The Mass today, the 2nd Sunday after the Octave of Easter, is Misericórdia Dómini plena est terra, allelúia (Introibo). (In the Pauline Rite, today is called the 3rd Sunday of Easter, which can be a bit confusing.) I didn't get up at 0200 for Holy Mass streamed from Saint-Eugène so will watch that after Prime. The program for the Mass is here.
... So it was with astonishment and delight that in 2012, students of the early Church learned that the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich had identified a twelfth-century Byzantine manuscript containing twenty-nine homilies of Origen on the psalms in his original Greek. The Italian scholar Lorenzo Perrone examined the manuscript and concluded that they were indeed authentic. The Greek manuscript was edited by a team of scholars led by Perrone and published a few years ago in the distinguished series of patristic texts Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller. Now the homilies have been ably translated by Joseph W. Trigg, an American scholar, with an introduction, biblical references, and notes. Today it is possible to read in English how the greatest biblical scholar of the early Church interpreted the psalms before they had been domesticated by generations of interpreters....
There vanishes another fifty dollars; next month, alas (alas that it is so much money and alas that it has to wait until next month, both).
Blessed Ildefonso returns to his desk for the 2nd Sunday post Octavam Paschae.
In the time of St Gregory the Great, today’s station was held at St Peter’s, near the tomb of the Pastor ovium, for it was there that the great Pope pronounced his magnificent homily on the Gospel of the Good Shepherd. His words were full of power and beauty: Jesus, 'the shepherd and bishop of our souls' as St Peter calls him in the lesson for this Sunday (I Peter 2,25), before confiding to him the charge of the universal Church, had desired that the Apostle should make it convincingly clear that his love for him was greater than that of all his fellow-Apostles. Christ, therefore, founded the papal primacy on the unshakeable faith and intense love of Peter; and he, following in his Saviour’s steps, did not hesitate to give his life for the flock entrusted to him, sealing his pastoral office with his own blood. So from earliest antiquity the Roman Church always pointed to the tomb of St Peter as a trophy of victory. There, indeed, a few steps from the Confessio of the Apostle, the first Pontiff proclaimed before the 'divine' Nero and his court the divinity of Christ: Tu es Christus Filius Dei; and then, like a glorious conqueror, he stretched out his arms on the cross, as though to take Rome and the whole world under his protection.
The devotion to Jesus the Redeemer under the figure of the Good Shepherd was dear to the faithful from very early times. Abercius in the epitaph on his mortuary cippus speaks of the Good Shepherd guarding his flock with ever-watchful eyes. At the close of the apostolic era Hermas gives the name of 'Pastor' to his mystical treatise on penance, a subject which was being much discussed at that time. At Rome, the Church on the Viminal, beside which the Popes had their temporary abode, is dedicated to the Good Shepherd, whose figure, Tertullian tells us, adorned the eucharistic chalices and cups. So familiar was the representation of the Good Shepherd to the painters and sculptors of the catacombs that we find it constantly reproduced on the arcosolia and sarcophagi.
Indeed, at a time when ancient Christian religious art from its very spirituality was strongly averse from statues, an exception is made for that of the Good Shepherd, of which we find several important examples. On this day the Greek Church gracefully commemorates the holy women who went to the sepulchre to anoint the body of Jesus. There is nothing to show that this custom was ever adopted in the Roman Liturgy. Be this as it may, there is such a tender charm in the thought, that we cannot refrain from quoting this pleasing Greek distich in honour of the holy ointment-bringers. You gentle readers will have to consult the Cardinal's text online since I'm not going to transcribe the Greek here, it being past time for Vespers.
The Introit is derived from Psalm 32. The resurrection of Christ has come to fill the earth with his mercies, that is, with the holy Sacraments, the blessings and the graces which nourish within the Church a life of sanctity and mystical renewal. It is the power of the divine word which has wrought such great wonders. Nature alone would be wholly unable to account for the marvellous fact of the conversion of the pagan world to Christianity in so short a time, and the divine organisation of the Catholic Church. Here is clearly evident the finger of God, and to him alone is the glory due. In the Collect we are reminded that the humiliations of Jesus were the steps, as it were, by which God descended to a world lying prostrate in the dust and mire of sin, in order to raise us up again to our first dignity of children of God. Happily this sad state of things is now past, and mourning has given place to the joy of Easter. We therefore ask God to give us an abiding gladness, not indeed in the enjoyment of the empty pleasures of the world, but of that inner happiness with which the Holy Ghost fills the souls of the saints. This joy, being wholly spiritual, causes us to desire more truly, and so to attain more surely to heavenly bliss.
In the Lesson for today, taken from the first Epistle of St Peter (2,21-25), it is Peter himself who speaks from his own temple, the Vatican basilica. He explains to the faithful the reason of this Easter feast in honour of the Good Shepherd, who gives his life for his sheep, and dwells upon the tenderest and most touching circumstances of this voluntary sacrifice of Christ, his patience under insults, his bruises, the love with which he poured forth from his wounds his healing blood to cure our souls of sin. Lastly, the Apostle points to Jesus Christ as 'the shepherd and bishop of our souls'. The alleluiatic verse in lieu of the Gradual comes from St Luke (24,35) and relates how the Apostles recognized Jesus in the breaking of bread. In this life we walk amid parables and mysteries; but at the moment when we place our feet upon the threshold of eternity, the sacramental veil is rent and God shows himself to us no longer under symbols and outward signs, but face to face in the splendour of his light, of which the Psalmist says: Et in lumine tuo videbimus lumen. The verse from St John (10,14), immediately preceding the Gospel, anticipates our Lord’s representation of himself to us today as the kind and loving Shepherd. He is closely bound to his flock by love. He knows his sheep, that is, he loves them and orders all things for their welfare. They, too, know him, that is, they hear his voice inwardly, they have spiritual experience of his guidance, and they correspond to the interior motions of his grace, as it is written: 'Qui Spiritu Dei aguntur, hi sunt filii Dei'. The Gospel from St John (10,11-16) breaks the cycle of the Easter lessons which are taken exclusively from St John’s version of our Lord’s last discourse in the supper-room. This exception to the ancient Roman order is fully justified by the characteristic and exceptional solemnity which causes it. Moreover, the liturgical and traditional use of the Gospel of the Good Shepherd on the second Sunday after Easter is very old. Jesus, therefore, presents himself to us to-day as the 'Good Shepherd' and tells us what will henceforth be his relationship with his flock. In the first place there will be a perfect understanding between the Shepherd and his sheep, the sanctity of whose souls will be based upon this interior life of intimate union with him. The soul will keep itself in a state of recollection in order to listen to the gentle voice of the Good Shepherd when he speaks, for it is in this colloquy that it will know Jesus. The number of Catholics is indeed limited compared to those who non sunt ex hoc ovili.
We should note the gentle language in which our Lord speaks of those outside the Church-- not a word of reproach but merely a statement of fact Yet Christ has come to redeem all men, that, as in Adam all perished, so in Christ all may be saved. Therefore by means of his Church he goes in search of his wandering sheep. The labour is long and difficult, but we must never despair; for Jesus has foretold that the result will be successful. In spite of all the opposition of men and of devils fiet unum ovile, there shall indeed be but one fold under one Shepherd.
The Offertory is from the morning Psalm 62 [Psalms 62 and 66 are frequently said at Lauds]: 'O God, my God, to thee do I watch at break of day; and in thy name I will lift up my hands. Alleluia.' In the Secret we pray that the Eucharistic Oblation may bring down upon us abundant blessings, so that Holy Communion may effectually accomplish in us that intimate union with Christ immolated and triumphant, which it-- the sacramentum unitatis-- mystically symbolizes.
The Communion repeats the alleluiatic verse of the Good Shepherd. Jesus not only gives his life for his sheep, but daily renews on the altar his sacrifice for them. He desires indeed that in order to perpetuate the memory of his death, the faithful shall also nourish their souls on his body and blood sacrificed and offered for them, that they may become one with him. In the Post-Communion we beseech almighty God that, having participated in the Sacrament which causes us to live through his own life, he will grant us the enjoyment in eternity of the grace we have to-day received. How wonderful is the thought that the best preparation for a holy Communion is that Communion which precedes it! O thrice holy Vatican Basilica enlarge thy mighty aisles, for thy hopes, since they are founded on the promises of Christ, can never fail. The Good Shepherd will lead back to the fold those sheep also that have gone astray et illas oportet me adducere... and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd.
It is also the feast of Saint Eleutherius (4th century), of Saint Athanasia (10th century), and of the Blessed Roman (20th century).
V. Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum. R. Deo grátias.
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