Saturday, 26 April 2014

Octave Day of Easter (Low Sunday)

Today's Gospel is St John 20:19-31:

19 Cum ergo sero esset die illo, una sabbatorum, et fores essent clausæ, ubi erant discipuli congregati propter metum Judæorum: venit Jesus, et stetit in medio, et dixit eis: Pax vobis. 20 Et cum hoc dixisset, ostendit eis manus et latus. Gavisi sunt ergo discipuli, viso Domino. 21 Dixit ergo eis iterum: Pax vobis. Sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos. 22 Hæc cum dixisset, insufflavit, et dixit eis: Accipite Spiritum Sanctum: 23 quorum remiseritis peccata, remittuntur eis: et quorum retinueritis, retenta sunt.24 Thomas autem unus ex duodecim, qui dicitur Didymus, non erat cum eis quando venit Jesus. 25 Dixerunt ergo ei alii discipuli: Vidimus Dominum. Ille autem dixit eis: Nisi videro in manibus ejus fixuram clavorum, et mittam digitum meum in locum clavorum, et mittam manum meam in latus ejus, non credam. 26 Et post dies octo, iterum erant discipuli ejus intus, et Thomas cum eis. Venit Jesus januis clausis, et stetit in medio, et dixit: Pax vobis. 27 Deinde dicit Thomæ: Infer digitum tuum huc, et vide manus meas, et affer manum tuam, et mitte in latus meum: et noli esse incredulus, sed fidelis. 28 Respondit Thomas, et dixit ei: Dominus meus et Deus meus. 29 Dixit ei Jesus: Quia vidisti me, Thoma, credidisti: beati qui non viderunt, et crediderunt.30 Multa quidem et alia signa fecit Jesus in conspectu discipulorum suorum, quæ non sunt scripta in libro hoc. 31 Hæc autem scripta sunt ut credatis, quia Jesus est Christus Filius Dei: et ut credentes, vitam habeatis in nomine ejus.

[19] Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you. [20] And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord.[21] He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. [22] When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. [23] Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. [24] Now Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. [25] The other disciples therefore said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.[23] Whose sins: See here the commission, stamped by the broad seal of heaven, by virtue of which the pastors of Christ's church absolve repenting sinners upon their confession.[26] And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you. [27] Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. [28] Thomas answered, and said to him: My Lord, and my God. [29] Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed. [30] Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book.
[31] But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing, you may have life in his name.

The Matins Readings (from St Gregory the Great)

Reading 9: When we hear this passage of the Gospel read, a question straightway knocketh at the door of our mind. How was it that the Body of the Risen Lord was a real Body, if It was able to pass through closed doors into the assembly of His disciples? But we ought to know that the works of God are no more wonderful when they can be understood by man's reason, and faith has lost her worth when her subject-matter is the subject-matter of human demonstration. Nevertheless, those very works of our Redeemer which are in themselves impossible to be understood, must be thought over in connection with other of His works, that we may be led to believe in things wonderful, by mean of things more wonderful still. 

Reading 10: That Body of the Lord, Which came into the assembly of the disciples through closed doors, was the Same, Which at Its birth, had become manifest to the eyes of men by passing out of the cloister of the Virgin's womb without breaking the seal thereof. What wonder is it if that Body Which had come out of the Virgin's womb, without opening the matrix, albeit It was then on Its way to die, now that It was risen again from the dead and instinct for ever with undying life, what wonder is it, I say, if that Body passed through closed doors?  But since the beholders doubted of the reality of that Body Which they saw, He showed unto them His Hands and His Side, and allowed them to handle that Same Flesh Which had just passed through the closed doors. Luke xxiv. 39. 

Reading 11: In this there were two strange things manifested, yea, things which according to our understanding are contrary the one to the other. His Risen Body was incorruptible and yet palpable. For whatever can be touched, must needs be subject to corruption; and whatever is not subject to corruption, cannot be touched. But, in a way altogether wonderful and incomprehensible, our Redeemer after His Resurrection revealed Himself in a Body at once palpable and incorruptible : revealed Himself in an incorruptible Body, that we might learn to seek a like glorification; and in a palpable Body, for the strengthening of our faith. He revealed Himself in a Body at once incorruptible and palpable, that He might thereby make manifest the fact that His Risen Body was unaltered in nature, albeit transfigured in glory.

Reading 12: Then said Jesus to them again : Peace be unto you. As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you that is, as My Father, Who is God, hath sent Me, Who am God, even so do I, Who am Man, send you, who are men. The Father sent the Son, Whom He appointed to be made Man for the redemption of man. Him He willed to send into the world to suffer, albeit He Whom He sent to suffer was the Son of His love. The Lord sendeth His chosen Apostles into the world, not to be happy in the world, but, as He had been Himself sent, to suffer. As the Father loveth the Son and yet sendeth Him to suffer, even so doth the Lord love His disciples, albeit He sendeth them into the world, to suffer therein; and therefore it is well said: As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you that is, while I send you into the wild storm of persecution, I love you all the same, I love you, yea, I love you with a love like that wherewith the Father loveth Me, Who sent Me into the world to bear agony therein.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter!

The Gospel for the Mass of Easter Day is St Mark 16:1-7:

 Et cum transisset sabbatum, Maria Magdalene, et Maria Jacobi, et Salome emerunt aromata ut venientes ungerent Jesum. 2 Et valde mane una sabbatorum, veniunt ad monumentum, orto jam sole. 3 Et dicebant ad invicem: Quis revolvet nobis lapidem ab ostio monumenti? 4 Et respicientes viderunt revolutum lapidem. Erat quippe magnus valde. 5 Et introëuntes in monumentum viderunt juvenem sedentem in dextris, coopertum stola candida, et obstupuerunt. 6 Qui dicit illis: Nolite expavescere: Jesum quæritis Nazarenum, crucifixum: surrexit, non est hic, ecce locus ubi posuerunt eum. 7 Sed ite, dicite discipulis ejus, et Petro, quia præcedit vos in Galilæam: ibi eum videbitis, sicut dixit vobis.

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought sweet spices, that coming, they might anoint Jesus. [2] And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they come to the sepulchre, the sun being now risen. [3] And they said one to another: Who shall roll us back the stone from the door of the sepulchre? [4] And looking, they saw the stone rolled back. For it was very great. [5] And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed with a white robe: and they were astonished. [6] Who saith to them: Be not affrighted; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he is risen, he is not here, behold the place where they laid him. [7] But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee; there you shall see him, as he told you.

The Matins readings (from St Gregory)

Reading 9: Dearly beloved brethren, ye have heard the deed of the holy women which had followed the Lord; how that they brought sweet spices to His sepulchre, and, now that He was dead, having loved Him while He was yet alive, they followed Him with careful tenderness still. But the deed of these holy women doth point to somewhat which must needs be done in the holy Church. And it behoveth us well to give ear to what they did, that we may afterward consider with ourselves what we must do likewise after their ensample. We also, who believe in Him That was dead, do come to His sepulchre bearing sweet spices, when we seek the Lord with the savour of good living, and the fragrant report of good works. 

Reading 10: Those women, when they brought their spices, saw a vision of Angels, and, in sooth, those souls whose godly desires do move them to seek the Lord with the savour of good lives, do see the countrymen of our Fatherland which is above.  It behoveth us to mark what this meaneth, that they saw the Angel sitting on the right side. For what signifieth the left, but this life which now is? or the right, but life everlasting? Whence also it is written in the Song of Songs (ii. 6) : His left hand is under my head, and His right hand doth embrace me. 

Reading 11: Since, therefore, our Redeemer had passed from the corruption of this life which now is, the Angel which told that His undying life was come, sat, as became him, on the right side. They saw him clothed in a white garment, for he was herald of the joy of this our great solemnity, and the glistering whiteness of his raiment told of the brightness of this holy Festival of ours. Of ours, said I? or of his? But if we will speak the truth, we must acknowledge that it is both his and ours. The Again-rising of our Redeemer is a Festival of gladness for us, for us it biddeth know that we shall not die for ever; and for Angels also it is a festival of gladness, for it biddeth them know that we are called to fulfil their number in heaven.

Reading 12: See this glad Festival then, which is both his and ours, the Angel appeared in white raiment. For as the Lord, rising again from the dead, leadeth us unto the mansions above, He. repaireth the breaches of the heavenly Fatherland. But what meaneth this, that the Angel said unto the women which came to the sepulchre : Fear not? Is it not as though he had said openly : Let them fear which love not the coming of the heavenly countrymen; let them be afraid who are so laden by fleshly lusts, that they have lost all hope ever to be joined to their company. But as for you, why fear ye, who, when ye see us, see but your fellow - countrymen? Hence also Matthew, writing of the guise of the Angel, saith xxviii. 3 : His countenance was like lightning, and His raiment white as snow. The lightning speaketh of fear and great dread, the snow of the soft brilliancy of rejoicing.