Sunday, April 5, 2009

Deliver me from the horns of the unicorn

I have quoted great lines from Mass in the past but today's takes the cake. Here goes:

Domine, ne longe facias auxilium tuum a me, ad defensionem meam aspice: libera me de ore leonis, et a cornibus unicornium humilitatem meam.

O Lord, keep not Thy help far from me; look to my defense; deliver me from the lion's mouth, and my lowness from the horns of the unicorns.

Isn't that beautiful? It comes from one of the ancient Hebrew psalms. It is part of the Introit -- introduction, more or less -- to the Palm Sunday Mass. I could not get over that line!

The people who put this liturgy together thousands of years ago must have recognized its greatness, because later in the Mass it repeated:

Libera me de ore leonis: et a cornibus unicornium humilitatem meam.

Deliver me from the lion's mouth, and my lowness from the horns of the unicorns.

It is a pity that unicorns have become so cutesy. All the pictures you find look like this.

This is a little better but not much.

It is next to impossible to find a decent picture of a unicorn. You have to look for unicorns in medieval manuscripts which is how I found the one at the top of this post. That picture shows that at one time unicorns were not cute. They were beasts to be dealt with!

Mass always puts me in touch with my medieval self, that is for sure.

Today I thought I was getting to church early. I had trouble finding my keys as usual and I had run out the door in my skirt and heels and just a tiny little jacket. What the heck, I was just going from my car into church, right?

But I did not count on the Palm Sunday procession. When I got to church at 10 to 9 everyone was lining up outside, in the shadow of Buffalo City Hall.

So I ran from my car and joined the crowd outside the church. We were all holding our palms and Father Secondo was chanting in Latin and their were clouds of incense drifting heavenward. And I looked up at the blue sky and had a "Dr. Zhivago" moment. You know how the little boy at his mother's funeral is hearing that Russian chanting and looks up in the sky and he sees the trees and they play "Lara's Theme." That is how I felt!

People were laughing at me because I wasn't wearing a coat or anything, but I really didn't feel chilly. I was too fascinated by everything.

I was so zoned through the actual Mass itself that I forgot to put my money into the collection basket. What the heck, I can mail it in. I have to order that Mass for Leonard Pennario anyway, because he was baptized at St. Anthony's and he loved the Latin Mass. I have been trying to do that for what, a year? So this is my opportunity to take care of that.

Libera me de ore leonis: et a cornibus unicornium humilitatem meam.

And people wonder why I cannot go back to the folk Mass.


Ward said...

Unicorn images? You need to see the seven-section medieval tapestry depicting the "Lady and the Unicorn". It resides in its own controlled-atmosphere and fibre-optic lit room in the Musee Cluny in Paris.

Howard would be happy to take you.

Buffalo Bill said...

As fellow St. Anthony folks...we love your blog!

Great post...