This blog contains regular postings relating to the Traditional Latin Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. It includes regular commentary on the saints days and the liturgical cycle, with brief background and extracts from the liturgy both in Latin and English. Much of the material has been extracted from the 'St Andrew's Daily Missal', Dom Gueranger's 'Liturgical Year', or similar sources.

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Sunday, 17 November 2019

25th Sunday after Pentecost (6th remaining after Epiphany)

25th Sunday after Pentecost (6th remaining after Epiphany)

For the 4th, 5th and 6th Sundays after the Epiphany, when they are used after Pentecost, the chanted propers of the mass - Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Offertory, and Communion - are repetitions of those for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost.

The Gospel brings out again the divinity of Christ. Jesus is God, for He reveals to us "things hidden from the foundation of the world." His word, compared by Him to a small seed cast into the field of the world, and to a little leaven put in the lump, is divine, for it stills our passions and produces in our hearts the wonders of faith, hope and charity of which the Epistle speaks. The Church, stirred to greater effort by the word of Christ, is admirably represented by these three measures of meal that the energy of fermentation has "wholly leavened" and by the mustard plant, the largest of its kind, where the birds of heaven gladly come for shelter.
Praesta, quaesumus, omnípotens Deus: ut, semper rationabília meditántes, quae tibi sunt plácita, et dictis exsequámur et factis.
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that ever meditating on the truths Thou hast proposed for our intelligence, we may in every word and work of ours, do that which is pleasing to Thee.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

24th Sunday after Pentecost (5th remaining after Epiphany)

24th Sunday after Pentecost (5th remaining after Epiphany)

For the 4th, 5th and 6th Sundays after the Epiphany, when they are celebrated after Pentecost, the chanted propers of the mass - Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Offertory, and Communion - are repetitions of those for the 23rd Sunday.

In the gospels for the preceding Sundays, the divinity of Jesus was manifested in His miracles: today it is affirmed by His doctrine, at which the Jews of Nazareth "wondered."

In Jesus' kingdom here on earth there are both good and bad subjects, wheat and tares, and it is only when our Lord comes to judge men, that He will separate the one from the other for all eternity.

Famíliam tuam, quaesumus, Dómine, contínua pietáte custódi: ut, quae in sola spe grátiae coeléstis innítitur, tua semper protectióne muniátur.
In Thine infinite goodness, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to watch over Thy household, that even as it relies solely upon the hope of Thy heavenly grace, so it may ever be defended by Thy protection.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Last Sunday after Pentecost

Last Sunday after Pentecost

It's the last week of the liturgical year - next Sunday will be Advent Sunday, the start of a new cycle. As the liturgical year come to a close, the texts of the mass meditate on the end of the world.

The preparation for both Advents of Christ engrossed the Church's care during the Season of Advent: His first advent of mercy, and his second advent of justice. The Gospel of this Sunday was, in ancient times, an Advent Gospel, when that season had more than four Sundays. The collect bears the same character. The shortening of Advent made of them a prophetic reading and an appropriate prayer for the last Sunday of the year. The Apostle exhorts us to behave in a manner worthy of the Saviour and to bring forth all kinds of good works, in order that we may bear all trials with patience and joy.

The Gospel today, our Lord's sermon predicting both the fall of Jerusalem and the End of the World, is called the 'Eschatological Discourse.'

In England, this Sunday is often called popularly "Stir Up" Sunday, from the first words of the Collect, Excita. There is a popular tradition of making Christmas puddings at this stage - stirring them up. Some of the other Advent collects also start with the word, Excita. So this is a season for stirring - both ourselves, and puddings.

Dicit Dóminus: Ego cógito cogitatiónes pacis, et non afflictiónis: invocábitis me, et ego exáudiam vos: et redúcam captivitátem vestram de cunctis locis. * Benedixísti, Dómine, terram tuam: avertísti captivitátem Jacob.
The Lord saith: I think thoughts of peace, and not of affliction: you shall call upon Me, and I will hear you; and I will bring back your captivity from all places. * Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.
(Jeremias 29:11-12,14 and Psalm 84:2 from the Introit of Mass)

Excita, quaesumus, Dómine, tuórum fidélium voluntátes: ut, divíni óperis fructum propénsius exsequéntes; pietátis tuae remédia majóra percípiant.
Stir up, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the wills of Thy faithful people, that they more earnestly seeking the fruit of divine service, may receive more abundantly healing gifts from Thy tender mercy.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

22nd Sunday after Pentecost

22nd Sunday after Pentecost

As we have seen, the breviary lessons throughout October are taken from the Book of Machabees.

Judas Machabeus had heard very great things of the power of Rome, of far-off countries brought to subjection and many kings compelled to pay yearly tribute; and on the other hand, of the willingness of the Roman people to accede to requests made to them, and of their readiness to swear friendship with any nation that approached them for the purpose. Judas, therefore, decided to take the step of sending messengers to Rome itself, to seek the friendship and alliance of its people. This request was received favourably by the Senate, who later twice renewed the treaty of peace, first with Jonathas and then with Simon, who had succeeded their brother Judas Machabeus as a ruler. Soon however, the little kingdom was torn by civil war, brothers in hostile camps disputing the power between them. One of these thought fit to summon the Romans to his assistance; the invitation was accepted, and in 63 B.C. Pompey took Jerusalem.

It must be remembered that Rome never gave back what it had taken by force of arms. Palestine became and remained a Roman colony, the Senate appointing Herod, king of the Jews. This ruler, by way of pleasing the Jews richly rebuilt and enlarged the Temple at Jerusalem, and it was into this third Temple that our divine Lord made His triumphal entry later on.

From the moment of this conquest the Chosen People had to pay tribute to Rome, a fact which is alluded to in to-day's Gospel. This incident marks one of the last days of our Lord's life, and it was an occasion when the Master, in an answer full of heavenly wisdom, put to confusion His enemies, who from then on, were more than ever bent upon His destruction.

The necessity of paying tribute to Caesar was all the more odious to the Jews, since it went quite contrary to their instinct for universal supremacy, the promise of which Israel believed it had received. It followed that anyone who maintained the duty of payment had public opinion against him, while those who held the opposite view incurred the anger of the Roman authority in possession, and of those among the Jews who approved it and who formed the party of the Herodians. When therefore, the Pharisees thought to drive our Lord on to one or the other of the horns of this dilemma, it was in order to embroil Him either with the people or with the Roman power; on one count or the other they thought they could secure His arrest.

The better to attain their end, they sent Him a deputation of Jews consisting of members of both parties, of "their disciples with the Herodians", as St. Matthew puts it. To get an answer to their question, these men began by telling our Lord that they knew that He "taught the way of God in truth" without "regarding the person of men". And then they laid their snare before Him. "Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not? But Jesus, knowing the malice that was in them, answers: "Why do ye tempt me, ye hypocrites?" And then, evading their attack with the greatest skill, He bade them show Him "the coin of the tribute" to force them, as He always did on these occasions, to answer their own question.

For when the Jews had offered him "a penny" of this money, He asks them: "Whose image and inscription is this?" They say to Him: "Caesar's." As a matter of fact, before the tribute could be paid it was a necessary preliminary to change the money of the country for coins bearing the image of the emperor; and since a coin is only of value in the country of the monarch whose image it bears, by this very exchange the Jews acknowledged that they were under Caesar's rule, and that they intended to pay tribute to him. "Render therefore to Caesar," says our Lord, "the things that are Caesar's", and then suddenly becoming the Judge of His hearers, He adds: "And to God the things that are God's", which means that since the soul of a man belongs to God who made it in His image, all the faculties ought to return to Him, in the sense of paying the tribute of their worship and service.

"We," says St. Augustine, "are the coins of God stamped with His image, and God demands the return of His coins as Caesar did the return of his." And St. Jerome adds: "Let us give to Caesar the money which bears his inscription, since we cannot do otherwise, but let us give ourselves freely and of our own accord to God, for what our soul bears is the glorious imprint of the face of a God and not the more or less majestic head of an emperor." Bossuet says: "This image will one day pass again through the hands and before the eyes of Jesus Christ, and some day He will look at us and say: 'Whose image and inscription is this?' And the very depth of our being will answer: 'God's'." "It is for Him that we were made and we must bear His stamp upon us. It had to be restored in baptism of which it is the effect and character. But what has become of the divine features which we ought to bear? Christian soul, may God's image be in your reason! But this you have drowned in drunkenness ; you have sunk it in the love of pleasure; you have surrendered it to ambition ; you have made it the slave of gold, which is a form of idolatry; you have sacrificed it to your appetites of which you have made a god; you have made of it an idol of vain glory, and instead of praising and blessing God day and night, it is itself constantly praised and admired."

And the divine Redeemer will say: "Amen, Amen, I know you not: you are not my work, no longer do see in you what I put there. You have chosen to form yourself in your own way: you are the work of pleasure and ambition: you are the work of the devil, whose works you have done, and whom, by taking him as your model, you have made your father. Go with him who knows you, and whose promptings you have followed; go to fire eternal which has been prepared for him. O just Judge! And where shall I be found? Shall I acknowledge myself, when my Creator has disowned me?" (Meditations sur l'Evangile. Thirty-ninth day.)

It is in this sense that we must interpret this Sunday's Gospel, one of the last of the ecclesiastical year and in which the Church reminds us of the end of the world. Thus the Epistle twice speaks of the coming of Christ as nigh at hand. St. Paul prays that " He who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus," since the grace of final perseverance comes from Him alone. Again the apostle asks that our "charity may more and more abound in knowledge and in all understanding"; that we "may approve the better things"; that we "may be sincere and without offense unto the day of Christ " (Epistle). For in this dread moment: If the Lord "shall observe iniquities ... who shall endure it?" (Introit).

But the Lord is the "helper and protector" of them that hope in Him. (Alleluia), for there is propitiation with the God of Israel (Introit, Secret). And we shall ourselves experience this mercy if we are merciful to our neighbour. " How good and how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity," says the Gradual. Especially must we be found in prayer in the hour of danger, for if we cry to the Lord, He will hear us. (Communion).

The prayer, in the highest degree social and fraternal, to which almighty God is especially attentive is the prayer of His bride the Church. He hears and answers her, like Assuerus the king, when as the Offertory reminds us, Esther his wife approached him that he might save God's people from death" (See the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost).

Si iniquitátes observáveris, Dómine: Dómine, quis sustinébit? quia apud te propitiátio est, Deus Israël. * De profúndis clamávi ad te, Dómine: Dómine, exáudi vocem meam.
If Thou shalt observe iniquities, O Lord, who shall endure it? for with Thee is propitiation, O God of Israel. * Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice.
(Psalm 129:3-4,1-2 from the Introit of Mass).

Deus, refúgium nostrum et virtus: adésto piis Ecclésiae tuae précibus, auctor ipse pietátis, et praesta; ut, quod fidéliter pétimus, efficáciter consequámur.

O God, our refuge and strength, who art the author of all godliness; hear, we pray Thee, the devout prayers of Thy Church, and grant that what we ask confidently we may obtain effectually.

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.
At that time, the Pharisees went and consulted among themselves, how to ensnare Jesus in His speech. And they send to Him their disciples, with the Herodians, saying: Master, we know that Thou art a true speaker, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest Thou for any man, for Thou dost not regard the person of the men. Tell us therefore, what dost Thou think? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? But Jesus knowing their wickedness, said: Why do you tempt Me, ye hypocrites ? Show Me the coin of the tribute. And they offered Him a penny. And Jesus saith to them : Whose image and superscription is this? They say to Him : Caesar's. Then He saith to them: Render therefore to Caesar the to God the things that are God's.
(St Matthew 22:15-21)

Ego clamavi, quoniam exaudisti me, Deus: inclina aurem tuam, et exaudi verba mea.
I have cried for Thou, O God, hast heard me: O incline Thy ear unto me, and hear my words.
(Communion, from Psalm 16:6)

Reddite ergo * quae sunt Caesaris, Caesari: et quae sunt Dei, Deo, alleluia.
Render therefore to Caesar, the things that are Caesar's and to God, the things that are God's, alleluia.
(Antiphon at the Magnificat, from St. Matt. 22:21)

Sunday, 14 October 2018

21st Sunday after Pentecost

21st Sunday after Pentecost

The lessons in the divine office for this Sunday are often taken from the Book of Machabees.

As St. John Chrysostom says: "Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, having invaded Judea and ravaged wholesale, forcing many Jews to give up the holy practices of their fathers, the Machabees remained steadfast and uncorrupted, amidst all these trials. Traversing the whole country they gathered together all the faithful and loyal citizens whom they met, and even a great number of those who had allowed themselves to be discouraged or led astray, urging them to return to the law of their fathers.

For they remembered that almighty God is full of indulgence and mercy, never refusing to repentance the gift of salvation.

These exhortations resulted in the raising of an army composed of men of the utmost bravery who were fighting not so much for their wives and children and servants; not to ward off slavery and ruin from their country, but for the laws of their fathers and the rights of their nation. God Himself was their leader. Moreover, when they went into battle to sacrifice their lives, this alone was enough to put the enemy to rout; in fact they trusted less in their arms than in the cause for which they had armed, which they considered sufficient to secure victory even if armour were altogether lacking. When on the march, they did not, like the people of some races, fill the air either with curses or profane songs; no flute players were to be found among them as in other camps; but they prayed God to send them aid from on high, to help and keep them, and to give them His strength, since they made war for His sake and not for their own glory" (Fourth Sunday in October, 2nd Nocturn).

God's primary care in the world is for His own people, i.e. Christ and His Church who together make only one. Everything else is of secondary importance. "Lord," says the Gradual, "Thou hast been our refuge from generation to generation." While the Alleluia psalm relates that "When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a barbarous people, Judea was made His sanctuary," and "Israel His dominion". And then having recounted all the wonders wrought by God for the preservation of His people, the psalmist adds: "But our God is in heaven: He hath done all things whatsoever He would ... The house of Israel hath hoped in the Lord: He is their helper and protector."

The psalm, from which the Communion and the verse of the Introit are borrowed, repeat the cry of hope raised by just souls to heaven. "My soul is in Thy salvation ... When wilt thou execute justice on them that persecute me? The wicked have persecuted me: help me, O Lord my God."

In the same sense the Church prays in to-day's Collect: "Lord, we pray Thee, keep Thy household the Church in continual godliness ; that through Thy protection it may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given to good works, to the glory of Thy holy name."

The ancient people of God and His people to-day, have the same end in view, to glorify God and to assert His rights ; and both have the same adversaries, the devil and his agents. To-day the Church draws on the breviary lessons of the preceding Sundays, reminding us of Satan's onslaught upon Job and the treatment of Mardochai by Aman who was "a slanderer like the devil" (See Introit psalm). God delivered these two just men, as He freed His people from the bondage of Egypt, and as He came to the aid of the Machabees who were fighting in His cause.

In the same way Christians are attacked by evil spirits, for the persecutors of the Church, like those of Israel under the Old Law, are really stirred up by the devil. "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in high places" (Epistle). Moreover, like the Machabees, who, valiant soldiers as they were, trusted more in God than in their arms, the means of defense used by Christians must be chiefly of a supernatural kind. "Be strengthened in the Lord," says the apostle, " and in the midst of His power ... Take unto you the armour of God ... that you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one."

St. Paul's Roman guards (and the Machabees were accoutred like them) here serve the apostle as a model for the detailed description which he gives us of the mystic panoply of the soldiers of Christ. Its defensive armour consists of justice, peace and faith, while its weapons of offence are the inspired words of the Holy Ghost whom the Church received at Pentecost.

Now that portion of the divine Word which we have in to-day's Gospel sums up the whole Christian life in the practice of that virtue of charity which makes us treat our neighbour as almighty God has treated us. He has forgiven us great sins; let us in turn, learn how to forgive our brethren their infinitely less important offenses against us. The devil in his jealousy drives men to act like the wicked servant who seized by the throat one who owed him a trifling sum and cast him into prison because he could not pay at once. In the day of Judgment God will treat us as we have treated our neighbour. Of that day this Sunday's Mass warns us in our Lord's words: "The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king who would take account of his servants." At that time of justice pure and simple, He will be merciless like us if, during this life when He is all mercy to us, we have not learned to be merciful like Him. The wicked servant was delivered to the torturers. "So," says our Lord, "shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts."

The executioners to whom we shall be delivered by our Lord in His just anger against us, will be the powers of hell from whom He has protected us on earth, but whom He will then leave to indulge their hatred against us. It is enough to recall their rage against holy Job. Let us be on our guard against them, the more so, that this Sunday reminds us of the time when the devils will use their power against men with greater violence, since they will soon lose it altogether.

If we seek strength from God, whose will none can resist (Introit), we shall be victorious over the devils even in those troublous times, and we shall have no fear of the judgment to come.

In voluntáte tua, Dómine, univérsa sunt pósita, et non est, qui possit resístere voluntáti tuae: tu enim fecísti ómnia, coelum et terram et univérsa, quae coeli ámbitu continéntur: Dominus universórum tu es. * Beáti immaculáti in via: qui ámbulant in lege Dómini.
All things are in Thy will, O Lord; and there is none that can resist Thy will: for Thou hast made all things, heaven and earth, and all things that are under the cope of heaven: Thou art the Lord of all. * Blessed are the undefiled in the way; who walk in the law of the Lord.
(Esther 13:9-11 and Psalm 118:1 from the Introit of Mass).

Famíliam tuam, quaesumus, Dómine, contínua pietáte custódi: ut a cunctis adversitátibus, te protegénte, sit libera, et in bonis áctibus tuo nómini sit devóta.
Lord, we pray Thee, keep Thy household in continual godliness; that through Thy protection it may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given to good works, to the glory of Thy holy name.

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.
At that time Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who would take an account of his servants. And when he had begun to take the account, one was brought to him that owed him ten thousand talents: and as he has not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. But that servant falling down, besought him saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And the lord of that servant, being moved with pity, let him go, and forgave him the debt. But when that servant was gone out, he found one of his fellow-servants that owed him a hundred pence: and laying hold of him, he throttled him, saying: Pay what thou owest. And his fellow-servant falling down besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not; but went and cast him into prison till he paid the debt. Now his fellow-servants, seeing what was done, were very much grieved; and they came and told their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him, and saith to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me; shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow-servant, even as I had compassion on thee? And his lord being angry delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt. So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.
(St Matthew 18:23-35)

Immortalitatis alimoniam consecuti, quaesumus, Domine: ut, quod ore percepimus, pura mente sectemur.
Having been fed with the food of immortality, O Lord: we beseech Thee, that what we have received with our mouth, we may follow with a pure mind.

Serve nequam, omne debitum dimisi tibi, quoniam rogasti me: nonne ergo oportuit et te misereri conservi tui, sicut et ego tui misertus sum? alleluia.
Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt because thou besoughtest me: shouldst thou not then have had compassion also on thy fellow-servant, even as I had compassion on thee? alleluia.
(Antiphon at the Magnificat: St Matthew 18:32)

Sunday, 23 September 2018

18th Sunday after Pentecost

18th Sunday after Pentecost

This Sunday was, in former times left vacant, being inserted in the missal after Ember Saturday; for since the liturgy of the previous day continued to Sunday morning, to-day had no mass of its own.

The breviary lessons for the "Sunday after Ember Saturday" (Fourth Sunday of September), are taken from the book of Judith, whose story St. Ambrose, in the second nocturn, connects with this season of penance, since to the fasting and abstinence of this heroic woman he attributes the wonderful victory that she obtained.

To persevere with our plan of working out the connection between the missal and breviary, we too may study the Mass of Ember Saturday, formerly of this Sunday, in the light of Judith's history.

While Manasses, king of Juda, was in captivity in Babylon, the Assyrian monarch, Abuchodonosor, sent his general Holofernes to complete the conquest of Chanaan. This officer besieged Bethulia, whose inhabitants, reduced to the last extremity, decided to surrender the city, unless help came in five days.

But just then Judith, a widow in Israel of great influence, was living in the place. "Let us be penitent," was her advice to the ancients of Israel, "and with many tears let us beg God's pardon ... Let us humble our souls before Him and ask that He would show His mercy to us ... Let us believe that these scourges of the Lord, with which like servants we are chastised, have happened for our amendment and not for our destruction."

Then this holy woman "went into her oratory, and putting on haircloth, laid ashes on her head and falling down prostrate before the Lord, she cried to the Lord."

Having finished her prayer, Judith put on her best apparel and left the town with her servant, reaching at daybreak the advanced Chaldean outposts and announced that she had come to surrender herself and her people to Holofernes. The soldiers took her before the general who was dazzled by her great beauty, which almighty God had been pleased to increase, since she made use of it, not from motives of sensuality but of virtue.

Holofernes believed everything that Judith told him and made a great feast in her honour, at which, carried away by enjoyment, he drank to greater excess than usual and overcome by intoxication, lay down on his bed and sank into a drunken sleep. Upon this everyone withdrew, Judith alone remaining with him. Then, praying that God would strengthen her arm for the deliverance of Israel, she took down the sword which hung over the bed, and with great courage cut off Holofernes' head, which she gave to the maid-servant with instructions to hide it in her wallet. Then they returned the same night to Bethulia.

When the ancients of the city heard of Judith's action they cried: "Blessed be the Lord who hath made heaven and earth." And the next day the blood-stained head of Holofernes was hoisted on the walls of the fortress. The Chaldeans complained loudly of Judith's treachery, but being pursued by the Israelites, all fled or were put to the sword. Meanwhile the High Priest came with the Ancients from Jerusalem, to celebrate the deliverance of their nation and saluted Judith with cries of: "Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Israel, thou art the honour of our people."

In the second nocturn for the fourth Sunday in September, St. Ambrose comments as follows on this portion of the Scriptures: "It was through the strength given by sobriety that Judith cut off Holofernes' head. Fortified by fasting, she went boldly into the enemy's camp. The fasting of a single woman vanquished the countless hordes of Assyrians."

The Mass for Ember Saturday is full of similar expressions. The prayers implore the divine mercy, while relying on fasting and abstinence which make us stronger than our enemies. "Forgive us our sins, O Lord," says the first Gradual. "Help us, O God, our Saviour, and for the glory of Thy name, O Lord, deliver us." And the second Gradual: "Behold, O Lord, our protector; and look on Thy servants." While the third adds: "Return, O Lord, a little, and be entreated in favour of Thy servants."

The lessons all allude to the mercy of God towards His penitent people. "As I purposed to afflict you, when your fathers had provoked Me to wrath, saith the Lord, and I had no mercy: so turning again I have thought in these days to do good to the house of Juda and Jerusalem."

The story of the deliverance of the Jewish people from Assyrian bondage by Judith (whose name is the feminine of Juda) by fasting, is a type of the freeing of God's people by Jesus, of the race of Juda, at Easter after the penances of Lent.

Since the Book of Esther is read in the breviary on the following Sunday (the fifth in September), we can easily understand that St. Ambrose would also find there an illustration well suited to his subject, and in fact he points out that "it was to the fast of three days, thanks to which almighty God increased the grace which adorned her mortified soul, that Esther owed her victory over the wicked Aman and rescued the Jewish people from a cruel persecution."

We ourselves shall deal with the history of Esther on the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, with which it sometimes coincides.

When later on the custom of waiting until the evening to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice on Ember Saturday had ceased, the Mass composed in the sixth century for the Dedication of the Church of St. Michael at Rome, and said on September 29th, was borrowed for the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost. Consequently all the "Proper" of this Mass refers to the consecration of a church. "I was rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord" (Verse of the Introit and Gradual). "Moses consecrated an altar to the Lord" (Offertory). "Bring up sacrifices and come into his courts: adore ye the Lord in His holy court" (Communion).

We have here a symbol of heaven whither all nations shall flow at the end of time, referred to on this Sunday and on those which follow at the end of the cycle. The Alleluia is the same as that of the Sundays after Epiphany which foretell the entry of the Gentiles into the kingdom of heaven. The Epistle speaks of those who await the revelation of our Lord at His second coming. They will rejoice forever in the Lord's presence in the peace which, according to the prophets, He will give to those who await Him (Introit, Gradual); a peace assured to us by our Lord through His death on the cross, which is the true evening sacrifice of which that of Moses is only a type.

After he had offered a holocaust, the odour of which was pleasing to the Lord, the holy Lawgiver obtained the pardon of his people's sins, and rejoiced in the vision of God. In the same way men reconciled to God, by Him who has power to remit sins (Gospel), by their faith in Christ, will share in the unique and sovereign divinity, by beholding it face to face, a privilege granted by God Himself, and will thus be made rich in Christ in all utterance and all knowledge (Epistle).

Already in the Church all enjoy this pardon and peace, thanks to the power which our Lord has entrusted to His priests, and indeed in this Mass, coming after Ember Saturday, allusion is made to the Priesthood. Like our divine Redeemer, who went about exercising His ministry, curing the soul of the paralytic at the same time that he healed his body, those who have just been ordained preach the Word of Christ (Epistle), celebrate the Holy Sacrifice (Offertory), and remit sins (Gospel).

Thus they prepare men to receive their divine Judge in a manner beyond reproach.

Da pacem, Domine, sustinentibus te, ut prophetae tui fideles inveniantur: exaudi preces servi tui, et plebis tuae Israel. * Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus.
Give peace, O Lord, to them that patiently wait for Thee, that Thy prophets may be found faithful: hear the prayers of Thy servant, and of Thy people Israel. * I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord.
(Ecclus. 36:18 and Psalm 121:1 from the Introit of Mass)

Dirigat corda nostra, quaesumus, Domine, tuae miserationis operatio: quia tibi sine te placere non possumus.
In Thy tender mercy, direct our hearts, we beseech Thee, O Lord, because without Thee we are not able to please Thee.

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.

At that time, Jesus entering into a boat, passed over the water and came into His own city. And behold they brought Him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed; and Jesus seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee. And behold some of the scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth. And Jesus seeing their thoughts said: Why do you think evil in your hearts? whether is it easier to say: Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say: Arise and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins (then said He to the man sick of the palsy): Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. And he arose, and went into his house. And the multitude seeing it, feared, and glorified God who had given such power to men.
(St Matthew 9:1-8)

Tulit ergo paralyticus lectum suum, in quo jacebat, magnificans Deum: et omnis plebs, ut vidit, dedit laudem Deo.
The man sick of the palsy therefore took up his bed in which he had been lying, glorifying God: and all the people, seeing it, gave praise to God.
(Antiphon at the Magnificat of Vespers, St Luke 5)

Sunday, 16 September 2018

17th Sunday after Pentecost

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost 

It often happens that the story of Tobias, read in the divine office on the third Sunday of September, furnishes the breviary lessons for to-day. Continuing our effort to show the close connection between the missal and the breviary, it may be useful to study to-day's Mass in the light of this account of the life of Tobias.

Tobias seems to have lived in the reign of Salmanasar towards the end of the eighth century before Christ, at the time of the deportation to Assyria of the Israelites of the northern kingdom. This holy man gave proof, like Job, of his constancy and fidelity to God in the midst of all his trials. "He... forsook not the way of truth: but every day gave all he could get to his brethren, his fellow captives that were of his kindred. And when he was younger than any of the tribe of Nephtali, yet did he no childish thing in his work."

The Introit psalm can be applied to him because it speaks of a young man who from his youth up, has walked in the Law of the Lord. "These and such like things," says Holy Scripture, "did he observe when but a boy according to the Law of God. But when he was a man, he took to wife Anna of his own tribe, and had a son by her whom he called after his own name. And from his infancy he taught him to fear God and abstain from all sin. Having been carried captive into Niniveh, Tobias remembered God with all his heart, and went about looking for his fellow captives to whom he gave wholesome admonitions, comforted them and distributed to everyone as he was able out of his goods. He fed the hungry and gave clothes to the naked, and was careful to bury the dead and those that were slain."

Later on almighty God allowed Tobias to be stricken with blindness, so that his patience, like that of holy Job, might be an example to posterity. For whereas he had always feared God from his infancy and kept his commandments, he repined not against God, because the evil of blindness had befallen him: but continued immovable in the fear of God, giving thanks to God all the days of his life. "We are," said he, "the children of saints, and look to that life which God will give to those that never change their faith in Him."

When his wife spoke offensively about his misfortune, Tobias lamented, and began to pray with tears, using nearly the same words as those of the Introit: "Thou art just, O Lord, and all Thy judgments are just; and all Thy ways mercy and truth and judgment... And now, O Lord, deal with me according to Thy will." Later, when giving what he thought was a final charge to his son, he said: "My son... all the days of thy life have God in thy mind and take heed thou never consent to sin. Give alms out of thy substance and turn not away thy face from any poor person. According to thy ability be merciful. See thou never do to another what thou wouldst hate to have done to thee by another."

Here we have that same precept of love to God and our neighbour, translated into practice, which is taught in the Epistle and Gospel for to-day. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind," and "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Gospel). "Walk ... with all humility and mildness, with patience supporting one another in charity, careful to keep the unity of the Spirit with a bond of peace" (Epistle).

When Tobias sent his son to Gabelus at Rages under the guidance of the archangel Raphael, during the journey the angel told the young man to "draw to" him a fish that wanted to devour him, and to keep its liver as a means of driving away all kinds of devils. Again, he showed him how to take his kinswoman Sara to wife without coming to any harm at the hands of the devil who had killed her seven former husbands. "They," said the angel, "who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust ... over them the devil hath power."

So we pray in the Collect: "Grant unto Thy people, O Lord, to withstand the temptations of the devil: and pure in heart, to follow Thee, the only God."

"We," said Tobias to Sara, "are children of saints: and we must not be joined together like heathen that know not God." So they prayed earnestly both together, "to the Lord of the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the fountains, and the rivers and all creatures", that health might be given them. And God blessed their marriage, as He had blessed that of the Patriarchs, that they might have children of the race of Abraham" (Gradual).

Tobias then returned home with Sara and cured his father's blindness, whereupon the old man sang a hymn of thanksgiving in which the most magnificent Messianic prospects were disclosed. Jerusalem had been chastised for her deeds, but she would shine with a glorious light, and rejoice forever. Nations from afar should come to her, bringing gifts and adoring the Lord in her. They that despised her should be accursed, and they that blasphemed her condemned. "Blessed," he goes on, "are all they that love thee ... Happy shall I be if there shall remain of my seed to see the glory of Jerusalem. The gates of Jerusalem shall be built of sapphire and of emerald: and all the walls thereof round about of precious stones. All its streets shall be paved with white and clean stones: and Alleluia shall be sung in its streets ... Furthermore the destruction of Niniveh is at hand: for the word of the Lord must be fulfilled."

Here indeed is the "new canticle" which the Gradual psalm bids us sing (v. 3ff.). "The word of the Lord is right ... The Lord bringeth to nought the counsels of nations ... and casteth away the counsels of princes ... Blessed is ... the people whom He hath chosen for His inheritance ... Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, as we have hoped in Thee."

And the Communion psalm adds that God has broken all hostile forces, scattered proud kings and destroyed their armies. " Vow ye and pay... to Him that is terrible, for He has looked favourably upon the people upon whom His name is invoked" (cf. Offertory).

By the Jerusalem where God reigns and to which all nations come to praise the Lord is meant the kingdom of God, the heavenly Jerusalem. To her all are summoned by an universal call, to form "one body" that is the Church, called by St. Gregory a new creation (cf. Gradual), and quickened by "one Spirit", the Holy Ghost given at Pentecost, for there exists for all but "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Epistle).

This is Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of David, whom "the one God and Father of all" has made to sit on His right hand until His enemies have become His footstool" (Heb. 1:13).

Justus es, Domine, et rectum judicium tuum: fac cum servo tuo secundum misericordiam tuam. * Beati immaculati in via: qui ambulant in lege Domini.
Thou art just, O Lord, and Thy judgment is right; deal with Thy servant according to Thy mercy. * Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord.
(Introit from Mass, Psalm 118:137,124,1)

Da, quaesumus, Domine, populo tuo diabolica vitare contagia: et te solum Deum pura mente sectari. Grant, O Lord, unto Thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the devil, and with pure minds to follow Thee, the only God. (Collect)

Gospel: St Matthew 22:34-46
Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.
At that time the Pharisees came to Jesus, and one of them, a doctor of the law, asked Him, tempting Him : Master, which is the great commandment of the law? Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this : Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets. And the Pharisees being gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying: What think you of Christ, whose son is He? They say to Him: David's. He saith to them : How then doth David, in spirit, call Him Lord, saying: The Lord said to my Lord: Sit on my right hand until I make Thy enemies Thy footstool? If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son? And no man was able to answer Him a word; neither durst any man, from that day forth, ask Him any more questions.

Quid vobis * videtur de Christo? cujus filius est? Dicunt ei omnes: David. Dicit eis Jesus: Quomodo David in spiritu vocat eum Dominum, dicens : Dixit Dominus Domino meo: Sede a dextris meis? 
What think you of Christ, whose Son is He? They all say to Him: David's. Jesus saith to them: How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying : The Lord said to my Lord, sit on my right hand?
(Antiphon at the Magnificat: St Matthew 22:42-44)