Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Domina Angelorum

Today is the feast of Santa Maria deglia Angeli, St. Mary of the Angels, which is on the site of the original motherhouse of the Order of Friars Minor, the Lesser Brothers, the Greyfriars, or simply the Franciscans.

The Porziuncola is a little church currently housed inside the basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. It was originally owned by the Benedictines of Monte Subiaso, whose abbot passed it to St. Francis of Assisi. He had restored the church following the Lord's call to rebuild the church, which Francis famously applied to church buildings, only in time seeing that it also applied to the life of poverty and penance in union with Christ Crucified for which the Franciscans have become so famous.

The following is lifted (gosh, the horror!) from Wikipedia, though it sems to check out. From 1277 onward, some form of indulgence can be attested to with certainty to pilgrims who passed through the Porziuncola. Blessed Benedict of Arrezo knew St. Francis, having been received into the order by him, and he claims Brother Masseo told him about the indulgence, so it certainly dates to the first group of friars who over a span of fifteen years or so were received by St. Francis into his little fraternity in Assisi. Indeed, most of the brethren and Lady Clare, as she is known to Franciscans, were received here.

It has been expanded over time to churches attached to various Franciscan communities, the churches and meeting places of the Third Order, and by the strange generosity of Pope Paul VI, all parishes and quasi-parishes, regardless of its status in relation to the Franciscans.

There is much talk nowadays about going out to the margins, reaching out to those who need Christ yet who do not have him, not only by simple lack of missionaries but those for whom it is as if people have chosen to spurn or turn away. There's some truth there, though I do not believe certain people actually say it in good faith.

Georges Jansoone, via Wikimedia Commons.
For those who do, the indulgence today is an excellent res, for the church by the treasury of the excess merits of the saints, all graces from the Lord's Passion, is able to give pardon, to restore relationships among man, and lift the punishment that is due unto us for our sins that is otherwise undergone by physical penance or in purgatory. It is appropriate that the indulgence originates in the place where St. Francis spent much time in prayer, the place to the left of which he entered eternal life. The chapel of the Transitus is seen at the far left of this photo.

St. Francis was deeply committed to penance. He did not spare any aspect of the faith. I cannot imagine that he would take care of the sick and the dying in a way which only matched Christ insofar as he took care of the sick and the dying rejected by the rest. Faith without works is dead, according to St. James, and it is also true that good works without love are worthless.

St. Francis was something of an unwilling leader. He had no intention of forming a formal religious community, only that of following the Lord, so when that meant forming a new community, so be it, so be it, Amen. That meant preaching, both by mouth and by his letters to various communities of Franciscans. In fact. St. Francis grudgingly allowed friars to learn and have limited academic resources in order to improve the quality of preaching. So much for only using words when necessary in order to justify never using words!

Mgr Wach. Herwé from Wikimedia Commons
The spirit of St. Francis resonates with me, for Mgr Wach and Canon Philippe Mora never set out to form a community. They had a clear idea of what priestly life ought to look like, and they had a deeply rooted love for the traditions of the Roman church. Seminarians, even deacons, started coming to them, asking for a community. They founded the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest as a result. Women came to them, asking for traditional religious life following the Institute. They founded the Sisters Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus. Lay people needed something, and an established group happened to be near the Bavarian house, which became the Society of the Sacred Heart. This touches me personally, for the group originally dedicated to Benedictine spirituality was founded by Dietrich von Hildebrand, who is revered by students and professors at Steubenville; in fact, because of my professors being his students or the students of his students, I'm in his intellectual family myself. Moreover, the Institute is under the patronage of St. Francis de Sales, who certainly looked up to his own patron, even if the Salesian spirit is much more tempered than that of St. Francis himself.

Père Cestac
Indeed, the founders have decided that the Regina Angelorum ought to be invoked daily by the members of the ICRSS family. I am not 100% sure about the sisters, for their daily consecration is slightly different as it is, but the canons, seminarians, oblates, and those discerning in the houses pray this prayer each day during the prayers before the office of Lauds. It dates from 1864, with the parts referring to St. Michael and the final petitions being added in 1908.

Our Lady gave the original prayer to Venerable Father Louis Cestac, founder of the Congregation of the Servants of Mary, after he received a vision of hell; this website   contains the French text, which is the one used for the official English translation used in ICRSS houses. (Well, I suspect so, for the following reason.) It thus is not the same as English versions elsewhere on the Internet, because the translation is obviously a translation of French! There are only very slight changes.

August Queen of Heaven, sovereign mistress of the angels! Thou who from the beginning hast received from God the power and mission to crush the head of Satan, we humbly beseech thee to send thy holy legions, that, under thy command and by thy power, they may pursue the evil spirits, encounter them on every side, resist their bold attacks, and drive them hence into the abyss of woe.

 Who is like unto God? 

 O good and tender mother, thou shalt always be our love and our hope. O mother of God, send thy holy angels to defend us and drive far from us the cruel enemy. Holy Angels and archangels, defend us and keep us. 

 Auguste Reine des Cieux, Souveraine Maîtresse des Anges, Vous qui, dès le commencement, avez reçu de Dieu le pouvoir et la mission d'écraser la tête de Satan, nous Vous le demandons humblement : envoyez vos légions célestes pour que, sous vos ordres et par votre puissance, elles poursuivent les démons, les combattent partout, répriment leur audace et les refoulent dans l'abîme. 

 « Qui est comme Dieu ? »

 O bonne et tendre Mère, Vous serez toujours notre amour et notre espérance! O divine Mère, envoyez les Saints Anges pour me défendre et repousser loin de moi le cruel ennemi! Saints Anges et Archanges, défendez-nous, gardez-nous!

I might ask if this is indeed the text, with one other change: I suppose me is replaced with nous, so "me" for "us" in the second to last petition, as in English. 

This is the original imprimatur of the revised prayer in French, for those who like these things. 

Imprimatur : Cameraci (Cambrai), die 26 februarii 1912,  A. Massart, vic. gén. 

The last photo is the Keutschach Epitaph, an image of Our Lady being crowned Queen. It is at the southern outer wall of the parish and pilgrimage church of the Assumption of Mary at Maria Saal, Kärntern, Austria. It is by Hans Valkenauer, circa 1510/1515.

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