Category Archives: Passiontide

Easter – Death, where is your sting? Grave, where is your victory? -St John Chrysostom

st-john-chrysostom

“Let all Pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late, for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and is generous to the other; He repays the deed and praises the effort.

Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of His goodness.

Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free: He has destroyed it by enduring it, He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom, He has angered it by allowing it to taste of His flesh.

When Isaiah foresaw all this, he cried out: “O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world.” Hades is angered because it is frustrated, it is angered because it has been mocked, it is angered because it has been destroyed, it is angered because it has been reduced to naught, it is angered because it is now captive. It seized a body, and lo! it discovered God; it seized earth, and, behold! it encountered heaven; it seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible.

O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and life is freed, Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.” -Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of Preachers

Love,
Matthew

Holy Saturday – “Something strange is happening…”

jesus-sealed-tomb

-from the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday, 2nd reading

“Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and He has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, He has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, He Who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won Him the victory. At the sight of Him Adam, the first man He had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, Who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by My own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of My hands, you who were created in My image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in Me and I am in you; together We form only One Person and We cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, Whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in My image. On My back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See My hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I Who Am Life Itself am now One with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The Kingdom of Heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”

Love,
Matthew

Palm Sunday – “All Glory, Laud, & Honor!!!”

Lodewijk_I_de_Vrome_778-840
Louis the Pious, (778-840 AD), only surviving sone of Charlemagne, who imprisoned Theodulf

Theodulf_of Orleans
-Theodulf, called to the court of Charlemagne, stained glass, oratory at Germigny-des-Prés, after a restoration in the 19th century

-by Theodulf of Orléans (ca. 760–821 AD)

All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee Redeemer King,
To Whom the lips of children,
Made sweet hosannas ring.

Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David’s royal Son,
Who in the Lord’s name comest,
The King and blessed One.

All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee Redeemer King,
To Whom the lips of children,
Made sweet hosannas ring.

The company of angels
are praising Thee on high,
And mortal men and all things
created make reply.

All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee Redeemer King,
To Whom the lips of children,
Made sweet hosannas ring.

The people of the Hebrews
with palms before Thee went,
Our praise and pray’rs and anthems
before Thee we present.

All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee Redeemer King,
To Whom the lips of children,
Made sweet hosannas ring.

Thou didst accept their praises
accept the pray’rs we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King.

All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee Redeemer King,
To Whom the lips of children,
Made sweet hosannas ring.

dan_graves
-by Dan Graves

“Life, which has cast both smiles and frowns on Theodulf, now frowns. He is facing imprisonment in the year 818 AD. As a refugee from Spain, which was overrun by Moorish conquerors in the eighth century, Theodulf had made his way to Italy where he became an abbot, and from there he moved on to the court of Charlemagne.

Always on the lookout for literary talent, Charlemagne appointed him bishop of Orleans. Theodulf wrote poems and epitaphs for state occasions and served as scholar, church reformer, educator, and theological advisor to the Frankish emperor. His writings included sermons and theological treatises on baptism and the Holy Spirit. He opposed the use of icons and revised the text of the Bible. But following Charlemagne’s death in 814, his sons squabbled over his empire, which began to tear apart.

Now, in 818, one of these sons, Louis the Pious, suspects Theodulf of conniving with an Italian rival. He strips Theodulf of his honors and orders him to a monastery in Angiers on the River Maine.

The walls of Saint-Aubin seal him in. Lost to him is his personal estate at Germigny. Lost is the radiant chapel he built there. No more will he be called to direct the church or write epitaphs for the imperial court.

There is, however, a greater Emperor by far, to Whom he can appeal and from Whom earthly rulers can never deny him access. He need never lose this other Emperor’s favor. Walls cannot shut Him out. However much Theodulf bemoans the injustice done to him, he can still laud the King of Kings. In his monastic cell, he composes the verses of one of the greatest paeans ever written to our savior:

“All glory, laud, and honor
to Thee, Redeemer, King
To Whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.”

Within four years of the start of his imprisonment, Theodulf dies. More than a thousand years later, an English translation of his hymn will remain a favorite in the church’s Palm Sunday festivities.”

Love,
Matthew

Holy Thursday, Tenebrae, III Responsory of I Nocturn – Vere Languores Nostros

Isaiah 53:4-5

Vere languores nostros ipse tulit,
et dolore nostros ipse portavit;
Cujus livore sanati sumus.
Dulce lignum, dulces clavos,
dulcia ferens pondera,
quae sola fuisti digna
sustinere Regem coelorum et Dominum.

Truly He bore our griefs,
and carried our sorrows;
by His wounds we are healed.
Sweet cross, sweet nails,
sweetly bearing the weight,
you alone were worthy
to bear the King of heaven and the Lord.

Love,
Matthew

Psalm 51 – Miserere

pornography

Allegri’s “Miserere” was only sung at the #Vatican for 200 yrs, until young Mozart transcribed it.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to Your unfailing love;
according to Your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

Against You, You alone, have I sinned
and done what is evil in Your sight;
so You are right in Your verdict
and justified when You judge.

Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet You desired faithfulness even in the womb;
You taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones You have crushed rejoice.

Hide Your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence
or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to You.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
You Who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness.

Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare Your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
You, God, will not despise.
May it please You to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.

Then You will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on Your altar.

Holy_Water_Font_Miserere
-Miserere inscribed in holy water font

Love,
Matthew

Vexilla Regis = “Let Royal Banners fly!”

Jesus-Crucifixion

Vexilla Regis was written by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609 AD) and is considered one of the greatest hymns of the liturgy. Fortunatus wrote it in honor of the arrival of a large relic of the True Cross which had been sent to Queen Radegunda by the Emperor Justin II and his Empress Sophia. Queen Radegunda had retired to a convent she had built near Poitiers and was seeking out relics for the church there. To help celebrate the arrival of the relic, the Queen asked Fortunatus to write a hymn for the procession of the relic to the church.

The hymn has, thus, a strong connection with the Cross and is fittingly sung at Vespers from Passion Sunday to Holy Thursday and on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. The hymn was also formerly sung on Good Friday when the Blessed Sacrament is taken from the repository to the altar.

Abroad the royal banners fly,
The mystic Cross refulgent glows:
Where He, in Flesh, flesh who made,
Upon the Tree of pain is laid.

Behold! The nails with anguish fierce,
His outstretched arms and vitals pierce:
Here our redemption to obtain,
The Mighty Sacrifice is slain.

Here the fell spear his wounded side
With ruthless onset opened wide:
To wash us in that cleansing flood,
Thence mingled Water flowed, and Blood.

Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song, of old:
Unto the nations, lo! saith he,
Our God hath reignèd from the Tree.

O Tree! In radiant beauty bright!
With regal purple meetly dight!
Thou chosen stem! divinely graced,
Which hath those Holy Limbs embraced!

How blest thine arms, beyond compare,
Which Earth’s Eternal Ransom bare!
That Balance where His Body laid,
The spoil of vanquished Hell outweighed.

Fragrant aromatics are thrown,
sweetest nectar is sown,
Dearest fruit of tree!
Be my noble victory!

Hail wondrous Altar! Victim hail!
Thy Glorious Passion shall avail!
Where death Life’s very Self endured,
Yet life by that same Death secured.

O Cross! all hail! sole hope, abide
With us now in this Passion-tide:
New grace in pious hearts implant,
And pardon to the guilty grant!

Thee, mighty Trinity! One God!
Let every living creature laud;
Whom by the Cross Thou dost deliver,
O guide and govern now and ever! Amen.

Translation from “The Psalter of Sarum”: London 1852.

Love,
Matthew

Good Friday – “Popule meus, quid feci tibi?”, “My people, what have I done to you?”

jeffrey-tucker

-by Jeffrey Tucker, a convert from Southern Baptist to Roman Catholicism.

“It is puzzling what happened to the Reproaches on Good Friday, an essential part of the Roman Rite for ages, but all-but-vanished today. At least since the 9th century, they had been sung during the veneration of the cross: “My people, what have I done to you?” Or in Latin: “Popule meus, quid feci tibi?”

My copy of the missallete, which is the template that most choirs use to sing on Good Friday, contains no mention of the Reproaches at all. We instead are instructed to sing a song written in 1976 (with a chorus that sounds a bit like the theme to Gilligan’s Island) or to sing “other appropriate songs.”

The GIRM contains no instructions on the matter, but I’ve yet to discover evidence that the Reproaches have been abolished or are even optional.

The Reproaches are still in the Graduale Romanum. Many things appear in this book that are rarely used so perhaps that is understandable. However, the Reproaches are also printed larger than life in the Sacramentary itself, taking up three full pages with music. So let no one say that it was the 1970 Missal that caused them to disappear.

I gather that most celebrants skip over these pages since the music is for the choir to sing, not the priest. In some ways, it is a puzzle as to why they appear in the Sacramentary at all since this book doesn’t print other chants that are exclusive to the choir, such as the Offertory proper at every Mass.

But, as I say, there is no mention of their existence in my missalette at all. And let’s face it: if it is not in this fly-away book, it will not happen. That’s how much influence these publications wield. These private companies can wipe out whole swaths of the Roman Rite just by declining to print things. After 10 or 20 years, no one remembers that it was ever sung.

It seems Orwellian in some way, but I actually think it is a reflection of the chaotic system of: 1) endless numbers of choices over what to do at liturgy, 2) the lack of rubrical specificity in the ordinary form, 3) the way the parts of the Mass are sprawled out over so many books, 4) the remarkable and pervasive ignorance concerning the role of the choir at Mass, and 5) the way that the Missalettes are targeted for use by the people and tend to be inattentive to the parts that belong exclusively to either the celebrant or the choir.

In this thicket, some things gets lost.

The Reproaches are an important part of Good Friday because they highlight the essential injustice of the Crucifixion, the culpability of humanity in this action, and the role of sin in those times and our times in bringing this about. We are given remarkable gifts by God, and the signs are all around us, and yet we do not show gratitude. Rather, we turn our backs on God and deny God due reverence in our lives and in our worship.

The narrative of the Reproaches is presented as a historical epic but it is impossible to hear them and not think of the universal ethical and theological implications. When we leave them out, we are refusing to let the Christ of all history speak to us, saying perhaps what we do not want to hear but we must hear.”

Love,
Matthew

Sep 15 – Improperia (The Reproaches), Our Lady of Sorrows

“Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother: “This Child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul, too.”
-Luke 2:34-35

And with “Woman behold your son.”  And, “Son, behold your Mother.”  cf Jn 19:26-27, Mary became our mother, and the mother of the Church.

Good Friday is a day of mourning, remembering Christ’s death, and so is not typically a day of songs and hymns. During the Veneration of the Cross, the following Antiphon and verses known as “The Reproaches” (Improperia) are sung. Individual parts are indicated by no. 1 (first choir) and no. 2 (second choir); parts sung by both choirs together are indicated by nos. 1 and 2.

The Reproaches (Improperia)

Antiphon 1 and 2:
We worship You, Lord,
we venerate Your cross,
we praise Your resurrection.
1: Through the cross
You brought joy to the world.
1: (Psalm 66:2)
May God be gracious and bless us;
and let His face shed its light upon us.

Repeat Antiphon by 1 and 2:

The Reproaches:

I.

1 and 2: My people, what have I done to you
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I led you out of Egypt,
from slavery to freedom,
but you led your Savior to the cross.

2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!
1: Holy is God!
2: Holy and strong!
1: Holy immortal One, have mercy on us!

1 and 2: For forty years I led you
safely through the desert.
I fed you with manna from heaven,
and brought you to a land of plenty; but you led your Savior to the cross.

1: Holy is God!
2: Holy and strong!
1: Holy immortal One, have mercy on us!

1 and 2: What more could I have done for you.
I planted you as my fairest vine,
but you yielded only bitterness:
when I was thirsty you gave Me vinegar to drink,
and you pierced your Savior with a lance.

1: Holy is God!
2: Holy and strong!
1: Holy immortal One, have mercy on us!

II.

1: For your sake I scourged your captors
and their firstborn sons,
but you brought your scourges down on me.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I led you from slavery to freedom
and drowned your captors in the sea,
but you handed me over to your high priests.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I opened the sea before you,
but you opened my side with a spear.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I led you on your way in a pillar of cloud,
but you led me to Pilate’s court.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I bore you up with manna in the desert,
but you struck me down and scourged me.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I gave you saving water from the rock,
but you gave me gall and vinegar to drink.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: For you I struck down the kings of Canaan.
but you struck my head with a reed.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I gave you a royal scepter,
but you gave me a crown of thorns.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I raised you to the height of majesty,
but you have raised me high on a cross.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

Love,
Matthew

The Octave of Easter – Victimae Paschali Laudes

The first eight days of the Easter season form the Easter octave and are celebrated as solemnities of the Lord. Each day is another little Easter.  While Alleluias (=Hallal Yahweh/Praise the Lord!) were nowhere to be found in Lent, now they resound in multitude.

Victimae paschali laudes
immolent Christiani.

Agnus redemit oves:
Christus innocens Patri
reconciliavit peccatores.

Mors et vita duello
conflixere mirando:
dux vitae mortuus,
regnat vivus.

Dic nobis Maria,
quid vidisti in via?

Sepulcrum Christi viventis,
et gloriam vidi resurgentis:

Angelicos testes,
sudarium, et vestes.

Surrexit Christus spes mea:
praecedet suos [vos] in Galilaeam.

[Credendum est magis soli
Mariae veraci
Quam Judaeorum Turbae fallaci.]

Scimus Christum surrexisse
a mortuis vere:
tu nobis, victor Rex, miserere.
[Amen.] [Alleluia.]

Let Christians offer sacrificial
praises to the passover victim.

The Lamb has redeemed the sheep:
The Innocent Christ has reconciled
sinners to the Father.

Death and life contended
in a spectacular battle:
the Prince of Life, Who died,
reigns alive.

Tell us, Mary, what did
you see on the road?

“I saw the tomb of the living Christ
and the glory of His rising,

The angelic witnesses, the
clothes and the shroud.”

“Christ my hope is arisen;
into Galilee, He will go before His own.”

We know Christ is truly risen from the dead!
To us, victorious King, have mercy!
Amen. [Alleluia.]

Love,
Matthew

Holy Saturday – Silence, Fear, & Doubt

Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,
let the trumpet of salvation
sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph!

Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her,
ablaze with light from her eternal King,
let all corners of the earth be glad,
knowing an end to gloom and darkness.

Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice,
arrayed with the lightning of His glory,
let this holy building shake with joy,
filled with the mighty voices of the peoples.

(Therefore, dearest friends,
standing in the awesome glory of this holy light,
invoke with me, I ask you,
the mercy of God almighty,
that He, Who has been pleased to number me,
though unworthy, among the Levites,
may pour into me His light unshadowed,
that I may sing this candle’s perfect praises).

(Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.)
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right and just.

It is truly right and just,
with ardent love of mind and heart
and with devoted service of our voice,
to acclaim our God invisible, the Almighty Father,
and Jesus Christ, our Lord, His Son, His Only Begotten.

Who for our sake paid Adam’s debt to the eternal Father,
and, pouring out His own dear Blood,
wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.

These, then, are the feasts of Passover,
in which is slain the Lamb, the One True Lamb,
Whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers.

This is the night,
when once You led our forebears, Israel’s children,
from slavery in Egypt
and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea.

This is the night,
that with a pillar of fire,
You banished the darkness of sin.

This is the night
that even now throughout the world,
sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices
and from the gloom of sin,
leading them to grace
and joining them to His holy ones.

This is the night
when Christ broke the prison-bars of death
and rose victorious from the underworld.

Our birth would have been no gain,
had we not been redeemed.
O wonder of your humble care for us!
O love, O charity beyond all telling,
to ransom a slave You gave away Your Son!

O truly necessary sin of Adam,
destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!

O happy fault
that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

O truly blessed night,
worthy alone to know the time and hour
when Christ rose from the underworld!

This is the night
of which it is written:
The night shall be as bright as day,
dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.

The sanctifying power of this night
dispels wickedness, washes faults away,
restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.

On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise,
this gift from your most holy Church.

But now we know the praises of this pillar,
a flame divided but undimmed,
which glowing fire ignites for God’s honour,
a fire into many flames divided,
yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,
for it is fed by melting wax,
drawn out by mother bees
to build a torch so precious.

O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human.

Therefore, O Lord,
we pray You that this candle,
hallowed to the honor of Your name,
may persevere undimmed,
to overcome the darkness of this night.
Receive it as a pleasing fragrance,
and let it mingle with the lights of heaven.
May this flame be found still burning
by the Morning Star:
the one Morning Star Who never sets,
Christ Your Son,
Who, coming back from death’s domain,
has shed His peaceful light on humanity,
and lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

Love,
Matthew