02 December 2013

The Five Wise Virgins of Advent

251Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like to ten virgins, who taking their lamps went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride.tunc simile erit regnum caelorum decem virginibus quae accipientes lampadas suas exierunt obviam sponso et sponsae
252And five of them were foolish and five wise.quinque autem ex eis erant fatuae et quinque prudentes
253But the five foolish, having taken their lamps, did not take oil with them.sed quinque fatuae acceptis lampadibus non sumpserunt oleum secum
254But the wise took oil in their vessels with the lamps.prudentes vero acceperunt oleum in vasis suis cum lampadibus
255And the bridegroom tarrying, they all slumbered and slept.moram autem faciente sponso dormitaverunt omnes et dormierunt
256And at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh. Go ye forth to meet him.media autem nocte clamor factus est ecce sponsus venit exite obviam ei
257Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.tunc surrexerunt omnes virgines illae et ornaverunt lampades suas
258And the foolish said to the wise: Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out.fatuae autem sapientibus dixerunt date nobis de oleo vestro quia lampades nostrae extinguntur
259The wise answered, saying: Lest perhaps there be not enough for us and for you, go ye rather to them that sell and buy for yourselves.responderunt prudentes dicentes ne forte non sufficiat nobis et vobis ite potius ad vendentes et emite vobis
2510Now whilst they went to buy the bridegroom came: and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage. And the door was shut.dum autem irent emere venit sponsus et quae paratae erant intraverunt cum eo ad nuptias et clausa est ianua
2511But at last came also the other virgins, saying: Lord, Lord, open to us.novissime veniunt et reliquae virgines dicentes domine domine aperi nobis
2512But he answering said: Amen I say to you, I know you not.at ille respondens ait amen dico vobis nescio vos
2513Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour.vigilate itaque quia nescitis diem neque horam

Today is the feast day of St. Bibiana, a Roman girl of noble birth martyred under the reign of Julian the Apostate.  She is a great saint, though not widely known today, her feast day having been scrapped from the replacement calendar particular to the novus ordo missae.

Dom Gueranger points out something wonderful about the wisdom of the Church's immemorial calendar, with its annual and seasonal familiarity, in The Liturgical Year entry from today:

Of the saints whose feasts are kept during Advent, five are virgins.  The first, St. Bibiana, whom we honor today, is a daughter of Rome; the second, St. Barbara, is the glory of the eastern Churches; the third, St. Eulalia of Merida, is one of Spain's richest treasures; the fourth, St. Lucy, belongs to beautiful Sicily; the fifth, St. Odilia, is claimed by France.  These five wise virgins lighted their lamps and watched, waiting for the coming of the Spouse.  Such was their constancy and fidelity, that four of them shed their blood for the love of Him, after whom they longed.  Let us take courage by this noble example; and since we have not, as the apostle expresses it, as yet resisted unto blood, let us not think it hard if we suffer fatigue and trouble in the holy exercises of this penitential season of Advent: He, for whom we do them all, will soon be with us and repay us.

This is just one of the beautiful things about the liturgy, the liturgical year, and the ancient Mass, that I find over and over again.  There is always some little surprise, or hidden gem, or discovery just around the corner.  Just as the Subject of contemplation in Heaven can never be exhausted, on earth, the Mass is nearest analogue.  

God bless Dom Gueranger, whose love for the liturgy and its riches could never been called an "ostentatious preoccupation."  And the rich tradition of the Church, in her faith, liturgy and doctrine, will not forever be suppressed.  We can only pray that the trammeling of this glorious liturgy will end, removing its perceived status as "a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few."  May the prayers of St. Bibiana and the other wise virgins of Advent hasten the day.

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