Monday, January 30, 2006

Liturgical Question

Good fellows, this question has been bugging me for years - now that I have a good number of Latin Traddies reading this blog, I thought I might ask you chaps:

When the Divine Office is sung by laymen, what (if anything) does one do about the Versicle 'Dominus vobiscum' and the Response 'Et cum spiritu tuo'? I've heard from one source (who is not to be regarded as authoritative) that it is replaced with 'Domine exaudi orationem meam' and 'Et clamor meus ad the veniat', but that leaves a rather awkward order when 'Dominus vobiscum' and 'Et cum spiritu tuo' are followed directly by 'Domine exaudi orationem meam' and 'Et clamor meus ad te veniat'. I haven't seen any instructions on this matter anywhere - does the presiding layman sing the Versicle?

While we're at it - what changes to the order and texts are made if the Office is sung by laymen (or a lone layman even)? I'm curious because the Byzantine Offices have clear provisions for what is to be omitted or replaced when a Reader presides, yet the Romans don't seem to have an equivalent set of instructions. My thoughts were that this is because the Byzantine Offices are often done by laymen without a priest, yet in the Roman uses, the Divine Office has become a highly clericalised thing that was no longer considered really the common property of the faithful, hence the proliferation of votive hours (of the Virgin, of the Holy Spirit, of the Holy Cross...) in the West.

Anyone out there able to answer this one?

What the Angelus reminds us of

Fr Leo J. Trese tells us in page 79 of The Faith Explained

Because it was by her own free consent that Mary chose to be the mother of the Redeemer, and because it was freely (and so intimately!) that she shared in His Passion, Mary is acclaimed by the Church as the Co-Redemptrix of the human race.

It is this grand moment of Mary's consent and our own salvation that we commemorate each time that we recite the Angelus.

The beauty of reciting set prayers.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Deus Caritas Est

I'm so happy. Printed Deus Caritas Est out - all eighteen pages of it, and a cursory glance suggests to me that it is worth spending time on to digest.

Can God Sin?

If God is almighty and omnipotent, can He commit a sin?

To answer that question, let us divide it into three parts, and define "can", "God", and "sin".

When one asks, "Can ____?" the "can" may be interpreted in at least three ways. For example, "Can we eat mealworms?" The three ways which we understand "can" are: physical freedom, psychological freedom, and moral freedom.

A bird is physically free to do anything it likes. But is it psychologically free, or morally free? Can a bird think about what to eat for breakfast and what for supper? No, because the bird does not possess something called intellect. Intellect is what separates us from the brute animals. Is the bird morally free? No, because it does not know what is right or wrong. It does not have a conscience, nor free will, nor knowledge of good and evil. It cannot make a moral choice.

A prisoner is both psychologically and morally free, but he is not physically free.

What about a normal man, then? A man like you and me. Are we truly free? Yes, but to a limited extent. We are physically, psychologically and morally free to do as we wish, but whether we have the right, whether we may do as we wish, is another question. I may want to feed mealworms to my friends, but if the person does not want to eat mealworms, may I force him to?

After defining "can", we define "God". By definition, God is Almighty, Supreme, Eternal, Omnipotent and Omniscient. He can do all things. Everything.

So we have defined "can" and defined "God". Can God sin?

What is sin? The theological definition of sin is an absence of good. To use an analogy, darkness is an absence of light. Is darkness something? No, darkness is not some-thing that exists in and of itself. Darkness is an absence of light. Where there is no light, there is darkness.

One may argue then, why can't light be an absence of darkness? That is because darkness cannot overcome light. No matter how weak or dim the light, darkness is dispelled. No amount of darkness can overcome how small a flame, simply because darkness is not something. It is a no-thing.

So also for sin. Where there is a lack of goodness, there is sin. Sin is not a something. It is a no-thing. Just as darkness is absence of light, sin is an absence of goodness.

Can God sin? No, because sin is a no-thing, and while God can do everything, it is against His nature to do no-thing. Sin is an absence, it may be said, of God. How can God be without Himself?

Can God sin? No, because it is against His nature.

A related question that is often asked to trick theists is: if God is almighty, can He create a rock so big He Himself cannot carry?

The answer again is no. God indeed can make anything, but the question is self-defeating, and is totally meaningless, because it asks whether God can do a no-thing. It is like asking whether God can draw a square-circle. A square is a square, and a circle is a circle. It is the nature of a square to have four corners, and a circle to be round with no corners. A square-circle is a contradiction in nature, and does not exist. Therefore, God cannot draw a square-circle, and cannot make a rock so heavy He himself cannot carry, simply because the question contains a contradiction in nature.

But as people who profess a Trinity, we can have a little more fun with the rock question. If someone asks whether God can create a rock so heavy He cannot carry, we may say in answer: God the Father may create a rock so heavy, God the Son in the frailty of His humanity cannot carry.

Edited 26 Jan 2006: First posted at The Sleepless Eye. - Norman

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Today the West celebrates the feast of...

Holy & Glorious Apostle Paul
Teacher of the world, pray to the Master of all to grant peace to the world and great mercy for our souls!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Liturgical Abuses

A Sunday never passes without attending a Mass where I can spot some liturgical abuse. One Sunday it was some weird text in place of the Gloria, another Sunday it was children standing around the altar during the Our Father, and the Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion approaching the altar too early.

There is a limit to how many complaints I can make. So far I've made only one, and I pondered over it for some time before writing. There are other more pressing tasks to do, like making up for the wretched catechesis that I received in my younger days by doing the necessary reading.

I try my very best to be positive about it all. I've told myself, no point getting vexed at Mass, for I can't be spending all my time making complaints. Might as well just focus on what the Mass really is, like the example Fr Z is giving to all of us. If things are so bad, then the only way it can go from now is up.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Veni, Creator Spiritus

I have never ceased to be awed by the sheer beauty of its expressive lyrics, as well as its exquisite melody. This hymn is, in my own humble opinion, perhaps the most magnificent the Church has produced in its long history.

In this day and age where the Holy Spirit has been relegated to the role of a mere assistant especially in most Protestant churches, this hymn stands out as being one that truly recognises the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, is together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified.

The beauty and complexity of its lyrics coupled with the soft and emotional tune is more than enough to make it prominent among the other Latin hymns. Many who have listened to it have told me how this simple hymn always manages to raise their spirits. Personally, I feel this hymn is too unique to be sung in anything but Latin – but of course, that is just how I, a devout Latinist, feel. The English lyrics fit in with the tune perfectly, though.

VENI, Creator Spiritus,
mentes tuorum visita,
imple superna gratia
quae tu creasti pectora.

COME, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

Qui diceris Paraclitus,
altissimi donum Dei,
fons vivus, ignis, caritas,
et spiritalis unctio.

O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.

Tu, septiformis munere,
digitus paternae dexterae,
Tu rite promissum Patris,
sermone ditans guttura.

Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God's hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father, Thou
Who dost the tongue with power imbue.

Accende lumen sensibus:
infunde amorem cordibus:
infirma nostri corporis
virtute firmans perpeti.

Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o'erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply.

Hostem repellas longius,
pacemque dones protinus:
ductore sic te praevio
vitemus omne noxium.

Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.

Per te sciamus da Patrem,
noscamus atque Filium;
Teque utriusque Spiritum
credamus omni tempore.

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.

Deo Patri sit gloria,
et Filio, qui a mortuis
surrexit, ac Paraclito,
in saeculorum saecula.

Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven.

One of the most widely used hymns in Church before the reforms of 1962 – Veni, Creator Spiritus (Come Holy Spirit, Creator Blest), is attributed to Rabanus Maurus (776-856). It is used at Vespers, Pentecost, the Dedication of a Church, Confirmation, Holy Orders and whenever the Holy Spirit is solemnly invoked.

Lyrics/info: Thesaurus Precum Latinarum

Thursday, January 19, 2006

What did the prayer really say?

This post is to recommend this site by Fr John T. Zuhlsdorf, What Did The Prayer Really Say? So far it has really helped me to look at the collects in the Mass in a totally new way.

Also, this is pretty interesting, if you have half-hour or so. Write to Cardinal Arinze and tell him how much you want a good translation of the Roman Missal.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church. All emphases are mine.


2012 "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him . . . For those whom he fore knew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified."64

2013 "All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity."65 All are called to holiness: "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."66

In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ's gift, so that . . . doing the will of the Father in everything, they may wholeheartedly devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor. Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the Church through the lives of so many saints.67

2014 Spiritual progress tends toward ever more intimate union with Christ. This union is called "mystical" because it participates in the mystery of Christ through the sacraments - "the holy mysteries" - and, in him, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. God calls us all to this intimate union with him, even if the special graces or extraordinary signs of this mystical life are granted only to some for the sake of manifesting the gratuitous gift given to all.

2015 The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle.68 Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes:

He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.69

2016 The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus.70 Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the "blessed hope" of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the "holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."71

64 Rom 8:28-30.
65 LG 40 § 2.
66 Mt 5:48.
67 LG 40 § 2.
68 Cf. 2 Tim 4.
69 St. Gregory of Nyssa, Hom. in Cant. 8:PG 44,941C.
70 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1576.
71 Rev 21:2.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A church is ...

Extract from the Archdiocesan newspaper. A new church is going to be built, and this article describes the design brief.

As a central place of worship, the proposed church is "to express and promote community by encouraging prayer, liturgical participation and social interaction".

What about giving parishioners a sense of the sacred, a sense that you are in a Holy place, a place where the source and summit of Christian life takes place?

The seating arrangement is to be fan-shaped to foster a sense of community and to bring the celebration of the Mass closer to the participants.

Doesn't coming together already give people a sense of community? By being present in Church, am I not already close to the celebration of Mass?

"The bottom line is that congregations are best served by sound and visual systems which work in harmony with the space and environment with properly designed acoustics", the Brief explains. "This consideration is of utmost importance as it enhances the worship experience."
"Worship experience"? What is that?

To be fair, note that I am commenting on extracts. Hence, I risk quoting out of context. Ideally I would like to post the entire article here, so that readers may judge for themselves.

Happy New Year

We at The Cassock and Cotta wish all our readers a Happy New Year!

Yahweh spoke to Moses and said,"Speak to Aaron and his sons and say:

'This is how you must bless the Israelites. You will say:

May Yahweh bless you and keep you.
May Yahweh let his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
May Yahweh show you his face and bring you peace.'

This is how they must call down my name on the Israelites, and then I shall bless them."

Numbers 6:22 - 27