Wednesday, October 06, 2021

A Carthusian Treatise for the Novice at Mass

For the feast of St Bruno, here is a wonderful treatise from the Directory for Novices of the Carthusian Order, a guide to forming their interior dispositions during the conventual Mass. This is taken from an edition printed near Grenoble in 1688, in the neighborhood of the Grande Chartreuse; it is included in a four-part collection of Carthusian statutes known as the Nova Collectio, a rare example of the word “new” being used by the venerable order. (The two pictures of the Mass below are from this wildly popular post from 2016.)

St Bruno, 1617, by Juan Sánchez Cotán (1560-1627). In 1603, Sánchez Cotán, then a very successful painter in Toledo, Spain, left the world to enter the Charterhouse of Santa María de El Paular near Madrid. He was later sent to the house at Granada, where he ended his days; he continued to work as a painter, doing a series for the Granada cloister on the foundation of the Order and the martyrdom of the English Carthusians. Laudabiliter pinxit.
“When the priest begins the Mass with the humble confession of his sins, imitating him, also say the Confiteor, pronouncing it an act of contrition for your sins, and recognizing that you are unworthy to be present for this divine sacrifice.

The Mass is divided into three parts.

The first part, from the Introit to the Offertory, was formerly called the Mass of the Catechumens.

While the Introit and the Kyrie are sung, remember how ardently the ancient patriarchs longed for the coming of the Messiah.

At the Gloria, join yourself to the angelic choirs, praising God with them, and giving thanks for the mystery of the Incarnation.

In the prayers, intend and ask for the same things which the Church intends and asks for.

While the Epistle is read, be attentive, as if you were hearing one of the Apostles preaching; but at the Gospel, consider it to be Christ Himself that is speaking.

Then put the Faith into practice by singing the Creed with everyone else.

The second part is from the Offertory to the Canon.

During the Offertory, join and conform your intention to the intention of the priest, and offer to God that holy sacrifice according to these four ends …

1. As an act of worship, that is, of the supreme adoration, by offering acts of the adoration to the Eternal Father of the Incarnate Son, and joining your own (such acts) to them.

2. As an act of thanksgiving, that is of the rendering of thanks to the Eternal Father by offering that sacrifice as a thanksgiving for the glory and merits of His Most Beloved Son, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the Saints, and for all the benefits which you have received through the merits of Christ, and receive even now.

3. As an act of petition, offering it to the Eternal Father as the pledge of His love for us, handed down to us for our firmest hope that we will receive from Him the spiritual goods which we need; and ask for those things which you need, and especially for the emendation of this or that defect.

4. As an act of propitiation, that is, offering it for satisfaction of all your sins, and for the expiation of so many crimes which are committed throughout the world. Humbly and confidently set forth to the Eternal Father, that all things may be forgiven us by Him, since He has already given us His only-begotten Son, and that very Son still offers Himself to Him in this sacrifice as a victim, that He may be the propitiation for our sins. …

Having adored the most sacred Host, we lie prostrate, and remain thus until the sign is given to rise. In this first prostration, you may join your intention to those of Christ as He hung on the Cross, which you shall offer again to the Eternal Father with these words of the Psalm, “Behold, O God our protector, and look on the face of thy Christ.” (Ps. 83, 10)

Or, you can call to mind the prostration of Christ as He prayed in the garden, and lay in that sad state, and wonder at His love in this mystery, by which in a certain way He seems to suffer once again for the wicked, for whose sake He was then in an agony, and sweated water and blood. …

During the time we remain in silence, from the Preface to the Communion, think sweetly upon one of the things that were done in the death of Christ Who suffered for you, which death is represented in this mystery, and brought forth again, and take therefrom occasion for some holy aspiration, as devotion may suggest; now wondering at His love and suffering, now detesting your sins as the cause of his pain, now proclaiming thanksgiving, contemplating sometime the Holy Virgin as She stood present at the sad sight of Her Only-begotten dying; or ask God to meet your spiritual needs …

At the Our Father, join your petitions to those of the priest.

The third part of the Mass is from the Communion to the end.

When the first Agnus Dei is sung, at the prostration, communicate spiritually in this or like manner.

1. With ardent desire, long to be united to Christ, and recognize that you are pressed by urgent necessity to live though His life.

2. Bring forth an act of contrition for all your sins, present and past.

3. Just as Zacchaeus received the Lord Jesus in his house, so also, receive Him in spirit, invite Him into the deepest recesses of your soul, and ask of Him insistently the grace by which you may live to Him alone, since you can live in a holy manner only through Him. Then imitate Zacchaeus in your good proposals, and exercise yourself in devout imitation of that man…”

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