Friday, June 15, 2012

A Liturgical Curiosity for the Feast of the Sacred Heart

Just as devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is older than the liturgical feast of Corpus Christi, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus predates the formal institution of a feast in its honor, by many centuries in fact. For example, St. Gertrude the Great, who lived from 1256 to the first years of the following century, writes of a vision of St. John the Evangelist which she beheld on his feast day, in which he brought her to lay her head upon the breast of the Lord, as he himself had done at the Last Supper. St. Gertrude than ask John if he had also heard the beating of the Lord's heart as she did, and when he replied that he had, and that the sweetness of it had penetrated into his very marrow, she asked him why he had not written about this in the Gospel. St. John replied:
My duty was to write to the young Church only about the uncreated Word of God the Father, ... To speak of the sweet beatings of (this heart) was reserved for modern times, so that from the hearing of such things, the world might grow warm again when it had become old and tepid in the love of God. (The Herald of Divine Piety, 4; 4.) 
Like the feast of Corpus Christi, that of the Sacred Heart was first proposed in a vision vouchsafed to a nun; during a Forty-hours Devotion held within the octave of Corpus Christi in 1675, the Lord appeared to the French Visitandine St. Margaret-Mary Alacoque, the consummation of a long series of visions. He then asked her to work for the institution of a feast in reparation for the ingratitude and indifference which so many show to Him "in the sacrament of love," to be kept on the day after the Octave of Corpus; this day is of course Friday, the day of the Lord's Passion. Within the saint's lifetime, the feast had begun to be celebrated by her order and among certain other congregations; as it slowly gained ground, it was formally recognized and permitted by Pope Clement XIII in 1765, and extended to the universal calendar of the Church by Blessed Pius IX in 1856. 
When the neo-Gallican Missal of Paris was issued in 1738 by the Archbishop Charles de Vintimille, the feast had not yet been formally approved by Rome or widely accepted outside a few religious orders; however, the new Parisian Missal did fulfill one aspect of the request made by the Lord to St. Margaret Mary. Among the collection of votive Masses is a special Mass "for the reparation of injuries done to Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament." This Mass is placed between the votive Mass of the Sacrament and that of the Passion; furthermore, a rubric after the Octave of Corpus Christi prescribes this Mass be said on the following day, which is now kept everywhere as the feast of the Sacred Heart. (The translations of the prayers are my own; the Scriptural quotations are taken from the Douay-Rheims translation, with a few modifications necessary to the sense.)

Quanta malignatus est inimicus in sancto! in terra polluerunt tabernaculum nominis tui, Domine. Usquequo, Deus, irritat adversarius nomen tuum in finem?

The Introit         Psalm 73
What things the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary! they have defiled the dwelling place of thy name on the earth. How long, O God, doth the adversary provoke thy name forever?
  Psalmus Ut quid, Deus, repulisti in finem? iratus est furor tuus super oves pascuae tuae? Gloria Patri. Quanta.

  Psalm O God, why hast thou cast us off unto the end: why is thy wrath enkindled against the sheep of thy pasture? Glory be. What things.
Gementes et dolentes super cunctis abominationibus quae fiunt in domo tua, propitius respice, Deus omnipotens; et pro contumeliis quibus in sacramento sui amoris impetitur Dominus Jesus, ipsum fac pro nobis esse apud te propitiationem. Qui tecum vivit et regnat.

The Collect
Look with mercy, God almighty, upon those who mourn and grieve for all the abominations that take place in Thy house; and for the injuries by which the Lord Jesus is assailed in the sacrament of His love, make Him the propitiation before Thee for our sake. Who liveth and reigneth with Thee.
Lectio Epistolae beati Pauli Apostoli ad Hebraeos.
Fratres: Accedamus cum vero corde in plenitudine fidei, aspersi corda a conscientia mala, et abluti corpus aqua munda, teneamus spei nostrae confessionem indeclinabilem (fidelis enim est qui repromisit), et consideremus invicem in provocationem caritatis, et bonorum operum: non deserentes collectionem nostram, sicut consuetudinis est quibusdam, sed consolantes, et tanto magis quanto videritis appropinquantem diem. Voluntarie enim peccantibus nobis post acceptam notitiam veritatis, jam non relinquitur pro peccatis hostia, terribilis autem quaedam exspectatio judicii, et ignis aemulatio, quae consumptura est adversarios. Irritam quis faciens legem Moysi, sine ulla miseratione duobus vel tribus testibus moritur: quanto magis putatis deteriora mereri supplicia qui Filium Dei conculcaverit, et sanguinem testamenti pollutum duxerit, in quo sanctificatus est, et spiritui gratiae contumeliam fecerit? Scimus enim qui dixit: Mihi vindicta, et ego retribuam. Et iterum: Quia judicabit Dominus populum suum. Horrendum est incidere in manus Dei viventis.

The Epistle          Hebrews 10, 22-31
Brethren: Let us draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with clean water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering (for he is faithful that hath promised), And let us consider one another, to provoke unto charity and to good works: Not forsaking our assembly, as some are accustomed; but comforting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching. For if we sin willfully after having the knowledge of the truth, there is now left no sacrifice for sins, but a certain dreadful expectation of judgment, and the rage of a fire which shall consume the adversaries. A man making void the law of Moses, dieth without any mercy under two or three witnesses: how much more, do you think he deserveth worse punishments, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath esteemed the blood of the testament unclean, by which he was sanctified, and hath offered an affront to the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said: Vengeance belongeth to me, and I will repay. And again: The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
  Graduale Viderunt altare profanatum, et sciderunt vestimenta sua, et planxerunt planctu magno. V. Imposuerunt cinerem super caput suum, et ceciderunt in faciem super terram, et clamaverunt in caelum.

  Gradual 1 Maccabees 4, 38-40  They saw the altar profaned, and they rent their garments, and made great lamentation. V. They put ashes on their heads, and fell down to the ground on their faces, and they cried towards heaven.
Alleluia, alleluia. Zelus domus tuae comedit me, et opprobria exprobrantium tibi ceciderunt super me. Alleluia.

Alleluia, alleluia. Zeal of thy house hath eaten me up: and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. Alleluia. Psalm 68, 10.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum.
In illo tempore: Respondens Jesus, dixit iterum in parabolis principibus sacerdotum et Pharisaeis, dicens: Simile factum est regnum caelorum homini regi, qui fecit nuptias filio suo.

The Gospel            Matthew 22, 1-14
At that time: Jesus answering, spoke again in parables to the chief priests and Pharisees, saying The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son. As on the 19th Sunday after Pentecost.
Ad Christum accedamus cum vero corde in plenitudine fidei, aspersi corda a conscientia mala, et consideremus invicem in provocationem caritatis, et bonorum operum.

The Offertory      Hebrews 10, 22 and 24
Let us draw near to Christ with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and let us consider one another, to provoke unto charity and to good works:.
Deus, qui Unigenitum tuum in Cruce pro transgressoribus orantem exaudisti; quaesumus ut nos, qui in altari tuo ipsum offerimus pro contaminatoribus mensae illius orantes, clementer exaudire digneris. Per eundem.

The Secret
O God, who didst harken to Thy Only-Begotten Son as He prayed upon the Cross for the transgressors; we ask that Thou mercifully deign to hear us, as we pray upon Thy altar for them that defile His table. Through the same.
Quanta putatis mereri supplicia, qui Filium Dei conculcaverit, et sanguinem testamenti pollutum duxerit, in quo sanctificatus est?

Communion            Hebrews 10, 29
How great punishments do you think he deserveth, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath esteemed the blood of the testament unclean, by which he was sanctified?
Domine Jesu Christe, qui zelo domus Dei succensus, vendentes et ementes de templo ejecisti: da comedentibus panem tuum, eodem zelo animari; et propter reos corporis tui aut tabescere gementes, aut ad prohibendum fortes ignescere. Qui vivis et regnas.

Lord Jesus Christ, who, kindled with zeal for the house of God, didst cast out from the temple them that bought and sold: grant to those that eat Thy bread, that they may be filled with the same zeal; and either to languish with mourning over those guilty of Thy body, or to burn mightily to stop them. Who livest and reignest.

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