Dies Irae, Dies Illa
Posted by james0235 on April 2, 2008
Sr. Mary Francis Peters passed away this past Saturday. On Tuesday a Solemn High Requiem Mass was offered for her at Holy Family by Fr. Kevin Lutz, the pastor of Holy Family. Fr. Adam Travis, parochial vicar of Our Lady of Prompt Succor in Alexandria, Louisiana served as deacon. And Msgr. John Cody, pastor of St. Christopher in Grandview served as subdeacon.
To me, the most memorable part of the Requiem Mass is always the chanting of the sequence, the Dies Irae.
I would describe the Dies Irae as hauntingly beautiful. And with its references to the judgment and its pleas for mercy I find the text of the Dies Irae to be quite different from what you encounter at the typical funeral Mass nowadays. It seems that a lot of priests, with good intentions I am sure, almost try to canonize the deceased rather than exhorting us to pray for their soul. The Dies Irae reminds me to pray for the deceased and to think about my own mortality.
Here is one of the dozens of English translations that have been made over the years:
Day of wrath! O day of mourning!
See fulfilled the prophets’ warning,
Heaven and earth in ashes burning!
Oh what fear man’s bosom rendeth,
when from heaven the Judge descendeth,
on whose sentence all dependeth.
Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth;
through earth’s sepulchers it ringeth;
all before the throne it bringeth.
Death is struck, and nature quaking,
all creation is awaking,
to its Judge an answer making.
Lo! the book, exactly worded,
wherein all hath been recorded:
thence shall judgment be awarded.
When the Judge his seat attaineth,
and each hidden deed arraigneth,
nothing unavenged remaineth.
What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
Who for me be interceding,
when the just are mercy needing?
King of Majesty tremendous,
who dost free salvation send us,
Fount of pity, then befriend us!
Think, good Jesus, my salvation
caused thy wondrous Incarnation;
leave me not to reprobation!
Faint and weary, thou hast sought me,
on the cross of suffering bought me.
shall such grace be vainly brought me?
Righteous Judge! for sin’s pollution
grant thy gift of absolution,
ere the day of retribution.
Guilty, now I pour my moaning,
all my shame with anguish owning;
spare, O God, thy suppliant groaning!
Thou the sinful woman savedst;
thou the dying thief forgavest;
and to me a hope vouchsafest.
Worthless are my prayers and sighing,
yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
rescue me from fires undying!
With thy favored sheep O place me;
nor among the goats abase me;
but to thy right hand upraise me.
While the wicked are confounded,
doomed to flames of woe unbounded
call me with thy saints surrounded.
Low I kneel, with heart submission,
see, like ashes, my contrition;
help me in my last condition.
Ah! that day of tears and mourning!
From the dust of earth returning
man for judgment must prepare him;
Spare, O God, in mercy spare him!
Lord, all pitying, Jesus blest,
grant them thine eternal rest. Amen.
I would ask anyone reading this to please say a prayer for the soul of Sr. Mary Francis. And please give some thought to the state of your own soul as well.