Traditional Benedictine Office - Ordo for the week after the Ascension (May 28 - June 3)

This week we are in Ascensiontide, and you can find notes on the Office in this period here.  For those saying Matins, you can find more detailed notes on where to find the texts and chants here.  And you can find the Matins readings each day (including those for the old Octave of the Ascension) over at Lectio Divina Notes

As usual, all page references are to the Farnborough edition of the Monastic Diurnal - if you are using an older edition or a different book, you will need to check the page headings!

Sunday 28 May – Sunday after the Ascension, Class II

Matins: Invitatory antiphon, hymn, antiphons, Gospel and readings for the Sunday

Lauds: Festal psalms with three antiphons (alleluia - canticle - alleluia); chapter etc from MD 389* ff

Prime to None: Antiphons, chapter etc from MD 391* ff

Vespers: Psalms of Sunday under one antiphon; chapter and hymn of Lauds; responsory and Magnificat antiphon, MD 393*

Monday 29 May - Class IV [EF: St Mary Magdalen of Pazzi]

Ordinary of the Ascension, MD 386* ff

Tuesday 30 May – Class IV [EF: Commemoration of St Felix]

Ordinary of the Ascension, MD 386* ff

Wednesday 31 May – Class IV [EF: The Queenship of the BVM]

Ordinary of the Ascension, MD 386* ff

Thursday 1 June – Class IV [EF: St Angela Merici]

Ordinary of the Ascension, MD 386* ff

Friday 2 June – Class IV; SS Marcellinus and Peter, memorial [EF: and St Erasmus]

Ordinary of the Ascension, MD 386* ff; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [151]

Saturday 3 June - Whitsun Eve (Vigil of the Pentecost), Class I

Matins: Ordinary of Ascensiontide but with three readings and responsories of the day

Lauds to None: Ordinary of the Ascension, MD 386*

PENTECOST

I Vespers of Pentecost, MD 393* ff (including psalms of the feast)

St Bede the Venerable, OSB


Image result for ezra restoring the bible
Codex Amiatinus depiction of Ezra,
 produced at Wearmouth-Jarrow in Bede's time

St Bede, I have to say, is currently my favourite saint.

Back in the day, Blessed Cardinal Newman wrote that 'Bede is truly the pattern of a Benedictine as is St Thomas of a Dominican'.   Today's Matins reading nicely sets out just why this is:
Bede the priest was born at Jarrow, on the borders of England and Scotland. When a monk, he so arranged his life as to devote himself completely to the study of the liberal arts and sacred doctrine, without in any way relaxing the discipline of the Rule. There was no kind of learning in which he was not thoroughly versed; but his special interest was the study of the Scriptures; and when he was made a priest, he undertook the task of explaining the holy books. In doing so, he adhered to the teaching of the holy Fathers so closely that he would say nothing not already approved by their judgment, and he even made use of their very words. Abhorring laziness, he would go straight from reading to prayer and from prayer to reading. To raise the level of morality among Christians and to defend and spread the faith, he wrote many books, which gained him such a reputation with everyone that his writings were publicly read in churches during his own lifetime. At length, worn out with age and labours, he fell asleep peacefully in the Lord. Leo XIII declared him a Doctor of the universal Church.
Although Bede's history of the English Church has long been available and appreciated, along with some of his lives of the saints, his output was actually much broader than this, including scientific works, guides to the holy lands, and a number of exegetical works.  English translations of his exegetical works are still only gradually becoming available, and this is leading to a new appreciation of Bede's originality: though he certainly drew heavily on the Fathers in his work, he was very much concerned with the politics of both church and state of his time, and his exegetical works in particular reflect this.

But for me at least, the most startling aspect of his work, though one not always acknowledged in modern translations of and commentary on his works (the exemplary work and valiant efforts of Scott DeGregorio aside) due to some typical 1970s revisionism, is the degree to which the Rule shaped his mindset.

Allusions to the Rule are scattered throughout his writings to the point where one can pretty much construct a commentary on the Rule from them (the Homilies alone for example include references to 50/73 tools of good works and 33 chapters of the Rule), and indeed even his use of Scriptural quotes frequently reflect's St Benedict use of the relevant text.  And while I've seen several theories advanced for the selection of the books of the Bible that he focused on, I haven't seen anyone as yet note what seem to me to be the obvious links between many of the texts he chose and his key themes (such as the Temple and Tabernacle) and the Rule...

Regardless, St Bede is an important saint well worth learning more about: a saint who lived a good life; provided us with a great legacy of his learning; and who also died a particularly holy death, which you can read about in this great post from A Clerk of Oxford.

St Augustine of Canterbury OSB (May 26) - Apostle to the English

Illuminated manuscript with a forward-facing man in the middle of the large H. Man is carrying a crozier and his head is surrounded by a halo.

St Augustine of Canterbury was a Benedictine monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 597.

The Matins reading for the feast is as follows:
Augustine, a monk of the Lateran monastery in Rome, was sent by Gregory the Great in 597 to England with about forty monks as his companions. They were invited by King Ethelbert to Canterbury, the chief city of the kingdom, and they built an oratory nearby. Through preaching the doctrine of heaven, Augustine brought many of the islanders and the king himself to the Christian faith, to the great joy of the king's wife, Bertha, who was a Christian. By order of Pope Gregory, Augustine was ordained bishop and founded the see of Canterbury; by the same Pontiff he was granted the use of the pallium and the right to organize the hierarchy of England. At length, after suffering great hardships for Christ, having set Mellitus over the Church of London, Justus over that of Rochester, and Lawrence over his own Church, he made his journey to heaven on the 26th day of May. He was buried in the monastery of St. Peter, which then became the burial place of bishops of Canterbury and of several kings.
He has traditionally been considered the "Apostle to the English" and a founder of the English Church.  St Bede records in his history of the English Church that the monks converted the locals by their preaching and example:
"…they began to emulate the life of the apostles and the primitive Church. They were constantly at prayer; they fasted and kept vigils; they preached the word of life to whomsoever they could….Before long a number of heathen, admiring the simplicity of their holy lives and the comfort of their heavenly message, believed and were baptized..."
St Augustine established schools and monasteries, and set about organising the missionary effort more broadly in England. His life was marked by miracles, and he was quickly acclaimed as a saint on his death.

Feast of the Ascension (May 25)

BambergApocalypse10Ascension.JPG
Bamburger Apocalypse


Today is the feast of the Ascension, and in a few days time we celebrate the feast of a Benedictine saint who died on the day of the feast, St Bede.  Accordingly, I thought it might be appropriate to share a poem of the saint written for the feast, often sung to the tune 'All creatures of our God and king':

A hymn of glory let us sing:
New songs throughout the world shall ring:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Christ, by a road before untrod,
Ascendeth to the throne of God.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

The holy apostolic band
Upon the Mount of Olives stand;
Alleluia! Alleluia!
And with his followers they see
Jesus' resplendent majesty.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

To whom the angels, drawing nigh,
"Why stand and gaze upon the sky?
Alleluia! Alleluia!
This is the Saviour!" thus they say;
"This is his noble triumph-day."
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

"Again shall ye behold him so
As ye today have seen him go
Alleluia! Alleluia!
In glorious pomp ascending high,
Up to the portals of the sky."
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Oh, grant us thitherward to tend
And with unwearied hearts ascend
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Unto thy kingdom's throne, where thou,
As is our faith, art seated now.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Be thou our Joy and strong Defence
Who art our future Recompense:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
So shall the light that springs from thee
Be ours through all eternity.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O risen Christ, ascended Lord,
All praise to thee let earth accord,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Who art, while endless ages run,
With Father and with Spirit One.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

(Trans: Benjamin Webb)

Our Lady Help of Christians (May 24)



In Australia and a number of other countries, May 24 is the solemnity of Our Lady Help of Christians.  In Australia and those countries where it is a first class feast, we will naturally pray first and foremost for the conversion of our own countries.  Pope Benedict XVI, however, asked that this day be especially a day of prayer for China, so please do say the collect of the day as part of your devotions for this intention:
O Almighty and merciful God, Who didst wondrously appoint the most Blessed Virgin perpetual help for Christians in need of protection: grant in Thy mercy that after battling in life under such a protectress, we may be able to conquer our enemy at death. Through our Lord.
For those saying the Office of the feast, the Monastic Diurnal has the texts for the day hours, starting at MD  25** - for the psalms and antiphons, use the Common of feasts of Our Lady, but with the hymns, responsories, Magnificat antiphon and collect of the feast.

The 1962-3 breviary does include a specific set of texts for all of the hours (in the supplement at the back of Volume II for the Ottilien Congregation), but of course without chants.  If you don't have access to that, the Common of feasts of Our Lady would work for Matins.

St Romanus (May 22)




Today the martyrology remembers St Romanus, who clothed St Benedict in the holy habit, and aided him in his early years as a hermit:
But Benedict, desiring rather the miseries of the world than the praises of men: rather to be wearied with labour for God's sake, than to be exalted with transitory commendation: fled privily from his nurse, and went into a desert place called Sublacum, distant almost forty miles from Rome: in which there was a fountain springing forth cool and clear water; the abundance whereof doth first in a broad place make a lake, and afterward running forward, cometh to be a river.  
As he was travelling to this place, a certain monk called Romanus met him, and demanded whither he went, and understanding his purpose, he both kept it close, furthered him what he might, vested him with the habit of holy conversation, and as he could, did minister and serve him. 
The man of God, Benedict, coming to this foresaid place, lived there in a strait cave, where he continued three years unknown to all men, except to Romanus, who lived not far off, under the rule of Abbot Theodacus, and very virtuously did steal certain hours, and likewise sometime a loaf given for his own provision, which he did carry to Benedict....(St Gregory, Dialogues 2:1)
The tradition holds that St Romanus later went to Gaul and founded a small monastery at Dryes-Fontrouge, where he died about 550 and was venerated as a saint. 

Rogation days


Rogation days are traditionally days of prayer (with the litany of the saints being sung) and fasting.

The three 'minor' rogation days before Ascension date back to the sixth century, and were instituted to appease God's anger at man's transgressions, to ask protection in calamities, and to obtain a good and bountiful harvest.

You can find the litany and prayers in the Diurnal at pg (200) and the full chants in the Processionale Monasticum.  If said privately, it is usually done after Lauds.

In earlier versions of the Office, there were readings at Matins and a collect specific to the rogation day.  In the 1962 monastic version for some reason these have been stripped out of the Office, but I have put up the readings over at the lectio divina notes blog, and here is the collect in case you want to use it devotionally.

Orémus
Praesta quaesumus omnipotens Deus: ut qui in afflictione nostra de tua pietate confidimus; contra adversa omnia tua semper protectione muniamur.
Per Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum, Fílium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus, per ómnia sǽcula sæculórum.
R. Amen.
24
Let us pray.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we who in our tribulation are yet of good cheer because of thy loving-kindness, may find thee mighty to save from all dangers.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.