Easter Thursday ~ Dom Prosper Guéranger

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Hæc dies quam fecit Dominus; exsultemus et lætemur in ea!This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us be glad and rejoice therein!

After having glorified the Lamb of God, and the Passover whereby our Lord destroyed our enemies; after having celebrated our deliverance by water, and our entrance into the Promised Land; let us now fix our respectful gaze upon Him whose triumph is prefigured by all these prodigies. So dazzling is the glory that now beams from this Man-God that, like the prophet of Patmos, we shall fall prostrate before Him. But He is so wonderful, too, in his love, that He will encourage us to enjoy the grand vision. He will say to us, as He did to His discipleFear not! I am the First and the Last; and alive, and was dead; and behold! I am living for ever and ever, and have the keys of death and of hell.

Yes, He is now Master of death, which had held Him captive; He holds in His hand the keys of hell. These expressions of Scripture signify that He has power over death and the tomb; He has conquered them. Now, the first use He makes of His victory is to make us partakers of it. Let us adore His infinite goodness; and, in accordance with the wish of the holy Church, let us meditate today upon the effects wrought in each one of ourselves by the mystery of the Pasch. Jesus says to His beloved disciple: I am alive, and wad dead: the day will come when we also shall triumphantly say: We are living, and we were dead!

Death awaits us; it is daily advancing towards us; we cannot escape its vengeance. The wages of sin is death: in these few words of Scripture, we are taught how death is not only universal, but even necessary; but we have all sinned. This, however, does not make the law less severe; nor can we help seeing a frightful disorder in the violent separation of soul and body, which were united together by God Himself. If we would truly understand death, we must remember that God made man immortal: this will explain the instinctive dread we have of death—a dread which one thing alone can conquer; and that is the spirit of sacrifice. In the death, then, of each one of us there is the handiwork of sin, and consequently a victory won by satan: nay, there would be a humiliation for our Creator Himself, were it not that, by sentencing us to this punishment, He satisfied His justice.

This is man’s well-merited but terrible condemnation. What can he hope for? Never to die? It would be folly; the sentence is clear, and none may escape. Can he hope that this body, which is to become first a corpse, and then be turned into a mere handful of dust, will one day return to life, and be reunited to the soul for which it was made? But who could bring about the reunion of an immortal substance with one that formerly united with it, but has not seemingly been annihilated? And yet, O man! this is to be thy lot! Thou shalt rise again; that poor body of thine, which is to die, to be buried, forgotten, and humbled, shall be restored to life. Yes, it even now comes forth from the tomb, in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ; our future resurrection is accomplished in His; it is today that we are made as sure of our resurrection as we are of our death. This, too, makes part of our glorious Feast, our Pasch!

God did not, at the beginning, reveal this miracle of His power and goodness: all He said to Adam wasIn the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken; for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return. Not a word, not an allusion, which gives the culprit the least hope with reference to that portion of himself which is thus doomed to death and the grave. It was fitting that the ungrateful pride which had led man to rebel against his Maker should be humbled. Later on the great mystery was revealed, at least partially. Four thousand years ago, a poor sufferer, whose body was covered with ulcers, spoke these words of hopeI know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth. And I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I shall see God: this my hope is laid up in my bosom.

But in order that Job’s hope might be realized, this Redeemer of whom he spoke had to come down to this earth, give battle to death, feel its pang, and finally conquer it. He came at the time fixed by the divine decree. He cane, not indeed to prevent us from dying (for the sentence of God’s justice was absolute), but to die Himself, and so take away from death its bitterness and humiliation. Like to those devoted physicians who have been known to inoculate themselves with the virus of contagion, our Jesus swallowed down death, as the Apostle forcibly expresses it. But the enemy’s joy was soon at an end; for the Man-God rose to die no more; and by His Resurrection, He won that same right for us.

Henceforth, then, we must see the grave under a new aspect. The earth will receive our bodies, but only to yield them back again, just as she yields back the hundredfold of the seed that was confided to her. Her great Creator will, at some future day, bid her restore the deposit He entrusted to her. The Archangel’s trumpet will give the signal of His command; and in the twinkling of an eye, the whole human race will rise up from the grave, and proclaim the final defeat of death. For the just it will be a Pasch, a continuation of the Pasch we are now celebrating.

Who could describe the joy we shall experience at such a meeting! Our soul, after, it may be, a separation of hundreds of years, united once more to that essential part of her being, the body! She, perhaps, has been all that time enjoying the beatific vision; but the whole man was not there; our happiness was not complete, because that of the body was wanting; and in the midst of the soul’s rapturous felicity, there was a trace still left of the punishment to which man was condemned, when our First Parents sinned. Our merciful God would not, now that His Son has opened the gates of heaven, wait till the general instruction to reward the souls of His elect with the vision; and yet, these elect have not their whole glory and happiness until that last day comes and puts the last finish to the mystery of man’s redemption. Jesus, our King and our Head, wills that we His members shall sing with Him the son that comes from His own divine lips, and that each of us shall say for all eternity: I am living, and I was dead! Mary, who on the third day after her death was united to her sinless body, longs to see her devoted children united with her in heaven; but wholly and entirely, soul and body: and this will be, when the tomb has done its work of purification.

The holy Angels, whose ranks are waiting to be filled up by the elect among men, are affectionately looking forward to that happy day, when the glorified bodies of the just will spring up, like the loveliest of earth’s flowers, to beauty the land of spirits. One of their joys consists in gazing upon the resplendent Bodies of Jesus and Mary—of Jesus, who, even as Man, is their King as well as ours, and of Mary, whom they reverence as their Queen. What a feast-day, then, will they count that whereon we, their brothers and sisters, whose souls have long been their companions in bliss, shall be revested with the robe of flesh, sanctified and fitted for union with our radiant souls! What a canticle of fresh joy will ring through heaven, as it then receives within itself all the grandeur and beauty of creation! The Angels who were present at Jesus’ Resurrection were filled with admiration at the sight of his Body, which was indeed of a lower nature than themselves, but whose dazzling glory exceeded all the splendor of the angelic host together: will they not gladly hail our arrival after our resurrection? Will they not welcome us with fraternal congratulations when they see us, members as we are of this same risen Jesus, clad in the same gorgeous robe of glory as He who is their God?

The sensual man never gives a thought to the eternal glory and happiness of the body: he acknowledges the Resurrection of the flesh as an article of faith, but it is not an object of his hope. He cares but for the present; material, carnal pleasures being all he aspires to, he considers his body as an instrument of self gratification, which, as it lasts so short a time, must be the more quickly used. There is no respect in the love he bears to his body; hence he fears not to defile it; and after a few years of insult, which he calls enjoyment, it becomes the food of worms and corruption. And yet, this sensual man accuses the Church of being an enemy of the body! the Church that so eloquently proclaims its dignity, and the glorious destiny that awaits it! He is the tyrant, and a tyrant is ever an impudent calumniator. The Church warns us of the dangers to which the body exposes the soul; she tells us of the infectious weakness that came to the flesh by original sin; she instructs us as to the means we should employ for making it “serve justice unto sanctification;” but, far from forbidding us to love the body, she reveals to us a truth which should incite us to true charity, viz: that it is destined to endless glory and happiness. When laid on the bed of death, the Church honors it with the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, fitting it for immortality by anointing it with holy oil; she is present at the departure of the soul from this the companion of her combats, and from which she is to be separated till the day of the general judgment; she respectfully burns incense over the body when dead; for, from this hour of its Baptism, she has regarded it as something holy; and to the surviving friends of the departed one, she addresses these inspired words of consolation: “Be not sorrowful, even as others, who have no hope!” But what is this hope? That same which comforted Job: “In my flesh, I shall see my God.”

Thus does our holy faith reveal to us the future glory of our body; thus does it encourage, by supernatural motives, the instinctive love borne by the soul for this essential portion of our being. It unites together the two dogmas: our Lord’s Pasch, and the resurrection of our body. The Apostle assures us of the close relation that exists between them, and says: “If Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain; if the dead not rise again, neither is Christ risen again:” so that Jesus’ Resurrection and our resurrection seem to be parts of one and the same truth. Hence, the sort of forgetfulness, which is nowadays so common, of this important dogma of the resurrection of the body, is a sad proof of the decay of lively faith. Such people believe in a future resurrection, for the Creed is too explicit to leave room for doubt; but the hope which Job had is seldom the object of their thoughts or desires. They say that what they are anxious about, both for themselves and for those that are dear to them, is what will become of the soul after this life: they do well to look to this, but they should not forget what religion teaches them regarding the resurrection of the body; by professing it, they not only have a fresh incentive to virtue, but they also render testimony to the Resurrection of Jesus, whereby He gained victory over death both for Himself and for us. They should remember that they are in this world only to confess, by their words and actions, the truths that God has revealed. It is therefore not enough that they believe in the immortality of the soul; the resurrection of the body must also be believed and professed.

We find this article of our holy faith continually represented in the catacombs: its several symbols formed, together with the Good Shepherd, quite the favorite subject of primitive Christian art. In those early ages of the Church, when to receive Baptism was to break entirely with the sensuality of previous habits of life, this consoling dogma of the resurrection of the body was strongly urged upon the minds of the neophytes. Any of them might be called upon to suffer martyrdom: the thought of the future glory that awaited their flesh inspired them with courage when the hour of trial came. Thus we read so very frequently in the Acts of the Martyrs how, when in the midst of their most cruel torments, that what supported them was the certain hope of the resurrection of the body. How many Christians are there nowadays, who are cowardly in the essential duties of their state in life, simply because they never think of this important dogma of their faith!

The soul is more than the body; but the body is an essential portion of our being. It is our duty to treat it with great respect, because of its sublime destiny. If we, at present, chastise it and keep it in subjection, it is because its present state requires such treatment. We chastise it because we love it. The Martyrs and all the Saints loved their body far more than does the most sensual voluptuary: they, by sacrificing it, saved it; he, by pampering it, exposes it to eternal suffering. Let us be on our guard: sensualism is akin to naturalism. Sensualism will have it that there is no happiness for the body but such as this present life can give; and with this principle, its degradation causes no remorse. Naturalism is that propensity we have to judge of everything by mere natural light, whereas we cannot possibly know the glorious future for which God has created us except by faith. If, therefore, the Christian can see what the Son of God has done for our bodies by the divine Resurrection we are now celebrating, and feel neither love nor hope, he may be sure that his faith is weak; and if he would not lose his soul, let him henceforth be guided by the word of God, which alone can teach him what he is now, and what he is called to be hereafter.

At Rome, the Station is in the basilica of the twelve Apostles. The neophytes were brought, today, into the church dedicated to the witness of the Resurrection, where repose the bodies of two out of the twelve: St. Philip and St. James the Less. In the Mass, frequent allusions are made to the apostolic labors of these heralds of our risen Jesus; they preached His Name throughout the world, and all ages shall hear their teachings.

Mass.—The Introit is taken from the Book of Wisdom. It tells us of the heavenly eloquence of the Apostles, who, at first, were dumb and timid as little children. Divine Wisdom changed them into other men, so that they everywhere published the victory of the Man-God.

Victricem manum tuam, Domine, laudaverunt pariter, alleluia: quia Sapientia aperuit os mutum, et linguas infantium fecit disertas. Alleluia, alleluia.They praised with one accord thy victorious hand, O Lord, alleluia: for wisdom hath opened the mouth of the dumb, and made the tongues of infants eloquent. Alleluia, alleluia.
Ps. Cantate Domino canticum novum: quia mirabilia fecit. ℣. Gloria Patri. Victricem.Ps. Sing to the Lord a new song: for he hath done wonderful things. ℣. Glory, &c. They praised, &c.

The Collect alludes to the effect produced by the preaching of the Apostles—the union of all nations into one family. The neophytes, by their Baptism, have been admitted into this great unity: the Church prays that God would preserve them in it by His grace.

Deus, qui diversitatem gentium in confessione tui Nominis adunasti: da ut renatis fonte baptismatic una sit fides mentium, et pietas actionum. Per Dominum.O God, who has united various nations in the confession of thy name: grant that they who have been born again by the water of baptism, may have the same faith in their hearts, and the same piety in their actions. Through, &c.

Then is added one of the two Collects given in yesterday’s Mass.

Lectio Actuum Apostolorum.Lesson from the Acts of the Apostles.
Angelus autem Domini locutus est ad Philippum, dicens: Surge, et vade contra meridianum, ad viam quæ descendit ab Jerusalem in Gazam: hæc est deserta. Et surgens abiit. Et ecce vir Æthiops, eunuchus, potens Candacis reginæ Æthiopum, qui erat super omnes gazas ejus, venerat adorare in Jerusalem: et revertebatur sedens super currum suum, legensque Isaiam prophetam. Dixit autem Spiritus Philippo: Accede, et adjunge te ad currum istum. Accurrens autem Philippus, audivit eum legentem Isaiam prophetam, et dixit: Putasne intelligis quæ legis? Qui ait: Et quomodo possum, si non aliquis ostenderit mihi? Rogavitque Philippum ut ascenderet, et sederet secum. Locus autem Scripturæ, quem legebat, erat hic: Tamquam ovis ad occisionem ductus est: et sicus agnus coram tondente se, sine voce, sic non aperuit os suum. In humilitate judicium ejus sublatum est. Generationem ejus quis enarrabit, quoniam tolletur de terra vita ejus? Respondens autem eunuchus Philippo, dixit: Obsecro te, de quo propheta dicit hoc? de se, an de alio aliquo? Aperiens autem Philippus os suum, et incipiens a Scriptura ista, evangelizavit illi Jesum. Et dum irent per viam, venerunt ad quamdam aquam: et ait eunuchus: Ecce aqua, quid prohibet me baptizari? Dixit autem Philippus: Si credis ex toto corde, licet. Et respondens ait: Credo Filium Dei esse Jesum Christum. Et jussit stare currum: et descenderunt uterque in aquam, Philippus et eunuchus, et baptizavit eum. Cum autem ascendissent de aqua, Spiritus Domini rapuit Philippum, et amplius non vidit eum eunuchus. Ibat autem per viam suam gaudens. Philippus autem inventus est in Azoto, et pertransiens evangelizabat civitatibus cunctis, donec veniret Cæsaream.Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying: Arise, go towards the south, to the way that goeth down from Jerusalem into Gaza: this is desert. And rising up, he went. And behold a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch, of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge over all her treasures, had come to Jerusalem to adore. And he was returning, sitting in his chariot, and reading Isaias the prophet. And the Spirit said to Philip: Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip running thither, heard him reading the prophet Isaias. And he said: Thinkest thou that thou understandest what thou readest? Who said: And how can I, unless some man shew me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. And the place of the scripture which he was reading was this: He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb without voice before his shearer, so openeth he not his mouth. In humility his judgment was taken away. His generation who shall declare, for his life shall be taken from the earth? And the eunuch answering Philip, said: I beseech thee, of whom doth the prophet speak this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip, opening his mouth, and beginning at this scripture, preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came to a certain water; and the eunuch said: See, here is water: what doth hinder me from being baptized? And Philip said: If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answering, said: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still; and they went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch: and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more. And he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found in Azotus; and passing through, he preached the gospel to all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

The Church, by this passage from the Acts of the Apostles, would remind her neophytes of the sublime grace of their Baptism, and under what condition they have been regenerated. God put the opportunity of salvation in their path, as He sent Philip to the eunuch. He gave them a desire to know the truth, in the same manner as He inspired this servant of Queen Candace to read what was to occasion his being instructed in the faith of Christ. This pagan, had he chosen, might have received the instructions of God’s messenger with mistrust and indifference, and so have resisted the grace that was offered him; but no, he opened his heart, and faith filled it. Our neophytes did the same: they were docile, and God’s word enlightened them; they went on from light to light, until at length the Church recognized them as true disciples of the faith. Then came the Feast of the Pasch, and this mother of souls said to herself, Lo, here is water,—the water that purifies, the water that issued from Jesus’ side when opened by the spear: what hinders them from being baptized? Having confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, they were baptized, as was the Ethiopian of our Epistle, in the life-giving waters; like him, they are about to continue the journey of life, rejoicing, for they are risen with Christ, who has graciously vouchsafed to associate the joy of their new birth with that of His own triumph.

Hæc dies quam fecit Dominus: exsultemus et lætemur in ea.This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us be glad and rejoice therein.
℣. Lapidem quem reprobaverunt ædificantes, hic factus est in caput anguli: a Domino factum est istud, et est mirabile in oculis nostris.℣. The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful in our eyes.
Alleluia, alleluia.Alleluia, alleluia.
℣. Surrexit Christus, qui creavit omnia: et misertus est humano generi.℣. Christ is risen, who created all things, and hath shewn mercy to mankind.

The Sequence, Victimæ Paschali, is from Easter Sunday.

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.
Cap. XXCh. XX.
Maria autem stabat ad monumentum foris, plorans. Dum ergo fleret, inclinavit se, et prospexit in monumentum: et vidit duos angelos in albis sedentes, unum ad caput, et unum ad pedes, ubi positum fuerat corpus Jesu. Dicunt ei illi: Mulier, quid ploras? Dicit eis: Quia tulerunt Dominum meum: et nescio ubi posuerunt eum. Haec cum dixisset, conversa est retrorsum, et vidit Jesum stantem: et non sciebat quia Jesus est. Dicit ei Jesus: Mulier, quid ploras? quem quaeris? Illa existimans quia hortulanus esset, dicit ei: Domine, si tu sustulisti eum, dicito mihi ubi posuisti eum, et ego eum tollam. Dicit ei Jesus: Maria. Conversa illa, dicit ei: Rabboni (quod dicitur Magister). Dicit ei Jesus: Noli me tangere, nondum enim ascendi ad Patrem meum: vade autem ad fratres meos, et dic eis: Ascendo ad Patrem meum, et Patrem vestrum, Deum meum, et Deum vestrum. Venit Maria Magdalene annuntians discipulis: Quia vidi Dominum, et haec dixit mihi.But Mary stood at the sepulchre without, weeping. Now as she was weeping, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And she saw two angels in white, sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid. They say to her: Woman, why weepest thou? She saith to them: Because they have taken away my Lord; and I know not where they have laid him. When she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing; and she knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith to her: Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, thinking it was the gardener, saith to him: Sir, if thou hast taken him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith to her: Mary. She turning, saith to him: Rabboni (which is to say, Master). Jesus saith to her: Do not touch me, for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren, and say to them: I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God. Mary Magdalen cometh, and telleth the disciples: I have seen the Lord, and these things he said to me.

Today’s Station is in the basilica of the twelve Apostles; and instead of putting before us any of the apparitions related by the Gospel as having been made to His Apostles by our Savior, after His Resurrection, the Church reads to us the one wherewith Magdalene was honored. Why thus apparently forget the very heralds and ambassadors of the New Law? The reason is obvious. By thus honoring her whom our Lord selected as the Apostle of His apostles, the Church would put before us, in their full truth, the circumstances of the day of the Resurrection. It was through Magdalene and her companions that began the apostolate of the grandest mystery of our Jesus’ life upon earth; they have every right, therefore, to be honored today in the basilica, which is sacred to the holy Apostles.

God is all-powerful, and delights in showing Himself in that which is weakest; He is infinitely good and glorious in rewarding such as love Him. This explains how it was that our Jesus gave to Magdalene and her companions the first proofs of His Resurrection, and so promptly consoled them. They were even weaker than the Bethlehem shepherds; they were, therefore, the objects of a higher preference. The Apostles themselves were weaker than the weakest of the earthly powers they were to bring into submission; hence, they too were initiated in the mystery of Jesus’ triumph. But Magdalene and her companions had loved their Master even to the cross and in His tomb, whereas the Apostles had abandoned Him; they therefore had a better claim than the Apostles to Jesus’ generosity, and richly did He satisfy the claim.

Let us attentively consider the sublime spectacle of the Church receiving the knowledge of that mystery, which is the basis of her faith, the Resurrection. After Mary—in whom the light of faith never waned, and to whom, as the sinless Mother, was due the first manifestation—who were the first to be illumined with that faith whereby the Church lives? Magdalene and her companions. For several hours, this was the “little flock” on which Jesus looked with complacency: little, indeed, and weak in the world’s estimation, but grand, as being the noblest work of grace. Yet a short time, and the Apostles will be added to the number; yea, the whole world will form a part of this elect group. The Church now sings these words in every country of the earth: “Tell us, O Mary! what thou sawest on the way!” And Mary Magdalene tells the Church the mystery: “I saw the sepulcher of Christ, and the glory of Him that arose.”

Nor must we be surprised that women were the first to form, around the Son of God, the Church of believers, the Church resplendent with the brightness of the Resurrection: it is the continuation of that divine plan, the commencement of which we have already respectfully studied. It was by woman that the work of God was marred in the beginning; He willed that it should be repaired by woman. On the day of the Annunciation, we found the second Eve making good by her own obedience the disobedience of the first; and now, at Easter, God honors Magdalene and her companions in preference even to the Apostles. We repeat it: these facts show us not so much a personal favor conferred upon individuals as the restoration of woman to her lost dignity. “The woman,” says St. Ambrose, “was the first to taste the food of death; she is destined to be the first witness of the Resurrection. By proclaiming this mystery, she will atone for her fault … therefore is it that she, who heretofore had announced sin to man, was sent by the Lord to announce the tidings of salvation to men, and to make known to them His grace.” Others of the holy Fathers speak in the same strain. They tell us that God, in the distribution of the gifts of His grace, gives woman the first place. And in what happened at the Resurrection, they recognize not merely an act of the supreme will of the Master, but moreover a well-deserved reward for the love Jesus met with from these humble women; a love which He did not receive from His Apostles, though He had treated them, for the last three years of His life, with every mark of intimacy and affection, and had every right to expect them to be courageous in their devotedness towards Him.

Magdalene stands as a queen amidst her holy companions. She is most dear to Jesus; she has loved Him more than all the rest of His friends did; she has been more heartbroken at seeing Him suffer; she has been more earnest in paying honor to the sacred Body of her buried Master. She is well-nigh beside herself until she has found Him; and when she at length meet Him and finds Jesus Himself still living and still full of love for Magdalene, she could die for very joy! She would show Him her delight, but Jesus checks her, saying: Touch me not! for I am not yet ascended to my Father!

Jesus is no longer subject to the conditions of mortality. True, His human Nature will be eternally united with His divine; but His Resurrection tells the faithful soul that His relations with her are no longer the same as before. During His mortal life, He suffered Himself to be approached as Man; there was little, in His exterior, to indicate His Divinity; but now, His external splendor gleams through His very Body, and bespeaks the Son of God. Henceforth, then, we must see Him with the heart rather than with the eye, and offer Him a respectful love, rather than one of sentiment, however tender. He allowed Magdalene to touch Him so long as she was weak in her conversion, and He Himself was mortal; but now, she must aspire to that highest spiritual good, which is the life of the soul—Jesus, in the bosom of the Father. In her first estate Magdalene is the type of the soul when commencing its search after Jesus. But her love needs a transformation: it is ardent, but not wise: so that the Angel has to chide her: “Why,” says he, “seekest thou the Living among the dead?” The time is come for her to ascend to something more perfect, and seek in spirit Him who is Spirit.

Jesus says to Magdalene: I am not yet ascended to my Father! as though He would say: “The mark of love thou wouldst show me is not what I now wish to receive from thee. When I have ascended into heaven, and thou art there with Me, the sight of My human Nature shall be no obstacle to thy soul’s vision of My Divinity: then thou shalt embrace Me!” Magdalene takes in the lesson of her dear Master; she loves Him more, because her love is spiritualized. After His Ascension, she retires into the holy cave. There she lives, pondering upon all the mysteries of her Jesus’ life. Her love feeds on the memory of all He has done for her, from His first word which converted her, to the favor He showed her on the morning of His Resurrection. Each day she advances in the path of perfect love. The Angels visit and console her. Her probation completed, she follows her Jesus to heaven, where she lavishes on Him the ardor of her love in an unrestrained and eternal embrace.

The Offertory alludes to the land flowing with milk and honey, into which the preaching of the Apostles has led our neophytes. But the altar, whereon the holy Sacrifice is now being offered, will give them a still more delicious nourishment.

In die solemnitatis vestræ, dicit Dominus, inducam vos in terram fluentem lac et mel, alleluia.In the day of your solemnity, saith the Lord, I will bring you into a land flowing with milk and honey, alleluia.

In the Secret, the Church beseeches God to accept the gifts presented Him by His new people. The bread will be changed, by the words of Consecration, into a food that will fortify them in their journey towards that heavenly country.

Suscipe, quæsumus Domine, munera populorum tuorum propitius: ut confessione tui nominis, et baptismate renovati, sempiternam beatitudinem consequantur. Per Dominum.Gracious accept, we beseech thee, O Lord, the offerings of thy people: that being renewed by the confession of thy name, and by baptism, they may obtain everlasting bliss. Through, &c.

To this is added one of the two Secrets given in yesterday’s Mass.

In the Communion-Anthem, it is the Apostolic College that speaks by the mouth of St. Peter, to the newly-made children of God. With paternal affection, the Apostles congratulate our neophytes on the favors they have received from God, the author of light.

Populus acquisitionis, annuntiate virtutes ejus, alleluia: qui vos de tenebris vocavit in admirabile lumen suum, alleluia.Ye, who are a purchased people, publish his might, alleluia: it is he who hath called you from darkness to his wonderful light, alleluia.

The Postcommunion tells us of the grand effects produced in us by this adorable Sacrament. It enriches us with every blessing; it is our support during this life’s pilgrimage; and it gives us a foretaste of heaven, even in our exile.

Exaudi, Domine, preces nostras: ut redemptionis nostræ sacrosancta commercia, et vitæ nobis conferant præsentis auxilium, et gaudia sempiterna concilient. Per Dominum.Graciously hear our prayers O Lord, that by frequenting these sacred mysteries of our redemption, we may obtain the necessary helps of this life, and the endless joys of the next. Through, &c.

To this is added one of the Postcommunions given in yesterday’s Mass.

The work of the Son of God, the creation, advances towards completion. Today there appear living beings in the waters and in the air. Countless varieties of fishes sport in the sea; and the thrilling melody of birds breaks that solemn silence, which hitherto had nothing to disturb it save the wind rustling amidst the trees. Here again, the visible is the type of the invisible. The waters of Baptism are to give birth to other fishes; and from this our earth, souls, like birds of heaven, are to soar aloft on the wings of contemplation. This shall be, when the Creator shall come, in human form, into the world He is forming. As our prayer of thanksgiving for his fifth day of the creation, let us use the following beautiful one, taken from the Mozarabic breviary.

Deus qui, in operatione quinti diei reptilia animarum vivarum, homines scilicet renovatos per sacramentum Baptismatis, condidisti: et volatilia cœli, animas videlicet sanctorum ad superna volantes, manifesta virtutum luce formasti; præbe animabus nostris invictum de tua resurrectione solatium: ut per te renovati resurgamus ad gloriam, per quem regenerati sumus ad vitam.O God, who, on the fifth day, didst create the fishes of the sea, the figure of them that are regenerated by the sacrament of Baptism; and the birds of the air, the figure of the souls of holy men soaring to heavenly things, by their dazzling virtues: grant that we may receive from thy Resurrection a consolation which may make us invincible; that thus we, who have been regenerated by thee to life, may, being renewed by thee, rise again to glory.

As the liturgy of today speaks to us of Mary Magdalene, we will insert here two of the many sequences composed in her honor during the middle ages, and sung by our forefathers during the Easter Octave. They are exquisite in their simplicity, and express a tender devotion towards this favored penitent, whose name is inseparable from the mystery of the Resurrection, and who was so dear to our blessed Lord that He chose her to be the first to announce to the Apostles and mankind the tidings of His victory over death.

First Sequence
Surgit Christus cum trophæo,
Jam ex agno factus leo
Solemni victoria.
Christ, now changed from a lamb to a lion, rises with his trophy, the glorious conqueror.
Mortem vicit sua morte,
Reseravit seram portæ
suæ mortis gratia.
By his death, he conquered death: by his death, he opened heaven’s gate.
Hic est agnus qui pendebat,
Et in cruce redimebat.
This is the lamb that hung upon the cross, and redeemed the whole flock.
Cui cum nullus condolebat,
Magdalenam consumebat
Doloris incendium.
There was none found to condole with him, save Magdalene, who pined with burning grief.
Dic Maria quid vidisti
Contemplando crucem Christi?
Tell us, O Mary! what sawest thou, when looking at the cross of Christ?
Vidi Jesum spoliari,
Et in cruce sublevari
Peccatorum manibus.
I saw my Jesus stripped, and raised on the cross, by the hands of sinners.
Dic Maria quid vidisti
Contemplando crucem Christi?
Tell us, Mary, what sawest thou, when looking at the cross of Christ?
Spinis caput coronatum,
Vultum sputis maculatum,
Et plenum livoribus.
His head crowned with thorns, his face disfigured with spittle and blows.
Dic Maria quid vidisti
Contemplando crucem Christi?
Tell us, Mary, what sawest thou, when looking at the cross?
Clavus manus perforare,
Hastam latus vulnerare,
Vivi frontis exitum.
His hands pierced, his side wounded by a spear, and a fount of living water gushing from the ground.
Dic Maria quid vidisti
Contemplando crucem Christi?
Tell us, Mary, what sawest thou, when looking at the cross?
Quod se Patri commendavit,
Et quod caput inclinavit,
Et emisit spiritum.
He commended himself to his Father; he bowed down his head; he gave up the ghost.
Dic Maria quid fecisti,
Postquam Jesum amisisti?
Tell us, Mary, what didst thou, after losing Jesus?
Matrem flentem sociavi,
Cum qua domum remeavi,
Et in terram me prostravi,
Et utrumque deploravi.
I kept close to his weeping Mother, and returned with her to the house: I prostrated myself on the ground, and compassionated both Son and Mother.
Dic Maria quid fecisti,
Postquam Jesum amisisti?
Tell us, Mary, what didst thou, after losing Jesus?
Post unguenta comparavi,
Et sepulchrum visitavi,
Planctus meos duplicavi.
After preparing my ointments, and visiting the tomb, I redoubled my tears.
Dic Maria quid fecisti,
Postquam Jesum amisisti?
Tell us, Mary, what didst thou, after losing Jesus?
Angelus hæc dixit clare:
O Maria noli flere;
Jam surrexit Christus vere.
An Angel thus spoke to me: “Weep not, Mary! For Christ hath truly risen.”
Dic Maria quid fecisti,
Postquam Jesum amisisti?
Tell us, Mary, what didst thou, after losing Jesus?
Certe multis argumentis,
Vidi signa resurgentis
Filii omnipotentis.
I saw many proofs and signs of the Resurrection of the Son of God.
Dic nobis Maria
Quid vidisti in via?
Tell us, Mary, what sawest thou on the way?
Sepulchrum Christi viventis
Et gloriam vidi resurgentis.
I saw the sepulcher of the living Christ; I saw the glory of him that had risen.
Angelicos testes,
Sudarium et vestes.
I saw the Angels that were the witnesses; I saw the winding-sheet and the cloths.
Surrexit Christus spes mea,
Præcedet suos in Galilæam.
Christ, my hope, hath risen! He shall go before you into Galilee.
Credendum est magis soli Mariæ veraci,
Quam Judæorum turbæ fallaci.
It behoves us to believe the single testimony of the truthful Mary, rather than the whole wicked host of the Jews.
Scimus Christum surrexisse.
A mortuis vere;
Tu nobis, victor rex, miserere.
We know that Christ hath truly risen from the dead. Do thou, O Conqueror and King! have mercy upon us.
Second Sequence
Mane prima Sabbati
Surgens Dei Filius,
Nostra spes et gloria.
Early on the Sunday morning the Son of God, our hope and glory, rose from the dead.
Victo rege sceleris,
Rediit ab inferis,
Cum summa victoria.
He conquered the prince of wickedness, and returned from limbo with all the glory of his victory upon him.
Resurgentis itaque
Maria Magdalena
Facta est prænuntia.
The first herald of his Resurrection was Mary Magdalene.
Ferens Christi fratribus
Ejus morte tristibus,
Exspectata gaudia.
She bore the glad tidings to the disciples, who were sad for the death of Jesus.
O beati oculi,
Quibus regem sæculi,
Morte jam deposita,
Primum est intuita!
Blessed the eyes that first beheld the King of Ages, after he had laid death aside!
Hæc est illa femina,
Cujus cuncta crimina
Ad Christi vestigia
Ejus lavit gratia.
This is she, who threw herself at Jesus’ feet, and had all her sins washed away by his grace.
Quæ dum plorat et mens orat,
Facto clamat quod cor amat,
Jesum super omnia.
She weeps and prays; her life proclaims what her heart most loves—Jesus above all else.
Non ignorat quem adorat,
Quod precatur jam deletur,
Quod mens timet conscia.
She knows him, before whom she kneels. What she prays for, is at once granted—the forgiveness of the sins that weighed her down with fear.
O Maria, mater pia,
Stella maris appellaris,
Operum per merita.
O Mary! thou loving mother! Thou hast deserved thy name of star of the sea, because of thy holy deeds.
Matri Christi coæquata,
Dum fuisti sic vocata,
Sed honore subdita.
Thou sharest the name with the Mother of Christ, though thy honors are not as hers.
Illa mundi imperatrix,
Ista beata peccatrix:
Lætitiæ primordia
Fuderunt in Ecclesia.
She is the Queen of the world; Magdalene is the favored sinner: they gave to the Church her earliest joy.
Illa enim fuit porta,
Per quam salus est exorta:
Hæc resurgentis nuntia
Mundum replet lætitia.
The blessed Mother was the gate, through which salvation came into the world; Magdalene was the messenger of the Resurrection, and filled the world with joy at its tidings.
O Maria Magdalena,
Audi vota laude plena,
Apud Christum chorum istum
Clementer concilia.
Hear, O Magdalene, our prayer and praise; pray to Jesus for the choir that thus sings to thee, and draw down his mercy upon us,
Ut fons summæ pietatis
Qui te lavit a peccatis,
Servos suos atque tuos
Mundet data venia.
That the Fount of infinite goodness, who cleansed thee from thy sins, may purify us by his pardon, for we are his and thy servants.
Amen dicant omnia!Let all creatures say, Amen!


This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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