20 January 2024


Embarrassing, this. We do not relish hornets or their nests. But I think there is a lost bit of Tradition here which deserves at least mentioning. 

We have enough bother upholding the negatives in our Christian sexual Tradition. "Thou shalt not" seems to be the whole of the law. Denouncing Fornication and Adultery seems as far as we go in suggesting that the Spirit of the Age needs denouncing ...

Moreover, I do not have a neat or worked-out 'line' to take on this subject. 

Oh dear.

But here we go, or I go, with some tentative musings on one of the subjects that few of us grasp.

Tradition makes it clear that 'the gift of Continency' is an admirable state. Virginity ... have I got this right? ... is indeed superior to other Christian callings. 

Let me put before you some unusual remarks from a liturgical source few of us often approach. 

Before the number of 'Proper Prefaces' in the Roman Rite was severely cutailed aound the turn of the millennia, the Commune of a Virgin Martyr naturally had its own Preface. The Common for a Virgin Martyr in Leofric begins by suggesting that it is 'from the example of Blessed Mary that all Holy Virgins have despised the voluptates et delicias of 'the present age'. It is by God's gift that after 'the Virgin 'proceded from 'the Virgin' (Christ from Mary), the 'sexus fragilis' was made strong. It had had the 'peccandi facultas'; now it has the 'vincendi felicitas'. 

As we look back on the narratives of the Fall, we are reminded that the 'antiquus hostis' was proud to have defeated the human race through the 'antiqua virgo'. But now 'through holy virgins who are followers more of Mary than of Eve, he is defeated, so that the weak sex is now victorious'.

It is through their intercession who 'have defeated both their sex and the Age' that we pray to deserve to defeat the unseen Enemy, and to adhere to the Father's only-begotten Son.

I wonder what a Christian of this Age can derive from such a narrative? So what is the ecclesial function of the ordo virginum?


El Codo said...

I find the martyrdom of Virgins like Agnes, Anastasia etc so uplifting , encouraging and challenging. They are fresh fruit, unspoilt apples, beautiful heroes of our Catholic Faith. May they pray for us.

Quaerens Sapientiam said...

"What is the ecclesial function of the ordo virginum?"

To pray in medio Ecclesiae, i.e. according to the traditional rites of the Church in the Mass, divine office, and mental prayer; and there to stand, retaining focus in the will as an immovable pillar.

To offer the sacrifice of oneself to the Eternal Father; through, with, and in Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest and Victim of Calvary; in the unity of the Holy Spirit and the bonds of charity.

To refuse to surrender Tradition as the early martyrs refused to surrender the Scriptures to profanation or destruction. To reject idolatrous impostors to Tradition by dispelling error and vice, by teaching the Truth, and by cultivating a robust and lively prudence.

To suffer willingly being racked, mocked, and slandered by the Church's ministers for defending the sacraments of the Church. To wander about in goatskins sustained by the Providence of God alone, being in want, distressed, afflicted, and perhaps without accepting deliverance, so as to receive a better resurrection.

To avoid any and all sin by an integral purity of intention and perfect contrition for sin, as an image of the holiness of the Church. To love God from calm self-possession with whole and undivided heart, mind, soul, strength in imitation of the Blessed Virgin.

To proliferate Tradition wherever possible at any cost, first in one's own faculties, and secondly in one's local place and among the local priests and the people, so that all might have the intensification of grace within their own souls daily.


Until the spirit of martyrdom is restored to the ordo virginum, which may not be possible without the prayer of Tradition, there will not be the strength of the virgin martyr brought to bear in the Church as in the texts cited above by Fr Hunwicke. That day awaits present-day examples of early Church virgin martyrs such as Ss Agnes, Philomena, or Old Testament figures such as Judith and Susanna.

(Of your charity, please pray for a bishop with a generous heart to consecrate, according to the 1888 Pontificale or traditional equivalent, this writer wandering around in goatskins the last several years.)

Pulex said...

"the number of 'Proper Prefaces' in the Roman Rite was severely curtailed around the turn of the millennia..." This probably needs same qualification. Who did curtail and by what means? In the use of Roman Curia, represented by the Gregorian sacramentary, there was a dearth of prefaces quite before of the turn of the millennia, in fact starting from the earliest sources known to us (the Cambrai manuscript). Contemporaneously, there existed other uses that were represented by a family of sacramentaries loosely called Gelasian which contained a wealth of prefaces (in the Sanctoral). Around the turn of the millennia, the former started to borrow prefaces from the latter. First, preface of Our Lady, later, in 14th century, that of the Blessed Trinity (together with the feast).