Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Aspérges of the Traditional Latin Mass

To start, once again using the great resource of this Fisheaters page, here is the full text of the Asperges according to the 1962 missal.


As the priest enters and walks down the aisle toward the Altar, bow your head or make a profound bow toward him.
The Aspérges
Aspérges Me (during the year) or Vidi Aquam (during Paschaltide)
The priest, wearing a cope, blesses the Altar, himself, the servers, and the people with Holy Water. We beg God's mercy (or, during Paschaltide, we praise His mercy) and asks Him to send our church's Guardian Angel to protect us.
Stand. Make a profound bow and cross yourself as the priest passes
by and blesses the people of your pew with holy water.
Aspérges (outside of Paschaltide):
Aspérges me. Dómine, hyssópo, et mundábor: lavábis me, et super nivem dealbábor.
Thou shalt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall become whiter than snow.
Miserére mei, Deus, secúndum magnam misericórdiam tuam.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy. [Psalm 50]
P.Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
P.Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
Here, at the mention of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost together, the priest will pause in his blessing of the people.
S.Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen.
S.As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Aspérges me. Dómine, hyssópo, et mundábor: lavábis me, et super nivem dealbábor.
Thou shalt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall become whiter than snow.
Vidi Aquam (replaces the Aspérges during Paschaltide):
Vidi aquam egrediéntem de templo, a látere dextro, allelúia: et omnes ad quos pervénit aqua ista salvi facti sunt et dicent: allelúia, allelúia.
I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple, alleluia; and all they to whom that water came were saved, and they shall say, alleluia, alleluia.
Confitémini Dómino, quóniam bonus: quóniam in sæculum misericórdia ejus.
Praise the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever. [Psalm 117].
P.Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
P.Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
S.Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen.
S.As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Vidi aquam egrediéntem de templo, a látere dextro, allelúia: et omnes ad quos pervénit aqua ista salvi facti sunt et dicent: allelúia, allelúia.
I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple, alleluia; and all they to whom that water came were saved, and they shall say, alleluia, alleluia.
After either the Aspérges or the Vidi Aquam, the priest returns to the foot of the Altar
Osténde nobis, Dómine, misericórdiam tuam.Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy.
S.Et salutáre tuum da nobis.S.And grant us Thy salvation.
P.Dómine, exáudi oratiónem meam.P.O Lord, hear my prayer.
S.Et clamor meus ad te véniat.S.And let my cry come unto Thee.
P.Dóminus vobíscum.P.The Lord be with you.
S.Et cum spíritu tuo.S.And with thy spirit.
P.Orémus.P.Let us pray.
Exáudi nos, Dómine sancte, Pater omnípotens, ætérne Deus, et míttere dignéris sanctum Angelum tuum de cælis, qui custódiat, fóveat, prótegat, vísitet, atque deféndat omnes habitántes in hoc habitáculo. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.
Hear us, O holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, and vouchsafe to send Thy holy Angel from heaven, to guard, cherish, protect, visit and defend all that are assembled in this place: Through Christ our Lord.
S. AmenS. Amen
The Mass is in two main parts: The Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful. The Mass of the Catechumens is that first part of the Mass which centers around penance and the Word and is meant to instruct. In the early Church, the uninitiated and unbaptized were allowed to attend only that part of the Mass and had to leave before the Mass of the Faithful, which centers around the Sacrifice, began.
Sit while the priest vests for Mass, replacing his cope with a chasuble


This occurs before the High Mass, directly after the procession.


Since I'm not a theologian, I first had to do a bit of research to find out exactly what hyssop is. My initial guess had been that it was related to the first Passover, in which the Hebrew people marked their doors with the blood of a lamb in order to be spared when the angel of death came to Egypt. It appears that I was correct about this, and hyssop became important in the Mosaic law, especially when it was connected with blood of a sacrifice, and generally representing purification.
The marking of doors by the Hebrews in Egypt prefigures the Blood of Christ shed on the Cross. The Hebrews were marked by the blood of a sacrificial lamb to spare them from death, so too were we marked and washed by the Blood of the final and perfect sacrificial Lamb of God. The angel of death saw the markings on the doors of the Hebrew people and passed over them, and in the same way will God's judgement see the mark of the Lamb on us who have accepted it, and have mercy on us.

In the Aspérges, we are sprinkled with holy water. I am particularly fond of the symbolism of water in its dual meaning of life and death. Water provides life for us, and is necessary for our survival, but it also has destructive potential and many have died in the water. When we are baptized in the water, both of these meanings are made present in a rich way. First we die to ourselves so that we may live in God. We make the descent with Christ to the dead so that we may rise with Him again to eternal life.
The Aspérges recalls this death to self and life in Christ by bringing us the holy water. The water once again cleanses us, to be whiter than snow. We renew our baptisms which purified us, so that we may begin the Mass with our souls pure and humble before our God.

I also notice the Vidi Aquam which replaces the Aspérges during Paschaltide. Both have the same ultimate meaning, the idea of purifying ourselves, but the emphasis is different. Instead of begging for God's mercy ("Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy"), we thank Him for the mercy He freely offers us ("Praise the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever"). In this case we celebrate because we are assured of the mercy of God.

The mercy of God is limited only by our acceptance of it, and our cooperation with His grace. As the water reminds us, we put ourselves to death, put to death the flesh, so that we may rise with Him and follow Him to heaven. As we realize in the prayer of St. Francis, it is in death that we may be born to eternal life. In baptism we follow Jesus into the water of the Jordan, and by doing so we also are called to follow Him through His Passion, through His Crucifixion, to the tomb and into hell, to the dead, so that on the third day we may rise again with Him to eternal life and the immediate experience of God, the beatific vision.

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