Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Jesuit Character

Today is the feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. As much as Saint Francis and his Minorites, the association of words ("Jesuit" and "Ignatian") conjure thoughts and presumptions irrelevant to the intentions of the original founder. That "SJ" is commonly associated with homosexuality, heresy, violent socialist revolutions in South American, and left wing American universities is a tragedy for a society founded to act as a militant arm of the Church, courageous enough to do what others would not as missionaries.

This is not to say that their charism did not carry innate faults. Perhaps the atomistic, solitary spirtuality of the early Jesuits would have worked have the Society remained small, but a large and well funded order living in community without a public dedication to the Office or Mass inevitably leaves its members to their own devices and formation, of which the liturgy is not a factor.

The militant, furtive Jesuit, bereft of transparency and clear intentions, became a myth in popular culture due to the likes of John Ballard, SJ. The Jesuit as a trickster intent on causing accidental conversion persisted into the early 20th century and even appears in Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies in 1930.

No literary Jesuit so perfectly captures this caricature as René d'Herblay (Aramis) in the Musketeer novels of Alexandre Dumas. When our protagonist, D'Artagnan, meets Aramis the latter reiterates that he is only temporarily taking up the tabard of the Musketeers of the Guard. He is constantly in studies to become a Jesuit priest and speaks of the affair in much the same manner Starbucks baristas speak of "moving to Europe". Confronted by his superiors for his dissertation to complete his studies, he derives a comically legalistic argument on grace to pique their interest, all the while lamenting that he might have to put away his mistress. When he does receive the odd letter from his mistress he finally breaks from his melancholy and expresses himself, "SHE STILL LOVES ME!"

Dumas' Musketeer epic concludes with the anti-climactic story of the Man in the Iron Mask, a novella with a plot line so underwhelming that no film that adopted it faithfully. In the finale, Louis XIV is revealed to be a misunderstood king whose unknown identical twin brother is place on the throne by the unwitting Porthos and Athos. D'Artagnan defends King Louis while Athos escapes and Porthos dies in the fight. Valor and thirst for justice burned in the Musketeers' hearts, but their intentions were not shared by their friend, Aramis.

Aramis is now a bishop and French magistrate intent on advancement. The Jesuit prelate manipulated his friends to replace the Divinely ordained King and put their own lives at stake for treason simply to give France a monarch who might make Aramis his Chief Minister, nominate him for the College of Cardinals, and put him on the path to the Supreme Pontificate.

Such was the reputation of Jesuits many moons ago.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Office of Prime (III): Parvum Officium

The period historians generally called the "Dark Ages", the time after the fall of the Roman Empire and before medieval Christianity accomplished "Europe", saw the gradual enhancement of the ancient Roman liturgy through devout emendations by localized Christian communities. The hymns of the Office, octaves, the feasts of most non-Roman Saints, and the ceremonies of Mass grew up around this time and continued to grow until the years after the Council of Trent and the creation of the Congregation for Rites.

One new tradition that sprang forth from the fertile soil of Early Medieval Christendom is that of the Little Office. Today, the knowledgeable faithful associate the term "Little Office" with the Parvum Officium Beatae Virginis Mariae, but there emerged a multiplicity of Little Offices over those centuries.

Perhaps the oldest is the Office of the Dead, which betrays its antiquity by its form. Its Mattins lack an introduction, omitting psalm 94 unless it is celebrated as a Duplex (November 2 and for funerals), absolutions at the readings, and any introductions. Lauds and Vespers similarly have no hymns, chapters, or opening ceremonies. No other part of the Roman Office resembles the Officium Defunctorum more than the Tenebrae and Horae Minores of the Sacred Triduum, which remained effectively unchanged from the time of Gregory the Great until 1911.

The Office of the Dead emerged as a parallel liturgy in monasteries during the closing centuries of the first millennium and became popularized through other monasteries and collegiate churches, both as means to pray for diseased monks and for canons to pray for their diseased benefactors. While eventually said daily, along with the Requiem Mass, on permitting days, it never developed as fully as the other Little Offices, lacking Little Hours (including Prime) and Compline until the Divino Afflatu reforms of Pius X.

The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary emerged slightly later and became the most popular of all paraliturgical functions. Guilds emerged in Northern Europe which commissioned priests uniquely to offer this Office and its associated seasonal votive Masses daily, again, kalendar permitting. The Marian Office has an Inviatory at Mattins, hymns throughout the day, and Little Hours, including our Prime. While Vespers, Mattins, and Lauds repeat the same psalms, antiphons, chapters, and hymns of the Blessed Virgin's feasts throughout the year, the Little Hours of the Little Office derive their psalmnody from the Gradual Psalms except for Prime. The psalms of Prime are Deus in nomine tuo (53), Benedixisti Domine (84), and Laudate Dominum omnes gentes (116). As with festive Prime, the antiphon is the first of Lauds (Assumpta est Maria in coelum). Uniquely, the hymn at Prime and the rest of the Hours is that of Compline, Memento rerum Conditor. Another unique aspect of Prime of the Blessed Virgin Mary is that unlike Prime in the Roman Office, it does not follow a unique structure based around the [assembled] Chapter, with an act of repentance, a reading of the Martyrology, prayers for the intention of the day, and the Dominical statement of faith. It simply follows the normal structure of psalms, the chapter and hymn, and an oration.

The Parvum Officium of Our Lady gained common currency by the high Middle Ages. Whenever Duffy or historians speak of nobles or guilds assembling in a church to sing Vespers or royal women "reading the Mattins" in the morning they inevitably mean that they were following the texts of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Churches and chapters that did not observe the full Office of Our Lady instead celebrated it as an elevated Simplex feast on Saturdays outside of Lent, switching from ferial psalms to Marian chapter, hymn, versicles, and orations midway through the Office.

Less common, although said at Cluny and its sister houses, was the Office of All Saints, the text I which I would one day like to see. With the mandate of all clerics to recite the full Roman Office daily, the tradition of offering these Little Offices remained but in a diluted manner. Counter-Reformation Josephilia and liturgical sloth even gave birth to this Parvum Officium of Saint Joseph, which has a solitary psalm for its Mattins, no Lauds, and a simple hymn for its Prime and following Hours.

Our next and closing post in this series will consider the place of Prime, putatively suppressed, in the Church and Christian life today.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Mighty Ocean of Tranquility

This Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, perhaps the greatest technological-cultural achievement in human history since the Roman Empire connected an entire continent with roads. While the promise to put a man on the Moon was in part a determination not to let the Communists beat the U.S., it was also a natural act of hope. There was hope that mankind would not be restricted to the sublunar sphere, and might someday make the dangerous climb into the material heavens to explore the fullness of God's created glory.

America being the religious melting pot that it is, the mission astronauts made for an odd grab-bag of affiliations. Neil Armstrong was a professed Deist. Michael Collins was a moderate Episcopalian with a wife described by some as "staunchly Catholic." Buzz Aldrin was a Presbyterian elder who celebrated a makeshift communion service after the lunar landing; he was also a practicing Freemason who was deputized to claim territorial jurisdiction on the Moon. Half a year prior, NASA was sued by atheist activists when astronauts aboard Apollo 8 broadcasted a reading from Genesis during Earth orbit at Christmas. In explaining the choice to read from the Bible, command module pilot Jim Lovell said with interreligious magnanimity that "It is the foundation of most of the world's religions.... They all had that basis of the Old Testament."

Earlier poets had imagined fantastic journeys to the moon. Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso includes an episode where the knight Astolfo flies in Elijah's chariot to the Moon in search of his companion Orlando's sanity. Rudolf Raspe's Baron Munchausen includes multiple humorous voyages to the Moon. Greatest of all was Dante's Paradiso, when the poet ascends to the first celestial sphere, wherein the inconstant blessed souls reside. The neglectful Piccarda explains her humble beatitude:
"So that as we from step to step
Are plac'd throughout this kingdom, pleases all,
E'en as our King, who in us plants his will;
And in his will is our tranquillity;
It is the mighty ocean, whither tends
Whatever it creates and nature makes."
God made man to rule over the material creation, and occasionally the magnitude of our ambition reminds us of that primal vocation. The lunar Mare Tranquillitatis should be a reminder of the ocean of rest to be found in the divine will, even though for some it is an opportunity to kick against the limitations of human nature. How far we are today from the humbled aspect of Piccarda's repentant and feminine soul.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Office of Prime (II): How to Say It

Using the rubrics that were in force from time immemorial until 1911 and Divino Afflatu, the Office of Prime mirrors the movements and variations of Lauds. The Roman Office has much variation, but essentially there are three types of days:
  • Duplex feasts
  • Simplex feasts
  • Feriae
A Semi-Double is celebrated in much the same manner as a Double, but with a lesser ranking and some additional prayers. A day within an octave is similar, although without additional prayers. The psalms at Vespers and Mattins are from the common and the Lauds and Prime are sung using the Dominical psalms. The Little Hours never change.

A feria simply observed the Office of the day with no note of any feasts, unless they warrant a commemoration of a superseded Lenten or Advent Simplex feast. Simple feasts use the psalter of the day for Vespers and Mattins, but follow the Dominical psalms for Lauds and an abbreviation of Prime. At first this seems a strange and arbitrary shift away from the purpose of the Office, the recitation of 150 psalms of David every week spread through the day for its sanctification. In fact, Lauds and Prime before S Pius X had very little daily variation. The first psalm of Lauds would be either 50 (Miserere mei Deus) or 92 (Dominus regnavit), the second psalm varied every non-festive day of the week, and the canticle could be one of seven possibilities unless a feast occurred, in which case the Benedicite would be sung. Two psalms varied daily, one conditionally, and five remained constant. 

At Prime, the psalter was as follows:
  • Sunday: 53, 117, 118i (1-16), 118ii (17-32)
  • Monday: 53, 23, 118i, 118ii
  • Tuesday: 53, 24, 118i, 118ii
  • Wednesday: 53, 25, 118i, 118ii
  • Thursday: 53, 22, 118i, 118ii
  • Friday: 53, 21, 118i, 118ii
  • Saturday: 53, 118i, 118ii
The entirety of the psalmody would be wrapped under one antiphon, either from the Office of the day or the first Lauds antiphon of the occurring feast. Like the other Horae Minores, the antiphon on Prime is semi-doubled, that is, read as far as the asterisk before the psalms and read in full after. On a feast, the psalms were always the three of Saturday not not the longer Prime of Sunday. Sunday Prime, before the full antiphon, also includes the Athanasian Creed. On feriae of Paschaltide, the psalms are always festive just as the Lauds are always Dominical.

If the Office is of Sunday, any feast, within an octave, or a weekday of Paschaltide, the chapter is from Timothy; otherwise, it is from Zachariah. Then follows the responsory Christe Fili Dei vivi. On festive days, the collect Domine Deus omnipotens immediately follows. Under any other circumstance the responsory and collect are separated by a series of versicle preces and the Confiteor said as at Mass and Compline. During penitential seasons the preces are expanded, although they do not include an additional psalm as they do at Vespers and Lauds during those seasons. 

Should the Martyrology be read it comes after the collect. The Roman Martyrology for the current day is always that of tomorrow's saints, usually with a word or two about them. At the end, thanksgiving is made and Our Lady and the rest of the saints are invoked for protection. Another comes another responsory, Deus in adiutorium, Gloria Patri, Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison, the Lord's Prayer, another set of versicles, and the collect Dirigere:
O Lord, Almighty God, King of heaven and earth, Savior of the world, bless, lead, rule and govern our hearts and bodies, our senses, words and deeds today, following thy law and commandments, that here and for eternity with thy help we shall be saved in freedom. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. 
If the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary is to be sung this day, it begins at once. Otherwise, as with the beginning of Compline, a lector asks the celebrant for a blessing and reads a short lesson varying with the season. On feasts, however, the lesson is the same as the chapter sung at None.

After Adiutorium nostrum the dismissal is sung: Benedicite / Deus followed by the blessing:
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. And may the souls of the faithful, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  
Again, Prime resembles Compline in how it contrasts the other Hours, this time with its own dismissal (not the usual Benedicamus Domino) and blessing (not the usual Fidelium animae).

Divino Afflatu reordered the entire psalter to revive the de facto recitation of the 150 psalms daily. The better solution would either have been to reduce the number of Duplex feasts or lessen clerical obligations, but instead Papa Sarto initiated a radical overhaul of the Office. To the layman, the only arrant changes may have been more green vestments on Sundays and a strange new antiphon at Sunday Vespers for no apparent reason. In fact, most of the old antiphons of the Roman Office had to be discarded and replaced due to the fragmented psalter introduced in place of the full psalms of the Roman rite. Between its psalms and antiphons, the Little Hours are nigh unrecognizable. Some of the psalter remains unchanged for the great feasts of Our Lord and Our Lady, aside from the reduction of Lauds and the loss of ps. 53 at Prime on Sundays. The rest of it differs greatly every single day. The psalter became as follows:

  • Sunday: 117, 118i, 118ii
  • Monday: 23, 18 (in halves)
  • Tuesday: 24 (in thirds)
  • Wednesday: 25, 51, 52
  • Thursday: 22, 71 (in halves)
  • Friday: 21 (in thirds)
  • Saturday: 93 (in halves), 107
If these psalms look familiar it is because most of them belong to Mattins, not Prime, in the classical forms of the Roman Office. Additionally, the Pian Lauds and Prime represent the first time psalms in the Roman rite would be said out of order. The Byzantine rite Vespers sings some psalms out of order, but following a theme of persecution, deliverance, and thanksgiving. The Pian rite, by contrast, was formed with uniformity and a side glance to Tradition in mind. Its intentions were rational and yet, unlike the preceding Gregorian/medieval and Tridentine iterations, the psalms are printed on the page out of order because they must present the remaining psalm from S Pius V's Office first.

The rules for how to recite Prime are otherwise the same under Pius X as they were under Pius V with the caveat that, again, Prime's variability tracks Lauds. Divino Afflatu limited the potential for proper psalms and texts on feasts below Duplex of the II Class to a handful of ancient Roman feasts, meaning festive Prime (still 53, 118i, and 118ii) would now be said rarely. This system would continue until 1964.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Don Quoex on the Ancient Papal Mass

Those attached to the memory of Franck Quoex, formerly of the ICRSS and later of the diocese of Vaduz, will recall his expertise on the history of the papal liturgy. Br. Aelred has translated his explication of the papal rites outlined in the Ordo Romanus I into English. Take a gander here.