Wednesday, September 14, 2016

COMPLINE EXPLAINED





V. May Jesus Christ thy Son, reconciled by they prayers, O Lady, convert our hearts.
R. And turn away His anger from us.
V. O Lady, make speed to befriend me.
R. From the hands of the enemy mightily defend me.

Glory be, etc.
                          

               Hail, Mother most pure!
               Hail, Virgin renown'd!

We cannot do better than quote Cardinal Newman:

'What is the highest, rarest, the choicest prerogative of Mary? It is that she was without sin. When a woman in the crowd cried out to our Lord, "Blessed is the womb that bare Thee," He answered: "More blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it." Those words are fulfilled in Mary. She was filled with grace in order to be the Mother of God. But it was a higher gift than her maternity to be thus sanctified and thus pure. Our Lord would not have become her son unless He had at first sanctified her; but still, the greater blessedness was to have that perfect sanctification. This then, is why she is Virgo Prædicanda; she is deserving to be preached abroad because she never committed any sin, even the least; because sin had no part in her; because, through the fulness of God's grace, she never thought a thought, or spoke a word, or did an action, which was displeasing, which was not most pleasing, to Almighty God.' (Meditations and Devotions―The Month of May, p. 9.) 

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Hail, Queen with the stars
                            As a diadem crowed!

       Again we are taken back to the Apocalypse, c. xii, where we read of the great sign in heaven―the woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars (see p. 42). The 'woman' here spoken of by St. John is first of all the Bride of Christ, the Church; but also in a special manner the greatest and most glorious member of the Church, namely, She who gave birth to the Man-Child, of whom St. John speaks in the same chapter.

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Above all the Angels
                                 In glory untold,
                                 Standing next to the King
                                 In a vesture of gold!

       When Peter drew his sword and struck off Malchus' ear, our Lord, bidding him sheath the sword, remarked: 'Thinkest thou that I cannot ask my Father, and He shall give even now more than twelve legions of angels?' (Matt. xxvi, 53). Christ is the King of all the angels, and His blessed Mother is raised above them all in virtue of her Divine Maternity.
       The Messianic Psalm xliv speaks of Christ the King, and in the tenth verse there is reference to the Queen: 'The Queen standeth at Thy right hand in gold of Ophir.' As in Apoc. xii, the Spouse of the King is both the Church, the Bride of Christ, and Mary from whom, through Christ, was born the mystical Body of Christ, His Church.

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O Mother of Mercy!
                                 O Star of the wave!
                                 O Hope of the guilty!
                                 O Light of the grave!

       Let Cardinal Newman again explain: 'Truly thou art a star, O Mary. Our Lord indeed Himself, Jesus Christ, He is the truest and the chiefest Star, the bright and morning Star, as St. John calls Him. . . . But if the wise and learned and they who teach men in justice shall shine as stars for ever and ever; if the angels of the Churches are called stars in the Hand of Christ; if He honored the Apostles even in the days of their flesh by a title, calling them the lights of the world; if even those angels who fell from heaven are called by the beloved disciple stars; if lastly all the saints in bliss are called stars, in that they are like stars differing from stars in glory; therefore most assuredly, without any derogation from the honour of our Lord, is Mary His mother called the Star of the Sea, and the more so because even on her head she wears a crown of twelve stars. Jesus is the Light of the world, illuminating every man that cometh into it, opening our eyes with the gift of faith, making souls luminous by His Almighty grace; and Mary is the star, shining with the light of Jesus . . . the star of the heavens, which it is good to look upon, the star of the sea, which is welcome to the tempest-tossed, at whose smile the evil spirit flies, the passions are hushed, and peace is poured upon the soul' (Meditations and Devotions―The Month of May, p. 87).

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Through thee may we come
                           To the haven of rest;
                           And see heaven's King
                           In the courts of the blest! Amen.

       As Christ the King came to us through Her, so shall we go to our eternal rest in heaven through Her.

       V. Thy name, O Mary, is as oil poured out.
       R. Thy servants have loved thee exceedingly.

       The words are based on the Canticle of Canticles i, 2: 'Thy name is as oil poured out: therefore young maidens have loved thee.' Preaching on this text St. Bernard, whose sermon is read in the Divine Office recited by priests on the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, remarks that oil is used for lighting, for nourishing and for healing. Then he applies this to the Holy Name of Jesus. 'When it is preached it gives light, when it is meditated it gives nourishment, when it is invoked it softens and heals. Let us examine each point. Whence in all the world comes the light of faith so greatly and so soon as by the preaching of the Name of Jesus? Is it not by the light of this Name that God calls us to His wonderful light, whereby illuminated, and seeing the light by this light, as Paul says so well: "You were once darkness, but now light in the Lord"? Then the Apostle was commanded to carry this Name before kings and the Gentiles and the children of Israel. And he carried the Name as a light, illuminating the land, and crying everywhere: "The night is passed and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly as in the day." And he showed to all the lamp on the lamp-stand, by preaching in every place, Jesus and Him crucified. How this light shone and held the eyes of all the beheld it, is shown by the fact that when it came forth like lightning from the mouth of Peter the soles and feet of a lame man were healed, and many who were spiritually blind were enlightened. Did he not spread abroad fire when he said: "In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth arise and walk?"
       'Not only is the Name of Jesus light; it is also nourishment. Are you not comforted every time you remember it? What can equal it in giving strength to the mind that meditates on It? What like It can repair the senses of those that us It, strengthen their virtues, stir up good and honest manners, foster chaste affections? Dry is all spiritual food on to which this oil is not poured out: tasteless is it if it is not seasoned with this salt. If you write, I am not pleased unless I read the Name, Jesus. Your disputations and conferences will not please me unless the Name of Jesus is heard in them. "Jesus" is honey on the lips, music in the ear, joy in the heart.
       'It is also medicine. Is anyone sad among you? Let "Jesus" come into his heart and then spring to his tongue. And lo, at the rising light of the Name, every cloud will scatter and the clear sky will return. Is there any one who has fallen into crime, even to the extent of running into the trap of death in a state of despair? If he invokes the Name of Life, will he not immediately breathe life again?'
       All of this is said of the holy Name of Jesus. In an inferior measure it may be applied to the name of Mary the Mother of Jesus.

       V. O Lady, recommend my prayer.
       R. And let my cry come unto thee. 
           Glory be, etc.

The Commendation.

               These praises and prayers
               We lay at thy feet,
               O Virgin of virgins!
               O Mary most sweet!
               Be thou our true guide
               Through this pilgrimage here;
               And stand by our side
               When death draweth near. Amen.

       Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
       R. Thanks be to God.

       With this Deo Gratias the Office really ends. In the official form, however, published in 1876, the following prayers are appended to be said ad libitum, that is, if one likes to add them. 

               Thou art all fair, O Mary:
               And the original stain was never in thee.
               Thou art the glory of Jerusalem:
               Thou art the joy of Israel:
               Thou art the honor of our people.
               O Mary, O Mary,
               Virgin most prudent,
               Mother most clement,
               Pray for us,
               Intercede for us,
               To Jesus Christ our Lord. 

       Antiphon. Thy Conception, O Virgin Mother of God, heralded joy to the whole world; for from thee came Christ, our God; who doing away with the curse brought us blessing, and putting death to confusion gave us the gift of everlasting life. Amen.

       Or, instead of the above, may be said:

       Antiphon. This is the rod, wherein was neither the knot of original sin, nor the bark of actual sin.

V. In thy conception, O Virgin, thou wast immaculate.
R. Pray for us to the Father, whose Son thou didst bear.

Let Us Pray.

       O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of a Virgin didst make ready a meet dwelling for Thy Son, we beseech Thee that Thou, who, foreseeing the death of that same Son of Thine, didst keep her free from all stain, mayest suffer us also, with clean hearts, through her pleading, to come unto Thee. Through the same Christ our Lord.
       R. Amen.

       Note on the Divine Name Yahwè. 

       The ordinary Hebrew word for God is 'Elohim. But when Moses asked by what name God should be known to the children of Israel, God replied: 'I AM WHO AM. Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: HE WHO IS hath sent me to you' (Exod. iii, 14). By this name God taught that He was the Eternal One, He who is without beginning and without end. The Jews formed it of four consonants, YHWH, the fourth being in all probability a silent letter; and as in their early Bibles they did not us vowels, the pronunciation of the Name is lost. For when they introduced vowels into the text they refrained from putting the proper vowels to YHWH because they did not want the Sacred Name ever to be pronounced by the lips. Instead they put the vowels of a different word altogether, meaning Lord. From these vowels and the consonants YHWH (Y being equivalent to J, and W to V) was formed the word Jehovah, unknown until comparatively modern times. That this title is incorrect is evident from the fact that its consonants and its vowels belong to two different words altogether. What then was the original pronunciation? We can be certain that the first consonant was YAH, since this shortened name is frequently found in the Old Testament. Not so clear is the second syllable. Theodoret (c. A.D. 458) tells us that the Samaritans pronounced the Name Yabe (be for the letter waw, which to-day is usually transcribed w), from which we can conclude that Yahwè was the original Name.  


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