Monday, March 15, 2010

Stational Masses

Yesterday I was asked a question regarding why the collect for the feast of Sts Cosmas & Damian is used in the Mass for the Thursday in the third week in Lent. It caught me off guard. I hypothesized that it was connected with the stational church of the day, but declined to comment till I learned more.

Then this morning it hit me. Third shift does something to your brain. In brief moments, it can make all of life clear. Other moments you just wish Alterra were open 24 hrs, and delivered, so you wouldn't have to put up with Folgers that was too many hrs old. But I digress.

Since each day in Lent has a stational church assigned to it, sometimes this is reflected in the propers themselves. A stational church is the church in Rome where, as custom has it, the principle Mass would take place on that day, the people of every other parish would gather at their respective churches, and process to the station, praying the great Litany along the way.

So for example, last Thursday the station was at Sts Cosmas and Damian, and the first collect celebrates the memory of these saints. (It's actually not exactly the same as the collect for their feast.) If one looks closer at the propers, other connections might be made as well. For example, in the Gospel, from Luke 4, we hear of the healing of Simon's wife's mother of a great fever, and of how Christ healed many who were afflicted with divers diseases, and with demons. How appropriate for such a Gospel on the day of the station of Cosmas and Damian, two great physicians of the early church.

The liturgy has many treasures for us to spend a lifetime discovering, and contemplating. They are right before us, and yet, they reveal themselves to us in their own time, if we but listen.


Brian P Westgate said...

It should be noted that the Sarum rite has different collects for this day, as well as a different Gospel from Rome. And since the Sarum lectionary for Lent is what the old German one was, I suspect they might have had the same collects as Sarum in Germany as well.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Thanks for adding this, Brian. I do like the Sarum Use collects that I've seen.

Now tell me, are you hinting that the propers from the Sarun rite are more appropriate for us. If so, please develop that. Give us your thoughts.

Brian P Westgate said...

Well, our lectionary is the same as the Sarum lectionary. So in Lent, if we use the daily lectionary, we would do well to follow thier use. This can especially be seen on the Second Sunday in Lent and the Sunday before, as well as last Thursday.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...


To be sure, I am not unsynpathetic to the arguments for following the Sarum scheme, but what I was trying to ask you was to give voice to that argument here. "We would do well to follow it" might pass for an argument in seminary, but I generally expect more of my friends. I know you're capable of more. Perhaps I just caught you at a bad moment.

Brian P Westgate said...

Whoops, sorry. Just didn't give a good answer. I've been guilty of that more than enough times! Here goes with what you want:

On the Collects for last Thursday: Perhaps Rome always had the stational collects on that day, but that is somewhat odd, because that never happens otherwise. So perhaps the Sarum collects are original. Or, perhaps when the Gospel moved north, the bishops realized the stational collects didn't make any sense in England and Germany, and so they composed new ones.

As per the Gospels. Sarum and our use both give the same Gospel for Reminiscere. Rome gives that Gospel on the Thursday before. Thus we have a problem if we follow the Roman Thursday Gospels. All is fine if we follow the Sarum Gospels. Also, when Fr. Weedon posted his Thursday Gospels for in Lent, from the Magdeburg Use, they matched the Sarum Gospels exactly. It would be interesting to see if the Magdeburg book gives the daily collects for Lent.

I'm not implying we should always follow Sarum. Least not in Trinitytide, when it inserts an extra group of Collects on Trinity III, thus pushing the series back a week.