Sunday, March 31, 2013
Mass Propers: Solemn Mass of Easter Sunday

Vestments: White

Psalm 138 18, 5, 6
I arose, and am still with Thee, alleluia; Thou hast laid Thy hand upon me, alleluia; Thy knowledge is become wonderful, alleluia, alleluia. -- (Ps. 138. 1, 2). Lord, Thou hast searched Me and known Me; Thou knowest my sitting down and My rising up. V.: Glory to the Father . . . -- I arose, and am still with Thee, alleluia . . .

COLLECT - O God, who, on this day, through Thine only-begotten Son, hast conquered death, and thrown open to us the gate of everlasting life, give effect by thine aid to our desires, which Thou dost anticipate and inspire. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost . . .

I Corinthians 5: 7, 8
Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corithians.
Lectio Epistolae beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios.

[Let us too partake of the Lamb of God with the azyma (unleavened bread) of a pure and holy life.] Brethren, purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new paste, as you are unleavened: for Christ our Pasch is sacrificed. Therefore let us feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Psalm 117: 24,1
This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us rejoice and be glad in it. V.: Give praise unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever.
Alleluia, alleluia. V.: (I Cor. 5. 7). Christ our Pasch is immolated.


Christians! to the Paschal Victim offer your thankful praises.

The Lamb the sheep redeemeth: Christ, who only is sinless, reconcileth sinners to the Father.

Death and life contended in that conflict stupendous: the Prince of Life, who died, deathless reigneth.

Speak, Mary, declaring what thou sawest wayfaring.

"The tomb of Christ who now liveth: and likewise the glory of the Risen.

Bright Angels attesting, the shroud and napkin resting.

Yea, Christ my hope is arisen: to Galilee He goeth before you."

We know that Christ is risen, henceforth ever living: Have mercy, Victor King, pardon giving. Amen. Alleluia.

Mark 16:1-7

At that time, Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought sweet spices, that coming they might anoint Jesus. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came to the sepulchre, the sun being now risen. And they said one to another: Who shall roll us back the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And looking, they saw the stone rolled back. For it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed with a white robe, and they were astonished. Who saith to them, Be not affrighted; ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: He is risen, He is not here; behold the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples, and Peter, that He goeth before you into Galilee; there you shall see Him, as He told you.

Psalm 75: 9-10
The earth trembled and was still when God arose in judgment, alleluia.

SECRET - We beseech Thee, O Lord, accept the prayers of Thy people together with the Sacrifice they offer, that what has been begun by the Paschal Mysteries, by Thy working may profit us unto eternal healing. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth . . . . .

PREFACE (Preface for Easter) - -It it truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, at all times to praise Thee, O Lord, but more gloriously especially this day when Christ our Pasch was sacrificed. For He is the Lamb Who hath taken away the sins of the world: Who by dying hath destroyed our death: and by rising again hath restored us to life. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of Thy glory, evermore saying:

SPECIAL FORM OF COMMUNICANTES (Communicantes for Easter) - Communicating, and keeping this most holy day of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh; and also reverencing the memory, first, of the glorious Mary, ever Virgin, Mother of the same our God and Lord Jesus Christ: as also . . .

SPECIAL FORM OF HANC IGITUR - We therefore beseech Thee, O Lord, graciously to accept this oblation of our service, as also of Thy whole family, which we make unto Thee on behalf of these whom Thou hast vouchsafed to bring to a new birth by water and the Holy Ghost, granting them remission of all their sins: and to dispose our days in Thy peace, preserve us from final damnation and rank us in the number of Thine Elect. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

I Corinthians 5: 7, 8
Christ our Pasch is immolated, alleluia: therefore let us feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

POST COMMUNION - Pour forth upon us, O Lord, the spirit of Thy love, that, by Thy loving kindness, Thou mayest make to be of one mind those whom Thou hast satisfied with the Paschal Sacraments. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost . . .

Easter Sermon
By St. John Chrysostom

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful servant? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward; If any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor. The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaias foretold this when he said, "You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Lamentations of Holy Saturday

Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began... ..He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him -- He who is both their God and the son of Eve.. "I am your God, who for your sake have become your son... ...I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead." [Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday]
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Why Do We Celebrate Holy Thursday?

Today is the beginning of the Sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) where we recall God's love for us through His suffering, death, and Resurrection. We have arrived at the Sacred Triduum, the very time we have been preparing for by our Lenten observance.

Today is Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday. Today at Mass we remember the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper as well as the institution of the priesthood. At Mass, the altar is stripped down. Christ is taken from us. Behold, He is betrayed! Click here to read the traditional Mass readings for today.

Likewise, we recall the humility of Jesus when He washed the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper. At Mass, the priest will wash the feet of twelve men.  At the very end of the Mass, the priest also takes the Sacred Eucharist and incenses it. He then carries it around to the "altar of repose".

Traditionally separate from Mass, the mandatum is a ceremony in which the priest (or bishop) will wash the feet of 12 men, in imitation of our Lord who humbled Himself to wash the feet of His disciples. This is kept as part of our Lord's command to do likewise.  For centuries, even monarchs would wash the feet of their subjects today. The controversy that has arisen in recent years is whether the feet of women may be washed.  Despite the bad example of some in the Church, it is against the Laws of the Church for the feet of anyone other than Catholic men to be washed.

It is a day in which we are especially asked to perform works of charity to the poor and the needy. Before the changes to the Mass in 1955, the Mass of Holy Thursday was celebrated in the morning. For parishes still keeping the pre-1955 Rites, they may choose to celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper either in the morning or in the evening. Regardless of this distinction, today should still be a day for us to take off from our work, devote the day to prayer, and perform works of charity. While the Queen of England does not wash the feet of her subjects anymore, she does give a pence to various poor subjects, in keeping with the Catholic custom of doing charity to all. As our Lord said: "He that is the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled: and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."

The Eucharist is only allowed to be displayed until Midnight; after that, we arrive at Good Friday, and Our Lord leaves us. Following the Mass of the Lord's Supper, the Blessed Sacrament is placed on the Altar of Repose in the church for Adoration. These ornate altars should move our hearts to sentiments of adoration and respect to our Eucharistic King. Those who live in a geographic area where many Catholic churches are nearby may choose to take part in the Seven Churches Visitation, a pious Roman Catholic Lenten tradition where you visit seven churches on the evening of Maundy Thursday to pray at the various altars of repose.

Each of the visits commemorates one of the stops of our Lord on His way to Calvary

(1) Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22: 39-46)
(2): Jesus bound and taken before Annas (John 18: 19-22)
(3): Jesus taken before the High Priest, Caiaphas (Matthew 26: 63-65)
(4): Jesus taken before Pilate (John 18,35-37)
(5): Jesus taken before Herod (Luke 23: 8-9; 11)
(6): Jesus taken before Pilate again (Matthew 27: 22-26)
(7): Jesus given the crown of thorns and led to his crucifixion (Matthew 27: 27-31)

Remember that there is a Plenary Indulgence available today.

Is Holy Thursday a Holy Day of Obligation?

No, not anymore. In former times, Holy Thursday was a Holy Day of Obligation, along with all of Holy Week and all of Easter Week. However, due to the Reformation and liberalism even of those times, Holy Thursday was removed as a day of obligation long ago. It was no longer a day of obligation by the time that Pope Urban VIII listed the Holy Days of Obligation for the Univeral Church in Universa per Orbem in 1642.

Today we commemorate several important parts in the final hours of Jesus' earthly life:

(1) The eating of the Easter lamb or the paschal meal;
(2) The washing of the disciple's feet;
(3) The institution of the Most Holy Eucharist (the first Mass at which Jesus Christ, the eternal high priest, is the celebrant; the First Communion of the apostles; the first conferring of Holy Orders);
(4) The foretelling of Judas' betrayal and Peter's denials;
(5) The farewell discourse and priestly prayer of Jesus;
(6) The agony and capture of Jesus in the Garden of Olives.

Sunday, March 24, 2013
Traditional Spirituality of Palm Sunday

Today is the Second Sunday of Passiontide (Palm Sunday), the day we commemorate Christ's triumphant ride into Jerusalem. All of this is alluded to in the prophesy of Zacharias 9:9-10 :
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will destroy the chariot out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow for war shall be broken: and he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth.
The people welcomed and worshipped Our Lord and Master as rode triumphantly into Jerusalem. But, in just one week the people of Jerusalem and the elders would be the ones who would call out: "Crucify Him."

The Gospel account is as follows:
And having said these things, he went before, going up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethania, unto the mount called Olivet, he sent two of his disciples, Saying: Go into the town which is over against you, at your entering into which you shall find the colt of an ass tied, on which no man ever hath sitten: loose him, and bring him hither.
And if any man shall ask you: Why do you loose him? you shall say thus unto him: Because the Lord hath need of his service. And they that were sent, went their way, and found the colt standing, as he had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said to them: Why loose you the colt? But they said: Because the Lord hath need of him. And they brought him to Jesus. And casting their garments on the colt, they set Jesus thereon.
And as he went, they spread their clothes underneath in the way. And when he was now coming near the descent of mount Olivet, the whole multitude of his disciples began with joy to praise God with a loud voice, for all the mighty works they had seen, Saying: Blessed be the king who cometh in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven, and glory on high! And some of the Pharisees, from amongst the multitude, said to him: Master, rebuke thy disciples. To whom he said: I say to you, that if these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out.
And when he drew near, seeing the city, he wept over it, saying: If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace; but now they are hidden from thy eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side, And beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee: and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone: because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation (Luke 19:28-44)
Of that entire passage one line truly speaks to the soul: "I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!" How glorious it was! For the King of Glory is riding into Jerusalem on a beast so that He might sacrifice Himself for our redemption. It will be in Jerusalem where He will be condemned to death for our crimes and willingly give up His life. And quietly and peacefully, He bore our punishment on Calvary. The Church Fathers have said that the ass represents the Jewish world, the people of God. But, the colt represents all of the others, the Gentiles, who would also be saved by the coming death of Our Lord. But, the Jews rejected Jesus, God Incarnate, and so the Gentiles would be welcomed as the people of God.

We remember that at the Epiphany, the Magi came to Jesus seeking the King of the Jews. And, here He is in His glory! In not even a week, Pilate would remember this and carve INRI: "The King of the Jews" on the Cross above Our Lord's Head.

So many prophesies were fulfilled on this Sunday of His Passion. In the Annunciation, Gabriel said to Mary: "The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David, His father; and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever." Today Jesus begins His reign upon the Earth and a new Israel will replace the old.

How beautiful is the love of Our Lord! Not only did He die, but He willingly suffered all the humiliation, pain, beatings, mocking, and anxiety leading up to His death. Today we celebrate His triumphant ride into Jerusalem, where He shall complete the Paschal Mystery. But, we are ever mindful that it is because of our sinfulness that the Lamb of God was forced to ride on an ass to the city of His Crucifixion.

For Christ came to die but became victorious over death. He came to suffer but rose again in splendor. We too must follow Him. We must embrace every suffering and pain in our lives. Not only must we accept these sufferings, but we most forgive our attackers. If love is not carved upon our hearts then how can we ever hope to enter Heaven? Jesus Christ was condemned by these men and women who first welcomed Him, and it is only by His forgiveness that we, like them, can hope to enter Heaven. When I pray about Heaven to Our God I do not say "Lord, permit me to enter your Kingdom." I say, "Master, permit me to sit in the farthest corner of your Kingdom that your light still might shine upon me for I am unworthy of anything greater."

We cannot completely understand what must have been the most profound joy for some as He rode in the city. Those following Jesus were even chanting: "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the Kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!" This song is sung at every Catholic Mass as we remember the Kingship of the Lord.

For on this day those that were wise saw what the prophets and faithful would have died to witness - our salvation was to be won. For Christ, the Victor over death, was saving His people - the people of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. The entire New Testament leads up to this triumphant day - Christ is saving His people. Our God had come to set us free and institute the New Covenant. How great a day this must have been.

Tridentine Mass celebrated on Palm Sunday in the chapel of Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. April 2009 photo by John Stephen Dwyer.

Today at Mass we will hear the Gospel account of the Passion of Our Lord. And we will also receive the Blessed Palms today. Palms were not just used in this instance of Jesus' triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. The early martyrs are depicted in art with palms - symbolic of their own triumph over death.

Blessing of the Palm Branches:

Oremus. Bless, + we beseech Thee, O Lord, these branches of palm (or olive or other trees): and grant that what Thy people today bodily perform for Thy honor, they may perfect spiritually with the utmost devotion, by gaining the victory over the enemy, and ardently loving every work of mercy. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

After this the Palm branches are blessed and we enter the Church for Mass.

More information on Palm Sunday can be found at Fish Eaters. For videos and the Traditional Mass Propers for today's Holy Mass, please see my post on the Traditional Mass Propers for the II Second of Passiontide.

The source of the above image of the blessing of the Palms is from St. Patrick's Seminary prior to the Vatican II changes which remove numerous prayers, psalms, and antiphons.


-->O Almighty and everlasting God, Who didst cause our Savior to take upon Him our flesh and to undergo the cross, for an example of humility to be imitated by mankind: mercifully grant that we may deserve to possess not only the lesson of His patience, but also the fellowship of His Resurrection. Through the same our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
Saturday, March 23, 2013
The Holy Week Liturgy

Throughout the Lenten season, the Church has prepared us step by step for the sacred experience of the drama of Holy Week. A steady crescendo has been taking place since Septuagesima Sunday. Not until now has the Church unveiled the mystery of the Cross and resurrection, which were given us up to now only in figures and signs.

Now, with Holy Week, the curtain is lifted, we see the Holy of Holies. And, not only do we see but we are asked to participate in the most sublime drama of history.

The great week is about to begin – starting with Palm Sunday. Rather than a week of mourning, it should be called the redemptive week, in which the work of redemption terminated in victory, for Cross and resurrection are intimately united.

Holy Week can be summed up in the words of St. John’s from his Prologue: “The light shined in the darkness, and the darkness grasped it not.” Darkness struggles against the light of Christ’s revelation as against an enemy; but to those who receive it, Christ gives “the power of becoming sons of God.” And as the mystery of darkness (the devil is the prince of darkness) and light (Christ the truth) unfolds during the Sacred Triduum, the same clashes takes place on another vein, death and life fight in a mortal duel, which will conclude with Christ the Life giving the death blow to Death by His own passing.

Life is given Him through death: Christ the man rises from death to die no more since His sacrifice was accepted by the Father and He merited for Himself and all His followers a glorified body joined to a soul enjoying the beatific vision. Thus the ancient symbol of Christ, phos-zoe (light-life) serves well as a caption over this great week of grace.

Another important aspect of the Christian life is taking a prominent place during the Holy Week’s liturgy: the reception of converts into the Church. In olden days, the Lenten season marked the preparation - both moral and doctrinal - of the catechumens to the great step of baptism, reflected in many ceremonies. The catechumens passed their last examinations earlier on in Holy Week. On Maundy Thursday, there was the reconciliation of the public penitents making up for their public sins. They would be formally received in full communion and allowed to approach the sacred table on Easter Vigil.

On the same day, the holy oils were blessed by the bishop, which would be needed for the Baptismal ceremony. Easter Vigil is replete with the ceremonies addressed to catechumens who are to be formally received into the Church. The long lessons from the Old Testament serve as a last minute catechism, the baptismal water is blessed and the baptismal promises are pronounced by all the faithful present, but especially by the candidates to baptism, which takes place at that time.

The Easter Vigil, which formally lasted the entire night, was the vigil of the catechumens as much as it was the celebration of Christ’s rising from the tomb. Both activities are one in the mind of St. Paul:

We have been baptized (submerged) in Christ’s death and risen (drawn out of the water) in Christ’s resurrection.

It is highly recommended that the faithful free themselves from the worldly worries and dedicate what time they can to the meditation and contemplation of the sacred mysteries. One of the best ways is simply to go over the liturgical texts which reach a degree of intensity never achieved in the other seasons of the year.

Source: SSPX Pastor's Corner

Past Posts on the Triduum:
Friday, March 22, 2013
Pray to St. Joseph, Patron of Universal Church

Most powerful patriarch St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, which has always invoked thee in anxiety and trouble, from the exalted seat of thy glory cast a loving glance upon the whole Catholic world. Let thy fatherly heart be touched at the sight of the mystical spouse and the Vicar of Christ overwhelmed with sorrow and persecuted by powerful enemies.

Oh! by the bitter anguish thou didst experience upon earth, dry the tears of the venerable Pontiff, defend him, liberate him, intercede for him with the Giver of peace and charity, that, all adversity being removed, and all error dissipated, the entire Church may serve God in perfect liberty: Ut destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis Ecclesia secura Deo serviat libertate. Amen.

Prayer composed by His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, March 4, 1882
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
His Excellency Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: Confirmation Sermon

Bishop Fellay and the other three bishops who have been associated with the Society of St. Pius X are true servants of the Church. They are at the front of defending the restoration so sought by Abp. Lefebvre of all things in Christ and resisting the errors of modernism and ecumenism. How on earth can anyone look at their priests, seminarians and followers and say that they aren't Catholic? It makes me weep that the situation of the SSPX is like this today, but these tears do not come in vain. Prayers and penance will help end the greatest crisis of faith in the Church.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Traditional Mass Propers: Feast of Saint Joseph

Vestments: White

Psalm 91: 13, 14
The just shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Lebanon. They that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of the house of our God. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

COLLECT - We beseech Thee, O Lord, that we may be helped by the merits of the Spouse of Thy most holy Mother, so that we cannot obtain of ourselves, may be given to us through his intercession. Who livest and reignest with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God

SECOND COLLECT - Defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all dangers of mind and body; that through the intercession of the blessed and glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, together with blessed Joseph, Thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and blessed N. (Here mention the titular saint of the church), and all the saints, mercifully grant us safety and peace; that all adversities and errors being overcome, Thy Church may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God

THIRD COLLECT - O almighty and eternal God, who hast dominion over both the living and the dead, and hast mercy on all whom Thou foreknowest shall be Thine by faith and good works : we humbly beseech Thee that all for whom we have resolved to make supplication whether the present world still holds them in the flesh or the world to come has already received them out of the body, may, through the intercession of all Thy saints, obtain of Thy goodness and clemency pardon for all their sins. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God

Ecclesiasticus 45: 1-6Beloved of God and men, whose memory is in benediction. He made him like the saints in glory, and magnified him in the fear of his enemies, and with his words he made prodigies to cease. He glorified him in the sight of kings, and gave him commandments in the sight of his people, and showed him His glory. He sanctified him in his faith and meekness, and chose him out of all flesh. For He heard him and his voice, and brought him into a cloud. And He gave him commandments before His face, and a law of life and instruction.

Psalm 20: 4, 5
For thou hast prevented him with blessings of sweetness: thou hast set on his head a crown of precious stones. V. He asked life of thee: and thou hast given him length of days for ever and ever.
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he hath he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life.

Matthew 1: 18-21

Now the generation of Christ was in this wise. When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things, behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for That Which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call His name Jesus. For He shall save His people from their sins

Psalm 88: 25
And My truth and My mercy shall be with him: and in

SECRET - We render Thee, O Lord, the debt of our service, humbly entreating that Thou wouldst preserve Thy gifts within us through the intercession of blessed Joseph, the Spouse of the Mother of Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; on whose holy festival we offer to Thee the sacrifice of praise. Through the same Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God

                                The church of the Transfiguration in Toronto, Canada.

PREFACE (Preface of Saint Joseph) -It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty and everlasting God; and magnify Thee with due praise, bless and proclaim Thee blessed Joseph; who, as a just man, was given by Thee to be the spouse of the Virgin Mother of God, and as a faithful and prudent servant, was set over Thy family, that with fatherly care he might guard Thine only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, conceived by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost. Through whom the angels praise Thy majesty, the dominions worship it, the powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the heavenly hosts with the blessed seraphim join together in celebrating their joy. With these we pray Thee join our voices also, while saying with lowly praise:

Matthew 1: 20
But while he thought on these things, behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.

POST COMMUNION - Come to our assistance, we beseech Thee, O merciful God; and through the intercession of blessed Joseph Thy confessor, graciously preserve Thy gifts about us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God...

Monday, March 18, 2013
Hymn: Abroad the Regal Banners (Vexilla Regis)

Vexilla Regis was written by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609) and is considered one of the greatest hymns of the liturgy. Fortunatus wrote it in honor of the arrival of a large relic of the True Cross which had been sent to Queen Radegunda by the Emperor Justin II and his Empress Sophia. Queen Radegunda had retired to a convent she had built near Poitiers and was seeking out relics for the church there. To help celebrate the arrival of the relic, the Queen asked Fortunatus to write a hymn for the procession of the relic to the church.

The hymn has, thus, a strong connection with the Cross and is fittingly sung at Vespers from Passion Sunday to Holy Thursday and on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. The hymn was also formerly sung on Good Friday when the Blessed Sacrament is taken from the repository to the altar. The text given below is the full text of Fortunatus' hymn, but verses 2, 4, and 7 are omitted when the hymn is used liturgically. The last two verses which form the concluding doxology are not by Fortunatus, but is rather the work of some later poet.
VEXILLA Regis prodeunt;
fulget Crucis mysterium,
quo carne carnis conditor
suspensus est patibulo.1
ABROAD the regal banners fly,
now shines the Cross's mystery:
upon it Life did death endure,
and yet by death did life procure.
Confixa clavis viscera
tendens manus, vestigia,
redemptionis gratia
hic immolata est hostia.
Quo vulneratus insuper
mucrone diro lanceae,
ut nos lavaret crimine,2
manavit unda et sanguine.
Who, wounded with a direful spear,
did purposely to wash us clear
from stain of sin, pour out a flood
of precious water mixed with blood.
Impleta sunt quae concinit
David fideli carmine,
dicendo nationibus:
regnavit a ligno Deus.
That which the prophet-king of old
hath in mysterious verse foretold,
is now accomplished, whilst we see
God ruling the nations from a Tree.
Arbor decora et fulgida,
ornata Regis purpura,
electa digno stipite
tam sancta membra tangere.
O lovely and refulgent Tree,
adorned with purpled majesty;
culled from a worthy stock, to bear
those limbs which sanctified were.
Beata, cuius brachiis
pretium pependit saeculi:
statera facta corporis,
praedam tulitque tartari. 3
Blest Tree, whose happy branches bore
the wealth that did the world restore;
the beam that did that Body weigh
which raised up Hell's expected prey.
Fundis aroma cortice,
vincis sapore nectare,
iucunda fructu fertili
plaudis triumpho nobili.
Salve, ara, salve, victima,
de passionis gloria,
qua vita mortem pertulit
et morte vitam reddidit.
O Crux ave, spes unica,
hoc Passionis tempore! *
piis adauge gratiam,
reisque dele crimina.
Hail Cross, of hopes the most sublime!
Now, in the mournful Passion time; *
grant to the just increase of grace,
and every sinner's crimes efface.
Te, fons salutis Trinitas,
collaudet omnis spiritus:
quos per Crucis mysterium
salvas, fove per saecula. Amen. 4
Blest Trinity, salvation's spring
may every soul Thy praises sing;
to those Thou grantest conquest by
the Holy Cross, rewards supply. Amen.
*In Festo Exaltationis Sanctae Crucis:
in hac triumphi gloria!
*Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross:
On this triumphant day.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Take the Pledge: Pray at your local Catholic Cemetery

As we embrace the spirit of Passiontide and reflect upon the Passion of our Lord, I can not help but feel drawn to visit local Catholic cemeteries and pray for the souls of the dead.  For that reason, I'm asking you to join me.  Take the Pledge to visit a local Catholic cemetery near you this week and pray for the repose of the souls of the deceased.

Our Lord's Passion wrought about our redemption.  But we must cooperate with that Passion.  As St. Thomas Aquinas explains:
By the Passion of Christ we are freed from the liability to be punished for sin with the punishment that sin calls for, in two ways, directly and indirectly. We are freed directly inasmuch as the Passion of Christ made sufficient and more than sufficient satisfaction for the sins of the whole human race. Now once sufficient satisfaction has been made, the liability to the punishment mentioned is destroyed. We are freed indirectly inasmuch as the Passion of Christ causes the sin to be remitted, and it is from the sin that the liability to the punishment mentioned derives.
Souls in hell, however, are not freed by the Passion of Christ, because the Passion of Christ shares its effect with those to whom it is applied by faith and by charity and by the sacraments of faith. Therefore the souls in hell, who are not linked up with the Passion of Christ in the way just mentioned, cannot receive its effects. Now although we are freed from liability to the precise penalty that sin deserves, there is, nevertheless, enjoined on the repentant sinner a penalty or penance of satisfaction. For in order that the effect of the Passion of Christ be fully worked out in us, it is necessary for us to be made of like form with Christ. Now we are made of like form with Christ in baptism by the sacrament, as is said by St. Paul, We are buried together with him by baptism into death (Rom. vi. 4). Whence it is that no penalty of satisfaction is imposed on those who are baptised. Through the satisfaction made by Christ they are wholly set free. But since Christ died once for our sins (i Pet. iii. 18), once only, man cannot a second time be made of like form with the death of Christ through the sacrament of baptism. Therefore those who, after baptism, sin again, must be made like to Christ in his suffering, through some kind of penalty or suffering which they endure in their own persons.

If death, which is a penalty due to sin, continues to subsist, the reason is this : The satisfaction made by Christ produces its effect in us in so far as we are made of one body with him, in the way limbs are one body with the head. Now it is necessary that the limbs be made to conform to the head. Wherefore since Christ at first had, together with the grace in his soul, a liability to suffer in his body, and came to His glorious immortality through the Passion, so also should it be with us, who are his limbs. By the Passion we are indeed delivered from any punishment as a thing fixed on us, but we are delivered in such a way that it is in the soul we first receive the spirit of the adoption of sons, by which we are put on the list for the inheritance of eternal glory, while we still retain a body that can suffer and die. It is only afterwards, when we have been fashioned to the likeness of Christ in his sufferings and death, that we are brought into the glory of immortality. St. Paul teaches this when he says, If sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him (Rom. viii. 17).
As we know by Faith, the souls of the suffering in Purgatory can benefit from the prayers and sacrifices of the souls on Earth who pray and make reparation while in the state of grace.  During this Lent, what have you done for the souls of our brothers and sisters in purgatory who suffer because of their sins?  They can not pray for themselves but you can free them from their sorrows by making reparation for their sins!

Note: Those unfamiliar with this dogma should see my post on purgatory.

Join me this week by visiting a cemetery near you and praying the Rosary while walking through the cemetery and looking at each and every name on the stones.  Or, join me in praying the Office of the Dead at the entrance to a cemetery and then reciting prayers while walking through the cemetery.

Please also see my post which details the many Catholic Devotions for the Dead.

Please make your pledge in the comments box anonymously. 
Veiling of Images & Traditional Mass Propers: Passion Sunday (Fifth Sunday of Lent)

Vestments: Violet

Psalm 13: 1,2
Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man, for Thou art my God and my strength. V. Send forth Thy light and Thy truth: they have conducted me, and brought me unto Thy holy hill, and into Thy tabernacles. V. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

COLLECT - Look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, O Lord, upon Thy family; by Thy governance may we be outwardly protected in body; by Thy favor may we be inwardly strengthened in heart and mind. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God

Hebrews 9: 11-15 Brethren: Christ being come, a High Priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by His own blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Holy Ghost, offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God? And therefore He is the Mediator of the New Testament; that by means of His death, for the redemption of those transgressions which were under the former Testament; they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance; in Christ Jesus our Lord. .

Psalm 142: 9, 10; Psalm 17: 48-49
Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord: teach me to do Thy will. V. Thou art my deliverer, O Lord, from the angry nations: Thou wilt lift me up above them that rise up against me: from the unjust man Thou wilt deliver me.

Often have they fought against me from my youth. Let Israel now say: Often have they fought against me from my youth. But they could not prevail over me: the wicked have wrought upon my back. They have lengthened their iniquities: the Lord, Who is just, will cut the necks of sinners.

John 8: 46-59

At that time, Jesus said to the multitudes of the Jews: "Which of you shall convince Me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe Me? He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God." The Jews therefore answered, and said to Him: Do not we say well, that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered: "I have not a devil, but I honor My Father, and you have dishonoured Me. But I seek not My own glory; there is One that seeketh and judgeth. Amen, amen, I say to you, If any man keep My word, he shall not see death for ever." The Jews therefore said: Now we know that Thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and Thou sayest: If any man keep My word, he shall not taste death for ever. Art Thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead. Whom dost Thou make Thyself? Jesus answered: "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing. It is My Father that glorifieth Me, of Whom you say that He is your God. And you have not known Him; but I know Him. And if I shall say that I know Him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know Him, and do keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see My day: he saw it, and was glad." The Jews therefore said to Him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham? Jesus said to them: "Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I AM." They took up stones therefore to cast at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.

Psalm 118: 17, 107
I will confess to Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: render to Thy servant, I shall live and keep Thy words: enliven me according to Thy word, O Lord.

SECRET - May these gifts, we beseech Thee, O Lord, merit for us the loosening of the bonds of our sins, and draw down upon us Thy bounteous mercies. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son. Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God...

PREFACE (Preface of the Holy Cross) - It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God : Who didst establish the salvation of mankind on the tree of the Cross: that whence death came thence also life might arise again, and that he, Who overcame by the tree, by the tree also might be overcome: Through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with these we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also be admitted while we say with lowly praise: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY...

1 Corinthians 11: 24, 25
This is My Body which shall be delivered for you: this is the chalice of the New Testament in My Blood, saith the Lord: do this, as often as you receive it, in commemoration of Me.

POST COMMUNION - Draw near to us, O Lord our God, and with everlasting succour aid those whom by Thy sacrament Thou hast called to newness of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.

The Veiling of Images in Passiontide:  

As stated by the National Secretariat for the Liturgy of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference:
Before the liturgical reforms of Vatican II was required to cover, with purple veils, all the crosses and images displayed to the church service. In the Roman Missal of S. Pius V, after the Mass on Saturday preceding the Sunday of the Passion (now Fifth Sunday of Lent), was the heading: "Before the Vespers, cover up their crosses and images which are in the church. The crosses remain covered until the end of the worship of the Cross on Good Friday, and Images to the Hymn of the Angels (Glory to God in Heaven) on Holy Saturday. " See that it was the custom on the last two weeks of Lent, through which it wished to focus the attention of the faithful in the mystery of Christ's Passion. All that could cut into it, as were the images of Saints, was covered.
Such a practice is highly encouraged even in modern Catholic Churches.  Traditionalist Catholics and Anglo-Catholics still observe the ancient practice of Passiontide.  Quoting from "The Catholic Source Book":
Traditionally, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, one week before Palm Sunday, was called Passion Sunday or Judica Sunday after the first word of the Introit: "Judge me, O Lord..." (see Psalm 43). The veiling referred to the closing words of the Sunday's Gospel, "They picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple" (John 8:59). The Lenten veil expressed the sorrow of the Church at this time.

There is also a particular unique exception that might apply some years when Passiontide falls during March, the month of St. Joseph. By way of exception, the Sacred Congregation of Rites decreed on May 14, 1879, that the images and statues of Saint Joseph may remain UNCOVERED when any part of Passiontide falls in the month of March, which is, of course, dedicated to his honor - even on Good Friday - but ONLY IF the said image(s) STAND OUTSIDE THE SANCTUARY (e.g., the nave). 

Saturday, March 16, 2013
Traditionalist Reaction to Pope Francis

As I have already posted my reaction as well as that of the Society of St. Pius X to the election of Pope Francis, I will conclude this coverage with an overall traditionalist reaction to this monumental event. 

While there are certainly grave errors publicly committed by the Holy Father in his former days as an Archbishop, I prefer not to post those here.  I also prefer not to comment on his involvement with the Jews and other faiths as such reactions are scandalous and only cause division.

I feel that the following video succinctly and appropriately summarizes traditionalist reactions.  Please take a few minutes to watch:

In his recent article in Slate, Michael Brendan Dougherty expresses these same sentiments when he says:
Liturgical traditionalists (myself included) can only be depressed by this election–it is almost the worst result possible for those of us who think the new liturgy lost the theological profundity and ritual beauty of the Tridentine Mass. Benedict’s liberation of the traditional Latin Mass and revisions to the new vernacular Mass have not been implemented at all in Cardinal Bergoglio’s own diocese. Already some of the small breaks with liturgical tradition at the announcement of his election are being interpreted as a move toward the grand, unruly, and improvisational style of John Paul II; an implicit rebuke of Benedict.
Let us pray for the Pope.  Kyrie eleison!
Friday, March 15, 2013
SSPX Reaction to the Election of Pope Francis

Fr. Christian Bouchacourt, District Superior of South America, on the evening of the Pope’s election:
Cardinal Bergoglio wishes to be a poor man among the poor. He cultivates a militant humility, but can prove humiliating for the Church. His appearance in the loggia of St. Peter’s in a simple cassock without his rochet and mozzetta is a perfect illustration. He is a fine politician… And idealistic apostle of the poverty of the 70’s, he is completely turned towards the people, the poor, but without being a disciple of the theology of liberation.

Very conscious of the dilapidated state of his clergy, he did nothing to fix things. Never has the seminary of Buenos Aires had as few seminarians as today. It is a disaster, as have been the liturgies presided over by the “Cardinal of the Poor.” With him, we risk to see once again the masses of Paul VI’s pontificate, a far cry from Benedict XVI’s efforts to restore to their honor the worthy liturgical ceremonies.
He was firmly opposed to abortion. But while he wrote a beautiful letter to the Carmelites of Buenos Aires against the homosexual “marriage” bill – which was unfortunately voted through in the end – he had a regrettable discourse read during the protest against this bill, in which the name of Our Lord was not pronounced even once, while the Evangelistic pastor who spoke before him to excite the crowd delivered a more courageous discourse… (see DICI #219, July 24, 2010).
During an ecumenical meeting, he knelt to receive the blessing of two pastors.
He is a man of consensus, who hates confrontations. He kept his distance from the Catholics who denounced the blasphemous expositions that were held in Buenos Aires.
I have met him 5 or 6 times and he has always received me with benevolence, seeking to grant me what I wished, without going out of his way to overcome obstacles….
(sources : SSPX – DICI #272, March 15, 2013 )
He who does not Pray to the Lord Prays to the Devil

Pope Francis began his first full day in office on Thursday with private prayers at a Roman basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary (L'Osservatore Romano, via Reuters)

The Catholic Blogosphere is now abuzz with the words of our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, and these words are worth repeating here: "He who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil. When we don't proclaim Jesus Christ, we proclaim the worldliness of the devil, the worldliness of the demon."

While the Holy Father's words are powerful, we see in this video a sharp departure from Pope Benedict XVI.  Gone is the use of the ad orientem posture in the Sistine Chapel on the beautiful High Altar.  Instead a table is used as a low altar.

Friends and readers, join me in praying earnestly that the Faith which our Holy Father preaches may be lived in simplicity and humility while giving to the Lord in the Divine and Holy Liturgy the utmost reverence, respect, and adornment.

Please join me in this, our duty, to pray that he resist the wolves who assail him and that he be steadfast in defense of the Most Holy Faith of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

"O Mother of Sorrows, as you held the Body and Blood of your Divine Son upon your breast as His Soul went down among the dead to free them and grant them the Blessed Vision of His Divinity, so assist Holy Church as she bears this same Body and Blood on her altars and entreat your Son to descend again among the dead and free the souls of departed popes and prelates, and the souls of the departed parents, Jesuit brethren, friends, and benefactors of Pope Francis that they might be powerful and grateful intercessors on his behalf that he may be most pleasing to God, helpful to the faithful, and strong against the enemies of Christ's Mystical Body on earth, and that he may powerfully aid in the restoration of the sacred Liturgy to its ancient beauty and integrity. To this end I apply to the Holy Father's dead the indulgence offered as I pray. Memorare, etc." (Rorate Caeli)
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete

Many Roman Catholics will be unfamiliar with the Eastern Rite tradition of the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete.  Since I will be attending the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete this evening, I wish to present some background on this emotionally moving pentitental service.

The Great Canon consists of four parts, each divided into nine odes like a regular canon, which is a structured hymn. However, there are slight differences between the odes of the two compositions. In the Great Canon, after the refrains "Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me," a full prostration is performed. Also, some of the odes have additional refrains and troparia to the author of the canon, St. Andrew of Crete, or St. Mary of Egypt, one of the greatest models of repentance in Christian history.

A basic distinguishing feature of the Great Canon is its extremely broad use of images and subjects taken both from the Old and New Testaments. As the Canon progresses, the congregation encounters many biblical examples of sin and repentance. The Bible (and therefore, the Canon) speaks of some individuals in a positive light, and about others in a negative one—the penitents are expected to emulate the positive examples of sanctity and repentance, and to learn from and avoid the negative examples of sin, fallen nature and pride. However, one of the most notable aspects of the Canon is that it attempts to potray the Biblical images in a very personal way to every penitent: the Canon is written in such form that the faithful identify themselves with many people and events found in the Holy Scriptures.

You may find the text for the Great Canon at the following links in PDF format:
As chanted on Monday of the first Week: PDF Format
As chanted on Tuesday of the first Week: PDF Format
As chanted on Wednesday of the first Week: PDF Format
As chanted on Thursday of the first Week: PDF Format
As chanted on Thursday of the fifth Week: PDF Format

Source: Orthodox Wiki
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Open Letter to Pope Francis

Holy Father,

We at A Catholic Life assert the same philosophy we have embodied since our founding, only a few months after the election of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

While I accept the authority of the Holy Father and all bishops in union with him, I will not allow the Holy Catholic Church to be torn apart and assaulted by the forces of Modernism, Syncretism, Heresy, and the gross immorality of some of its clergy in the name of the "Spirit of Vatican II". I will not allow our Catholic youth to be robbed of their faith or have their innocence destroyed in the name of "tolerance", "ecumenism", "diversity" or any other politically correct ideology of the day. I am here to promote true Catholicism as taught by those orthodox, faithful members of the clergy. I am here to be a light shining in the darkness of sin that is destroying the Internet through such means as pornography and atheism. In my endeavor to spread piety and holiness, I shall remain completely obedient to the Holy Church, the Holy Father, and my immediate superiors. Never shall I encourage dissent or heresy.

I object to individuals or groups of individuals being given access to Catholic schools, churches, conferences and Church property to promote any belief, teaching, or idea contrary to Catholic teaching as defined by two thousand years of Tradition and Church teaching. I expect every Catholic priest to follow the disciplines of the Catholic Church as he solemnly vowed to do. I expect every bishop to do all he can to safeguard the souls of our children by exercising his authority to ensure proper teaching within Catholic schools and parish religion programs. And I insist that Catholic colleges and universities either teach the True Faith or cease calling themselves Catholic. I assert that homosexual men and pedophiles are not to be admitted to the seminary and that women and married men should never become priests. I object to the use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion since it has always been taught that only the hands of the ordained minister should touch the Eucharist. I assert that it is a sin to attend Protestant services or worship services of other religions. And I desire for all priests to be taught Latin in the seminary and Gregorian Chant to return in all our churches.

I object to any priest treating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as his personal possession by adding, changing, or removing any part of the Mass on his own authority. Furthermore, I assert that the right of every Catholic priest to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass must be recognized, and I consider it a grave scandal that such a right is not recognized while at the same time countless liturgical and theological novelties are promoted by many in the hierarchy.

We beg your swift action to reform this growing cancer in the Church so that the Faith may be saved and our Lord will triumph.  To Him be the glory through the Immaculate Heart of our Most Blessed Mother.

In Christ,

A Catholic Life
HABEMUS PAPAM - Pope Francis

Prayer for the Sovereign Pontiff

V. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro N.

R. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius. (Ps 40:3)

Pater Noster, Ave Maria

Deus, omnium fidelium pastor et rector, famulum tuum N., quem pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quæsumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus præest, proficere: ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credito, perveniat sempiternam. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Amen.V. Let us pray for N, our Pope.

R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies. (Ps 40:3)

Our Father, Hail Mary

O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy servant N, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Agnus Dei Sacramental

Agnus Dei Sacramental
The name Agnus Dei has been given to certain discs of wax impressed with the figure of a lamb and blessed at stated seasons by the Pope. They are sometimes round, sometimes oval in diameter. The lamb usually bears a cross or flag, while figures of saints or the name and arms of the Pope are also commonly impressed on the reverse. These Agnus Dei’s may be worn suspended round the neck, or they may be preserved as objects of devotion. In virtue of the consecration they receive, they are regarded, like holy water, blessed palms, etc., as "Sacramentals". 

The origin of Agnus Deis is a matter of much obscurity. Recent authorities lay stress upon the lack of evidence for their existence before the ninth century. But it seems probable that they had their beginning in some pagan usage of charms or amulets, from which the ruder populace were weaned by the enjoyment of this Christian substitute blessed by prayer. The early history of Catholic ceremonial affords numerous parallels for this Christianizing of pagan rites. It is not disputed that the Agnus Deis originated in Rome. If so, we may probably trace the custom back to the final overthrow of Paganism in that city, say the fifth century. We know that when we first hear of them (c. 820) they were made of the remnants of the preceding year's paschal candle. We also know from Ennoldius (c. 510) that fragments of the paschal candles were used as a protection against tempests and blight (Migne, P.L., LXIII, pp. 259, 262). It is also possible that a mention of the blessing of wax under Pope Zosimus (418) in the "Liber Pontificalis" (first edition) should be interpreted, with Mgr. Duchesne, of the Agnus Dei, though it more probably refers to the paschal candle. It was at this period and before the Trullan Council of 691 that the symbolism of the Lamb most flourished; see the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus. The alleged examples of early Agnus Deis, e.g. one of Gregory the Great in the treasury of Monza (see Kraus, "Real-Encyclopadie," s.v.) cannot be trusted. The earliest certain specimen now in existence seems to belong to the time of Gregory XI (1370).

From the time of Amalarius (c. 820) onwards we find frequent mention of the use of Agnus Deis. At a later period they were often sent by the Popes as presents to sovereigns and distinguished personages. A famous letter in verse accompanied the Agnus Dei despatched by Urban V to Emperor John Palaeologus in 1366. In the penal laws of Queen Elizabeth Agnus Deis are frequently mentioned among other "popish trumperies" the importation of which into England was rigorously forbidden.

Blessing and Distribution
We learn from an "Ordo Romanus" printed by Muratori ("Lit. Rom", II, p. 1004) that in the ninth century the archdeacon manufactured the Agnus Deis early on Holy Saturday morning out of clean wax mixed with chrism, and that they were distributed by him to the people on the Saturday following (Sabbato in Albis). At a later date the Pope himself generally assisted at both the blessing and the distribution. The great consecration of Agnus Deis took place only in the first year of each pontificate and every seventh year afterwards, which rule is still followed. The discs of wax are now prepared beforehand by certain monks, and without the use of chrism. On the Wednesday of Easter week these discs are brought to the Pope, who dips them into a vessel of water mixed with chrism and balsam, adding various consecratory prayers. The distribution takes place with solemnity on the Saturday following, when the Pope, after the "Agnus Dei" of the Mass, puts a packet of Agnus Dies into the inverted mitre of each cardinal and bishop who comes up to receive them.

For the Rite of Blessing for the Agnus Dei, click here.

Symbolism and Use
The symbolism of the Agnus Dei’s is best gathered from the prayers used at various epochs in blessing them. As in the paschal candle, the wax typifies the virgin flesh of Christ, the cross associated with the lamb suggests the idea of a victim offered in sacrifice, and as the blood of the paschal lamb of old protected each household from the destroying angel, so the purpose of these consecrated medallions is to protect those who wear or possess them from all malign influences. In the prayers of blessing, special mention is made of the perils from storm and pestilence, from fire and flood, and also of the dangers to which women are exposed in childbirth. It was formerly the custom in Rome to accompany the gift of an Agnus Dei with a printed leaflet describing its many virtues. Miraculous effects have been believed to follow the use of these objects of piety. Fires are said to have been extinguished, and floods stayed. The manufacture of counterfeits, and even the painting and ornamentation of genuine Agnus Deis, has been strictly prohibited by various papal bulls.

Martyrs’ Paste
There are also Agnus Deis of a grey color, made from wax mingled with the dust which is believed to be that of the bones of martyrs. These, which are called "Paste de' SS. Martiri", are held to need no special consecration and are treated as relics.

A sacramental is a sacred object, or action, which the church uses for the purpose of obtaining spiritual favors through the Church’s intercession.  One such sacramental, and one of the Church’s most ancient, is the Agnus Dei.
Agnus Dei means Lamb of God and is the name given to certain wax discs upon which are impressed the figure of a lamb, and the blessing of which, actually a consecration, is reserved to the reigning Supreme Pontiff.
The Agnus Dei dates from before the eighth century, and the matter, from, and prayers for the consecration ceremony are duly described in the Roman Ritual.
In the making of the Agnus Dei, pure white unadulterated wax must be used and is mixed with Holy Water, Balsam, and Chrism.  The wax must be pure since it is designed to typify human nature as being absolutely free from imperfection, when, in virtue of His Own Divine Power, it was assumed by our Saviour in the Immaculate Womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The figure of a lamb is impressed on these discs as it is symbolic of the Lamb of God, without blemish, immolated on the altar of the Cross in atonement for man’s sins.  Holy water is also used because it was chosen by God, both in the Old and New Testaments, for the institution of the Great Sacraments.  Balsam is mixed with the Holy Water to signify the sweet perfume of the virtues of Christ, which should be eminently characteristic of His followers.  Chrism is added to show that things so consecrated, such as churches, alters, and the priests themselves, have been specially set apart for the divine service, the perfection of Christian charity being likewise set forth.
The waxen Agnus Deis are, accordingly, immersed in the water already blessed and mingled with Balsam and Chrism; while before and after this action the Pope utters the most solemn invocations, beseeching God to bless, sanctify, and consecrate these discs, imparting to them such power that whosoever should revere them with true faith and sincere piety might as indicated by the writings of Popes Urban V, Paul II, Julius III, Sixtus V, and Benedict XIV, participate in the following benefits and graces:
  • They foster piety, banish tepidity, preserve from face and dispose to virtue.
  • That at sight or touch of the Lamb impressed on these waxen discs, the faithful should be inspired to dwell on the Mysteries of our Redemption recalled by this symbol; and be moved to praise, venerate, and extol God’s goodness to us, hoping to obtain pardon for their sins, and to be cleansed form all stain.
  • They are a protection from sudden and unprovided death.
  • They are a protection in combat, and have power to ensure victory.
  • They cause evil spirits to tremble and flee; that hailstones should case; tempests subside, and whirlwinds, lightning, and hurricanes should be dispelled.
  • They deliver from poison and, through Divine Intervention, the snares, wiles, and frauds of Satan should not prevail.
  • They are excellent preventatives against sickness, and are also an efficacious remedy – especially in cases of epilepsy.
  • They dissipate hurricanes, clam whirlwinds, and keep away tempests.
  • They save from shipwreck and the danger of lightning and floods.
  • They preserve mothers and babies from peril and provide for a safe and easy delivery.
It is a matter of firm belief, confirmed by striking miracles, which these graces and favors are wont to be vouchsafed to the faithful by Divine munificence in virtue of the blessings and prayers of Christ’s Vicar, the Pope, consecrating those waxen discs as Head of the Catholic Church.  If, however, the desired result is not always obtained, this should not be attributed to want of efficacy on the part of the Sacramental, but rather to the luke-warmness of suppliants, or to some hidden cause in meet accordance with the counsels of the Most High.
Many Favors
Throughout the life of the Church favors too numerous to count have been granted by God through the intercession of one of the Church’s most treasured Sacramentals, the Agnus Dei.  It is, however, worth of note that in the Cause for Canonization of Bl. Innocent XI, tow first-class miracles were accepted, both involving the use of Agnus Dei’s.
In times past, the reigning Pope would consecrate the Agnus Dei’s during Holy Week in the first year of his pontificate, and then every seventh year during his reign.  Inexplicably, the practice of consecrating the Agnus Dei Sacramental was abandoned following the Second Vatican Council.

The last pope to consecrate the wax and make it available was Pope Pius XII.

 Pope Pius XII immerses the Agnus Dei Wax

Daily Prayer
(For those who carry or wear an Agnus Dei)  
O my Lord Jesus, Christ, the true Lamb Who takest away the sins of the world; by Thy Mercy, which is infinite, pardon my iniquities, and by Thy Sacred Passion preserve me this day from all sin and evil. I carry about me this holy Agnus Dei in Thy honor, as a preservative against my own weakness, and as an incentive to the practice of that meekness, humility, and innocence which Thou has taught us.  I offer up to Thee as an entire oblation and in memory of that Sacrifice of Love which Thou didst offer for me on the Cross, and in satisfaction for my sins.  Accept this oblation, I beseech Thee, O my God, and may it be acceptable to Thee in the odor of sweetness.  Amen. 

Jesus, my Savior, true Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, by Thine infinite mercy, I beseech Thee to pardon my iniquities. By Thy sacred Passion, I beseech Thee preserve me this day from sin and shield me from all evil.  To Thine honor and glory I carry about with me this blessed Agnus Dei as a protection to my soul and body,  and as an incentive to practice the virtues which Thou hast inculcated, especially meekness, humility, purity, and charity. In memory of that sacrifice of love which Thou didst offer for me and all mankind on Calvary,  I consecrate my whole being to Thee.  Thou didst die on the cross for love of me; let me die to self for love of Thee!  Keep me in Thy love and Thy grace to the end of my life, that I may bless Thee forever with the Saints to heaven. Amen.

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