Saint Ambrose

Saint Ambrose
Photo: Journey Worker Productions, CC SA 3.0 (C)

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Sunday breakfast in Lent / latin prayers / Fat Hen

Now that we are into Lent 2015 I thought Id post this from Lent 2014, to inform and inspire.

Here's my Sunday breakfast during March 2014 (and literally break-fast during Lent) - lamb's kidneys and fresh courgettes and a bit of sage, kale and some foraged fat hen (AKA 'colonial spinach') enroute back from an early morning mass.

On Fat Hen:

At mass, I noticed a detail I hadn't seen before in the prayers for the dead:
I was interested in the LOCUM REFRIGERII - a place of refreshment:
{English below, panic not!}

Priest:  Memento etiam,  Domine famulorum famularumque tuarum "N." et "N." qui nos praecesserunt cum signo fidei, et dormiunt in somno pacis. Ipsis Domine, et omnibus in Christo quiescentibus, *locum refrigerii*,  lucis et pacis,  ut indulgeas, deprecamur,  per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Which is in English:

Lord, be mindful of your servants and handmaidens/female servants, N and N who preceded us with the sign of faith, and sleep in the sleep of peace. Lord, we beseech you ought bestow a place of refreshment [locum refrigerii] for those and all who rest in Christ in through the same Christ our Lord.

The first Eucharistic prayer translation has it as follows:
...Grant them, O Lord, we pray, and all who sleep in Christ, a place of refreshment, light, and peace. ...

The other Eucharistic prayers don't have a reference to place of refreshment.

REFRIGERIUM is the concept of refreshment, but also of cooling, of relief, of rest. Think of resting and taking water after walking in a desert. Its that feeling of relief. (The cooling aspect is where we get 'refrigerator' from). 

Its a very different theology to the alternatives in the other Eucharistic prayers: those being concept of seeing God face to face, being co-heirs to eternal life, an admittance to God's kingdom to enjoy the fullness of God's glory, or (variant on this latter one) a heavenly inheritance, with the whole of creation, freed from the corruption of sin and death, glorifying Christ.

Refrigerium is a most extreme, emotionally resonant version of heaven, freed from social (property/military) abstractions like inheritance and glory, and free from the built-in 'distancing' connotation of sight. Particularly apposite for people with mental health, epilepsy, or cognate issues I think, and very apposite for a country that goes through (and will go through more and longer) heatwaves.

I had read about this REFRIGERIUM theology being very strong in the first millenium, before being displaced by the seeing-the-face-of-God theology in the middle ages. I was delighted to see that it has survived in the liturgy, and isnt just an 'Easternism'.

This morning's feast of vegetables and Lambs kidney definitely had a foretaste of heavenly 'refrigium' about it - prompting gratitude for a definite respite from a week of bland food!

No comments:

Post a Comment