Dignare Me Laudare Te, Virgo Sacrata

Sunday, December 09, 2007

St. Francis de Sales on St. John the Baptist

(The following is excerpted from St. Francis de Sales's Sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent, 6 December 1620, as translated in "The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Advent and Christmas," edited by Father Lewis S. Fiorelli, OSFS)

Ecce Agnus Dei by Dirk Bouts

"It is truly amazing that our ancient Fathers, though so discerning and so insightful in explaining and developing even the most obscure difficulties presented by Holy Scripture, nevertheless find themselves wondering how to understand the first part of today's Gospel [Matt 11: 2-10]: that St. John [the Baptist], who knew Our Lord, nevertheless sent his disciples to learn if He were that great Prophet, that promised Messias, or if they should look for another. For, they ask, since St. John certainly knew that He was indeed the Messias, why does he sent someone to ask Him that?"

"There is no doubt that he knew that the One to whom he sent his envoys was truly the Messias. For he knew Him while he was still in his mother's womb, and there is no saint with a more penetrating knowledge of the mystery of the Incarnation than this glorious St. John. He was Our Lady's pupil. He was sanctified by the dear Saviour of our souls when Our Lady went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. He surely knew Him from that moment, and, leaping with joy in his mother's womb [Luke 1:41, 42], he adored Him and consecrated himself to His service. He was His Precursor, and announced His coming to the world. It was he who baptized Him, who saw the Holy Spirit descend as a dove on Him and who heard the voice of the Father saying: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." It is he who pointed Him out in these words: 'Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!' [Matthew 3:13-17, John 1:29-36]."

"Thus he indeed knew Our Lord and never wavered in the least regarding who He was and in His belief and certitude of His coming. Then why, as our ancient Fathers, does John, while in prison and hearing of the great prodigies and miracles wrought by our Divine Master, send his disciples to learn who He is and whether it is He who is to come or if they are to wait for another?..."

"...[T]he glorious St. John did not send his disciples to Our Lord to find out whether or not He was the Messias, for he had no doubt about that. He had three reasons for sending those disciples to Jesus."

"First, to make Him known to the whole world. He had already spent time preaching His coming, His miracles, and His greatness to his disciples. Now he wanted them to see Him whom he had announced to them. Surely, to make God known should be the principal aim of all doctors and preachers. Teachers and those who govern and have charge of souls ought neither to seek nor to obtain anything but this: that He whom they preach and in whose name they teach may be known to everyone. That was this glorious saint's wish...."

"The second reason he sent them was this: he did not want to draw disciples to himself, but only to his Teacher, to whose school he now sends them so that they might be instructed personally by Him. For what else was he suggesting in this sending but this: 'Although I teach and preach to you, it is not to attract you to myself, by rather to Jesus Christ, whose voice I am [John 1: 23]. That is why I am sending you to Him. Learn from Him whether He is the promised Messias, or whether you are to look for another.' By this John meant: 'I am not content to assure you that it is He whom we await. I am sending you that you may be instructed by Him personally to that effect....'"

"The third reason St. John send his disciples to Our Lord was to detach them from himself. He feared they would be led into the great error of esteeming him more than the Saviour. They were already complaining to St. John in this manner: Teacher, you and we, your disciples, along with the Pharisees, fast. We are poorly clothed and do great penance. But this man, this great prophet who performs so many miracles among us, does not do so [Matthew 9:14; Mark 2:18]. In hearing this, and in seeing the love and esteem which his disciples felt for him was beginning to produce in them a feeling of contempt for Jesus Christ, St. John sent them to this Divine Majesty to be instructed and informed of the truth."

"It was not, therefore, because St. John doubted in the least that Our Lord was the Messias that he sent his disciples to question Him. He sent them for their own benefit and advantage and to make Him known to the whole world; not to draw them to himself but to detach them from him; to let them see the miracles that Jesus Christ performed so that they might come to Him in a manner worthy of Him. He deals with them as befits their status as still children. He assuredly believed that Jesus is the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world [John 1:29]. And certainly he could, by his own words, have brought them to understand this truth, but he chos to direct them to Our Lord for this instruction. He could have sent them to Him to adore and confess Him; but, accomodating himself to their weakness and infirmity, he sent them only to ask Him who He is and whether He is "He who is to come" or whether they should look for another. Surely those who direct souls must make themselves all things to all men, as the Apostle say to save all [1 Cor. 9:19-22]. Let them be gentle with some and severe with others, children with children, strong with the strong, weak with the weak; in short, they need great discretion so as to accomodate themselves to each one's need."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Missa Cantata in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

On 17 November 2007, the first Missa Cantata since the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae was held in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. The Mass was offered by Father Daniel D'Alliessi of the Archdiocese of New York in the Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel in the Crypt Level of the Basilica. Fr. D'Alliessi used the propers of the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Salve sancta parens).

A four-man schola consisting of men from the Washington, DC area chanted during the Mass. The Lourdes chapel was filled to capacity (about 50 people). Fr. D'Alliesi, during his homily, talked about a chronicle from The Golden Legend in which a bishop rebuked a priest who could only say a Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Lady appeared to the bishop that evening and told him to let the priest be.

I was one of the three who served the Mass, and I had someone take some pictures during the Mass. Four turned out all right.

The altar in the Lourdes chapel set up for the Mass

Taken during the chanting of the Gospel

The mingling of the water with the wine

"Lavabo inter innocentes manus meas..."

The Basilica has designated the Lourdes chapel as the one set aside for the Traditional Latin Mass (or the "Extraordinary" Use). It was one of the first built in the building, so it is ideal for the TLM. The staff recently obtained the proper vestments (Father D'Alliessi is wearing one of their chasubles), and they have everything else needed for this sort of Mass.

It was a momentous occasion, and it was a honor to be there. Let us pray that the Lourdes chapel is utilized often for the Traditional Latin Mass.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!