Wednesday of the Third 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.|
There is nothing on earth so grand, nothing so exalted, as the Princes of the Church—the Pastors appointed by the Son of God—who are to follow on, in unbroken succession, to the end of time: but let us not suppose that the subjects of this vast empire called the Church are devoid of dignity and greatness. The Christian People (in which both prince and beggar are equally subjects) is superior to every other, in intellectual and moral worth. It carries civilization with it wheresoever it goes, for it carries with it the true notion of God and of the supernatural end of man. Barbarism recedes; pagan institutions, how ancient soever they may be, are forced to give way. Even Greece and Rome laid down their own to adopt the laws of the Christian Code—the Code which was based on the Gospel. So, too, in our own times, the mere sight of a Christian army, though composed of but a few thousand men, struck terror into the heart of an immense Empire of the East: its Ruler who counts four hundred million subjects and calls himself the “Son of the Celestial Empire,” was so overcome by fear that, without offering the slightest resistance, he fled from his palaces and Capital. Yes—this is the superiority given by Baptism to Christian Nations; for it would be absurd to attribute this superiority to our civilization, seeing that civilization itself is but a consequence of Baptism.
But if the outward-bearing of the Christian People be such as to exercise an influence on even infidels—what must not be that dignity which Faith teaches us is its inheritance? The apostle St. Peter—the universal Shepherd, into whose hands the Divine Shepherd placed the keys—thus describes the Flock entrusted to his care: You are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people; that you may declare his virtues, who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. So, indeed, it is; divine truth is entrusted to this People, and its light can never be extinguished among them. When the teaching authority has, with its infallibility, to proclaim a solemn definition in doctrinal matters, it first appeals to the faith of the Christian People; and the sentence declares that to be the truth which has been believed “everywhere, always, and by all.” Amidst the Christian People there exists that strangest phenomenon under heaven—union of mind; whereby there is one common faith amidst nations the most opposite to each other in every other respect. Let them be as hostile to one another as you please; in matters of faith, in submission to their Pastors, they are all one and the same great family. The most admirable, at times the most heroic, virtues are to be found amidst this People, for Jesus has given it a large share of that element of Holiness wherewith his grace has enriched human nature.
Observe, too, how affectionately it is protected and honored by its Pastors! Every Pastor, no matter what may be his rank in the Church, is bound, in virtue of his office, to lay down his life for his sheep, if called upon to do it. The sacrifice is not even counted as an act of heroism; it is a strict duty. Shame and curse upon the Pastor who flees through cowardice! The Redeemer stigmatizes such a one with the name of Hireling. Hence it is that, during these last eighteen hundred years, there have been so many thousands of Pastors who have given their lives for their flocks. One or other of their names are to be found in every page of the Church’s history. The list is headed by St. Peter, who was crucified like his Divine Master; it continues down to the Bishops of Cochin-China, Tonkin, and the Korea, whose recent martyrdoms attest that the Pastor has not ceased to consider himself as a victim for his flock. Thus, before confiding his lambs and sheep to Peter, Jesus asks him if he have greater love than the rest. If Peter love his Master, he will love his Master’s lambs and sheep; he will love them even to the laying down his life for them. For this reason, after entrusting him with the care of his whole flock, our Savior tells Peter that he is to die a Martyr. Happy is that People whose rulers only exercise their authority on the condition of their being ready to die for these their Master’s Sheep!
If one of these should evince in his life the marks which denote Sanctity, and this so far as to deserve to be proposed to the Faithful as a model and intercessor—you will see not only the Priest whose word calls down the Son of God upon the altar, not only the Bishop whose sacred hands wield the pastoral staff, but the very Vicar of Christ, humbly kneeling before the tomb or statue of the Servant of God, how poor or despised soever he or she may have been on this earth. The sacred Hierarchy testifies the same sentiments of respect for the sheep of Christ on every occasion. Thus in a baptized Babe, that knows not how to utter a single word, that is not counted among the citizens of the State, that, like a tender flower, may perhaps have faded before the close of day—yet does the Pastor recognize in it a worthy member of the body of Christ, the Church; he reverences it as a being that is enriched with gifts so sublime as to be an object of heaven’s love, and a source of blessing to all around it. When the Faithful are assembled in the House of God, and the sacred oblations and altar have been thurified—the Celebrant, as the representative of Christ, and any others of the Clergy who may be in the Sanctuary, are also honored with the same mysterious tribute of homage: but the Incense is to go beyond the Sanctuary. The Thurifer advances towards the People and, in the name of the Church, gives them the same honor as that just given to the Pontiff and the Clergy; for the Faithful People are also members of Christ. Again: when the corpse of a Christian, even though he may have been the poorest of the poor, is carried into the House of God—observe what honor is paid to his mortal remains! On this occasion, also, the Incense is made to express the affectionate homage, wherewith the Church honors the Christian character of her children. O Christian People! how truly may we say of thee what Moses said of Israel: There is no other nation so great as thou!
It is our Risen Jesus that has procured us all this honor: let us express our love and gratitude in this canticle of the ancient Missals of Saint Gall’s.
|Laudum quis carmine
Unquam prævalet, regum summe,
Typica majestatis tuæ promere?
Qui Parenti supremo
Omnia potestate pari disponis;
|Who, O King of Kings! can worthily celebrate the mysteries wrought by thy Majesty? God co-equal with the Father Eternal, thou rulest all things with the self-same power as his.|
|Nam ante hujus mundi exordia,
In Patre cellebas Sophia;
Per quam facta sunt omnia,
Qui cernens immersos
Tua quos adornat Imago,
Propter nos factus es homo,
Ut nos solveres
|This world had not yet begun, when thou wast, in the bosom of the Father, the Wisdom whereby all things were made, yea all that compose this triple world. Seeing that they, who were adorned with thy image, had fallen into an abyss of misery, thou wast made Man for our sakes, that, by thy Blood, thou mightest rescue us.|
|Hæc pridem signavit
Isaac parentis nostri
Pro quo Domino.
|In figure of this was the sacrifice of our father Isaac; in whose stead, a ram was immolated unto the Lord.|
|Te, Christe, passurum
Venditus in Ægypto,
Nunc daturus typicos
|Thy suffering for the world’s redemption was prefigured by Joseph’s being sold into Egypt, where he fed the people with mystery-telling food.|
|Nam fueras præfiguratus
Cum Samson vir invictus
Et portas hostiles
|Thy crushing hell was foreshadowed by the invincible Samson’s slaying a lion and breaking his enemies’ gates.|
|Tu, Domine, es suave rubens
Illius flos virgæ,
Quam fudit radix Jesse
Quod sunt præconati
|Thou, O Lord, art the sweet ruddy Flower of the Branch that nobly grew from Jesse’s root, as sang the Prophets of old.|
|Hæc nostris præstantur patribus,
O Redemptor, ceu sub umbra Primitus,
Quæ nos verius
Te monstrante cernimus.
Tu cuncta procul fugas nubila,
Terræ reddens tui vultus lumina,
Quæ morte tua
|All these things, O Redeemer! were shown, in a shadow, to our Fathers; thou hast shown them to us in their truth. Thou dispellest all clouds, and makest the Light of thy countenance to shine once more on the earth, that had been thrown into darkness and fear by thy Death.|
|Ecce nunc perspicuus
Quia redisti victor barathro.
Hinc et nos, o socii,
Sincera et humili
|Lo! now all creation beams in beauteous light, because thou hast returned in victory from the Tomb. Let us, then, Brethren, with upright and humble hearts, unite in praising thus our God.|
|Sit Patri laus summo,Qui levans
Criminum nos cœno,
Haud pepercit proprio
Propter nosmet Filio.
|Praise be to the Father Almighty, who, to raise us from the mire of our sins, spared not his own Son, for our sake.|
|Laus quoque sit Nato,
Pro nobis qui factus est homo,
Ut solvens nos tartaro
|Praise, too, to the Son, who to ransom us from hell, and restore us to heaven, was made Man, for our sake.|
|Gloria compar sit Pneumati Ævo omni. Amen.||Glory co-equal be to the Holy Spirit, for ever. Amen.|
This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)