Friday, June 28, 2019

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)
The Last Supper, by Ugolino di Nerio, 1325-28
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 His 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. Here is the full text of the Mass. 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.

The Apparition of Our Lord to St Margaret Mary Alacoque; stained glass window in St Brendan’s Church, Birr, County Offaly, Ireland. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by Andreas F. Borchert, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)
Introit Quanta malignatus est in-
imicus in sancto! in terra pollue-
runt tabernaculum nominis tui,
Domine. Usquequo, Deus, irri-
tat adversarius nomen tuum in
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?  Psalm 73
Psalm. Ut quid, Deus, repulisti
in finem? iratus est furor tuus
super oves pascuae tuae. Gloria
Patri. Quanta malignatus...
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.

Oratio Gementes et dolentes su-
per cunctis abominationibus
quae fiunt in domo tua, propi-
tius respice, Deus omnipotens;
et pro contumeliis quibus in Sa-
cramento sui amoris impetitur
Dominus Jesus, ipsum fac pro
nobis esse apudte propitiatio-
nem. Qui tecum.
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...

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 profa-
natum, et sciderunt vestimenta
sua, et planxerunt planctu ma-
no. V. Imposuerunt cinerem su-
per caput suum, et ceciderunt
in faciem super terram, et cla-
maverunt in caelum.
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. 1 Macc. 4, 38-40
Alleluja, alleluja. Zelus domus
tuae comedit me, et opprobria
exprobrantium tibi ceciderunt
super me. Alleluja,
Alleluja, alleluja. Zeal of Thy house
hath eaten me up, and the reproaches
of them that reproached thee are fal-
len upon me. Alleluja. Ps. 68, 10

The Gospel, Matthew 22, 1-14 At that time: Jesus 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. And he sent his servants, to call them that were invited to the marriage; and they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my calves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come ye to the marriage. But they neglected, and went their own ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise. And the rest laid hands on his servants, and having treated them contumeliously, put them to death. But when the king had heard of it, he was angry, and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city. Then he saith to his servants: The marriage indeed is ready; but they that were invited were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways; and as many as you shall find, call to the marriage. And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good: and the marriage was filled with guests. And the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. And he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? But he was silent. Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.

Offertorium Ad Christum acce-
damus cum vero corde in ple-
nitudine fidei, aspersi corda a
conscientia mala, et considere-
mus invicem in provocationem
caritatis, et bonorum operum.
Let us draw near to Christ with a true
heart in fullness of faith, having our
hearts sprinkled from an evil con-
science, and let us consider one an-
other, to provoke unto charity and
to good works. Hebrews 10, 22 & 24
Secreta Deus, qui Unigenitum
tuum in Cruce pro transgresso-
ribus orantem exaudisti; quae-
sumus, ut nos, qui in altari tuo
ipsum offerimus pro contami-
atoribus 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 trans-
gressors; we ask that Thou mercifully
deign to hear us, as we pray upon Thy
altar for them that defile His table.
Through the same.
Communio Quanta putatis me-
reri supplicia, qui Filium Dei
conculcaverit, et sanguinem
testamenti pollutum duxerit,
in quo sanctificatus est?
Communion How great punisments
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? Hebrews 10, 29
Postcommunio Domine Jesu
Christe, qui zelo domus Dei
succensus, vendentes et e-
mentes 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..
Post Communion Lord Jesus Christ,
who, kindled with zeal for the house
of God, didst cast out from the tem-
ple 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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