Friday, March 31, 2017

S. Isidore of Seville: Holy Week: Good Friday and Holy Saturday

Isidore of Seville: de Ecclesiasticis Officiis (Ancient Christian Writers) trans. Fr. Thomas L Knoebel

Good Friday, that is, the sixth day after the Sabbath, is held in solemnity because on this day Christ fulfilled the mystery of the cross. It was for this reason he had come into this world so that, because we had been struck down on the wood in Adam, we might be healed again through the mystery of the wood. For by reason of this triumph, human insignificance offers an annual celebration to Christ throughout the whole world because of the fact that he deigned to redeem the world by the blood of his passion and to absolve the sin of the world through the cross, death being conquered. The substance of his divinity did not undergo the injury of this cross but only the nature of the humanity he had taken on. For the passion was of the body; the divinity remained free from injury. The justification of the Lord's passion is shown in three parts. The first reason is so that Christ might be given as redemption for the guilt of the world and that the ancient enemy might be caught as if on the fishhook of the cross. Hence he would vomit out those he had gulped down, and he would lose the plunder which he had taken, conquered not by power but by justice, not by domination but by reason.

The second reason is so that the official teaching of life might be offered to men still to come. For Christ ascended onto the cross so that a model of suffering and resurrection might be offered to us: of suffering for the strengthening of patience, of resurrection for the stirring up of hope. Thus he might show us two lives in the flesh, one laborious, the other blessed: the laborious which we ought to tolerate, the blessed for which we ought to hope.  

The third reason for taking up the cross is so that the pride of the world and its inflated wisdom might fall down, humiliated, through the seemingly foolish preaching of the cross. So that it might be evident "that God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength" [1 Cor 1:25].

The apostle Paul also teaches that "with the eyes of your heart enlightened" [Eph 1:18]we ought to know "what is the breadth and length and height and depth" [Eph 3: 18] of the cross. Its breadth is the transverse bar of the cross on which his hands were extended; the length, from the transverse bar down to the earth; the height, from the transverse bar all the way up to his head; and the depth truly that which is hidden, buried in the ground. Through this sign of the cross the entire life of the saints is described. For it is said to us: "Take up your cross and follow me" [Matt 16:24]. For it is then that the body is crucified, when "whatever in you is earthly is put to death: fornication, impurity, passion" [Col 3:5], and so on, and, when the outer person "is wasting away" so that the inner "nature might be renewed day by day" [2 Cor 4:16], the suffering is of the cross. And these, indeed, although they are good works, they are nevertheless still laborious. The reward of these works is rest, and thus it is said: "Rejoice in hope" [Rom 12: 12], so that, thinking of our future rest, we may perform even our laborious tasks with joy. The breadth of the cross on the transverse bar of the wood where the hands are fastened signifies this joy. For the work is understood through the hands, the joy of working through the length, for sadness makes shortness.

Next, through the height of the cross on which the head is yoked, there is signified the expectation of celestial retribution through the justice of our sublime God. And the "faith working through love" [Gal 5:6] hopes, so that it might be believed that these good works are to be done not on account of the earthly benefits and temporalities of God, but rather on account of that which is above. And now truly by the length on which the whole body is extended, is signified that tolerance so that we might remain long-suffering. Hence, those who bear up are said to be long-suffering. Through the depth, however, which is that part of the wood which lies hidden, fixed in the earth, but thence raises up everything that stands above, are signified the inscrutable judgments of God by which humans are called by God's hidden will to the participation of such great grace, "one having one kind and another a different kind" [1 Cor 7:7].

The veneration of Holy Saturday is celebrated because it was on this day that the Lord rested in the tomb. Therefore, Sabbath in the Hebrew language is well translated as "rest," either because God rested on that day, the world having been completed, or because on that day our Lord and redeemer rested in the tomb.  This day is also midway between the death and resurrection of Christ, signifying that rest after death of souls from every labor and from all troubles through which there is a passing over through the resurrection of the flesh to that life of which our Lord Jesus Christ has deigned to give a foretaste in his resurrection.

S. Isidore of Seville: Holy Week: Palms and the Lord’s Supper

Isidore of Seville: de Ecclesiasticis Officiis (Ancient Christian Writers) trans. Fr. Thomas L Knoebel

The Day of Palms is celebrated because, as the prophet sang, on this day our Lord and savior is reported to have sat on a donkey, heading toward Jerusalem. Then, while going along, a multitude of people with palm branches cried out to him along the way: "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord-the King of Israeli" [john 12:13]. In the palm branches there was signified the victory that the Lord was about to achieve over death by dying, and that, by the victory of the cross, he was about to triumph over the devil, the prince of death.  By sitting on a donkey, however, the one who came to Jerusalem was revealing the simple hearts of the heathen,  which, by presiding over and ruling, he was leading to the vision of peace.

On this day “the Symbol" is handed over to the elect because of its close proximity to the solemnity of the Lord's Pasch, so that, since they are already hastening to receive the grace of God, they might recognize the faith they are confessing. The common people call this day the "washing of the heads,"because on this day it is the custom to wash the heads of the infants who are about to be anointed, lest perhaps they might come to the anointing soiled by the observance of Lent.

The Lord's Supper is the fifth day of the last [week] 'of Lent, when our Lord and savior, passing from that completed prefiguring of the Pasch to the true Pasch, for the first time handed over to his apostles the mystery of his body and blood. Then, after the heavenly sacraments, the deceitful disciple and traitor accepted the price from the Jews and put the blood of Christ up for sale. On that day also, the savior "got up from the table and began to wash the disciples' feet" [John 13:4-5] in order that the form of humility that he had come to teach would be recommended, just as he subsequently explained. He did this also because it was most fitting that he should teach by doing what he had previously admonished the disciples to observe. (2) For this reason on this day the altars and the walls and floors of the church are washed and the vessels that are consecrated to the Lord are purified. And on this day also the Holy Chrism is prepared, because two days before Passover Mary arranged to perfume the head and feet of the Lord with oil. And thus the Lord "said to his disciples: You knowthat after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified" [Matt 26: 1-2] .

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Hymn at the Blessing of the Chrism: Holy Thursday

The first two lines are sung as a refrain after each couplet. The first four couplets are sung, while the oils are brought in procession for consecration and the remainder after the oils, now blessed, are taken back.  

O Redemptor,  sume carmen temet concinentium.

Audi, Judex mortuorum, una spes mortalium
Audi voces proferentum donum pacis praevium.

Arbor foeta alma luce hoc sacrandum protulit,
Fert hoc prona praesens turba salvatori saeculi.

Stans ad aram imo supplex infulatus pontifex
debitum persolvit omne, consecrato Chrismate.

Consecrare tu dignare,rex perennis patriae,
Hoc olívum, sígnum vívum  iura contra daemonum.

Ut novetur sexus omnis unctione chrísmatis,
Ut sanetur sauciata dignitatis gloria.

Lota mente sacro fonte aufugantur crimina,
Uncta fronte sacrosancta influunt charismata.

Corde natus ex Parentis,  alvum implens vírginis,
Praesta lucem, claude mortem chrismatis consortibus.

Sit haec dies festa nobis saeculorum saeculis
Sit sacrata digna laude, nec senescat tempore.

O Redeemer, accept the hymn of those who sing to you. Hear, O Judge of the dead, one hope of mortal men, hear the prayers of those bringing the gift that leads the way to peace, the tree, fertile with nourishing light brought this oil to be consecrated, here now this humble company presents it to the Savior of the world. The bishop, arrayed in his vestments stands at the altar, humbly completed all the appointed prayers and the Chrism is consecrated. O King of our eternal fatherland, vouchsafe to bless this oil, this living sign against the authority of the demons, that man or woman be renewed through the anointing of this chrism, that the wounded glory of our dignity be healed. As when the soul is washed in the sacred font, sins are put to flight, so it is when the holy chrism flows upon the forehead. Son born of the Father, filling the womb of the Virgin, grant light and close the door to death for all who share this chrism. May this feast day be for us through all ages, may it be holy with worthy praise, and know no ending.

Mozarabic Hymn: Holy Wednesday: Vespers

Jam legis umbra clauditur,
Novumque Phasse * prodiit,
Cum vera lux in vesperum
Mundi suborta promicat.

Hinc Christe rex post biduum
Coenae litas convivium,
Quo pascha pridem mysticum
In pascha nostrum vertitur.

 Audi fidelium preces,
Qui traditorem passus es;
Hac nocte nos inlumina,
Carnem lava, cor praepara.

Ardor tuae dulcedinis
Interna nostra concremet;
Fides paratos innovet,
Opusque ad regnum vocet.

 Ut, suavitate gratiae
Hinc advocati, in crastinum
Inebriemur poculis
Tui sacrati sanguinis.

Deo Patri sit gloria,
Ejusque soli Filio,
Cum Spiritu Paraclito,
Regnans per omne saeculum.

*Blume & John Mason Neale: phase for Phasse.

Now the shadow of the law is concluded and a new time comes forth, when the true light shines as the light of the world declines into evening.  After the next two days, O Christ the King,  you will sacrifice at the banquet of the Cenacle, when the old Passover becomes our mystical Easter. Hear the prayers of the faithful, you who have suffered betrayal, on that night enlighten us, purify our bodies, prepare our hearts. May the ardor of our goodness make us burn within; renew in us ready faith and may our work call us to heaven, that called on the approaching day by your pleasing grace we may be inebriated by the cup of your holy blood.