Matters Liturgical: January 2008 Archives

The Choreography of Faith

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Week of Sexagesima
Tuesday of the Third Week of the Year I

2 Samuel 6:12–19
Mark 3:31–25

The Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant that figures so prominently in the First Reading is, according to Saint Maximus of Turin, a type of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Saint Maximus explains that King David’s rapturous dance before the Ark was a prophetic gesture: “In high rejoicing he broke into dancing, for in the Spirit he foresaw Mary, born of his own line, brought into Christ’s chamber. . . . The Ark carried within it the tables of the covenant, while Mary bore the master of the same covenant.”

The Blessed Virgin Mary

The Ark of the Covenant contained the Law; the Virgin Mary contained the Word made Flesh, the living Gospel, the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. The Ark was resplendent both within and without with pure gold; Mary was resplendent both within and without with the dazzling radiance of her virginity. The Ark was adorned with earthly gold; Mary was begraced with an imperishable holiness.

True Devotion to Mary

Every authentic expression of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is a way of “dancing before the Ark of the Covenant.” The Litany of Loreto calls upon Our Lady by means of this very expression: Foederis arca, ora pro nobis! Ark of the Covenant, pray for us.

David was not self-conscious in his dance. He was humble, spontaneous, and single-hearted: figuratively and literally moved by grace. Every encounter with the Mother of God — in the liturgy of the Church, in her images, and in the secret manifestations of her presence that comfort us in this valley of tears — should move us to a similar expression of devotion: humble, spontaneous, and single-hearted.

The Votive Mass of Saint Joseph

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On this first Wednesday after the Octave of the Epiphany, I will celebrate a Votive Mass of Saint Joseph. (Votive Masses are celebrations in honour of a particular mystery of Our Lord or in honour of Our Lady or the saints. They are not linked to a particular date in the calendar and may be celebrated on any ferial day.) Votive Masses of Saint Joseph began to appear in various missals as early as the thirteenth century. In the nineteenth century the Votive Mass of Saint Joseph was assigned to Wednesday.

Apart from the Votive Mass of Saint Joseph, the Roman Missal provides priests with two daily prayers to Saint Joseph, one as part of the preparation for Mass, and the other as part of the thanksgiving after Mass:

O Felicem Virum

O blessed Joseph, happy man whose privilege it was,
not only to see and hear that God
whom many a king has longed to see, yet saw not,
longed to hear, but heard not:
but also to carry Him in thy arms and kiss Him,
to clothe Him and watch over Him!

V. Pray for us, blessed Joseph.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

God, who hast conferred upon us a royal priesthood,
we pray thee give us grace to minister at Thy holy altars
with hearts as clean and lives as blameless as that blessed Joseph
who was found worthy to hold in his arms
and with all reverence to carry Thy Only-Begotten Son, born of the Virgin Mary.
Enable us this day to receive worthily the sacred Body and Blood of Thy Son,
and fit us to win an everlasting reward in the world to come:
through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Virginum Custos et Pater

Saint Joseph, father and guardian of virgins,
to whose faithful keeping Christ Jesus, innocence itself,
and Mary, the virgin of virgins, were entrusted,
I pray and beseech thee by that twofold and most precious charge,
by Jesus and Mary,
to save me from all uncleanness,
to keep my mind untainted, my heart pure, and my body chaste;
and to help me always to serve Jesus and Mary in perfect chastity. Amen.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory