“Mondays with Mary” – Pope Saint John Paul II, Regina Caeli, and Easter Monday

Now that we have entered the Easter Season, the Marian antiphon that is proper to chant during this time is the Regina Caeli. The antiphon replaces the more common chanted Angelus, which is often heard throughout the rest of the year. Pilgrims traveling to Rome can gather to hear the weekly prayer and message given by the Holy Father. To learn more about the Regina Caeli and the Angelus, I would suggest reading the linked posts.

Madonna by Fra’ Filippo Lippi, O.Carm.

Since Regina Caeli means “Queen of Heaven” and today is Easter Monday, and on Mondays I focus on the Blessed Virgin Mary, I want to concentrate on some of the words from Pope Saint John Paul during from his Regina Caeli on the Easter Monday’s in his later Pontificate. As many of you know, he is big part of what I do for my full-time job and why I am so dedicated to my writing here and in other places.

The Polish Pope said…

“Today is Easter Monday, traditionally called “Monday of the Angel”, because angels appeared beside the women and the Apostles with a significant role in the extraordinary event of the Resurrection. It was precisely an angel who addressed the first message from the empty tomb to the women who had come to finish the burial arrangements for Jesus’ body. He says to them: “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here” (Mk 16:6) …Let us invoke the Queen of angels and saints, that she may grant us, supported by our guardian angels, to be authentic witnesses to the Lord’s paschal mystery.”

“But there is a second teaching we can draw from the angel’s words. When he [the Angel] urges the women not to seek “the living among the dead”, he wants us to understand that Christ — the living God who shines with glory — can be better known by his disciples now than before his passion and death. Now he gives his disciples the Holy Spirit, who can guide them “into all the truth” (Jn 16:13). The Spirit, the first gift of the Risen One to believers (cf. Jn 20:22), helps them in their weakness, leading them to “know fully the mystery of Redemption and to preach the rule of faith in all truth” (Peter Damian, Carmina et preces, III)…Dear brothers and sisters, let us invoke the Queen of Heaven, who certainly did not fail to meet her risen Son and was able joyfully to continue her conversation with him. May Mary obtain for all the faithful the gift of a joyful and consistent witness, which will lead many others to meet and know the risen Lord, who lives always among us.”

“The proclamation ‘Christ my hope is arisen! ’(Sequence) continues to echo in today’s liturgy. In this way the spiritual joy of Easter is prolonged and expands in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful. Christ’s Resurrection is the most overwhelming event in human history. This event gave everyone new hope: from now on hope no longer means waiting for something to happen. It means being certain that something has happened because ‘the Lord is risen and reigns immortal!’…Let us entrust our heartfelt petition to Mary. “Queen of heaven, you who rejoice because the Son you were chosen to bear has risen…’”

Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia – Rejoice, Queen of heaven, alleluia!”

This is the prayer that replaces the Angelus, which we address to her throughout the Easter season. The joy of the Blessed Virgin contains in itself everything for which the Church rejoices: every good of grace and nature. Let us therefore call upon her with faith and devotion: Regina caeli laetare, alleluia!”

“On this holiday, known in Italy as “Monday of the Angel“, there is still a strong echo in the liturgy of the heavenly messenger’s words to the women who had gone to the tomb: “Go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead” (Mt 28: 7). We hear the invitation as though addressed to us, too, to “go quickly” and proclaim the Gospel to the people of our time. May Mary, whom we call upon today in the Regina Caeli prayer, help us in this demanding mission which belongs to all the baptized. May she support us especially in bearing faithful witness that Jesus is truly risen and that humanity’s hope is restored to life in him.”

“May Mary, a silent witness of the Death and Resurrection of her Son Jesus, help us to believe totally in this mystery of salvation which, received with deep faith, can change life. May she enable us to transmit it with joy, as consistent and courageous disciples of the risen Lord, to all those we come across.”

“Mary became a model for Christian communities “rejoicing” in the Passover of the Lord, a source of true joy to all believers. Indeed, the Risen Christ is the source of and ultimate reason for this spiritual joy that no shadow can dim. The liturgy of the Octave of Easter echoes it constantly: “Christ has risen as he promised”. This is also what we proclaim in the “Regina Caeli”, a prayer so dear to popular piety…May the Virgin Mary, silent witness of this mystery, strengthen us in our personal attachment to the One who died and rose for the salvation of every human being. May she be our teacher and guide in the faith; may she support us in moments of doubt and temptation; may she obtain for us that inner peace which no one can disturb, because it is rooted in the certainty that Christ is truly risen.”

Regina Caeli…Pray for Us.

Pope Saint John Paul II…Pray for Us.

“Mondays with Mary” – Marian Hymns and the Benedictine Monks of St. Maurice & St. Maur

Continuing our theme and journey into Marian hymns through sacred music, this week I am turning to the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint-Maurice & Saint Maur, Clervaux. Originally released in 1960 on vinyl, and then redone on CD in 1988, these Marian hymns from the Benedictine monks are known specifically as Gregorian chant.

When the average person thinks of sacred music; I believe it is Gregorian chant that comes to mind for them. For an explanation into Gregorian chant, I suggest and recommend you read this article from Adam Bartlett – Gregorian Chant: The Acting Voice of Christ in Song. I know this will help you come to understand the importance of this style of sacred music.

As I have said in the past two weeks posts, many Catholic hymns focus on Jesus Christ and His Church, but there also many hymns written to reflect the beauty of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and these are specifically known as Marian hymns. Many of the Marian hymns are used in the month of May since May is the month of Mary, during the great Marian solemnities throughout the liturgical year, and also during the Season of Advent, which we are in now.

For the rest of today’s blog post, I am going to ask you to do something that you have been doing for the past two weeks, instead of reading, I am going to encourage you to listen to some of these beautiful Marian Chants performed by the Benedictine Monks of St. Maurice and St. Maur, from their CD – Salve Regina. Click on the links to purchase it via CD, iTunes, and Google Play Music.

mary-baby-jesus1

1. Magnificat 

2. Stabat Mater 

3. Salve Regina 

4. Ave Maria

5. Sub Tuum Praesidium  

6. Alma Redemptoris Mater  

7. Inviolata 

8. Regina Caeli  

Most Holy and Virgin Mary…Pray for Us 

“Mondays with Mary” – The Regina Caeli

During the Easter Season, which runs from Holy Saturday to the Sunday following Pentecost (Trinity Sunday), the Regina Caeli is one of the four seasonal antiphons that should be chanted or recited to the Blessed Virgin Mary after night prayer, also known as vespers or compline, in the Liturgy of the Hours. It is also the prayer that should be chanted or recited in place of the Angelus during the same season.

The authorship of the Regina Caeli is not fully known, although there are a couple different traditions that surround the prayer. Some believe that Pope St. Gregory the Great had a part in the composition of the prayer. In the late 6th century, a great plague hit the city of Rome. In order to combat this epidemic, St. Gregory the Great asked that a procession of prayer be organized. Beginning at the church of Ara Coeli (now the Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara coeli), the Holy Father, along with his clergy, began the prayerful procession through the streets of Rome, which would conclude at St. Peter’s Basilica. As he walked the streets, he carried what is said to be the traditional icon that was written by St. Luke the Evangelist of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Virgin_salus_populi_romani - St. Luke Icon

As Gregory approached St. Peter’s, he and his clergy walked by the Castle of Hadrian. It was there he heard the most beautiful angelic voices singing. The amazed Pope replied, “Ora pro nobis Deum. Alleluia!” Instantly an angel appeared and quickly wiped out the drastic disease that plagued Rome. To bring honor to this supernatural event, Pope St. Gregory the Great changed Hadrian’s Castle to the Castel of Sant’Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel). The words were also written on the roof of the Church of Ara Coeli.

Some claim the writing of the Regina Caeli is given to Pope Gregory V, who is said to have written the prayer in the late 10th century, however there isn’t much evidence to support this claim. The stronger of the two traditions most definitely is with Pope St. Gregory the Great, who is attributed to writing part of the prayer. The actual prayer itself is believed to have been composed between the ninth and twelfth centuries. According to Franciscan heritages, it was being recited in the late twelfth century and early thirteenth century. It was later added to a variety of chant manuscripts.

In the year 1742, Pope Benedict XIV professed that the Regina Caeli was to be prayed in place of the Angelus during the Easter Season when the bells were rung.

It’s a beautiful and simple request to the Blessed Virgin as our Queen who can intercede and pray for us. Because Jesus Christ has risen, she is a rejoicing with joy. The Season of Lent has concluded and it’s time to sing with Our Lady, pray with her, and know that we now have been given life over death through the Resurrection.

English:

Queen of Heave, rejoice, alleluia.The Son whom you merited to bear, alleluia, has risen as he said, alleluia. Pray for us to God, alleluia. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia! For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia!

Latin:

Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia, quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia, resurrexit sicut dixi, alleluia, ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Sources:

“Marian Antiphons.” Marian Antiphons. University of Dayton, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

“Regina Caeli.” Regina Caeli. Treasury of Latin Prayers, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.