samedi, mai 15, 2010

The Cathedral of the Kings

Built in the XIII century on the site of the previous basilica where Clovis received the Sacrament of Baptism – one of the founding acts of the very Christian Kingdom of France – the Cathedral Our Lady of Reims is a jewel of the Gothic art. It is the Cathedral where the Kings of France were anointed and crowned. (The anointing was even more important than the crowning and was considered to be a “quasi-sacrament” similar to the consecration of the Bishops: the King of France was referred as “l’évêque du dehors.”) Twenty five Kings have been anointed in this Cathedral. Louis VIII was the first in 1223 and Charles X the last in 1825.

jeudi, mai 13, 2010

Sermon for the 5th Sunday after Easter

Our collects are some of the oldest evidence of the faith of the early Church, Dom Gérard says. They have survived the slow transformation of the Liturgy and they have now a considerable interest. They are a jewel of the Liturgy for the beauty of their composition with their well balanced rhythm, as it is often the case, and the wisdom that shows through their words. They undoubtedly bear the mark of the Holy Ghost.

Dom Gérard point out two characters of these collects: their doctrinal richness and their educational value. It is clearly the mark of the Church, Mater et Magistra, mother and teacher, who educates her children with so much love, care and attention. And it is first our minds and our hearts that Holy Mother Church tries to educate. I say try, because the Church does not compel us, but really educates us according to the etymology of word: ex-ducere. She leads us from where we are so that we can move forward. And this is a work of patience as we often turn a deaf ear to the Church.

Yes, the Liturgy is definitively a locus theologicus, a theological place where we learn about God and where we are educated in His wisdom. It is a theology whose literary form is poetry. It is for this very reason that it is often very difficult to translate it into vernacular languages, but though the translations cannot always preserve the literary form, they can still express the theological substance.

The Exsultet, the Lauda Sion and the Dies Irae are sung dogmas, Dom Gérard says again. They infuse into the soul light and love. In the time of faith, the Liturgy has been the great teacher of the children of the Church. Hymns, Psalms, Gregorian chant and the Sacramental order poured into the souls the light of the truths of faith and roused men to look at God rather than to look at themselves.

It is still the case, but we do not understand it very well. The frequent meditation of the collects from the missal can certainly help us to rediscover the beauty and the greatness of the Divine Liturgy and therefore to taste more fruitfully the Divine Wisdom. Let us consider today’s collect: O God, from Whom all good things do come, grant to us Thy suppliants, that by Thine inspiration we may think what is right, and under Thy guidance perform it; Through Our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Meditation on this collect)

There is a great sweetness when we pray with the very same words and the same accents as the first Christians, freshly reborn with the Baptismal water did. Listening to the same readings; modulating the same chants, like them we are attentive to the mysterious voice of the Spirit and of the Bride who says: Come Lord Jesus.

In Memoriam

Dom Gérard Calvet o.s.b. (1927-2008)