06 February 2008

Ash Wednesday

tempus fugit memento mori

Ash Wednesday is from a liturgical point of view one of the most important days of the year. In the first place this day opens the liturgical season of Lent, which formerly began with the First Sunday and comprised only thirty-six days. The addition of Wednesday and the three following days brought the number to forty, which is that of our Lord's fast in the desert.

In the Old Law ashes were generally a symbolic expression of grief, mourning, or repentance. In the Early Church the use of ashes had a like signification and with sackcloth formed part of the public penances. The blessing of the ashes is one of the great liturgical rites of the year. It was originally instituted for public penitents, but is now intended for all Christians, as Lent should be a time of penance for all. The ashes used this day are obtained by burning palms of the previous year. They are blessed by four ancient prayers, sprinkled with holy water and incensed, and then placed in the form of a cross on the foreheads of each of the faithful with the words: "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return."

Appropriately enough, I guess, we are all sick here in Gaming (things spread easily here). Maria got it first and is pretty well recovered, but Lisa and I are still struggling. I suppose this makes it easier to meditate on one's mortality though. We created a playlist of lenten music consisting in:

The Lamentations of Jeremiah
~Tenebrae for Holy Thursday - First Lesson (Lamentations 1:1-5)
~Tenebrae for Holy Thursday - Second Lesson (Lamentations 1:6-9)
~Tenebrae for Holy Thursday - Third Lesson (Lamentations 1:10-14)
~Lamentations for Holy Saturday (Palestrina)

Gregorian Chant for Good Friday
~Tract: Domine, audivi
~Gradual: Christus factus est
~Gospel: Passio Domini (this one is over 30 minutes long!)
~Adoration of the Cross: Ecce lignum crucis
~Reproaches: Popule meus
~Hymn: Crux fidelis

Various Hymns
~Attende Domini
~O Sacred Head Surrounded
~Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.

Handel's Messiah Part II, 1-10
~Behold the Lamb of God (John 1:29)
~He was despised (Isaiah 53:3)
~Surely He hath borne our griefs (Isaiah 53:4,5a)
~And with His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5b)
~All we like sheep have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6)
~All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn (Psalm 22:7)
~He trusted in God (Psalm 22:8; Matthew 27:43)
~Thy rebuke hath broken His heart (Psalm 69:20)
~Behold, and see if there be any sorrow (Lamentations 1:12)
~He was cut off out of the land of the living (Isaiah 53:8b)

~The Good Friday Reproaches (again, but this time in English)


big daddy said...

Is that the original proverb: Time flies in the remembrance of death?

John said...

memento is actually an irregular imperative, and mori is the infinitive, "to die".

It's rather strange, because rendered literally it might be, "time flies, remember to die." But one hardly needs to remember to die, it's going to happen regardless. So the sense of the "mori" is better rendered as "death." Or you can supply, a few words to make it, "remember you are going to die."

Nana said...

Sorry to hear that you all have been/are sick...offer it up (perhaps for your mother?)
Things have been quite busy here, as we are babysitting a very active 2 year-old Mon-Fri from 9:00 'til 6:30, through the end of February. I'm not as young as I used to be! It makes me miss my Maria dulce(Italian for sweet) even more.
Lent is such a golden opportunity for us, isn't it? Yesterday I spoke with the young moms' group at IHM about Lent in the home. I am hoping to type up Papa's family retreat for the Triduum, so that others can use it...you guys are doing great in establishing your home - wherever it may be - as the domestic Church. I am growing ever more passionate about this subject!

John said...


Fish Eaters is the website from which we have learned and are learning lots of cool Catholic practises for the home. They have a section called "The Domestic Church: The Catholic Home." If you are interested in the subject, perhaps a perusal would be interesting. I haven't actually read it carefully, so let me know if it's any good.