Saturday, May 28, 2011

In praise of England

Who could fully tell the joy that has sprung up in the hearts of all the faithful because the race of the Angles, through the grace of Almight God and the labours of your brotherhood, has had the light of holy faith poured out on it and the darkness of error driven away? Now in purity of mind they trampmle down those idols which previously they served in insane fear. They worship Almighty God with pure hearts, and by the rules that they have learnt from the holy preaching they are restrained from falling into evil deeds. With their souls they serve the divine commandments and in their minds they are raised up by them. They bow down to the ground continually in prayers, that their minds may not lie prostrate on the earth. Whose work is this, if not the work of him who says: 'May father is working even now, and I am working'?
(From the letters of Pope St Gregory the Great, the Apostle of the English, presumably written to St Augustine of Canterbury, Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings 27th May)

Perhaps we need to pray that this may once again be the case.

Today I celebrated Mass in the Extraordinary Form. In that calendar today is the feast of St Augustine of Canterbury. I found the prayers of the Extroardinary Form very moving - reference to Augustine's preaching and miracles, prayers for those who have gone astray that they may be brought back to unity of faith, for sheep who have been lost that they may return to the true fold, all very appropriate for post-Reformation and post-Christian England - and thought how before the reform of the liturgy, these prayers were offered by the Universal Church as a 3rd class feast rather than the Optional Memorial that it now is. The whole Catholic Church was praying for England.

The Collect:
Deus, qui Anglorum gentes praedicatione et miraculis beati Augustini Confessoris tui atque Pontificis, verae fidei luce illustrare dignatus es: concede; ut, ipso interveniente, errantium corda ad veritatis tuae redeant unitatem, et nos in tua simus voluntate concordes. Per Dominum.

O God, who by the preaching and miracles of blessed Augustine, Thy confessor and bishop, dist vouchsage to enlighten the English nation with the light of the true faith; moved by his prayers, vouchsage that the hearts of those who have gone astray may return to the unity of Thy truth, and that we may ever be of one mind in doing Thy will. Through our Lord.
(Translation from the St Andrew Daily Missal)

The Secret:
Sacrificium tibi offerimus, Domine, in solemnitate beati Augustini Pontificis et Confessoris tui, humiliter deprecantes: ut oves, quae perierunt, ad unum ovile reversae, hoc salutari pabulo nutriantur. Per Dominum.

Very humbly, O Lord, on this fesival-day of blessed Augustine, Thy bishop and confessor, we offer up our sacrifice to Thee: beseeching that those sheep which have been lost, may once more be gathered into the one fold, and fed with this food of salvation. Through our Lord.

The Postcommunion:
Hostia salutari refecti: te, Domine, supplices exoramus; ut eadem, beati Augustini interveniente suffagio, in omni loco nomini tuo jugiter immoletur. Per Dominum.

We who are strengthened by this Victim of salvation, humbly beseech Thee, O Lord, that by the prayers of blessed Augustine, this sacrifice may be offered in every place to the glory of Thy name. Through...

The texts from the English Missal (Ordinary Form) read:
Opening Prayer:
Father, you sent Saint Augustine to be the first apostle to the people of England. May the work he began be renewed in his land and continue to prosper.

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord, accept the gifts we present to you in honour of Saint Augustine, whose life of innocence and simplicity converted many people to you.

Prayer after Communion
Lord, strengthen us by the sacrament we have received. Just as Saint Augustine perservered to the end in the fulfilment of his mission, so may we not falter in our work for Christian unity.


O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother look down in mercy upon England, thy dowry, and upon us who greatly hope and trust in thee.

By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more.

Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross, O Sorrowful Mother, Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold, they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.

Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith, fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite obscure saints (at least he's obscure in the United States) is St. Aethelberht of Kent, bretwalda at the time of the arrival of St. Augustine of Canterbury. I am intrigued by the fact that St. Aethelberht was a devotee of Odin, who demanded human sacrifice; and yet it seems that even as a pagan, he already possessed a fair measure of natural virtue. (I can't help contrasting him to St. Vladimir of Kiev, keeper of concubines, bellicose, bloody, fratricidal, thorough-going pagan and generally not a nice guy until he accepted Baptism as a condition of marrying a Christian princess -- proof that Baptism is no mere symbol.)

    May the prayers of St. Augustine of Canterbury, and St. Aethelberht of Kent, England's first lawgiver who admitted Christianity into his realm, restore their country to the true Faith.


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