Dignare Me Laudare Te, Virgo Sacrata

Saturday, March 31, 2012

St. Bernard on St. Joseph the 'Just Man'

Stained glass of St. Joseph's Dream (from Matthew 1:20-21), created in the 13th century, and located at the Cistercian abbey of Lilienfeld, Austria

[The following is excerpted from "The Glories of St. Joseph," compiled by the Monks of St. Joseph's Abbey in Flavigny, France.]

"Joseph her husband, being a just man and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately [Matthew 1: 19]. It was right of Joseph not to accuse Mary since he was just. He would not have been just if he had concealed adultery, nor could be be just if he condemned one whom he knew to be innocent. Being just and unwilling to expose Mary publicly, he preferred to send her away privately."

"Why did he want to send her away? Listen to this which is not my opinion, but that of the Fathers. The reason Joseph wanted to separate from Mary is the one invoked by St. Peter himself to avoid the Lord: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord [Luke 5: 8]; and by the centurion to keep Him from his house: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof [Matthew 8: 8]. So it was with St. Joseph, too. Feeling himself to be unworthy and sinful, he thought: 'She is so perfect and so great that I do not deserve that she should share her intimacy with me any longer; her astonishing dignity surpasses me and frightens me.' He saw with sacred fear that she carried the clear marks of a divine presence. As he could not fathom the mystery, he preferred to leave her. Fear struck Peter at the greatness of the Lord's power; fear seized the Centurion at the majesty of His presence; fear seized St. Joseph quite naturally as it would any man at the uncanniness of the extraordinary miracle, at the depth of the mystery, and that is why he wanted to separate from her privately."

"Can we be surprised that St. Joseph thought himself unworthy to live with the Blessed Virgin when we are told that even St. Elizabeth trembled with awe in her presence. Here are her words: Whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? [Luke 1: 43]"

"That is why St. Joseph wanted to put her away; but why privately and not publicly? To avoid all inquiry into the motives for the separation and to escape the obligation of accounting for it. If he had given his opinion and the proof he had of the purity of Mary, the Jews would have derided him and stoned Mary. How would those Jews believe in the Truth still silent in His Mother's womb, when, later, they scorned His outcry in the temple? What would they have done to Christ, as yet invisible, when, later, they laid sacrilegious hands upon Him although He shone with the splendor of His miracles? In order not to be reduced to telling lies or to laying an innocent open to blame, it was quite right of St. Joseph, the just man, to separate from Our Lady in secret."

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Dominican Rite Mass in New York City

I had the high blessing of being present when the Dominicans of the Eastern Province of the United States offered their first Missa Cantata according to their proper Dominican Rite at their parish in New York City, St. Vincent Ferrer. Fr. Austin Dominic Litke, O.P. offered the Mass on the traditional feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, with the assistance of layman servers and Dominican friars from the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC, who chanted the propers of the Mass.

The high altar in St. Vincent Ferrer before Mass.

Father Litke and the servers process up the high altar.

The celebrant's Confiteor - notice the difference in the position of the servers in the Dominican Rite, compared to the Traditional Latin Mass.

The chanting of the Gospel.

Father James Brent, OP, gave an excellent sermon on St. Thomas Aquinas and our modern problem of secularism.

Fr. Litke incenses the high altar.

The elevation of the chalice containing the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ - instead of kneeling at the bottom of the steps and to the right, as in the "extraordinary form" of the Latin Rite, the censer and boat-bearer kneel behind the priest.

The celebrant extends his arm in a cruciform posture immediately after the consecration, but only for a short period of time.

Taken at some point after the consecration but before Communion.

The Dominican schola makes a full prostration as the made their Confiteor before Communion.

The schola receives the Blessed Sacrament.

The ablutions and the missal is brought back to the epistle side of the altar - the high altar and its reredos are absolutely stunning.