The editors of the Anglican Breviary further presume that the Divine Office ultimately derives from the Liturgy of the Altar and thus is an obedient response to “Do this” uttered by Our Lord at the Last Supper:

“The Divine Office grew out of the altar liturgy, and the Breviary constantly quotes verbatim from the Missal. Such quotations in the Anglican Breviary are from the Anglican Missal, which was conceived and executed on the same principles as was this Breviary.”

~ The Anglican Breviary, p. vii.

This means that, in a sense, the Altar Liturgy comprises both the Mass and the Office. They are one whole. The Office of the day must be in unison with Mass of the Day. This is where many Anglican Catholics err in their liturgical practice. Very often the daily Mass and the Office are not in unison because the Missal is used for the Mass but the unadorned BCP for the Office immediately preceding. The only connection between the Mass and the Office is often their proximity in time. This is a fundamental violation of the oneness of the Altar Liturgy and ought to be discontinued. The BCP could be adorned with, at least, the collect as given in the Missal. So that when on a weekday the Office is said using the same collect that is used in the daily Mass. But, ideally, the use of the Anglican Breviary would accompany the use of the Anglican Missal.

Antiphons & Responsories

The Antiphons and Responsories found in the Anglican Breviary do not always match their Latin originals. Sometimes they are “paraphrases” rather than exact translations. This is a deliberate move by the editors to facilitate the understanding of them. Many of these Antiphons and Responsories interpret Scripture in a way much in disrepute since the advance of “historical-critical research” of the Bible. The editors refer to “mystical interpretation” which is often better known today as “allegorical interpretation.” This way of reading Scripture defies the laws of historical science. This does not mean it is a false method of interpretation, it simply means that the ancient Church did not understand Scripture to be a mere science text-book. Scripture has God for its author (yes, by human means) and as such contains more meaning than is evident to a historical-critical reading. The latter reading stays at the surface level, so to speak, and the mystical, or, allegorical reading goes deeper into the text. Not beyond ( ! ) the text. It is this, allegorical, way of reading that allows St. Paul to interpret Sarah and Hagar the way he does in Galatians 4, 21-31. The paraphrase is intended to help the modern user of the Breviary to get to the “mystical meaning” and not to misinterpret or misunderstand it.

A good example occurs in the Office of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Psalm 19 vs. 5 reads:

“In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun * which cometh forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a giant to run his course.”

~ Coverdale edition.

But in the Latin Breviary the same Psalm and verse read:

“He hath set His tabernacle in the sun: * which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber. He rejoiceth as a strong man to run a  race: * his going froth is from the end of the heaven.”

~ Roman Breviary, Bute edition (Psalm numerbing follows LXX so: 18 instead of 19).

A slight difference in the Masoretic and the Vulgate/LXX text of the Psalm results in the orginal antiphon for the feast to become unintelligible. To resolve this two roads were open to the editors of the Anglican Breviary. 1. to adapt the Coverdale text to conform to the Latin Breviary, 2. to follow the Coverdale text and adapt the Antiphon. They opted for the latter.

The original Latin Breviary has the following as an Antiphon for this Palm in the Office of the Immaculate Conception:

“The Lord hath set his tabernacle in the sun.”

but the Anglican Breviary has:

“In the world hath God set a tabernacle for the Sun of Righteousness, * which cometh forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber.”

The difference between the two Antiphons is obvious. The paraphrase provided in the Anglican Breviary became necessary because the Masoretic text differs from the Latin text behind Bute’s edition of the Roman Breviary.

St. John Mason Neale explains in his commentary on Psalm 19 that:

In the Sun He hath set His Tabernacle: that is, that of all natural objects, the Sun is the best and clearest representative of the Creator. So the wise man in Ecclesiasticus: ‘The sun when it appeareth declareth at his rising a marvelous instrument, the works of the Most High:’ and in which so many nations of the world have seen the God whom they considered worthy of adoration. But for us, knowing that it shall pass away, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, it is but God’s tabernacle: the true Sun is that which ‘shall no more go down, when the Lord shall be our everlasting Light, and the days of our mourning shall be ended.’ Then in the mystical sense, the sun and the tabernacle are the Lord’s abiding in the womb of Mary: and they fail not to quote from Ecclesiasticus that text, “As the sun when it ariseth in the high Heaven, so is the beauty of a good wife in ordering her house.’ ‘The tabernacle,’ says Cosmas, ‘is the flesh of the Lord, which was united forever to His Divinity.”

~ Commentary on the Psalms, vol. I, p. 284.

The allegory – or mystical interpretation – given above only works if the Antiphon and Psalm would read “In the Sun hath he set his tabernacle.” To provide this as an Antiphon to the Coverdale Psalter falls flat:

Ant. In the Sun hath he set his tabernacle.

Psalm 19

In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun * which cometh forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a giant to run his course.

The Antiphon becomes a hindrance to understanding the mystical interpretation of this Psalm and therefore it is rendered:

Ant. In the world hath God set a tabernacle for the Sun of Righteousness, * which cometh forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber..

Psalm 19

In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun * which cometh forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a giant to run his course.

The conflict between the Antiphon and the Psalm is now resolved and it renders the following “mystical interpretation”: the Sun of Righteousness is Jesus Christ and the Tabernacle God hath set in the world is His Blessed Mother. This meaning, as far as the Office for the Immaculate Conception is concerned, is quite appropriate. Such paraphrases are found in other places as well, and for very similar reasons.

Fr. Gregory Wassen

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~ What is the Anglican Breviary ? ~


img_20170214_0009_newIn learning to use the Anglican Breviary it is good to know why one should use a Breviary and an Anglican one at that. The editors of the Anglican Breviary provide an answer tho this question which is easy to understand and will not detain us long.

“The Anglican Breviary, as its name is meant to imply, contains the Divine Office of the Western Church, rendered from Latin into English in conformity with Propers and liturgical language of the Book of Common Prayer.”

~ Preface, p. vii

More specifically the basis for the Anglican Breviary was the 1911 Reformed Breviary of St. Pius X. The reason for this, as the editors inform us, is that this Breviary has undergone a long process of development, has near universality in the Western Church, and most importantly it is rooted in the reforms of Cardinal Quignonez. That is, according to the editors of the Anglican Breviary, the Office of St. Pius X and the Book of Common Prayer share a common root in Quignonez’s Breviary. The conforming of this reformed Roman Breviary to the Book of Common Prayer is to their minds quite natural. The editors happily confirm that the Anglican Breviary is faithful to the “spirit, meaning, and purpose, of its Latin original.”

Though the Anglican Breviary uses the Pian Breviary as its basis it is not identical with the Breviary of Pope St. Pius X. There are some differences in rubrical details to make it easier to use and understand. But most importantly the Anglican Breviary expresses the ancient Catholic Faith in the language of post-Reformation Anglicanism. This means that the lessons from Scripture are taken from the King James translation of the Bible, that the Psalms are taken from the Coverdale edition as we find it in the Book of Common Prayer, and that the Collects are those of the Book of Common Prayer where they differ from their Latin originals. The Anglican Breviary then is not simply a mere translation of the Roman Breviary of St. Pius X. The Anglican Breviary is rather an adaptation of the Roman Breviary of St. Pius X made to conform to the Book of Common Prayer.

The Book of Common Prayer is interpreted as a reform of the Sarum Breviary (itself a version of the Roman Breviary) rather than the abolishing and the replacement of the Breviary. There reasons are not hard to guess. The Book of Common Prayer contains quotes from Quignonez’s introduction to his Breviary and follows some of his reforms (other influences on the Book of Common Prayer are Luther and and possibly Calvinist in origin). The idea of focussing the Divine Office on  Morning and Evening Prayer is not necessarily un-catholic. The Prayer Book Offices consist of Psalms, Scripture Readings, Collects and some extra biblical elements (creeds, but also hymns which are often added from the hymnal). The Breviary too consists of such elements. The difference is in how these elements are distributed. In this sense the Prayer Book can be seen as a re-distributing of the Divine Office to so that more Scripture is read, as the Psalms continue to be recited as the backbone of the Office, and while the Collects are often simply translated from Latin into English.

Though it must immediately be admitted that not a few Collects are translated with an emphasis on reformed doctrine, and that the creation of new Collects was done to conform the Office to Protestant doctrinal thought. This is why, for example, the Prayer Book does not contain Collects addressing Saints – not even St. Mary – nor does it make much of the intercessory role of the Saints. The advantage of the Anglican Breviary – as the editors see it – seems to be that it does not simply throw out the Reformer’s efforts and insights but rather incorporates them in a more explicitly Catholic context. Whereas the Prayer Book could be used to teach most of reformed Protestant doctrine, the same is not possible with the Anglican Breviary. In a sense the Anglican Breviary has tamed the Reformed protest and has domesticated it in a truly reformed and catholic form. The Book of Common Prayer is not rejected but taken as the yeast that will bring the Breviary of St. Pius X to rise as Anglican Catholic bread to live by.

The Anglican Breviary is the Book of Common Prayer in a more elaborate form, and it is more outspoken in its Catholic intent. No Anglican Catholic and no Roman Catholic would necessarily meet any serious obstacles in using the Anglican Breviary. To put it somewhat colloquially: the Anglican Breviary simply is the Book of Common Prayer on (Catholic) steroids. The Anglican Breviary therefore does not replace the Book of Common Prayer. Just as the Book of Common Prayer can be seen as a contracted or “apocopated” (Anglican Missal, Altar edition, p. i) liturgy, so the Anglican Breviary can be seen as the “filling out” of the Divine Office as contained in the Book of Common Prayer. In stacking our pews with hand missals and, hopefully, hand breviaries we are not abandoning the Prayer Book but we are bringing it to full, Catholic, fruition. This, of course, does not mean the form of the Office as we have it in the Book of Common Prayer should be abolished. There seems to be no reason why both these forms of the Anglican Liturgy could not coexist as do the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form in the present day Roman Church.

So we, Anglican Catholics, should use the Anglican Breviary because the Breviary is a more complete form of the Divine Office in specifically Anglican form.

Fr. Gregory Wassen

 

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