We have been reading the Gospel of Saint John at Matins with the lessons being homilies upon it, as the history of the Passion of Our Lord draws to its solemn and bitter conclusion. This morning, the three lessons are from the 11th and 12th chapters of the Prophet Jeremias. The second lesson made me think of Gerard Manley Hopkins's poem. Justus quidem tu es, Domine... is Ieremias 12,1.
Justus quidem tu es, Domine, si disputem tecum; verumtamenjusta loquar ad te: Quare via impiorum prosperatur? &c.Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contendWith thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why mustDisappointment all I endeavour end?Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dostDefeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lustDo in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakesNow, leavèd how thick! lacèd they are againWith fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakesThem; birds build – but not I build; no, but strain,Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.
Post Tertiam. Am going to Mass at 1215. Listened to Pergolesi's Stabat Mater from Wigmore Hall earlier and am taking care of the penultimate batch of chores before I leave in the morning.
Jużem dość pracował is the title of the song that the Fundacja inCanto folks have sent from Kraków for today-- Great Tuesday, in Polish (just as this is or was Maior Hebdomada in Latin, I expect). I haven't put the entire text through the translating machina yet: only the title, which was rendered, 'I've been working enough already'.
Post Sextam. Canon Guelfucci is begun the reading of the Passion according to Saint Mark at Saint-Eugène. After Mass and more nonsense, am waiting for the cab. It is become a beautiful, a splendidly beautiful day.
Have returned after my attempt at Mass-going. I noticed yesterday that there was to be a funeral at the 1215 Mass but beyond praying a brief Requiem aeternam I didn't give it a second thought-- the schedule says there is a Mass at 1215. What happens of course is that the funeral 'occupies' the 1215 Mass-- and others are welcomed in the parish hall to... watch a live-stream of it. Pft, ha, wasn't going to stay for that. The streaming of the Liturgy has a certain usefulness but it is not the same thing as actually participating at the Liturgy-- I witnessed people bowing to the video box, which may well be 'material' idolatry if there is such a thing-- and so I left. Shopped for dinner, a lemon, and San Pellegrino at Kiva and then took a Lyft back here. This experience of the ride service was pleasant enough and without incident. Lyft has ended up rather consistently beating the commercial taxi company by perhaps two dollars per trip but my sample size is too small to make any real cost comparison, and in any case I remember the post-tip amounts which has to skew the numbers too.
Nos autem gloriári oportet in Cruce Dómini nostri Iesu Christi: in quo est salus, vita et resurréctio nostra: per quem salváti et liberáti sumus.
Post Nonam. Dr Eleanor Parker (A Clerk of Oxford; her weekly emails are available via her Patreon site) wrote this week about Palm Sunday, the 'Sunday of flowers' in the Anglo-Saxon world; she concludes:
Later in Holy Week, of course, a tree will also play a crucial role: that 'most glorious of trees', as Anglo-Saxon poets call it, the cross, so often imagined in medieval tradition as a living and life-giving tree. The blossoming branches of Palm Sunday, sprouting their fresh green leaves and catkins, look forward to the raising up of the tree of life.
Infra is Cardinal Schuster for today. This will be the final day for Blessed Ildefonso, at least for his entire essay everyday.
The present Church of Santa Maria in Portico stands about a hundred yards distant from the medieval diaconal church of that name, erected formerly in the porch of the palace of Galla, daughter of the consul Symmachus. The church and hospital of Saint Galla still show the exact site where, until 1618, stood the original diaconal church in porticu Gallae. This noble matron-- before retiring from the world to lead the life of a religious in the still-existing convent of St Stephen Kata Galla patricia near St Peter’s-- desired to turn her own house into a hospital and xenodochium for the poor. This she duly carried out, dedicating the building to the great Mother of God, a representation of whom, executed in enamel on a plate of gold, dating from the 5th century, is still venerated on this spot. Gregory VII (1073-85) who, in the ancestral castle of the Pierleoni at the foot of the Tarpeian rock, might indeed consider himself as born and bred under the shadow of the titulus Galliae, restored the church from its foundations and reconsecrated the high altar. Its venerable antiquity, however, did not protect it in the 17th century from the mania for restoring and remodelling all buildings in the classical style prevailing at that time; so the ancient painting at Santa Maria in Portico had to find a new resting-place near by. Apart from the historic interest of the older church, it cannot actually be said that the shrine lost in any way in dignity or splendour, for the new basilica 'in Campitelli' is remarkable for its beauty and size, and is fully worthy of the great traditions of the Church of St Galla. Nor is this basilica altogether new, for it is built on the site of an ancient and dilapidated little church also dedicated in the Middle Ages to Santa Maria in Campitelli, which had the honour in 1217 of being consecrated by the hands of Pope Honorius III himself. As regards the stational Basilica of St Prisca on the Aventine, the excavations made on the spot and the researches of De Rossi have but confirmed the tradition which connected the domestica Ecclesia Aquilae et Priscillae with the Apostles Peter and Paul, who are said to have received hospitality there. Indeed, in 1776, a Roman house was discovered near the church with paintings and other records of a Christian character, whilst among the ruins was found a bronze tablet offered in 226 by a city in Spain to Caius Marius Cornelius Pudentianus, a person of senatorial rank, who had been elected to that city as its patron. Now the relations between the founders of the Priscillian necropolis on the Via Salaria and the Pudenti of the Vicus Patricias are too well known, for the certainty of a house belonging to the Pudenti having existed on the Coelian on the site of the title of Aquila and Priscilla, not to throw a very favourable light on this ancient ecclesiastical tradition. During the time of Pius VI (1775-99) there was also discovered near the basilica of St Prisca on the Coelian, an ancient oratory with paintings of the 4th century, representing the Apostles. A glass vase was also found, around which were engraved the heads of the Apostles, their names being inscribed above them, and, in addition, various fragments of mosaics, showing fishes of all kinds darting about in the water, symbolical of souls regenerated by grace through the waters of baptism. Altogether a number of arguments help to support the Roman tradition which regards the title of Aquila and Priscilla on the Aventine as being one of the most ancient sanctuaries of the Eternal City, hallowed by the presence and ministry of St Peter and St Paul. Against this tradition, confirmed by documentary evidence, we have not as yet seen any valid argument brought forward to the contrary. It must be remembered, however, that the Prisca, virgin and martyr, whose body lies under the high altar of the church, is not the same as Prisca or Priscilla, the wife of Aquila, and disciple of the Apostle Paul. In the Middle Ages there arose beside this title a celebrated Benedictine Abbey, which, in the 11th century, was dependent on that of St Paul on the Via Ostiensis.The Introit is derived quite exceptionally from St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (6,14). The cross is far from being to the Christian an occasion of shame; rather it is a sign of glory, since it is from the cross of Christ that there come to us salvation, life and resurrection. Then follows Psalm 66: 'May God have mercy on us and bless us; may he cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us, and may he have mercy on us'. This is the most beautiful prayer that, in union with the Church, we can lift up to Christ crucified. He chose to die in the darkness of the awestruck earth, having himself become an object of malediction in the sight of the ineffable holiness of God; but, at the same time, his dying eyes are fixed on us in love, and that glance is a living and shining ray which enlightens the whole world. The curse which he took upon himself on Calvary in obedience to his Father’s will has merited for us an abundance of divine blessings, wherefore Christ crucified is the true light of the world and the pledge of God’s highest graces. Let us then pray that Jesus may always turn from the cross his suffering face towards us, so that he may deign to remember all that he has suffered for us, and may show us his infinite mercy; and that we too, looking upon the face of the dying Jesus, may conceive a profound horror of sin and a tender love for our crucified Lord, saying with St Paul: Dilexit me et tradidit semetipsum pro me.In the Collect we pray for grace so to celebrate the mysteries of the Passion of our Redeemer, that we may derive therefrom that fruit which the Church offers us in the holy liturgy. We are not simply commemorating an historic event. The works of Christ and his words contained in the Gospel bear fruit whenever they are devoutly recalled, and have the same divine power when the Church expounds them to the Christian world today, as they had when they were first done or spoken before the Jews. With what reverence should we then listen to the words of the Gospel at holy Mass, and how pure should be the heart and lips of the priest who utters them!The Lesson is taken from Jeremias (11,18-20), who, on account of the persecutions he suffered at the hands of the corrupt priesthood of his time, is one of the prophetic types bearing the greatest resemblance to Christ. In the passage which the liturgy puts before us today, the prophet appeals to God to judge between him and his enemies who have devised counsels against him, saying: 'Let us put wood in his bread and cut him off from the land of the living'. Here the Fathers of the Church see a prophetic allusion to the miracle of the Eucharist, in which the body of Christ is hidden under the species of bread.The Gradual is from Psalm 34, in which Christ discloses all the ingratitude of his enemies. He loved them so much that in their sickness-- the sins and passions which afflict the soul-- he clothed himself in sackcloth-- that is, he hid the glory of his divine nature underneath the lowliness of our human nature, and afflicted his spirit with fasting. Yet, in despite of this, they repaid his love with hate, so Christ turns to his Father saying: 'Judge thou, O Lord, them that wrong me; overthrow them that fight against me: take hold of arms and shield, and rise up to help me.' It may be observed here that when in holy Scripture the divine judgement is invoked on the wicked, we should understand this as being either the final judgement of God on the impenitent sinner, or, if the expression refers to our present life, those physical and temporal ills with which he more often visits the guilty in this world, in order to draw them from their evil ways and to convert them, or to prevent them from committing further sins which would render their eternal damnation more certain.The Gospel was originally the narrative from St John (13,1-15) of the washing of the feet, afterwards reserved for Maundy Thursday. Our Lord here makes use, as was his wont, of a familiar image drawn from the daily life around him, in order to make his meaning clearer to the simplest among his hearers, saying to Peter: 'He that is washed, i.e., he that comes from the bath, needeth not but to wash his feet,' so he who desires to celebrate worthily the Eternal Pasch with Jesus, and to become one with him, must first wash away even the least of his imperfections in the blood of the Lamb and in the ardour of his love. It was only in later times that the story of the Passion of our Lord according to St Mark (14-15) was introduced into the stational liturgy of today. According to the exegetes of the New Testament, the young man here mentioned, who was suddenly aroused by the uproar caused by the capture of Jesus, and who followed in the crowd clad only in a linen cloth,1 is in all probability Mark, the actual writer of this Gospel, who, although he does not name himself openly, reveals his identity as its author by various signs. All the particulars of the story coincide in favour of Mark, and give a natural explanation to this incident. Mark lived with his mother in Jerusalem, evidently in the less frequented part of the city, and for this reason his house was used by the first disciples as a place of meeting. When Jesus passed before the house, the youth was already in bed, and in accordance with the usual custom of Palestine, having laid aside his clothes, had wrapped himself in a large sheet, which, in this instance, as was usual among the wealthier classes, was woven from the finest linen. At the noise of the multitude, the young man awakes, and, hearing that Jesus was being led away captive, rushes out of the house just as he is and accosts the soldiers, possibly making use of threats. Some of them, having had a proof at Gethsemani that the disciples of the Nazarene could use arms if need be, attempted to seize him, but the young man, leaving the sheet in their hands, fled away naked. St Gregory admonishes us that he who would escape the assaults of the devil must first strip himself internally, as the athletes stripped themselves outwardly before entering the circus; Satan must not be able to get hold of us by any of our affections and we must be willing to abandon freely to him all our worldly desires, so that we may rescue our souls from his clutches.The Offertory comes from Psalm 139: 'Keep me, O Lord, from the hand of the sinner; and from wicked men deliver me'. God heard this prayer of the dying Saviour; and on the morning of Easter day gave him a new life, one no longer subject to suffering and to the weakness of the flesh, but glorious and immortal. 'Christ being risen,' cries the Apostle, 'dieth no more. Death hath no longer any dominion over him'. This is the victory of the crucified Redeemer, whose cry the Father has answered. In the Secret we implore God that the sacrifice instituted to sanctify the solemn paschal fast may also serve to restore our will, turning it from evil to good. Unlike the Greeks, who on days of abstinence refrain from offering the holy Sacrifice, Rome from earliest times never celebrated any fast without also offering the unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass. Therefore we find in the Missal for each day of abstinence-- in Lent, on Ember days, on vigils, etc.-- a Mass corresponding thereto, which, according to the liturgical spirit of our forefathers, consecrated the penance and marked the end of the fast. The only exceptions are Holy Saturday and the great vigils preparatory to the Sunday, which necessitated the 'aliturgical Saturday'-- that is, without any Mass-- but the reason in these cases was that the Friday fast was prolonged uninterruptedly until the early morning Mass of the Sunday.The Communion is taken from Psalm 68, which describes how the enemies of Jesus drank and sang as they planned to encompass his death, but he prayed to his Father and by his prayers hastened the blessed hour of mercy. All things have their appointed times, nor can we alter them. There is a time of prosperity and a time of misfortune, a time of glory and a time of humiliation. It is God who in his divine providence gives us our appointed times of good and evil. We must therefore conform to his holy will and during the time of trial await patiently the hour when it shall please him to set us free. It is our duty then to pray with that end in view that we may be delivered from evil and not be led into temptation, but without anxiety and without losing our inward grace. Qui crediderit, non festinet, Isaias says, and faith assures us that God’s hour will surely come, even though it tarry. Let us then tranquilly await this hour, this tempus beneplaciti, as the Psalmist here calls it, and meanwhile our trust in God will sustain us and give us confidence that though all the world may fail us, yet God will never fail those who trust in him.The Post-Communion is the same as that of Ember Saturday in Lent. In it we pray that by the merit of the holy Sacrifice our evil passions may be rooted out from our hearts and the just desires of our hearts fulfilled. These desires are only just when they are in accordance with the just and holy will of God. When therefore in our prayers, instead of allowing ourselves to be guided by the Holy Ghost who dwells within us and, as St Paul says, prays within us gemitibus inenarrabilibus, we are led by our human desires to ask for those things which in the ruling of divine providence are not to our advantage, God, who is infinitely good, does not grant us what we in our blindness crave for, but that which he knows to be expedient for us. The prayer of faith is thus never useless and never inefficacious, but always obtains some degree of grace. In the Collect of Benediction, the Oratio super oblata, the prayer over the people before their dismissal-- hence are explained the expressions of the early Church: benedictione missae sint, fiant missae catechumenis, etc.-- we ask that the mercy of God may cleanse us from all the deceits of our old nature, so that we may be formed anew unto holiness by the paschal mystery. Indeed, in the death of Christ we all die to the Old Law, to sin and to the flesh, and by his resurrection we are called to a new life according to his example. Of him the Apostle writes: quod mortuus est peccato, mortuus est semel, quod autem vivit, vivit Deo. To live to God is the high destiny of all the 'children of the Resurrection', as the Gospel calls them. May the Lord cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us, and may he have mercy on us. Such is the beautiful Messianic psalm which the Church applies during these days to the triumph of the crucified one. For it is from the tree of the cross that Jesus, being lifted up as he said, draws all hearts to himself. It is from the cross that he turns his dying gaze on the human race, which from countless centuries passes before him, who, according to the words of St John, was deemed in the divine decrees to have been offered up from the beginning of the world, and who bestows his benediction on all who believe in him.
It is also the feast of Saint Leonardo (19th century), of Saint Secundus (2nd century), and of the Blessed Maria Restituta (20th century).
V. Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum. R. Deo grátias.