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Temporal Cycle

Under this heading of Proper of the Time, we here comprise the movable Office of the Sundays and Ferias of Advent. Though anxious to give to the faithful the flowers of the Advent liturgy, yet were we to bring forward even those which might be considered as the choicest, four volumes would have barely sufficed. The fear of making our work too expensive to the faithful, persuaded us to limit it within much narrower bounds, and out of the abundant treasures before us, to give what we thought could be least dispensed with.

The plan we have adopted is this: We give the whole of the Mass and Vespers for the four Sundays of Advent. On the ferial days, we give one, at least, of the lessons from Isaias, which are read in the Office of Matins; adding to this a hymn or sequence, or some other poetic liturgical composition. All these have been taken from the gravest sources, for example, from the Roman and Mozarabic breviaries, from the Greek anthology and menæa, from the missals of the middle ages, &c. After this hymn or sequence, we have given a prayer from the Ambrosian, Gallican, or Mozarabic missal. So that the faithful will find in our collection an unprecedented abundance of liturgical formulæ, each of which carries authority with it, as being taken from ancient and approved sources.

We have not thought it desirable to give a commentary to each of the liturgical formulæ inserted in our work. It seemed to us that they would be rendered sufficiently intelligible by the general explanation which runs through our work, in which explanation we have endeavoured to excite the devotion of the reader, give unity to the several parts, and afford solid instruction. We shall thus avoid all those repetitions and commonplace remarks, which do little more than fatigue the reader.

We have inserted the Great Antiphons and the Office of Christmas Eve in the proper of the saints, because both of these have fixed days in the calendar, and to put them in the proper of the time, as they stand in the breviary and missal, would have required us to introduce into a book, destined for the laity, rubrics somewhat complicated, which would, perhaps, not have been understood.

For more information on the season of Advent, visit here.

We apply the name of Christmas to the forty days which begin with the Nativity of our Lord, December 25, and end with the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, February 2. It is a period which forms a distinct portion of the Liturgical Year, as distinct, by its own special spirit, from every other, as are Advent, Lent, Easter, or Pentecost. One same Mystery is celebrated and kept in view during the whole forty days. Neither the Feasts of the Saints, which so abound during this Season; nor the time of Septuagesima, with its mournful Purple, which often begins before Christmastide is over, seem able to distract our Holy Mother the Church from the immense joy of which she received the good tidings from the Angels[1] on that glorious Night for which the world had been longing four thousand years. The Faithful will remember that the Liturgy commemorates this long expectation by the four penitential weeks of Advent.
[1] St Luke ii 10.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Christmas)

For more information on the season of Christmas, visit here.

This third section of the liturgical year is much shorter than the two preceding ones; and yet it is one of real interest. The season of Septuagesima has only three weeks of the Proper of the Time, and the feasts of the saints are far less frequent than at other periods of the year. The volume we now offer to the faithful may be called one of transition, inasmuch as it includes the period between two important seasons—viz., Christmas and Lent. We have endeavoured to teach them how to spend these three weeks; and our instructions, we trust, will show them that, even in this the least interesting portion of the ecclesiastical year, there is much to be learned. They will find the Church persevering in carrying out the one sublime idea which pervades the whole of her liturgy; and, consequently, they must derive solid profit from imbibing the spirit peculiar to this season.

Were we, therefore, to keep aloof from the Church during Septuagesima, we should not have a complete idea of her year, of which these three weeks form an essential part. The three preliminary chapters of this volume will convince them of the truth of our observation; and we feel confident that, when they have once understood the ceremonies, and formulas, and instructions, offered them by the Church during this short season, they will value it as it deserves.

For more information on the season of Septuagesima, visit here.

We begin, with this volume, the holy season of Lent; but such is the richness of its liturgy, that we have found it impossible to take our readers beyond the Saturday of the fourth week. Passion-week and Holy Week, which complete the forty days of yearly penance, require to be treated at such length, that we could not have introduced them into this volume without making it inconveniently large.

The present volume is a very full one, although it only comprises the first four weeks of the season of Lent. We have called it Lent; and yet the two weeks of the next volume are also comprised in Lent; nay, they are its most important and sacred part. But, in giving the name of Lent to this first section, we have followed the liturgy itself, which applies this word to the first four weeks only; giving to the two that remain the names of Passion-week and Holy Week. Our next volume will, therefore, be called Passiontide and Holy Week.

For more information on Lent, visit here.

After having proposed the forty-days’ fast of Jesus in the desert to the meditation of the faithful during the first four weeks of Lent, the holy Church gives the two weeks which still remain before Easter to the commemoration of the Passion. She would not have her children come to that great day of the immolation of the Lamb, without having prepared for it by compassionating with Him in the sufferings He endured in their stead.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Passiontide and Holy Week)

For more information on Passiontide and Holy Week, visit here.

WITH this volume we begin the season of Easter, wherein are accomplished the mysteries prepared for, and looked forward to, since Advent. Such are the liturgical riches of this portion of the Christian year, that we have found it necessary to devote three volumes to it.

The present volume is wholly taken up with Easter Week. A week is indeed a short period; but such a week as this, with the importance of the events it brings before us, and the grandeur of the mysteries it celebrates, is, at least, equivalent to any other section of our Liturgical Year. We have abridged our explanations as much as possible; and yet we have exceeded two-thirds of one of our ordinary volumes. Hence, it was out of the question to add the remaining weeks; the more so, as the saints’ feasts recommence on the Monday following the Easter Octave, and their insertion would have obliged us to have made our volume considerably more bulky than even that of Passiontide. We have, therefore, been satisfied with giving the Mass and Office of the Annunciation, already given in our volume for Lent, but which are needed for the Monday after Low Sunday, when Easter falls between March 22 and April 2, which is frequently the case.

For more information on Paschal Tide, visit here.

This volume opens to us the second part of the Liturgical Year, beginning the long period of the Time after Pentecost. It treats of the feasts of the most holy Trinity, of Corpus Christi, and of the sacred Heart of Jesus. These three feasts require to be explained apart. Their dates depend on that of Easter; and yet they are detached, if we consider their object, from the moveable cycle, whose aim is to bring before us, each year, the successive, and so to speak historic, memories of our Lord’s mysteries. After the sublime drama, which has, by gradually presenting to us the facts of our Redeemer’s history, shown us the divine economy of the redemption, these feasts immediately follow, and give us a deep and dogmatic teaching: a teaching which is a marvellous synthesis, taking in the whole body of Christian doctrine.

The Holy Ghost has come down upon the earth, in order to sanctify it. Faith being the one basis of all sanctification, and the source of love, the holy Spirit would make it the starting-point of His divine workings in the soul. To this end, He inspires the Church, which has sprung up into life under the influence of His impetuous breathing, to propose at once to the faithful that doctrinal summary, which is comprised in the three feasts immediately coming after Pentecost. The volumes following the present one will show us the holy Spirit continuing His work, and, on the solid foundations of the faith He established at the outset, building the entire superstructure of the Christian virtues.

This was the idea which the author of the Liturgical year was busy developing in the second part of his work, when death came upon him; and the pen that had begun this volume was put by obedience into the hands of one, who now comes before the faithful, asking their prayers for the arduous task he has undertaken, of continuing the not quite finished work of his beloved father and master. He begs of them to beseech our Lord, that He Himself will vouchsafe to bring to a successful termination an undertaking that was begun for His honour and glory, and that has already produced so much fruit in the souls of men.

Br. L.F. O.S.B.

Solesmes, May 10, 1879.

 

For more information on Time after Pentecost, visit here.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

 

THE OCTAVE OF THE PASCH

 

OUR neophytes closed the Octave of the Resurrection yesterday. They were before us in receiving the admirable mystery; their solemnity would finish earlier than ours. This, then, is the eighth day for us who kept the Pasch on the Sunday, and did not anticipate it on the vigil. It reminds us of all the glory and joy of that feast of feasts, which united the whole of Christendom in one common feeling of triumph. It is the day of light, which takes the place of the Jewish Sabbath. Henceforth, the first day of the week is to be kept holy. Twice has the Son of God honoured it with the manifestation of his almighty power. The Pasch, therefore, is always to be celebrated on the Sunday; and thus every Sunday becomes a sort of Paschal feast, as we have already explained in the Mystery of Easter.

Our risen Jesus gave an additional proof that he wished the Sunday to be, henceforth, the privileged day. He reserved the second visit he intended to pay to all his disciples for this the eighth day since his Resurrection. During the previous days, he has left Thomas a prey to doubt; but to-day he shows himself to this Apostle, as well as to the others, and obliges him, by irresistible evidence, to lay aside his incredulity. Thus does our Saviour again honour the Sunday. The Holy Ghost will come down from heaven upon this same day of the week, making it the commencement of the Christian Church: Pentecost will complete the glory of this favoured day.

Jesus’ apparition to the eleven, and the victory he gains over the incredulous Thomas—these are the special subjects the Church brings before us to-day. By this apparition, which is the seventh since his Resurrection, our Saviour wins the perfect faith of his disciples. It is impossible not to recognize God in the patience, the majesty, and the charity of him who shows himself to them. Here, again, our human thoughts are disconcerted; we should have thought this delay excessive; it would have seemed to us that our Lord ought to have at once either removed the sinful doubt from Thomas's mind, or punished him for his disbelief. But no: Jesus is infinite wisdom, and infinite goodness. In his wisdom, he makes this tardy acknowledgement of Thomas become a new argument of the truth of the Resurrection; in his goodness, he brings the heart of the incredulous disciple to repentance, humility, and love; yea, to a fervent and solemn retractation of all his disbelief. We will not here attempt to describe this admirable scene, which holy Church is about to bring before us. We will select, for our to-day’s instruction, the important lesson given by Jesus to his disciple, and through him to us all. It is the leading instruction of the Sunday, the Octave of the Pasch, and it behoves us not to pass it by, for, more than any other, it tells us the leading characteristic of a Christian, shows us the cause of our being so listless in God’s service, and points out to us the remedy for our spiritual ailments.

Jesus says to Thomas: ‘Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed!’ Such is the great truth, spoken by the lips of the God-Man: it is a most important counsel, given, not only to Thomas, but to all who would serve God and secure their salvation. What is it that Jesus asks of his disciple? Has he not heard him make profession that now, at last, he firmly believes? After all, was there any great fault in Thomas’s insisting on having experimental evidence before believing in so extraordinary a miracle as the Resurrection? Was he obliged to trust to the testimony of Peter and the others, under penalty of offending his divine Master? Did he not evince his prudence, by withholding his assent until he had additional proofs of the truth of what his brethren told him? Yes, Thomas was a circumspect and prudent man, and one that was slow to believe what he had heard; he was worthy to be taken as a model by those Christians who reason and sit in judgement upon matters of faith. And yet, listen to the reproach made him by Jesus. It is merciful, and withal so severe! Jesus has so far condescended to the weakness of his disciple as to accept the condition on which alone he declares that he will believe: now that the disciple stands trembling before his risen Lord, and exclaims, in the earnestness of faith,’My Lord and my God!' oh! see how Jesus chides him! This stubbornness, this incredulity, deserves a punishment: the punishment is, to have these words said to him:’Thomas! thou hast believed, because thou hast seen!

Then was Thomas obliged to believe before having seen? Yes, undoubtedly. Not only Thomas, but all the Apostles were in duty bound to believe the Resurrection of Jesus even before he showed himself to them. Had they not lived three years with him? Had they not seen him prove himself to be the Messias and the Son of God by the most undeniable miracles? Had he not foretold them that he would rise again on the third day? As to the humiliations and cruelties of his Passion, had he not told them, a short time previous to it, that he was to be seized by the Jews in Jerusalem, and be delivered to the gentiles? that he was to be scourged, spit upon, and put to death?[1]

After all this, they ought to have believed in his triumphant Resurrection, the very first moment they heard of his Body having disappeared. As soon as John had entered the sepulchre, and seen the windingsheet, he at once ceased to doubt; he believed. But it is seldom that man is so honest as this; he hesitates, and God must make still further advances, if he would have us give our faith! Jesus condescended even to this: he made further advances. He showed himself to Magdalen and her companions, who were not incredulous, but only carried away by natural feeling, though the feeling was one of love for their Master. When the Apostles heard their account of what had happened, they treated them as women whose imagination had got the better of their judgement. Jesus had to come in person: he showed himself to these obstinate men, whose pride made them forget all that he had said and done, sufficient indeed to make them believe in his Resurrection. Yes, it was pride; for faith has no other obstacle than this. If man were humble, he would have faith enough to move mountains.

To return to our Apostle. Thomas had heard Magdalen, and he despised her testimony; he had heard Peter, and he objected to his authority; he had heard the rest of his fellow-Apostles and the two disciples of Emmaus, and no, he would not give up his own opinion. How many there are among us who are like him in this! We never think of doubting what is told us by a truthful and disinterested witness, unless the subject touch upon the supernatural; and then we have a hundred difficulties. It is one of the sad consequences left in us by original sin. Like Thomas, we would see the thing ourselves: and that alone is enough to keep us from the fulness of the truth. We comfort ourselves with the reflection that, after all, we are disciples of Christ; as did Thomas, who kept in union with his brother-Apostles, only he shared not their happiness. He saw their happiness, but he considered it to be a weakness of mind, and was glad that he was free from it!

How like this is to our modem rationalistic Catholic! He believes, but it is because his reason almost forces him to believe; he believes with his mind, rather than from his heart. His faith is a scientific deduction, and not a generous longing after God and supernatural truth. Hence how cold and powerless is this faith! how cramped and ashamed! how afraid of believing too much! Unlike the generous unstinted faith of the saints, it is satisfied with fragments of truth, with what the Scripture terms diminished truths.[2] It seems ashamed of itself. It speaks in a whisper, lest it should be criticized; and when it does venture to make itself heard, it adopts a phraseology which may take off the sound of the divine. As to those miracles which it wishes had never taken place, and which it would have advised God not to work, they are a forbidden subject. The very mention of a miracle, particularly if it have happened in our own times, puts it into a state of nervousness. The lives of the saints, their heroic virtues, their sublime sacrifices—it has a repugnance to the whole thing! It talks gravely about those who are not of the true religion being unjustly dealt with by the Church in Catholic countries; it asserts that the same liberty ought to be granted to error as to truth; it has very serious doubts whether the world has been a great loser by the secularization of society.

Now it was for the instruction of persons of this class that our Lord spoke those words to Thomas:’Blessed are they who have not seen, and have believed.' Thomas sinned in not having the readiness of mind to believe. Like him, we also are in danger of sinning, unless our faith have a certain expansiveness, which makes us see everything with the eye of faith, and gives our faith that progress which God recompenses with a superabundance of light and joy. Yes, having once become members of the Church, it is our duty to look upon all things from a supernatural point of view. There is no danger of going too far, for we have the teachings of an infallible authority to guide us. ‘The just man liveth by faith.’[3] Faith is his daily bread. His mere natural life becomes transformed for good and all, if only he be faithful to his Baptism. Could we suppose that the Church, after all her instructions to her neophytes, and after all those sacred rites of their Baptism which are so expressive of the supernatural life, would be satisfied to see them straightway adopt that dangerous system which drives faith into a nook of the heart and understanding and conduct, leaving all the rest to natural principles or instinct? No, it could not be so. Let us therefore imitate St Thomas in his confession, and acknowledge that hitherto our faith has not been perfect. Let us go to our Jesus, and say to him: 'Thou art my Lord and my God! But alas! I have many times thought and acted as though thou wert my Lord and my God in some things, and not in others. Henceforth I will believe without seeing; for I would be of the number of those whom thou callest blessed!’

This Sunday, commonly called with us Low Sunday, has two names assigned to it in the Liturgy: Quasimodo, from the first word of the Introit; and Sunday in albis (or, more explicitly, in albis depositis), because on this day the neophytes assisted at the Church services attired in their ordinary dress. In the Middle Ages it was called Close-Pasch, no doubt in allusion to its being the last day of the Easter Octave. Such is the solemnity of this Sunday that not only is it of Greater Double rite, but no feast, however great, can ever be kept upon it.

At Rome, the Station is in the basilica of St Pancras, on the Aurelian Way. Ancient writers have not mentioned the reason of this Church being chosen for to-day's assembly of the faithful. It may, perhaps, have been on account of the saint's being only fourteen years old when put to death: a circumstance which gave the young martyr a sort of right to have the neophytes round him, now that they were returning to their everyday life.

 

MASS

 

The Introit repeats those beautiful words of St Peter, which were addressed, in yesterday's Epistle, to the newly baptized. They are like new-born babes, lovely in their sweet simplicity, and eager to drink from the breasts of their dear mother, the Church, the spiritual milk of faith—that faith which will make them strong and loyal.

Introit

Quasi modo geniti infantes, alleluia: rationabile sine dolo lac concupiscite. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Ps. Exsultate Deo adjutori nostro: jubilate Deo Jacob. ℣. Gloria Patri. Quasi modo.
As new-born babes, alleluia: desire the rational milk without guile. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Ps. Rejoice to God our helper: sing aloud to the God of Jacob. ℣. Glory, etc. As new-born, etc.

On this the last day of the great Octave, the Church, in her Collect, bids farewell to the glorious solemnities that have so gladdened us, and asks our Lord to grant that our lives and actions may ever reflect the holy influence of our Pasch.

Collect

Præsta, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut qui paschalia festa peregimus: hæc, te largiente, moribus et vita teneamus. Per Dominum.
Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that we, who have celebrated the Paschal solemnity, may, by the assistance of thy divine grace, ever make the effects thereof manifest in our lives and actions. Through, etc.

Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Joannis Apostoli.

I Cap. v.

Charissimi, omne, quod natum est ex Deo, vincit mundum: et hæc est victoria, quæ vincit mundum, fides nostra. Quis est, qui vincit mundum, nisi qui credit quoniam Jesus est Filius Dei? Hic est qui venit per aquam et sanguinem, Jesus Christus: non in aqua solum, sed in aqua et sanguine. Et spiritus est, qui testificatur, quoniam Christus est veritas.Quoniam tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in cœlo: Pater, Verbum et Spiritus Sanctus: et hi tres unum sunt. Et tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in terra: Spiritus et aqua et sanguis: et hi tres unum sunt. Si testimonium hominum accipimus, testimonium Dei majus est: quoniam hoc est testimonium Dei quod majus est, quoniam testificatus est de Filio suo. Qui credit in Filium Dei, habet testimonium Dei in se.
Lesson of the Epistle of St John the Apostle.

I Ch. v.

Dearly beloved: Whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world: and this is the victory which overcometh the world, our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, Jesus Christ: not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the spirit which testifieth, that Christ is the truth. And there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one. And there are three that give testimony on earth: the spirit, the water, and the blood, and these three are one. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater. For this is the testimony of God which is greater, because he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth in the Son of God, hath the testimony of God in himself.

The Apostle St John here tells us the merit and power of faith: it is, says he, a victory, which conquers the world, both the world outside, and the world within us. It is not difficult to understand why this passage from St John's Epistles should have been selected for to-day's Liturgy: it is on account of its being so much in keeping with the Gospel appointed for this Sunday, in which our Lord passes such eulogy upon faith. If, as the Apostle here assures us, they Overcome the world who believe in Christ, that is not sterling faith which allows itself to be intimidated by the world. Let us be proud of our faith, esteeming ourselves happy that we are but little children when there is a question of receiving a divine truth; and let us not be ashamed of our eager readiness to admit the testimony of God. This testimony will make itself heard in our hearts, in proportion to our willingness to hear it. The moment John saw the winding-bands which had shrouded the Body of his Master, he made an act of faith; Thomas, who had stronger testimony than John (for he had the word of the Apostles, assuring him that they had seen their risen Lord), refused to believe: he had not overcome the world and its reasonings, because he had not faith.

The two Alleluia Versicles are formed of two texts alluding to the Resurrection. The second speaks of the scene which took place on this day, in the cenacle.

Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. In die resurrectionis meæ, dicit Dominus, præcedam vos in Galilaeam. Alleluia. ℣. Post dies octo, januis clausis, stetit Jesus in medio discipulorum suorum, et dixit: Pax vobis. Alleluia.
Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. On the day of my Resurrection, saith the Lord, I will go before you into Galilee. Alleluia. ℣. After eight days, the doors being shut, Jesus stood in the midst of his disciples, and said: Peace be with you. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.

Cap. xx.

In illo tempore: Quum sero esset die illo, una sabbatorum, et fores essent clausæ, ubi erant discipuli congregati propter metum Judaeorum: venit Jesus, et stetit in medio, et dixit eis: Pax vobis. Et cum hoc dixisset, ostendit eis manus et latus. Gavisi sunt ergo discipuli, viso Domino. Dixit ergo eis iterum: Pax vobis. Sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos. Hæc cum dixisset, insufflavit et dixit eis: Accipite Spiritum Sanctum; quorum remiseritis peccata, remittuntur eis: et quorum retinueritis, retenta sunt. Thomas autem unus ex duodecim, qui dicitur Didymus, non erat cum eis quando venit Jesus. Dixerunt ergo et alii discipuli: Vidimus Dominum. Ille autem dixit eis: Nisi videro in manibus ejus fixuram clavorum, et mittam digitum meum in locum clavorum, et mittam manum meam in latus ejus, non credam. Et post dies octo, iterum erant discipuli ejus intus: et Thomas cum eis. Venit Jesus januis clausis, et stetit in medio, et dixit: Pax vobis. Deinde dicit Thomæ: Infer digitum tuum huc, et vide manus meas, et after manum tuam, et mitte in latus meum: et noli esse incredulus, sed fidelis. Respondit Thomas, et dixit ei: Dominus meus, et Deus meus. Dixit ei Jesus: Quia vidisti me, Thoma, credidisti: beati qui non viderunt et crediderunt. Multa quidem et alia signa fecit Jesus in conspectu discipulorum suorum, quæ non sunt scripta in libro hoc. Hæc autem scripta sunt, ut credatis, quia Jesus est Christus Filius Dei: et ut credentes, vitam habeatis in nomine ejus.
The sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.

Ch. xx.

At that time: When it was late that same day, being the first day of the week, and the doors were shut where the disciples were gathered together for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you. And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad when they saw the Lord. He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. Now Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you. Then he said to Thomas: Put in thy fingers hither, and see my hands, and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. Thomas answered and said to him: My Lord and my God! Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed. Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing you may have life in his name.

We have said enough about St Thomas’ incredulity; let us now admire his faith. His fault has taught us to examine and condemn our own want of faith; let us learn from his repentance how to become true believers. Our Lord, who had chosen him as one of the pillars of his Church, has been obliged to treat him with an exceptional familiarity: Thomas avails himself of Jesus’ permission, puts his finger into the sacred wound, and immediately he sees the sinfulness of his past incredulity. He would make atonement, by a solemn act of faith, for the sin he has committed in priding himself on being wise and discreet: he cries out, and with all the fervour of faith: My Lord and my God! Observe, he not only says that Jesus is his Lord, his Master, the same who chose him as one of his disciples: this would not have been faith, for there is no faith where we can see and touch. Had Thomas believed what his brother-Apostles had told him, he would have had faith in the Resurrection; but now he sees, he has experimental knowledge of the great fact; and yet, as our Lord says of him, he has faith. In what? In this, that his Master is God. He sees but the humanity of Jesus, and he at once confesses him to be God. From what is visible, his soul, now generous and repentant, rises to the invisible:’Thou art my God!' Now, O Thomas! thou art full of faith! The Church proposes thee to us, on thy feast, as an example of faith. The confession thou didst make on this day is worthy to be compared with that which Peter made, when he said:’Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God!’[4] By this profession, which neither flesh nor blood had revealed to him, Peter merited to be made the rock whereon Christ built his Church: thine did more than compensate thy former disbelief; it gave thee, for the time, a superiority over the rest of the Apostles, who, so far at least, were more taken up with the visible glory, than with the invisible divinity, of their risen Lord.

The Offertory gives us another text of the Gospel relative to the Resurrection.

Offertory

Angelus Domini descendit de cœlo, et dixit mulieribus: Quem quæritis, surrexit sicut dixit. Alleluia.
An angel of the Lord came down from heaven, and said to the women: He whom ye seek is risen, as he said, alleluia.

In the Secret, the Church expresses the holy enthusiasm wherewith the Paschal mystery fills her; she prays that this joy may lead her to the never-ending one of the eternal Easter.

Secret

Suscipe munera, Domine, quæsumus, exsultantis Ecclesiæ: et cui causam tanti gaudii præstitisti, perpetuæ fructum concede lætitiæ. Per Dominum.
Receive, we beseech thee, O Lord, the offerings of thy joyful Church: and as thou hast given occasion to this great joy, grant she may receive the fruits of that joy which will never end. Through, etc.

While giving the Bread of heaven to her neophytes and other children, the Church sings in her Communion Antiphon the words spoken by Jesus to Thomas. This Apostle was permitted to touch our Lord's sacred wounds; we, by the holy Eucharist, are brought into still closer intimacy with this same Jesus: but that we may derive the profit intended by such condescension, we must have a faith lively and generous, like that which he exacted from his Apostles.

Communion

Mitte manum tuam et cognosce loca clavorum, alleluia: et noli esse incredulus, sed fidelis. Alleluia, alleluia.
Put forth thy hand, and mark the place of the nails, alleluia: and be not incredulous, but believe. Alleluia, alleluia.

The Church concludes the prayers of her Sacrifice by asking that the divine mystery, instituted to be a support to our weakness, may give us untiring perseverance.

Postcommunion

Quæsumus, Domine Deus noster: ut sacrosancta mysteria, quæ pro reparationis nostræ munimine contulisti, et præsens nobis remedium esse facias et futurum. Per Dominum.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord our God, that the sacred mysteries thou hast given us to preserve the grace of our redemption may be our present and future remedy. Through, etc.

 

VESPERS

 

When the feast of the Annunciation is deferred till after Easter, it is kept on the Monday following Low Sunday: its First Vespers are now sung, and a commemoration only is made of the Sunday, at the end of the Office. We have given these below, p. 310. Other years, the Vespers are those of Paschal time, which will be found at p. 81.

Antiphon of the Magnificat

Ant. Post dies octo, januis clausis, ingressus Dominus, dixit eis: Pax vobis. Alleluia, alleluia.

Oremus.

Præsta, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut qui paschalia festa peregimus: hæc, te largiente, moribus et vita teneamus. Per Dominum.
Ant. After eight days, the doors being shut, the Lord entering, said: Peace be to you. Alleluia, alleluia.

Let us Pray.

Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that we who have celebrated the Paschal solemnity may, by the assistance of thy divine grace, ever make the effects thereof manifest in our lives and actions. Through, etc.

As an appropriate prayer wherewith to close the day, we offer to our readers the following beautiful one, wherein the Gothic Church of Spain celebrates the mystery of the eighth day—the Octave of Easter.

Ingeniti genitoris genite Fili, qui in eo nobis diei hujus octavi renovas cultum, in quo te discipulorum aspectibus hodie præbuistipalpandum. Nam licet hic dies sit prior præ cæteris conditus, octavus post septem efficitur revolutus, quo ipse sicut admirabiliter e sepulchro surrexisti a mortuis, ita ad discipulos inæstimabiliter intrasti januis obseratis. Initium videlicet Paschæ ac finem exornans congruis sacramentis, cum et resurrectio tua custodibus terrorem incuteret, et manifestatio discipulorum corda dubia confortaret. Quæsumus ergo, ut nos his sacramentis imbutos fides qua te credimus post istud sæculum tibi repræsentet illæsos. Nullum nobis de te scrupulum dubitationis errorisque, aut otium pariat, aut quæsitio incauta enutriat. Serva in nomine tuo quos redemisti sanguine pretioso. Contemplandum te nostris sensibus præbe: nostrumque cor dignatus ingredere. Esto semper in medio nostri qui hodie pacem nuntians discipulorum in medio astitisti. Quique in eis insufflasti Spiritum vitæ, nobis largire ejusdem Spiritus consolationem.
O Son begotten of the unbegotten Father! thou again invitest us to honour this eighth day, on which thou didst permit thy disciples to see and touch thee. The Sunday, though made before the other days, becomes the eighth by following the seven preceding it. It was on this day that thou didst rise from the tomb and death; it was on this same thou enteredst where thy disciples were assembled, and, the doors being shut, didst honour them by thine inestimable visit. Thus didst thou adorn, with a mystery well suited to each, both the beginning and the close of the Pasch; for thy Resurrection struck terror into the soldiers that guarded the tomb, and thy apparition confirmed the doubting hearts of thy disciples. We, therefore, who possess the knowledge of all these mysteries, beseech thee to grant that the faith whereby we believe may present us before thee, after this life, free from sin. May neither sloth engender, nor indiscreet prying foster, any misgiving of doubt or error concerning thee. Preserve in thy holy name them thou hast redeemed by thy precious blood. Let our souls contemplate thee, and vouchsafe to enter into our hearts. O thou that on this day didst appear in the midst of thy disciples and greet them with peace, abide ever with us. Thou didst breathe upon them the Spirit of life; grant us the consolation of the same Holy Spirit.

Once more let us listen to the devout Adam of St Victor. His sequences were great favourites with our Catholic forefathers of the Middle Ages. The triumph of our Redeemer over death was a subject which this great liturgical poet has often treated in a most masterly way.

Sequence

Mundi renovatio
Nova parit gaudia;
Resurgenti Domino
Conresurgunt omnia.
Elementa serviunt,
Et auctoris sentiunt
Quanta sit potentia.

Ignis volat mobilis,
Et aer volubilis:
Fluit aqua labilis,
Terra manet stabilis:
Alta petunt levia,
Centrum tenent gravia,
Renovantur omnia.

Cœlum fit serenius,
Et mare tranquillius;
Spirat aura levius,
Vallis nostra floruit.
Revirescunt arida,
Recalescunt frigida,
Postquam ver intepuit.

Gelu mortis solvitur.
Princeps mundi tollitur,
Et ejus destruitur
In nobis imperium;
Dum tenere voluit
In quo nihil habuit,
Jus amisit proprium.

Vita mortem superat;
Homo jam recuperat
Quod prius amiserat,
Paradisi gaudium:
Viam præbet facilem,
Cherubim versatilem
Amovendo gladium.

Christus cœlos reserat,
Et captivos liberat,
Quos culpa ligaverat
Sub mortis interitu.
Pro tanta victoria
Patri, Proli gloria
Sit cum Sancto Spiritu!

Amen.
The world's renovation
creates new joy.
All creatures rise together
with their Lord.
The elements obey him,
and feel their Creator's
mighty power.

Fire is impetuous in its flight;
air is swift;
water is flowing;
earth is firm;
light things tend aloft,
and those that are heavy seek their centre:
but all are now renewed.

Heaven is more serene,
the sea more tranquil,
the winds breathe softer.
Our valley is filled with flowers;
and now that gentle spring is come,
the dry things have put on green again,
and the cold a genial warmth.

The frost of death is thawed.
The prince of this world
is made captive,
and has no longer power over us:
by striving to take him over
whom he had no claim,
he lost his own.

Life conquers death;
man now regains
what he had lost
—the joys of heaven;
the angel sheathes
his two-edged sword,
and leaves the passage free.

Jesus opens heaven,
and liberates them
whom sin had
made captives of death.
For this great victory,
be glory to Father, Son,
and Holy Ghost.

Amen.

 


[1] St Luke xviii 32, 33.
[2] Ps. xi 2.
[3] Rom. i 17.
[4] St Matt. xvi 16.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

℣. In resurrectione tua, Christe, alleluia.
℟. Cœli et terra laetentur, alleluia.
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

THE first week has been devoted to the joyous celebration of our Emmanuel’s return to us. He has been visiting us each day, in order to make us sure of his Resurrection. He has said to us: See me! Touch me! Feel! it is indeed I![1] But we know that his visible presence among us is not to last beyond forty days. This happy period is rapidly advancing; the time seems to go so quickly! In a few weeks, he, for whom the whole earth has been in such expectation, will have disappeared from our sight. O Expectation and Saviour of Israel! why wilt thou he as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man turning in to lodge? Why wilt thou be as a wanderer?[2]—So much the more precious are the hours, then! Let us keep close by his side; when we cannot hear his words, let us fix our eyes upon him; but when he does speak, let us treasure up the beautiful words, for they are as the last will of our dearest Master.

During these forty days he is continually with his disciples, not indeed to persuade them of his Resurrection (for of that they had no longer any doubt), but, as St Luke says, that he might speak to them of the Kingdom of God.[3] He has redeemed man by his Blood, and his victory over death; he has wrought reconciliation between heaven and earth—all that now remains to be done is the organization of the Church. The Church is the Kingdom of God; for it is in and by her that God is to reign upon the earth. The Church is the Spouse of the risen Jesus; it is he that raised her up to so exalted an honour; and now he would give her the dowry which will prepare her for that glorious day when the Holy Ghost is to descend upon her, and proclaim her to all nations as Spouse of the Incarnate Word, and Mother of the elect.

Three things are needed by the Church in order that she may carry on her mission: a constitution framed by the very hand of the Son of God, whereby she will become a visible and permanent society; the possession of all the truths which her divine Lord came upon this earth to reveal or confirm—and in this is included the right to teach, and teach infallibly; thirdly, the means whereby she may efficaciously apply to the faithful the fruit of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, that is to say, the graces of salvation and sanctification. Hierarchy, Doctrine, Sacraments—these are the all-important subjects upon which our Lord instructs his disciples during the forty days between his Resurrection and Ascension.

But before following him in his divine work of organizing the Church, let us spend the rest of this week in considering him as the Risen Jesus, dwelling among men, and winning their admiration and love. We have contemplated him in the humility of his swathing-bands and Passion; let us now exultingly feast on the sight of his glory.

He presents himself to us as the most beautiful of the sons of men.[4] He was always so, even when he veiled the splendour of his beauty under the infirmity of the mortal flesh he had assumed; but what must not this splendour be now that he has vanquished death, and permits the rays of his glory to shine forth without restraint? His age is for ever fixed at that of thirtythree: it is the period of life wherein man is at the height of his strength and beauty, without a single sign of decay. It was the state in which God created Adam, whom he formed to the likeness of the Redeemer to come; it will be the state of the bodies of the just on the day of the general Resurrection—they will bear upon them the measure of the perfect age[5] which our Lord had when he arose from his tomb.

But it is not only by the beauty of his features that the Body of our Risen Jesus delights the eye of such as are permitted to gaze upon him: it is now endowed with the glorious qualities of which the three Apostles caught a glimpse on Mount Thabor. In the Transfiguration, however, the Humanity shone as the sun because of its union with the Person of the Word; but now, besides the Brightness due to it by the Incarnation, the glorified Body of our Redeemer has that which comes from his being Conqueror and King. His Resurrection has given him such additional resplendence that the sun is not worthy to be compared with him; and St John tells us that he is the Lamp that lights up the heavenly Jerusalem.[6]

To this quality which the Apostle of the Gentiles calls Brightness,[7] is added that of Impassibility, whereby the Body of our Risen Lord has ceased to be accessible to suffering or death, and is adorned with the immortality of life. This Body is as truly and really a Body as ever; but it is now impervious to any deterioration or weakness; its life is to bloom for all eternity. The third quality of our Redeemer’s glorified Body is Agility, by which it can pass from one place to another, instantly and without effort. The Flesh has lost that weight which, in our present state, prevents the body from keeping pace with the longings of the soul. He passes from Jerusalem to Galilee in the twinkling of an eye, and the Spouse of the Canticle thus speaks of him: The voice of my Beloved! Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills![8] Finally, the Body of our Emmanuel has put on the quality of Subtility (which the Apostle calls ‘Spirituality’),[9] whereby it is enabled to penetrate every material obstacle more easily than a sunbeam makes its way through glass. On the morning of his Resurrection, he passed through the stone that stood against the mouth of the sepulchre; and on the same day he entered the Cenacle, though its doors were shut, and stood before his astonished disciples.

Such is our Saviour, now that he is set free from the shackles of mortality. Well may the little flock that is favoured with his visits exclaim on seeing him: How fair and comely art thou,[10] O dearest Master! Let us join our praises with theirs, and say: Yes, dearest Jesus, thou art beautiful above all the sons of men! A few days back and we wept at beholding thee covered with wounds, as though thou hadst been the worst of criminals: but now our eyes feast on the resplendent charm of thy divine beauty. Glory be to thee in thy triumph! Glory, too, be to thee in thy generosity, which has decreed that these our bodies, after having been purified by the humiliation of the tomb, shall one day share in the prerogatives which we now admire in thee!

Let us, destined as we are to share in the glory of our Jesus, offer to him this beautiful canticle, which used to be sung in the churches of Germany during the Middle Ages:

Sequence

Rex regum, Dei Agne,
Leo Juda magne, crucis virtute
Mors peccati, vita justitiæ.

Dans fructum jam ligni vitæ
Pro gustu scientiae, medicina gratiae
Pro rapina gloriae.

Quum tuus sanguis
Jus romphææ restrinxit flammeae,
Paradisi pandis hortum,
Stirps obedientiæ, medicina gratiae.

Haec dies Domini celebris;
Pax est in terris, fulgur inferis,
Et lux superis;
Dies duplicis baptismi, Legis et Evangelii.

Christus Pascha est homini:
Dum vetus transit, novum surgit.
Haec dies Domini,
Gaude mens expers fermenti, plena panis azymi.

Submersis hostibus,
Signatis postibus, assum Pascha
Nocte domo una,
Jam cum lactucis ede agrestibus.

Accinctis renibus,
Pellitis pedibus, cum baculo propera,
Et caput cum intestinis
Et pedibus vora.

Hac die nos lava,
Christe, mundans hyssopo,
Fac et dignos hoc mysterio;
Mare siccans, Leviathan perforans
Maxillam hamo armilla.

Calice nos inebria,
Sopi, suscita;
De torrente bibens in via
Damna nostra;
Tu Pontifex, hostia,
Torcular calcans, tu uva.

O flos virgineae virgae fragrans,
Plena septemplici rore,
Specie rosæ rubor,
Lilii candor,
Quo te tantæ clementiae Consilio,
Microcosmi inclinaveras Auxilio,
Ut miseris particeps
Redemptor esses,
Absque peccati naevo,
Gestans formulam peccati?

O consanguinee
Servi, Domine,
Spes anastaseos primae,
Ultimae, per jusjurandum
Semini Abrahæ firma et nos.
Dux athanatos,
Nos tuo convivificans corpori,
Commortuos Adæ parent veteri;
Tu membris fortioribus
Jungens infirma,
Vitæ æternæ des pascua, tu Pascha.

Amen.
O King of kings! Lamb of God!
Strong Lion of Juda! by the power of the Cross,
|thou art the Death of sin, and the Life of justice.

To repair the evil done by Adam's eating of the Tree of Knowledge,
thou now givest us the fruit of the Tree of Life: to remedy the theft
committed by his ambition for glory, thou givest the medicine of grace.

Thy Blood quenched
the fiery sword which justly menaced us.
Thou openest heaven to us,
O Root of obedience! O Medicine of Grace!

This is the great day of the Lord,
which brings peace to earth, and terror to hell,
and light to heaven.
It is the day of the twofold baptism—of the Law and the Gospel.

Christ is our Pasch:
the old one passes away, and the new rises in its stead.
This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us,
who have put away the old leaven and feed on the unleavened, let us rejoice!

Thine enemies, my soul, are drowned in the sea;
thy threshold is signed with the Blood of the Lamb: eat the Pasch
prepared by fire in the night;
eat it in the One House; yea, eat it with wild lettuce.

Gird thy reins,
shoe thy feet, and, with a stave in thy hand,
hasten and eat the head and entrails
and feet of the Lamb.

Cleanse us, O Jesus,
this day, with hyssop;
make us worthy of the Mystery.
Dry up the sea that we may pass; and with the hook
(of thy Cross) take the Leviathan.

Inebriate us, lull us to rest,
inspirit us with thy chalice,
O thou that didst drink
of the torrent of our miseries in the way!
O thou our High Priest,
our Victim, our Wine-presser, our Vine!

O fragrant Flower of the Virgin-Branch!
rich with the dew of the seven gifts,
ruddy as the rose,
and fair as the lily!
—whence that merciful design of thine,
that made thee stoop to aid this little world,
sharing our nature
that thou mightest redeem us miserable men,
and taking the likeness of sin,
O thou the sinless God!

O Sovereign Lord!
thou that hast made thyself Brother of thy creature man!
O Hope of our first and eternal Resurrection!
we beseech thee, by the promise
made to Abraham’s seed,
give us strength, O immortal King!
and make us, who were sharers
in our First Parent’s death, to be fellow-members of thy life.
Unite our weakness with thy strength, and bless us,
O Blessed Paschal Lamb!
with the pastures of eternal Life.

Amen.

[1] St Luke xxiv 39.
[2] Jer. xiv 8, 9.
[3] Acts i 3.
[4] Ps. xliv 3.
[5] Eph. iv 13.
[6] Apoc. xxi 23.
[7] Phil. iii 21. The Vulgate has Claritas.
[8] Cant, ii 8.
[9] 1 Cor. xv 44.
[10] Cant. i 15.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

℣. In resurrectione tua, Christe, alleluia.
℟. Cœli et terra laetentur, alleluia.
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

WHAT are these wounds in the midst of thy hand?[1] Such was the exclamation of the Prophet Zacharias, who lived five hundred years before the Birth of our Emmanuel: and we are almost forced to use it, now that we behold the Wounds that shine so brightly in the glorified Body of our Risen Lord. His hands and feet bear the mark of the nails, and his side that of the spear; the Wounds are as visible and as deep as when he was first taken down from the Cross. Put in thy finger hither, said Jesus, holding out his wounded hands to Thomas; put thy hand into my Side![2]

We assisted at this wonderful interview on Sunday last—the incredulity of the disciple was made an occasion for the most incontestable proof of the Resurrection: but it also taught us that, when our Lord rose from the tomb, he retained in his glorified Flesh the stigmata of his Passion. Consequently, he will retain them for ever, inasmuch as no change can have further place in his Person. What he was the moment after his Resurrection, that will he be for all eternity. But we are not to suppose that these sacred stigmata, which tell of his humiliation on Calvary, are in the slightest degree a lessening of his glory. He retains them because he wishes to do so; and he wishes it, because these Wounds, far from attesting defeat or weakness, proclaim his irresistible power and triumph. He has conquered death; the Wounds received in the combat are the record of his victory. He will enter heaven on the day of his Ascension, and the rays of light which beam from his Wounds will dazzle the eyes of even the angels. In like manner, as the holy Fathers tell us,[3] his martyrs who have imitated him in vanquishing death will also shine with special brightness in those parts of their bodies where they were tortured.

And is not our Risen Jesus to exercise, from his throne in heaven, that sublime mediatorship for which he assumed our human nature? Is he not to be ever disarming the anger of his Father justly irritated by our sins? Is he not to make perpetual intercession for us, and obtain for mankind the graces necessary for salvation? Divine Justice must be satisfied; and what would become of poor sinners, were it not that the ManGod, by showing the precious Wounds on his Body, stays the thunderbolts of heaven, and makes mercy preponderate over judgement?[4] O sacred Wounds! the handiwork of our sins, and now our protection! we shed bitter tears when we first beheld you on Calvary; but we now adore you as the five glories of our Emmanuel! Hail most precious Wounds! our hope and our defence!

And yet the day will come when these sacred stigmata, which are now the object of the angels’ admiration, will be again shown to mankind, and many will look upon them with fear; for, as the Prophet says: They shall look upon him whom they have pierced.[5] These men, who, during life, heeded neither the sufferings of the Passion, nor the joys of the Resurrection, but rather despised and insulted them, will have treasured up for themselves the most terrible vengeance; for could it be that a God could be crucified, and rise again, and both to no purpose? We can understand how sinners will say, on that last day: Fall upon us, ye mountains! and ye hills, cover us![6]—‘hide us from the sight of these Wounds, which now dart upon us the lightnings of angry justice!’

O sacred Wounds of our Risen Jesus! be a source of mercy and joy, on that dread day, to all them that spent the Easters of their earthly pilgrimage in rising to a holy life! Happy the disciples who were privileged to gaze upon you during these forty days! and happy we, if we venerate and love you! Let us here borrow the devout words of St Bernard:[7] ‘Where can I that am weak find security and rest, but in the Wounds of Jesus? The greater is his power to. save, the surer am I in my dwelling there. The world howls at me, the body weighs me down, the devil sets snares to take me: but I fall not, for I am on the firm rock. I have sinned a grievous sin; my conscience will throw me into trouble, but not into despair, for I will remember the Wounds of my Lord. Yes, he was wounded for our iniquities![8] What I have not of mine own I take to myself from the Heart of my Jesus, for it is overflowing with mercy. Neither are there wanting outlets, through which it may flow—they have pierced his hands and feet[9] and with a spear they have opened his side, enabling me, through these chinks, to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the hardest stone,[10] that is, to taste and see how sweet is the Lord.[11] He thought thoughts of peace,[12] and I knew it not, for who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?[13] But the nail that wounded is the key that opened to me to see the design of the Lord. I looked through the aperture, and what saw I? The nail and Wound both told me that truly God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.[14] The iron pierced his soul,[15] and reached even to his heart, so that henceforth he cannot but know how to compassionate with me in my infirmities. The secret of his heart is revealed by the Wounds of his Body; the great mystery of mercy is revealed—the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us.[16] What, O Lord, could more clearly show me than do thy Wounds, that thou art sweet and mild, and plenteous in mercy?[17]

Let us express our Paschal joy, to-day, in the words of a charming sequence of the eleventh century. We have taken it from a missal of the Abbey of Murbach:

Sequence

Carmen suo dilecto
Ecclesia Christi canat,
Ob quam patrem matremque deserens,

Deus nostra
Se vestiit natura,
Et synagogam respuit.

Christe,
Tuo sacro latere
Sacramenta manarunt illius;

Tui ligni adminiculo
Conservatur in salo saeculi.

Hanc adamans conjugem, clauderis Gazae,
Sed portas offracturus,
Hanc etiam hostibus Illius Eruiturus,

Es congressus
Tyranno Goliath, Quem lapillo
Prosternis unico.

Ecce sub vite
Amoena, Christe,
Ludit in pace
Omnis Ecclesia tute in horto;
Resurgens, Christe,
Hortum florentis
Paradisi tuis Obstructum
Diu, reseras, Domine,
Rex regum.
Let the Church of Christ sing
a canticle to her Beloved,
who out of love for her, left father and mother,

and, God as he is,
clad himself with our nature,
and cast off the Synagogue.

The Sacraments of thy Church,
O Christ,
flowed from thy sacred Side.

She safely sails through this world's sea,
on the wood of thy Cross.

Out of tender love for thy Spouse, thou wast shut up in Gaza;
but thou didst break its gates:
and, to deliver her from her enemies,

thou confrontedst
the tyrant Goliath, and with a single stone
didst lay him low.

Behold, O Christ, the whole Church,
under the shade
of the pleasant Vine,
enjoys peace,
and safely lives in the garden.
By thy Resurrection,
O Lord, King of kings,
thou openest the long-closed garden
of thy flowery Paradise.

[1] Zach. xiii 6.
[2] St John xx 27.
[3] St Augustine De Civitate Dei, Lib. xxii, Cap. xxix. St Ambrose In Lucam, Lib. x.
[4] St James ii 13.
[5] Zach. xii 12.
[6] St Luke xxiii 30.
[7] In Cantica, Serm. lxi
[8] Isa. liii 5.
[9] Ps. xxi 17.
[10] Deut. xxxii 13.
[11] Ps. xxxiii 9.
[12] Jer. xxix 11.
[13] Rom. xi 34.
[14] 2 Cor. v 19.
[15] Ps. civ 18.
[16] St Luke i 78.
[17] Ps. lxxxv 5.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

℣. In resurrectione tua, Christe, alleluia.
℟. Cœli et terra laetentur, alleluia.
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

WE are not to suppose that because the sacred Humanity of our Risen Jesus is resplendent with glory and majesty, it is therefore less accessible to mortals. His kindness and condescension are the same as before; nay, he seems to have become more affectionate than ever, and more desirous to be with the children of men. Surely we have not forgotten what happened during the joyous octave of the Pascli! His affectionate greeting to the holy Women, when on their way to the sepulchre; his appearing to Magdalen under the form of a gardener; his conversation with the two disciples of Emmaus, and the means he took to make them recognize him; his showing himself, on the Sunday evening, to the Ten, greeting them with his Peace be to you, allowing them to touch him, and even condescending to eat with them; his amiably bidding Thomas, on the eighth day, convince himself of the reality of the Resurrection by feeling the Wounds; his meeting his disciples at the Lake of Genesareth, blessing their fishing, and providing them with a repast on the bank—all this is proof of the tender love and intimacy wherewith our Saviour treated his creatures during the forty days after his Resurrection.

As to his visits to his blessed Mother, we shall have another occasion for speaking of them; to-day we will consider him in the midst of his disciples. So frequently is he with them, that St Luke calls it an appearing to them for forty days.[1] The apostolic college is reduced to eleven; for the place of the traitor Judas is not to be filled up till after our Lord’s Ascension, immediately before the descent of the Holy Ghost. How beautiful in their simplicity are these future messengers of the Good Tidings to mankind![2] A short while ago they were weak and hesitating in their faith; they forgot all they had seen and heard; they fled from their Master in the hour of trial. As he had foretold it to them, they were scandalized at his humiliations and death. The news of his Resurrection made little impression upon them; they even disbelieved it. And yet they found him so affectionate, so gentle in his reproaches, that they soon resumed the confidence and intimacy they had had with him during his mortal life. Peter, who had been the most unfaithful, as well as the most presumptuous, of all, has now regained his position of the most honoured of the Apostles, and, in a few days hence, is to receive a special proof of Jesus’ having forgotten his past disloyalty. He and his fellow Apostles can think of nothing now but Jesus. When he is with them they feast on the beauty and glory of his appearance. His words are dearer to them than ever, for they understand them better, now that they have been enlightened by the mysteries of the Passion and Resurrection. They eagerly listen to all that he says, and he says more than formerly, because he is so soon to leave them. They know that the day will soon come when they will no longer be able to hear his voice; they, therefore, treasure up his words as though they were his last will, and how could they better fit themselves for the mission he has entrusted to them? It is true they do not, as yet, fully enter into all the mysteries they are to preach to the world—they could not even remember so many sublime things—but Jesus tells them that he will soon send upon them the Holy Ghost, who will not only give them courage, but will also bless them with spiritual understanding, and will enable them to remember all that he, Jesus, has taught them.[3]

Nor must we forget the holy women, those faithful companions of Jesus, who followed him up to Calvary, and were the first to be rewarded with the joys of the Resurrection. Their divine Master could not overlook them now: he praises their devotedness, he encourages them; he takes every opportunity of repaying them. Heretofore, as the Gospel tells us,[4] they provided him with food; now that he needs no earthly nourishment he feasts them with his dear presence; they see him, they hear his words; the very thought that he is soon to be taken from them makes these happy days doubly precious to them. They are the venerable mothers of the Christian people; they are our illustrious ancestors in the Faith; and on the day of the descent of the Holy Ghost, we shall find them with the Apostles in the Cenacle receiving the Tongues of Fire. Woman is to be represented on that glorious occasion, when the Church is to be made manifest before the world; the women of Calvary and the sepulchre are chosen for this office, and right well do they deserve to share in the bright joys of Pentecost.

Let us recite the following sequence in honour of our dear Jesus, who passes these forty days with his Apostles and the holy women. It was composed by Adam of St Victor:

Sequence

Ecce dies celebris!
Lux succedit tenebris,
Morti resurrectio;
Lætis cedant tristia,
Cum sit major gloria
Quam prima confusio;
Umbram fugat veritas,
Vetustatem novitas,
Luctum consolatio.

Pascha novum colite;
Quod praeit in capite,
Membra sperent singula.
Pascha novum Christus est,
Qui pro nobis passus est,
Agnus, sine macula.

Hosti qui nos circuit
Prædam Christus eruit.
Quod Samson praecinuit.
Dum leonem lacerat.
David, fortis viribus,
A leonis unguibus
Et ab ursi faucibus
Gregem patris liberat.

Quod in morte plures stravit
Samson, Christum figuravit,
Cujus mors victoria.
Samson dictus Sol eorum:
Christus lux est electorum Quos illustrat gratia.

Jam de crucis sacro vecte,
Botrus fluit in dilectae penetrai Ecclesiae.

Jam, calcato torculari,
Musto gaudent debriari
Gentium primitiae.

Saccus scissus et pertusus.
In regales transit usus:
Saccus fit soccus gratiæ,
Caro victrix miseriae.

Quia regem peremerunt,
Dei regnum perdiderunt;
Sed non deletur penitus
Cain, in signum positus.

Reprobatus et abjectus,
Lapis iste nunc electus,
In trophæum stat erectus et in caput anguli.

Culpam delens, non naturam,
Novam creat creaturam,
Tenens in se ligaturam

Utriusque populi.
Capiti gloria,
Membrisque concordia!

Amen.
Lo, the great day is come!
Light follows darkness,
and resurrection death.
Sorrow gives place to joy,
for our glory is greater than
was our former shame.
Truth dispels the shadow;
the new what was old;
and consolation mourning.

Celebrate the new Pasch!
Let the members hope to have
what now their Head enjoys.
Our new Pasch is Christ
—the spotless Lamb
that was slain for us.

Christ has taken the prey
from the enemy that surrounded us.
It is the victory prefigured by Samson,
when he tore the lion to pieces;
and by the powerful David,
when he rescued his father’s flock
from the lion’s grasp
and the bear's jaw.

When Samson killed his enemies by his own death,
he was a type of Christ, whose death was a victory.
Samson signifies their Sun:
so is Christ the Light of his elect,
for he makes his grace shine upon them.

Under the holy beam of the Cross,
the vine-stream flows into the store-house of the beloved Church.

The wine-press is trodden,
and the first-fruits of the Gentiles
drink their fill and are glad.

The garment that was rent and torn
is made a robe for kings:
that garment is the Flesh that triumphed over suffering,
and became an ornament of grace.

The Jews forfeited God’s kingdom,
because they put the King to death;
they are not utterly destroyed,
for, like Cain, they are set as a sign.

The Stone that they rejected and despised
is now the chosen one,
set up as a trophy, and made the chief corner-stone.

Taking away sin, but not our nature,
he creates us new creatures;
he unites in himself the two peoples (Jew and Gentile).

Be glory
to our head!
and to the members peace!

Amen.

[1] Acts i 3.
[2] Isa. lii 7.
[3] St John xiv 26.
[4] St Matt. xxvii 55.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

℣. In resurrectione tua, Christe, alleluia.
℟. Cœli et terra laetentur, alleluia.
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

THE Apostles and holy women are not the only ones to enjoy the presence of our Risen Jesus: a countless people of the just made perfect claim and have the happiness of seeing and reverencing the sacred humanity of their beloved King. The magnificence of the Resurrection has caused us somewhat to forget those venerable captives of Limbo, with whom the soul of our Redeemer spent the hours that elapsed between his Death and Resurrection. They were the friends of God, and were awaiting in Abraham's bosom (as the Scripture expresses it) the dawning of light eternal. From the hour of None (three o'clock) of the great Friday till the daybreak of Sunday, the soul of our Emmanuel abode with these holy prisoners, who were thus put in possession of infinite happiness. But when the hour of his triumph came, how was the Conqueror of Death to leave behind him these souls whom he had enfranchised by his Death and Resurrection? At the moment fixed by the eternal decree, Jesus' Soul passes from Limbo to the sepulchre, and is reunited to his Body; but he is accompanied by a jubilant choir of other souls—the souls of the long-imprisoned Saints.

On the day of the Ascension, they will form his court, and rise together with him; but Heaven’s gate is not yet open, and they must needs wait for these forty days to pass, during which our Redeemer will organize his Church. They are invisible to the eyes of men, but they dwell in the space above this lowly earth, where once they passed their days, and merited an eternal recompense. Adam again sees the land which he had tilled in the sweat of his brow; Abel is in admiration at the power of the divine Blood, which has sued for mercy, whereas his prayed but for vengeance;[1] Noe looks upon this globe, and finds it covered with an immense multitude of men, all of whom are descendants of his three sons; Abraham, the father of believers, Isaac also, and Jacob, hail the happy moment when is to be fulfilled the promise which was made to them, that all generations should be blessed in him who was to be bom of their race; Moses recognizes his people, in whose midst the Messias (whom he had announced,[2] and who is greater than he),[3] has found so few followers and so many enemies; Job, who represents the elect among the Gentiles, is filled with joy at seeing his Redeemer living,[4] in whom he had hoped in all his trials; David, fired with holy enthusiasm, is preparing canticles for heaven, grander far than those he has left us, to be sung in praise of the Incarnate God, who has espoused our human nature; Isaias and the other Prophets behold the literal fulfilment of all they had foretold; in a word, this countless army of saints, formed from the elect of all times and countries, is grieved at finding the earth a slave to the worship of false gods; they beseech our Lord, with all the earnestness of prayer, that he would hasten the time for the preaching of the Gospel, which is to rouse from their sleep them that are seated in the shadow of death.

As the elect, when they rise from their graves on the last day, will ascend through the air to meet Christ[5] as eagles who gather together wheresoever the body may be;[6] so now these holy souls cluster around their divine Deliverer. He is their attraction; seeing him, speaking with him, is truly a heaven on earth to them. Jesus indulges these Blessed of his Father, who are soon to possess the Kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world;[7] he allows them to follow and accompany him; and thus does he pass the days which are to be spent before that glorious one of his triumphant Ascension.

What must not have been the happiness of the faithful and chaste Joseph in being thus near his adopted Son—his Creator? with what affection must he not have looked upon his virginal Spouse, who has been made, at the foot of the Cross, the Mother of men! Who could describe the delight wherewith Anne and Joachim gaze upon their daughter, the august Mother whom all generations shall call ‘blessed’?[8] And John, the Precursor—how must he not have exulted at seeing her, at whose voice he was sanctified in his Mother’s womb, and who has given to the world the Lamb that taketh all sin away! How affectionately must not these ransomed souls have looked upon the Apostles, those future conquerors of the world, who are now being prepared for the combat by their divine Master! It is through them that the earth once brought to the knowledge of the true God will be ever sending up elect ones to heaven until time shall give place to eternity.

Let us to-day honour these hidden but august witnesses of what God's mercy is preparing for the world’s salvation. We shall soon see them ascending to heaven, of which they will take possession in the name of mankind, that has been redeemed by Christ. Let us not forget how, on their way from Limbo to Heaven, they rested with Jesus for forty days on this earth of ours, where they themselves had once lived and merited an eternal crown. Their visit brought a blessing with it; and their departure was the signal for us to follow them—it opened the way to the blissful home, which is one day to be ours!

The following sequence, taken from the Cluny Missal of 1523, is appropriate to the reflections we have just been making:

Sequence

Prome casta
Concio cantica,
Organa subnectens
Hypodorica.

Regi claustra
Deo tartarea
Rumpenti, decanta
Nunc symphonia.

Morte qui victa
Resurgens, gaudia
Mundo gestat colenda.

Hanc insolita
Mirantes perdita
Cocyti confinia,

Spectant fortia
Intrante illo
Vita beata.

Terrore perculsa,
Tremescit daemonum
Plebs valida.

Dant suspiria
Fletuum alta:
Repagula
Quis sic audax fregerit,
Mirantur nunc fortia.

Sic ad supera
Redit cum turma
Gloriosa,
Et timida
Refovet discipulorum corda.

Praecelsa
Hujus trophæa
Admirantes,
Flagitamus nunc
Voce decliva.

Virginum inter agmina,
Mereamur pretiosa
Colere ut pascha:

Galilaea
In qua sacrata
Prae fulgore contueri
Lucis exordia.

Alleluia.
Sing the mourning hymns,
O holy choir,
mourning,
but full of hope.

Sing now thy canticles
to the divine King,
who has broken down
the gates of hell.

He conquers death,
and rising from the tomb,
brings festive joy to the world.

The cursed regions of hell
wonder
at the strange event.

They gaze on him who enters;
he is Eternal Life,
and they see his power.

The mighty host
of demons
tremble with fear,

And howl
and weep,
asking each other,
who this may be that dares to break
the massive bolts.

‘Tis thus
our Lord returns to earth,
surrounded by a glorious troop;
and hastens to console
the timid hearts of his disciples.

Let us
who celebrate
his noble victory,
beseech him
in humble prayer,

That we may be found worthy
to celebrate the great Pasch,
in the choir of Virgins.

And in that Galilee above,
sanctified by light,
to see
the Source of Light.

Amen.

[1] Heb. xii 24.
[2] St John i 45.
[3] Heb. iii 3.
[4] Job xix 25.
[5] 1 Thess. iv 16.
[6] St Matt. xxiv 28.
[7] St Matt. xxv 34.
[8] St Luke i 48.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

℣. In resurrectione tua, Christe, alleluia.
℟. Cœli et terra laetentur, alleluia.

℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.


LET us to-day turn to another subject. Let us think of that unfortunate Jerusalem, which, a few days since, re-echoed with the blasphemous cry: Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him! Is the city impressed by the great events that have taken place in her midst? Is the report still afloat of the sepulchre’s being found empty? Have Jesus’ enemies succeeded in tranquillizing the public mind by their lying scheme? They have summoned the soldiers who were set to guard the tomb, and have bribed them to say that they neglected their duty, that they fell asleep, and that the disciples came in the meanwhile, and stole away their Master’s corpse. As to the punishment due to this infraction of military discipline, the soldiers are told that they need be under no apprehension, inasmuch as they are assured that every excuse shall be made to the governor in case of need.[1]

Such is the final effort made by the Synagogue to make the world forget the name of Jesus of Nazareth! She would convince men that he was a mere contemptible impostor, who deserved his ignominious death, and will now be execrated for the posthumous attempt at a Resurrection! And yet, in a few years hence, the name of Jesus will be known and loved far beyond the walls of Jerusalem or the territory of Judea—it will be held in blessing in the furthermost parts of the earth. Let a hundred years pass, and the adorers of this Jesus will be found in every country. After three centuries paganism will own itself beaten; the idols will roll in the dust; the majesty of the Cæsars will humble itself before the Cross. And thou, O blind and obstinate Jew! wilt have it that he whom thou didst blaspheme and crucify is not risen, although he be now the King of the earth—the loved Monarch of a boundless empire! Read thy heaven-given prophecies, which thou hast handed down to us. Do they not tell thee that the Messias is to be despised—reputed with the wicked,[2] and treated as one of them? But do they not likewise tell thee that his sepulchre shall he glorious?[3] With all other men the grave puts an end to their name and their glory; whereas with Jesus his sepulchre is the trophy of his victory; we proclaim him to be the Messias, the King of ages, the Son of God, because by his own death he conquered death.

But Jerusalem is carnal-minded; and the humble Nazarene has not flattered her pride. His miracles were undeniable; the wisdom and authority of his words surpassed everything that had ever been heard; his goodness and compassion even exceed the miseries he is come to allay—but Israel has seen nothing, heard nothing, understood nothing; and now he remembers nothing. Alas! his fate is sealed, and it is himself that has sealed it. Five centuries before this, Daniel had thus prophesied: The people that shall deny him (Christ) shall not he his.[4] Let them, therefore, that would escape the most terrible chastisement ever sent upon man, lose no time in recognizing the risen Jesus as the Messias.

A heavy atmosphere broods over the deicide city. Her people have said: Let his Blood he upon us and upon our children!—so indeed it is: it hangs like a storm-cloud of vengeance over Jerusalem, and, forty years hence, will send forth its thunderbolts of slaughter, fire, destruction, and a desolation which shall continue even to the end.[5] Impostors will rise up, giving themselves out as the Messias. Jerusalem knows that the time for the fulfilment of the prophecies is come; and hence the credulity of her people in siding with these pretenders. Seditions are the consequence of this fanaticism. At length Rome is obliged to interfere. She sends her legions; and having drowned the rebellion with a deluge of blood, she banishes Israel from his country, making him a Cain-like wanderer on the face of the earth.

Why do not these unhappy Jews acknowledge, as the Messias, this Jesus whom they have crucified? Why still expect a fulfilment which has been so evidently accomplished? Why pass by, with sullen unrepentance, this empty sepulchre which is ever protesting against them? Have they not clamoured for the shedding of innocent Blood? They have but to confess this crime—this fruit of their pride—and they will be pardoned. But if they persist in defending what they have done, there is no hope for them—their chastisement will be blindness of heart, they will walk on in darkness even to the abyss, and hell will be their eternity. Bethphage and Mount Olivet are still echoing with the cry of Hosanna to the Son of David! O Israel! thou hast yet time! repeat this acclamation of thy loyalty! The hours are passing swiftly by; the solemnity of Pentecost will soon be upon us. On that day the law of the Son of David is to be promulgated, and the law of Moses will be abrogated, for its work is done and its figures are turned into realities. On that day thou wilt feel two peoples within thy womb[6] one, weak in number, but destined to conquer all nations by leading them to the true God, will humbly and lovingly acknowledge for their King this Crucified and Risen Son of David; the other, proud and haughty, will obstinately blaspheme its Messias, and will become, by its ingratitude, the type of voluntary hardness of heart. It denies, even to this day, the Resurrection of its victim; but the chastisement which is to lie upon it to the end of time proves that he who punishes is God—the God of truth, whose anathemas are infallible.

Let us honour the Resurrection of our divine Messias by offering him this Easter sequence of the ancient Missal of St Gall.

Sequence

Magnificet confessio
Atque pulchritudo

Magni regis novam
In cruce victoriam,

In qua triumphatus
Est mortis principatus,

Qua evacuatum
Est peccati veteris
Chirographum,

Qua paschalis Agni
Immolatur victima
Pro ovili,

Qua torcular calcat
De Edom qui venerat,
Et de Bosra.

Cujus antidotum
Serpentini vulneris
Sanat morsum.

Per crucem Deo
Reconciliatur mundus:
Per lignum nunc redemptus,
Per lignum in Adam venditus.

Per crucem astris
Sociatur matutinis,
Factura novissima,
Restaurans cœli dispendia.

Crux vitæ lignum,
Vitam mundi portans
Atque pretium,
Tu vectis es botri
Nati in vineis
Engaddi.

Christus pax nostra
Inimicitias solvens
Iis qui erant prope
Dans pacem,
Et his qui a longe.

O virtus crucis,
Mundum attrahis,
Amplexando tuis
Hinc inde brachiis.

O excelsa crux,
Ima perforans,
Vinctos, quos absolvis,
Ad summa erigis.

Christus carnis templum
Hac dierum summa constructum,
Quam tetragrammaton
Adam græce colligit,
In te dissolvendum obtulit
Sed, ut mundum
Salvet quadrifidum,
Reaedificat post triduum.

Agne Patris summi,
Cruce tollens crimina mundi,
Da, ut in augmento
Charitatis, fidei, spei,
Crucis sacrosanctae valeamus,
Cum sanctis omnibus,
Dimensiones comprehendere,

Et proximis condolentes,
Carnem macerantes,
Crucis almae bajulos
Tua trahas post vestigia.

Quo hic tuti et indemnes,
Ibi ad tribunal, judex, tuum
Simus sanctae
Crucis per signaculum,

Annuntiantes in gentibus,
Quia regnavit a ligno Deus.

Amen.
Let our most beautiful
praise magnify

The new victory of the great King
on the Cross.

On the Cross was conquered
the empire of death;

On the Cross was made void
the handwriting
of the sin that was of old;

On the Cross was sacrificed
the Paschal Lamb
for the flock;

On the Cross was the winepress trodden
by him that came from Edom
and Bosra.

It is the antidote
that cures the sting
of the serpent’s wound.

By the Cross is the world
brought back into God's favour;
it was, in Adam, sold by a tree,
and by a tree is now redeemed.

By the Cross,
the last made of creatures
is associated with the morning stars,
and repairs heaven’s losses.

O Cross! thou Tree of Life,
that bearest the Life
and Ransom of the world
—thou art the staff,
bearing upon thee the cluster of grapes
from the vineyards of Engaddi.

Christ is our peace,
who taketh enmities away,
and giveth peace
to them that are afar off,
and to them that are nigh.

O mighty Cross!
thou drawest the whole world
to thyself, and, with thy two arms,
embracest all mankind.

O lofty Cross!
thou penetratest into the depths below,
and raisest to heaven
the captives thou loosest.

On thee, Christ offered the Temple of his Flesh
—which had been built in the number of days
expressed by the four Greek letters composing Adam’s name
—he offered it that it might be destroyed;
but he raised it up again
in three days,
that he might save
the four quarters of the world.

O Lamb of the Sovereign Father!
that by the Cross takest away the sins of the world!
grant, that by our growth
in faith, hope, and charity,
we may be able to comprehend,
with all the Saints,
the measure of the Holy Cross;

That having compassion on our neighbours,
and mortifying our flesh,
we may carry the dear Cross,
and be drawn by thee to walk in thy footsteps.

Thus safe and protected in this life,
grant, O divine Judge,
that, by the sign of the holy Cross,
we may be so, when standing before thy tribunal,

And may proclaim aloud to all nations,
‘That the Lord hath reigned from the Wood.’

Amen.

[1] St Matt. xxviii 12-14.
[2] Isa. liii 12.
[3] Ibid. xi 10.
[4] Dan. ix 26.
[5] Ibid. ix 27.
[6] Gen. xxv 23.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

℣. In resurrectione tua, Christe, alleluia.
℟. Cœli et terra laetentur, alleluia.

℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

THIS being Saturday, let us once more think of Mary, and of the joy she feels at the Resurrection of her Son. She had been his companion in his sufferings; there was not one that she had not endured, and suffered as far as a mere creature could suffer: so, too, there is not a single glory or gladness of the Resurrection in which she is not now

made to participate. It was meet that she, to whom God had granted the grace and merit of sharing in the work of the Redemption, should take her part in the prerogatives which belong to her Jesus, now that he is risen. Her soul is raised to a higher state of perfection; grace loads her with new favours; her actions and sentiments become more than ever heavenly.

She was the first to receive a visit from Jesus after his Resurrection—the first, consequently, to receive from him his own new life. Can we be astonished at her receiving it when we remember that every Christian, who, being purified by his having compassionated with Jesus in his Passion, unites himself afterwards with holy Church, in the sublime mystery of the Pasch, becomes a sharer in the life of his risen Lord? This transformation, which in us is weak, and often, alas! of short duration, was perfect in Mary, for her high vocation and her incomparable fidelity deserved that it should be so; of her, then, far more truly than of us, it may be said that she was indeed risen in her Jesus. The thought of these forty days, during which Mary still possesses her divine Son on this earth, reminds us of those other forty of Bethlehem, when we paid our affectionate homage to the young Virgin-Mother who fed her divine Babe at her breast; we heard the angels singing their Gloria, we saw the shepherds and the Magi; all was exquisite sweetness. What mainly impressed us then was the humility of our Emmanuel; we recognized him as the Lamb that had come to take away the sins of the world; there was nothing that betokened the Mighty God. What changes have happened since that dear time! What sorrows have pierced Mary's heart before her reaching this blissful season of Paschal joy! The sword foretold by Simeon is now, indeed, sheathed, yea, broken for ever, but oh! how sharp and cruel have been its thrusts! Well may Mary now say with the Psalmist: According to the multitude of my sorrows in my heart, thy comforts, O Lord, have given joy to my soul![1] The Lamb, the gentle little Lamb, has become the Lion of the tribe of Juda; and Mary, the Mother of the Babe of Bethlehem, is equally the Mother of the glorious Conqueror.

With what delight does he not show the glories of his victories to his Mother! His work is done, and now he is the beautiful crowned King of Ages; yes, this is he whom she held for nine months within her womb, whom she fed at her breast, and who, for all eternity, will honour her as his Mother. He honours her during these last forty days on earth with every possible mark of affection; he satisfies her maternal love by frequently visiting her. How admirable must not these interviews be between such a Son and Mother! How delightedly must not Mary look upon her Jesus now? the same dear one, it is true, but oh! so changed from what he was a few days ago! That face, so familiar to Mary, beams with a light which is new even to her. The Wounds that remain in his hands, feet, and side, dart forth a brightness which effaces every recollection of sadness. But how shall we speak of the joy wherewith Jesus gazes upon Mary, his Immaculate Mother—his companion in the work of man’s salvation—the creature who is more perfect and more worthy of love than all other creatures put together? Who could describe the conversations of such a Son with such a Mother, during these days preceding his Ascension, when another long separation is to follow? Eternity will tell us what they were; but, even now, if we love the Son and the Mother, we can imagine some little of what passed between them. Jesus would offer to Mary some compensation for the prolongation of her stay on earth, which is required of her by her ministry as Mother of men; more privileged than was heretofore Martha’s sister, she hears his every word, and feeds on its sweetness in an ecstasy of love. O happy hours, to be followed by long years of absence, flow slowly by! Give this blessed Mother time to satiate her love with the sight and caresses of this dearest and most beautiful of the sons of men! O Mary! by these hours of joy which repaid thee for those long bitter ones of thy Jesus’ Passion, pray to him for us, that he permit us to feel and relish his presence in our hearts during this our exile, wherein we are absent from him.[2] Thus shall we persevere in our devoted service until the arrival of that blissful moment when we are to be united with him in heaven, never again to be separated from him.

Let us offer to the blessed Mother this beautiful sequence, wherewith the Churches of Germany used formerly to celebrate her Seven Joys, of which the Resurrection was one of the grandest.

Sequence

Virgo templum Trinitatis,
Deus summæ bonitatis et misericordiæ,
Qui tuae humilitatis
Et dulcorem suavitatis vidit et fragrantiæ.

De te nasci nuntiatur,
Cum per angelum mandatur tibi salus gratiæ;
Modum quæris, demonstratur,
Dum consentis, incarnatur confestim rex gloriæ.

Per hoc gaudium precamur,
Ut hunc regem mereamur habere propitium,
Et ab eo protegamur,
Protecti recipiamur in terra viventium.

De secundo gratularis,
Quod tu solem stella paris, velut luna radium;
Pariendo non gravaris,
Virgo manes, non mutaris propter puerperium.

Sicut flos propter odorem
Suum non perdit decorem, cum odor emittitur;
Sic nec propter creatorem
Virginitatis candorem tu perdis, cum nascitur.

O Maria, Mater pia,
Esto nobis recta via apud tuum fiilium,
Atque pro tua gratia
Repelle nostra vitia per secundum gaudium.

De tertio gratulari
Stella monet, quam morari vides super filio
Cum a magis adorari
Ipsum cernis et ditari munere tam vario.

Stella monet unitatem
Tresque reges trinitatem in dicto sacrificio;
Aurum mentis puritatem,
Myrrha carnis castitatem, thus est adoratio.

O Maria, stella mundi,
A peccatis simus mundi per te, Virgo Maria,
Et virtutibus fœcundi,
Læti tecum et jocundi, lætemur in patria.

Quartum, Virgo, tibi datur,
Cum a morte suscitatur Christus die tertia.
Per hoc fides roboratur,
Spes redit et mors fugatur per te, plena gratia;

Hostis victus captivatur amissa potentia;
Homo captus liberatur,
Et ab humo sublevatur
Sursum ad coelestia.

Ergo mater creatoris,
Funde preces cunctis horis, ut per istud gaudium,
Post cursum hujus laboris,
Beatis jungamur choris supernorum civium.

Quintum, Virgo, recepisti,
Ascendentem dum vidisti filium in gloria.
Tunc aperte cognovisti
Quod tu mater exstitisti, cujus eras filia.

In ascensu demonstratur
Via, per quam ascendatur ad cœli palatia;
Ergo surgat et sequatur
Istam viam, qui moratur in mundi miseria.

Per hoc gaudium rogamus,
Ne subjici valeamus dæmonis imperio;
Sed ad coelos ascendamus,
Ubi semper gaudeamus, tecum et cum filio.

Sextum gaudium ostendit,
De supernis qui descendit in linguis Paraclitus,
Dum confirmat et defendit,
Replet, mundat et accendit Apostolos penitus,

Ignis in linguis est datus,
Ut per ignem sit sanatus homo linguis perditus,
Et per ignem emendatus
Qui fuerat maculatus per peccatum primitus.

Per hoc gaudium beatum,
Ora, Virgo, tuum natum, ut in hoc exilio
Nostrum deleat reatum,
Ne sit in nobis peccatum in magno judicio.

Ad septimum invitavit,
Cum de mundo te vocavit Christus ad coelestia,
Super thronos exaltavit,
Exaltatam honoravit speciali gratia.

Sic honor tibi præstatur,
Qui nemini reservatur in coelesti curia;
Nec virtutibus ditatur,
Nisi cui per te datur virtutum custodia.

Virgo, mater pietatis,
Sentiamus bonitatis tuæ beneficia;
Et nos serves a peccatis,
Et perducas cum beatis ad aeterna gaudia.

O Maria tota munda,
A peccatis nos emunda per haec septem gaudia;
Et fœcunda nos fœcunda,
Et duc tecum ad jocunda Paradisi gaudia.

Amen.
O Virgin! Temple of the Trinity!
the God of all goodness and mercy,
being pleased with the loveliness of thy humility,
meekness, and purity, is announced as having to be born of thee.

The message is brought thee
by the angel who hails thee full of grace.
Thou askest how? and thou art told.
Thou consentest: and the King of glory instantly becomes incarnate in thy womb.

We beseech thee by this Joy,
that we may deserve to receive mercy from this King,
be protected by him, and, thus protected,
be admitted into the land of the living.

Thy second Joy is that thou,
the Star, givest birth to the Sun, as the Moon emits its ray.
This birth injures thee not;
thou remainest a Virgin as before.

As a flower loses not its beauty
by sending forth its fragrance;
so neither losest thou the bloom of thy Virginity
by giving birth to thy Creator.

O Mary, kind Mother!
be to us the way that leads to thy Son;
and, by thy second Joy,
graciously intercede for us, that we be converted from our sins.

A star tells thee of thy third Joy.
Thou seest a star resting over thy Child,
the Magi adoring him,
and offering their varied gifts.

The star expresses Unity;
three Kings, Trinity;
the gold signifies purity of soul;
the myrrh, chastity of body; the incense, adoration.

O Mary, Star of the Sea!
pray for us, that we may be cleansed from our sins,
enriched with virtue, and united with thee
in the happiness and bliss of the heavenly Country.

The fourth Joy, O holy Virgin! was given thee,
when Jesus rose from the tomb, on the third day.
By this Mystery, faith is strengthened, hope restored, and death put to flight;
and thou, O full of grace, hadst thy share in effecting these wonders.

The enemy is conquered: he is imprisoned, and loses his power.
Man, who had been made captive, is set free,
and raised from earth
to heaven above.

Do thou, therefore, O Mother of our Creator!
pray hourly for us, that, by this Joy,
we may be associated with the choirs of the heavenly citizens,
after this life’s labours are over.

Thou didst receive thy fifth Joy, O Mary!
when thou wast present at thy Son’s Ascension into heaven.
Then didst thou clearly know
that he whose Mother thou wast was thy Creator.

His Ascension shows us
the path whereby we are to ascend to heaven.
Let us then, who dwell in this miserable world,
arise, and follow this path.

We beseech thee, by this Joy,
to pray that we may never be made subject to Satan’s power;
but that we ascend to heaven,
where, with thee and thy Son, we may rejoice for all eternity.

The sixth Joy
was when the Holy Ghost descended, in the form of fiery tongues, from heaven,
strengthening, defending,
filling, cleansing, and inflaming the Apostles.

The fire was given in tongues,
that man, who owed his perdition to a tongue,
might be saved by such fire; and that he who, at the beginning,
had been defiled by sin, might by fire be purified.

We pray thee, O Virgin! by this holy Joy,
intercede for us to thy Son,
that he pardon us our sins, now in this our exile,
lest there be found guilt upon us at the great judgement.

Jesus invited thee to the seventh Joy,
when he called thee out of this world to heaven,
placed thee on thy throne,
and honoured thee with special favours.

Thus is honour given to thee,
such as none of the blessed in heaven enjoy;
nor can any mortal attain to the perfection of virtue,
unless by thine intercession he receive the safeguard of virtue.

O Virgin Mother of Mercy!
give us to feel the proofs of thy loving intercession,
which will preserve us from sin,
and lead us to eternal joys, in the company of the Blessed.

O Virgin most pure! we beseech thee, by these thy Seven Joys,
pray that we may be purified from our sins;
and, being made fruitful in good works,
lead us, O fruitful Mother, to the blissful joys of heaven.

Amen.

[1] Ps. xciii 19.
[2] 2 Cor. v 6.

 

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