From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
Yet four days, and our risen Jesus, whose company has been so dear and precious to us, will have disappeared from the earth. This fifth Sunday after Easter seems to prepare us for the separation. In a week’s time, we shall begin the long series of Sundays which are to pass before He returns to judge the world. This is a grief to the Christian; for he knows that he will not see his Saviour until after this life, and he feels something of the sorrow the apostles had at the last Supper, when Jesus said to them: ‘Yet a little while, and ye shall not see Me.’
But, after His Resurrection, what must these privileged men have felt, when they perceived, as we do, that this beloved Master was soon to leave them! They had, so to speak, been living with Jesus glorified; they had experienced the effects of His divine condescension and intimacy; they had received from His lips every instruction they needed for the fulfilment of His will, that is, for founding on earth the Church He had chosen as His spouse. These happy forty days are fast drawing to a close. The apostles will then be deprived of Jesus’ visible presence, even to the end of their lives.
We, too, shall feel something of their sadness, if we have kept ourselves united to our holy mother the Church. From the very first day, when she recommenced, for our sakes, the ecclesiastical year, during which all the mysteries of our redemption, from the birth of our Emmanuel even to His triumphant Ascension into heaven, were to be celebrated,—have not we also been living in company with her Jesus, our Redeemer? And now that He is about to close the sweet intercourse which these seasons and feasts have kept up between Himself and us, are not our feelings very much like those of the apostles?
But there is one creature on earth, whom Jesus is leaving, and whose feelings at the approaching separation we cannot attempt to describe. Never had there been a heart so submissive to the will of her Creator; but, at the same time, there never was any creature so severely tried as she had been. Jesus would have His Mother’s love still increase; He therefore subjects her to the separation from Himself. Moreover, He wishes her to co-operate in the formation of the Church, for He has decreed that the great work shall not be achieved without her. In all this, Jesus shows how tenderly He loves His blessed Mother: He wishes her merit to be so great, that He may justly give her the brightest possible crown, when the day of her own ascension into heaven comes.
The heart of this incomparable Queen is not, indeed, to be again transfixed with a sword of sorrow: it is to be consumed by a love so intense that no language could describe it. Under the sweet, yet wearing, fire of this love, Mary is at length to give way, just as fruit falls from the tree, when its ripeness is complete, and the tree has nothing more to give it. But, during these last hours of Jesus’ presence, what must such a Mother have felt, who has had but forty days to enjoy the sight and the caresses of her glorified and divine Son? It is Mary’s last trial; and when her Jesus tells her of His wish that she should remain in exile, she is ready with her favourite answer: 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord! Be it done to me according to Thy word!’ Her whole life has been spent in doing God’s will; it was this that made her so great in His eyes, and so dear to His Heart. A holy servant of God, who lived in the seventeenth century, and was favoured with the most sublime revelations, tells us that it was left to Mary’s choice, either to accompany her divine Son to heaven, or to remain some years longer upon the earth to assist the infant Church; and that she chose to defer her entrance into eternal bliss, in order to labour, as long as it was God’s good pleasure, in the great work which was so closely connected with the glory of her Son, and so essential to the salvation of us her adopted children.
If this generous devotedness raised the co-operatrix of our salvation to the highest degree of sanctity, by giving completeness to her mission on earth, we may be sure that Jesus’ love for His Mother was increased by the new proof she thus gave Him of her uniformity with every wish of His sacred Heart. He repaid her, as He well knew how to do, for this heroic self-sacrifice, this prompt submission to His designs which destined her to be, here on earth, as the Church calls her, 'Queen of the apostles,’ and a sharer in their labours.
During these His last few hours on earth, our Lord’s affection for His apostles and disciples seemed to be redoubled. For several of them, the separation was to be a long one. The beloved disciple, John, was not to enjoy the company of his divine Master till more than fifty years had elapsed. It was to be thirty before the cross would carry Peter to Him who had entrusted to his keeping the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Magdalene, the fervent Magdalene, would have to wait the same length of time. But no one murmured at the divine appointment: they all felt how just it was, that Jesus, now that He had so fully established the faith of His Resurrection, should enter into His glory.
On the very day of His Resurrection, our Saviour bade the disciples go into Galilee, for that there He would meet them. As we have already seen, they obeyed the order, and seven among them were favoured by Jesus’ appearing to them on the banks of Lake Genesareth: it is the eighth of the manifestations mentioned in the Gospel. The ninth also took place in Galilee. Our Lord loved Galilee: it gave Him the greater number of His disciples, it was Mary and Joseph’s country, and it was there that He Himself passed so many years of His hidden life. Its people were simpler and better than those of Judea; and this was another attraction. St. Matthew tells us, that the most public of all Jesus’ manifestations, after His Resurrection,—the tenth in reality, and the ninth mentioned by the evangelists,—took place on a hill in this same district.
According to St. Bonaventure, and the learned and pious Denis the Carthusian, this hill was Mount Thabor, the same that was honoured by the mystery of the transfiguration. Upwards of five hundred of Jesus’ disciples were assembled there, as we learn from St. Paul: they were mostly inhabitants of Galilee, had believed in our Lord during His three years of public life, and merited to be witnesses of this new triumph of the Nazarene. Jesus showed Himself to them, and gave them such certitude with regard to His resurrection, that the apostle appeals to their testimony in support of this fundamental mystery of our faith.
Further than this, we know of no other manifestations made by our Saviour after His resurrection. We know that He gave order to His disciples to repair to Jerusalem, where they were to see Him once more before His Ascension. Let us, during these few days, follow the disciples to Jerusalem. Faithless city! how often has Jesus sought to gather together her children, as the hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and she would not! He is about to re-enter her walls; but she is not to know it. He will not shew Himself to her, but only to those that love Him; and after this He will depart in silence, never to return until He comes to judge them that have not known the time of their visitation.
In the Greek Church, the fifth Sunday after Easter is called the Sunday of the man born blind, because her Gospel for the day contains the history of that miracle of our divine Lord. She also calls it Episozomene, which is one of the names given by the Greeks to the mystery of the Ascension, the feast of which is kept with them, as with us, during the course of this week.
The Introit is taken from Isaias, the sublimest of the prophets. It sweetly invites all the earth to celebrate the victory won by Jesus,—a victory which has purchased our deliverance.
Vocem jucunditatis annuntiate, et audiatur, alleluia: annuntiate usque ad extremum terræ: liberavit Dominus populum suum. Alleluia, alleluia.
Ps. Jubilate Deo omnis terra: psalmum dicite nomini ejus, date gloriam laudi ejus.
℣. Gloria Patri. Vocem jucunditatis.
With the voice of joy make this to be heard, alleluia: publish to the utmost bounds of the earth, that the Lord hath redeemed his people. Alleluia, alleluia.
Ps. Shout with joy to God, all the earth: sing a psalm to his name, give glory to his praise.
℣. Glory, &c. With the voice, &c.
In the Collect, holy Church teaches us that our thoughts and actions, to be made deserving of eternal life, stand in need of grace; the former that we may have the inspiration, the latter that we may have the will to do them.
Deus, a quo bona cuncta procedunt, largire supplicibus tuis: ut cogitemus, te inspirante, quæ recta sunt, et, te gubernante, eadem faciamus. Per Dominum.
O God, from whom all that is good proceeds: grant that thy people, by thy inspiration, may resolve on what is right, and by thy direction, put it in practice. Through, &c.
Of the Blessed Virgin
Concede nos famulostuos, quæsumus Domine Deus, perpetua mentis et corporis sanitate gaudere: et gloriosa beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis intercessione, a præsenti liberari tristitia, et æterna perfrui lætitia.
Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we thy servants may enjoy constant health of body and mind; and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, be delivered from all present sorrows, and come to that joy which is eternal.
Against the Persecutors of the Church
Ecclesiæ tuæ, quæsumus Domine, preces placatus admitte, ut, destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis, secura tibi serviat libertate. Per Dominum.
Mercifully hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayers of thy Church: that, all oppositions and errors being removed, she may serve thee with a secure liberty. Through, &c.
For the Pope
Deus omnium fidelium Pastor et rector, famulum tuum N. quem Pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quæsumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus præest proficere; ut ad vitam una cum grege sibi credito perveniat sempiternam. Per Dominum.
O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in thy mercy, on thy servant N., whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church; and grant we beseech thee, that both by word and example, he may edify all those that are under his charge; and, with the flock entrusted to him, arrive at length at eternal happiness. Through, &c.
Lectio Epistolæ beati Jacobi Apostoli.
Charissimi, estote factores verbi, et non auditores tantum, fallentes vosmetipsos. Quia si quis auditor est verbi, et non factor, hic comparabitur viro consideranti vultum nativitatis suæ in speculo: consideravit enim se, et abiit, et statim oblitus est qualis fuerit. Qui autem perspexerit in legem perfectam libertatis, et permanserit in ea, non auditor obliviosus factus, sed factor operis: hic beatus in facto suo erit. Si quis autem putat se religiosum esse, non refrænans linguam suam, sed seducens cor su um, hujus vana est religio. Religio munda, et immaculata apud Deum et Patrem, hæc est: Visitare pupillos et viduas in tribulatione eorum, et immaculatum se custodire ab hoc sæculo.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint James the Apostle.
Dearly beloved: Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if a man be a hearer of the word and not a doer; he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he beheld himself and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was. But he that hath looked into the perfect law of liberty, and hath continued therein, not becoming a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work: this man shall be blessed in his deed. And if any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation: and to keep one’s self unspotted from this world.
The holy apostle, whose instructions these are, had received them from our risen Jesus: hence the authoritative tone wherewith he speaks. Our Saviour, as we have already seen, honoured him with a special visit. This proves that he was particularly dear to his divine master, to whom he was related by the tie of consanguinity on his mother’s side, whose name was Mary. This holy woman went on Easter morning to the sepulchre, in company with her sister Salome, and Magdalene. St. James the Less is indeed the apostle of Paschal Time, wherein everything speaks to us of the new life we should lead with our risen Lord. He is the apostle of good works, for it is from him that we have received this fundamental maxim of Christianity, that though faith he the first essential of a Christian, yet without works it is a dead faith, and will not save us.
He also lays great stress on our being attentive to the truths we have been taught, and on our guarding against that culpable forgetfulness, which plays such havoc with thoughtless souls. Many of those who have this year received the grace of the Easter mystery, will not persevere; and the reason is, that they will allow the world to take up all their time and thoughts, whereas they should use the world as though they did not use it. Let us never forget, that we must now walk in newness of life, in imitation of our risen Jesus, who dieth now no more.
The two Alleluia-versicles celebrate the glory of the Resurrection; but they also contain an allusion to the approaching Ascension. Jesus was bom eternally from the Father; He came down to us; but now, in a few days, He is to return to his Father.
Alleluia alleluia. ℣. Surrexit Christus, et illuxit nobis, quos redemit sanguine suo. Alleluia.
℣. Exivi a Patre, et veni in mundum; iterum relinquo mundum et vado ad Patrem, alleluia.
Alleluia alleluia. ℣. Christ is risen, and hath shone upon us, whom he redeemed with his blood. Alleluia.
℣. I came forth from the Father, and I came into the world: I leave the world again, and go to the Father, alleluia.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Amen, amen dico vobis: si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine meo, dabit vobis. Usque modo non petistis quidquam in nomine meo: petite et accipietis, ut gaudium vestrum sit plenum. Hæc in proverbiislocutus sum vobis. Venit hora cum jam non in proverbiie loquar vobis, sed palam de Patre annuntiabo vobis. In illo die in nomine meo petetis: et non dico vobis quia ego rogabo Patrem de vobis: ipse enim Pater amat vos, quia vos me amastis, et credidistis quia ego a Deo exivi. Exivi a Patre, et veni in mundum: iterum relinquo mundum, et vado ad Patrem. Dicunt ei discipuli ejus: Ecce nunc palam loqueris, et proverbium nullum dicis: nunc scimus quia scis omnia, et non opus est tibi ut quis te interroget: in hoc credimus quia a Deo existi.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: Amen, amen, I say to you; if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto you have not asked anything in my name. Ask and you shall receive; that your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in proverbs. The hour cometh when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but will show you plainly of the Father. In that day you shall ask in my name: and I say not to you, that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loveth you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world and I go to the Father. His disciples say to him: Behold now thou speakest plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now we know that thou knowest all things, and thou needest not that any man should ask thee. By this we believe that thou camest forth from God.
When, at His last Supper, our Saviour thus warned His apostles of His having soon to leave them, they were far from knowing Him thoroughly. True, they knew that He came forth from God; but their faith was weak, and they soon lost it. Now that they are enjoying His company after His Resurrection, now that they have received such light from His instructions, they know Him better. He no longer speaks to them in proverbs; He teaches them everything they require to know in order to become the teachers of the whole world. It is now they might truly say to Him: We believe that thou camest forth from God! So much the more, then, do they understand what they are going to lose by His leaving them.
Our Lord begins now to reap the fruit of the word He has sown in their hearts: oh! how patiently has He waited for it! If He praised them for their faith, when they were with Him on the night of the last Supper, He may surely do so now that they have seen Him in the splendour of His Resurrection, and have been receiving such teaching from His lips. He said to them, at the last Supper: The Father loveth you, because ye have loved Me; how much more must the Father love them now, when their love for Jesus is so much increased! Let us be consoled by these words. Before Easter our love of Jesus was weak, and we were tepid in His service; but now that we have been enlightened and nourished by His mysteries, we may well hope that the Father loves us, for we love Jesus better than we did before. This dear Redeemer urges us to ask the Father, in His name, for everything we need. Our first want is perseverance in the spirit of Eastertide; let it be our most earnest prayer; let it be our intention now that we are assisting at the holy sacrifice, which is soon to bring Jesus upon our altar.
The Offertory is taken from the Psalms; it is an act of thanksgiving which the Christian, united with his risen Jesus, offers to God for having brought him to the new life, and made him the object of His choicest graces.
Benedicite, gentes, Dominum Deum nostrum, et obaudite vocem laudis ejus: qui posuit animam meam ad vitam, et non dedit commoveri pedes meos. Benedictus Dominus, qui non amovit deprecationem meam, et misericordiam suam a me, alleluia.
Bless the Lord our God, ye Gentiles, and make the voice of his praise be heard, who hath set my soul to live, and hath not suffered my feet to be moved. Blessed be the Lord, who hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me, alleluia.
In the Secret, the Church prays that this our earthly Pasch may introduce us to the feast of heavenly glory. The end of all the mysteries achieved by God in this world is, that we may be sanctified by them, and fitted for the eternal vision and possession of our Creator: it is this that the Church, adopting the style of the sacred Scriptures, calls glory.
Suscipe, Domine, fidelium preces cum oblationibus hostiarum: ut per hæc piæ devotionis officia, ad cœlestem gloriam transeamus. Per Dominum.
Receive, O Lord, we beseech thee, the prayers of the faithful, together with these oblations; that by these devout celebrations we may be admitted into heavenly glory. Through, &c.
Of the Blessed Virgin
Tua, Domine, propitiatione, et beatæ Mariæ semper Virginia intercessione, ad perpetuam atque præsentem hæc oblatio nobis proficiat prosperitatem et pacem.
By thine own mercy, O Lord, and the intercession of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, may this oblation procure us peace and happiness, both in this life, and in that which is to come.
Against the Persecutors of the Church.
Protege nos, Domine, tuis mysteriis servientes: ut divinis rebus inhærentes, et corpore tibi famulemur et mente. Per Dominum.
Protect us, O Lord, while we assist at thy sacred mysteries: that being employed in acts of religion, we may serve thee, both in body and mind. Through. &c.
For the Pope
Oblatis, quæsumus Domine, placare muneribus: et famulum tuum N. quem pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, assidua protectione guberna. Per Dominum.
Be appeased, O Lord, with the offering we have made: and cease not to protect thy servant N., whom thou hast been pleased to appoint Pastor over thy Church. Through, &c.
The Communion-anthem, composed of the words of the royal prophet, is a canticle of gladness, expressive of the ceaseless joy of our Easter.
Cantate Domino, alleluia: cantate Domino, et benedicite nomen ejus: bene nuntiate de die in diem salutare ejus. Alleluia, alleluia.
Sing to the Lord, alleluia: sing to the Lord, and bless his name: publish aloud, from day to day, that he hath saved us. Alleluia, alleluia.
Holy Church teaches us, in her Postcommunion, how we should pray to God. We must desire the right thing; let us pray to have this desire, and then continue our prayer till the right thing is granted. Grace will then be given us: it will be our own fault if it be unproductive.
Tribue nobis, Domine, cœlestis mensæ virtute satiatis, et desiderare quærecta sunt, et desiderata percipere. Per Dominum.
Grant, O Lord, by the power of the heavenly nourishment we have received, that we desire what is right, and obtain our desire. Through, &c.
Of the Blessed Virgin
Sumptis, Domine, salutis nostræ subsidiis: da, quæsumus, beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis patrociniis nos ubique protegi, in cujus veneratione hæc tuæ obtulimus majestati.
Having received, O Lord, what is to advance our salvation; grant we may always be protected by the patronage of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, in whose honour we have offered this sacrifice to thy Majesty.
Against the Persecutors of the Church
Quæsumus, Domine Deus noster, ut quos divina tribuis participatione gaudere, humanis non sinas subjacere periculis. Per Dominum.
We beseech thee, O Lord our God, not to leave exposed to the dangers of human life, those whom thou hast permitted to partake of these divine mysteries. Through, &c.
For the Pope
Hæc nos, quæsumus, Domine, divini sacramenti perceptio protegat: et famulum tuum N. quem Pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, una cum commisso sibi grege, salvet semper et muniat. Per Dominum.
May the participation of this divine Sacrament protect us, we beseech thee, O Lord; and always procure safety and defence to thy servant N., whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church, together with the flock committed to his charge. Through, &c.
Antiphon of the Magnificat
Ant. Petite et accipietis, ut gaudium vestrum sit plenum: ipse enim Pater amat vos, quia vos me amastis, et credidistis, alleluia.
Deus, a quo bona cuncta procedunt; largire supplicibus tuis: ut cogitemus, te inspirante, quæ recta sunt, et te gubernante, eadem faciamus. Per Dominum.
Ant. Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full: for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed, alleluia.
Let us Pray.
O God, from whom all that is good proceeds: grant that thy people, by thy inspiration, may resolve on what is right, and by thy direction, put it in practice. Through. &c.
We will close our Sunday with the admonition wherewith the Gothic Church of Spain warned the faithful during Paschal Time. It is a season of joy; and yet we need to be cautious, for our enemy is sure to lay snares for us in the new life we have received.
(Feria V. post Pascha.)
Habeant, dilectissimi fratres, vota cautelam, festa diligentiam, gaudia disciplinam. Exsultare decet quod resurrexerimus: sed timere convenit ne cadamus. Inter novam vitam veteremque mortem oportet scire quid evasimus, oportet eligere quid amemus. Non enim error, sed contemptus est peccare commonitum. Major post veniam pœna sequitur contumaces: gravius est captivos fieri jam redemptos. Habet ista pietas potestatem, habet potestas ista terrorem, habet terror iste vindictam. Non enim fuisset pius in homine, nisi prius iratus fuisset in dæmone. Confortamur gratia doni, si non corrumpamur lege pec- cati. Ratio parcendi est prævisio corrigendi. Non mutamur indulgentia, si non renovetur offensa. Qui nobis quod peccavimus indulsit, et ne ultra peccaremus admo- nuit. Profuit dementia, si profecit disciplina. Jam qui- dem hominem gratia adopta- vit, sed necdum dæmonem gehenna suscepit. Violentia peccatum perdidit, non naturam. Dimicandi est facultas, non securitas otiandi. Spo- liatus eat adversarius, non extinctus. Gravius necesse est ut frendeat in amissis, quibus præerat dominando subjectis. Accepimus castra per fidem, arma per crucem, signa per carnem, vexilla per sanguinem: restat causa cer- taminis. Qui enim afferre necesaitatem voluit pugnæ, spem voluit probare victoriæ. Præcessit quidem in adoptione donum, sed adhuc restat in conversatione judicium. Hic promissio eat de munere, illic vicissitudo futura est post laborem. Sit itaque ille ante oculos nostros Domini miserantis affec- tua, quod in taxatione nostra non argenti pondus, non auri talentum dedit, non gratiarum fudit ornatum, sed convitio subdidit se pati- buli, sepulchro sustinens carneam injuriam, sepultu- ram. Nihil majus potuit dare, nihil melius. Ut uti- que sit probandum quod diligentius nos sibi servire voluit, qui pretiosius nos redemit. Ergo ut in nobis redemptionis suae beneficia dignetur perficere, constan- ter nos convenit ac perseve- ranter orare.
Dearly beloved brethren: let there be caution in your devotion, watchfulness in your festivity, modesty in your gladness. We should rejoice in that we have risen: but we should fear lest we may fall. We have been rescued from the death of old, and it behoves us to know how evil it was; we have been gifted with the new life, and we must cling to it as worthy of our love. To commit the sin we have been admonished to shun is not an error but contempt. They that have been pardoned and relapsed, deserve the greater punishment; nor is there excuse for them that have been once ransomed if they again become slaves. The mercy of God implies power; and power, fear; and fear, chastisement. He would not have been merciful to man, unless he had first been angry with the devil. He strengthens us with his gratuitous gifts, that we may not be corrupted by our evil inclinations. No one spares another but with a hope of correction. Forgiveness can do no harm, when the offence is not repeated. He that pardoned us our sins, thereby admonished us to sin no more. Mercy has not been lost on us, if our conduct is what it should be. Grace has, indeed, made man the adopted child of God; but the devil is not yet shut up in hell. Sin, not nature, has been defeated. What we have gained is the power of fighting, not the privilege of inaction. Our enemy has been despoiled, not slain. His anger must be greatest against those who were once subject to his tyranny, but now are disenthralled. Faith has given us bulwarks; the cross, armour; the flesh (assumed by Christ) a standard: and his Blood, a banner: the battle then is to be fought. The God who willed us to have the battle, willed us to have the hope of victory. We have already received the gift of adoption; our conduct is to decide what sentence is to be passed upon us in judgment. In this world we have the promise of reward; in the next, our lot will be decided according to our works. Let us, therefore, be mindful of the tender mercy of our Lord, who, as the price of our ransom, gave not sums of silver or gold, nor granted princely favours, but subjected himself to the infamy of the cross, and suffered his Body to be humbled even to being buried in a tomb. He could give nothing greater or better. So that the more it cost him to redeem us, the more diligently should we serve him; and it is this he demands of us. Therefore, in order that the work of his Redemption be perfected in us, it behoves us to pray with constancy and perseverance.
 St. John, xvi. 16.
 St. Luke, xxiv. 26.
 St. Matth. xxviii. 16.
 1 Cor. xv. 6.
 St. Matth. xxiii. 37.
 I Cor. vii. 31.