I am not known for my musical abilities, nor am I known for my prowess with the Latin language, and I’ve always regretted that both are the case. Today and yesterday both highlight that feeling, as both feasts have beautiful Latin hymns traditionally associated with them. Today, as the Church celebrates the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of Our Lady of Sorrows, we sing the 13th century hymn Stabat Mater – you may know it under the English title At the Cross Her Station Keeping. The Latin is written in trochaic tetrameter, which I’m told I studied in English class. In but a few words, it powerfully captures what this feast is all about: Quis est homo qui non fleret / matrem Christi si videret / in tanto supplico? // Quis non posset contristari / Christi matrem contemplari / dolentum cum Filio? A non-literal translation would read something like: Is there one who would not weep, / ’whelmed in miseries so deep / Christ’s dear mother to behold? // Can the human heart refrain / from partaking in her pain / in that Mother’s pain untold?
Vexilla Regis, the hymn for yesterday’s feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, is even older, dating to perhaps the year 569. A vexilla was the military standard that an army would march behind; it signified the king or prince they were fighting for. In this case, it reminds us that everything we do, we should do for Christ, who for our sake was handed over to death so as to win us eternal life. Vexilla regis prodeunt / Fulget crucis mysterium / Quo carne carnis conditor / qua vita mortem pertulit / et morte vitam protulit. The Royal Banner forward goes / the mystic Cross refulgent glows. / Upon it Life did Death endure / and yet by death did life procure.
The hymns are both great treasures of the Church, but what they reflect on are even greater treasures: A Mother who, even in her anguish, never ceases to pray for her children; and a Savior who would hand over even life itself so that we might be saved.
Some news and notes:
No weddings or funerals, but you can keep in your prayers the two little ones to be baptized this weekend: Bennet James Hoffman and Ellie Marie Bernini. And if you’re not sure when or here to pray, consider doing it at Adoration – we need coverage today at 10 AM, 11 AM, 2 AM, and 4 AM.
As you’ll read in the Pittsburgh Catholic this weekend, and in a special insert in the bulleting, the On Mission Commission has formally sent to Bishop Zubik their recommendations for what they consider to be the most effective groupings of parishes to be. The recommended grouping for us is to be grouped with St. Catherine, which should come as no surprise. You should know, however, that there was significant debate about possibly expanding our grouping to include St. Ursula and St. Mary of the Assumption. Ultimately, the Commission decided against that. At this point, still no decisions have been made; the Bishop will now be consulting with the Priest Council as well as the diocesan Pastoral and Finance Councils. Final decisions will be announced in April. In the meantime, if you have questions, please ask! Rumors and gossip are not your friends. Send me an email, and I’ll do my best to get back to you with as much information as I have.
It’s a fun weekend around here – EDGE kicks the year off Saturday night at 6:00; Life teen starts back up this Sunday night at 6:00, and this Sunday (after the 10:00 Mass only) is once again Donut Sunday, this time sponsored by the Ladies of Charity.
Be sure to check the bulletin this week for a couple of opportunities to help some really great charitable organizations: The St. Vincent DePaul Society’s annual Friends of the Poor Walk is coming up on September 24th; 40 Days for Life needs folks to pray, fast, and hold vigil throughout October; and St. Ferdinand Parish is hosting the first annual Ananias Mission Gala next week, to help displaced Syrian refugees. All great causes.
Did you know our parish turns 25 years old on November 1? (I’m going to keep reminding you of this.) BY now you should have received a “save-the-date” card. Plans are starting to firm up quite nicely. For example, on Friday, October 27, we plan to have a solemn celebration of Evening Prayer in the church; our celebrant and homilist that evening will be our very own Fr. Ken Oldenski. Following evening prayer, everyone is invited to a pot-luck dinner in the hall, where we hope to have a very nice display of photos and other historical pieces from the earliest days of the parish. More details will be forthcoming on the rest of the weekend; stay tuned.
If this isn’t the longest email I’ve sent you, it’s certainly close. Definitely has the most Latin in it. Either way, have a great weekend and know that you’re loved!
See you at Mass!