St Augustine of Canterbury OSB (May 26) - Apostle to the English

Illuminated manuscript with a forward-facing man in the middle of the large H. Man is carrying a crozier and his head is surrounded by a halo.

St Augustine of Canterbury was a Benedictine monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 597.

The Matins reading for the feast is as follows:
Augustine, a monk of the Lateran monastery in Rome, was sent by Gregory the Great in 597 to England with about forty monks as his companions. They were invited by King Ethelbert to Canterbury, the chief city of the kingdom, and they built an oratory nearby. Through preaching the doctrine of heaven, Augustine brought many of the islanders and the king himself to the Christian faith, to the great joy of the king's wife, Bertha, who was a Christian. By order of Pope Gregory, Augustine was ordained bishop and founded the see of Canterbury; by the same Pontiff he was granted the use of the pallium and the right to organize the hierarchy of England. At length, after suffering great hardships for Christ, having set Mellitus over the Church of London, Justus over that of Rochester, and Lawrence over his own Church, he made his journey to heaven on the 26th day of May. He was buried in the monastery of St. Peter, which then became the burial place of bishops of Canterbury and of several kings.
He has traditionally been considered the "Apostle to the English" and a founder of the English Church.  St Bede records in his history of the English Church that the monks converted the locals by their preaching and example:
"…they began to emulate the life of the apostles and the primitive Church. They were constantly at prayer; they fasted and kept vigils; they preached the word of life to whomsoever they could….Before long a number of heathen, admiring the simplicity of their holy lives and the comfort of their heavenly message, believed and were baptized..."
St Augustine established schools and monasteries, and set about organising the missionary effort more broadly in England. His life was marked by miracles, and he was quickly acclaimed as a saint on his death.

Feast of the Ascension (May 25)

Bamburger Apocalypse

Today is the feast of the Ascension, and in a few days time we celebrate the feast of a Benedictine saint who died on the day of the feast, St Bede.  Accordingly, I thought it might be appropriate to share a poem of the saint written for the feast, often sung to the tune 'All creatures of our God and king':

A hymn of glory let us sing:
New songs throughout the world shall ring:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Christ, by a road before untrod,
Ascendeth to the throne of God.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

The holy apostolic band
Upon the Mount of Olives stand;
Alleluia! Alleluia!
And with his followers they see
Jesus' resplendent majesty.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

To whom the angels, drawing nigh,
"Why stand and gaze upon the sky?
Alleluia! Alleluia!
This is the Saviour!" thus they say;
"This is his noble triumph-day."
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

"Again shall ye behold him so
As ye today have seen him go
Alleluia! Alleluia!
In glorious pomp ascending high,
Up to the portals of the sky."
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Oh, grant us thitherward to tend
And with unwearied hearts ascend
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Unto thy kingdom's throne, where thou,
As is our faith, art seated now.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Be thou our Joy and strong Defence
Who art our future Recompense:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
So shall the light that springs from thee
Be ours through all eternity.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O risen Christ, ascended Lord,
All praise to thee let earth accord,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Who art, while endless ages run,
With Father and with Spirit One.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

(Trans: Benjamin Webb)

Our Lady Help of Christians (May 24)

In Australia and a number of other countries, May 24 is the solemnity of Our Lady Help of Christians.  In Australia and those countries where it is a first class feast, we will naturally pray first and foremost for the conversion of our own countries.  Pope Benedict XVI, however, asked that this day be especially a day of prayer for China, so please do say the collect of the day as part of your devotions for this intention:
O Almighty and merciful God, Who didst wondrously appoint the most Blessed Virgin perpetual help for Christians in need of protection: grant in Thy mercy that after battling in life under such a protectress, we may be able to conquer our enemy at death. Through our Lord.
For those saying the Office of the feast, the Monastic Diurnal has the texts for the day hours, starting at MD  25** - for the psalms and antiphons, use the Common of feasts of Our Lady, but with the hymns, responsories, Magnificat antiphon and collect of the feast.

The 1962-3 breviary does include a specific set of texts for all of the hours (in the supplement at the back of Volume II for the Ottilien Congregation), but of course without chants.  If you don't have access to that, the Common of feasts of Our Lady would work for Matins.

St Romanus (May 22)

Today the martyrology remembers St Romanus, who clothed St Benedict in the holy habit, and aided him in his early years as a hermit:
But Benedict, desiring rather the miseries of the world than the praises of men: rather to be wearied with labour for God's sake, than to be exalted with transitory commendation: fled privily from his nurse, and went into a desert place called Sublacum, distant almost forty miles from Rome: in which there was a fountain springing forth cool and clear water; the abundance whereof doth first in a broad place make a lake, and afterward running forward, cometh to be a river.  
As he was travelling to this place, a certain monk called Romanus met him, and demanded whither he went, and understanding his purpose, he both kept it close, furthered him what he might, vested him with the habit of holy conversation, and as he could, did minister and serve him. 
The man of God, Benedict, coming to this foresaid place, lived there in a strait cave, where he continued three years unknown to all men, except to Romanus, who lived not far off, under the rule of Abbot Theodacus, and very virtuously did steal certain hours, and likewise sometime a loaf given for his own provision, which he did carry to Benedict....(St Gregory, Dialogues 2:1)
The tradition holds that St Romanus later went to Gaul and founded a small monastery at Dryes-Fontrouge, where he died about 550 and was venerated as a saint. 

Rogation days

Rogation days are traditionally days of prayer (with the litany of the saints being sung) and fasting.

The three 'minor' rogation days before Ascension date back to the sixth century, and were instituted to appease God's anger at man's transgressions, to ask protection in calamities, and to obtain a good and bountiful harvest.

You can find the litany and prayers in the Diurnal at pg (200) and the full chants in the Processionale Monasticum.  If said privately, it is usually done after Lauds.

In earlier versions of the Office, there were readings at Matins and a collect specific to the rogation day.  In the 1962 monastic version for some reason these have been stripped out of the Office, but I have put up the readings over at the lectio divina notes blog, and here is the collect in case you want to use it devotionally.

Praesta quaesumus omnipotens Deus: ut qui in afflictione nostra de tua pietate confidimus; contra adversa omnia tua semper protectione muniamur.
Per Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum, Fílium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus, per ómnia sǽcula sæculórum.
R. Amen.
Let us pray.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we who in our tribulation are yet of good cheer because of thy loving-kindness, may find thee mighty to save from all dangers.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.

Traditional Benedictine Office - Ordo for the fifth week after Easter including the Ascension (May 21 - 27)

Herewith notes on the Benedictine Office according to the 1962-3 rubrics for this week.

This week marks the end of the main Easter season, with the feast of the Ascension, and the start of its final sub-component, 'Ascensiontide'.

Monday to Wednesday are Rogation Days which don't affect the Office (at least in its 1962 incarnation), but are worth noting.

The 'ordinary' texts for the Office do change after the feast, so do take a look at my notes on the Office in Ascensiontide.

Readings and responsories for the assorted days and feasts of the week will be found on the Lectio Divina Notes blog the afternoon before the feast (Australian time).  In an earlier version of the Office,m the Office during the Octave of Ascension had Patristic readings each day, however they are omitted in the modern version and I'm afraid I can't find an online version (though they are in Liturgical Readings).

For those saying Matins, more detailed notes on where to find the various texts for the week can be found here.

Sunday 21 May – Fifth Sunday after Easter, Class II

Matins: Invitatory (Surrexit Dominus), hymn (Rex sempiterne), Gospel, twelve readings and responsories of the Sunday

Lauds: (Three) Antiphons for Eastertide with festal psalms for Eastertide, rest from MD 373* ff

Prime: Antiphon of Eastertide, rest as in the psalter for Sunday

Terce to None: Antiphons of Eastertide, Sunday psalms; chapter verse, versicle and collect, MD 373* ff

Vespers: Psalms of Sunday under one antiphon; chapter of Lauds; responsory and hymn, MD 354*; Magnificat antiphon, MD 375*

Monday 22 May – Rogation Day, Class IV

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 375*; collect, MD 373*

Tuesday 23 May – Rogation Day, Class IV

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 375-6*; collect, MD 373*

Australia: I Vespers of Our Lady Help of Christians, MD 25**

Wednesday 24 May – Vigil of the Ascension, Class II [Australia: Our Lady Help of Christians, Class I]

Matins: All as for the Ordinary of Eastertide except for the three readings and responsories of the day

Lauds to None: all as for ordinary of Paschaltide; collect, MD 372-3*; at Lauds, versicle and Benedictus antiphon MD 376*

Australia: All of Our Lady Help of Christians, MD 28**, with a commemoration of Ascension at Vespers (for Matins, Common of the BVM)


I Vespers of the Ascension, see MD 376* ff

Thursday 25 May  The Ascension of Our Lord, Class I

Matins: Invitatory, hymn, antiphons, psalms, Gospel, twelve readings and responsories of the feast

Lauds: Festal psalms with proper antiphons and texts of the feast, MD 379* ff

Prime: Antiphon 1 of Lauds of the feast

Terce to None: Antiphons, chapter and versicle, MD 382-3*; collect, MD 381*

Vespers: as for I Vespers, with Magnificat antiphon, MD 383*

Friday 26 May – St Augustine OSB, Class III [EF: St Philip Neri, Class III]

Matins: Invitatory and hymn from Common of a confessor bishop; psalms of the day; antiphons, versicle and brief reading from the Ordinary of Ascensiontide; one reading of the feast

Lauds and Vespers: Psalms and antiphons of the day; rest from common of a confessor bishop except for collect, MD [150]  [NB The Clear Creek supplement to the Antiphonale contains a hymn specific to the feast]

Prime: Antiphon from the Common

Terce to None: chapter & versicle from the Common

If Class I, see MD 30**

Saturday 27 May – St Bede OSB, Class III

Matins: Invitatory antiphon and hymn from Common of a confessor bishop; psalms of the day; antiphons, versicle and brief reading from the Ordinary of Ascensiontide; one reading of the feast

Lauds: Psalms and antiphons of the day; rest from common of a confessor not a bishop, MD (78) except for collect, MD [150]  

Prime: Antiphon from the Common

Terce to None: Chapter & versicle from the Common, collect MD [150]  

If Class I, see MD 31** 

I Vespers of the Sunday after the Ascension, MD 388*

Vocational discernment weekend for women (Sydney, Australia)

Please keep in your prayers if you would, an emerging religious community in Australia, the Daughters of the Maternal Heart of Mary.

This is a new, semi-contemplative community based in Sydney, and living a life of prayer and work according to the spirit of St. Benedict, with Mass in the Extraordinary Form and the Monastic Office chanted in Latin.  The charism of the group involves interceding for all Priests and praying daily for the Holy Father, bishops, priests and seminarians.  They also assist priests in various works, including teaching catechism, visiting the sick and sewing liturgical attire.

A vocational discernment weekend for young women is being held on July 14 -16, and will:
  • enable participants to explore the life and charism of the Daughters of the Maternal Heart of Mary;
  • include conferences on the religious life, vocation discernment and the spirituality of the community; and 
  • provide opportunity for silent recollection, praying the Monastic Office and participating in some of the active apostolates of the community.
Those interested in attending can find further details here.