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The Christian Year -- Advent to Pascha


There are two different ways of looking at things, two world views: one looks at the things of the world, pleasure, profit, possessions and power as reality but the other sees beyond the "stuff of this world" another world, a world of spirits and virtues, vices and visions. St. Paul admonishes us, wayfarers in this world of sense and sight, pomp and circumstance: "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2)

Baptism make us citizens of this "other world," beyond sight and sense. The Holy Eucharist is the important means of continuing our "transformation." So too the other sacraments and sacramentals, so too prayer, both public and private, play their role.

Another means by which God's grace works its transformation in our lives is the Christian year: the way in which Christians are to relate to the passing of seasons.


The secular or Calendar year begins, as we know, on the first day of Janurary. For Christians the "year" is already well under way on this date. It begins on the Sunday next St Andrew's Day (November 30) and runs for four Sundays up to Christmas. For non-Christians this period becomes Holiday Shopping time and runs from around Thanksgiving until Christmas day. It is a time of light and festivity. Of getting and spending, of gift buying and merry making. For Christians it is rather a time of darkness and fasting. Christ will come on Christmas Day, but while we wait we are in darkness, "until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts." (2Peter 1:19) We are the people that sit in darkness. And, while we wait, we do penance for our blindness, stupidity, pride and rebellion to which the coming of God as a little child, to "tabernacle among us," is both rebuke and judgment, both remedy and forgiveness.

We sing the Alma Redemptoris Mater: Gracious Mother of our Redemption, forever abiding, Heaven's gateway and star of ocean. O succour the people who though falling strive to rise again. Thou Maiden who barest thy holy Creator, to the wonder of all nature. . . and we sing Veni Emmanuel: O Come O Come Emmanuel ( God-with-us is the meaning of this word. ) and ransom captive Israel (God's people seen as the Israel of old still in bondage.) that mourns in lonely exile here. ( away from our true home in God) until the Son of God appear.

For non-Christians it is a time of frolicking in the things of this world; for Christians it is a penitential time ( Vestments worn by Priests change from green to purple. ), a time of watching for the invasion into time and space of that other world of spirit and life.

The first invasion came as a helpless Child, but the second time it will erupt in triumph and judgement. So, this proud time of human "achievement," of war and peace, of conquest of disease and occurance of natural disasters, of printing press and television, of computer and space travel is really only an interim between the two comings, a mere interstice in Anno Domini. The thoughts of light and darkness and waiting between two comings are summed up well in the English collect for the First Sunday in Advent. Let us pray this together:

Almighty God give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility: that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen

The Ember Days

Perhaps the strongest rebuke to the secularized mode of celebrating this time of year comes toward the end of Advent: the Ember Days. The name comes down from the Old English, ymbrendaeg, meaning circuit day, the days which come around again. The name is related to an Old Norse word eimyrja which refers both to the smoldering remains of a fire and to responses or ideas that can be rekindled. The Ember Days are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and they are days not of gift buying and festivity but of fasting, abstinance and penance. The Advent Ember Days are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday following the feast of St. Lucy ( December 13 ). There are also Ember days connected with other seasons in the life of the Church: after Ash Wednesday, after Whitsunday or Pentecost and after the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14).

The origin of the ember days is in pre-Christian agricultural festivals. The ancient Romans, for example, had three such festivals: June for the grain harvest, September for the new vintage wine, December for planting. The designation of certain times for such things persists into modern times. My own grandfather, David Elliott, who had a farm in Southern Maryland, although he had been quite ill, insisted on officiating at the planting of seed potatoes on St. Patricks Day, March 17, because that was the day for planting potatoes, be one ill or well. It was, as it turned out also the day of his own seeding to new life, for he passed to eternity that night.

The Christian Church, as with many other pagan customs, baptized the Ember Days into the faith and practice of Christians, transforming and infusing them with new meaning and significance. Times of ignorance, God winked at, St. Paul told the Greeks on Mars Hill, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. The repentance not only involved new lives for the newly baptized Christians, but new mores, new customs for the Christian communities. Yet there was a continuity: the old ways they had sought God were not so much wrong as incomplete, needing the Advent of Christ to perfect their meaning. So these feasts of nature become fasts preceeding feasts celebrating the history of our redemption. Thus the cycle of the seasons is transcended or transformed, though still a circuit, it points beyond to eternity. We have record of a third century Bishop of Rome sanctifying the three seasonal or circuit celebrations with fasts, but it is probable that the custom was much older. By the fourth Century a fourth had been added. They were not known in Gaul and Germany until much later, perhaps the Tenth Century, nor in Spain until the Eleventh. They are still not celebrated in most parts of the Eastern Church. The Ember Days were, however, brought to England by Augustine of Canterbury in the Sixth. Thus they are a celebration deeply rooted in Anglican tradition. As an interesting recollection of the agricultural origin of these days, the Church is accustomed to ordain priests & deacons, that is, those who will work in the harvest of souls.

The situation in the modern era is the flip side of this conversion of customs. Instead of turning pagan customs into Christian ones, our society is fast turning Christian customs into pagan ones. But we are exhorted, "be not conformed to this world," ( the Greek word here is aion, whence we get our word aeon. It can as easily be translated "age."--we might say, be not determined by the zeitgeist) "but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." These Ember Days of the various seasons are yet another opportunity for stirring the ashes, the embers of our souls and remembering that, we must prepare for the coming of our Lord, both his coming as a Child on Christmas and his coming in Glory to judge the quick and the dead. Thus we must repent of our sins and turn to Jesus who is our only way to God, the only truth to which we can give ultimate trust and the only life that has no end. The Introit or entrance hymn for Ember Wednesday preserves something of the agricultural origins of the day:

Drop down ye Heavens from above and let the skies pour down justice: Let the earth open and bring forth a Saviour!


The tone for the vigil of Christmas is struck by the Introit of the Mass for the day: "Today shall ye know that the Lord will come to deliver us: And in the morning shall ye behold his Glory."

This felicitous song to which the sacred ministers make their entrance into the sanctuary has its original setting in the sixteenth chapter of Exodus. The people of Israel had been brought out of their Egyptian captivity, not by their own strength but by the mighty hand of God that worked great miracles for them. On the Passover night in which they left Egypt, a plague passed through the land killing the firstborn of both man and beast---except, in the houses of the Israelites. In these houses God protected his people with the sign of blood. A lamb was slain and the door posts marked with his blood. When the death Angel saw this sign of the shed blood he "passed over" that house; hence, the name of the commemorative feast, Passover.

As they fled Egypt, the armies of Pharoah pursued. they came to the edge of a great sea. They were between the Army and the Sea. Did they say God has delivered us from the Death Angel, no doubt he will deliver us from Pharoah's army? No. They said: "Because there were no graves in Egypt , hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?" But their leader Moses rebuked their fear: "Fear ye not," he said, "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord." As the Egyptians drew closer, following God's command, Moses ordered them into the Sea. Into the Sea they went. What an absurd thing to do! But, they crossed over on dry land. The Egyptians, who tried to follow that act, got drowned for their trouble.

And now they have come to a bleak spot in the wilderness: they are out of food and hungry. So these people who have been delivered from death and Egypt, who have passed through the Sea dry shod while watching their enemies drown, they will trust the God who has delivered them, will they not? The second verse says that, "The whole congregation murmured---can you not hear the low hum of complaint?--the whole congregation murmured." What did they say? "Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in Egypt!" This is the setting for the Vigil Introit. To this ungrateful & unbelieving people whom he has saved from destruction, God sends another miracle: "I will rain bread from Heaven," he tells Moses, "At even then ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt and in the morning ye shall see the glory of the Lord,"

And so they did: in the morning when they looked out on the field about them, it was strewn with a tiny flake like substance called Manna; it was bread from heaven, as promised. The supply of this miraculous bread failed not, until they reached the promised land of Canaan.

Christians too have been miraculously delivered from the power of destruction and death by the sheding of blood, blood of a lamb without spot or blemish, blood of the very Son of God. Christians too have been saved by passing through the waters, the waters of baptism. Still we too, like the Israelites, murmur more than we should about the routes God chooses for our journeys. The bread he provides to sustain us on our journey will, like theirs, last until we reach our Promised land, Paradise. It is, however, far superior to the manna of the old Israel. In the sixth Chapter of Saint John's Gospel, Jesus reminds the Jews that their fathers who ate the manna, nevertheless died. He promises to give to those who believe in him, "the bread which cometh down from heaven that a man may eat thereof and not die." He elaborates: " the bread which I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world." It is to partake of this bread in the Holy Mass, that we as Christians are invited. It is by this bread that our murmurs are hushed, and we are sustained on our journey.

The verse that closes the Gradual, sung befor the Gospel of this day is read, will serve well to close our meditation: "On the morrow the iniquity of the world shall be blotted out: and the Saviour of the world shall reign over us!"


For the secular man, Christmas, now often called more generically Holiday (itself a corruption of Holy Day ), begins with Thanksgiving sales and ends with the Dec 26th, Boxing Day in Canada and England and Return-what-doesn't-fit day in America. This is the day on which Santa Claus ( a secularized corruption of a Christian Saint and Bishop named St. Nicholas. ) disappears and the latest incarnation of tickle-me-Elmo, the gift every grand mother or mother thought was this years must-have toy or doll at what ever price must be paid: this is the day the thing is put aside by every normal kid, put aside from a natural instinct for boredom with the trivial.

For the Christian, Christmas begins with the first Christ-Mass traditionally at midnight and lasts until Janurary 6th, The Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord. There are, as are famously celebrated in song, twelve days of Christmas, beginning, not ending on December 25th.

It begins with lines from Psalm two, in the Introit of the first Christ mass: "The Lord hath said unto me: thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. why do the heathen so furiously rage together and why do the people imagine a vain thing?"

On this day the Church celebrates a wonderfully absurd thing: The creator of the world becomes en-fleshed in the womb of the Blessed Theotokos, the God bearing Virgin Mary. He who made all things, the all-powerful God becomes man as a vulnerable baby. What are we to make of such a paradox ?

St. Paul explains in Phillipians 2:4ff. 'Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death even the death of the Cross."

Why a baby? Humility and obedience. And these are the habits St. Paul urges upon us. Not easy these things; no lapses into sentimental and amorphous "spirituality," such as is hawked by the television Gurus.

In case we still do not get it, the second day of Christmas, December 26th, commemorates the Martyrdom of St. Steven, who was stoned by the Jews for his outspoken condemnation of their refusal to accept Christ as the only Way to God. The Priest changes his vestment from White to Red. "Princes did sit and speak against me, and the wicked persecute me. " So the Introit for this day speaks.

On the third day of Christmas, December 27th, we remember St. John Apostle and Evangelist and pray: Merciful Lord we beseech thee to cast thy bright beams of light upon thy Church: that it being enlightened by the doctrine of thy blessed Apostle and Evangelist Saint John, may so walk in the light of thy truth, that it may at length attain to the light of everlasting life.

On the fourth day, we remember the Holy Innocents, the little babes slain by King Herod in a frantic and fierce effort to make sure he got the little Christ child, a child he saw as a threat to his own rule. And we remember that little innocent babies are still killed, not so much today because they threaten rule, but often because they threaten convenience.

On the fifth day of Christmas, we remember St. Thomas of Canterbury, who was murdered at the Alter of Canterbury Cathedral because he put Faith ahead of politics. And we sing Rejoice we all in the Lord keeping feast day in honor of Blessed Thomas the Martyr: in whose passion the Angels rejoice and glorify the Son of God. " In our day the minions of control kill not with swords so often as with various forms of ostracism for being politically incorrect.

As we have for many days now meditated on various forms of sin, the sixth day brings us back to the central event of the season, the birth of the Christ Child, and the reason for it all. And so, we pray: Grant we beseech thee, Almighty God: that we who through our ancient bondage are held beneath the yoke of sin may by the new birth of thine only begotten Son in the flesh obtain deliverance.

The seventh day usually celebrates the memory of Saint Sylvester who was Pope when the Council of Nicea met in 325 and proclaimed that Christ Jesus was "very God of very God. . . . one substance with the Father." In this year of our Lord 2000, this day falls on a Sunday and so we simply celebrate the Sunday in Christmas.

The Eighth Day of Christmas called News Years Day is, by Christians, also called the Octave of the Nativity and the feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord, for it was on the eighth day that all Jewish babies were-- most still are-- circumcised and on this day Jesus shed his first blood in obedience to the Law of the Jewish Covenant and as prototoken of his great sacrifice for us on the Cross. The theme of the Collect is this obedience, again reverting back to the thought of Paul in Philippians that we quoted above: Almighty God, who madest thy blessed Son to be circumcised and obedient to the Law for man: grant us true circumcision of the Spirit.

The Ninth Day, Janurary 2nd, is the great feast of the Holy Name of Jesus; for when he was circumcised he was given that name, because he was born as our Savior-- that is what Jesus means-- "to take away our sins."

The Tenth and Eleventh days repeat the Mass for the previous Sunday and serve to continue the meditation on sin and redemption, humility and obedience.

The twelth day celebrates the martyrdom of another Pope named Telesphorus. And with that we come to the end of the Christmas season.

We beseech thee O Lord, graciously enlighten thy Church by the gifts we offer that in every place thy flock may increase and prosper and the shepherds by thy governance may be made pleasing to thy name through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost: God world without end.Amen


Christ-mass is God's suprise party. True it had been foretold by the Jewish prophets, predicted by Roman poets and hinted at by Greek dramatists. Still, it did come as something of a suprise: it caught most men unawares. Perhaps the second coming, though also predicted, yea promised, will be as big a surprise as the first.

The Introit for Mass on the Sunday in the Christmas Octave catches perfectly and quite beautifully this note of God's suprise party: While all things were in quiet silence, and night was in the midst of her course, thine Almighty Word, O Lord, leapt down from heaven out of thy royal throne.

Epiphany comes from a Greek word, EPIPHANEIA, meaning manifestation. It celebrates the realization by at least a few mortals of what had happened at Christmas.

St. John is to the point:"The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."--that is Christmas. "And we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." -- that is Epiphany ( Jn 1:14).

The Greek word translated "dwelt," in this verse is a verb meaning "to tent." You remember that in the wilderness journeys from Egypt to Palestine, God, or, perhaps more precisely, his Glory, "tented" among the Hebrews. ( Cf. Exodus 40 ). The "Grace and Truth" answers to the Hebrew "Mercy and Truth" which recur especially in the Psalms, again and again as the singular attributes of Almighty God.

So the three traditional mysteries that the Church celebrates in Epiphany: the story of the Magi, the Baptism of Jesus and the Marriage at Cana, are not pretty moralistic tales; they are manifestations of the God who has come in the flesh to share man's lot, to be in all points like us, except sin.

These three Epiphany mysteries serve to teach us right worship, right teaching and right formation. The story of the Magi (Mt,2) says that right worship is exuberant--gold , frankincense, myrrh--and palpable: the baby was God in the flesh. Yet , much of our worship today is docetic & minimalistic. Docetism is one of the oldest of heresies. It comes from a word meaning "seems." The docetists believed that Christ only "seemed," to have a human body, only "seemed" to die on the Cross. So many today shy from the scandal that God could take on human flesh and die on a Cross for our redemption.

They are willing to see Christ as a great moral example, showing love to the unlovely and caring for the outcast of his time, but not as a Divine redeemer who, knowing what was in man, viz. that evil was a inner condition of the heart, not, except derivatively and secondarily and symptomatically, an outward condition of society, he came not to overthrow oppressive governments, but to change our hearts, to save us from our sins. ( Mt 1:21)

Docetic worship shuns the enfleshed God in the crib and sentimentalizes the "baby Jesus."

Just as the modern Christology is docetic, so the modern soteriology (doctrine of salvation) is Pelagian ( from the British heretic Pelagius)--"pull yourself up by your own boot straps, and/or ( for, though superficially they sound opposed, they are really two sides of the same Pelagian coin, "Create the perfect society to take care of everyone from cradle to grave." And here we come to the Second mystery of Epiphany

The Baptism of Christ says that right teaching is redemptive and Trinitarian. When John the Baptist looked up and saw Jesus coming to be baptized by him, he did not say: "Behold the great example of love!" No, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!" (Jn 1:28-29) We see clearly the doctrine of the Holy Trinity here, as well: "the Holy Ghost descended. . . a voice from heaven . . . said thou art my beloved Son (Lk3:22). Since man is created in the image of God, we find, in him also a trinity in image:

Man is memory, understanding and will. Thus a man with a mental disease who has no memory is not "all there," yet he functions in his other forms. So too with a man who has, as we say "lost his wits," or a man who is brain dead, though his heart and lungs still work, or a man who has become so enslaved by man or drug that he loses capacity for independent decision. So, in man there are three forms: each has a kind of completeness; yet there are not three men but one man.

Science that has not the Holy Trinity as its homing point is merely a series of false trails; literature and history that ignore divine providence and original sin are shallow stuff and art that does not have its referent in divine harmonics is empty indulgence.

We come now to the third Epiphany mystery. The marriage at Cana tells us that right formation involves the communion and intercession of the Saints and centers on obedience. The Blessed Mother of God has a unique relationship with her Divine Son and ever desires to intercede for us in the most mundane matters. When the wine ran out for the marriage celebration, "the Mother of Jesus saith unto him: they have no wine." (Jn 2:3)

Now miracles belong to God, but we have our part. Before the enfleshment of Christ, our Lady Mary said: "Be it unto me according to thy word." Before we feed on the Body and Blood of our Lord, we must present the bread and wine. Our part is obedience. The essence of obedience is explained very simply by Our Lady of Good Counsel: --"Whatsoever he (Jesus) saith unto you, do it. "(Jn2:5)

The inter-relation of the three Epiphany mysteries is summed up beautifully in the Antiphon on the Benedictus for this feast day: TODAY, the Church is joined to her heavenly Spouse, for Christ has cleansed here sins in the Jordan; With gifts the Magi hasten to the royal nuptials, and the guests are gladened with water made wine.


Toward the end of Epiphanytide, comes Candlemas. The Old Testament law required a woman who had given birth to a male to wait for forty days double time for a female child ) after childbirth before she could return to worship in the temple(Leviticus 12:2-8). After that time, the mother was to come to the temple with two sacrifice offerings: one for an holocaust, signifying that given completely up to God and another for sin. So it is that, forty days after Christmas, the Church celebrates the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and, for it is also known by this name, the Presentation of Christ, her son, in the temple. As a first-born son, Jesus was consecrated to God, and had to be redeemed with sacrifice.

This ceremony was a recollection of a saving event in the history of the Hebrews. When the Egyptians would not release the Hebrew slaves, despite God's command to "Let my people go, that they may serve me," (Exodus 9:1), God sent a series of plagues to compel compliance with his will ( Ex cc7-10.) The last of these plagues was the passing of the death angel through the land, taking the lives of all the first-born, both man and beast, except in the homes of the Hebrews. The Hebrews were saved by the killing of a lamb and smearing of the blood on the door posts. When the death angel saw this blood he "passed-over" the homes of the Hebrews. (Ex cc 11-12) As the old song says: "When I see the blood, I will pass-over you." This event is remembered, of course, in the annual passover celebration and was a type of the sacrifice of Christ" the lamb of God," upon the Cross, for our salvation. But, it was also the origin of the ceremony of the presentation that we celebrate this day.

By strength of hand the Lord brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: and it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the Lord slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children, I redeem. (Ex 13:13-14) So our Lord Jesus is here brought to the temple, to fulfill the demands of the Law for redemption, fulfilling the Law, on our behalf. The Epistle is taken from the Old Testament book of Malachi ( 3:1f), "The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple!"

The story of Jesus' Presentation is beautifully told in the Gospel reading for this feast, taken from Luke 2. When Our Lady Mary brought her son into the temple, there was an old man named Simeon who had been promised by the Holy Ghost that he would not die until he had seen Christ. So, you can imagine the thrill this old man experienced when he saw Mary bring Jesus into the temple. He watched and waited until the required sacrifices had been performed and then, able to contain his joy no longer, he took the young child in his arms and sang the joyful hymn that is now used for Evensong in the Anglican rite and Compline in the Latin rite: the Nunc Dimittis, Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared before the face of all people, to be a light to lighten the gentiles and the glory of thy people, Israel.

The theme of "light to lighten the gentiles," is of course fitting for Epiphanytide. En passant, modern liturgical revisions not-with-standing, there is no such thing for the Christian as 'ordinary time." All time is sanctified and offered to God and, as we see here Epiphanytide continues its theme of manifestation to the gentiles, right up to the door of Pre-Lent, when it is replaced by themes of sin and penance. There is never any "ordinary time."

We have not yet said how the feast got its popular name, Candlemas. The clue is in the Song of old Simeon: he refers to Christ as a "light to lighten the gentiles." The blessing and procession of candles, whence "Candelmas," is an enactment of this truth. The ceremony is very old, dating at least to the 4th century. It began in the East but spread eventually to the Western Church, as well.

Before the Mass, the Priest blesses, sprinkles with holy water, incenses and distributes candles. As candles are distrubuted to the clergy and people, the Nunc Dimittis is sung. During the procession another hymn is sung:

O Sion, adorn thy bride-chamber, and receive Christ the King: greet Mary, who is the gate of heaven: for she beareth the King of the glory of the new light: she remaineth a Virgin, yet beareth in her hands a Son begotten before the morning star: whom Simeon took into his arms, declaring to the peoples, that he is the Lord of life and death, and Saviour of the world.

Where possible, the procession goes outdoors and, if one is available, visits the Church Yard cemetery. Returning to the Church, the people sing:

They offered for him unto the Lord, a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons: as it is written in the Law of the Lord. . .

And the Mass begins with the Introit, which expresses the need for God's presence in our lives and the longing we all feel: "We have waited, O God for thy loving kindness, in the midst of thy temple . . ."

Lenten Season


A great part of the Western Church has lately abandoned this season. Yet, it is with, perhaps, more expediency than propriety that we dare lay aside the wisdom of our ancestors. The prelenten season is of some antiquity, going back certainly to the 6th Century, probably farther, and there was reason to it.

Remember the races of your childhood: you did not just shout, "go!" and start running. The ritual required a preparatory beat. "Ready?"--everyone started to get in place--"set;"--nervousness mounts,and then: "Go!" Well, Lent, the great forty days of Christian penance, is like that. We do not plunge all at once into this yearly warfare with the world, flesh and the devil; we must first get ready and set. Since it is Catholic custom to honor the Blessed Trinity in all things, the preparation for Lent is over three Sundays. Since Lent is forty days before Easter, the Sundays before are called *Septuagesima ( Seventy ), Sexagesima (sixty ) and Quinquagesima (fifty ).* Since Lent (the forty day mark ) begins on Ash Wednesday, one must go to the preceeding Wednesday to count these "days before Easter." So, the Sundays in those weeks are properly *Dominica IN Septuagesima* etc.

So how does one get ready and set for such a time as Lent? F irst, one change has already ben made: Since Candlemas, we have changed the final Antiphon to the Blessed Virgin, sung at Evensong (Compline in the Roman Rite) from the* Alma Redemptoris Mater* of Advent to the *Ave Regina Coelorum.* Queen of the Heavens, we hail thee; Hail thee Lady of all the Angels; Thou the dawn, the door of the morning, whence the world's true Light is risen. Joy to thee, O Virgin Glorious; beautiful beyond all other; Hail and fairewell, O most Gracious, intercede for us alway to Jesus. (translated by Winfred Douglas, Canon of Fond du Lac)

As we prepare for Lent, we shall certainly need the intercession of Our Lady, of our Patron Saint and indeed of all the Holy Saints, "for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against Principalities, against powers, against the Rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:12) So, the green vestments symbolic of the manifestation of Divine life in our Lord and his Church are laid aside for the violet of penance. This is a time for self examination and penance. These are days when the Church bids us re-read the story of creation, sin and promised redemption from Genesis, A story that will climax with th deliverance or Exodus on Easter Eve. Meditating on this story of our great fall from original grace and goodness, we must pray for contrition or sorrow for our sins.

"The sorrows of death compassed me, the pains of hell came about me." (Psalm 18) begins the Introit of *Septuagesima*. The Collect picks up the theme: " O Lord we beseech thee to hear the prayers of thy people; that we who are justly punished for our offenses may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy name. " The lesson from First Corinthians (4:24f) admonishes us, "every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things, now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible!" The Gradual from Psalm 9 sings confidently: A refuge in time of trouble: they that know thee will put their trust in thee," and the Tract from psalm 130 continues: "De profundis clamo ad te Domine! Out of the deep have I called unto thee O Lord! This is the great cry of the human soul in distress to the God who made it. We have sinned, we are fallen from that goodness in which God created us, we have turned everyone to his own way, we are lost and we cannot save ourselves. But there is hope: the Gospel of the day is the story of the laborers in the Lord's Vinyard. (Matthew 20:1f) To this we are called, and it is never too late. Yet, there is a warning: "many are called but few are chosen."

*Sexagessima* begins with an urgent cry to God from Psalm 44: Arise O Lord, wherefore sleepest thou? Awake and cast us not away forever." In the Collect we pray: "O Lord who seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do!" This is the point to which we must come before God can save us. We must give up the vain notion that we can save ourself. In the Epistle, St. Paul recounts the story of his "thorn in the flesh," an infirmity or disability of some sort, we know not what, for which he asked God to deliver him. Yet. the Divine reply was: "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." St. Paul then concludes: " Most gladly, therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me." Dear Brother, suffering Sister, if God will, he can heal you. But, perhaps, he desires rather that you learn that HIS grace is "sufficient for you. Perhaps, you are chosen to "fill-up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ," (Col 1:24) in your flesh, "for his body's sake which is the Church." This then, beloved, is your share in his Priesthood. Offer it up to God in union with his great Sacrifice; offer it in your prayers for the conversion of sinners and especially offer it with him in Holy Mass.

In the Gospel of the Day (Lk 8: 4f ) we learn that there is danger in letting the things of this world, keep us from our souls' true love and good.

*Quinquagesima* Begins "Be thou my strong rock and house of defense! (Ps 31) and we pray: "O Lord who hast taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth: send thy Holy Ghost and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity." We have begun to see that Christ only is the Way in whom we must hope; we have bound our souls to him as the only Truth in whom we can place our faith. Now, we come to him who is our very Life, to ask of him that Love without which "all our doings are nothing worth." The Epistle is, of course, from First Corinthians 13, the great hymn of love: " though I speak with the tongues of men and Angels and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass and tinkling symbol . . . . though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."

But Charity, divine love, comes only as a gift from God. It is seen at its greatest extent in God's, redemptive act, in which he paid the price to redeem us from the slavery of sin into which the human race, the sons of Adam, were sold: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son! " (John 3:16) "Herein is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (I John 4:10 ) So in the Gospel for this last Sunday before Lent ( Lk 18:31 f ) Jesus says: "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished, For he shall be delivered unto the gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on; and they shall scourge him, and put him to death, and the third day he shall rise again." God, the Son goes forth to die for sinful men. Such was the cost of our sins, such was the price of our redemption! "Amazing love, how can it be, that thou my God should die for me!"

The last days of pre-Lent, just before Ash Wednesday are known as Shrovetide, for these are the days when many driven by their sins to the foot of the Cross, go to their confessor to make confession of their sins and be "shriven," or absolved of their sins. Thus during Lent they can fittingly offer as penance the amendment of life required of Christians.

From *Septuagisima* through Lent, except for great feasts, The festal Matins Hymn, *Te Deum* and the festal Mass hymn, *the Gloria in Excelsis*, are both supressed. The Alleuia chant of the Gospel procession is also laid aside. So too, all alleluias, in both Office and Mass are suppressed. In some places, it is customary to add an extra alleluia to the *Benedicamus Domino* at Evensong ,on the Saturday before *Septuagisima* Sunday and to sing a "song of farewell" to the alleluia: * Alleluia, Dulce Carmen ,* sung, as the Episcopal 1940 Hymnal tells us, "with joyful dignity." This hymn reminds us that our time of penance is short and will soon bring us to Easter, when our beloved alleluias will return. Just so, "this transitory life," will soon pass and culminate in an eternal Easter with never-ending alleluias.

Alleluia, song of gladness, voice of joy that cannot die; Alleluia is the anthem ever dear to choirs on high. In the house of God abiding, thus they sing eternally. Alleluia, thou resoundest, true Jerusalem and free; Alleluia, joyful mother, all thy children sing with thee; But by Babylon's sad waters, mourning exiles now are we, Alleluia, we deserve not here to chant for ever more; Alleluia, our transgressions make us for a while give o'er For the holy time is coming bidding us our sins deplore.

Therefore in our hymns we pray thee, grant us blessed Trinity, at the last to keep thine Easter in our home beyond the sky; there to thee forever singing alleluias joyfully.
(translation by John Mason Neale )


*Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.* Matthew 26:41

"Non sit vobis vanum mane surgere ante lucem, quia promisit Dominus coronam vugulantibus Lenten Invitatory on Psalm 95 (v94) Let it not be vain for you to rise up early before light, For the Lord has promised a crown to those who watch.

So from Ash Wednesday through Saturday before Passion Sunday, we frame the recitation of the Matins Psalm. It is an appropriate theme we sound here: rise up early and watch! Lent is a time of watching, waiting and watching. But, what for?

Lent comes from an Old English word *lencten* meaning *springtime*. It was used to translate the Latin *Quadragessima*, meaning the 40th day,* viz*. the 40th day before Easter. This dating excludes the Sundays which are in Lent, but not "of it." Lent is a season of fasting, and all Sundays, as commemorations of the Resurrection, are to a greater or lesser extent, feast days. From early times, at least as early as the early 4th century, this forty days has been kept as a fast, preliminary to Easter. We learn from a letter of St. Athanasius that, by 339, during this period, "all the world is fasting." The forty days comes directly from our Lord's 4o days of fasting and temptation in the wilderness, between his baptism and his active ministry that led, in three short years, to his death, for us men and for our salvation, and his Resurrection from the dead.

During these forty days, the Church relives with our Lord his forty days of fasting and temptation in the wilderness. ( Matthew 4:1-11). When Jesus had thus fasted and so was hungry and physically week, the Devil came to him and tempted him, first, to end his hunger with a miracle, by turning rocks to bread. "It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." You will remember that we began our prelenten celebration with the reading of Genesis. It will be well to recall here an earlier temptation: the primordial one of Adam and Eve. You will remember that the Devil began his temptation of Eve by getting her to question the words of God. "Of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die, and the Serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die. For, God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and YE SHALL BE AS GODS. knowing good and evil! " (Genesis 3:3-5)

Well, from that heady promise, it was a small step to get Eve to see how much pleasure she could derive, both lower ( good for food . . . pleasant for the eyes) and higher (desired to make one wise, ) V. 6 from disobeying God.

Now God did not forbid all pleasure. Indeed, man was permitted everything *except* that single tree. What was forbidden was pleasure that God, in his wisdom, saw would focus man, not on his relationship with his Divine Creator, but rather on the pleasure derived directly from the creature. The notion that life without limits is good is one of the central errors of modern culture. From Epicurus to Freud, the *pleasure principal* becomes a dominant motif in and a central threat to civilization. *Freedom* and *pleasure* are indeed, as God explained to Adam and Eve, preludes to death, whether of individuals or cultures.

Now, you will note that Jesus precisely reversed Eve's (and Adam's ) disobedience with his own obedience. Eve prefered the satisfaction of her desires to God's commandment; Jesus prefered the "word of God." to the satisfaction of his desires, even though his hunger was both real and natural.

Having failed on his first temptation, the devil then tempts Jesus next, to presume on the promises and mercies of God, to make daring display of his religion. The not very subtle effect of this is to draw worship to personality and "personal magnetism." This is the religion of all who pursue the various "personal power cults." It is also the religion of those to whom "success" becomes the dominant god of their life, that to which, and for which, they make sacrifice and take trouble.

When that failed too, the Devil promised Jesus, real power, the power that comes from achieving status and possessions. This is a temptation that still whispers to us about how we could do much good, if we possessed great power. We live in a society in which it is usual for families and individuals to go into debt with mortgages and credit cards, where both parents work, leaving children to raise themselves, all to have more possessions and more amusements.

Neither possessions nor power are evils *per se*. They, like pleasure and personality, become evil when they become the dominant focus of life, for then they lure us from our relation with God, from our eternal connection and destiny to a contentment with the temporal. Is it not a very serious silliness to beome so satisfied and sated with *hors d'oeures* that we are not able to enjoy the main courses and desserts? So, whatever faith we profess, the preoccupation with pleasure, personality and power becomes an implicit denial that anything beyond this poor mess exists. But a still small voice, a thirst that is not satisfied with these ephemeral satisfactions, tells us there is more; there is a beyond. The mild fasting and abstinence that Christians practice during Lent is a reminder that we are citizens of a "better country," and are called to seek, not earthly, but heavenly satisfaction.

So on Ash Wednesday, we begin our fast with ashes smeared on forehead and the reminder: "Remember O man that dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return." and in the *Introit* we sing: "Thou hast mercy upon all, O Lord and hatest nothing that thou hast created." In the Lesson, God speaks to us and says: "Turn ye unto me with all your heart, and with fasting and with weeping and with mourning and rend your hearts and not your garments and turn unto the Lord your God." (Joel 2:12ff)

But, we began with the Invitatory reminding us that the crown. symbolic of eternal--not temporal-- joys, is for those who rise up early to watch. So let us close where we began, with a few thoughts on watching. We know indeed, that as our text says: "the flesh is weak." What is the remedy? "Watch and pray!"

Our Lord's temptation is the primary pattern for our lenten fast, but there are three other 40day periods of fasting in the Old Testament that are interesting. The first two are fasts of Moses. When he went up to receive the Ten Commandments, the Moral Law of civilization, he relates: "I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water. . . . and it came to pass that at the end of forty days and nights that the Lord gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the Covenant." (Deuteronomy 9:9-11)

Perhaps you remember that when Moses came down with these Tables, he discovered that the People of God had backslidden: they had made new Gods of gold in the shape of a fertility icon and were dancing and singing, in worship of this deity of immediate satisfaction and temporal enjoyment who did not impose limits on their "freedom".

So God would have destroyed this rebellious and stiff-necked people, except that Moses pulled another fast of 40 days.

"Thus, I fell down before the Lord 40 days and 40 nights, as I fell down at the first; because the Lord had said he would destroy you. I prayed therefore unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God destroy not thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand. . . . Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest out by thy mighty power and by thy stretched out arm." (Deuteronomy 9: 25,26,29)

From Moses we learn that, in this fast, we are not only to turn from our sins, as represented by the Tables of the Covenant, given by God as the fruits of Moses' first fast, but also that we are to intercede for God's people, for they have fallen and do fall into sin. Yet they are his redeemed, and so we are called upon to bring this to God's remembrance and to plead the blood of Christ to offer and to pray in and with the Holy Sacrifice, that God will once again, spare his people.

The third Old Testament pattern is that of Elijah. After Elijah had challenged and destroyed the priests of the native fertility cults of the Baalim of Canaan, the heathen Queen Jezebel was pursuing him, to kill him. So Elijah fled into the wilderness and prayed God to take his life. He fell asleep and presently, an Angel awoke him and said " Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for thee!"

So it is for us my brethern; the journey through the wilderness is far too great for us, in our human weakness; we must rise and eat the Holy Feast, our good Lord has prepared for us, for, "except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you."

The story of Elijah continues: "And he arose and did eat and drink and went in the strength of that meat forty days and nights unto Horeb, the mount of God." ( I Kings 19: 1-8 )

Let us then watch and pray, let us confess our sins and intercede for our brethern; let us fast that we may maintain our focus on the things above, not on the things of this world which pass away. Let us pray and feast on our Lord in the Holy Sacrament, that we may go in his strength and not our own for, "the journey is too great," for us. Let us arise then, eat and so journey to the Mount of God.

"So Lord at length when sacraments shall cease, May we be one with all thy Church above, One with thy saints in one unbroken peace, One with thy saints in one unbounded love: more blessed still in peace and love to be One with the Trinity in Unity. Amen"
Latin Hymn 1661, translated by J. Athelstan & L. Riley 1906



Wednesday, Friday & Saturday of the first week of Lent are special prayer-days called Ember Days. They are fast days within a fast season and so are sometimes observed with a special degree of strictness, but they are principally days set aside for special prayers and special concerns. *Reminiscere miserationum tuarum, Domine* , "Call to remembrance, thy tender mercies, O Lord, and thy loving-kindnesses, which have ever been of old. So we chant the beginning of Holy Mass for this Wednesday. Then after singing *Kyrie eleison* we pray to God: "Stretch forth the right hand of thy mercy against all things that may hurt us!" And well might we cry out: for our politicians parading their immorality hurts us. But, instead of self-examination and repentance--after all we elected them--we have acquiesence and laughter. Our doctors, aided and abetted by our judges and our politicians, hurt us; they slaughter the unborn and instead of electing officials who will change the laws and the judges, we elect the same ones who condone the slaughter of the innocents. Our children too hurt us; they slaughter each other in school rooms and and on play grounds and instead of loving discipline and Christian teaching, we offer blame for the dumb weapons they use to shoot their friends.

The first lesson of this Mass is from *Exodus* and tells of Moses' experience in the Mount: "The Lord said unto Moses, come up to me in the Mount. . . and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written: that thou mayest teach them unto the children of Israel." Well, these are the commandments the teaching of which has been outlawed in schools and proclaimed by judges who should know better as a violation of the US Constitution. How dare we ask, naively, why our children shoot each other in our schools! How dare we, like some primitive tribe, try the weapon, pronounce the weapon guilty, and ask for laws against guns, while pronouncing the teaching of God's Law against murder, unconstitutional. We have substituted "values clarification" for the laws of God, and our own "feelings" about what is good for God himself. We must ask ourselves hard questions: Do Christians have any business voting for politicians who believe a mother has the "right to choose" to have her baby murdered while in her womb? Should Christians send their children to schools where God is not honored and where the Ten Commandments are off limits?

This lesson from *Exodus* concludes with an awful--full of awe-- picture of the glory of God : "And the sight of the Glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount." This is a vision that we need badly to recapture today. We have so domesticated God that we have lost the sense of what the German scholar, Rudolph Otto called *mysterium tremendum* We have, instead, taught our children the Hindu doctrine: "Brahman is Atman; Aatman is Brahman." We are God, and God is us. Nature, man and God are a continuum. In the name of multi-cultural tolerance, every religious notion can be taught, except the Judeo-Christian notion of a God who makes demands, the failure to live up to which is sin and subject to punishment. We need to recapture the vision of God who is "like a devouring fire." Perhaps such a vision will drive us to our knees in repentance. Perhaps such a vision will make us and our children fear, lest we offend by sinning against his law. We have forgotten the Scripture that says "The FEAR of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

Well indeed do we sing in the Gradual, after the lesson: "The sorrows of my heart are enlarged: O Lord bring me out of my troubles" Have we not learned yet that we cannot bring ourselves out, not with metal detectors nor self expression nor values clarification nor "tolerance" of different view points. Only God can bring us out and only when we continue, as in this gradual, to sing from the depths of our being to the God who made us: "Look upon my adversity; and forgive me all my sin."

In the Offertory we sing, from Psalm 119, "My delight shall be in thy commandments, which I have loved exceedingly: my hands also will I lift up to thy commandments which I have loved."

Yes, wisdom does indeed begin in fear, but it ends in love. But how can we learn to love his commandments? Surely this limitation on our behavior is not something that we naturally love. No for we are "born in sin, " and naturally prefer our own way.

On Ember Friday, we hear the Gospel of the sick man who lay all day by the healing waters of the pool, Bethesda. When Jesus came to him and asked: "Wilt thou be made whole?" he replied. "Sir I have no man to put me into the pool."

In the collect for the following Sunday we confess to Almighty God, "that we have no power of ourselves to help our selves."

So we stand in need of the amazing grace of God. He gives us this grace chiefly in the sacraments. In Holy Baptism, we are given a new nature and made sons of God, and given the grace to delight in HIS ways, to please our Father. In Holy Mass, we offer ourselves, our souls and bodies, to him in union with his great sacrifice of love on Calvary and receive God himself into our being to strengthen us and to remake us in his will.

But, you say, "I was baptised, but I have strayed; I do not delight in my Father's will nor do I love his commandments. " You must regain the vision of God who is a consuming fire, whom you fear to displease. You must go again in your spirit to that place where fear and love meet, at the foot of the cross. You must see the price of your sins in the death of him who knew no sin of his own but willingly died for yours and trembling with guilt you must die for love, die to self and your desires, your ways, your will, for love of him who died for you.

Go to your priest and open your heart to confess your sins and receive at his hands the forgiveness of the Father whose love you have so despised. Thus, when Easter comes, you too may sing the alleluias of the redeemed. Lent is a season of grace given us that we may repent and turn again unto the God who made us, unto the Father who loves us.


We have reached the midpoint and so we sing *Laetare Jerusalem!* "Rejoice ,O Jerusalem, and come together all ye that love her; Rejoice for joy, all ye that have mourned, that ye may be glad . . ." There are outward signs of this rejoicing--such is the Catholic way-- magnificant sounds from the organ, the fragrance of flowers, often roses, the splendor of rose vestments, rose of rejoicing, replacing, for this one day, the purple of penance. From the color of vestments, and ( and from the golden rose the Pope used to send to Catholic Kings) the day is sometimes called *Dominica de Rosa*, Rose Sunday.

Thus far we have come in our lenten discipline, thus far with our fasting and prayers. But, we still have a ways to go and, frankly, the "journey is too far for us." So we must cry to the Lord for strength to continue our journey. This lenten journey is, of course, a microcosm of our life: we must continually cry to God for strength and grace to go on our way, that "so we may obtain what he has promised, we may love what he has commanded."

As our help in this journey, to direct and aid us, our gracious Lord has given us the Holy Church and the Holy sacraments. In the Gospel,for this day we read the story of the great crowd that had followed Jesus and listened to his message and were now hungry. "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" Jesus asks his disciples. "There is a lad here," says Andrew. "who hath five barley-loaves and two small fishes. But," he adds, "what are they among so many?" Jesus then commanded to make the men sit down and took the loaves and blessed them and distributed them and this vast crowd was filled and, there were fragments left over.

So it is that we bring what we have to Christ in this Holy Sacrament of the Mass. We bring our failings and our joys, whatsoever good we have tried to do and whatsoever evil we have endured, all this we offer to our Lord and he blesses it in union with this re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary: the passion, death, Resurrection and Ascension of our Blessed Lord. And he gives himself, his Body and Blood, in return, so the "life which we live in the flesh we live no longer unto ourselves; but in Christ within us, the hope of glory!"

The Blessed sacrament is profered to us by Holy Mother Church, who nourishes us as a true mother. In the epistle, we hear St. Paul compare the Church to the old Holy City Jerusalem, "which is," he says, "the Mother of us all." Thus, the day is also called *Mothering Sunday*. And, this Holy Supper is indeed a foretaste of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem. This idea is beautifully summed up in John Mason Neale's translation of Peter Abelard's great hymn in which Jerusalem( the Church ) yearns for the Holy Jerusalem (the heavenly city).

Truely Jerusalem name we that shore, Vision of peace that brings joy evermore; Wish and fulfilment can sever'd be be ne're Nor the thing hoped for come short of the prayer.

(And so *Laetare Jerusalem*! Rejoicing Sunday is an anticipation of this eternal joy. )

There where no troubles distraction can bring, We the sweet anthems of Sion shall sing; While for thy grace, Lord their voices of praise (*Laetare!*) Thy blessed people eternally raise.

(But, we are not there yet.)

Now in the meantime with hearts raised on high, We for that country must yearn and must sigh, Seeking Jerusalem, dear native land, Through our long exile on Babylon's strand.

(In traditional typology, the seventy days , from *Septuagesima* until the Saturday after Easter, carry the mystical meaning of the seventy years of the Babylonian Captivity. So the *Septuagessima* introit from Psalm 18: "The sorrows of death compassed me, the pains of hell came about me; and in my tribulation, I called upon the Lord," reminding us of the song of the exiles in Psalm 137 (V. 136): "By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, when we remembered thee, O Sion. . . . How shall we sing the Lord's Song [ the *alleluia*, now banished til Easter ] in a strange land? If I forget thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning.

And so the symbolic captivity of the Church lasts until on Low Saturday, *Sabbato in Albis*, the second Exodus, the return of the exiles from Babylon, is symbolized by singing in the Introit complete with the return of the "Lord's song," i.e. the *alleluia*: "The Lord hath brought forth his people with joy, Alleluia and his chosen with gladness, alleluia, alleluia. " So we conclude by bowing in praise before the Most Holy Trinity from whom all our help must come, if we are to reach our true home safely. )

Low before him, with our praises, we fall, Of whom, and in whom, and through whom are all O whom, the Father; and in whom the Son; Through whom, the Spirit, with them ever One. Amen

Copyright by David A. E. Horsman, 2001


Passiontide consists of the two weeks between Passion Sunday and Easter. The first week is called simply PASSION WEEK, the second is called Holy Week. During this season, it is customary to veil all statues, icons and crosses, except those on the Stations of the Cross. The crosses remain veiled until Good Friday; the statues and icons until the *Gloria in Excelsis* of Holy Saturday. Another signature of the season is the use of two office hymns, by the 6th century Bishop, Fortunatus. At Matins, the hymn *Pange Lingua* is sung: Sing my tongue the glorious battle, sing the winning of the fray. Now above the Cross the trophy, Sound the high triumphal lay! Tell how Christ, the worlds Redeemer, as a victim won the day.

And for Evensong, throughout the season, is sung the *Vexilla Regis*: The Royal Banners forward go, the Cross shines forth in mystic glow. Where he as man who gave man breath, now bows beneath the yoke of death.

Thus every day, there are repeated the twin paradoxes of the season: 1) The Friday on which our Lord died , is yet called "Good," because, although he was the intended victim, "crucified, died and buried," Jesus Christ was the true Victor, because by dying, he destroyed death and won for mankind the redemption from sin and death that was the inheritance from Adam. As John Henry Newman put it in his hymn: "A second Adam to the fight and to the rescue came." 2) The Creator of the World, he, without whom "was not any thing made that was made," he who was very God of very God, who breathed into man the "breath of life," was here , on cruel Cross, put to death. And yet, what a pyric victory for death, and Satan, it was; for, it was indeed, a death that destroyed death.

So, as its name implies, this is a time given over to meditation upon the passion and death of our Lord. The introit on Passion Sunday is from Psalm 43 (42) *Judica me Deus*: Give Sentence with me O God and defend my cause. This psalm, sung here, is not used, as at other times, in prayers at the foot of the Altar, before Mass. As befits the more somber tone of the nearer approach to the sacred days of our Lord's Passion and Death, the concluding *Gloria Patri* for psalms is also eliminated.. In the Collect, we beseech , "Almighty God, to look upon thy people: that by thy great goodness, they may be governed and preserved, both in body and soul." The lesson is from the Epistle to the Hebrews ( C 9 ), in which Christ is proclaimed as, "an High Priest of good things to come . . .neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by *his own blood * he entered once into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." Thus did our Lord sum up and fulfill all the sacrifices of all the world's religions and, specifically, became the anti-type that had been typified by the annual Day of Atonement ritual, when the Jewish High Priest entered into the inner chamber of the Temple, the Holy of Holies, to sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat. "For if," the lesson continues, "the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heffer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the *blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? " "How much more," indeed! There is, my brethern, no need to mope around with consciences burdened by dead and killing works: Christ, by his death has freed us from this burden, not so we could live after our own desires and pleasure, not to "do our own thing," not to follow the "devices and desires of our own hearts,"but, rather, "to serve the living God." Only God himself could meet the demands of justice, to free man of sin; nothing merely human would suffice. So the Gospel for this Sunday ( John 8 ), announces very clearly Christ's unique qualifications as both Priest and Victim for this impending offering: "If a man keep my sayings he shall never see death." said our Lord. "Abraham is dead," replied the Jews,"art thou greater than our Father Abraham?"

This is one of those great dramatic moments, when all history waits, with breath held, and when you could hear the proverbial pin drop, waiting for the answer. "Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad." Christ responded. " Then said the Jews unto him: thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them: verily, verily I say unto you before Abraham was, *I am.* " Perhaps it is unclear to some modern theologians and exegetes what our Lord meant, but it was perfectly clear to the Jews: " They took up stones to cast at him." Death by stoning was the penalty for blasphemy. When Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am," Jews knew he was claiming identity with the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, before the Exodus, and when Moses asked "What is his Name?" the Almighty replied: "I am that I am: and he said thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel: I AM hath sent me unto thee. . . This is my name forever "(Exodus 3 ).

The Jews understood that Christ was here claiming identity with the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. What they did not understand, what not even the Apostles quite understood yet, was that he was proclaiming the verge of a new and greater Exodus: an Exodus not just for one nation, but for all people, everywhere and forever, eternal redemption from the yoke of sin and death, which Adam's flesh is heir to and which we all join in perpetuating by sinning daily in "thought word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone," for that is our nature. But Christ by his offering, "for us men and for our salvation," on the wood of the Cross, the Cross we aptly hail in the hymns of Fortunatus, has died for us, has paid the penalty for our sins.

So, on MONDAY, we can sing with warrent, in the Introit for the Mass, "Be merciful unto me O Lord!" And The Lesson is about God's mercy: the story of Jonah's preaching to Nineveh ( C 3) and their repentance, in sack cloth and ashes for their sins. Thus we are made clear that, although God-in-Christ has paid the debt for our sins, we must yet repent, and claim his shed blood for our pardon. The Ninevites were given "forty days" to repent--a type of Lent-- Let us, brethern, make as good use of our forty days as did this people. They repented in earnest and , "they turned from their evil way: and the Lord our God had mercy on his people." In the Gospel,( John 7 ) we remember that, " the Chief Priests sent officers to take Jesus, Then said Jesus unto them; Yet a little while am I with you: and then I go unto him that sent me." And so we remember again how close we are coming to the time of our Redemption.

On TUESDAY, we enter Mass singing, " O tarry thou the Lord's leisure, be strong and he shall comfort thy heart." The lesson is the familar story of the deliverance of Daniel (C 29 ) from the lions' den, whither he had been cast for his faithfulness to God. It ends with the King, whose order had cast him into the den, exclaiming: "Let all the inhabitants of the whole earth fear the God of Daniel, for he is the Saviour, working signs and wonders in the earth: who hath delivered Daniel from the lions' den. " Already in Jonah's mission, a reluctant mission, you may remember, we see salvation offered beyond the Jewish nation. We have here prefiqured a Saviour, not only of the Jews, but of the "inhabitants of the whole world." In the Gospel, ( John 7 ) we are told that "Jesus walked in Galilee, for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him."

On WEDNESDAY, we sing in the Introit, ( Psalm 18 ) : "The Lord is my stony rock, my defense, and my Saviour." The Lesson from Leviticus 19, reminds us of God's commandments and concludes, " Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, I am the Lord; ye shall keep my statues, for I am the Lord your God." In the Gospel for the day, ( John 10 ), the Jews seek more evidence for their charge of blasphemy: "If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly." Our Lord does not disappoint: "I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him." And, in the Offertory, we sing from Psalm 59: "Deliver me from mine enemies, O God, defend me from them that rise up against me, O Lord."

On THURSDAY, we begin by admiting: "Everything that thou hast done to us, O Lord, thou hast done in true judgment: for we have sinned., and not obeyed thy commandments." and in the Gospel from Luke 7. we hear our Lord, say to a woman who anointed his feet, anointed them in anticipation of the impending death, "Thy sins are forgiven."

FRIDAY after Passion Sunday, commemorates the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It begins by remembering the scene at the Cross: "There stood by the cross of Jesus his Mother." In the Collect, we recall the Presentation in the Temple of the young Christ Child, and Simeon's prophesy about the "sword of sorrow," that would pierce her soul. The Lesson recalls a type of the Blessed Virgin in Judith ( C 13 ) "O daughter, blessed art thou of the most high God, above all the women upon the earth."

And the great sequence hymn is sung: "At the Cross, her station keeping, stood the mournful Mother weeping where he hung, the dying Son."

And the Gospel recalls again the scene, and we hear Jesus, say to his Mother, "Woman behold thy son." and we know that he speaks not only of John but of us as well. Then, when he says to John, "Behold thy Mother," we know he speaks not only to the Blessed Apostle but, to us, as well.

SATURDAY begins with the lament from Psalm 31: "Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble, save me and deliver me from the hand of mine enemies and from them that persecute me." And we recall, in a Lesson from Jeremiah ( C 18 ), a type of Jesus, in the persecution of Jeremiah, "In those days, the wicked Jews said one to another: Come and let us devise devices against the righteous."

The theme of the Saviour coming, not only to the Jews, but to Gentiles as well is continued in the Gospel ( John C 12): "The Pharisees therefore said among themselves: perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? Behold the world is gone after him. And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast. the same came therefore to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee: and desired him, saying: Sir we would see Jesus."

So must we pursue our devotions, desiring above all things that in the coming days: we, too, "would see Jesus."

All Hallows Hall presents a traditionalist Christian Classical alternative to "politically correct" prep schools. "Tradition refused to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about."


The second week of Passiontide is called simply Holy Week. We are on a count-down to the Cross and the Resurrection: the great days when the salvation of our race was wrought.

The week begins with a procession, the first of many: the greeting of the King of the Jews by the people of Israel. This procession is re-enacted by Christians throughout the world. It begins with the antiphon sung by those Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover:
"Hosanna to the Son of David: blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, O King of Israel: Hosanna in the highest. As with everything this people did during this week, they knew not what they did.

They believed that Jesus had come to overthrow the Roman power and to restore the throne of David. Well, indeed, he had, but in a far deeper sense than they suspected. Perhaps the disapointment with Jesus' failure to take political power as his agenda was one thing that made it so easy for the Jewish leaders to turn this band of well wishers into a lynch mob, in just six short days.

We must remember that these Jewish enthusiasts ,with their praise songs and shouts of joy, represent not just the Jewish people but us as well, for we too lose the things eternal in the things temporal; we too lavish our hopes on the things seen and forget the things unseen; we too get so caught up in life's transient dream that we miss the eternal reality thus concealed. So we too bless branches and process around Church or out doors , sometimes making a station at a churchyard cross, singing our praise, just as did the Children of the Hebrews. We too shout Hosanna to Jesus as our King and Lord: it is easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm: "Glory Laud and honor to thee Redeemer King!" Palm Sunday should teach us to beware a little of our enthusiasm. Praise is easier than obedience, but, as we shall soon discover, the lamentation of sacrifice is more lonely than the song of praise.

The Introit of the Mass quickly returns us to a more sober mood: "Be not thou far from me O Lord. . . haste thee to help me!" And the promise of God's answer to this cry for help is chanted in the Collect for this day: Almighty, everlasting God who didst cause our Saviour to take upom him our flesh and to suffer on the Cross . . ." Ah, here, not in the procession and posession of earthly power and pomp, but in the humiliation of God's condescension to take upon him our sinful flesh and to offer himself as a sacrifice on the cruel Cross: here is the answer to man's need.

So the Lesson exhorts us to: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God . . . humbled himself and became obedient, unto death, even the death of the Cross." Our Lord's obedience is thus a *reversal * of Adam's disobedience. Adam, being in the form of a man, in pride, strove to become God, through disobedience; Jesus, being in the form of God, in humility, stooped to become man, through obedience. Which example, are we most enclined to imitate?

The Gospel is the* Passion according to St. Matthew.* We hear again the familiar story of betrayal and sacrifice. Those people who had enthusiastically praised and sung Hosanna to the Lord, now cry "crucify him!" He had disappointed them; his Gospel was not one of "success"; his Kingdom was not one of earthly power, and so "crucify him!"

So the earth grew dark at that awful event but the veil of the Temple was rent and the way for man into the Holy of Holies was purchased by that only offering perfect in the eyes of God: the immortal sacrifice of the Son of God.


Unfortunately, not many can or will, even of the devout, attend Mass for the next three days of Holy Week. On Monday, we pray to God that, "We who in so many adversities fail, by reason of our weakness; may be renewed by the interceeding passion," of our Lord. We hear a lesson from Isaiah 50, in which Jesus speaks in prophetic anticipation of that passion: "I gave my back to the smiters . . . I hid not my face from shame and spitting. . . ." FOR YOU, he endured these indignities.

On TUESDAY, he speaks again in Jeremiah 11: " I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter" In the Gospel for that day, *the Passion according to St. Mark,* we see these things fulfilled in the description of Pilate's command for the scourging of Jesus--for our healing, beloved, he endured those strokes of the whip that tore that sacred flesh, for your healing--and in the mocking of the soldiers who, "platted a crown of thorns and put it about his head: and began to salute him: hail King of the Jews!"--an ironic twist to the enthusiasm of Palm Sunday-- "And they smote him on the head . . . and did spit upon him." Pause awhile to take that in. Imagine someone important to you, a teacher, or your mother being so foully treated. But this, beloved, is the very Son of Almighty God.

On WEDNESDAY, we have two Lessons: in the first, from Isaiah 62 & 63, we hear "Thus saith the Lord God: say ye to the daughter of Sion behold thy salvation cometh . . .I have trodden the winepress alone. " The other is the majestic passage, one of the most beautiful in the Bible, from Isaiah 53. I cannot read about the "Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief," without hearing Handel's music, from *Messiah.* Indeed, with the banishment of the King James' Bible from most churches, Handel's music is often the only place where our children can hear again those great words:
"Surely he hath born our grief and carried our sorrows: Yet we did esteme him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: The chastisement of our peace was upon him and with his stripes, we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way. And the Lord hath laid on him, the iniquity of us all."

"The iniquity of us all!" What a breathtaking thought is that. Mine alone, ( or yours ) would have been sufficient indignity, but there was laid upon him, "the iniquity of us all."

The Gospel is the * Passion according to Saint Luke.* There are some unique touches in this Gospel: Only from Luke, do we hear that during the Agony in the Garden, before Jesus' trial, that, as he prayed, "Father, if thou be willing, , remove this cup from me: never the less, not my will but thine be done, there appeared an Angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him, and being in agony, he prayed more earnestly. And his sweat was, as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." "Never the less, not my will. " Again, Jesus reverses Adam's willful disobedience by his willing obedience. As Saint Paul put it: "As by one man's disobedience, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Romans 5:19) The strengthening Angel and the bloody sweat are found only in Luke. And, only in Luke, do we find the dying thief's plea: "Lord remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdom." and our Lord's response: " Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise."

MAUNDY THURSDAY There is an echo of the absolution of the dying thief in the Collect for Thursday: "O God from whom both Judas received the punishment of his guilt, and the thief the reward of his confession, grant unto us the effect of thy propiation: that as in his passion Jesus Christ, our Lord, gave unto each the divers rewards of his merits; so he may deliver us from the transgressions of our old nature, and bestow upon us the grace of his Resurrection. " But, it is from the Antiphon sung after the Gospel ( John 13: 1-15 ), that this day gets its name. The Antiphon is from this same Chapter of the Gospel, Verse 34: "A *new commandment* I give unto you; that ye love one another, as I have loved you." The Latin for "New Commandment" is *mandatum novum.* The Gospel describes Christ's washing of the Disciples' feet and during the singing of the Antiphon quoted above (and others ) it is customary for the ranking clerics to wash the feet of lesser clerics or of representatives of the laity. This act is a sacramental of Christian humility and love.

The Epistle, read earlier, is from I Corinthians 11. It describes a event much more important than the footwashing, the tradition of the institution of the Holy Eucharist and, in the same event, the institution of the ministers of that Eucharist, the Christian Priesthood. So, in the words of institution, in the Mass this night, after saying, "For in the night in which he was betrayed," the Priest adds the words: "that is on this night--" .

And, indeed from early times, it has been the custom to celebrate Mass on this day in the evening. There is another displacement of observance sometimes practiced during this time. Matins, is done later in the day, so that more people might attend. Since in Northern Europe it gets dark early at this time of the year, the services for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are called *Tenebrae* (darkness). The usual introductory and closing formulae and office hymns are omitted and along with the Psalms and proper lessons, there are sung each day the beautiful *Lamentations* of Jeremiah. Another feature is the gradual extinction of fifteen candles arranged on a triangular candlestick, as the service proceeds. By the end of the singing of the *Benedictus*, there is only one candle left: the topmost candle, representing Jesus. This is taken down and hidden behind the Altar, until the conclusion of the service, when it is restored to its place accompanied by a loud noise, symbolic of the great desturbance of nature at the death of Christ.

There are special customs for this Mass: it is celebrated in white vestments and the *Gloria in Excelsis* is sung--it has been suppressed since Septuagessima--with much ringing of bells. After this, both Gloria and bells are again suppressed until Easter Eve.

Another special custom is the consecration of the Holy Sacrament in extra amount to be used in the Mass of presanctified on Good Friday when there is communion but no consecration. At the end of the Mass, there is another procession: while the faithful sing:
"Now my tongue the mystery telling, of the glorious Body sing, and the Blood, all price excelling, which the world's eternal King in a noble womb once dwelling, shed for this world's ransoming,"

the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession to a separate Altar or Chapel where it is enshrined in a garden of floral display, emblematic of the garden in which our Lord prayed after he instituted the Holy Mass. Remembering our Lord's question to the Apostles, when he arose from his prayers to find them sleeping-- "Could you not watch with me one hour?" -- in many places, the faithful take turns watching, for an hour or so, in groups of two or three, all night.

The final act of this night is the "stripping, "removing all vestments and adornments from the sanctuary, and the washing of the Altar, while the Choir sings Psalm 22, with the Antiphon from Verse 19: "They part my garments among them, and upon my vesture they cast lots."


The Altar for this service is completely bare, without linen, cross or candle sticks. The ministers, vested in albs amice and girdle, with black stoles for the Deacon and Celebrant, process into the Church in silence, reverence the Altar and prostrating themselves, lie in silent prayer for a while. The Celebrant rises and says the Collect:

Almighty God, we beseech thee graciously behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the Cross: who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen

The Collect is followed by alternating Lessons, Responsories and Collects, first from Hosea 6 -- "Come and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn and he will heal us; he hath smitten and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight."-- the second from Exodus 12, the institution of the Passover-- "the lamb shall be without blemish . . . kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood and strike it on the two door posts." Then is chanted the Gospel for the day: * Passion according to St. John.*

The Gospel done, a cloth is spread on the Altar and the solemn Collects are prayed. These are very old going back to the early days of the Church, intercessions for the Church and the world.

Next a veiled Cross is brought out and, while chanting, "Behold the wood of the Crosss, whereon was hung the world's salvation; O come let us worship,"the Cross is gradually unveiled. After it is unveiled first the clergy and then the people, come forward, "creeping to the Cross," to adore, kissing the feet on the cross, while there is sung the beautiful *Reproaches --
"O my people what have I done unto thee: or wherein have I wearied thee: Answer me! Because I brought thee forth from the land of Egypt: thou hast prepared a Cross for thy Saviour; Followed by a refrain in Greek--a sign of the very ancient origin of this rite-- Hagios O Theos, Holy God

Hagios Ischyros,
holy Mighty

Hagios Athanatos, Eleison humas,
Holy and Immortal. have mercy upon us.

C. S. Lewis said of this service: "The body must do its homage." Indeed it must, and with the body our souls must here be offered a living sacrifice in union with his Sacrifice--but there is no Mass today. Still, the Blessed Sacrament is brought back in solemn procession, singing: "We adore thee O Cross and we bless thee because by the Cross thou hast redeemed the world."

The Celebrant says a confession, the Lord's prayer, Prayer of Humble Access and, after making his own communion, distributes to the people, in one kind. Communion done, the Celebrant says three collects and everyone departs silently. The first of these sums up the devotions of the week, quite well; it must be our devout prayer for this season :
We beseech thee, O Lord that upon thy people, who with devout mind have recalled the passion and death of thy Son, may descend thy plenteous benediction, thy pardon given, thy consolation granted, their holy faith increased, their eternal redemption made sure, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen



*Easter*, the Venerable Bede tells us comes from the name of a Tutonic goddess of the rising light and Spring named Estre. Perhaps he was right; Bede was a very learned as well as a very saintly man. However, I do not know of any other attestation of this derivation. Perhaps both terms are derived from the Old English *east*, which indicates the place of the rising sun and early-on was associated with the risen Son, the Son of righteousness who rose from death, with healing for the mortal wound of diobedience, the original sin with which our father Adam infected our poor race. "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive." (I Cor 15:22 ). The tradition of the Church placed, both the lost Paradise of Eden and Christ's Ascension in the east. The Vulgate translation of Psalm 67:33 -34 ( KJV 68) goes : *Psalte Deo, qui ascendit super caelum caeli. ad orientem!* ( Sing to God who ascended above the heaven of heaven to the east. ) So, from earliest days, Christians have prayed facing East, waiting for the return of our Lord in Glory. "As the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west; so also the coming of the Son of Man shall be." ( Matthew 24:27 ) Thus also, in the old liturgies ( e.g., St. Basil and St. Mark ) there is the recurrent cry of the Deacon befor prayers: * "eis anatolas blepsate!" * (Look to the east ) This cry and its obedience was, in much of Eastern and Anglican Christendom still is, an outward and visible sign of the Church waiting in expectation for our Lord's return.

The term more often used for this great feast, in the East is *Pascha*. This name connects the Resurrection with the experience of the Children of Israel in their Exodus, their coming out of their captivity in Egypt. The name, *Pascha*, comes, you will remember, from the sacrificial meal eaten "in haste," before the departure. (Exodus 12 ) The center piece of this meal was a "lamb without blemish," slain and and eaten with blood smeared, "on the two side posts and on the upper door posts," so that when the death angel passed through Egypt, slaying first-born of both man and beast, when I, saith the Lord God, "see the blood, I will *pass-over* ( paska ) you. The word in Greek was easily connected with the verb *pasko* meaning to suffer. The Johannine tradition put the time of Christ's death at the time of the slaying of the young lambs for the Passover. Thus, Christ was seen as the Passover Lamb, the *Agnus Dei * who took away the sins of the world. ( I Peter 1: 18-20 ) A most interesting passage in this connection is the Pericope of the Transfiguration in Luke 9:28-31. Jesus took Peter, James and John into a Mountain to pray. Whilst he prayed, " the fashion of his countenance was altered and his raiment was white and glistering and behold there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias, who appeared in glory , and spoke of his decease which he should accomplish in Jerusalem. " The Greek word translated here " decease," is *Exodus* and it can mean death, but it can also mean way out or *exodus *. So we could read it that Christ talked with Moses about his own *Exodus* ! How rich these associations between suffering and passover and exodus and death.


"And he that sat upon the throne said: Behold I make all things new." (Rev 21:5 )

As the Exodus was the beginning of new life for the people of Israel, so the exodus of our Lord was and is the beginning of new life for Christians. Let us look at the Pasch, the Vigil and the first Mass, more closely as the time when all things are * made new* .


As we sit waiting in dark church, waiting at the Vigil--for that is what a vigil is, a waiting-- waiting for the Resurrection, suddenly, the darkness is pierced by a voice from the back of the Church: "The Lord be with you." We respond: "and with thy spirit." The Celebrant prays:

"O God who through thy Son, the cornerstone, hast bestowed upon the faithful the fire of thy brightness: sanctify this new fire, now struck from the flint stone."

The new fire of Spring is an old pre-Christian custom in Europe. It was baptized by the Church and, as we shall see, given new associations. The first, we already see in the collect: Christ the cornor stone ( I Peter 2:6 ), has indicated the replacement of flintstone for the wood friction, more common with the pagans. The stone rolled to the door of the tomb was also a factor here. After the new fire is blessed, a great bees-wax candle, called the *Paschal Candle * is brought forward and blessed. First , the Candle is marked with a cross: a verticle line while the Celebrant says:"Christ, yesterday, and today." and then, a horizontal, "the beginning and the end;" atop the vertical line, the Greek letter *alpha*, and beneath, * omega ,* upper left, the number "2" "His are the times;" upper right, the number "0", "and ages" ;lower left, another "0", "To him be glory and dominion;" lower right the number "1". "throughout all the ages of eternity, Amen." Next five grains of blessed incense are placed at the etremes of the incised Cross, while saying: "Through his holy, and glorious wounds, may he guard, and preserve us, Christ the Lord. Amen" ThePaschal Candle is lighted from the new fire, incensed and processed by the Deacon through the Church singing thrice, each time with higher tone: "*Lumen Christi!"( Light of Christ ) to which each time, the congregation responds. "Deo Gratias!" (Thanks be to God ). The lights on the Altar and elsewhere in the Church as well as candles held by the congregation are lit from the Paschal candle, en route, the Church gradually bursting into a blaze of light. On reaching the Choir, the Deacon censes the lectern from which he is next to read and then the Candle itself and finally sings the *Praecomium Pascale * a beautiful Canticle to, the Paschal Candle, to Christ the Light of the World." " Now let the Angelic host of heaven rejoice; let the divine mysteries rejoice; and for the victory of the mighty King let the trumpet of salvation sound forth. Let the earth also be glad, illumined by the rays of this great brightness; and enlightened by the splendor of the eternal King, Let her know that she hath put away the darkness of the whole world. Let our Mother the Church also rejoice, adorned with the brightness of so great a light: . . . "

After an introduction similar to that used at Mass in the Sursum Corda he continues:
It is very meet and right that we should with the whole affection of our heart and mind, and with the service of our lips, give praise unto the invisible God, the Father almighty, and unto his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. who paid for us to the eternal Father, the debt of Adam's transgression: and with his dear blood wiped away the reproach of our former offences. For this is the very Paschal feast wherein the very Lamb is slain by whose blood the doorposts of the faithful are made holy. This is the night, wherein of old thou didst lead forth our fathers, the children of Israel, out of Egypt and didst make them to pass on dry land through the Red Sea . . . ."

Thus are all the Paschal associations to which we have referred, brought together in this marvelous piece of Christian liturgical poetry. To which, must be added burning bush wherein God revealed his sacred Name to Moses Ex 3 )and the pillar of fire that led the Children of Israel through the wilderness journey ( Ex 13: 21-22 ).

Let us remember that Christ is both the Light and the Way and so we must walk in that light which we are promised will lead us into all truth. But we too are "lights of the world," ( Mt 5:14, 2Cor 4:4 ), lit from the Great light, as the small candles from the Paschal Light, we are to be witnesses to the Truth and Way that is Christ. May God grant us so to shine in his Light. that the darkness around us may be dispelled.


After lessons and prayers, the new water for the baptismal font is blessed, recalling not only the Spirit of God brooding over the waters of creation from Genesis1:2 , but also the flood waters of Genesis 7, in which a few souls were saved in the arc. ( Cf. 1 Peter 3:20) This water is the water of regeneration in which the blood of the Paschal lamb is applied to the washing away of our sins, for "except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. "(John3:5 ). Jesus Christ came, "not by water only but by water and blood, and it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one." ( I John 5: -8 ) The baptismal water is living water in which we are reborn to new life.


"Therefore if any man be IN CHRIST, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things become new." (2 Cor 5:17) "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Eph 4: 24 ) This new identity comes about when the Holy Ghost regenerates us, brooding over the waters of baptism , as in the original creation. For in these mystical waters we are, as St. Paul tells us, "baptized INTO JESUS CHRIST . . . therefore we are buried WITH HIM by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. " (Rom 6:3-4 ) Please note, that this life which we now live, is a life IN CHRIST. The "righteousness" in which God creates us is NOT our own righteousness, but, as St. Paul reminds us, we are to " be found IN HIM, [ i.e. IN CHRIST ] not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ. " ( Phil 3: 9 ) "IN CHRIST JESUS , who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption." ( 1 Cor 1:30 ). In fine, "not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the WASHING OF REGENERATION, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." (Titus 3:5 )The Church's baptism of infants is a constant witness to this mercy and grace of God wherein he bestows his gifts upon little children, as helpless to actuate their second birth as they were their first, testifying that it is "not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us!" Thus we are incorporated into the Church which is the Body of Christ. and, after Baptism , anointed and sealed by the Holy Spirit, ( Eph 1: 12-13 ) and in this sealing given a new name.


It is at baptism that we are given our name. If we are adults and have not a Saint's name already given, it is customary to take such, a new name, for our patron, in our journey through the wilderness of this world toward our promised home. For our Lord says. " to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden Manna [ more on this later ] and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a NEW NAME." ( Rev 2:17 )

With the baptisms, we have accomplished the chief task of the preparation for the great Resurrection Feast; that is, we have built up the Body of Christ in adding new members, who now in the first Pascha Mass are to be nourished as new born babes. In some places, the 23rd psalm is used as a processional hymn for the newly baptized, as they come for their first Communion.


"O sing unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvellous things!" and indeed he has, both in his redemption wrought on Calvary and in its sacramental re-presentation in the washing of regeneration in Baptism and in the Sacrifice of the Mass in which we may join ourselves to his offering that we may receive very God of very God, "the Body and Blood of Christ, and be made one body with him, that he may dwell in us and we in him." And so these newborn babes sing, " as it were, a new song, before the throne. . . " ( Rev 14: 3 ) as they approach to receive this new food.

"The Lord is my Shepherd; * therefore can I lack nothing. He shall feed me in a green pasture, * and lead me forth beside the waters of comfort. He shall convert my soul, and bring me forth in the paths of righteousness for his Name's sake. . . . . Thou shalt prepare a table before me . . . thou hast anointed my head with oil and my cup shall be full. . . "


"Your fathers, did eat manna in the wilderness and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die, I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever. . . .except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." ( John : 51-53 ) Indeed this is true for the new Children of the Font, but, dearly beloved, it is true for all of us who are therein united to Christ. Yes we have been grafted into his body, i.e. INTO CHRIST and made new creatures, but, if we are not to cast away this great gift, we must ever abide in him and bring forth fruits of this new life, permitting Christ to work in us his will and way and this we cannot do in our own strength: we must "eat his flesh and drink his blood," if we are to continue to have his life in us.


Born to new life we must, as do all God's people, "seek a country and truely if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out [ that is the Egypt of sin and worldly desires and ambitions ] they might have had opportunity to return [ they surround us on all sides, do they not? ] but now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city." Hebrews 11: 14-16 ) Every Eucharist is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet and we are "strangers and pilgrims on earth," ( Hebrews 11 : 13 ) and so we are admonished by the Apostle Paul: " Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." In this transformation, frequent and regular prayer and the sacraments are indespensible, for these are the contacts with our true native land whilst we are pilgrims in this world. And so brethern, let us take diligence to make our calling and election sure. If, dear creature of God, you have heard his voice but have stood waiting at the gates of salvation, seek out some godly priest and make known to him your need of salvation, so that you may not let this season of opportune grace pass you by:

" The Spirit and the Bride [ the Church ] say come and let him that heareth say come and let him that is athrist come and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."


"They entered in and found not the body of Jesus. And it came to pass as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold two men stood by them in shining garments: and as they were afraid and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them: why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!" Luke24: 3-5


This great event, the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, began a new chapter in the the Salvation History of our race. As St. Anselm argued persuasively, in * Cur Deus Homo *, the Incarnation, the en-fleshment, of our Lord was necessary, because the atonement that his death made, demanded that he be both man-- for man owes the debt of sin-- and God--for only God can pay such a debt. But the atoning death would, in its turn, have been in vain, without the Resurrection. It would have been a great example of sacrificial love, but not the completion of redemptive love. It would have showed us the way to live, but not given us the enjoyment of everlasting life.

There have been many attempts to have a form of Christianity without the risen Christ. Theories have been promologated of the "not quite dead," or the "spiritual vision" or the "with us in living spirit" variety since early times. But ,in the final analysis only two theories make any sense at all: either the Resurrection was a deliberate pious fraud, which we should condemn along with its perpetrators, or it was a true,actual bodily resurrection from the dead, and we should believe it: As Saint Paul put it: "If Christ be not raised your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. . . . If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen and become the first fruits of them that slept." ( I Corintiians 15:17-20 ) Thus, in Baptism, we were indeed, "baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death. " (Romans 6: 3-4 ) But "buried with him in baptism, wherein ye are also risen with him through the faith of the cooperation of God who hath raised him from the dead." ( Colossians 2:12)

So, for believers -- and I use the term advisedly, in its full sense, this is a time of rejoicing. If one does not believe in the reality of the Resurrection, there is neither point nor reason to the rejoicing. But, as believers, we sing in the Easter gradual from Psalm 118: "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!"

Eastertide then is first of all forty days , from Easter to Ascension, of festal rejoicing, to balance the 4o days of fasting and waiting of Lent that preceded Easter. There are many other signs of rejoicing: the more glorious white or gold vestments replace the somber purple and black; the * Alleluia * not only returns but is, if one might so put it, indulged. Seldom is Psalm verse heard without a concluding or prefacing single, double or triple *alleluia*. Through out other times of the year, *asperges me Domine,

"Thou shalt purge me, O Lord, with hyssop and I shall be clean; Thou shalt wash me and I shall be whiter than snow, " accompanies the sprinkling of holy water. But during this season, the sprinkling is accompanied by the joyful *Vidi aquam egredientem*: "I beheld water issuing out from the temple, on the right side alleluia; and all to whom that water came were saved, and they shall say: alleluia, alleluia! O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is gracious because his mercy endureth forever."

In the morning office, the* Te Deum * is heard: We praise thee O God, we acknowledge thee to be the Lord! In the evening, the joyful antiphon to the Blessed Virgin * Regina caeli laetare *is heard:

"O Queen of Heaven, be joyful, alleluia; because he whom so meetly thou barest, alleluia; hath arisen as he promised, alleluia.


When one is sailing without landmarks, it is very necessary to frequently re-check the compass, or the stars: to check one's place in the scheme of things. We have begun this during Lent and especially into Holy week, as we see the death of our Lord as the price of our sins. We have seen our Divine Lamb sacrificed for us; We have surveyed the wondrous Cross: we "see from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down." And as we kneel, on Good Friday, to adore the wooden cross, we cannot, if we have kept faithfully the devotional exercises of the season, we cannot but say: "Love so amazing so divine demands my soul, my life, my all." We hear the whispered call to holiness: "Ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price!" ( I Corinthians 6:19-20 ) The modern attempt to have Easter without Good Friday is a vain dream. Lest we forget the price paid, even in this season of rejoicing, we sing for the first eight days, the beautiful sequence hymn:

"Christians to the pascal victim offer your thankful praises. A Lamb the sheep redeemeth: Christ who only is sinless, reconcileth sinners to the Father. Death and Life have contended in that combat stupendous: the Prince of life who died reigns immortal."

Well, there is the turn: died--reigns immortal! So the next verse goes straight to the Resurrection morn:

" Speak Mary, declaring what thou sawest wayfaring. The tomb of Christ who is living: the glory of Jesu's Resurrection. "

On Holy Saturday we have renewed our baptismal vows, abjuring the world, the flesh and the devil and have been, in spirit, plunged with the neophytes, as they are newbaptized, beneath the waves that wash from sin. And . . . Remembering our own bath of regeneration, we have risen to new birth.

Very well, we have come now to see whither we must point our little craft, if we would safely sail the tempestous sea of this vain, proud and passing world, a sea full of mirages of mischief concealing dangerous shoals on which we could easily sail to shipwreck, full of dizzying attracting whirlpools of pleasure and power that would pull us down to destruction. St. Paul puts it:

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above . . . set your affection on things above, not on things of the earth. For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God."


In the Gospel for Easter Monday, we read the beautiful story of the encounter of the disciples with the risen Christ, on the road to Emmaus. The told him of their astonishment at the report of the women, concerning the empty tomb. He does not yet reveal his identify, but he cannot let them simply ramble on.

"Then he said unto them: O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the Prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into glory? And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24: 13ff )

This same theme of the resume of Scripture, appropriating it to Christ is found in the Gospel for Easter Tuesday, this time from Verses 44 & 45 of the same Chapter of Luke from which the Gospel on Monday was taken. This time, our Lord appears to the Apostles. He first disproves the "spiritual " Resurrection theories, that deny or doubt the bodily, physical nature of the Resurrection. He shows them his hands and feet--" A spirit hath not flesh and blood as ye see me have."-- and asks for food--"have ye any meat?--which they gave him, and he ate it before them. Then,

"He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures."

The Apostles needed this Resume of the "Words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you," because they had not yet seen the Risen Lord, indeed, had not yet understood the nature of his death, when they first heard this teaching. The early Church used to expound the nature of the Sacraments and salvation during this period, adding to the elementary instruction begun before Baptism.

Are not we like the Apostles often forgetful? Is it not true of us, as of them, that we often don't "get it."

Let us make these great forty days a time when we learn to read Scriptures, especially the Psalms, and Isaiah, to see Christ speaking in them, for truely then he will open our understanding.


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