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Third Week after Easter

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

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

THE Saturday brings us back to Mary. Let us again contemplate her prerogatives; and yet, whilst so doing, let us still keep our thoughts on holy Church, which has been the subject of our meditations during this week. Let us, to-day, consider the relations existing between Mary and the Church: they will make us the better understand these two mothers of mankind.

Before taking possession of the Church, which was to be proclaimed before all nations on the day of Pentecost, the Man-God made a worthy prelude to this kingly possession by uniting himself with her, who is so deservedly styled the mother and representative of the human race. This was Mary. Of the family of David, Abraham and Sem; immaculate, from the first moment of her existence, as were our first parents when they came from their Creator's hands; and destined for the grandest honour which could be conferred on a mere creature; Mary was, during her sojourn here on earth, the inheritance and co-operatrix of the Incarnate Word: she was the Mother of all the living.[1] She, in her single person, was what the Church, collectively, has been from the day of its foundation. Her office of Mother of God surpasses all her other glories; still, we must not overlook, but on the contrary admire and love them.

Mary was the first creature that fully corresponded with the intentions which induced the Son of God to come down from heaven. He found in her the most lively faith, the firmest hope, and the most fervent love. Never had human nature, perfected by grace, offered to God an object so worthy of his acceptance. Before celebrating his union with the human race, as its Shepherd, Jesus was the Shepherd of this single sheep, whose merits and dignity surpass those of the rest of mankind, even supposing it to have been always and in all things faithful to its God.

Mary, therefore, represented the Christian Church before it existed in itself. The Son of God found in her not only a Mother, but the faithful worshipper of his Divinity from the first moment of his Incarnation. We saw on Holy Saturday how Mary’s faith withstood the test of Calvary and the tomb, and how this faith, which never faltered, kept alive on the earth the light which was never to be quenched, and which was soon to be confided to the collective Church, whose mission was to win over all nations to the divine Shepherd.

It was not Jesus’ will that his Blessed Mother should exercise a visible and outward postulate, save in a limited degree. Besides, he was not to leave her here till the end of time. But, just in the same way as, from the day of his Ascension, he made his Church co-operate with him in all that he does for his elect, so likewise did he will, during his mortal life, that Mary should have her share in all the works done by him for our salvation. She, whose formal consent had been required before the Eternal Word took flesh in her womb, was present, as we have already seen, at the foot of the Cross, in order that she, as a creature, might offer him, who offered himself as God, our Redeemer. The Mother’s sacrifice blended with that of the Son, and this raised her up to a degree of merit which the human mind could never calculate. Thus it is, though in a less perfect manner, the Church unites herself, in unity of oblation, with her divine Spouse, in the sacrifice of the Altar. It was to be on the day of Pentecost that the Church’s maternity would be proclaimed to the world; Mary was invested with the office of Mother of men, as Jesus was hanging upon his Cross. When his Side was opened with the spear, that the Church, born from the Water and Blood of Redemption, might come forth, Mary was there to receive into her arms this future mother, whom she had hitherto so fully represented.

In a few days we shall behold Mary in the Cenacle; the Holy Ghost will enrich her with new gifts, and we shall have to study her mission in the early Church. Let us close the considerations we have been making to-day by drawing a parallel between our two Mothers, who, though one is so far above the other in dignity, are nevertheless closely united to each other.

Our heavenly Mother, who is also the Mother of Jesus, is ever assisting our earthly Mother, the Church, with heavenly aid. Mary exercises over her, in each of her existences—Militant, Suffering or Triumphant—an influence of power and love. She procures to the Church the victories she wins; she enables her to go through the tribulations and trials which beset her path. The children of one are children of the other; both have a share in giving us spiritual birth—one, the 'Mother of divine grace,1 by her all-powerful prayers; the other, by the word of God and holy baptism. If when we depart this life, our admission to the beatific vision is to be retarded on account of our sins, and our souls are to descend to the abode of Purgatory, the suffrages of our earthly Mother will follow us, and alleviate or shorten our sufferings; but our heavenly Mother will do still more for us during that period of expiation, so awful and yet so just. In heaven the elect are rejoiced at the sight of the Church Triumphant, though she be still Militant on earth; and who can describe the joy these happy children must feel at seeing the glory of the Mother that begot them in Christ? but with how much gladder ecstasy must not these same citizens of heaven gaze upon Mary, that other Mother of theirs, who was their Star on the stormy sea of life, who never ceased to watch over them with most loving care, who procured them countless aids to salvation, and who, when they entered heaven, received them into those same maternal arms which heretofore carried the divine Fruit of her womb—that First-Born,[2] whose brothers and joint-heirs we are called to be!

As long as we dwell in this vale of tears, which is now being turned into a paradise by the presence of our Risen Jesus, let us sometimes think of Mary's joys. Last Saturday we borrowed a hymn from the ancient Churches of Germany, in order to celebrate her Seven Joys; let, us do the same to-day.

SEQUENCE

Gaude Virgo, stella maris,
Sponsa Christi singularis,
Jocundata nimium
Per salutis nuntium:

A peccatis nos emunda,
Casta Mater et fœcunda,
Et suprema gaudia
Nostro cordi nuntia.

Gaude Mater illibata,
Quæ tam mire fœcundata
Genuisti filium,
Velut sidus radium;

Fac nos quoque salutari
Partu semper fœcundari.
Atque corde steriles
Fac clementer fertiles.

Gaude florens lilium,
Cujus novum filium
Magi cum muneribus
Placant flexis genibus;

O felix puerpera,
Nos illorum munera
Deo ferre tribue
Semper et assidue.

Gaude Parens, cujus natus
Jam in templo præsentatus
Simeonis manibus
Tollitur cum laudibus:

Confer nobis, supplicamus,
Ut et illum nos geramus
Puris semper cordibus
Et sinceris mentibus.

Gaude, qui tripudio
Laetabaris nimio,
Resurgente filio
Mortis ab imperio:

Fac a nostro scelere,
Pia, nos resurgere,
Sursum tolle variis
Cor oppressum vitiis.

Gaude, quæ felicibus
Conspexisti visibus
Ire tuum filium
Ad paternum solium:

Da, ut ejus reditum,
Hujus vitæ terminum,
Valeamus libere
Sine metu cernere.

Gaude, Virgo virginum,
Quam post vitæ terminum
Dulcis Jesu dextera
Vexit super sidera:

Praesta nobis miseris
Sublevamen sceleris,
Et post hanc miseriam
Duc ad veram patriam.

Amen.
Rejoice, O Virgin, Star of the Sea,
dearest Spouse of Christ!
for the angel of our salvation
announced to thee an exceeding great joy.

Cleanse us from our sins,
O Virgin Mother!
and speak to our heart
of the joys that never end.

Rejoice, O spotless Mother!
in that thou didst conceive of the Holy Ghost,
and bring forth thy Child,
as the star emits its ray.

Grant that we may ever be fruitful
in works of salvation.
Take these barren hearts of ours,
and by thy merciful prayers make them fertile.

Rejoice, O beautiful Lily!
at the adoration and gifts
paid by the Magi
to thy new-born Babe.

O happy Mother!
pray that we may ever imitate them,
and give to God
what their gifts signified.

Rejoice, O Mother!
at the praises spoken by Simeon,
when, at thy presenting Jesus in the Temple,
he took the Child in his arms.

Grant, we beseech thee,
that we may serve thy Son
with purity
and earnestness of heart.

Rejoice, and with
all thy soul’s power
be glad at thy Son's rising
from the grasp of death.

Mercifully obtain for us
that we may rise from our sins,
and have our hearts set free
from the pressure of its many vices.

Rejoice in that thou hadst
the happiness to see thy Son
ascend into heaven,
where he is seated on his Father’s throne.

Grant that at the end
of the world
we may without fear
welcome his return.

Rejoice, O Virgin of virgins!
who after thy life’s course was run,
wast raised up
by thy sweet Jesus above the stars.

Grant that we miserable creatures
may be raised from our sins,
and after this miserable life
be led to our true country.

Amen.

[1] Gen. iii 20.
[2] St Lake ii 7.

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.

CHURCH of Jesus! that wast promised by him to the earth during the days of his mortal life; that camest forth from his sacred Side when wounded by the spear upon the Cross; that wast organized and perfected by him during the last days of his sojourn here below; we lovingly greet thee as our mother; thou art the Spouse of our Redeemer, and it is through thee that we were born to him. It is thou that gavest us life by baptism; it is thou that givest us the word, which enlightens us; it is thou that ministerest to us the helps, whereby we are led, through our earthly pilgrimage, to heaven; it is thou that governest us, in the spiritual order, by thy holy ordinances.

Under thy maternal care we are safe; we have nothing to fear. What can error do against us? Thou art the pillar and ground of the truth![1] What effect can the revolutions of our earthly habitation have upon us? We know, that if everything else should fail us, thou wilt ever be with us. It was during these very days which precede the Ascension, that our Lord Jesus said to his Apostles, and through them, to their successors: Behold! I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.[2] What a promise of duration was this! If we consult the history of these last eighteen hundred years, it will tell us that this promise has never once been broken. The gates of hell have risen up against thee innumerable times; but they have never prevailed against thee, no, not for one single moment!

And thus it is, O Church! that being founded on Christ thy Spouse, thou givest us a share in thine own divine immutability! Established as we are in thee, there is not a truth which the eye of our faith cannot see; there is not a blessing which, despite our weakness, we may not make our own; there is no object shown us by hope, which we may not attain. Thou holdest us in thine arms; and from the height whereto thou raisest us, we see the mysteries of time and the secrets of eternity. Our eye admiringly follows thee, whether we consider thee as militant on earth, suffering in thy dear ones who are in the temporary state of expiation, or triumphant in heaven. Thou art with us in our exile, and already art thou, in millions of thy children, heiress of the eternal kingdom. Keep us near thee, nay, within thee, O thou our Mother, who art the beloved Spouse of our Lord. To whom shall we go but to thee? Is it not to thee, and to thee alone, that he has entrusted the words of eternal life?

How much they are to be pitied, O Church! who do not know thee! And yet, if they are seeking God with all their heart, they will, one day, know thee. How much they are to be pitied who once knew thee, and afterwards, in their pride and ingratitude, denied thee! And yet no one ever fell into such misery, unless he first voluntarily shut his eyes against the light that was within him. How much they are to be pitied who know thee, and still live enjoying what thou givest thy children, and who yet take side with thine enemies in insulting and betraying thee! They are men whose character is shallowness of mind; they speak their opinions as though they were oracles; they have contracted the flippant effrontery of our age: and to hear them speak of thee, one would suppose that they look on thee as a human institution, which they may approve or blame according to their humour.

Instead of revering whatsoever thou hast taught regarding thyself and thy rights; instead of revering what thou hast ordained, regulated, and practised; these Catholics, whose sympathies arc all with thine enemies, would have thee conform thy teachings and conduct with the so-called Progress of the times. The whole world is given to thee as thine inheritance; and yet these insolent children would have thee be content with what they think proper to assign to thee. Thou, the Mother of mankind, must be under their wise care! It is from them thou must, henceforth, learn how best to fulfil thy mission! Godless men, adorers of what they called the rights of man, dared, a century back, to expel thee from political life, which up till then thou hadst kept in harmony with its divine Master. These men have left disciples, who would have thee withdraw from everything that regards the outward world, and look on as a mere stranger. Thou must no longer exercise the rights given thee by the Son of God over both soul and body; this royalty of thine is out of date, and thou must be satisfied to enjoy the liberty which, in virtue of the law of Progress, is granted alike to error and to truth. The wise and powerful ones of this world have dethroned the Vicar of thy Spouse after a thousand years' reign; and instead of resenting such a project with holy indignation, as tending to the destruction of the last bulwark of Christendom—there are many among us who approve of it, and this on principles which are, it is true, in favour with rationalistic politicians, but which are formally condemned by thy teachings, thy acts, nay, by thy very existence. How short-sighted are such Catholics as these, who hope to make thee acceptable to the world by giving thee the semblance of a human institution! The world is too shrewd: it knows thee to be essentially supernatural, and this is what it never can tolerate.

Wiser and more Christian by far are they who, detesting such profane theories, have, like devoted Machabees, drawn the sword against thine enemies, O Church of Christ! and even in an age like this, when faith has grown weak, have so well understood their Christian duty as to die in thy defence, and, by so dying, to win the crown of martyrdom. Yes, it is our duty to confess thee: to disguise thee is to belie thee. Thou art one of the articles of our Creed: 'I believe the holy Catholic Church.' Thou hast been known these nineteen hundred years; and shall men now pretend that thou must conform to the world’s capricious views? This cannot be. Jesus made thee be like himself—a sign of contradiction:[3] and as such we must receive thee. We must listen to thy protestations against false principles and practices, and not attempt to remodel thee. Only God has power to give his Church a form other than that he has already given her.

Blessed are they who share thy lot, dear Church of our Redeemer! In these unchristian times thou art unpopular. Thou wast so in ages long gone by, when men could not become thy children save at the risk of being despised. It is the same now, and we are resolved to espouse thy cause. We confess thee to be our mother, inaccessible to the changes of this world. Whether honoured or persecuted, thou continuest thy mission here below. Thus will it be until the time comes when this earth, which was created to be thy kingdom, shall see thee ascend to heaven, and flee from a world which will deserve the severest chastisements of God’s anger, because of its having despised and rejected thee.

In honour of the divine Spouse of our Mother, let us sing this paschal canticle, taken from the ancient Missals of Flanders.

Sequence

Concinat orbis cunctus
Alleluia, votis, voce solemnia
Celebrando paschalia.

In sumptu tenera
Congaudeat turma,
Sacro fonte nivea,
Spernens Phlegethontis undas.

Nos quoque laxas
Aptemus fibras
Arte musica;
Voce sonora
Modificantes
Prorsus neumata
Voce satis tinnula.

Christus namque mitis hostia
Factus nostra ob remedia,
Crucis tulit robora;

Ut jugis vita
Maneret, subiit lethalia.

Fellis amara
Passus praelibare pocula.

Vulnera satis toleravit dura
Transfixus clavis et lancea.

Sic tolerando, mala gerens nostra,
Descendit ad ima Tartara.

Hostis antiqui confringens arma
Revehit potens ampla ovando trophæa.

Sicque devicta morte
Ac resumpta carne,
Resurgit victor
Die hodierna.

Unde jam jocundas
Ipsi canamus odas.

Per quem nobis vita
Redit æterna,
Et cœli clara
Nobis patescit aula.

Cui sit laus praeclara.

Amen.
Let the whole earth sing
Alleluia! and by its prayers and hymns,
celebrate the Paschal solemnity.

Let the young troop
share in the common joy;
it comes, white as snow, from the sacred font,
having been rescued from the waters of the stream of hell.

Let us, too,
string our harps
to tune;
And sing,
whilst going through
the many-varied modes,
with voices sweet and ringing.

For Jesus, the meek Lamb,
has become the Victim of our salvation,
and has carried the wood of his Cross.

He suffered death,
that we might have eternal life.

He deigned to drink
the bitter cup of gall.

He permitted himself to be cruelly wounded
with the nails and spear.

Having thus suffered for our sins, which he took upon himself,
he descended into the depths below.

He broke the sword of the old enemy,
and brought back, in power and triumph, the richest trophies.

He conquered death;
his Soul was reunited to his Body;
and this is the day
of his glorious Resurrection.

Therefore let us sing
to him our lays of joy.

Life everlasting has been restored to us
and heaven’s bright gate
thrown open to us
by him.

To him be praise eternal.

Amen.

[1] 1 Tim. iii 15.
[2] St Matt. xxviii 20
[3] St Luke ii 34.

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 Church founded and maintained by Christ —is it nothing more than a society of minds that know, and of hearts that love, the truths revealed to it by heaven? Have we adequately defined it, when we call it ‘a spiritual society'? No, most assuredly; for we are told that it was to spread, and actually has been spread, throughout the whole world. Now how could such progress and conquest have taken place, if the spiritual society founded by our Redeemer had not also been exterior and visible? On earth, souls cannot hold intercommunication without bodies. Faith cometh by hearing, says the Apostle: and how shall they hear without a preacher?[1] When, 

therefore, our Risen Jesus says to his Apostles: Goteach all nations![2] he distinctly implies that the word of God will be heard, that it will resound throughout the world, and that its sound will be heard both by them that obey and by them that reject the teaching of his ministers. Has this word a right to circulate thus freely, independently of any permission from earthly powers? Yes; for the Son of God has said: Go, teach all nations! He must be obeyed; the word of God cannot be fettered.[3]

The word, then, the exterior word is free; and being free, it obtains numerous disciples. Will these disciples live isolatedly? Will they not rather group around their apostle, the better to profit by his teaching? Will they not look on one another as brethren, and members of the same family? And if so, they must hold their assemblies. Thus the new people is brought before the notice of the world. It was necessary that this should be; for if this people, which is to attract all others to itself, be not visible, how can it do its work?

But the people thus assembled must have their buildings, their temples. Therefore do they erect houses of preaching and prayer. The stranger—that is, he who is not a Christian—seeing these new places of worship, asks: ‘What means all this? Whence come these people who pray aloof from their fellow-citizens? Would not one be inclined to say that we have a nation within the nation?’ The stranger is right; there is a nation within the nation, and it will continue to be so until the whole nation itself have passed into the ranks of this new people.

Every society stands in need of laws; the Church, therefore, will not be long without giving outward proof of her internal government. There are her festivals, her solemnities, which denote a great people; her ritual rules, forming a visible bond of union between the members of her society, and this not merely during the hours of divine service; there are commandments and orders made by the various degrees of the hierarchy, which are promulgated and claim obedience; there are institutions and corporations existing within the great society itself, and they add to her strength and beauty; in a word, there is everything that is needed, even penal laws against offending and refractory members.

But it does not suffice the Church that she have places where her children can assemble together; provision must also be made for the support of her clergy, for the expenses attendant on the divine worship, for the necessities of her indigent members. Aided by the generosity of her children, she enters into possession of certain landed properties, which become sacred by reason of their use, as also because of the superhuman dignity of her who owns them. Nay more; when the princes of this earth, tired of their vain efforts to stay the Church’s progress, shall ask to be admitted as her children, a new necessity will arise from this: the supreme Pontiff can be no longer the subject of any temporal sovereign, and he himself must become king. The Christian world hails with joy this crowning of the work of Christ, to whom all power has been given in heaven and on earth ,[4] and who was one day to reign, with temporal power, in the person of his Vicar.

Such is the Church: a spiritual, but at the same time an exterior and visible society; just in the same way as man is spiritual because of his soul and material because of his body, which is an essential part of his being. The Christian, therefore, should love the Church such as God has made her; he should detest that false and hypocritical spiritualism which, with a view to subvert the work of Christ, would confine religion within the exclusively spiritual domain. We never can admit such a limitation. The Divine Word has assumed our fiesh; he permitted his creature man to hear and see and handle him;[5] and when he organized his Church on earth, he made it speaking, visible, and so to say palpable. We are a vast state; we have our king, our magistrates, our fellow-citizens; and we should be willing to lay down our lives for this supernatural country, whose excellence is as far superior to that of our earthly country as heaven is better than the whole earth. Satan has an instinctive hatred for this country, which is to bring us to the Paradise whence he has been driven; he has used every means in his power to ruin it. He began by attacking the liberty of the word which is preached to men, and leads them to the Church. Did not his first agents forbid the Apostles to speak at all in the name of Jesus to any man?[6] The strategy was shrewd enough; and although it failed to arrest the progress of the Gospel, it has ever been resorted to by the enemy, even to this very day.

The powers of the world have always been jealous of Christian assemblies; the jealousy began early, and has periodically manifested its fury during these eighteen centuries. Frequently during a fit of persecution we have been obliged to flee to caves and forests, and seek the hours of night for our celebrations of the mysteries of light, and for singing the praises of the divine Sun of Justice: Our dearest churches, which had been erected by the piety of our ancestors, and were sacred by innumerable memories—how many times have they not been made ruins! Satan's ambition is to efface every vestige of Christ's kingdom on earth, for that kingdom is his defeat.

The laws promulgated by the Church, and the communications of the pastors with one another and with the sovereign Pontiff—these, also, have excited the most tyrannical jealousy. The right of self-government has been denied to the Church; servile men have aided emperors and kings to fetter the Spouse of Christ. Her temporal possessions, too, have tempted the avarice of sovereigns. These possessions procured her independence; it was, therefore, considered necessary to rob her of them, that she might become the creature of the state. It was a wicked attempt, and has brought the most terrible chastisements upon the countries where it was perpetrated, yet there was one more wicked still, which aimed at depriving of his throne, venerable by its thousand years’ duration, the Pontiff who holds in his sacred hands the keys of the kingdom of God.

Meanwhile, the most detestable errors are being propagated. Among these, we would mention one, which in spite of its impious absurdity, finds favour with thousands: we mean the doctrine that the Church should be purely spiritual, or, if it is to be a visible Church, that it should be an instrument in the hands of government, for political purposes. Let us hold such doctrine in execration; let us think of those countless martyrs, who have shed their blood in order to maintain and secure to the Church of Christ her position as a society, visible, external, independent of every human power, in a word, complete in herself. It may be that we are the last inheritors of the promise; and if so, it would be an additional reason for our proclaiming the rights of the Spouse of Christ, upon whom he has conferred the empire of the world, which only exists because of her, and will be destroyed as soon as it refuses her a resting-place.

Let us close these reflections with a hymn of praise to our divine Head. The ancient Missal of Saint Gall gives us this other Sequence in honour of our paschal mystery.

Sequence

Eia harmoniis,
Socii, laudum resonis

Hujus splendide vernantis
Celebremus gaudia
Simul temporis,

In quo patriae coelestis
Per Christum patet
Reserata spes nobis.

Nunc gemit Pharao sibi raptos, plaga mortis
Quos afflixit vernaculos.

Nos autem referamus supremo
Grates regi,
Qui nos redemit Barathro.

Et qui per Christum canopica,
More Judaeorum, solvimur pæno,
Mentes pariter praeparemus,
Typicam ut immolemus Victimam,

Cujus cruore sacrosancto
Insigniti mentis domo,
Non pavemus Angeli ensem
Plectentis reos vindicem.

Et digne
Mysticis ut ejus
Epulemur carnibus,
Fermenta criminum purgemus,
Sinceriter vivamus.

Sic eripi in hujus
Eremo vitæ quimus
Per coeleste lumen
De tetris hostibus;

Per lavacrumque Christi inimicis elapsi,
Digne ipsum laudare hymno Moysi,
Qui suos maligno pressos Pharaone alumnos liberat, obstructo
Atris abyssis inimico.

Quapropter certante nunc voto, jubilemus
Tantae potestatis Domino, et suae januam
Praecelsae pietatis pulsemus

Precibus devotis,
Moriendo ut qui mortis legem rupit atrocis,
Hic redemptos custodiat,
Ne post tergum decidant,
Sed ut regnum scandant promissum.

Amen.
Come, brethren! let us,
in sweetest hymns of praise,

Together celebrate
the joys of this
bright spring time,

When, through Christ,
our hopes
of heaven revive.

Now Pharaoh pines with grief to see himself deprived of the slaves
he tortured with the scourge of death.

But let us give thanks
to the divine king,
who delivered us from the abyss.

And being, as the Jews of old,
delivered by Christ from Egyptian tyranny,
let us prepare ourselves
to offer up the mystic Lamb.

His Blood most holy
shall mark the dwelling of our souls,
and we not fear the avenging sword
of the destroying angel.

And that we may worthily
partake of his sacred Flesh,
us put away the leaven of and
make our lives
the unleavened bread of sincerity.

Thus, by the aid of heavenly light,
we shall be delivered
from the wicked enemies
that fill the desert of this world.

The waters, prepared for us by Christ, shall save us from our enemies,
and we will praise him in the canticle which Moses sang
when he rescued his Israelites from Pharaoh’s cruelty,
and saw the dark waves close upon the pursuant foe.

Wherefore let us strive to outdo each other in the praise
we sing to this almighty Lord;
and knocking at the door of his infinite mercy,

let us devoutly beseech him,
that having by his own dying broken the yoke of death,
he may watch over the people he has redeemed,
preserve them from lagging behind,
and aid them to reach the Promised Land above.

Amen.

[1] Rom. x 17,14.
[2] St Matt xxviii 19.
[3] 2 Tim ii 9.
[4] St Matt. xxviii 18.
[5] St John i 1.
[6] Acts iv 17, 18.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

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

THERE is nothing on earth so grand, nothing so exalted, as the princes of the Church—the pastors, appointed by the Son of God—who are to follow on, in unbroken succession, to the end of time: but let us not suppose that the subjects of this vast empire, called the Church, are devoid of dignity and greatness. The Christian people, in which both prince and beggar are equally subjects, is superior to every other, in intellectual and moral worth. It carries civilization with it, wheresoever it goes, for it carries with it the true notion of God and of the supernatural end of man. Barbarism recedes; pagan institutions, how ancient soever they may be, are forced to give way. Even Greece and Rome laid down their own laws to adopt those of the Christian code—the code which was based on the Gospel. So, too, in our own times, the mere sight of a Christian army, though composed of but a few thousand men, struck terror into the heart of an immense empire of the East: its ruler who counts four hundred million subjects, and calls himself the ‘Son of the Celestial Empire, was so overcome by fear that without offering the slightest resistance he fled from his palaces and capital. Yes, this is the superiority given by baptism to Christian nations; for it would be absurd to attribute this superiority to our civilization, seeing that civilization itself is but a consequence of baptism.

But if the outward bearing of the Christian people be such as to exercise an influence on even infidels, what must not be that dignity which faith teaches us is its inheritance? The Apostle St Peter—the universal shepherd, into whose hands the divine Shepherd placed the keys—thus describes the flock entrusted to his care: You are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people; that you may declare his virtues, who hath called you out of' darkness into his marvellous light.[1]So, indeed, it is; divine truth is entrusted to this people, and its light can never be extinguished among them. When the teaching authority has, with its infallibility, to proclaim a solemn definition in doctrinal matters, it first appeals to the faith of the Christian people; and the sentence declares that to be the truth which has been believed ‘everywhere, always, and by all.’[2] Amidst the Christian people there exists that strangest phenomenon under heaven, union of mind; whereby there is one common faith amidst nations the most opposite to each other in every other respect. Let them be as hostile to one another as you please; in matters of faith, in submission to their pastors, they are all one and the same great family. The most admirable, at times the most heroic virtues are to be found amidst this people, for Jesus has given it a large share of that element of holiness wherewith his grace has enriched human nature.

Observe, too, how affectionately it is protected and honoured by its pastors! Every pastor, no matter what may be his rank in the Church, is bound, in virtue of his office, to lay down his life for his sheep, if called upon to do it. The sacrifice is not even counted as an act of heroism; it is a strict duty. Shame and curse upon the pastor who flees through cowardice! The Redeemer stigmatizes such a one with the name of hireling. Hence it is, that during these last eighteen hundred years, there have been so many thousands of pastors who have given their lives for their flocks. One or other of their names are to be found in every page of the Church’s history. The list is headed by St Peter, who was crucified like his divine Master; it continues down to the Bishops of Cochin-China, Tonkin, and Corea, whose recent martyrdoms attest that the pastor has not ceased to consider himself as a victim for his flock. Thus, before confiding his lambs and sheep to Peter, Jesus asks him if he have greater love than the rest. If Peter love his Master, he will love his Master’s lambs and sheep; he will love them even to laying down his life for them. For this reason, after entrusting him with the care of the whole flock, our Saviour tells Peter that he is to die a martyr. Happy is that people whose rulers only exercise their authority on condition of being ready to die for these their Master’s sheep!

If one of these should evince in his life the marks which denote sanctity, and this so far as to deserve to be proposed to the faithful as a model and intercessor, you will not only see the priest whose word calls down the Son of God upon the altar, not only the bishop whose sacred hands wield the pastoral staff, but the very Vicar of Christ, humbly kneeling before the tomb or statue of the Servant of God, how poor or despised soever he or she may have been on this earth. This sacred hierarchy testifies the same sentiments of respect for the sheep of Christ on every occasion. Thus in a baptized babe, that knows not how to utter a single word, that is not counted among the citizens of the state, that, like a tender flower, may perhaps have faded before the close of day, yet does the pastor recognize in it a worthy member of the Body of Christ, the Church; he reverences it as a being that is enriched with gifts so sublime as to be an object of heaven’s love, and a source of blessing to all around it. When the Faithful are assembled in the house of God, and the sacred oblations and altar have been thurified, the Celebrant, as the representative of Christ, and any others of the clergy who may be in the sanctuary, are also honoured with the same mysterious tribute of homage: but the incense is to go beyond the sanctuary. The thurifer advances towards the people, and in the name of the Church, gives them the same honour as that just given to the pontiff and the clergy; for the faithful people are also members of Christ. Again: when the corpse of a Christian, even though he may have been the poorest of the poor, is carried into the house of God, observe what honour is paid to his mortal remains! On this occasion, also, the incense is made to express the affectionate homage wherewith the Church honours the Christian character of her children. O Christian people! how truly we may say of thee what Moses said of Israel: There is no other nation so great as thou![3]

It is our Risen Jesus that has procured us all this honour: let us express our love and gratitude in this canticle of the ancient Missal of Saint Gall.

Sequence

Laudum quis carmine
Unquam præevalet, regum summe,
Typica majestatis tuae Promere?
Qui Parenti supremo
Deitate coaequalis,
Omnia potestate pari disponis;

Nam ante hujus mundi exordia,
In Patre callebas Sophia;
Per quam facta sunt omnia,
Quæque profert
Triplex machina.
Qui cernens immersos esse barathro,
Tua quos adornat imago,
Propter nos factus es homo,
Ut nos solveres Sanguine tuo.

Hæc pridem signavit sub typo
Isaac parentis nostri immolatio,
Mactabatur aries
Pro quo Domino.

Te, Christe, passurum Pro mundo
Joseph prænotavit
Venditus in Ægypto,
Nunc daturus typicos victus populo.

Nam fueras præfiguratus
Infernum fracturus,
Cum Samson vir invictus
Leonem suffocavit,
Et portas hostiles Disrupit.

Tu, Domine, es suave rubens
Illius flos virgæ,
Quam fudit radix Jesse
Generosa germine,
Quod sunt præconati Prophetae.

Hæc nostris præstantur Patribus,
O Redemptor, ceu sub umbra primitus,
Quæ nos verius
Te monstrante cernimus.
Tu cuncta procul fugas nubila,
Terrae reddens tui vultus Lumina.
Quæ morte tua
Fuscabatur tremula.

Ecce nunc perspicuus
Cuncta ornantur
Elementa sereno,
Quia redisti victor Barathro.
Hinc et nos, o socii,
Mente Dominum
Sincera et humili
Simul laudemus
Carmine tali:

Sit Patri laus summo, qui levans
Criminum nos cœno,
Haud pepercit proprio
Propter nosmet Filio.

Laus quoque sit Nato,
Pro nobis qui factus est homo,
Ut solvens nos tartaro
Redderet paradiso.

Gloria compar sit Pneumati
Ævo omni.

Amen.
Who, O King of kings!
can worthily celebrate
the mysteries wrought by thy majesty?
God co-equal with the Father, Eternal,
thou rulest all things
with the selfsame power as his.

This world had not yet begun,
when thou wast,
in the bosom of the Father,
the Wisdom whereby all things were made,
yea all that compose this triple world.
Seeing that they who were adorned with thy image
had fallen into an abyss of misery,
thou wast made man for our sakes,
that by thy Blood thou mightest rescue us.

In figure of this
was the sacrifice of our father Isaac;
in whose stead
a ram was immolated unto the Lord.

Thy suffering for the world’s redemption
was prefigured by Joseph sold into Egypt,
where he fed the people
with mysterytelling food.

Thy crushing hell
was foreshadowed
by the invincible Samson
slaying a lion
and breaking his enemies’ gates.

Thou, O Lord, art the sweet ruddy
Flower of the Branch
that nobly grew
from Jesse's root,
as sang the Prophets of old.

All these things, O Redeemer!
were shown, in a shadow, to our Fathers;
thou hast shown them to us in their truth.
Thou dispellest all clouds,
and makest the light of thy countenance
to shine once more on the earth,
that had been thrown into darkness
and fear by thy death.

Lo! now all creation beams
in beauteous light,
because thou hast returned
in victory from the tomb.
Let us, then, brethren,
with upright
and humble hearts,
unite in praising
thus our God:

Praise be to the Father Almighty,
who, to raise us from the mire of our sins,
spared not his own Son,
for our sake.

Praise, too, to the Son,
who to ransom us from hell,
and restore us to heaven,
was made Man for our sake.

Glory co-equal be to the Holy Spirit,
for ever.

Amen.

[1] 1 St Pet. ii 9.
[2] St Vincent of Lerins: Commonitorium.
[3] Deut. iv 7.

 

 

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 Church, which our Risen Jesus is organizing during these days, and which is to be spread throughout the whole world, is a true and complete society. It must, consequently, have within it the power to govern, and be able, by the obedience of its subjects, to maintain order and peace. As we have already seen, our Saviour supplied this want by establishing a shepherd of both sheep and lambs, a Vicar of his own divine authority: yet Peter, after all, is but a man; and however sublime his authority, he cannot exercise it directly and personally over each member of the flock. The new society has need, therefore, of magistrates of a lower rank, who, as Bossuet so well expresses it, ‘are to be sheep with regard to Peter, and shepherds with regard to the people.’[1]

Jesus has provided for everything; he has chosen twelve men, whom he calls his Apostles, and to them he is about to entrust the magistracy of his Church. By his having made Peter the head, and, as it were, his second self, he does not intend the rest of the Twelve to have no share in the great work he has come from heaven to achieve. Far from this, he destines them to be the pillars of the building, of which he has already made Peter the foundation. They are twelve in number, as heretofore were the children of Jacob; for the ancient people was, in everything, a figure of the new. Before ascending into heaven, Jesus gives them power to teach in every part of the world, and appoints them pastors of the faithful in every place wheresoever they may happen to be. They are all on an equality, save with regard to Peter; and the very fact of these wonderful depositaries of Christ’s power being subject to Peter, is one of the clearest indications of the extraordinary authority committed to him by our Lord.

This unlimited delegation of pastoral power given to all the Twelve, was intended as a means of the solemn promulgation of the Gospel; but it was to cease at their deaths, save in the case of Peter, for his successor was alone to enjoy the apostolic power in its fullest extent. With this one exception, no lawful pastor has ever been allowed to exercise an unlimited territorial authority. And yet, by creating the college of the Apostles, our Redeemer founded that sacred and venerable dignity which we call the episcopacy. Although bishops have not inherited either the universal jurisdiction, or the personal infallibility in teaching, of the Apostles, yet do they really hold, in the Church, the place of the Apostles. Jesus puts into their hands, through the ministry of Peter’s successor, the keys of spiritual power; and these they use, that is, they therewith open and shut, throughout the whole extent of the territory placed under their jurisdiction.

How magnificent is this episcopal magistracy! See those thrones, whereon are seated the pontiffs of the whole Christian world! They hold the pastoral staff, the symbol of their power to govern their respective flocks. Go where you will, you will find the Church, and a bishop busily engaged in governing the flock entrusted to his charge. And when you reflect that all these pastors are brethren, that they all govern their flocks in the name of the same common Lord, and that all are united in obedience to one head—you will understand how the Church, wherein is exercised such an authority as this, has everything that constitutes a complete society.

Under the bishops, we find other subordinate magistrates in the Church; the reason of their being appointed is self-evident. Placed over a territory of greater or less extent, the bishop stands in need of co-operators who may represent his authority, and exercise it in his name and under his orders, wheresoever he himself cannot personally do so. These are priests, who have the care of souls. They correspond to the seventy-two disciples chosen by our Saviour, from whose number he selected the twelve Apostles. Thus he completed the government of the Church. By means of this Hierarchy, everything works in the most admirable harmony: authority is derived from the one supreme Head; thence it flows to the bishops; and these delegate it to the lower ranks of the clergy.

We are now at the very season of the year when the spiritual jurisdiction, which Jesus had promised to communicate to men, emanates from his own divine power. He thus solemnly confers it: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth: going, therefore, teach ye all nations![2] He communicates a portion of his own power to the pastors of his Church: it is an emanation of his own authority in heaven and on earth: and that we may have no doubts as to the source whence it flows, he says to them during these his last days on earth: As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.[3]

So that the Father has sent the Son, and the Son sends the pastors of the Church: nor will this mission ever be interrupted, so long as the world lasts. Peter will ever institute the bishops; the bishops will ever delegate a portion of their own authority to the priests who have the charge of souls. No human power shall ever be able to intercept this transmission, or have power to set up as pastors them that have not partaken of it. Cæsar (we mean mere temporal sovereignty) shall govern the state; but he shall not have power to create a single pastor, for Cæsar has no share in the sacred hierarchy, out of which the Church recognizes but subjects.He may command, as King or Emperor, in temporal matters; but he must obey, and as submissively as the last and poorest of the faithful, the pastor who has to govern him in what regards his soul. There will be times when Cæsar will be jealous of this superhuman power; he will strive to intercept it: but it will elude his grasp, for it is a purely spiritual power. At other times, he will despise and persecute them that are invested with this power; nay, he will occasionally attempt to exercise it himself; but his efforts will be as vain as they will be wicked, for this power, which emanates from Christ, cannot be confiscated nor interrupted; it is the salvation of the world, and on the last day the Church will have to restore it intact to him who deigned to entrust it to her before ascending to his Father.

Once more, to the praise of our dearest King! The great Fulbert of Chartres offers us the following hymn, which was adopted by the ancient Roman-French Liturgy.

Hymn

Chorus novae Hierusalem
Novam mellis dulcedinem
Promat, colens cum sobriis
Paschale festum gaudiis.

Quo Christus, invictus leo,
Dracone surgens obruto,
Dum voce viva personat,
A morte functos excitat.

Quam devorarat improbus
Praedam refudit tartarus:
Captivitate libera
Jesum sequuntur agmina.

Triumphat ille splendide,
Et dignus amplitudine,
Soli polique patriam
Unam facit rempublicam.

Ipsum canendo supplices,
Regem precemur milites,
Ut in suo clarissimo
Nos ordinet palatio.

Per saecla metae nescia
Patri supremo gloria,
Honorque sit cum Filio
Et Spiritu Paraclito.

Amen.
Let the choir of the new Jerusalem
bring forth the new sweetness of its honey;
and celebrate, with holy joy,
the paschal feast.

To-day, Christ, the invincible Lion,
crushes the dragon, and rises from the tomb:
with a loud voice
he commands the dead to live.

Cruel death
gives back its prey;
and throngs of ransomed captives
follow Jesus.

Gorgeous is his triumph:
he is worthy of all power;
he makes earth and heaven
be one kingdom.

We are his soldiers, and he is our King:
let us humbly sing his praise,
and beseech him to admit us
into his palace of heaven above.

Glory and honour, for endless ages,
be to the Eternal Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Paraclete.

Amen.

 

[1] Sermon on the Unity of the Church.
[2] St Matt. xxviii 18, 19.
[3] St John xx 21.