"Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, then come and follow me!" Mt. 19:21

"Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, then come and follow me!" Mt. 19:21

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dominican Saints 101: St. Catherine of Alexandria

St. Catherine of Alexandria is one of the co-patronesses of the Order.  In my post on the provincial website, I mainly look at her importance in general for the Dominicans.  Click on the image below.



There is also something more that is important to note with her than just a historical account of her life.  St. Catherine's feast day provides a great example of the riches of the hymns for specific Dominican saints.

With many of the hymns in the old Dominican breviary (many of which we still often use today), there is a certain flow that occurs in the text beginning with Matins, moving to Lauds, and concluding with Vespers.  The texts of the hymns tell the story and glory.  St. Catherine's hymns (as well as those on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which are 4 hymns dealing with the mysteries of the Rosary in order) recount her life, her martyrdom, and her glory in heaven.  She is one of my favorite examples of this trait in the liturgical texts.  Not only do the hymns catechize, but they also allow for a certain integrity to the liturgy that leads ultimately to heaven where the final hymn comes to a rest. 

In the morning before the daylight arises, the Matins hymn recounts the virtues of her life and the moments leading up to St. Catherine's martyrdom.  This allows the friar to contemplate the virtuous day he hopes to have and the preaching that he will undergo.  The lauds hymn brings to mind the sufferings and martyrdom of the saint.  This too is important for the friar who is in the midst of the toil of a day's labor, study, and preaching.  Lastly, the Vespers hymn recounts the most important moments of her story and concludes with the entrance of souls into heaven.  In this elevation of the mind to heaven, the friar is more enabled to contemplate the Most Holy Trinity.  With this evening prayer in particular, St. Bede writes that through our prayer and meditation, "we are encouraged to lead a life of virtue.  Such virtues are best achieved in the evening.  We are weary after the day's work and worn out by our distractions.  The time for rest is near, and our minds are ready for contemplation."  The integrity and flow of the liturgy allows for and even fosters this.

While, the texts are long for today's feast, I've included the three hymns below in Latin and in translation (not a literal translation, but one that's singable to the same music).  All three are sung to the Dominican tune for the Tantum ergo.

Matins - Pange lingua gloriosae virginis

Pange lingua gloriosae            Sing, my tongue, the glory telling
Virginis martyrium:                  Of this virgin-martyr's fray:
Gemmae jubar petiosae           May this gem, its light dispelling,
Descendat in medium,              Down upon us shed some ray,
Ut illustret tenebrosae             That all darkness in the dwelling
Mentis domicilium.                   Of our soul may speed away.

Blandimentis rex molitur           Strives the king - but vain his luring -
Virginem seducere:                   This pure maiden to defile:
Nec promissis emollitur,            Scourges leave her faith enduring,
Nec terretur verbere:                Nor could royal grants beguile:
Compeditur, custoditur             Guarded then and chains securing,
Tetro clausa carcere.                 Closed was she in dungeon vile.

Clausae lumen, ne claudatur,     Though imprisoned, her light shining
Illucet Porphyrio,                       Won to Faith the captain bold:
Qui reginae foederatur              He, with his own queen combining,
Fidei collegio:                            Bravely mid Christ's friends enrolled;
Quorum fidem imitatur              In their wake, for Truth now pining,
Ducentena concio.                     Ten score pagans seek the fold.

Gloria et honor Deo                   Lauds and glory in completeness
Usquequaque altissimo,             Be to the Father and to Son:
Una Patri Filioque,                    Equal glory with all meetness
Inclyto Paraclito:                       To the Paraclete be done
Cui laus est et potestas,             Theirs be praise in fullest sweetness
Per aeterna saecula.                  While unending ages run.

 
Lauds - Praesens dies expendatur

Praesens dies expendatur          Let this day be consecrated
In ejus praeconium,                   To the glory of her name,
Cujus virtus dilatatus                Whose high virtue is dilated
In ore laudantium                      By the tongues that sing her fame,
Si gestorum teneatur                 If the story, full narated,
Finis et initium                          Of her deeds they would proclaim.

Imminente passione                  When her passion near was nighing,
Virgo haec interserit:                Prayed the maid: "Most loving Lord,
Assequatur, Jesu bone,             Whoso in this hour of dying,
Quod a te petierit                      Mindful of me, seeks reward;
Suo quisquis in agone               What he asks, I pray Thee sighing,
Memor mei fuerit.                     Do Thou graciously accord."

In hoc caput amputatur            When her head was amputated,
Fluit lac pro sanguine:              Milk flowed forth instead of blood:
Angelorum sublevatur               Then her body was translated
Corpus mutiudine,                     By the angel multitude,
Et Sinai collocatur                     And on Sinai's Mount located
In supremo culmine.                  At its highest altitude.

Gloria et honor Deo                  Lauds and glory in completeness
Usquequaque altissimo,            Be to the Father and to Son:
Una Patri Filioque,                   Equal glory with all meetness
Inclyto Paraclito:                      To the Paraclete be done
Cui laus est et potestas,            Theirs be praise in fullest sweetness
Per aeterna saecula.                 While unending ages run.


Vespers - Catharinae collaudemus

Catharinae collaudemus           Catherine's virtues of high station
Virtutum insignia,                      Praise we in this serenade:
Cordis ei praesenteums             Homage true of veneration
Et oris obsequia                        By our lips and hearts be made,
Ut ab ispa reportemus              That by her in due equation
Aequa laudis praemia               For our praise we be repaid.

Fulta fide Catharina                Strengthened by a faith unbounded,
Judicem Maximinum                Pagan judge inspires no dread:
Non formidat: lex divina          With God's law were they confounded
Sic firmat eloquium,                 Who had sought her fall instead:
Quod confutat ex doctrina       'Fore the doctrine she expounded
Errores gentilium                     All their gentile errors fled.

Victi Christum confitentur,        Conquered, and her Christ confessing,
Relictis erroribus:                      Pagan errors now they spurn:
Judex jubet ut crementur,          Raging flames about them pressing,
Nec pilis aut vestibus                 Hair nor vesture cannot burn:
Ignis nocet, sed torrentur          Souls, from bodies baked egressing,
Inustis corporibus.                    Soar to Him for whom they yearn.

Gloria et honor Deo                  Lauds and glory in completeness
Usquequaque altissimo,            Be to the Father and to Son:
Una Patri Filioque,                   Equal glory with all meetness
Inclyto Paraclito:                      To the Paraclete be done
Cui laus est et potestas,            Theirs be praise in fullest sweetness
Per aeterna saecula.                 While unending ages run.