TSD 33: Almost there

The liturgical year begins to wrap up

These Seven Days…

…in the Ordinary Form

It is the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings are Malachi 3:19-20a, 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12, and Luke 21:5-19.

This is a harrowing Gospel, in which Christ describes the trials and sufferings His followers will have to endure in His name. There is too much here to consider it all in great detail, so let’s focus on the last line, which reads in the NAB:

By your perseverance you will secure your lives.

The word “lives” is used in most modern translations, and clearly refers to heavenly life. The Douay-Rheims chooses different words, though:

In your patience you shall possess your souls.

Gregory the Great says on this line:

By patience then we possess our souls, because when we are said to govern ourselves, we begin to possess that very thing which we are. But for this reason, the possession of the soul is laid in the virtue of patience, because patience is the root and guardian of all virtues. Now patience is to endure calmly the evils which are inflicted by others, and also to have no feeling of indignation against him who inflicts them.

…in the Extraordinary Form

It is the Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost. The Epistle is Philippians 3:17-4:3 and the Gospel is Matthew 9:18-26.

While the focus of this Gospel is the raising of Jairus’s daughter, the humble sick woman who is healed after touching the hem of Christ’s garment may be an even more powerful example for us:

And behold a woman who was troubled with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment. For she said within herself: If I shall touch only his garment, I shall be healed. But Jesus turning and seeing her, said: Be of good heart, daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

Remigius of Auxerre writes:

In which her humility must be praised, that she came not before His face, but behind, and judged herself unworthy to touch the Lord’s feet, yea, she touched not His whole garment, but the hem only; for the Lord wore a hem according to the command of the Law. So the Pharisees also wore hems which they made large, and in some they inserted thorns. But the Lord’s hem was not made to wound, but to heal…. How wonderful her faith, that though she despaired of health from the physicians, on whom notwithstanding she had exhausted her living, she perceived that a heavenly Physician was at hand, and therefore bent her whole soul on Him; whence she deserved to be healed.

File:George Percy Jacomb-Hood - The Raising of Jairus' Daughter (1895).jpg

Am 1895 depiction of the raising of Jairus’s daughter by the English painter George Percy Jacomb-Hood. There’s a wonderful and recognizable childlikeness in Jesus’ response that the girl is “only sleeping,” which receives understandable guffaws from the onlookers. But of course to see the world through the eyes of Christ often appears childish and foolish to the worldly.

The gradual this week comes from Psalm 43 (D-R 42). The St. Andrew Missal describes how these Masses at the end of the time after Pentecost bring us to the “last stages” of “the long pilgrimage of the Church towards heaven.” Taking all the propers together, the missal continues:

From the depths of the abyss the nations will cry to God (Gradual, Offertory) and God, whose thoughts are of peace and not of anger (Introit), and who always hears prayers made with faith (Communion), will pardon nations for their offenses (Collect), and will deliver both the Gentiles and the Synagogue from their captivity (Introit, Gradual).

Here is that gradual:

Liberasti nos, Domine, ex affligentibus nos; et eos qui nos oderunt, confudisti. // In Deo laudabimur tota die, et in nomine tuo confitebimur in saecula.

Thou hast delivered us, O Lord, from them that afflict us: and hast put them to shame that hate us. // In God we will glory all the day: and in Thy name we will give praise for ever.

…in both forms of the Roman Rite

Thursday, November 21, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This event is related in apocryphal writings including, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Protoevangelium of James, the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, and the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary. The gist of these accounts is that Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, dedicated their daughter to the Lord at the age of three, and she lived and was educated in the Temple. The St. Andrew Missal calls this story “a pious tradition” that is “probably authentic.”

Like many Marian and apocryphal feasts, this one is traced to Eastern traditions. It has roots in the 6th century, and appears in the eleventh century Menologion of Basil II. It was introduced to the West by Gregory XI in 1372, and extended to the universal Church by Sixtus V in 1585, which reminds me that we’ve been waiting four centuries for Sixtus VI.

Part of The Presentation of the Virgin Mary by Titian. Any parent of a precocious child recognizes the guileless boldness of the little girl, and the confused awe of the grown-ups. This painting is hung in the Gallery of the Academy of Florence and is so large there are cut-outs for door frames. See it here in its full context.

Friday, November 22, is the Feast of St. Cecilia, patron saint of a ton of babies these days. Separating fact from fiction in Cecilia’s story isn’t easy, nor is it strictly necessary. Her existence is well-attested, as is the fourth-century construction of a church, Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, in her honor. The details of her relationship with her husband Valerian and his brother Tiburtius are a bit more vivid than can be absolutely confirmed, but perhaps the more important fact is that devotion was early and intense in the Church: There was absolutely something about her and her story that captivated people. (She is, of course, commemorated in the Roman Canon.)

Cecilia’s association with music comes from one of the legends regarding her and Valerian, a pagan Roman soldier. It is said the the marriage was arranged by the young maiden’s parents, but that Cecilia had already pledged her perpetual virginity to God. At the wedding, “Cecilia sat apart singing to God in her heart.” She refused to consummate the marriage, and her new husband asked for an angel to confirm the authenticity of her vow. She insisted that he be baptized first, to which he acceded, and then he saw the angel accompanying his wife. Cecilia, Valerian, and Tiburtius were all martyred.

It became popular to depict St. Cecilia with a pipe organ, the instrument most associated with liturgical music, even though they were only available in a rudimentary form in her lifetime. This 1610s depiction is by Orazio Gentileschi.

There are several pieces of music dedicated to St. Cecilia: Purcell, Brossard, Handel, Haydn, Scarlatti, and several other major composers wrote music for her or her feast. I’m going with something a little more modern here, though: Benjamin Britten’s Hymn to St. Cecilia.

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Those Seven Days…

If you’re within striking distance of DC you really should go to this.

I had no idea, and am now really taken with the idea, that the descendants of Moctezuma were adopted into the Spanish nobility.

And don’t forget it!

This is really poorly executed, but it’s the thought that counts.

I am mesmerized by the unnecessarily enormous globe lurking in the corner.

As for me…

Three things for you this week.

  1. At First Things, I have an essay counseling the institutional Church and the faithful to lean into the criticism of former Irish president Mary McAleese that infant baptism is illiberal.

  2. At Angelus News, I have an essay on the ongoing debate over the place of the “new nationalism” in the Church, with a focus on dueling open letters between First Things and Commonweal.

  3. In this month’s edition of First Things, I have a letter regarding Sohrab Ahmari’s essay on “The New American Right,” to which the author kindly responded.

Additionally, I’ll be speaking on “The Catholic Family in a Secular World” at the Aquinas Society of Cincinnati, hosted at St. Gertrude Church at 7pm.

Feedback, &c.

Did I miss something important? Get something wrong? Do you have ideas for how to improve These Seven Days? Drop me a line at tsd.brandonmcg@gmail.com. This is a work in progress, and your feedback will help to make it the best it can be.

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