Fifth Sunday after Easter
In the Greek Church, the fifth Sunday after Easter is called the Sunday of the Man born blind, because her Gospel for the day contains the history of that miracle of our divine Lord. She also calls it Episozomene, which is one of the names given by the Greeks to the mystery of the Ascension, the Feast of which is kept, with them, as with us, during the course of this week.
Mass.—The Introit is taken from Isaias, the sublimest of the Prophets. It sweetly invites all the earth to celebrate the victory won by Jesus—a victory which has purchased our deliverance.
|Vocem jucunditatis annuntiate, et audiatur, alleluia: annuntiate usque ad extremum terræ: Liberavit Dominus populum suum. Alleluia, alleluia.||With the voice of joy make this to be heard, alleluia: publish to the utmost bounds of the earth, that the Lord hath redeemed his people. Alleluia, alleluia.|
|Ps. Jubilate Deo omnis terra: psalmum dicite Nomini ejus, date gloriam laudi ejus. ℣. Gloria Patri. Vocem jecunditatis.||Ps. Shout with joy to God, all the earth: sing a psalm to his Name, give glory to his praise. ℣. Glory, &c. With the voice, &c.|
In the Collect, holy Church teaches us that our thoughts and actions, to be made deserving of eternal life, stand in need of grace; the former that we may have the inspiration, the latter that we may have the will to do them.
|Deus, a quo bona cuncta procedunt, largire supplicibus tuis: ut cogitemus, te inspirante, quæ recta sunt, et, te gubernante, eadem faciamus. Per Dominum.||O God, from whom all that is good proceeds, grant that thy people, by thy inspiration, may resolve on what is right, and by thy direction, put it in practice. Through, &c.|
|Of the Blessed Virgin|
|Concede nos famulos tuos, quæsumus Domine Deus, perpetua mentis et corporis sanitate gaudere:et gloriosa beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis intercessione, a præsenti liberari tristitia, et æterna perfrui lætitia.||Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we thy servants may enjoy constant health of body and mind; and by the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, be delivered from all present sorrow, and come to that joy which is eternal.|
|Against the Persecutors of the Church|
|Ecclesiæ tuæ, quæsumus Domine, preces placatus admitte, ut, destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis, secura tibi serviat libertate. Per Dominum.||Mercifully hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayers of thy Church: that, all oppositions and errors being removed, she may serve thee with a secure liberty. Through, &c.|
|For the Pope|
|Deus omnium fidelium Pastor et rector, famulum tuum N. quem Pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præsse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quæsumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus præest proficere; ut ad vitam una cum grege sibi credito perveniat sempiternam. Per Dominum.||O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in thy mercy, on thy servant N., whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church; and grant, we beseech thee, that both by word and example, he may edify all those that are under his charge; and, with the flock entrusted to him, arrive at length at eternal happiness. Through, &c.|
|Lectio Epistolæ beati Jacobi Apostoli.||Lesson of the Epistle of Saint James the Apostle.|
|Cap. I.||Ch. I.|
|Charissimi, estote autem factores verbi, et non auditores tantum: fallentes vosmetipsos. Quia si quis auditor est verbi, et non factor, hic comparabitur viro consideranti vultum nativitatis suæ in speculo: consideravit enim se, et abiit, et statim oblitus est qualis fuerit. Qui autem perspexerit in legem perfectam libertatis, et permanserit in ea, non auditor obliviosus factus, sed factor operis: hic beatus in facto suo erit. Si quis autem putat se religiosum esse, non refrenans linguam suam, sed seducens cor suum, hujus vana est religio. Religio munda et immaculata apud Deum et Patrem, hæc est: visitare pupillos et viduas in tribulatione eorum, et immaculatum se custodire ab hoc saeculo.||Dearly beloved: Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if a man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he beheld himself, and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was. But he that hath looked into the perfect law of liberty, and hath continued therein, not becoming a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work; this man shall be blessed in his deed. And if any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation: and to keep one’s self unspotted from this world.|
The holy Apostle, who instructions these are, had received them from our Risen Jesus: hence the authoritative tone wherewith he speaks. Our Savior, as we have already seen, honored him with a special visit: it proves that he was particularly dear to his divine Master, to whom he was related by the tie of consanguinity on his Mother’s side whose name was Mary. This holy woman went, on Easter morning, to the Sepulcher, in company with her sister, Salome, and Magdalene. St. James the Less is indeed the Apostle of Paschal Time, wherein everything speaks to us of the New Life we should lead with our Risen Lord. He is the apostle of good works, for it is from him that we have received this fundamental maxim of Christianity—that though Faith be the first essential of a Christian, yet without works, it is a dead Faith, and will not save us.
He also lays great stress on our being attentive to the truths we have been taught, and on our guarding against that culpable forgetfulness, which plays such havoc with thoughtless souls. Many of those who have, this year, received the grace of the Easter mystery, will not persevere; and the reason is that they will allow the world to take up all their time and thoughts, whereas they should use the world as though they did not use it. Let us never forget that we must now walk in newness of life, in imitation of our Risen Jesus, who dieth now no more.
The two Alleluia-Versicles celebrate the glory of the Resurrection; but they also contain an allusion to the approaching Ascension. Jesus was born eternally from the Father; he came down to us; but now, in a few days, he is to return to his Father.
|Alleluia, alleluia.||Alleluia, alleluia.|
|℣. Surrexit Christus, et illuxit nobis, quod redemit sanguine suo.||℣. Christ is risen, and hath shone upon us, whom he redeemed with his blood.|
|℣. Exivi a Patre, et veni in mundum; iterum relinquo mundum et vado ad Patrem, alleluia.||℣. I came forth from the Father, and I came into the world; I leave the world again, and go to the Father, alleluia.|
|Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.||Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.|
|Cap. XVI.||Ch. XVI.|
|In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Amen, amen dico vobis: si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine meo, dabit vobis. Usque modo non petistis quidquam in nomine meo: petite, et accipietis, ut gaudium vestrum sit plenum. Hæc in proverbiis locutus sum vobis. Venit hora cum jam non in proverbiis loquar vobis, sed palam de Patre annuntiabo vobis: in illo die in nomine meo petetis: et non dico vobis quia ego rogabo Patrem de vobis: ipse enim Pater amat vos, quia vos me amastis, et credidistis, quia ego a Deo exivi. Exivi a Patre, et veni in mundum: iterum relinquo mundum, et vado ad Patrem. Dicunt ei discipuli ejus: Ecce nunc palam loqueris, et proverbium nullum dicis: nunc scimus quia scis omnia, et non opus est tibi ut quis te interroget: in hoc credimus quia a Deo existi.||At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: Amen, amen I say to you: if you ask the Father any thing in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto you have not asked any thing in my name. Ask, and you shall receive; that your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in proverbs. The hour cometh, when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but will shew you plainly of the Father. In that day you shall ask in my name; and I say not to you, that I will ask the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world, and I go to the Father. His disciples say to him: Behold, now thou speakest plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now we know that thou knowest all things, and thou needest not that any man should ask thee. By this we believe that thou camest forth from God.|
When, at his Last Supper, our Savior thus warned his Apostles of his having soon to leave then, they were far from knowing him thoroughly. True, they knew that he came forth from God; but their faith was weak, and they soon lost it. Now that they are enjoying his company after his Resurrection—now that they have received such light from his instructions—they know him better. He no longer speaks to them in proverbs; he teaches them everything they required to know in order to their becoming the teachers of the whole world. It is now they might truly say to him: We believe that thou camest forth from God! So much the more, then, do they understand that they are going to lose by his leaving them.
Our Lord begins now to reap the fruit of the word he has sown in their hearts: oh! how patiently has he not waited for it! If he praised them for their faith, when they were with him on the night of the Last Supper; he may surely do so now that they have seen him in the splendor of his Resurrection, and have been receiving such teaching from his lips. He said to them, at the Last Supper: The Father loveth you, because ye have loved Me;—how much more must not the Father love them now, when their love for Jesus is so much increased? Let us be consoled by these words. Before Easter, our love of Jesus was weak, and we were tepid in his service; but now that we have been enlightened and nourished by his Mysteries, we may well hope that the Father loves us, for we love Jesus better, far better, than we did before. This dear Redeemer urges us to ask the Father, in his name, for everything we need. Our first want is perseverance in the spirit of Eastertide; let it be our most earnest prayer; let it be our intention now that we are assisting at the holy Sacrifice, which is soon to bring Jesus upon our Altar.
The Offertory is taken from the Psalms; it is an act of thanksgiving which the Christian, united with his Risen Jesus, offers to God for his having brought him to the New Life, and made him the object of his choicest graces.
|Benedicite, gentes, Dominum Deum nostrum, et obaudite vocem laudis ejus: qui posuit animam meam ad vitam, et non dedit commoveri pedes meos. Benedictus Dominus, qui non amovit deprecationem meam, et misericordiam suam a me, alleluia.||Bless the Lord our God, ye Gentiles, and make the voice of his praise be heard, who hath set my soul to live, and hath not suffered my feet to be moved. Blessed be the Lord, who hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me, alleluia.|
In the Secret, the Church prays that this our earthly Pasch may introduce us to the feast of heavenly glory. The end of all the Mysteries achieved by God in this world is that we may be sanctified by them, and fitted for the eternal vision and possession of our Creator: it is this that the Church, adopting the style of the Sacred Scripture, calls Glory.
|Suscipe, Domine, fidelium preces cum oblationibus hostiarum: ut per hæc piæ devotionis officia, ad cœlestem gloriam transeamus. Per Dominum.||Receive, O Lord, we beseech thee, the prayers of the Faithful, together with these oblations; that by these devout celebration we may be admitted into heavenly glory. Through, &c.|
|Of the Blessed Virgin|
|Tua, Domine, propitiatione, et beatæ Mariæ semper virginis intercessione, ad perpetuam atque præsentem hæ oblatio nobis proficiat prosperitatem et pacem.||By thine own mercy, O Lord, and the intercession of Blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, may this oblation procure us peace and happiness, both in this life, and in that which is to come.|
|Against the Persecutors of the Church|
|Protege nos, Domine, tuis mysteriis servientes: ut divinis rebus inhærentes, et corpore tibi famulemur et mente. Per Dominum.||Protect us, O Lord, while we assist at thy sacred mysteries: that, being employed in acts of religion, we may serve thee, both in body and mind. Through, &c.|
|For the Pope|
|Oblatis, quæsumus Domine, placare muneribus: et famulum tuum N. quem pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præcesse voluisti, assidua protectione guberna. Per Dominum.||Be appeased, O Lord, with the offering we have made: and cease not to protect thy servant N., whom thou hast been pleased to appoint Pastor over thy Church. Through, &c.|
The Communion-Anthem, composed of the words of the Royal Prophet, is a canticle of gladness, expressive of the ceaseless joy of our Easter.
|Cantate Domino, alleluia: cantate Domino, et benedicite nomen ejus: bene nuntiate de die in diem salutare ejus. Alleluia, alleluia.||Sing to the Lord, alleluia: sing to the Lord, and bless his Name: publish aloud, from day to day, that he hath saved us. Alleluia, alleluia.|
Holy Church teaches us, in her Postcommunion, how we should pray to God. We must desire the right thing; let us pray to have this desire, and then continue our prayer till the right thing is granted. Grace will then be given us; it will be our own fault if it be unproductive.
|Tribue nobis, Domine, cœlestis mensæ virtute satiatis, et desiderare quæ recta sunt, et desiderata percipere. Per Dominum.||Grant, O Lord, by the power of the heavenly nourishment we have received, that we desire what is right, and obtain our desire. Through, &c.|
|Of the Blessed Virgin|
|Sumptis, Domine, salutis nostræ nubsidiis: da, quæsumus, beatæ Mariæ semper virginis patrociniis nos ubique protegi, in cujus veneratione hæc tuæ obtulimus majestati.||Having received, O Lord, what is to advance our salvation; grant we may always be protected by the patronage of Blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, in whose honor we have offered this Sacrifice to thy Majesty.|
|Against the Persecutors of the Church|
|Quæsumus, Domine Deus noster, ut quos divina tribuis participatione gaudere, humanis non sinas subjacere periculis. Per Dominum.||We beseech thee, O Lord our God, not to leave exposed to the dangers of human life, those whom thou hast permitted to partake of these divine mysteries. Through, &c.|
|For the Pope|
|Hæc nos, quæsumus, Domine, divini sacramenti perceptio protegat: et famulum tuum N. quem Pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præsse voluisti, una cum commisso sibi grege, salvet semper et muniat. Per Dominum.||May the participation of this divine Sacrament protect us, we beseech thee, O Lord; and always procure safety and defense to thy servant N., whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church, together with the flock committed to his charge. Through, &c.|
We will close our Sunday with the admonition wherewith the Gothic Church of Spain warned the Faithful during Paschal Time. It is a season of joy; and yet we need to be cautious, for our enemy is sure to lay snares for us in the New Life we have received.
(Feria V. post Pascha.)
|Habeant, dilectissimi fratres, vota cautelam, festa diligentiam, gaudia disciplinam. Exsultare decet quod resurrexerimus: sed timere convenit ne cadamus. Inter novam vitam veteremque mortem oportet scire quid evasimus, oportet scire quid evasimus, oportet eligere quid amemus. Non enim error, sed contemptus est peccare commonitum. Major post veniam pœna sequitur contumaces: gravius est captivos fieri jam redemptos. Habet ista pietas potestatem, habet potestas ista terrorem, habet terror iste vindictam. Non enim fuisset pius in homine, nisi prius iratus fuisset in dæmone. Confortamur gratia doni, si non corrumpamur lege peccati. Ratio parcendi est præviso corrigendi. Non mutamur indulgentia, si non renovetur offensa. Qui nobis quod oeccavimus indusit, et ne ultra peccaremus admonuit. Profuit clementia, si profecit disciplina. Jam quidem hominem gratia adoptavit, sed necdum dæmonem gehenna sucepit. Violentia peccatum perdidit, non naturam. Domicandi est facultas, non securitas otiandi. Spoliatus est adversarius, non exstincus. Gravius necesse est ut frendeat in amissis, quibus præerat dominando subjectis. Accepimus castra per fidem, arma per crucem, signa per carnem, vexilla per sanguinem: restat causa certaminis. Qui enim afferre necessitatem voluit pugnæ, spem voluit probare victoriæ. Præcessit quidem in adoptione donum, sed adhuc restat in conversatione judicium. Hic promissio est de munere, illic vicissitudo futura est post laborem. Sit itaque ille ante oculos nostros Domini miserantis affectus quod in taxatione nostra non argenti pondus non auri talentum dedit, non gratiarum fudit ornatum, sed convitio subdidit patibulo, sepulchro sustinens carneam injuriam sepulturam, nihil majus potuit dare, nihil melius. Ut utique sit probandum quod diligentius nos sibi servire voluit, qui pretiosius nos redemit. Ergo ut in nobis redemptionis suæ beneficia dignetur perficere, constanter nos convenit ac perseveranter orare.||Dearly beloved brethren! let there be caution in your devotion, watchfulness in your festivity, modesty in your gladness. We should rejoice in that we have risen; but we should fear lest we may fall. We have been rescued from the death of old, and it behoves us to know how evil it was; we have been gifted with the new life, and we must cling to it as worthy of our love. To commit the sin we have been admonished to shun is not an error, but contempt. They that have been pardoned and relapsed, deserve the greater punishment; nor is there excuse for them that have been once ransomed if they again become slaves. The mercy of God implies power; and power, fear; and fear, chastisement. He would not have been merciful to man, unless he had first been angry with the devil. He strengthens us with his gratuitous gifts, that we may not be corrupted by our evil inclinations. No one spares another but with a hope of correction. Forgiveness can do no harm, when the offense is not repeated. He that pardoned us our sins, thereby admonished us to sin no more. Mercy has not been lost on us, if our conduct is what it should be. Grace has, indeed, made man the adopted child of God; but the devil is not yet shut up in hell. Sin, not nature, has been defeated. What we have gained is the power of fighting, not the privilege of inaction. Our enemy has been despoiled, not slain. His anger must be greatest against those who were once subject to his tyranny, but now are disenthralled. Faith has given us bulwarks; the Cross, armor; the Flesh (assumed by Christ), a standard: and his Blood, a banner: the battle then is to be fought. The God who willed us to have the battle, willed us to have the hope of victory. We have already received the gift of adoption; our conduct is to decide what sentence is to be passed upon us in judgment. In this world we have the promise of reward; in the next, our lot will be decided according to our works. Let us, therefore, be mindful of the tender mercy of our Lord, who, as the price of our ransom, gave not sums of silver or gold, nor granted princely favors, but subjected himself to the infamy of the Cross, and suffered his Body to be humbled even to being buried in a Tomb. He could give nothing greater or better. So that the more it cost him to redeem us, the more diligently should we serve him; and it is this he demands of us. Therefore, in order that the work of his Redemption be perfected in us, it behoves us to pray with constancy and perseverance.|
This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)