The first of the following excerpts from William Durandus’ Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, 6.60.3-4 and 7-9, is based on St Augustine’s division of sacred history into four periods: before the giving of the law to Moses; under the law; under grace, i.e. from the Incarnation to the end of the world; and then finally, in peace, after the Lord’s Second Coming.
The reasons for which the Lord’s Passion is remembered for two weeks before Easter are these: first, because He himself suffered for two peoples, at the hands of two peoples; second, because through those two weeks, we express the two Testaments, the Old, which foretold that the Lord would suffer, and the New, which showed Him suffering; third, because in the two ages of this world, that is, before the Law and under the Law, that same passion was foretold; fourth, so that these two weeks may recall to our memory the murmuring of those who before the law and under the law were in hell (i.e., the Limbo of the Fathers, whose murmuring expresses their longing for Christ), until the time of grace, which is signified in the third week, that is the week of Easter. For from this day, on which “Glory be to the Father…” is omitted, there are two weeks until Easter. But then there is the third week, in which all the glorification that was omitted is restored, for in the third time, which is under grace, all the benefits which our fathers in the Church awaited are rendered to them.
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