Sacrifice


” R. The Deacon Laurence was counted worthy to be a burnt-offering, and while he was burning he did not deny the Lord x Therefore he was made a sacrifice of praise.
V. When he was laid on the gridiron he did not deny god; and at the touch of fire he confessed Christ. Therefore he was made a sacrifice of praise. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. Therefore he was made a sacrifice of praise.
 
~ Long Responsorie viii, Matins of St. Laurence, Monastic Breviary Matins.
 
It is sometimes assumed that “sacrifice of praise” is mere words. Words of prayer, certainly, but not an actual “sacrifice” at all. The Mass is therefore a sacrifice only as words offered to God in prayer. The Monastic Office proves this wrong. The Mass is a as real a sacrifice as St. Laurence’s was a real sacrifice. The Gregorian Canon – in which St. Laurence makes an appearance – also proves the Reformers of the 16th and 20-ieth centuries wrong. Though words of prayer are certainly sacrificial and even a sacrifice, they do not exhaust the concept of sacrifice.
 
Jesus, speaking of Himself in today’s Gospel reading, said that the corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die for it bring forth much fruit. It is precisely by the Sacrifice of the Mass that this corn is offered (with wine) to the Father as a sacrifice of praise and has brought forth much fruit. That is salvation is continuously brought to people all over the world through the preaching of the Gospel and the distribution of the Sacraments (especially the Mass).
 
But sacrifice is more than martyrdom, and more than the Mass. The Divine Office too is a sacrifice. The evening Psalm 141 (Thursday Vespers in the Monastic Office) tells us that the very prayer offered here is a sacrifice. In other words: the divine office itself is a sacrifice offered to God. But here too it is Jesus Christ (the Word of God) offering Himself (our prayers consist mostly of Scripture) to us, and we then in our prayers offer the Word (Psalms, chapters, antiphons, hymns) back to God (the Father).
 
 
May the blessed Levite Laurence give us a deeper and truer understanding of “sacrifice” !
 
Fr. Gregory Wassen
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About Father Gregory

I am an Anglican Catholic Priest, currently residing in Orvelte, the Netherlands.
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14 Responses to Sacrifice

  1. Purplepride says:

    The AB still has a Simple Octave for Lawrence but the Octave Day is reduced to a commemoration.

    This year I’ve been following the kalendar in the American Missal. They reduce St Lawrence to a regular Double and eliminate both the Vigil and the Octave Day.

    • Father Gregory says:

      Indeed. But a Simple Octave is for intents and purposes invisible. So effectually the Octave has been removed from the liturgy.

    • Father Gregory says:

      Removing the Vigil is not a problem. Though in my edition of the American Missal the Vigil for St. Laurence is present and is to be kept as a Greater Feria.

      • Purplepride says:

        Interesting! I wonder if there were different editions of the American Missal, then. Mine is a large altar copy of the 1st edition (1931) that I took out from the library.

      • Father Gregory says:

        Yes I have the Lancelot Andrewes Press re-print which includes some things the original did not. Perhaps the 1951 revision of the American Missal added it? I have never handled a 1931 edition.

  2. Purplepride says:

    If you can scan or take pictures of the kalendar from the 1951 American Missal I can tell you what they changed. I’d be interested to see what was added — the 1931 kalendar lacks almost all of the common octaves and lowered the ranks of a large number of feasts.

  3. \\\\\\\\\Father, forgive this question on an unrelated matter: the preface to the Monastic Diurnal published by Lancelot Andrewes Press says, “The recent reform of the Roman Breviary under Pius X was a successful effort to achieve these qualities (greater variety with comparative brevity) by a radical redistribution of the Psalter and by other novelties. Although its result was a thoroughly practical book, it nevertheless lacks the holy association of age-long use possessed in so high a degree by the Monastic Office.”: (p.vi) Is this fair criticism? Ron+

    • Chris Kern says:

      I would appreciate Fr. Gregory’s opinion too, here’s mine, as a complete layman who enjoys traditional liturgy but doesn’t feel a strong “duty” to stick to traditional forms.

      I personally like Pius X’s psalter redistribution. I think it keeps within the tradition of a weekly psalter recitation (even St. Benedict said it was fine to re-order it), and it preserves a lot of the same psalms on Sundays and major feasts, while distributing the psalms differently on weekdays. They’re still mostly read in order as they were in the traditional office, just spread out over more hours. In this sense it’s more connected to the tradition than the Quinonez or the French breviaries where they completely redid the order and tried to come up with thematic groupings for each day and hour.

      It is true that the traditional ordering and division of the psalms that was 1400 or more years old was abandoned. However, my personal feeling is that it had little to recommend it other than simply being used for a long time. With the exception of Lauds and Compline, the division of the psalms in the pre-1911 breviary is fairly arbitrary. Psalms 1-109 aren’t specially suited for Matins and 110-146 specially suited for Vespers, that’s just how they happened to be divided. I don’t think Psalm 119 is so important to the Christian faith that it needs to be recited daily. The only place in Pius X where I think some “meaningful” tradition was lost is at Lauds, where the Laudate psalms are no longer recited as a sequence every day. That being said, the final psalm of each day’s Lauds is a Laudate psalm so there is a connection to the tradition.

      • Father Gregory says:

        I think I would consent to the gist of what you wrote. Though I would feel more duty bound to follow traditional patterns whether or not I understand them. Why the Psalms in the secular Breviary were divided the way they whey were is not within reach of what we can know about early Roman liturgy. What we do know is that Benedict’s distribution of Psalms is probably of Roman origin re-edited perhaps as Benedict thought it best. It is interesting that to Benedict the Psalms are more important than the Scripture readings, or hymns, and such. Whenever a sacrifice is necessary the Scripture reading or hymns can be sacrificed but not the weekly Psalter. Where others have asserted a “benedictine” influence on Cranmer in the BCP I see no such influence. I much rather see a sharp contrast between Benedict and Cranmer. The conception of *what* the Divine Office is could not be more different.

        I also think – as I mentioned in my reply to Fr. Ron – that the Pian reforms are mostly faithful to the previous tradition and if only the Pian reform had been “allowed” rather than demanded I think things would have gone smoother. The trouble is that both Popes and Protestant Archbishops believe themselves to be above tradition and rather than guard it they think they can create it. Therein lies (as I see it) the problem.

        Gregory +

    • Father Gregory says:

      Hello Father!

      That is a good question actually. Yes, I think it is a fair criticism. Though I would emphasize a different aspect of the reform as much unfortunate. Not necessarily because of the re-distribution of the Psalter though. The way that is done in the Secular Breviary (and therefore the Anglican as well) is specifically allowed by St. Benedict in the Holy Rule (chapter xviii, 20-24). And I am sure Canon Douglas would not mean to be more Benedictine than Benedict!

      But still … a long tradition of this order of Psalms existed. One can read Amalarius of Metz’s wonderful allegorical exegesis of this order of Psalms and the spiritual depths he finds in it. Certainly that connection is gone. Especially unfortunate and unnecessary was the breaking of the Laudate Psalms (one of which is not even recited in its ancient last position ! ). The Laudate Psalms gave the name “Lauds” to that Office and we have it in common with the Eastern Orthodox and even strecthing all the way back to how they were used when our Lord and His Disciples frequented the Temple/Synagogue. It is difficult to deny a break in the tradition there, or at least a fracture.

      However the redistribution of the Psalms necessitated some new antiphons for the Psalms. So a liturgical committee went and added many new antiphons. Quite a a few of the old antiphons which did not need to removed were replaced nonetheless. So that one of the “essential elements” of the ancient Roman Psalter was unnecessarily damaged. None of this, however, for doctrinal reasons. The Pian committee did not have a doctrinal agenda it was trying to force on people by liturgical change. Still it was quite unfortunate.

      That said – the Office is indeed very practical. Most of the essential structures of the Roman Breviary survived 1911. It seems to me that the post-1911 is still the traditional Roman Rite. The same cannot be said for the Liturgy of the Hours. In spite of what B XVI suggested – that Novus Ordo & Vetus Ordo are *one* Roman Rite – it is simply nonsensical. The Novus Ordo Mass and the LOTH are as little the traditional Mass and Office as is Cranmer’s Prayer Book.

      Having come to the Prayer Book … I wonder if Canon Douglas realizes that the Cranmer’s reforms were far more radical and on top of that motivated by doctrinal concerns? The Prayer Book is a deliberate removal and replacement of the traditional Mass & Office (which can in no way be interpreted along Protestant lines) in favor of a book of services which is at best ambiguous and at worst confidently Protestant! In other words it seems to me that Canon Douglas’ words are less true for the 1911 reforms than they are for the 1549 (and subsequent) reforms in England.

      + Gregory

      • Thank you Father for your helpful attention to my enquiry. I am in full sympathy. It is to be especially regretted that the AB let go of the Laudate Pslams, which I pick up on a Sunday, at the least. Odd, too, that Cranmer spent such effort reinventing “the wheel” when King Henry is said to have been a catholic sympathizer. But the days were much different and Bucer and company had an influence then that seems improbable now. Goodness knows Cranmer paid for his fancies. It would be interesting to hear Canon Douglas’ response to your comment on the reforms of 1911/1549, with which I wholly agree but had not thot to contrast them. However critics might dismiss the Anglican Breviary, I find it a book of prayer in keeping with the thrust of Tradition. Again, thank you. Sometimes it seems -out here in the wilderness- that I am also just “doing my own thing”. This site helps me keep in touch. Ron+

  4. Father Gregory says:

    You are very welcome Father Ron!
    There is a way to “put the Laudate Psalms back in” and I would suggest to simply say all three of them every Sunday and every feast day which uses the Sunday Psalms for Lauds. The ferial Psalter I would leave as it is. As was pointed out above by Chris Kern the Psalms replacing 148, 149, 150 are themselves (in a way) laudate Psalms. At some point I think I will create a page with some of these suggestions and place it in the top of this blog so it is easily navigable. I am always happy to find other users and admirers of the Anglican Breviary and am grateful you are still on this jounrey with me through this log.

    What wilderness are you in if I may ask Father? I know you are in Canada, but I have no idea about your Parish or where you are located at all! As far as I am concerend I am once again on the move and am residing in the Netherlands (again). Not sure how long it will last. Either way I would be happy to stay in touch!

    Gregory +

  5. Yes,dear Father please stay in touch!
    I am no longer “on the move”: At the risk of giving you more detail than you want on my “hidden” life (Col 3.3) Jean and I have been living in Rothesay New Brunswick (five years this Nov to be handy to our daughter and family) having been for the 15 yrs previous living 20 minutes outside Fredericton, NB, where I was beginning a life of prayer, a vocation to which I had been drawn for years and finally confirmed by a discalced Carmelite living as a hermit at a Trappist Monestery on the north shore of this Maritime province (another story). Before that, I was for 15 yrs parish rector in New Maryland–, a bedroom village of Fredericton. Wonderful yrs! but compelled by conscience to leave by all the novelties plaguing the Anglican Church of Canada…went to the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (part of the continuing Anglican church since 1979} amidst controversy because I spoke out and was “drummed” out of the core sp?) by General Synod. I have been ordained now 33 yrs, having been a late vocation — before that, in university administration. As the psychiatrist at my ACPO told me, “you have been saying ‘no’ for years.” Just celebrated by 80th birthday and intend to buy a briar pipe with Sail tobacco (soon as I get the courage) to celebrate (don’t tell my wife!) May God continue to care for you,and, for all your work with the breviary, and may He bless you richly– I am among those who depend upon you in the use of this splendid resource. Ron+

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