A Manual for the use of the Oblates of St. Benedict.
From the French of Dom Prosper Guéranger, Abbot of Solesmes.
EDITED, WITH INTRODUCTION, BY A SECULAR PRIEST.
LONDON: BURNS & OATES, LIMITED.
NEW YORK: CATHOLIC PUBLICATION SOCIETY CO.
Short Calendar of Festivals to be Specially Observed
Chapter 2 - The Priest and the Order of St. Benedict
Chapter 3 - Indulgences
Ceremonial for the Reception and Blessing of the Oblates of St. Benedict
The Most Reverend Father, Dom Prosper GUÉRANGER, Abbot of Solesmes, a few weeks before his death dictated to one of his monks the pages which we here offer to the piety of the Faithful.
Although these pages contain a mere sketch, being intended as preparatory to a fuller work, it has been thought that, not withstanding their brevity, they deserve to be known. They contain the germ of that thought which guided this great servant of God in the composition of his Liturgical Year. From this point of view, they may be regarded as the Spiritual Testament he desired to leave to the faithful children of the Church.
By their title, “The Church, or the Society of Divine Praise,” they are addressed to all and any of the Faithful, without distinction, priests and lay people alike, and all will find in them safe and sure guidance for truly Christian life.
At the same time, it was the intention of Dom GUÉRANGER that this little work should be looked upon as a summary of his instructions to persons desirous of living in union of prayer with the great Monastic Order. Such persons do not form a “Third Order”: this appellation is unknown amongst monks. Dom GUÉRANGER calls them Benedictine Oblates, or Oblates of St Benedict - a name traditional in the Order.
At the end will be found (1) the ceremonial by which they are united to the Benedictine family, (2) the short Calendar of the Feasts observed with especial honour in the ORDER OF ST. BENEDICT.
This is pre-eminently an age in which the principle of association and co-operation is thoroughly appreciated in all that concerns civil life and secular affairs. Throughout the world we see on all sides the rapid rise and growth of industrial, political, and literary societies. So numerous and widespread are they that we can hardly count them, let alone gauge the extent of their action. They range from co-operative commercial enterprises and trades unions to political alliances, triple or otherwise, among the leading nations of Europe, not to speak of the United States of America.
As we know, also, only too well, this is an age that has felt the power of association, not only in its beneficial and useful effects, but also in the working of evil and the spread of error.
Never have the secret societies that militate against Christian principles, and make it their chief endeavour to loosen and relax the sweet yoke of Christ, and so manifest the leading characteristic of Antichrist (“Solvere Jesum”) been more powerful or better organised than at present. We can learn much from our enemies as well as from our friends; and the injunction of “spoiling the Egyptians,” and making “friends of the mammon of iniquity,” always holds good, and is ever efficacious.
Amongst those misguided spirits of the age who have turned their misdirected, but splendid, talents in a great measure against Christian teaching, there is one who shows, at least, that he has well understood this immense power of association: “Association,” he writes, “is synthesis, and synthesis is divine: it is the lever of the world, the only method of regeneration vouchsafed to the human family. Analysis can never regenerate the peoples; analysis is potent to dissolve, impotent to create. Analysis will never lead us further than the theory of individuality, and the triumph of the individual principle could only lead us to a revolution of Protestantism and mere liberty. ... Opposition is analysis, an instrument of mere criticism. It generates nothing; it destroys. When analysis has declared a principle extinct, it seats itself beside the corpse, and moves not onward. Synthesis alone has power to thrust the corpse aside, and advance in search of new life.”
Well, it is nothing else than this great principle of association, used for a right end and in a Catholic spirit, that Christians throughout the world have been repeatedly urged, in these our days, to adopt and make use of, by the Sovereign Pontiff our holy Father, Leo XIII.
But social perfection, or the highest form of association, is only possible in the Catholic Church through the means of the Communion of Saints, by which we participate in the life of the Mystical Body of Christ, and are made “fellow-citizens of the Saints and domestics of God, built up on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, JESUS CHRIST Himself being the chief corner-stone.”
What the circulation of the blood is to the natural organism of the human body, that the reality of the Communion of Saints is to the supernatural organism of the Body of Christ, the Church of the living God. The circulation of the blood is the means by which the natural life is carried continually from the heart throughout every portion of the human body. The Communion of Saints is the medium by which the life that energises in the Heart of Jesus Christ, as its centre, is diffused throughout His Mystical Body, the Church, whether triumphant in Heaven, militant on earth, or suffering in the place of purification.
The principle of cohesion, binding together and holding in its place every particle of matter in the material universe, is called the law of gravitation. The principle of cohesion that unites mind with mind is called the law of sympathy. This law of sympathy, being the basis of all mental union, is therefore the foundation of all higher social life. But the highest and most perfect form of social life is to be seen and recognised in that society which the Word Incarnate has established and which exists, in one of its threefold phases, on this earth; that society being the most perfect reflection and image of the Archetype of all social life, which is the ineffable life of God Himself in the unity of the Divine Essence and the Trinity of the Divine Persons.
All the beauty, excellence, and glory, therefore, of the natural Creation, as well as all that can be predicated of the excellence and perfection of human society, falls immeasurably short of the beauty and excellence, the glory and the perfection, of this Divine society, which is the everlasting fruit of the Incarnation of the Son of God. For the Spirit of Truth has told us in the Sacred Scriptures that the very aim and intention of the Son of God, in founding His Church, was that He might “present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. v. 27).
The object of the little work to the English translation of which these few words serve as an introduction, is to set before the Faithful a practical and, at the same time, a most ancient and well-established means of consciously and intelligently entering into and participating in the spiritual life of the Church. The means proposed is no other than that of aggregation to the Monastic Order by the reception of the Benedictine scapular. This time honoured religious custom takes its rise and has its origin in the very cradle of the Monastic life of the West; for we find that St. Benedict himself admitted Tertullus, the father of St. Placid, to a participation in the prayers and good works of his Order; and that King Theoderet desired the same favour from St. Maurus. As early as the eighth century we find traces of this practice throughout Europe; and in the eleventh century it had become so common that whole villages might be found whose inhabitants were all aggregated to one of the great Monasteries, and even, sometimes, leading a life resembling that of the first Christians, as described in the Acts of the Apostles.
Persons thus aggregated to the Monastic Order were known as Oblates of St. Benedict - a name recognised by the Canon law of the Church. In the thirteenth century there sprang up the Third Order of St. Dominic and St. Francis, especially intended for persons living in the world, but constituting in themselves distinct Orders, as their name implies, with a distinct rule different from that of the First and Second Orders: whereas, amongst the Benedictines there is no Third Order, inasmuch as there is no Second; and those persons invested with the Benedictine scapular are simply aggregated to the Monastic Order of the Patriarch of the Monks of the West.
The custom, therefore, of investing persons living in the world, whether ecclesiastics or Laity, with the scapular of a monk, took its rise in the Order of St. Benedict; and the special Confraternities of the Scapulars of other Religious Orders of more recent date are but an extension of this ancient practice. The Blessed Virgin Mary, in giving the Carmelite scapular to St. Simon Stock, has blessed and consecrated in a special way this venerable monastic custom, then already in vogue for so many centuries in the Benedictine Order.
The chief end of the monastic institute is prayer, the prayer of the Church, which St. Benedict has called in his rule “Opus Dei,” “the work of God.” Everything else in the monk’s life must be subservient to prayer; nothing is to be preferred before it. “Opus Dei nihil praeponatur” - “Let nothing be preferred to the work of God,” writes the Saint in his rule. Prayer is the keynote, the touchstone, and the very essence of this life; and its whole spirit might be summed up in the words of the Canticle of Ezechias: “Psalmos Nostros cantabimus cunctis diebus vitae Nostrae in domo Domini” - “ We will sing our psalms all the days of our lives in the house of the Lord.”
“Wherever men believe in prayer,” wrote Father Dalgairns, in his essay on “The Spiritual Life of Mediaeval England,” “you are sure to have the monastic life in some shape or other. If they have none, they will soon cease to believe in prayer, as is fast becoming the case in all Protestant countries. Wherever the Christian idea is strong, men who are by their position necessarily involved in the strife of the world, will be glad to know that men and women who are separated from its turmoils and its sins are offering prayers to God for them.”
A real appreciation of the value of prayer is surely a need of the present age, when a veiled Pelagianism seems to have invaded the minds of so many Christians, making them trust too much to human means and natural activity, and not enough to the help that comes from God. The spirit of the age is opposed to the supernatural, and tends to exalt and make much of the natural aspects of Christianity.
“Is not life more dangerous and salvation more insecure,” asks Father Dalgairns, in the essay just quoted, “because of this terrible invasion of the world, with its audacious requirements and unblushing exigencies? Considering the cool impudence with which the world insists on its own innocence - nay, has even the impertinence to look upon its general mode of life as a duty to society - it does seem as if this new attitude of the world called for new rules and a greater strictness to counteract its dangers.”
For the Anglo-Saxon race, Christianity is coeval with Monasticism and the Benedictine life. The Benedictine Order has a special historical claim upon the affections and gratitude of the English people. St. Gregory the Great, the Apostle of England, was a Benedictine monk, and the first Archbishop of Canterbury was the Prior of the Benedictine Monastery of St. Andrew, founded by St. Gregory in his own paternal home, called in after times the Church of SS. Andrew and Gregory on the Coelian Hill.
The first companions of St. Augustine of Canterbury, who became the first English bishops, were all monks from that Roman Monastery; so that the great English Church was not only, in the first instance, an “Italian Mission” sent by an Italian Pope, but a Benedictine Mission also sent by a Benedictine Pope.
Moreover, in no other country, perhaps, has the monastic life entered into the Hierarchical life of the Church so completely as it did in England, from the first introduction of Christianity to the overthrow of the true religion in the land under Henry VIII. and Elizabeth. All the Cathedral Chapters (save five served by secular clergy, and one by Augustinian Canons) were composed of Benedictine monks, to whom the Bishop stood in place of Abbot, there being a Cathedral Prior to rule the Monastery attached to the Cathedral.
All the Archbishops of Canterbury were professed monks except three, of whom one was the glorious Martyr to the liberties of the Church - St. Thomas a Beckett, the patron Saint of the English secular clergy who, though not a professed monk, was aggregated to the Order on his nomination to the See of Canterbury, and who always wore the Benedictine habit, which was found on his dead body under his Archiepiscopal vestments, after the scene of his martyrdom in the Chapel of St. Benedict in Canterbury Cathedral.
The monasteries have ever been the citadels and strongholds of the Christian life, as well as the cities of refuge for the people of God in Christian times. The names of the great saviours of the Christian Commonwealth during the Early and Middle Ages are the names of monks, such as St. Gregory the Great, St. Gregory VII. (better known as Hildebrand), St. Peter Damian, and that host of illustrious Saints, the list of whose names alone would fill a page. It was the corruption of worldly society that gave rise to the monastic life, and led great Saints like St. Benedict to fly for protection and safety in the first instance to the monasteries as to “the mountains whence help cometh.”
It is for the same reason that the Institute of the Oblates of St. Benedict is proposed to the Faithful living in the world, as an antidote to the evil communications of the world, with their lowering and corrupting influences, and as a powerful means by which the tone and atmosphere of the Gospel of Jesus Christ may be diffused, and make itself felt in our lives. It is, in fact, a practical way of helping ourselves anew to that “salt of the earth” which constitutes the main social characteristic and distinction of the Christian life.
A SECULAR PRIEST.
Since our Lord Jesus Christ imparts to His Faithful, by means of His Church, all the graces which He has merited by His Incarnation and Redemption, Christians ought to have nothing more at heart than to remain united to this Holy Church, which, being the Spouse of Our Saviour, is, at the same time, their Mother.
In order to increase their confidence in her, and to revive the sense of union with her which ought to be abidingly theirs, a pious Association has been formed, of persons whose aim it is to acknowledge the benefits which God confers upon us through His Church, and to cling most closely to her, in order to be more and more intimately united to her Divine Spouse.
To the members of this Association it will be evident that, the closer they keep themselves to the Mother Our Lord has given them, the safer they will be, and the more meritorious will be their works.
To this Holy Church their mind and heart will be in entire submission: always ready to accept, as matter of faith, all things that she has taught to be so, all that she teaches or will teach to be so, until the end of time.
This disposition of submission and love in regard to Holy Church will prompt them to unite with her in all works having God’s worship for their object - works which, at the same time, promote God’s glory and their own sanctification and merit.
The seven Sacraments whose guardianship and administration Our Lord, ere He ascended into Heaven, entrusted to His Church, will be regarded by them with the utmost reverence; and they will beware of ever confounding these operative signs of grace, instituted by Our Saviour, with any other work, resulting from the personal holiness of any created being.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is the same as that of the Cross, they will esteem to be the highest means of paying honour to God, of rendering thanks to Him, of appeasing His anger, and of obtaining His aid.
As to Holy Communion, they will never isolate it in their respect and love from the oblation itself, of the Holy Sacrifice, whereby we are put in possession of this priceless treasure; they will receive it frequently, with a thankful and loving adoration, according to the intention of its Divine institutor.
Impregnated with the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church, they will not fail to manifest a deep and tender devotion to the most holy and Immaculate Mother of God, the holy Angels, and the Saints honoured by the Church’s cultus: and, as true Catholics, they will in nowise seek to hide their veneration for sacred relics, paintings, and images, nor their esteem for pious and devout pilgrimages.
The Holy Church being, for all the Faithful, the Mother apart from whom they could not have God for their Father, they will be careful to imbue themselves with her spirit, and to be in all things of one mind with her. Hence, seeing that she is built upon Peter, the Rock whereon she was founded by her Divine Head, they will honour the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, as the Infallible Vicar of Christ upon earth, Doctor and Pastor of the whole Church of God, the divinely-appointed source of spiritual authority and of the power of the keys. For their lawful Bishop they will have the respect and submission due to the higher members of the sacred Hierarchy; they will regard as a work most pleasing to God, to aid in giving to His Church ministers who are able teachers of her doctrine, zealous for the Kingdom of Christ, and for the sanctification of souls.”
[At this place in the manuscript the venerable Abbot of Solesmes had written,
as a note for further development, “Estime de l’Etat Religieux.” The
following paragraph has therefore been supplied from other of his writings.]
[The same spirit of faith will inspire them with a great respect for vows, which add new merit to a Christian’s actions. For this reason, the religious state, which is constituted by the three vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, and finds its most complete and most ancient form and expression in the Monastic Order, will be regarded by them with especial veneration. Moreover, with the Church, they will esteem and love, in each one of the other Religious Orders, the end for which it has been approved by the Holy See, and the good which it has already done, or which it is called upon to do.] Let them greatly prize their noble name of CHRISTIANS, formed from that of Christ their King, Son of God and Son of Man in unity of Person. They will glory in their surname of CATHOLICS, which distinguishes them from those who, though they may have received Baptism, have ceased to belong to the one divinely appointed Christian society of the Faithful. They will attach great value to the signs of the Catholic faith, upon which the Church has shed the benediction of which she holds the source. The holy oils, holy water, the blessed tapers of Candlemas Day, the blessed branches of Palm Sunday - all these and such like things they will hold in esteem: as regard devotions and objects of veneration, they will always prefer those which are, as it were, stamped with the Church’s seal, and bear the impress of the heavenly power she has received and which she exercises.
They will take an interest in the Feasts of the Church, in the ceremonies she employs, and even in the rubrics she observes. Every week they will ascertain under the protection of what Saint each of its days is placed. The Liturgical Calendar, with which, in the ages of faith, our forefathers were so familiar; the lives of the Saints themselves, the attributes with which the Church has from ancient times approved that they should be represented, shall be known to them; and should they have any influence on the education of the young, they will take pleasure in inculcating in their youthful charges the pious tendencies which were popular in the ages of faith.
Pious practices habitual among the Faithful will be dear to them in proportion to their having obtained the approbation of the Apostolic See; and they will have a particular confidence in indulgences, of which the use has been declared good and salutary to Christian people by the Council of Trent.
In order, therefore, to aid in the preservation and to promote the growth of the Catholic spirit, whose outward expression the foregoing pages have described, an Association has been formed, the members of which, to promote the honour of God and secure their own fidelity, will be attentive to observe the following practices:
On Sundays and Festivals they will attend, by preference, High Mass, in the churches where it is celebrated with the ecclesiastical chant and ritual.
Should they find inconvenience in communicating at a late hour, they will make their Communion previously, at an early Mass. They will attentively follow all the rites and ceremonies performed by the priests and attendants at the altar, will do their best by previous study and consideration to enter into their meaning, and thus meritoriously qualify themselves for the fuller reception of the grace implanted in them by the Holy Spirit. [Let them, so to speak, not be satisfied with merely inhaling the fragrance, but let them also gather the honey from these flowers of the garden of the Church.]
They will follow the ecclesiastical chant by the aid, if needful, of translations of the formularies, and they will avoid distracting their attention from the holy mysteries by other books of devotion, etc., which may be excellent, perhaps, at other times, but which at these moments would be harmful, by keeping them apart from the sacred Liturgy.
Attendance at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the act of piety to which, of all others, they will attach the highest importance. There, wherein is renewed the Sacred Passion of Our Lord, they will offer to God the Divine Victim, in union with the Church, for the four ends of Adoration, Thanksgiving, Propitiation, and Petition. On the days when they do not communicate they will make a spiritual Communion at the moment when the priest is making the Sacramental Communion, and for this they will prepare themselves by the act of contrition and offering of themselves to God.
Next to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, they will esteem nothing so much as the Divine office, by which the Church renders to God her continual homage in the canonical hours. On Sundays and festivals they will gladly be present at Vespers and Compline, and will endeavour, as far as it may be possible for them, to join with Holy Church in the chanting of her psalms and hymns. Let them be especially thankful to God if He should give them grace to take delight in the Psalter, remembering that, in the ages of faith, it was most frequently through the psalms that God was pleased to communicate with souls. They will prefer those churches in which the Divine Office is celebrated according to ecclesiastical rule, such as the cathedral or any other. Even in their private devotions they will take pleasure in using the prayers of the Church to express their needs and aspirations.
They will earnestly desire to unite themselves to God by mental prayer; and in this they will he powerfully assisted by their union with the Church in the sacred Liturgy. The different seasons of the Church’s year will bring before them the mysteries which are the groundwork of piety and the source of the true spirit of prayer. They will often visit Our Lord in the holy Tabernacle, and will not fail to appreciate their happiness whenever they are able to be present at Benediction, to receive the blessing of the most holy Sacrament.
The foregoing counsels have been asked for by persons who have had relations with several Monasteries of the Order of St. Benedict, towards which they felt themselves drawn by their preference for the Divine service, as authorised and practised by the Church, rather than for works of merely a private character.
In conclusion, we will here indicate the different periods of the year when they will renew the spirit of their pious Association:
The First is ADVENT, the whole of which they will spend in preparing for the Feast of Christmas.
The Second, CHRISTMASTIDE, during which they will adoringly contemplate the Divine Infancy of JESUS.
The Third, the holy season of LENT, during which they will prepare themselves by penance for the joys of Easter.
The Fourth, PASCHALTIDE, which they will spend with Jesus risen.
The Fifth, the ten days between Ascension and Pentecost or Whitsuntide, which will prepare them for the visit of the ever-blessed Spirit of God.
Finally, the last period, “AFTER PENTECOST,” during which they must (in word and deed, in thought and life) practise and give proof of the growth in holiness produced in them by the holy mysteries of the Faith, and which will give them a right to take part in the Divine praises.
1. Circumcision of Our Lord.
6. THE EPIPHANY.
14. St. Hilary, B.C.D.
15. St. Paul the First Hermit.
18. St. Peter’s Chair at Rome.
19. St. Wolstan, BC.
21. St. Agnes, V.M.
23. Espousals of B.V. M.
25. Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle.
27. St. John Chrysostom, B.C.D.
29. St. Francis of Sales, B.C.D.
Second Sunday after Epiphany.
Festival of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
1. St. Ignatius, B.M.
2. Purification of the B.V.M.
9. St. Cyril of Alexandria, B.C.D.
10. St. Scholastica, V., Sister of St. Benedict.
12. St. Benedict Biscop, Ab. C.
22. St. Peter’s Chair at Antioch.
23. St. Peter Damian, B.C.D.
25. St. Matthias, Apostle.
1. St. David, B.C.
7. St. Thomas, C.D.
9. St. Frances of Rome, W.
12. St. Gregory, B.C.D., Apostle of England.
17. St. Patrick, B.C., Apostle of Ireland.
19. St. Joseph, C., Husband of B.V.M.
21. St. Benedict, Ab. C.
23. St. Gabriel, Archangel.
25. Annunciation of B.V.M.
4. St. Isidore, B.C.D.
23. St. George, M., Protector of England.
25. St. Mark, Evangelist.
1. SS. Philip and James, Apostles.
2. St. Athanasius, B.C.D.
4. Blessed John Fisher, Thomas More, and Companions, Martyrs.
11. St. Pius, V. B.C.
14. St. Monica, W
19. St. Dunstan, B.C.
24. Our Lady Help of Christians.
26. St. Augustine of Canterbury, B.C.
28. St. Gregory VII., B.C.
14. St. Basil, B.C.D.
15. Apparition of St. Michael, Archangel.
22. St. Alban, Proto-Martyr of Britain.
24. Nativity of St. John Baptist.
27. St. Barnabas, Apostle.
29. SS. Peter and Paul, Apostles.
2. Visitation of B.V.M.
4. St. Leo I., B.C.D.
11. St. Anselm, B.C.D.
16. Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
17. St. Osmund, B.C.
22. St. Mary Magdalen.
25. St. James, Apostle.
26. St. Anne, Mother of B.V. M.
1. St. Peter’s Chains.
4. St. Dominic, C.
6. TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD.
10. St. Laurence, M.
15. Assumption of B.V.M.
18. St. Helen, W.
20. St. Bernard, C.
28. St. Augustine, B.C.
29. Beheading of St. John Baptist.
8. Nativity of B.V.M.
14. Exaltation of Holy Cross.
2 1. St. Matthew, Apostle.
24. Our Lady of Ransom.
29. Dedication of St. Michael. Archangel.
30. St. Jerome, C.D.
First Sunday. Solemnity of the Most Holy Rosary of B.V.M.
2.Holy Angel Guardians.
6. St. Bruno, C.
12. St. Wilfrid, B.C.
13. St. Edward, King, C.
21. St. Ursula and Companions, VV., MM.
24. St. Raphael, Archangel.
28. SS. Simon and Jude, Apostles.
29. St. Bede (the Venerable), C.
1. ALL SAINTS.
2. Commemoration of All Souls.
3. St. Winifred, V.M.
4. St. Charles, B.C.
11. St. Martin, B.C.
14. St. Erconwald, B.C.
15. St. Gertrude, V.
16. St. Edmund, B.C.
17. St. Hugh, B.C.
18. Dedication of the Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.
21. Presentation of B.V.M.
22. St. Cecilia, V.M.
30. St. Andrew, Apostle.
7. St. Ambrose, B.C.D.
8. IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF B.V. M.
18. Expectation of B.V.M.
21. St. Thomas, Apostle.
25. NATIVITY OF OUR LORD.
26. St. Stephen, Proto-Martyr.
27. St. John, Apostle and Evangelist.
29. St. Thomas of Canterbury, B.M.
The counsels proposed in the preceding pages are addressed to the Faithful in general, and at the same time take for granted that they are either well instructed already as to their duties, or at least able and willing to instruct themselves in the principles and practice of the Christian life. This instruction is, unhappily, very rare and very difficult, often, of attainment in these days.
For this reason zealous priests who may have a devotion for entering the Association of which we have been speaking will, as a matter of course, bring into it, by their learning, an element of great value and utility.
Many priests have expressed a wish to enter it, and it is in answer to their desire that we will now endeavour to describe the special character which the union of a secular priest with the Order of St. Benedict ought to imprint upon his ministry.
The secular priest who, for his own personal sanctification, desires to he affiliated to the Monastic Order - as a man might seek to build his dwelling against a bastion rather than on the open heath - ought to try, in a certain degree, to identify himself with the spirit of the Order, which consists in moulding one’s life as closely as possible upon the Gospel teaching, and living the very life of Holy Church.
Thus, instead of seeking in a series of practices more or less strict, and in special religious exercises, for that which ought to characterise him, he will energetically enter upon a life of faith void of any compact or compromise with the world and its doctrines. This it is which will give him his special, unmistakable stamp; this will be, as it were, the banner beneath which he will henceforth march.
This life of faith, which maintains in ordinary Christians a sense and consciousness of their baptism, will give to the priest affiliated to St. Benedict a deepened sense of the greatness of his priesthood, and of the marvellous and intimate relations which it establishes between himself and the Divine Majesty. He will regard himself as the man, the minister, the servant of the Church - vocatus a Deo tamquam Aaron, to perpetuate in her and for her the juge sacerdotium.
The offering of the Divine Sacrifice being the chief function of the priest, is for that reason itself the centre towards which all the rest of his life ought to converge for, if the personal character of the sacrificer add nothing to the intrinsic value of the sacrifice, it is no less true that the closer is the union of the priest with the Eternal High Priest, JESUS CHRIST, the better are the intentions of our Divine Lord fulfilled.
The four ends of the Holy Sacrifice will therefore be, as it were, the very soul of the priest’s whole existence; the continuous amendment of his life will have for its aim to fit him to fulfil his high office with greater fulness and perfection. He will also take a particular delight in all which, in the Liturgy, exalts and beautifies the celebration of Holy Mass. He will hear in mind that the earthly and the heavenly altar are one and the same; and that his mission is to reproduce as closely as possible on earth the sacred splendours of Heaven depicted for us by St. John, and which are the [model and] natural framework of the Divine Sacrifice.
In prayer he will penetrate into the depths of the sublime formularies which envelop these august mysteries rather than seek to nourish his piety from purely human sources; and will strive to avoid ever getting, as it were, familiarised with this sacred language, so profound and so sublime, but to draw from it daily a new wealth of meaning and significance.
The celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass demands, as its necessary
complement, that which forms its essential environment, namely, the celebration of the Divine Office. The Church can no
more dispense with the sacrifice of praise than she can dispense with the
sacrifice of the altar; and if the Apostle indicates it as a duty for ordinary
Christians to pay to God this solemn homage, when he says to them, “Let the word
of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one
another in psalms, hymns; and spiritual canticles, singing with grace in your
hearts to God” [“Verbum Christi habitet in vobis abundanter in omni
et commonentes vosmetipsos psalmis, hymnis et canticis spiritualibus, in gratma cantantes in
cordibus vestris Deo” (Col. iii. 16)]; with still more reason should the word of God
be ever on
the lips of the anointed of the Lord, to render to God that which is God’s, and give Him the glory which is
due to Him.
A priest connected with the Monastic Order ought, therefore, more than any other, to realise the importance of the Divine Office; and, should he be deprived of its solemn celebration, which nevertheless was in former days the appanage of clerics as much as of monks, he will still endeavour, as much as possible, to observe the hours proper to each Office, because these appear to have been indicated by God Himself.
When it so happens that several of our priests find themselves together, they will feel it a happiness to say their breviary together, not doubting of the special grace attached to this recitation in common, nor that by so doing they are more perfectly fulfilling the intention of their Mother, the Holy Church.
To the priest who takes delight in the praises of God, the recitation of the breviary appears no heavy burden, to which, under heavy penalties, he must submit; nor will it be a duty of which he will acquit himself with cold indifference, and less from love than fear. Happy in the thought that the Church has chosen him to express to her Divine Spouse the homage of her love and prayer, he will regard it as one of his first obligations to enter into, and make his own, by study and meditation, the mind, the sense, the feeling of the Church in the formularies of which he has the honour to be the interpreter. There will he seek the truest consolation of his life, the nourishment of his soul, the source of the spirit of prayer. Instead of making his piety consist in overloading himself with other vocal prayers, he will use all his endeavours to attain nearer to perfection in his recitation of the canonical hours, since no prayer can be more efficacious than that inspired by the Divine Spirit Himself. Neither can mental prayer have a more supernatural or more prolific source than when it flows directly from this sacred fount; and our priest will loyally make it a point of honour to take the word of God and the prayer of the Church as the ground work of his mental prayer, rather than the words of men.
His earnest desire to render to God a perfect homage will not allow him to limit to the exact time required for the recitation of his breviary, the sense of the presence of God; but having from this attentive recitation drawn, as it were, a sweet undercurrent of things divine into his soul, he will be careful to retain it there by recollection, and not to suffer these calm depths to be disturbed by any occurrences that may await him on returning to his various outward duties.
Besides his fulfilment of the service of God, the priest is also responsible for his priesthood in regard to the souls for whose sake, more than for his own, he received the imposition of hands. The administration of the Sacraments was entrusted to him by God for the sanctification of men, and for their direction towards the end for which they were created. It will be, then, with a holy fear, and with a constantly renewed devotion, that the priest dedicated to St. Benedict will acquit himself of so high an office, so sublime a ministry. He will have a thorough knowledge of and acquaintance with the rubrics, the ritual, and the pontifical; not contenting himself with reading them superficially, but carefully ascertaining the meaning of the grand and venerable rites which accompany these formularies. He will be on his guard against mere habit and routine by constantly renewing in himself the sense of faith, the fear of God, charity.
Still more closely, if it be possible, will he keep watch over himself in preaching: because, in this part of his ministry a man exercises more individual influence than in the administration of the Sacraments, which operate of themselves, and possess an intrinsic power. Our priest will avoid novelties and subtleties, and will, with St. Paul, glory above all things in preaching JESUS, and JESUS crucified. He will chiefly take as his examples the discourses of the Apostles, handed down to us in the Scriptures; and, without being negligent as to the form, he will be simple, going straight to the point. He has a message to deliver [let him deliver it clearly, and with an evident conviction of its truth and its importance]. He will seek less to please or dazzle, than to win, to convert, to instruct, to amend, and to edify souls; briefly, he will be enkindled with that true “zeal for the house of God,” spoken of by the Psalmist. His first preparation will be prayer, which, for the holy Doctors of the Church, has always been the principal source of their knowledge; the second will be holiness of life, which clears the eye of the soul, and enables her, even in this life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Eternal Truth, according to the words: “Beati mundo corde: quoniam ipsi Deum videbunt.” Finally, the third will be the study of Holy Scripture, the Fathers, theology, the lives of Saints [not for getting the marvels of God’s natural Creation; for “the whole earth is full of His majesty,” and, rightly considered, is one of the steps by which we mount to Our Father and Creator, God]. For the priest who, according to St. Denys (Dionysius), represents the illuminative life by his character, must unceasingly seek for light in order to shed it forth into the souls of men.
Our priest will, with all his heart, hold fast by the ancient idea of spirituality, so solid and so large, and always so sober in its external prescriptions. He will not make his spiritual advancement consist in a certain mechanical correctness, stiff and merely apparent, nor yet in practices almost impossible to keep up amid the labours of the sacred ministry; but, much rather, in a life devoted from its innermost depths to the service of God, and flowing on ever under the eye of the Divine Majesty.
He will have a special devotion for the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews and the two Epistles to Timothy, as being the first manual of the virtues of his state. He may also read with profit the prologue to the Rule of the holy Patriarch, St. Benedict, and the chapters of this same holy Rule “Quae sunt instrumenta bonorum operum;” “de humilitate;” “de disciplina psallendi;” “de reverentia orationis.” He will guard against a certain self-sufficiency and self-confidence, which may easily arise when care is not taken to distinguish between what is due to the sacred character and what is due to the man; a disposition contrary to humility, which St. Benedict, with his prudent experience, had already observed, and which he met with this energetic sentence, addressed to the priests who gave their adhesion to him: “Magis humilitatis exempla omnibus det.”
Our pnest will remember unceasingly that he is “a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men”; and that, if the deacon is bound to keep the Mysterium fidei in a pure conscience, he (the priest), who operates this same mystery, and who, by his more sacred office, is identified with the Incarnate Word, ought to be one of whom the Eternal Father could declare, by reason of the likeness He finds in him to His own Eternal Son: “Hic est filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi bene complacui!”
It is in this wise that the priest will be truly affiliated to the Monastic Order, and will establish a bond with our glorious Patriarch, the Abraham of the New Covenant, worthy, in these days, when “Truth is diminished among the children of men,” of being the Father of the Faithful, the Father of those who refuse to recognise aught but the Faith as the rule of their thoughts, their feelings, their words, their deeds.
The preceding pages were, in the mind of the author, merely a summary of the Christian life. For ages past the Church has also encouraged, by Indulgences, the works and practices they principally recommend. We will enumerate the more important among them, especially those which appear to have most connection with the end proposed by this Association.
And because the Associates wish to strengthen their zeal for the Divine service by staying it, as it were, upon the Order of St. Benedict, we have added some of the Indulgences which are attached in particular to the medal of the holy Patriarch of the Monks of the West, and to visiting the churches of the Order.
Indulgences especially relating to the association of persons
affiliated Benedictine Order:
1. Zeal for the sacred chant of the Church.
Indulgence of one year for any person teaching gratuitously the chanting of the Divine praises (psalms, hymns,
canticles, etc.), or who encourages these pious chants. One hundred days each
time, to a person singing them in a public or private chapel. Plenary once a
month for any one of the Faithful, who, on four days at least, of solemn or
simple Feasts, Sundays included, shall take part in singing or in teaching the
2. Mass, and the Divine Office.
One hundred days for those who attend Mass in a Church of Regulars (Alex. IV.,
Five hundred days for those who attend solemn Mass of a Prelate.
One hundred days for those who attend the Divine Office.
Numerous Indulgences are attached to attendance at Mass, and at each of the
offices of the following Festivals:
Feast of the Holy Name of JESUS (Second Sunday after Epiphany).
The Visitation of Our Lady (July 2nd).
The Transfiguration of Our Lord (August 6th).
The Immaculate Conception (December 8th).
Christmas Day (December 25th).
Fifty days for making the sign of the Cross, at the same time saying:
nomine Patris, etc. (Pius IX., July 28th, 1862).
Thirty days for bowing the head at the Gloria Patri (John XXII., ap. Ferrar).
Forty days for the recitation of the Penitential Psalms; the same for the Gradual Psalms. Fifty days when they are marked in the rubric of the breviary (St. Pius V.).
Fifty days for the recitation of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, from devotion; one hundred days if said on a day when it is appointed by the rubric of the breviary (St. Pius V.).
Fifty days for saying the Office of the Dead, from devotion; one hundred days when it is indicated by the rubric (St. Pius V.).
II. INDULGENCES relating to the Order of St. Benedict
1. Indulgences attached to the Medal of St. Benedict:
PLENARY INDULGENCE on the following Feasts: Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, Whit Sunday, Trinity, Corpus Christi, the Immaculate Conception, the Nativity B.V.M.; the Annunciation, Purification, and Assumption of Our Lady; All Saints, and the Feast of St. Benedict (March 21st). But, in order to gain it, besides the ordinary conditions, some work of piety must be done once, at least, every week: for example, recitation of the Rosary or of the Divine Office; or attendance at Mass; or some work of charity, such as teaching, visiting, or succouring the ignorant, the sick, and the poor.
Plenary Indulgence on Holy (or Maundy) Thursday, and on Easter Day; the same that is granted by the Papal Benediction.
Plenary Indulgence at the hour of death. Seven years and seven quarantines for
saying or hearing Mass, and praying for the peace of [the Church and of] the Christian States.
Various Indulgences for other pious acts. Further: whoever shall pray for the propagation of the Order of St. Benedict, will enter into participation of all and each of the good works of and in the Order, be they what they may.
2. Visits to the churches of the Benedictines. Plenary Indulgence on the following Feasts (Clement X., December 19th, 1671): January 15th,St. Maurus; February 10th, St. Scholastica;* March 21st, St. Benedict;* October 5th, St. Placidus; November 13th, Feast of all the Saints of the Order.
* When these Feasts have to ha transferred,
their Indulgences are transferred with them.
Those who visit the Church of the Monastery, and communicate on days when the office of a Saint of the Order is celebrated, gain an Indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines.
The preceding pages are nothing else, in the mind of the author, than an epitome of the Christian life. This is the reason that the Church has for many centuries encouraged, by the grant of Indulgences the works and practices there most recommended. We give here some of the principal Indulgences granted, especially those which appear to bear most directly upon the end and object of this little Association.
Since the Associates desire to make the Order of St. Benedict the support of their zeal in the Divine service, we have added some of the Indulgences which are attached particularly to the Medal of the Patriarch of the Monks of the West, and to the visit to churches of the Order.
I. Indulgences which have special relation with the Society of the Divine Praise:
1. Zeal for the sacred chant of the Church.
An Indulgence of one year to him or her who teaches gratuitously the singing of
the sacred chant [psalms, hymn; canticles, etc.], or who encourages these
religious chants; one hundred days each time they are sung in either a public church or private chapel.
A Plenary Indulgence once a month for any of the Faithful who shall for four Festivals, or upon four Sundays, take part in the singing or the teaching of the Divine praises in the services of the Church.
2. The Mass and Divine Office.
Five hundred days to those who assist at a solemn Pontifical Mass.
One hundred days to those who assist it the Divine Office.
Thirty days for inclining the head at the Gloria Patri.
Fifty days for the recitation of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, out of devotion; one hundred days for its recitation on the days prescribed by the rubrics of the breviary.
Fifty days for the recitation of the Office for the Dead; one hundred on days on which it is prescribed by the rubrics.
II. Indulgences relative to the Benedictine Order:
1. Indulgences attached to the Medal of St. Benedict.
A Plenary Indulgence on all the great Festivals of the Church, also on the
Festival of St. Benedict (March 21st). But to gain them it is necessary, besides
the ordinary conditions, to practise some work of piety once a week: such as the
recitation of the Rosary or of the Office; or to assist at Mass on a week-day; or
to perform some work of charity, such as the help or visitation of the poor or
A Plenary Indulgence at the hour of death.
2. Visits to Benedictine churches.
A Plenary Indulgence on the following Festivals: January 15th, St. Maurus; February 10th, St. Scholastica; March 21st, St. Benedict; October 5th, St. Placid; November 13th, Feast of all the Saints of the Order.
ABBAS, vel Monachus ab ipso deputatus, cum stola albi coloris super Cucullam, stans ad altare sancti Benedicti (si sit) in cornu Epistolae, facie versa ad populum, dicit quae sequuntur super Fratrem (vel Sororem) genuflexum in ultimo gradu altaris:
Facto signo crucis, dicit:
V. Domine, labia mea aperies,
R. Et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam.
V. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende
R. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.
Deus misereatur nostri, et benedicat nobis
* ilhiminet vultum suum super nos, et misereatur nostri.
Ut cognoscamus in terra viam tuam : * in omnibus gentibus salutare tuum.
Confiteantur tibi populi, Deus: * confiteantur tibi populi ornnes.
Laetentur et exsultent gentes: * quoniam judicas populos in aeuitate, et gentes in terra dirigis.
Confiteantur tibi populi, Deus, confiteantur tibi populi omnes: * terra dedit fructum suum.
Benedicat nos Deus, Deus noster, benedicat nos Deus: * et metuant eum omnes fines terrae.
Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.
Pater noster, secreto.
V. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
R. Sed libera nos a malo.
V. Salvum (salvam) fac servum tuum (ancillam tuam),.
R. Deus meus, sperantem in te.
V. Esto ei, Domine, turris fortitudinis,
R. A facie inimici.
V. Nihil proficiat inimicus in eo (ea).
R. Et filius iniquitatis non apponat nocere ei.
V. Mitte ei, Domine, auxilium de sancto.
R. Et de Sion tuere eum (eam).
V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
V. Dominus vobiscum,
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
Protege, Domine, hunc famulum tuum (hanc famulam tuam), et dona gratiae tuae in eo (ea) multiplica, ut ab omnibus liberetur offensis, et in sancta conservatione tibi placeat. Per Dominum.
Postea Fratre vel Sorore habitum in manibus tenente, Celebrans dicit:
Domine, Deus virtutum, bonorum dator et omnium benedictionum largus infusor, te humilibus precibus deprecamur, ut has vestes bene + dicere digneris quas famulus tuus (famula tua), pro indicio agnoscendae Religionis, induere voluit, ut inter filios et filias sancti Patris nostri Benedicti tibi dignoscatur dicatus (dicata). Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.
Deinde aspergit aqua benedicta habitum, quem statim imponit
Oblato vel Oblatae, dicens:
Induat te Dominus novum hominem, qui secundum Deum creatus est in justitia, et sanctitate veritatis.
Postea, manibus junctis, ter dicat Oblatus vel Oblata:
Suscipe me, Domine, secundum eloquium tuum et vivam; et non confundas me ab exspectatione mea.
Et in fine:
Gloria Patri. Sicut erat.
Deinde Abbas, aut Monachus delegatus dicit:
V. Salvum fac servum tuum (ancillam tuam),
R. Deus meus, sperantem in te.
V. Mitte ei, Domine, auxilium de sancto.
R. Et de Sion tuere eum (eam).
V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
Inclina, Domine, aurem tuam ad preces nostras, et respicere dignare hunc famulum tuum (hanc famulam tuam), qui (quae) hodie in orationibus nostris se commendat; et sicut liberasti Petrum de vinculis, et Paulum de mari, et tres pueros de camino ignis ardentis, et beatissimum Benedictum ab insidiis diaboli; ita illum (illam) a mundi illecebris absolvere, et Spiritu fortitudinis digneris confirmare, ut sanctorum tuorum vestigiis insistens, ad aeternitatis praemium securus (secura) perveniat. Per Dominum.
Nos Abbas N. (vel Nos auctoritate nobis concessa a Reverendissimo Abbate Sancti Petri de Solesmis) Congregationis Gallicae Ordinis sancti Benedicti, Cassinensi affiliatae, per merita ejusdem sancti Patriarchae Benedicti, sanctae virginis Scholasticae, sororis ejus, sanctorum Placidi martyris et Mauri abbatis, atque seriphicae virginis Gertriuis et aliorum Sanctorum Sanctarumque Ordinis nostri, suscipimus te in societatem et fraternitatem nostram, et in participationem omnium bonorum operum quae in congregatione Gallica ordinis Sancti Benedicti, Spiritu Sancto adjuvante, peraguntur. Suscipiat te Deus in numerum electorum suorum, donet tibi usque in finem perseverantiam, ab inimicis insidiis te protegat, atque ad regnum perducat aeternum. Qui vivit et regnat in saecula saeculorum. R. Amen.
Liturgia Latina Index