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 29 July 2018

10th Sunday after Pentecost

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

The liturgy for this Sunday seeks to impress upon us the true notion of Christian humility, which consists in attributing to the grace of the Holy Ghost whatever sanctity we may have attained; for our acts can only be of a supernatural character, if they are inspired by the Holy Ghost whom our Lord sent down upon His apostles on the day of Pentecost and whom He never ceases to give to those who ask.

Our salvation is an impossible task if we try to accomplish it alone, for left to ourselves, we are but weak and sinful. It is almighty God to whom we are indebted when we avoid sin, gain pardon, forsake wrongdoing and do good, for none can even utter our Lord's name by an act of supernatural faith, affirming His divinity and kingship, except by the Holy Ghost (Epistle).

Therefore pride is God's enemy, since it claims for itself the gifts which the Holy Ghost alone distributes to such as He will, and so by making us think that we are sufficient in ourselves, it hinders the manifestation of the divine power in our souls. How can God forgive us (Collect), if we will not confess our guilt? How can He have compassion on us, and show us His mercy (Collect) if we have within us no acknowledged wretchedness upon which His divine heart can have pity?

On the contrary, the humble man is glad to acknowledge his nothingness, knowing that on this condition alone will the power of Christ come into his heart.

The Church develops these thoughts to-day because the Breviary lessons for this week supply two examples, one of pride, the other of great humility. After the figure of Elias, contrasting so strongly with Achab and Jezebel, of whose terrible punishment we read in the divine office, that of the young Joas stands out in powerful opposition to Athalia. The daughter of Achab and Jezebel, quite as wicked as her mother, Athalia had married Joram the king of Juda, and as he died shortly after, the queen found herself mistress of the kingdom of Juda, and to secure her position had almost the whole family of David massacred. However Josaba, the wife of the high priest Joiada, took Joas, the youngest of the royal family, from his cradle, and hid him in the temple.

For six years Athalia ruled the country and set up altars of Baal right in the very temple courts. In the seventh year the high priest, surrounded by determined men, showed them Joas, then seven years old, and told them to form a bodyguard round the royal child, and to kill anyone who attempted to break through their ranks. Then when the people crowded into the temple court at the hour of the prayer, Joiada brought forward Joas and anointed and crowned him in sight of the whole multitude, amidst applause and cries of "Long live the King."

Athalia, hearing all this outcry, left her palace and went into the court. Seeing the young king seated on the tribunal surrounded by the chief men of the nation, amidst the shouts of the people, accompanied by the sound of trumpets, she rent her clothes and cried: "Treason and plot!" At the high priest's command she was put out of the sacred precincts, and brought to the threshold of her palace, where she was killed. Then the crowd rushed into the temple of Baal where they did not leave one stone upon another.

Meanwhile the king, Joas, sat on the throne of David, his grandfather, and reigned forty years in Jerusalem, where he worked at repairing and beautifying the temple (Alleluia, Communion). Holy Scripture gives him this excellent praise: "Joas did that which was right before the Lord." These words form the Magnificat Antiphon for the first Vespers of this Sunday, echoed by that of the second Vespers, taken from to-day's Gospel: "This man went down into his house justified rather than the other, because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." "Those who exalt themselves," says St. Augustine, "are known by God from afar. From far off He looks upon the proud but forgives them not." On the other hand, the humble, like the publican, confess themselves guilty. " He struck his breast, he chastised himself, therefore God forgave the man who acknowledged his wretchedness. For why is it surprising that God no longer sees him as a sinner, when he himself acknowledges that he is one? He stands afar off, this publican, but God sees him from close at hand" (Matins)

In the same way the lowly-minded boy, Joas, was accepted of God, because his attitude before Him was what it should be. "He did that which was right before the Lord." On the contrary, Athalia was proud and wicked. She did not do what was right before the Lord, and she despised and insulted those who did their duty, for pride towards God always shows itself by contempt towards our neighbour. Pascal says that there are two kinds of men, saints who think themselves guilty of every fault and sinners who believe themselves guilty of none. The first are humble and God will exalt them with glory; the second are full of pride, and He will humble them by chastisement.

"God," says St. Chrysostom, "drowned the world, caused Sodom to be burned by fire, and the sea to swallow up the army of the Egyptians for it is He who has stricken the guilty with all the blows which have fallen upon them, and will do so still more. But, you say, God is merciful. Then are all these things merely words? Does the rich man who despised Lazarus receive no punishment? Are the foolish virgins in no way rejected by the bridegroom? Will not he who was at the wedding feast with soiled garments in no wise perish, bound hand and foot? Will not he who exacted the last farthing from his companion be delivered to the tormentors? Do you think that God will confine Himself to threats? To me it seems easy to prove the contrary and we may judge beforehand what God will do in the future, from what He has said and done in the past. Let us then have constantly in mind the dread tribunal, chains fastened for fall eternity, outer darkness, gnashing of teeth and the gnawing and poisonous worm" (2nd Nocturn).

This will be the best way to foster in ourselves that humility which makes say with the Church: "When I cried to the Lord He heard my voice, from them that draw near to me; and He humbled them, who is before all ages and remains forever" (Introit). "Keep me, O Lord, as the apple of Thy eye: let Thy eyes behold the things which are equitable" (Gradual.) "To Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul: neither let my enemies laugh at me: for none of them that wait on Thee shall be confounded" (Offertory).

Cum clamarem ad Dominum, exaudivit vocem meam, ab his, qui appropinquant mihi: et humiliavit eos qui est ante saecula, et manet in aeternum: jacta cogitatum tuum in Domino, et ipse te enutriet. * Exaudi, Deus, orationem meam, et ne despexeris deprecationem meam: intende mihi, et exaudi me.
When I cried to the Lord He heard my voice, from them that draw near to me; and He humbled them, who is before all ages, and remains for ever: cast thy care upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee. * Hear, O God, my prayer, and despise not my supplication; be attentive to me and hear me.
(Psalm 54:17,18,20,23,2 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus, qui omnipotentiam tuam parcendo maxime et miserando manifestas: multiplica super nos misericordiam tuam; ut ad tua promissa currentes, caelestium bonorum facias esse consortes.
O God, who dost manifest Thy almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity; increase Thy mercy towards us, that we, seeking the way of Thy promises, may be made partakers of Thy heavenly treasures. 

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Luke.
At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves as just, and despised others. Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a Publican. The Pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give Thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers; as also is this publican. I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I possess. And the Publican standing afar off would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven, but struck his breast saying: O God, be merciful to me a sinner. I say to you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. 
(St Luke 18:9-14)

Sunday 22 July 2018

9th Sunday after Pentecost

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

To-day's liturgy lays stress on the terrible punishments which will one day be inflicted on those who have denied Christ. They will all perish and not one of them will enter the kingdom of heaven. Those who have been faithful to Him through all the adversities of this life, will also one day, be saved from the hands of their enemies and will follow him into heaven, whither he went at His Ascension, whose feast the Church celebrates at Paschaltide. These thoughts about God's justice are suggested on this ninth Sunday after Pentecost by the story of the prophet Elias which the Church reads in the Breviary at this time.

After Solomon's death the twelve tribes of Israel were divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Juda. The second of these consisted of the tribes of Juda and Benjamin, with Jerusalem as capital, while the first was composed of the remaining ten tribes, having for its capital Sichem, then Samaria.

To this latter kingdom belonged the prophet Elias, who dwelt in the desert of Galaad in Samaria. A man of great virtue and austere life he wore a tunic woven of camel's hair and a leathern girdle. " With zeal, zealous for the Lord God of Hosts", he left the desert three times to convey the divine warnings to Achab, the seventh king of Israel and the queen, Jezebel, who seduced the people into idolatry ; to secure the death of the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal whom he had put to confusion on Mount Carmel, and to foretell to the king who had taken Naboth's vineyard for himself, that he would die bathed in his own blood, and to the queen, who had been Achab's evil genius, that her blood would flow on the spot where Naboth's flowed, while dogs should devour her flesh.

For these reasons Elias was persecuted by the Israelites and by Achab and Jezebel, and was obliged to flee to Mount Horeb to escape death. Later on, when Ochozias Achab's son had become king, Elias advised him not to consult Beelzebub the god of Accaron as he intended but rather the God of Israel.

Upon this Ochozias sent him a captain of fifty soldiers to summon him to come down from the mountain and to account for his words, but Elias answered: " If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume thee, and thy fifty." And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and the fifty that were with him (Breviary).

Still later, Elias set out towards the Jordan with Eliseus, and when they had crossed the river, a fiery chariot and horses separated them from each other, while Elias went up by a whirlwind into heaven. Then Eliseus took up Elias's mantle that had fallen from him, and received a double portion of his spirit, while all Elias' disciples exclaimed: "The spirit of Elias hath rested upon Eliseus."

On one ocassion, when Elias was on his way up to Bethel he was mocked by some small boys, crying: "Go up, thou bald head. Go up, thou bald head." And Elias cursed them in the name of God whom they had offended, "and there came forth two bears out of the forest and tore them two and forty boys."

All his life, Elias, with his words of fire, championed the rights of almighty God. Much later John the Baptist "came forward in the spirit and power of Elias", clad like him, and like him dwelling in the desert; defending, with the same impassioned voice, the same rights of God, and foretelling the separation which Christ, who was at hand, would make between the chaff and the wheat. " He will gather the wheat into his barns, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." " Elias," says St. Augustine, " was a type of our Redeemer and Lord. Elias suffered persecution from the Jews; our Lord, the true Elias, was despised and rejected by this same people. Elias left his own country; Christ forsook the synagogue and made welcome the Gentiles " (2nd Nocturn).

_Continuing the comparison, we may say that God rescued Elias from his enemies by raising him into the sky; and in the same way he took Christ from among His enemies, by making Him go up to heaven on Ascension Day. "Deliver me from my enemies, O my God, and defend me from them that rise up against me." (Alleluia).

Elias, carried away in a chariot of fire, was in the language of the Fathers, the type of Jesus ascending to heaven. The Gradual uses the same verse of the eighth psalm which the liturgy employs on Ascension Day. " O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is thy name in the whole earth. Thy magnificence is elevated above the heavens." The Introit adds : " Behold God is my helper and the Lord is the protector of my soul. Save me, O God, by Thy name and deliver me by Thy strength." This triumph of Christ over those who hated Him, typified by that of Elias over his despisers, will be ours also, if we do not "tempt Christ", that is, if we avoid idolatry, impurity, and murmuring (Epistle), remaining faithful to grace. For if our Lord continues to be offered up on our altars to "make His work to avail on our behalf " (Secret), and if "eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood, we abide in Him and He in us" (Communion), it is in order that "united" to Him (Postcommunion) we may faithfully keep His judgments which are "sweeter than honey" (Offertory).

St. Paul indeed, tells us: "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able; but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it" (Epistle). Let us therefore, beseech the Lord that His merciful ears "may be open to the prayers" of His suppliants and, in order that to those who seek He may surely give that for which they ask, He may make us to ask only for those things which are well-pleasing to Him (Collect).

But divine justice is not content with protecting the just against their enemies and with rewarding them for their fidelity; it punishes also those who do evil. Elias threatened the faithless kingdom of Israel and made fire from heaven to fall on his enemies (Breviary). The Israelites who tempted Christ by their murmurings perished by fiery serpents (Epistle), and Jerusalem, over which our Lord wept and whose punishment he foretold for its rejection of Himself, was destroyed by war and fire (Gospel). Three and twenty thousand of the children of Israel, we read, perished in one day through fornication and many were destroyed because of their murmuring. " Now," St. Paul tells us, " all these things happened to them in figure, and they are written for our correction " (Epistle).

More than a million Jews perished at the destruction of Jerusalem because they had rejected the Messias, and in the Gospel (see the first Sunday of Advent and the twenty-fourth after Pentecost), our Lord always compared this tragic ending to the catastrophies which will mark the end of all time when God will come to judge the world by fire

At that moment, the divine judge will accomplish the separation of the good from the evil, rewarding the first and banishing from the kingdom of God all who have denied Him by their unbelief or their sin, just as He drove from the Temple, the type of the Church on earth and in heaven, the traffickers who had transformed that house of God into a den of thieves (Gospel). " Turn back the evils upon my enemies, and cut them off in Thy truth, O Lord my protector " (Introit). For then the time of mercy will have passed, and that of justice only will remain. " Wherefore," says the apostle, " he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall " (Epistle).

Ecce Deus adjuvat me, et Dominus susceptor est animae meae : averte mala inimicis meis, et in veritate tua disperde illos, protector meus, Domine. * Deus, in nomine tuo salvum me fac : et in virtute tua libera me.
Behold God is my helper, and the Lord is the protector of my soul: turn back the evils upon my enemies, and cut them off in Thy truth, O Lord my protector. * Save me, O God, by Thy name, and deliver me in Thy strength.
(From the Introit of Mass, Psalm 53:6-7,3)

Pateant aures misericordiae tuae, Domine, precibus supplicantium: et ut petentibus desiderata concedas; fac eos, quae tibi sunt placita, postulare.
Let Thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of Thy suppliant people; and that Thou mayest grant them their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please Thee. Through our Lord.

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Luke.
At that time, when Jesus drew near to Jerusalem, seeing the city, He wept over it saying : If thou also hadst known, and that in this day, the things that are to thy peace : but now they are hidden from thy eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side; and beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee; and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone, because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation. And entering into the temple, He began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought, saying to them: It is written, My house is the house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves. And He was teaching daily in the temple.
(St Luke 19:41-47)

Sunday 15 July 2018

8th Sunday after Pentecost

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

At Pentecost the Church received the outpouring of the Holy Ghost and to-day's liturgy shows us its happy results. This blessed Spirit makes us children of God since we are led by Him to say in simple truth: Our Father. Therefore we are assured of our heavenly inheritance (Epistle). But to obtain this assurance we must live for God, in living by Him (Collect), letting ourselves be led in all things by the Spirit of God (Epistle), so shall we one day be welcomed by God into everlasting dwellings (Gospel).

In this lies the true wisdom we learn from the story of Solomon, the reading of which is continued in the Breviary during this week, where an account is given of the great work to which this great king devoted his whole life.

Solomon built the temple of the Lord in the city of Jerusalem in obedience to the wish of his father David, who could not build it himself because of the unceasing wars waged against him by his enemies. Solomon took three years to prepare the material, namely, the stones which eighty thousand men dug out of the quarries of Jerusalem and wood from the cedars and cypresses, felled by thirty thousand men on Mount Libanus in the kingdom of Hiram. When all preparations had been made, the actual building was begun in the four hundred and eightieth year after the flight from Egypt, and lasted seven years. Hewn stone, woodwork and panelling had been so exactly measured beforehand that the work took place in the greatest possible silence. In God's house was heard neither axe nor hammer nor any iron tool while the building was going on.

For the plans of his temple, Solomon took Moses' tabernacle; giving it much larger proportions and accumulating it in all the riches that he could. The floors and ceilings made of precious wood were set off with plates of gold and the altars and tables were all gilded, while the candelabra and sacred vessels were of solid gold. Gilt palms and cherubim adorned all the temple walls.

When the work was finished, Solomon dedicated the temple to the Lord with great solemnity. In the presence of all the elders of Israel and of an immense crowd of people, representing the twelve tribes, the priests brought in the Ark of the Covenant, containing Moses' Tables of the Law, to its place under the spread wings of two gilt cherubim, ten cubits high, which stood in the Holy of Holies. Thousands of sheep and oxen were sacrificed, and as the priests left the Holy of Holies a cloud filled the House of the Lord.

Then Solomon, raising his eyes to heaven, besought almighty God to hear the supplications of all those, Israelite or stranger, who should come in the varying circumstances of their lives, to pray to Him in this place, consecrated to His Name. Moreover, he asked that God would hear those who, with face turned towards Jerusalem and the temple, should address their petitions to Him, to show clearly that He had chosen this house for His abode and that nowhere else was there a God like that of Israel.

The celebration of the Dedication of the temple lasted fourteen days, accompanied by sacrifices and sacred feasts, after which the people returned home, blessing the king and with grateful hearts for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel since the days of the Covenant on Sinai. And the Lord, appearing to Solomon a second time, said in effect: "I have heard thy prayer ... I choose and sanctify this house which thou hast built, my eyes and my heart shall be there always to watch over my faithful people."

In to-day's Mass, the Church sings some verses of six different psalms in which are summed up all the thoughts expressed in Solomon's prayer. "Great is the Lord and exceedingly to be praised, in the city of God, in his holy mountain" (Introit and Alleluia). "Who is God, but Thee, O Lord?" (Offertory). It is "in the midst of his" temple, that the outpouring of God's mercy is received (Introit), and that one may "taste and see that the Lord is sweet" (Communion), for He is "a God-protector and a place of refuge", for all who hope in Him (Gradual).

In the same way that Solomon's reign was a rough copy and image of that of Christ (2nd Nocturn), so the temple which he built at Jerusalem was but a figure of heaven, where God dwells and where He hears the prayers of men. It is to the holy mountain and the city of God (Alleluia) that we shall go one day to praise Him forever, for the Epistle tells us that if we live by the Spirit, mortifying the deeds of the flesh within us, we are the children of God, and therefore, as heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ we shall enter heaven, the place of our inheritance.

The Gospel completes this thought when it tells us, in the form of a parable, how we can use the "mammon of iniquity" to make sure of our entry into everlasting dwellings. An unjust steward, charged with having wasted his master's goods, makes friends for himself with the help of the goods the latter had entrusted to his care, that after his disgrace there might be those who would receive him into their houses.

Thus, teaches our Lord, should the children of light rival the energy of the children of the world, and copying the foresight of this functionary, make use of the goods placed at their disposal by almighty God to help the needy, thus making for themselves friends in heaven. For those who have borne their privations on earth in a Christian spirit will pass to the world above and will there bear witness to their benefactors at the time when all will have to give account of their stewardship to the divine Judge.

Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuam in medio templi tui: secundum nomen tuum, Deus, ita et laus tua in fines terrae: justitia plena est dextera tua. * Magnus Dominus, et laudabilis nimis: in civitate Dei nostri, in monte sancto ejus.
We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple; according to Thy name, O God, so also is Thy praise unto the ends of the earth : Thy right hand is full of justice. * Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised, in the city of God, in his holy mountain.
(Psalm 47:10-11,2 from the introit of Mass)

Largire nobis, quaesumus, Domine, semper spiritum cogitandi quae recta sunt, propitius et agendi: ut, qui sine te esse non possumus, secundum te vivere valeamus.
Grant to us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as are right; that we who cannot exist without Thee, may be able to live according to Thy will.

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Luke.
At that time, Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable: There was a certain rich man who had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods; and he called him, and said to him: How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship, for now thou canst be steward no longer. And the steward said within himself: What shall I do, because my lord taketh away from me the stewardship? To dig I am not able: to beg I am ashamed. I know what I will do, that when I shall be put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. Therefore calling together every one of his lord's debtors, he said to the first: How much dost thou owe my lord? But he said: A hundred barrels of oil. And he said to him: Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then he said to another: And how much dost thou owe? Who said: A hundred quarters of wheat. He said to him: Take thy bill, and write eighty. And the lord commended the unjust steward, for as much as he had done wisely: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. And I say to you: Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity, that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.
(St Luke 16:1-9)

Sunday 8 July 2018

7th Sunday after Pentecost

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

In words addressed to the Holy Ghost, "sevenfold" in grace, the Church prays in the Sequence for Pentecost:
"Grant to Thy faithful, dearest Lord,
Whose only hope is in Thy Word
Thy sevenfold gift of grace."

The first of these gifts is the fear of God which is the foundation of all the others (Gradual); the seventh is the gift of wisdom, an enlightenment from the Holy Ghost, thanks to which our intelligence is able to contemplate the truths of faith, set in a glorious light and in doing so to find great joy.

The sacred number seven which is borne by this Sunday (the seventh after Pentecost), suggests that it is this gift of wisdom that is the object of to-day's liturgy, and that with the Church itself, we ought to ask it from the Holy Ghost.

No better subject could have been chosen for the Breviary lessons for this week than the story of David's last days, for as St. Jerome says, "all bodily force weakens in old men, while only wisdom increases in them" (2nd Nocturn); and the story of his son Solomon, famous for his wisdom beyond all other kings. When David saw that his death was not far off, from among his sons he named Solomon, "the Lord's well-beloved" as his successor. Then the prophet Nathan took Solomon to Gihon. "And Sadoc the priest took a horn of oil out of the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they sounded the trumpet and all the people said: "God save King Solomon."

David, in a last charge to his son, reminding him that it was for him to build the temple of the Lord, said: "Take thou courage and show thyself a man. And keep the charge of the Lord thy God to walk in His ways, that the Lord may confirm His words which He hath spoken of me, saying: "Thy name is strengthened and thy posterity will reign forever. Do, therefore, according to thy wisdom, for thou art a wise man."

And David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city which bears his name, after reigning seven years in Hebron and twenty-three in Jerusalem, a strong fortress which he had taken from the Philistines.

"And Solomon sat upon the throne of his father David and his kingdom was strengthened exceedingly." He was only a young man of seventeen; he loved the Lord and sacrificed to Him. On one occasion at Gabaon after he had offered a sacrifice similar to that mentioned by Daniel in to-day's Offertory, and also alluded to in the Secret, "The Lord appeared to Solomon" saying: "Ask what thou wilt that I should give thee". And Solomon said: "O Lord God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father. And I am but a child. Give, therefore, to thy servant an understanding heart, to judge Thy people and discern between good and evil." And the Lord said to Solomon: "Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life or riches, nor the lives of thy enemies, but hast asked for thyself wisdom to discern judgement, behold, I have given thee a wise and understanding heart; insomuch that there hath been no one like thee before thee, nor shall arise after thee. Yea, and the things also which thou didst not ask, I have given thee: to wit riches and glory, so that no one hath been like thee among the kings in all days here before."

As God had promised, Solomon became not only the wisest, but the most powerful and magnificent of the kings of Israel. All the other sovereigns brought him presents and every nation who, until then, had despised Israel, began to seek an alliance with it. The Queen of Saba, who came to censure Solomon, was full of admiration at all that she saw and heard (Gradual). The Egyptian Pharao of the time, gave him his daughter in marriage and Hiram, king of Tyre, made a treaty with him. In return for the corn, barley, wine and oil, which the countryside of Palestine yielded in abundance, Hiram sent Solomon the priceless timber of the forests of Libanus as well as workmen to help the Israelites build the Temple.

King Solomon taught his people the fear of the Lord, who, on His part protected him in all his undertakings, and, among other things, saved him when his eldest son endeavoured to supplant him in the kingdom (Communion). In this way the words were fulfilled which were spoken by Solomon himself and of which St Jerome reminds us in to-day's office: "Refuse not wisdom and she will keep thee. Take possession of wisdom, acquire prudence; lay hold of her and she will raise thee up; through her thou wilt receive honour and when thou hast embraced her she will heap favours upon thy head and put upon thee a crown of glory." On this St Jerome comments: "Truly he who meditates day and night on the law of the Lord becomes with years more teachable, more formed through experience, wiser through the passage of time and in his old age he gathers the sweetest fruits of his former labours" (2nd Nocturn).

What the fruits of wisdom are, St Paul points out in the Epistle: "What fruit had you therefore in those things, of which you are now ashamed? ... For the end of them is death. But now being become servants to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end life everlasting" (Epistle). In the Gospel, our Lord tells us: "By their fruits you shall know them ... Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit." And He adds: "Not every one that saith to me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; he that doeth the will of my Father who is in Heaven."

In commenting on to-day's Introit, St. Augustine remarks: "Hand and tongue must agree together; let the one glorify God and the other act accordingly." True wisdom does not consist only in hearing God's words but in fulfilling them; not only in praying to Him, but in showing Him by our actions that we love Him. "The Gospel," says St. Hilary, "warns us, that pleasing words and kindly airs are to be appraised according to the fruit of a man's works, and that a man is to be judged, not only as he paints himself in words but as he shows himself in deeds, since often the sheep's clothing serves to hide the fierceness of the wolf. Therefore, it is by our mode of life that we must merit eternal happiness, desiring what is good, avoiding evil and obeying the heavenly precepts with our whole heart, so that through the fulfilment of such duties we may be acknowledged by God" (3rd Nocturn).

Solomon, the peaceful monarch is none other than a type of Christ. His reign, hailed by all peoples, heralds that of the Messias, who is the true King of peace; Solomon, the wisest of kings foreshadows the Son of God whose heavenly Father said on Mount Tabor: "Hear ye Him" (Gradual). He is a type of that Incarnate wisdom who will teach us the fear of the Lord (Gradual), and the way to distinguish good from evil (Gospel). The holocausts offered at the dedication of Solomon's temple (Offertory) are like that of Abel, types of that unique and bloody sacrifice which Christ offered on Calvary and which He consummated in heaven where He entered after having obtained the victory over all His enemies.

This is the burden of the forty-sixth Psalm (Introit) in which the Fathers have seen under the symbol of the Ark of the Covenant, brought back by the people amid shouts of triumph from the field of battle to Mount Sion, a figure of the triumphant Ascension of our Lord into the heavenly kingdom.

Omnes gentes, plaudite manibus: jubilate Deo in voce exsultationis. * Quoniam Dominus excelsus, terribilis: Rex magnus super omnem terram.
Clap your hands, all ye nations: shout unto God with the voice of joy. * For the Lord is most high, He is terrible ; He is a great King over all the earth.
(Psalm 46:2-3 from the introit of Mass)

Deus, cujus providentia in sui dispositione non fallitur: te supplices exoramus; ut noxia cuncta submoveas, et omnia nobis profutura concedas.
O God, whose providence in the ordering of all things never fails ; we humbly beseech Thee to put away from us all harmful things, and to give us those things which are profitable for us. Through our Lord.

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. Not every one that saith to Me: Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. 
(St Matthew 7:15-21)

Sunday 1 July 2018

6th Sunday after Pentecost

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

There is one ruling thought throughout to-day's liturgy, namely, that we may destroy sin within us by deep repentance and by asking almighty God to give us His strength that we may fall no more. Through Baptism we have died to sin and in the Eucharist we are given the heaven-sent energy necessary that we may persevere in the path of virtue.

The Church still wholly penetrated with the thought of the two Sacraments that she has conferred at Easter and Pentecost, loves to speak of them throughout the "Time after Pentecost" and if she does so to-day it is because the Breviary lesson, with St. Ambrose's commentary on it, gives her an excellent opportunity. In the form of a parable the lessons of the first Nocturn relate the gravity of David's fault. For in spite of his deep piety, this great king had let sin enter into his heart. Wishing to marry a young woman of great beauty, by name Bethsabee, he had given orders that her husband Urias should be sent into the hottest part of the battle which was being fought against the Ammonites, so that he might be killed, and being thus rid of him David married Bethsabee, by whom he had a son.

Then the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to speak to him by a parable: "There were two men in one city, the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many sheep and oxen. But the poor man had nothing at all but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up, and which had grown up in his house together with hia children, eating of his bread and drinking of his cup, and sleeping in hin bosom and it was unto him as a daughter. And when a certain stranger was come to the rich man he spared to take of his own sheep and oxen, to make a feast for that stranger, who was come to him: but took the poor man's ewe and dressed it for the man that was come to him." And David's anger being exceedingly enkindled against that man, he said to Nathan: As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this is a child of death." And Nathan said to David: "Thou art the man. Thou hast killed Urias the Hethite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife when thou couldst have chosen a wife among the maidens of Israel. Therefore ... thus saith the Lord: Behold I will raise up evil against thee out of thy own house."

And David said to Nathan: "I have sinned against the Lord." And Nathan said to David: "The Lord also hath taken away thy sin. Thou shalt not die. Nevertheless because thou hast given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, for this thing, the child that is born to thee shall surely die."

Sometime after the child died, and David went to bow down with contrite and humble heart singing psalms (Communion) of penance, in the house of the Lord.

"David," says St. Ambrose, "that great and glorious king, could not keep upon his soul even for a short time, the sin which burdened his conscience but by a prompt confession, accompanied by unbounded contrition, he freed himself from it at the feet of the Lord, who, moved by such unmeasured grief, forgave him. Other men, when the priests have occasion to reprove them, aggravate their sin, seeking either to deny or excuse it, and they experience a greater fall in the very act by which it was to be hoped they would rise again. The saints of the Lord, burning to continue the holy war and to finish the course of their salvation, if they chance to fall, less by determination to sin than by natural frailty, rise again with greater zeal for the contest, and urged on by the shame of their fall, they make up for it by a harder fight. So their fall, instead of to some extent keeping them back, has only served to spur them on and to make them go forward more quickly" (2nd Nocturn).

We can, therefore, understand the choice of the Epistle in which St. Paul speaks of our death to sin. In baptism we were buried with Christ, and our old man was crucified with Him, that we might die to sin. And just as our risen Lord went forth from the tomb, so we must set out on a new life, a life for God in Jesus Christ (Epistle). And when we have the misfortune to fall back into sin, we must ask God to be favourable to us and to deliver us (Verse of the Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Secret), restoring to us the grace of the Holy Ghost, since from Him comes every perfect gift (Collect.) Then we approach the altar (Communion) there to receive the Eucharist, whose heavenly efficacy will strengthen us against our enemies (Postcommunion), and maintain our fervour (Collect), for it is the Lord who will be the strength of His people and rule them forever (Introit).

Therefore the Church has chosen for the Gospel, the account of the multiplication of the loaves, a type of the Eucharist, our viaticum. It is this second multiplication of loaves which is a more striking figure of the Eucharist, since it was performed with loaves made of wheat, the element used in the Sacrament, while in the first, barley loaves were employed. Further, in the catacombs we never see more than seven baskets, while in the first multiplication there were twelve. (See the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday in Lent.)

By identifying us with the Victim of Calvary, Holy Communion not only completes the effects of baptism within us by making us die with our Lord to sin, but makes us find at the Holy Table the strength we need to prevent us from falling back into sin and to "perfect our goings in the paths" of the Lord (Offertory).

It is in this sense that St. Ambrose comments thus on the Gospel: "After the woman, a figure of the Church, was cured of the issue of blood, the food of heavenly grace was dispensed. The right order of the mystery was kept. First a medicine is provided to cure wounds by the remission of sins, and then the food of the heavenly table is served in abundance. Our Lord said: "If I shall send them away fasting to their home they will faint by the way." Full of goodness. He maintains the strength of those who follow Him. If anyone faint it is not our Lord's fault, but that of the man himself.

Christ has set within us fortifying agencies; the food He gives is strength and vigour, so, if through negligence, you have lost the strength you received, you must not blame the heavenly nourishment, which nevers fails, but rather yourself. Was it not through the sustenance given him, when he was about to fall by the way, that the holy Elias walked forty days after the angel's visit?

If you have preserved the nourishment you received, you will journey for forty years, emerging at last from the land of Egypt to come to the boundless land promised to our forefathers, flowing with milk and honey" (Third Nocturn).

Dominus, fortitudo plebis suae, et protector salutarium Christi sui est: salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae, et rege eos usque in saeculum. * Ad te, Domine, clamabo, Deus meus, ne sileas a me: ne quando taceas a me, et assimilabor descendentibus in lacum.
The Lord is the strength of His people, and the protector of the salvation of His anointed: save, O Lord, Thy people, and bless Thy inheritance, and rule them for ever. * Unto Thee will I cry, O Lord: O my God, be not Thou silent to me, lest if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.
Psalm 27:8-9,1 from the introit of Mass; The verse Salvum fac occurs in the Te Deum where we pray almighty God to keep us from sin.)

Deus virtutum, cujus est totum quod est optimum: insere pectoribus nostris amorem tui nominis, et praesta in nobis religionis augmentum; ut, quae sunt bona, nutrias, ac pietatis studio, quae sunt nutrita, custodias.
O God of all power and might, who art the giver of all good things; implant in our hearts the love of Thy name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness and by Thy mercy keep us in the same.

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Mark.
At that time, when there was a great multitude with Jesus, and had nothing to eat, calling His disciples together, He saith to them : I have compassion on the multitude, for behold they have now been with Me three days, and have nothing to eat; and if I shall send them away fasting to their home, they will faint in the way : for some of them came from afar off. And His disciples answered Him : From whence can any one fill them here with bread in the wilderness? And He asked them : How many loaves have ye? Who said : Seven. And He commanded the people to sit down on the ground. And taking the seven loaves, giving thanks, He broke and gave to His disciples to set before the people. And they had a few little fishes, and He blessed them, and commanded them to be set before them. And they did eat, and were filled; and they took up that which was left of the fragments, seven baskets: and they that had eaten were about four thousand : and He sent them away.
(St  Mark 8:1-9)