April 23, 2012

Joys and Dubia for Giles of Assisi

For the last year and a half or so, I've been going on Monday mornings to offer Mass at the local Poor Clare monastery. It's been a great joy. One of my favorite little things is that their liturgical calendar is sometimes slightly different than ours. We follow the Capuchin Ordo, of course, but the nuns seem to follow the Ordo of the Leonine friars. I enjoy this because sometimes there is a Franciscan saint who seems to have fallen off of our calendar, but who nevertheless appears in the liturgical calendar I step into when I visit the Poor Clares.

Today is a good example, the feast of Blessed Giles of Assisi. I don't know why he seems to be absent from our calendar; Giles was one of the first companions of Francis and one of the great characters of the early Franciscan movement. One even speaks of an 'aegidian' strand in the Franciscan tradition ('Giles' being English for 'Aegidius.')

Whatever one wants to assert about the origin of Giles's so-called Golden Sayings, they're certainly interesting and challenging. Here are a couple of my favorites:

On the spiritual struggle: "A certain person said to him: 'I am frequently tempted with a most grievous temptation, and I have often asked God that he would take it away from me, and He does not take it away.' The holy Brother Giles replied to him: 'The better any king arms his soldiers with armor, the more he wishes that they should fight valiantly.'"

On preaching: "Many not knowing how to swim have gone into the water to aid those that were drowning, and they themselves have been lost with those that were perishing: first there was one evil and then there were two."

So it was a joy to be able to offer the Mass of Brother Giles this morning at the Poor Clares.

This does, however, raise a liturgical dubium. What is to be done about the proper orations? Bl. Giles has a full Mass formulary in the 1974 Roman-Franciscan Sacramentary, the liturgical book that was our parallel to the now superseded American English Sacramentary. There isn't, or isn't yet, any Roman-Franciscan Missal for the new translation.

It seems to me that there are three possible courses of action:

First, since no legitimate new translations of Mass formularies for propers of saints particular to the Franciscan calendar have yet appeared, one might presume that the ones attached to the old translation of the Mass are still in effect and licit for liturgical use. Therefore, one might use the old Roman-Franciscan Sacramentary for the proper orations but use the new Roman Missal for the rest of the Mass. Clumsy as it is to have two books on the altar, this is the solution I have decided upon. I admit that some of my choice derives from just liking the prayers themselves, such as when the Collect for Giles today speaks of the "heights of exalted contemplation."

On the other hand, a stricter view of things might suggest that the old prayers, in the style of the old translation, have gone out with the rest of the old book, and that the new Commons ought to be used for the Masses of saints who don't have, or don't yet have, proper prayers in the new translation.

Finally, the whole trouble might be avoided simply by celebrating Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Franciscan feast days, according to the 1962 Missale Romano-Seraphicum. But this won't help with poor Br. Giles, who doesn't appear therein, even though he was beatified in 1777. Perhaps his recovery into some calendars is the result of more recent Franciscan scholars providing for us an awareness of his importance. If anyone out there has a 1942 Missale Romano-Seraphicum, I would be interested to know if the feast of Bl. Giles is in there.

In any case, do pray for us, Brother.


Cloister said...

Poor St Giles. I'll pencil him in to the Ordo I use, the Dominican Ordo for the UK Province, and think up some little household celebration for him, so as he can be part of my homely collection of saints. I love saints, especially ones I have never come across before. What was his life like? xx

Mark D. said...

No feast day for Br. Giles????? I'm shocked. I don't know why I didn't know this before, but I'm shocked.