At last the grey and damp returns! I had begun to imagine that a 'climate event' had taken place while I was away. The Mass is Veníte, benedícti Patris mei, percípite regnum, allelúia (Introibo) and will be streamed from Saint-Eugène at 1000. Must look about to see if there are continuing consequences of the plague nonsense from the weekend; I can only imagine the tiresome series of conversations between poor Canon Guelfucci and the devout bureaucrats of the archdiocesan chancery.
Time to return to the Blessed Ildefonso's daily essays; we are in the second volume of his Liber sacramentorum....
But before the lesson from Cardinal Schuster, a video recording of an interview of M. l'Abbé Chanoine Marc Guelfucci, pastor of Saint-Eugene: 'masks? not while baptizing'. (I saw this linked here, at Le Salon Beige.)
Now to Blessed Ildefonso.
Today we honour St Lawrence, the Cross-bearer of the Roman Church, as though to express our gratitude for the favour shown by him to the catechumens in bringing them to the grace of holy baptism [the stations of the preceding two days have been at Saint Peter's and at Saint Paul's Without the Walls]. The Introit and the Offertory of the Mass bear special reference to these new sons of the Church, the Benedicti of the divine Father, now brought into the heavenly kingdom of Jesus Christ and admitted to the participation of the bread of angels.The Introit is from St Matthew (24,34), and joyfully acclaims the neophytes. They, the Benedicti, are those to whom the benediction of the Father is promised as a heritage. To this blessing is attached the possession of a kingdom, that is to say, the Church of Christ in its three aspects, the militant, the purificative, and the triumphant. The being admitted into the Church by baptism signifies that we have taken the first step on the way of our predestination. It rests then with us in no way to thwart God’s wondrous design towards us. 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom, alleluia; which was prepared for you from the foundation of the world, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia'. Psalm 95: 'Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle; sing to the Lord all the earth'.The Collect is the following: 'O God, who dost gladden us with the yearly celebration of our Lord’s resurrection; mercifully grant that by these festivals which we keep in time we may become worthy to attain to bliss that shall last for ever'. This is the truly noble ideal of the Christian festival; it is a holy time during which the soul, with deeper recollection, greater purity of life, and keener desire for heaven, prepares itself for the eternal feast. Throughout this Easter week, with the exception of yesterday’s station at Saint Paul’s own basilica-- Thursday’s Mass is somewhat later-- Saint Peter is given the honour of being the first to announce to the Romans the resurrection of the Lord. The Apostle, who once trembled at the voice of a maidservant, shows fear no longer in the presence of the Sanhedrim and of the people, but boldly throws upon them the entire responsibility of the deicide. Pilate, he tells them in to-day’s lesson (Acts iii 13-19) judged that Jesus should be released; God the Father has raised him from the dead; but they have delivered him up and have denied him, refusing in any way to acknowledge him.This is one of the most striking features of the preaching of the Gospel. The Apostles do not praise nor do they flatter their hearers; on the contrary, they reproach them with their sins, preaching the need of repentance and of a change of life. The world will find nothing in the Gospel to encourage the sensuality which naturally attracts it; yet, notwithstanding all the opposition between the spirit of the world and the principles of the Gospel, in less than three hundred years the pagan world will, in spite of itself, have bowed its head to receive the healing waters of Christian baptism. Next to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, this is the greatest of all the miracles which have confirmed our Faith.The Gradual comes from Psalm 117: 'This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us be glad and rejoice therein. The right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength: the right hand of the Lord hath exalted me. Alleluia, alleluia'. The alleluiatic verse (Luke 24,34) dwells once more on the special significance of our Lord’s appearing to Peter. 'The Lord is risen indeed: and hath appeared to Simon'. The passages from the Gospels read during this Octave follow more or less the historical order of the events narrated therein. On this, the third ferial day of the week, is read the account of the third manifestation of the risen Saviour to the Apostles (John 21,1-14), which in St Luke is combined with his appearance at Emmaus. On the preceding Monday the first manifestation was described, and yesterday the second. Christ shows himself to the Apostles on the shores of Lake Tiberias. John, the virgin soul among the Apostles, sees him first, but Peter, the most ardent and the most impetuous, in the vigour of his faith throws himself into the water and is the first to reach the divine Master, whilst the others slowly follow in the boat. Having come to land they dine, Jesus feeding them with the broiled fish and with bread. 'Piscis assus', says St Augustine, 'Christus est passus', to signify that even the necessary concessions which we have to make to the weakness of our nature must be mingled with the spirit of mortification taught to us by Jesus Christ. Yesterday the Offertory reminded the neophytes of the holy font in which they were regenerated; today, on the other hand, it calls to their minds the eucharistic banquet to which they have been admitted. Psalm 77: 'The Lord opened the doors of heaven, and rained down manna upon them to eat: he gave them the bread of heaven: man ate the bread of angels, alleluia'. The bread of angels becomes the food of man; not that heavenly things should be formed after the pattern of earthly ones, but in order that man through its life-giving power may be raised to emulate the sanctity of the angels.The Secret points out that we, in order to celebrate worthily the joyful festival of Easter, offer to almighty God the Eucharistic Sacrifice; which, whilst it renders to him the fullest honour, at the same time wonderfully feeds and sustains his holy Church. The Antiphon for the Communion is taken from the Epistle of St Paul to the Romans (6,9). 'Christ rising from the dead, dieth now no more, alleluia; death shall no more have dominion over him, alleluia, alleluia'. He is now no longer subject to death, and, like the tree of life in Eden, has become for those who believe in him the food of immortality; so that as many as shall eat of him shall live spiritually for ever and together with him shall be the true 'sons of the resurrection'.In the Post-Communion we beseech our merciful Lord that the paschal sacrifice, which has brought to an end the Old Covenant, may also begin in us a new life of active holiness. 'May we be cleansed, O Lord, we beseech thee, from our old nature; and may thy sacrament, which we reverently take, change us into newness.' Throughout the paschal season the Church displays a great veneration for the martyrs, of which the first evidence is seen today at the tomb of St Lawrence. The reason of this devotion is that the martyrs have a special claim to the glory of the resurrection, since they have participated more closely than others in the ignominy of the Cross.
It seemed warm enough went I was out walking earlier but I've had to turn the heater on since the damp, whatever the temperature may be, is chilling my hands.
Post Nonam. Looking about, while Dom Prosper's French is readily available online (it is, e.g., at the Introibo page for the day ut supra) it is also the case that each day's essay is lengthy and the translations of the texts which he cites are ordinarily printed in a parallel column which aren't standing up well to the rigors of copy/paste. This is Dom Prosper for today, prefatory to his explanation of the day's Mass.
Haec dies quam fecit Dominus: exsultemus et laetemur in ea.
The Hebrew word Pasch signifies passage, and we explained yesterday how this great day first became sacred by reason of the Lord’s Passover. But there is another meaning which attaches to the word, as we learn from the early Fathers, and the Jewish rabbins. The Pasch is, moreover, the passage of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land. These three great facts really happened on one and the same night-- the banquet of the lamb, the death of the first-born of the Egyptians, and the departure from Egypt. Let us, today, consider how this third figure is further development of our Easter mystery.The day of Israel’s setting forth from Egypt for his predestined country of the Promised Land, is the most important in his whole history; but, both the departure itself; and the circumstances that attended it, were types of future realities to be fulfilled in the Christian Pasch. The people of God was delivered from an idolatrous and tyrannical country: in our Pasch, they who are now our neophytes have courageously emancipated themselves from the slavish sway of satan, and have solemnly renounced the pumps and works of this haughty Pharaoh. On their road to the Promised Land, the Israelites had to pass through sea of water; their doing so was necessity, both for their protection against Pharaoh’s army, which was pursuing them, and for their entrance into the land of milk and honey.Our neophytes too, after renouncing the tyrant who had enslaved them, had to go through that same saving element of water, in order to escape their fierce enemies; it carried them safe into the land of their hopes, and stood as a rampart to defend them against invasion. By the goodness of God, that water, which is an obstacle to man’s pursuing his way, was turned into an ally for Israel’s march; the laws it had from nature were suspended, and it became the saviour of God’s people. In like manner, the sacred font-- which, as the Church told us on the Feast of the Epiphany, is made an instrument of divine grace-- has become the refuge and fortress of our happy neophytes; their passing through its waters has put them out of reach of the tyrant’s grasp. Having reached the opposite shore, the Israelites see Pharaoh and his army, their shields and their chariots, buried in the sea.When our neophytes looked at the holy font, from which they had risen to the life of grace, they rejoiced to see the tomb where their sins, enemies worse than Pharaoh and his minions, lay buried for ever. Then did the Israelites march cheerfully on towards the land that God had promised to give them. During the journey, they will have God as their teacher and lawgiver; they will have their thirst quenched by fountains springing up from a rock in the desert; they will be fed on manna sent each day from heaven. Our neophytes, too, will run on unfettered to the heavenly country, their Promised Land. They will go through the desert of this world, uninjured by its miseries and dangers, for the divine lawgiver will teach them, not amidst thunder and lightning, as He did when He gave His law to the Israelites, but with persuasive words of gentlest love, spoken with that sweet manner which set on fire the hearts of the two disciples of Emmaus. Springs of Water shall refresh them at every turn, yea of that living water which Jesus, few weeks back, told the Samaritan woman should be given to them that adore Him in spirit and in truth.And lastly, heavenly Manna shall be their food, strengthening and delighting them-- a Manna far better than that of old, for it will give them immortality. So that our Pasch means all this: it is passing through water to the Land of Promise, but with reality and truth which the Israelites had only under the veil of types, sublime indeed and divine, but mere types. Let then our Passover from the death of original sin to the life of grace, by holy Baptism, be a great feast-day with us. This may not be the anniversary of our Baptism: it matters not; let us fervently celebrate our exodus from the Egypt of the world into the Christian Church; let us, with glad and grateful hearts, renew our baptismal vows, which made our God so liberal in His gifts to us: let us renounce satan, and all his works, and all his pomps.The Apostle of the Gentiles tells us of another mystery of the waters of Baptism; it gives completion to all we have been saying, and equally forms part of our Pasch. He teaches us, that we were hidden beneath this water, as was Christ in His tomb; and that we then died, and were buried, together with Him. It was the death of our life of sin: that we might live to God, we had to die to sin. When we think of the holy font where we were regenerated, let us call it the tomb, wherein we buried the Old Man, who was to have no resurrection. Baptism by immersion-- which was the ancient mode of administering the Sacrament, and is still used in some countries-- was expressive of this spiritual burial: the neophyte was made to disappear beneath the water: he was dead to his former life, as our buried Jesus was to His mortal life. But, as our Redeemer did not remain in the tomb, but rose again to new life, so likewise, says the Apostle, they who are baptized, rise again with Him when they come from the font; they bear on them the pledges of immortality and glory, and are the true and living members of that Head, who dieth now no more. Here, again, is our Pasch, our passage from death to life.At Rome, the Station is in the basilica of Saint Laurence outside the Walls. It is looked upon as the most important of the many churches built by Rome in honour of her favourite Martyr, whose body lies under the high altar. Hither were the neophytes led today [the 19th century printer's habit of separating the marks of punctuation by a space from their antecedent clauses is quite irritating to the 20th century reader, ahem], that they might learn, from the example of so brave and generous soldier of Christ, how courageous they should be in confessing their faith, and how faithful in living up to their baptismal vows. For several centuries, the reception of Baptism was preparation for martyrdom; but, at all times, it is an enlisting in the service of Christ, which we cannot leave without incurring the guilt and penalty of traitors.
And now what follows from Dom Prosper on the Mass.
The Introit is composed of those words, which the Son of God will speak to His elect, at the last Judgement, when calling them into His kingdom. The Church applies them to the neophytes, and thus raises up their thoughts to that eternal happiness, the remembrance of which supported the Martyrs in their sufferings.Venite benedicti Patris mei; percipite regnum, alleluia: quod vobis paratum alleluia: est ab origine mundi. Alleluia, alleluia., alleluia. Ps. Cantate Domino canticum novum: cantate Domino omnis terra. Gloria Patri. Venite.In the Collect, the Church reminds her children that the feasts of the holy liturgy are means of our coming to the eternal Feasts of heaven. It is with this truth and hope before us, that we have drawn up our Liturgical Year. We must, therefore, so celebrate our Easter of time, as to deserve to be admitted into the joys of the eternal Easter.Deus qui nos resurrectionis Dominicae annua solemnitate laetificas: concede propitius, ut per temporalia festa quae agimus, pervenire ad gaudia teterna mereamur. Per eumdem.God, who by the yearly solemnity of the Resurrection of our Lord, fillest us with joy; mercifully grant, that, by these temporal festivals which we celebrate, we may at last come to the possession of those joys that are eternal. Through the same, &c.To this the Church, during this week, adds one or other of the following Collects.Against the persecutors of the Church.Ecclesiae tum, quaesumus Domine, preces placatus admitte: ut, destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis, secura tibi serviat libertate. Per Dominum.Mercifully hear, we beseech thee, Lord, the prayers of thy Church: that, all oppositions and errors being removed, she may serve thee with secure liberty. Through &c.For the Pope.Deus, omnium fidelium Pastor et rector, famulum tuum Franciscum quem Pastorem Ecclesiae tum praeesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quaesumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus praeest, proficere; ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credito, perveniat sempiternam. Per Dominum.The Epistle. [The lessons may be found on the day's Introibo page.]Today, again, we have the Prince of the Apostles proclaiming in Jerusalem the Resurrection of the Man-God. On this occasion, he was accompanied by St. John, and had just worked his first miracle, of curing the lame man, near one of the gates of the temple. The people had crowded round the two Apostles, and St. Peter preached to them; it was the second time he had spoken in public. His first sermon brought three thousand to receive Baptism; the one of today, five thousand. Truly did the Apostle exercise on these two occasions, his office of fisher of men, which our Lord gave him when He first called him to be His disciple. Let us admire the charity, where with St. Peter bids the Jews acknowledge Jesus as their Messias. These are the very men who have denied Him and yet the Apostle by partially excusing their crime, on the score of ignorance, encourages them to hope for pardon. They clamoured for the death of Jesus, in the days of His voluntary weakness and humiliation; let them, now that He is glorified, acknowledge Him as their Messias and King, and their sin shall be forgiven. In a word, let them humble themselves and they shall be saved. Thus did God call unto Himself those who were of good will, and an upright heart thus does He also in these our days. There were some in Jerusalem who corresponded to the call; but the far greater number refused to follow it. It is the same now. Let us earnestly beseech our Lord that the nets of His fishermen may be filled, and the Paschal banquet be crowded with guests.The Gradual.Haec dies quam fecit Dominus: exsultemus, et laetemur in ea. V. Dextera Domini fecit virtutem, dextera Domini exaltavit me. Alleiuia, alleluia. V. Surrexit Dominus vere, et apparuit Petro. Alleluia, alleluia.The Sequence, Victimae paschali laudes, can be found on the Introibo page, as can the Gospel (John 21) that follows it.Jesus had shown Himself to all His Apostles, on the Sunday evening; He repeated His visit to them, eight days after, as we shall see further on. The Gospel for today tells us of a third apparition, wherewith seven of the eleven were favoured. It took place on the shore of Lake Genesareth, which, on account of its size, was called the Sea of Tiberias. The seven are delighted beyond measure at seeing their divine Master; He treats them with affectionate familiarity, and provides them with repast. John is the first to recognize Jesus; nor can we be surprised: his purity gives keen perception to the eye of his soul, as it is written: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God. Peter throws himself from the ship, that he may the more quickly reach his Lord. His natural impetuosity shows itself here as on so many other occasions; but in this impetuosity we see that he loved Jesus more than his fellow disciples did.But let us attentively consider the other mysteries of our Gospel. The seven disciples are fishing: it is the Church working out her apostolate. Peter is the master fisherman; it belongs to him to decide when and where the nets are to be thrown. The other six Apostles unite with him in the work, and Jesus is with them all, looking upon their labour, and directing it, for whatever is got by it is all for Him. The fish are the faithful, for, as we have already had occasion to remark, the Christian was often called by this name in the early ages. It was the font, it was water, that gave him his Christian life. Yesterday, we were considering how the Israelites owed their safety to the waters of the Red Sea; and our Gospel for today speaks of Passover, passing from Genesareth’s waters to a banquet prepared by Jesus. There is mystery, too, in the number of the fishes that are taken; but what it is that is signified by these 153, we shall perhaps never know, until the day of Judgement reveals the secret [and yet many hundreds of pages have been written on the mystery]. They probably denote some divisions or portions of the human race, that are to be gradually led, by the apostolate of the Church, to the Gospel of Christ: but, once more, till God’s time comes, the book must remain sealed.Having reached the shore, the Apostles surround their beloved Master, and He has prepared them repast: bread, and fish lying on hot coals. This fish is not one of those they themselves have caught; they are to partake of it, now that they have come from the water. The early Christians thus interpret the mystery: the fish represents Christ, who was made to suffer the cruel torments of the Passion, and whose love of us was the fire that consumed Him; and He became the divine food of them that are regenerated by water. We have elsewhere remarked, that, in the primitive Church, the Greek word for fish was venerated as a sacred symbol, in as much as the letters of this word formed the initials of the titles of our Redeemer. But Jesus would unite, in the same repast, both the divine Fish, which is Himself, and those other fishes, which represent all mankind, and have been drawn out of the water in Peter’s net. The Paschal Feast has the power to effect, by love, an intimate and substantial union between the Food and the guests, between the Lamb of God and the other lambs who are His brethren, between the divine Fish and those others that He has associated with Himself by the closest ties of fellowship. They, like Him, have been ofiered in sacrifice they follow Him in suffering and in glory.Witness the great deacon Laurence, around whose tomb the faithful are now assembled. He was made like to his divine Master, when he was burnt to death on his red-hot gridiron; he is now sharing with Him, in an eternal Pasch, the glories of Jesus’ victory, and the joys of His infinite happiness.The Offertory is formed from the words of the Psalm, which commemorate the manna that heaven gave to the Israelites, after they had passed through Red Sea. But the new Manna is as far superior to the old, which nourished only the body, as our baptismal font, which washes away our sins, is grander than the mighty waves, which swallowed up Pharaoh and his army.Portas coeli aperuit Dominus: et pluit illis manna, ut ederent: panem coeli dedit eis: panem Angelorum manducavit homo, alleluia.In the Secret, the Church speaks in glowing terms of the heavenly Bread, that feeds us and is the Victim of our Paschal Sacrifice.Sacrificia, Domine, paschalibus gaudiis immolamus: quibus Ecclesia tua mirabilitur et pascitur et nutritur. Per Dominum.To this, the Church, during this week, adds one or other of the following Secrets.Against the persecutors of the Church.Protege nos, Domine, tuis mysterus servientes: ut divinis rebus inhaerentes, et corpore tibi famulemur et mente. Per Dominum.For the Pope.Oblatis, quaesumus, Domine, placare muneribus: et famulum tuum Franciscum quem Pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti, assidua protectione guberna. Per Dominum.Our Lord says 'this is the Bread which cometh down from heaven that if any man eat of it, he may not die'. In the Communion-Anthem we have the Apostle telling us that Christ, rising from the dead, dieth now no more. These two texts tell us the effect produced in our souls by the holy Eucharist: we eat an immortal Food, and it communicates to us its own undying life.Christus resurgens ex mortuis, jam non moritur, alleluia: mors illi ultra non dominabitur. Alleluia, alleluia.In the Postcommunion, the Church prays for us, that we may receive the effects of the divine Food of which we have just partaken; she prays that it may purify us, and substitute the new principle (which is in our risen Jesus) for the old one that was in us.Ab omni nos, quaesumus Domine, vetustate purgatos, Sacramenti tui veneranda perceptio in novam transferat creaturam. Qui vivis.To this the Church, during this week, adds one or other of the following Postcommunions.Against the persecutors of the Church.Quaesumus, Domine Deus noster: ut quos divina tribuis participatione gaudere, humanis non sinas subjacere periculis. Per Dominum.For the Pope.Haec nos, quaesumus, Domine, divini Sacramenti perceptio protegat: et famulum tuum Franciscum quem Pastorem Ecclesia tua praeesse voluisti, una cum commisso sibi grege salvet semper et muniat. Per Dominum.The Wednesday of Easter Week is the day set apart, at Rome, for the blessing of the Agnus Dei. This ceremony is performed by the Pope the 1st and every 7th year of his pontificate. The Agnus Dei are discs of wax, on which are stamped, on one side the image of the Lamb of God, and on the other that of some saint. The custom of blessing them at Eastertide, is very ancient. We find traces of it in the liturgy, even so far back as the seventh century. When, in the year 1544, they opened at Rome the tomb of the Empress Maria (wife of Honorius, and daughter of Stilico) who died before the middle of the 5th century, there was found in it an Agnus Dei, resembling those now blessed by the Pope. It is, therefore, incorrect to state, as some authors have done, that the Agnus Dei originated at the time when the administration of Baptism at Easter fell into disuse, and that they were meant as symbols commemorative of the ancient rite.There is very little doubt that at Rome, each neophyte used to receive an Agnus Dei from the Pope, on Holy Saturday.We may, then, rightly conclude-- and the conclusion is confirmed by the fact just mentioned, regarding the tomb of the Empress Maria-- that the solemn administration of Baptism and the blessing of the Agnus Dei were contemporaneous, at least for a certain period. The Agnus Dei are made from the Paschal candle of the previous year; of course, a great quantity of other wax is added to it. Formerly, it was the custom to pour in some drops of the holy Chrism. In the Middle Ages, the wax was prepared and stamped by the subdeacons and acolytes of the Pope’s palace; the Cistercian monks of the monastery of St. Bernard, in Rome, have now that honour. The ceremony takes place in one of the rooms of the pontifical palace. A large vase of holy water is prepared and the Pope, standing near it, recites the following prayer.Lord God, almighty Father, Creator of the elements, preserver of mankind, author of grace and eternal salvation! who badest the rivers, that flowed from paradise, to water the whole earth! thou, whose only-begotten Son walked dry-shod on the waters, and in the same was baptized, who also gave forth from his most sacred side water mingled with Blood, and commanded his disciples to baptize all nations; be merciful unto us, and pour forth thy blessing upon us who celebrate all these wonders; that thus, the creatures which we are about to plunge into this water, may be blessed and sanctified by thee, and that the honour and veneration, which shall be shown to them, may draw down upon us, thy servants, the forgiveness of sins, pardon and grace, and finally life eternal together with thy saints and elect.After this, the Pontiff pours balm and holy chrism into the water, beseeching God to sanctity it for the purpose to which it is now to be used. He then turns towards the baskets, which hold the waxen tablets, and recites this prayer.God, the author of all sanctification, and whose goodness is ever with us; then who, when Abraham, the father of our faith, was preparing to slay his son Isaac in obedience to thy commands, didst will him to consummate his sacrifice by offering up the ram that was entangled in the briers: thou who didst prescribe, through thy servant Moses, the yearly sacrifice of the spotless lambs; deign, we pray thee, to bless, and sanctify, by the invocation of thy holy Name, these forms of wax, which bear the impress of the most innocent Lamb; that by their contact and presence, the faithful may be incited to pray, storms and tempests be driven away, and the wicked spirits put to flight by the virtue of the holy cross hereon marked, before which every knee bends, and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ, having conquered death on the gibbet of the cross, now reigneth in the glory of God the Father. He it is who, when led to death as sheep to slaughter, offered unto thee his Father the sacrifice of his own Body, that he might bring back the lost sheep that had been led astray by the devil’s fraud, and carry it, on his shoulders, to the fold of heaven. Almighty and eternal God, the institutor of the ceremonies and sacrifices of the Law, who didst deign to turn away thine anger from sinful man, as often as he offered victims of propitiation unto thee; who didst graciously accept the sacrifices made by Abel, Melchisedech, Abraham, Moses and Aaron, which sacrifices were indeed but figures, yet, by thy blessing, were made holy and profitable to them that humbly offered them; grant, we beseech thee, that as the innocent Lamb, Jesus Christ thy Son when immolated at thy will on the altar of the cross, delivered our first parent from the power of the devil, so may these spotless lambs, which we present to thy divine Majesty for blessing, be endued with power unto good. Deign to bless them, to sanctify them, to consecrate them, to give them the power to protect those who devoutly carry them against the malice of demons, against tempests, pestilence, sickness, fire, and enemies; and make them efficacious in protecting the mother and her child, in the dangers of travail. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord.After these prayers, the Pope girds himself with cloth, and sits near the vessel of holy water. The ministers bring him the Agnus Dei, which he plunges into the water, in imitation of the Baptism of the neophytes. The prelates who are present, take them from the water, and place them upon tables covered with white linen. Then the Pontiff rises, and says the following prayer.Holy Spirit! who makest the waters fruitful, and usest them as the instrument of thy greatest mysteries; who didst take away their bitterness, and give them sweetness; and, sanctifying them by thy breathing, dost employ them for washing away all sins, by the invocation of the holy Trinity; vouchsafe to bless, sanctify, and consecrate these lambs that have been cast into the holy water, and have imbibed of the balm and holy chrism. May they receive power from thee against the efforts of the devil’s malice; may they who wear them abide in safety; may they have nought to fear from danger; may the wickedness of men have no power to hurt them; and do thou mercifully be their strength and consolation. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God! who art the innocent Lamb, the Priest and the Victim; whom the prophets called the vine and the cornerstone; who didst redeem us by thy Blood, and, with that same, didst sign our hearts and foreheads, that the enemy, when passing our dwellings, might not wreak his anger upon us; who art the spotless Lamb, offered in ceaseless sacrifice; who art the Paschal Lamb, become, under the sacramental species, the remedy and salvation of our souls; who guidest us across the sea of this present life to the resurrection and glory of eternity: deign, we beseech thee, to bless, sanctify, and consecrate these spotless lambs, which, in thy honour, we have formed out of virgin wax, and have impregnated with holy water, and sacred balm and chrism, intending hereby to commemorate thy being divinely conceived by the operation of the Holy Ghost. Protect those that wear them from fire, and lightning, and tempests, and every adversity; grant them to be safeguard to mothers in the pains of childbirth, as thou didst assist thine own when she gave thee birth. And as thou, heretofore, didst save Susanna from her false accusers, and the blessed martyr and virgin Thecla from torture, and Peter from his prison chains; so, now, vouchsafe to deliver us from the dangers of this world, and give us to merit life eternal with thee.The Agnus Dei are then respectfully taken, and kept for the solemn distribution to be made on the following Saturday. It is not difficult to see how this ceremony bears on the Pasch; the Paschal Lamb is frequently mentioned, and the plunging of these sacred images into the water is an evident allusion to the administration of Baptism, which, for so many centuries, was prominent feature of the Easter Octave. The prayers, which we have somewhat abridged in our translation [I'm surprised at that, and that the Latin originals are not provided...], are not of very ancient date; still, the rite which accompanies them, refers implicitly to Baptism.As we have already remarked, the custom of blessing the Agnus Dei was observed several centuries before the abolition of the solemn administration of Baptism at Easter; and is an additional proof of the fervent devotion wherewith the Church has ever honoured the mystery of the Lamb at Eastertide. On account of their sublime symbolism, their being blessed by the Sovereign Pontiff, and the solemnity of their rite, the Agnus Dei are considered as one of the most venerated objects of Catholic piety. They are sent from the holy city to every part of the world. The faith of those who respectfully keep them in their houses, or wear them, has frequently been rewarded by miracles. During the Pontificate of St. Pius V, the Tiber overflowed its banks, and threatened destruction to several quarters of the city: an Agnus Dei was thrown into the river, and the water immediately receded. This miracle, which was witnessed by several thousands of the inhabitants was brought forward in the process of the beatification of this great Pontiff.On this the fourth day, were created the sun, the glorious type of the Incarnate Word; the moon, the symbol of Mary’s loveliness, and of the Church, which reflects the light of the Sun of justice; and the stars, which, by their number and beauty, are an image of the bright countless host of God’s elect. Let us glorify the Son of God, the author of all these wondrous works of nature and grace; and with hearts full of gratitude towards Him, who has thus cheered us with all this magnificent light, let us unite in the prayer offered to Him, to-day, by the Gothic Church of Spain. This is called a capitula, evidently.Ecce, Domine, vesperum quarti diei hujus officiosis luminaribus frequentamus, in quo luminaria in firma mento coeli constituens, qua si in solidamento legis in figens, quatuor videlicet Evangelistarum una to voce canentium corda illustrare dignatus es: quo te in quatuor mundi partes et mortem pro nobis gustasse, et mortuis resurrexisse, unitis vocibus nuntiarent: te ergo petimus, teque rogamus, ut in hujus vita: obscuritate, ita resurrectionis tune in nobis praefulgeat gratis, ut resurrecturi mereamur pertingere ad coronam.We take from the Missal of the same Church the following beautiful allocution, in which are celebrated the mysteries of the miraculous draught of fish, mentioned in to-day’s Gospel. [I have no idea if 'allocution' is the proper name of an element of the Gothic Rite or....]Procellosum mare fluctuantis saeculi transeuntes, lignum crucis fiducialiter ascendamus, et secundis Sancti Spiritus flatibus vela fidei committamus. Super littus namque Christus assistens gloriosam sine macula Ecclesiam figuravit, quando magnis piscibus indisruptum rete complevit. Nec parte dextera jussit deviare navigium, quod tunc solorum bonorum portendebat indicium. Subsequamur igitur, sacramenti admirabilis veritatem diligentes ac tenentes principaliter unitatem. Nullus ad schismata nefanda prosiliat, vel dominica retia nec dum littori prasentantur abrumpat. Ut connumerati inter mysticos pisces, cibus esse Domini qui nos ex profundo est digna tus eruere mereamur, et specialiter membra ejus ef fecti, sacrificiis salutaribus expiemur.Of all the sequences composed by Adam of Saint Victor, the following is the richest in its allusions to the types of the Old Testament, which refer to Christ’s victory over death. The chant, to which it was sung, was taken afterwards as the basis of that of the magnificent Lauda Sion. [Am v. tired of this, and the laptop is stalling for two or three seconds as I move back to this page from the pdf. Post Vesperas, however, I emended the text according to that presented by Dr Mousseau in her edition of the blessed Adam's Sequentiae. Dr M. points out that zyma is borrowed from the Greek ζύμη. Whether she means that Adam himself borrowed it from the Greek, I don't know.]
Zyma vetus expurgetur,ut sincere celebreturnova resurrectio:Haec est dies nostrae spei,hujus mira vis dieilegis testimonio.Haec Aegyptum spoliavitet Hebraeos liberavitde fornace ferrea:His in arto constitutis,Opus erat servitutis,Lutum, later, palea.Iam divinae laus virtutis,iam triumphi, iam salutisvox erumpat libera.Haec est dies quam fecit Dominus,dies nostri doloris terminus,dies salutifera.Lex est umbra futurorum,Christus finis promissorum,qui consummat omnia.Christi sanguis igneamhebetavit romphaeam,amota custodia.Puer, nostri forma risus,pro quo vervex est occisus,vitae signat gaudium.Joseph exit de cisterna,Christus redit ad superna,post mortis supplicium.
Hic dracones Pharaonisdraco vorat a draconisimmunis malitia.Quos ignitus vulnerat,hos serpentis liberatenei praesentia.Anguem forat in maxillaChristi hamus et armilla.In cavernam regulimanum mittit ablactatus,et sic fugit exturbatusvetus hostis saeculi.Irrisores Elisaei,dum conscendit domum Dei,zelum calvi sentiunt.David arrepticius,hircus emissariuset passer effugiunt.In maxilla mille sternit,et de tribu sua spernitSamson matrimonium.Samson gazae seras panditet asportans portas scanditmontis supercilium.Sic, de Iuda Leo fortis,fractis portis dirae mortis,die surgens tertia,rugiente voce patris,ad supernae sinum matristot revexit spolia.Cetus Ionam fugitivum,veri Ionae signativum,post tres dies reddit vivumde ventris angustia.Botrus Cypri reflorescit,dilatatur et excrescit,synagogae flos marcescit,et floret Ecclesia.Mors et vita conflixere,Resurrexit Christus vere,Et cum Christo surrexereMulti testes gloriae.Mane novum, mane laetum,Vespertinum tergat fletum.Quia vita vicit letum:tempus est laetitiae.Iesu victor, Iesu vita,Iesu vitae via trita,cuius morte mors sopita,ad paschalem nos invitamensam cum fiducia.Vive panis, vivax unda,vera vitis et foecunda,tu nos pasce, tu nos munda.Ut morte nos secundatua salvet gratia.
It is also the feast of Saint Henry (16th century), of Saint Edward (17th century), and of the Blessed Orsolina (15th century).
V. Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum. R. Deo grátias.
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