Saturday, 12 June 2010


My post about Ultramontanism is taking longer to write than I had hoped. I had to cut a significant amount of it out earlier today, since I realised that I had completely gone off into the realms of the controversy about Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon (re: the Papal concerns about the ambition of Constantinople in relation to minor metropolitan Sees in the East). By now I should be at least in the 8th century, but details are so important...As a sort of ''bridge-the-gap'' post, I was going to write a short post about Urban VIII's decision to rewrite the Breviary hymns in 1629, some of them having been in use for about 1000 years at the time, but I may incorporate this into the Ultramontanism post - it is yet another example of the monstrous misuse of authority to unwrite Tradition which is essentially the whole point of my rejection of Ultramontanism as a godless and pseudo-political system, unbecoming of the Petrine ministry. All in good time though.

Instead let us have a look at two Collects. This first one, from the Feast of St John Baptist de la Salle, a Confessor:

Deus, qui ad christianam pauperum eruditionem, et ad iuventam in via veritatis firmandam, sanctam Ioannem Baptistam Confessorem excitasti, et novam per eum in Ecclesia familium collegisti: concede propitius; ut eius intercessione et exemplo, studio gloriae tuae in animarum salute ferventes, eius in caelis coronae participes fieri valeamus. Per Dominum.

Goes on and on a bit doesn't it? A bit too flowery for the Roman Rite? Too many ''explanations'' perhaps? If whoever composed this Collect wanted to be extra meticulous I wonder that he used excitasti in place of excitavisti; similarly with collegisti...Had I composed the Collect for this Feast, I'd have said something like: O God, thou who didst raise up blessed John Baptist thy Confessor as a teacher of the poor; grant mercifully, that by his intercession we may burn more brightly with the love of thee and never fail in charity for little ones. Through Our Lord... Brief, to the point, more in the spirit of the old Roman Collects than the present one. Compare it with the more ancient Collect for the Feria II in Holy Week:

Da, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus; ut, qui in tot adversis ex nostra infirmitate deficimus: intercedente unigeniti Filii tui passione respiremus. Qui tecum vivit.

I very much like this Collect. It says: Grant, we beseech, Almighty God; that we, who fail from infirmity beneath so many adversities, may be revived [literally, ''get our breath back''] by the intercession of the Passion of your only begotten Son. Who with thee lives...

It is hard to translate passione and intercedente together - each takes the Ablative case in the original Latin, whereas this can't be rendered into good English articulately, so I have used a Genitive case instead.

There is a profound difference in ethos, not only length and language, between these two Collects. The former is a good contribution to rhetoric, but falls quite short (in my humble opinion) of the old Roman tradition of the oratio ad collectam, which goes back to the Leonine Sacramentary (many of the oldest may well have been composed by St Leo, which mercifully are still to be found in the Missal - and it is noteworthy that this was a period when Latin was still a spoken tongue whereas the former composition it remained merely as the language of lore and Liturgy). The latter is pure genius and piety, the interpenetration of sound religion with excellent Latinity. I wonder what sort of influence the chap who composed the former Collect was under? Certainly not Roman. I must say that the first time I heard it, it put me off for the rest of Mass...


  1. Patricius,

    Do look out for article by Dr. Tom Whelan of the Milltown Institute, Dublin. He is an expert on Leo's work and early sacramentaries. You will find his writings of great interest I suspect.

  2. Good observations. What came to mind immediately was this monstrosity:

    Omnipotens et misericors Deus, qui beatam Ioannam Franciscam, tuo amore succensam, admirabili spiritus fortitudine per omnes vitae semitas in via perfectionis donasti, quique per illam illustrare Ecclesiam tuam nova prole voluisti: eius meritis et precibus concede; ut, qui infirmitatis nostrae conscii de tua virtute confidimus, caelestis gratiae auxilio cuncta nobis adversantia vincamus. Per Dominum, etc.

    Oddly enough, I noticed that this is common in the Byzantine rite as well. The more recent texts were also the longest and most convoluted, whereas the older verses of the Octoechos were economic in length and meaning.
    This is an interesting blog. I gave up study for liturgy for folklore a long time ago, but there are some perceptive thoughts here.

  3. arturovasquez, many thanks for your comment and observations. I agree that with you about that Collect!

    With me the reverse is true. I haven't read Tolkien's literary works in a while, and I have noticed that my erudition in that area is slipping, whereas recently I have devoted myself wholly to Liturgy - although a recent comment on another blog shows up my ignorance...

  4. You should read this blogpost on the historical aspect of the devotion to Sacred Heart - you might be surprised to see what prejudices you have harboured.