Thursday of the Fourth Week after Easter
|℣. In resurrectione tua Christe, alleluia.||℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.|
|℟. Cœli et terra lætentur, alleluia.||℟. let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.|
The Apostles have received their mission. The Sovereign Master has bade them divide among themselves the Nations of the earth, and preach everywhere the Gospel, that is, the Good Tidings—the Tidings of man’s Redemption wrought by the Son of God, who was made Flesh, was crucified, and arose again from the dead. But what is to be the grand support of these humble Jews, who have been suddenly transformed into Conquerors, and have to go winning the whole world to Christ? Their support is the solemn promise made to them by Jesus when, after saying, Go, teach all nations! he adds: Lo! I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world! Hereby he promises never to leave them, and ever to direct and guide them. They shall see him no more in this life; and yet he assures them that he will be ever in their midst.
But these men, with whom Christ thus promises that he will abide forever, and preserve them from every fall and from every error in the teachings of his doctrine—these Apostles are not immortal. We shall find them, one after the other, laying down their lives for the faith, and so leaving this world. Are we, then, condemned to uncertainty and darkness, like men who have been abandoned by the light? Is it possible that the appearance of our Emmanuel upon the earth has been but like that of a meteor, which we sometimes behold in the night, emitting a lurid light, and then suddenly disappearing, leaving us in greater darkness than before?
No: the words of our Risen Jesus forbid us to fear such a calamity. He did not say to his Apostles: “Lo! I am with you even to the end of your lives;” but, Lo! I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. So that those, to whom he addressed himself, were to live to the end of the world! What means this, but that the Apostles were to have successors in whom their rights were to be perpetuated? successors, whom Jesus would ever assist by his presence, and uphold by his power. The work founded by a God, out of his love for man, and at the price of his own precious blood—oh! surely it must be imperishable! Jesus, by his presence amidst his Apostles, preserved their teaching from all error; by his presence, he will also, and forever, guide the teaching of their successors.
O precious and necessary gift of Infallibility in the Church! Gift, without which the mission of the Son of God would have been a failure! Gift, whereby Faith—that essential element of man’s salvation—is preserved upon the earth! Yes, we have the promise; and the effects of this promise are evident even to them that are not of the Church. Where is there an unprejudiced man, who would not recognize the hand of God in the perpetuity of the Catholic Symbol of Faith, whereas everything else on earth is forever changing? Can we attribute to natural causes such a result as this—that a society, whose link is unity of belief, should live through so many ages, and yet lose nothing of the truth it possessed at its commencement, nor imbibe anything of the falseness of the world around it? that it should have been attacked by thousands of sects, and yet have triumphed over them all, survived them all, and be as pure in the faith now, at this present day, as it was on the day when first formed by its divine founder? Is it not an unheard-of prodigy that hundreds of millions of men, differing from each other in country, character, and customs, yea, and frequently enemies to each other—should be united in one like submission to one same authority which, with a single word, governs their reason in matters of faith?
How great is thy fidelity to thy promises, O Jesus! Who could help feeling that thou art in the midst of thy Church, mastering, by thy presence, the warring elements and, by irresistible yet sweet power, subjecting our pride and fickleness to thy dear yoke? And they are men, men like ourselves, who rule and guide our Faith! It is the Pope, the Successor of St. Peter, whose Faith cannot fail, and whose sovereign word is carried through the whole world, producing unity of mind and heart, dispelling doubt, and putting an end to disputation. It is the venerable body of the Bishops united with their Head, and deriving from this union an invincible strength in the proclamation of the one same truth in the several countries of the universe. O yes; men are made infallible because Jesus is with and in them! In everything else, they are men like ourselves; but the Chair, on which they are throned, is supported by the arm of God; it is the Chair of Truth upon the earth.
How grand is our Faith! Miracles gave it birth; and this continued Miracle (of which we have been speaking, and which disconcerts all the calculations of human wisdom) directs it, enlightens it, and upholds it. How stupendous are the wondrous works done by our Risen Jesus during these forty days! So far, he had been preparing his work; now he carries it into effect. May the Divine Shepherd be ever praised for the care he takes of his Sheep! If he exacts their Faith, as the first pledge of their service, we must own that he has made the sacrifice, not only meritorious by our reason’s submitting to it, but most attractive to our heart’s acceptance.
Let us honor his glorious Resurrection by a new Canticle—one from the ancient Missals of Germany.
|Laudes Christo redempti,
Voce modulemur supplici.
|Let us, the redeemed, sing, with suppliant voice, our praise to Christ.|
|Omnis in hac die
Rerum natura jubilans,
|On this day, let all nature, in a transport of joy,|
Filio Dei gratias.
|Sound forth one universal hymn of thanks to the Son of God.|
|Jam nostri concives,
Cœlestis sanctuarii milites,
In vestra nos adunate gaudia.
|And you, our fellow-citizens, the nine-choired hosts of heaven, permit us to share in your joys.|
|Hymnite nunc superi,
Pariter resonate inferi,
|Sing a hymn, ye that are highest! Intone a loud canticle, ye that are lowest!|
|Et omnis in Domino
Spiritus gratuletur ænesi;
|Yea, let every spirit be glad in the Lord, and praise him!|
|Qui hominis causa, Deus homo nascitur;||For he, God, became Man for man’s salvation.|
|Et fragili carne,
Se deitas occulens,
Probra sustinuit patiens:
|Hiding his Divinity with the veil of our frail flesh, he patiently endured every insult;|
|Virtutibus, signis ut Deus emicuit;||But his power and miracles revealed him as our God.|
|Et corporis nostri necessitate fruens,
Verus terrigena claruit.
|He subjected himself to all our human wants, and was verily a wayfarer on our earth.|
|Ab hoste tentatus,
Non est agnitus neque divinitas patuit:
|He was tempted by the enemy: but he made not known his Divinity.|
|Ars artem delusit,
Donec veteris nodum piaculi secuit.
|Craft by craft was foiled, till the hour came for him to cut the knot of Adam’s sin.|
|In ara crucis hostiam
Se pro nobis Christus obtulit Deo Patri,
Morte sua nostra mortificans crimina.
|For our sake, he offered himself to his Father a victim upon the altar of the Cross: and, by his Death, he put our sins to death.|
|Jam victor Christus,
Mortis principe vinculato,
Ab inferis pompa regreditur nobili.
|And now, hell being ravaged and the prince of death enchained, Christ returns from Limbo, in all the pageant of his victory.|
|Hæc est dies
Regni Æthiopum tempora;
|This is the Day which has shone upon the world, after the stormy times of the Ethiopian sway.|
|Christus in qua resurrexit
Cum carne quam sumpsit de Maria virgine.
|It is the Day whereon, with the flesh he assumed from the Virgin Mary, Christ rose again, to live for evermore.|
Cum gaudio Patri quam perdiderat,
Humero revexit suo.
|With joy, he carried on his shoulders, to his Father, the sheep that had been lost. Amen.|
This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)