Saturday, 19 April 2014

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, convertere ad Deum tuum" - Holy Saturday, the Day of Mourning

When the Lord was buried...



"Remember, Lord, what is come upon us: consider and behold our reproach. Our inheritance is turned unto aliens, our houses to strangers. We are become orphans without a father, our mothers are as widows...our fathers have sinned and are no more and we have borne their iniquities.
[Tenebrae (Matins) of Holy Saturday, prayer of the prophet Jeremiah]

"I am counted among them that go down to the pit. I am become like a man without help free among the dead."
[Responsory, Tenebrae (Matins) of Holy Saturday]

"For when every commandment of the Law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of goats and calves and of goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people saying, this is the blood of the Testament which God hath enjoined upon you. The tabernacle also and all the vessels of the ministry in like manner he sprinkled with blood. And almost all things according to the Law are cleansed with blood and without shedding of blood there is no remission."
[Heb. ix.]

"When the Lord was buried they sealed the sepulchre rolling a stone before the mouth of the sepulchre and placed soldiers to guard Him."
[Responsory, Tenebrae (Matins) of Holy Saturday]

"O death I will be thy death! O hell, I will be thy bite!"
[Antiphon of the Miserere, Tenebrae (Lauds) of Holy Saturday]





Jerusalem, Jerusalem, convertere ad Deum tuum

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, be converted unto the Lord thy God!

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"Attendite et videte si est dolor sicut dolor meus" - Good Friday, the Day of Redemption


Good Friday



Diego Velázquez. Christ Crucified. c. 1632.

"And they took Jesus and led Him forth. And bearing His cross, He went forth to that place that is called Calvary but in Hebrew Golgotha, where they crucified Him and with Him two others, one on each side and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title also and he put it upon the Cross and the writing was ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews’… and it was written in Hebrew, in Greek and in Latin."
John 18

Quid ultra debui facere tibi, et non feci? Ego quidem plantavi te vineam meam speciosissimam: et tu facta es mihi nimis amara: aceto namque sitim meam potasti: et lancea perforasti latus Salvatori tuo.

Ego dedi tibi sceptrum regale: et tu dedisti capiti meo spineam coronam.

Popule meus, quid feci tibi? Aut in quo contristavi te? Responde mihi!



"What more ought I to have done for thee, that I have not done? I planted thee, indeed, My most beautiful vineyard and thou hast become exceeding bitter to Me, for in My thirst thou gavest Me vinegar to drink and with a lance thou pierced the side of thy Saviour!

I gave thee a royal sceptre and thou didst give My head a crown of thorns…

O my people! What have I done to thee? Wherein have I offended thee? Answer me!"


Titian. Crowning with thorns. 1542.


"For he hath taken us and he will heal us: he will strike and he will cure us. He will revive after two days: on the third day he will raise us up and we shall live in his sight. We shall know and we shall follow on, that we know the Lord...for I desired mercy and not animal sacrifice and the knowledge of God more than holocausts."
[Hosea 6, First lesson sung at the Good Friday Service of the Mass of the Pre-sanctified]

"He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the whole chastisement that made us whole and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter and like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers, he opened not his mouth."
[Isaiah 53, Epistle for Wednesday in Holy Week]


Titian. Ecce Homo. 1560.

"Jesus answered: ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from hence’. Pilate therefore said to Him ‘Art Thou a King then?’ Jesus answered ‘Thou sayest that I am a King. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, that I should give testimony of the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth My voice…

…Then therefore Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him and the soldiers plaiting a Crown of Thorns, put it upon His head and they put upon Him a purple mantle and they came to Him and said ‘Hail King of the Jews!’ and they gave Him blows."
[John 18]

Regnavit a ligno Deus.
"God hath reigned from a tree."
[From Vexilla Regis, St Venantius Fortunatus, sung during the Good Friday Service of the Passion]

"What more ought I to have done for thee, that I have not done? I planted thee, indeed, My most beautiful vineyard and thou hast become exceeding bitter to Me, for in My thirst thou gavest Me vinegar to drink and with a lance thou pierced the side of thy Saviour!
… For thy sake I scourged Egypt with its first-born and thou didst deliver Me up to be scourged…
… I gave thee a royal sceptre and thou didst give My head a crown of thorns…
… I exalted thee with great strength and thou didst hang Me on the gibbet of the Cross…
O my people! What have I done to thee? Wherein have I offended thee? Answer me!"
[Improperia or Reproaches of Christ to His people and to us all, from the Good Friday Service of the Passion]




O vos omnes, qui transitis per viam, attendite et videte si est dolor sicut dolor meus.
"O all ye that pass by the way, attend and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow."
[Sung at Tenebrae (Matins and Lauds) on Good Friday]
 
 
Pieter Paul Rubens. Descent from the Cross. 1614.

 
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Mandatum novum do vobis... - Maundy Thursday, the great Feast of Charity


Maundy Thursday

Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos, dicit Dominus.

"A new commandment I give you that you love one another as I have loved you, saith the Lord."

 Philippe de Champaigne. The Last Supper. 1654.
 
"And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: 'This month shall be to you the beginning of months. It shall be the first in the months of the year...on the tenth day of this month let every man take a lamb by their families and houses... and it shall be a lamb WITHOUT BLEMISH, a male, of one year...and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month and the whole multitude of the children of Israel shall sacrifice it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood thereof and put it upon both the side posts and on the upper door posts of the houses wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh that night roasted at the fire and unleavened bread with wild lettuce... neither shall there remain any thing of it until morning. If there be anything left you shall burn it with fire. And thus shall you eat it: you shall gird your reins and you shall have shoes on your feet, holding staves in your hands and you shall eat in haste for it is the Phase (that is the Passage) of the Lord... And I shall see the blood and shall pass over you...and this day shall be for a memorial to you and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord in your generations with an everlasting observance'... And Moses said... 'Thou shalt keep this thing as a law for thee and thy children forever...and when your children shall say to you "What is the meaning of this service" you shall say to them "It is the victim of the passage of the Lord when He passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, striking the Egyptians and saving our houses..."
[Exod 12]

The Paschal lamb without blemish is tied and led to slaughter
Scripture fittingly depicts the Christ as an innocent lamb led to the slaughter - the innocent "Lamb of God" sacrificed for the wicked sins of ungrateful and rebellious men, going dumb, innocent and in silence to torture and death at the hands of sinful men
.


"Now the feast of the unleavened bread which is called the Pasch was at hand...and when the hour was come He sat down and the twelve apostles with Him and He said to them 'With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer, for I say to you that from this time I will not eat it till it be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God'... And taking bread He gave thanks, and brake and gave them saying 'This is my body which is given up for you. Do this for a commemoration of me'. In like manner the chalice also, after He had supped, saying 'This is the chalice, the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you'.
[Luke 22]

"On the night of that last supper,
Seated with His chosen band,
He the paschal victim eating,
First fulfils the Law's command.
Then as food to all His brethren
Gives Himself with His own hand"
[Pange lingua gloriosi, sung at the Maundy Mass]

"Before the festival day of the Pasch, Jesus knowing that His hour was come...having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end. And when supper was ended... He riseth from supper and..having taken a towel, girded Himself. After that, He putteth water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded...Then after He had washed their feet and taken His garments, being set down again, He said to them 'Know you what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord. And you say well; for so I am. If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet."
[John 13]
 

Vincenzo Civerchio. Christ washing the feet of the disciples. 1544.
 

Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos, dicit Dominus.

"A new commandment I give you that you love one another as I have loved you, saith the Lord."
[John 13:34, sung at the Maundy Mass]

Ubi caritas et amor ubi Deus est. Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor. Exultemus et in ipso jucundemur. Timeamus et amemus Deum vivum. Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.

"Where charity and love are there is God. The love of Christ has gathered us together. Let us rejoice in Him and be glad. Let us fear and love the living God and let us love one another with a sincere heart."
[John 2:3-4, sung at the Maundy Mass]

"And going out He went, according to His custom, to the Mount of Olives and His disciples also followed Him... and kneeling down He prayed saying 'Father, if Thou wilt, remove this chalice from me but not yet my will but Thine be done'...And He being in agony, He prayed the longer and His sweat became as drops of blood trickling down upon the ground."
[Luke 22:39-44]

ALEPH: Quomodo sedet sola civitas, plena populo, facta es quasi vidua; domina gentium, princeps provinicarum, facta est sub tributo.

ALEPH: How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!
[Lamentations of Jeremiah 1:1, the beginning of Tenebrae (Matins) for Maundy Thursday]


How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! (Lamentations)


Una hora non potuistis vigilare mecum, qui exhortabamini mori pro me?
Vel Judam non videtis quomodo non dormit, sed festinat tradere me Judaeis?
Quid dormitis? Surgite et orate, ne intretis in tentationem.
Vel Judam non videtis quomodo non dormit, sed festinat tradere me Judaeis

"Could you not watch one hour with me,
After exhorting one another to die for Me?
Or do you not see Judas?
He is not sleeping,
but is hurrying to betray me.
Why do you sleep?
Rise and pray,
that you may not enter into temptation!"
[Maundy Thursday Matins (Tenebrae), Lesson viii Response]





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Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1617-82). Christ in the Garden of Olives.

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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum... - HOLY WEEK beings with PALM SUNDAY

...Christ enters Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday
 
 ...and so begins HOLY WEEK, the holiest week of the year

The great and ancient service on Palm Sunday celebrates the entry of our Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST into the city of Jerusalem, riding on a donkey with its young colt or foal, signifying the Old and the New Testaments, to be welcomed by His people as a king, a priest, a prophet and a saviour and as the very Messias whom they had been awaiting for centuries but, in a few short days, were to reject.

This entry of the humble Christ into the city was foretold and prophesied by the prophet, Zechariah:

"Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the war-horses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth".
(Zechariah 9:9-10)

Pedro de Orrente. Christ's entry into Jerusalem. c.1620

The Palm Sunday service is a particularly fine one, albeit lengthy.

In the pre-1955 rite, which is far superior, more Biblical and very ancient, it takes 3 hours.

The palms are blessed with many hymns, psalms, chants and prayers, and the people receive them, the choir singing Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum (the children of Israel carrying olive branches), and there is a short-form mass at the altar.

The antiphons recall Noah and the Flood and Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land.

After this comes the Procession out of the Church, singing psalms, and then back to the front portal of the Church where we sing Gloria, laus et honor, tibi sit, Rex Christe Redemptor.

At the door, two cantors have entered and the doors are shut. They sing in response to the Gloria laus and then the Subdeacon, outside, knocks on the door with the end of the processional cross. The doors open, to signify the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem and our entry into Heaven, and the procession moves back into the church, singing an ancient chant, Ingrediente Domino.

Then the principal mass begins with many haunting and beautiful chants being sung, and then the Passion according to St Matthew in long form is sung, starting at the anointing of the feet of Jesus by St Mary Magdalene in the house of Simon the Leper.

This is a fitting way to recall the beginning of the Passion when our Lord was welcomed as a king and prophet into the holy city of Jerusalem by His people who, only days later, were to betray Him unto their Roman enemies to torture and death.

Soon many of those same Romans were to be converted whilst many of God's chosen rejected the very Messias whom they had been awaiting for so long.

In former times, the celebrating priest would, for the procession, sit upon a donkey to which is attached its colt, as our Lord Himself so sat on the original Palm Sunday.

It is a remarkable fact that every donkey, of the sort upon which our Lord rode, has, by nature, marked upon its back, a black cross to signify the fact that, one day, the Creator of heaven and earth would sit upon the back of this same animal for His entry into the Holy City of Jerusalem, but one week before he would be led, in that came city, to death upon the Cross.


The black cross is clearly visible upon the back of every donkey so that nature itself testifies to the role the donkey would play in carrying the Creator of heaven and earth into the Holy City of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

In former times, too, the Roman Emperor would lead the Patriarch of Jerusalem on a donkey up to the church door as part of the ceremonies and as a gesture of humility on his part. Sadly, the tradition later died out.

This tradition was continued by the Russian Tsars, also, until the custom was suppressed by the modernising, "enlightened" and very brutal dictator, Tsar Peter I, just as so much has been brutally suppressed in our own liturgy in the Latin West.

It is a fitting imitation of the humility of JESUS CHRIST for the supreme spiritual ruler to ride upon a donkey on this day, led by the supreme temporal ruler. Chesterton's poem captures the spirit admirably.

The Donkey

by G.K.Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.


How admirable, too, for God Himself to have chosen to be received into the Holy City mounted upon a donkey, a stubborn, ill-featured, irrational creature, so like man when in sin, but one marked from the beginning of time to bear the Saviour Himself in solemn procession before the very sinners whom God has chosen to redeem with His own blood.

Here is a recording of the antiphon Pueri Hebraeorum, psalms and chants sung during the procession of the cross and palms (and, traditionally, with the priest sitting upon a donkey).






Ant. Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Ant. The Hebrew children bearing olive branches, went forth to meet the Lord, crying out, and saying, Hosanna in the highest.

Psalm 23 (24)
Domini est terra, et plenitudo eius, * orbis terrarum et universi qui habitant in eo.
Quia ipse super maria fundavit eum, * et super flumina praeparavit eum.
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Attolite portas, principes vestras: † et elevamini, portae aeternales: * et introibit rex gloriae.
Quis est iste rex gloriae? † Dominus fortis et potens: * Dominus potens in praelio
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Attolite portas, principes vestras: † et elevamini, portae aeternales: * et introibit rex gloriae.
Quis est iste rex gloriae? * Dominus virtutum ipse est rex gloriae.
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Domini est terra et quae replent eam, * orbis terrarum et qui habitant in eo.
Nam ipse super maria fundavit eum, * et super flumina firmavit eum.
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Attolite, portae, capita vestra, et attolite vos, fores antiquae, * ut ingrediatur rex gloriae!
Quis est iste rex gloriae? * Dominus fortis et potens, Dominus potens in praelio.
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Attolite, portae, capita vestra, et attolite vos, fores antiquae, * ut ingrediatur rex gloriae!
Quis est iste rex gloriae? * Dominus exercituum: ipse est rex gloriae.
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof: the world and all they that dwell therein.
For He hath founded it upon the seas: and hath prepared it upon the rivers.
The Hebrew children bearing olive branches, went forth to meet the Lord, crying out and saying, Hosanna in the highest.
Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in.
Who is this King of Glory? The Lord who is strong and mighty: the Lord mighty in battle.
The Hebrew children bearing olive branches, went forth to meet the Lord, crying out and saying, Hosanna in the highest.
Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in.
Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of Glory.
The Hebrew children bearing olive branches, went forth to meet the Lord, crying out and saying, Hosanna in the highest.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.


Psalm 46 (47)
Omnes gentes, plaudite manibus, * iubilate Deo in voce exsultationis. Quoniam Dominus excelsus, terribilis, * rex magnus super omnem terram.
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Subiecit populos nobis: * et gentes sub pedibus nostris.
Elegit nobis hereditatem suam: * speciem Iacob, quam dilexit.
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Ascendit Deus in iubilo: * et Dominus in voce tubae.
Psallite Deo nostro, psallite: * psallite regi nostro, psallite.
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Quoniam rex omnes terrae Deus: * psallite sapienter.
Regnabit Deus super gentes: * Deus sedet super sedem sanctam suam.
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Principes populorum congregati sunt cum Deo Abraham: * quoniam dii fortes terrae vehementer elevati sunt.
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen. Cardinal Bea Psalter
Omnes populi, plaudite manibus, * exsultate Deo voce laetitiae.
Quoniam Dominus excelsus, terribilis, * rex magnus super omnem terram.
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Subicit populos nobis: * et nationes pedibus nostris.
Elegit nobis hereditatem nostram, * gloriam Iacob, quem diligit.
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Ascendit Deus cum exsultatione, * Dominus cum voce tubae.
Psallite Deo, psallite; * psallite regi nostro, psallite.
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Quoniam rex omnis terrae et Deus, * psallite hymnum.
Deus regnat super nationes, * Deus sedet super solium sanctum suum.
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Principes populorum congregati sunt * cum populo Dei Abraham.
Nam Dei sunt proceres terrae: * excelsus est valde.
Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
O clap your hands, all ye nations: shout unto God with the voice of joy.
For the Lord is high, terrible: a great king over all the earth.
The Hebrew children bearing olive branches, went forth to meet the Lord, crying out and saying, Hosanna in the highest.
He hath subdued the people under us: and the nations under our feet.
He hath chosen for us His inheritance: the beauty of Jacob which He hath loved.
The Hebrew children bearing olive branches, went forth to meet the Lord, crying out and saying, Hosanna in the highest.
God is ascended with jubilee: and the Lord with the sound of trumpet.
Sing praises to our God, sing ye: sing praises to our king, sing ye.
The Hebrew children bearing olive branches, went forth to meet the Lord, crying out and saying, Hosanna in the highest.
For God is the king of all the earth: sing ye wisely.
God shall reign over the nations: God sitteth on His holy throne.
The Hebrew children bearing olive branches, went forth to meet the Lord, crying out and saying, Hosanna in the highest.
The princes of the people are gathered together: with the God of Abraham.
For the strong gods of the earth: are exceedingly exalted.
The Hebrew children bearing olive branches, went forth to meet the Lord, crying out and saying, Hosanna in the highest.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.


Ant. Pueri Hebraeorum, portantes ramos olivarum, obviaverunt Domino, clamantes, et dicentes: Hosanna in excelsis.
Ant. The Hebrew children bearing olive branches, went forth to meet the Lord, crying out, and saying, Hosanna in the highest.

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Hosanna to the son of David!
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Saturday, 1 February 2014

28 January - the Feast of Emperor St Charlemagne, the founder of the Holy Roman Empire

The Feast of Emperor St Charlemagne
 
28 January
 
 
 
DurerPortrait.jpg - 67550 Bytes
 
Portrait of Charlemagne in imperial regalia with the arms of the Holy Empire and of France above
by Albert Durer
 

The Emperor Charles the Great, Carolus Magnus, or Charlemagne, as he is usually known, was born on 2 April 742 or 747 and was the King of the Franks from 768, the King of Italy from 774, and from 800 the first Roman Emperor in western Europe since the collapse of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier.

The expanded Frankish state he founded, the Carolingian Empire, became the basis of the Holy Roman Empire ever after.

He was the eldest son of King Pepin the Short, first Carolingian King of the Franks and the donor to the Papacy of the lands that became the Papal States, and Queen Bertrada of Laon, and the grandson of Charles Martel, the saviour of Europe from the invading army of the Muslim Arab Umayyad Caliphate under General Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, Governor of Al Andalus (Andalusia), at the Battle of Tours in 732.

Charlemagne became king in 768 following the death of his father. He was initially co-ruler with his brother Carloman I who died in 771 leaving Charlemagne as the undisputed ruler of the Frankish Kingdom.

Charlemagne continued his father's policy towards the papacy and became its protector, removing the Lombards from power in northern Italy, and leading an incursion into Muslim Spain.

He also campaigned against the peoples to his east, leading many to baptism.

Charlemagne reached the height of his power in 800 when he was crowned Roman Emperor by Pope St Leo III on Christmas Day at old St. Peter's Basilica. According to Einhard, this was against his will, but the Pope, the nobility, clergy and people of Rome desiring it, and the Eastern Roman Empire of Byzantium being under the rule of the murderess and filicide, Empress Irene, who was defiant of the Papacy and the Church, he relented and accepted his coronation as the new and true Caesar Augustus, the ancient tile of the Roman emperors.

It is important to note that Charles was not elected, appointed and ordained Roman Emperor by the Pope alone but that, as of old, he was chosen by the nobility, clergy and people of the City of Rome, as well as by the Bishop of Rome, just as the ancient emperors had been, as popes themselves were for many centuries.


The Italian scholar and poet, Dante, emphasizes this in his work on the monarchy, De Monarchia.


It was only later that representatives were taken to represent the nobility, clergy and people of Rome - cardinal-electors in the case of the Pope and prince-electors in the case of the Emperor and both cardinal-elector and prince-elector were among the highest titles in Christendom.

The extreme papalist party often claimed that the imperial power derived from the papal power by the coronation at the hands of Pope St Leo but St Leo certainly did not think so and, as Dante reminds us, the imperial power pre-dated the papal and was thus prior to it and did not derive from it.

Having said that, all agreed that the Pope had the right, spiritually, to depose an anti-emperor and to veto the election of any emperor, just as the Emperor had the right, physically, to depose an anti-pope and to veto the election of any pope.

Note the physical/spiritual distinction. The Pope could declare an anti-emperor to be such and so deposed but was not empowered to send an army against him (that was the duty of the true emperor). Similarly, the Emperor did not have the spiritual power to declare an anti-pope to be such (that was the duty of the true pope), but the Emperor could lead an army to depose him.


Moreover, the Pope could not depose the true Emperor, nor the Emperor the true Pope.

Both Pope and Emperor ceased to be true upon becoming public, pertinacious heretics and thus self-excommunicating.

This is in keeping with the Two Swords doctrine (Luke 22:38). The Pope is the spiritual leader of Christendom and the spiritual Vicar of Christ and the Emperor is the temporal leader of Christendom and the temporal Vicar of Christ.


Now Pope St Leo III had needed help from the temporal Vicar of Christ, the Roman Emperor, against barbarian invaders but Empress Irene, despite being spiritually obliged to do so, would give him none.

Further, St Leo considered the throne of the Byzantine Emperor vacant, not because it lacked a male occupant, as some hostile historians have suggested, but because Irene had ordered her own son, Emperor Constantine VI, murdered in order to establish herself as Empress (βασιλεύς or βασίλισσα - the Greek title for the Roman Emperor or Empress).

She was thus an usurpress and an anti-emperor and the throne was accordingly vacant and the Pope was empowered to declare it so.

However, no Christian monarch was willing to take on the challenge of deposing her and so Irene reigned for five years, from 797 to 802 and, although incensed at the crowing of Charlemagne as Caesar Augustus, even conspired to negotiate a marriage with him.


Nevertheless, since infamy breeds infamy, soon enough, in 802, the patricians conspired against her and placed on the throne Nicephoros, the minister of finance, and forced Irene into exile to Lesbos where she was even forced to support herself by spinning. She died the following year. 

Called the "Father of Europe" (pater Europae) Charlemagne's empire united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Roman Empire. His rule spurred the Carolingian Renaissance, a period of cultural and intellectual activity within the Catholic Church. Both the French and German monarchies considered their kingdoms to be descendants of Charlemagne's empire.

In 772, the 30-year-old Charles had taken over the government of the whole Frankish Kingdom.

With reason he is called Magnus: he earned the title as general and conqueror, as the man who put order into his immense Empire and as a legislator, and also as one who reformed and stimulated the spiritual life of the West.

By means of his government, Christian ideas were victorious over the barbarian peoples. His life was a constant struggle against the rudeness and barbarism that threatened the Catholic Religion and the burgeoning new culture.

He led no less than 53 wars: 18 against the Saxons, one against Aquitaine, five against the Lombards, seven against the Arabs in Spain, one against the Turungians, four against the Avars, two against the Bretons, one against the Bavarians, four against the Slavs, five against the Saracens in Italy, three against the Danish, and two against the Greeks.

On Christmas Day, as we have seen, in the year 800, Pope St. Leo III raised him to the dignity of Emperor, restoring to the West the ancient Christian Roman Empire of Constantine, founding by such act the noblest temporal institution of Christendom, which was later called the Holy Roman Empire.


On 28 February 814, Emperor St Charlemagne died in 814, having received Viaticum and the last rites, after having ruled as Emperor for just over thirteen years. He was laid to rest in his imperial capital of Aachen in today's Germany. His son Louis the Pious succeeded him as Emperor.

He was buried in a niche of the Basilica of Aachen (in Latin, Aquisgranen; in French, Aix-la-Chapelle.) According to the legend, he was buried seated on his throne in upright position, wearing his sword and with the book of Gospels in his hands.

He became the model of Catholic Emperors, the prototype of the noble Catholic cavalier, and the central figure of most of the medieval Chansons de Geste, the songs of the heroic deeds of old, the grandsire of many of the great royal and noble families of Europe.


Einhard, the contemporary historian, provides us with a close-up of Charlemagne:

“He was large and strong, and of lofty stature, though not disproportionately tall (seven-feet tall). His head was round and well-formed, his eyes very large and vivacious, his nose a little long, his hair white, and his face jovial. His appearance was always stately and very dignified, whether he was standing or sitting. …. His gait was firm, his whole carriage manly, and his voice clear.”
 
[Einhard, Life of Charlemagne, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1880, pp. 56-7]
 

Charlemagne1.jpg - 51755 Bytes
 
The magnificent statue of the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, and his Counts-Palatine, Roland and Olivier, is placed in front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris near the Seine River
 
This heroic figure was possessed of a joyful spirit. The Monk of St. Gall recounts that whoever came before Charlemagne sad and disturbed would leave him serene, just by the effect of his presence and some few words. The freshness and honesty of his nature strengthened all those who were associated with him. His majesty did not have a rigid arrogance, nor a suspicious reserve; rather the tranquil grandeur of his personality dominated everything around him, and, notwithstanding, was unpretentious and self-contained.
 
The terrifying impression he caused in the hearts of his enemies as a warrior leading his army is described by the Monk of St Gall:
 
“Then, one could see the Charlemagne of iron, with his head covered by a iron helmet, his arms bearing iron protectors; in his left hand he carried an iron lance, and in the right his always victorious steel sword. His muscles were covered with iron plates, and his shield made of pure iron. When he appeared, the inhabitants of Pavia cried out with fear: O, the Iron Man! O, the Iron Man!”
 
This Iron Man had a profoundly sensitive heart. Charlemagne wept like a boy at the death of a friend. The victor of 100 battles showed a paternal care for the poor. The man whose steps caused all of Europe to tremble and by whose grand campaigns a million men were conquered was the most tender of fathers, who never could dine without the presence of one of his children.
 
It was his religion, the Roman Catholic religion, that gave the noblest impulse to his strong and fecund spirit and that conferred glory to his power. And under its protection he placed the peoples that his sword had conquered.
[Historia Universal, Spanish Edition, vol. IV, p. 790]
 
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Charlemagne Bust
 
The following speech of Charlemagne to his subjects is as solemn testament to all Christendom, even though it was delivered in March 802 and the Emperor did not die until 814.
 
The speech, sometimes referred to as a sermon, was delivered to the assembly of nobles gathered in Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen).

Here are Charlemagne’s counsels to his nobles and subjects:

 
“Hear me, my beloved brothers! We were sent here for your salvation, to exhort you to faithfully follow the Law of God and to convert you, in justice and mercy, to obey the laws of this world. 
 
First, I exhort you to believe in the One Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: the only true God, perfect Trinity, true Unity, Creator of all things visible and invisible, Who is our salvation and the Author of all good things. Believe in the Son of God made man for the salvation of the world, born of the Virgin Mary by the work of the Holy Ghost. Believe that for our salvation He suffered death; and that on the third day He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God. Believe that He will return to judge the living and dead, and that He will give to each one according to his works. 
 
 Believe in one single Church, the society of the blessed through the entire universe, and know that only they can be saved, and that the Reign of God belongs only to those who persevere to the end in this [Catholic] Faith. Those who are excluded from the Church because of their sins and do not return to her through penance, can never make any action accepted by God. Be convinced that with Baptism you received absolution of your sins. Trust in the mercy of God, Who daily forgives our sins through confession and penance. Believe in the resurrection of the dead, in eternal life and in the never-ending torment of the impious. 
 
This is the Faith that will save you if you keep it faithfully, and add to it the practice of good works, because Faith without works is a dead faith; and works without Faith, even when they are good, cannot please God. Therefore, love Almighty God above all things with all your heart and strength. With the help with His grace, do everything, always and as much as possible, that you believe will please Him. But avoid everything that displeases Him, for the man who pretends to love God and does not observe His Commandments lies. 
 
Love your neighbour as yourself, and give as many alms to the poor as you can, according to your means. Receive travellers in your houses, visit the poor, and show charity to the prisoners as much as you can. Do evil to no one, and make no compromise with those who do bad things, because it is bad not only to harm your neighbour, but also to be familiar with those who harm him. 
 
Mutually forgive offenses if you want God to forgive your sins. Rescue captives, help those who are unjustly oppressed, defend widows and orphans. Make judgments fairly; never favour any injustice, do not harbour long hatreds; avoid drunkenness and taking part in frivolous feasts. 
 
Be humble and good to one another; be faithful to your lords. Commit no robberies or perjuries, and avoid any acquaintance with those who commit them. Hatred, jealousy and violence separate us from the Kingdom of God. Reconcile with one another as soon as possible, for while it is human for men to sin, it is angelic to repent and diabolic to persevere in sin. 
 
Defend the Church of God and help her so that the priests of God can pray for us. Remember your promise in Baptism to renounce the Devil and his works. Do not return to him in anything; nor should you return to the works you have renounced, but rather follow the will of God as you have promised, and love the One who created you and gave you all the gifts and goods you possess. 
 
Each one should serve God faithfully in the place he finds himself. Wives should submit to their husbands in all goodness and modesty. They should avoid any dishonest action, and not poison others or be jealous, because those who do such actions are in revolt against God. They should raise their children in the fear of God, and give alms with a glad and joyous heart according to their means. 
 
 
 
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The Emperor Charlemagne chants the Office of the Church solemnly in his tent before a battle
 

 
“Husbands should love their wives and speak no rude word to them; they should direct their homes with goodness and frequently gather in church. They should return to others what they owe them without murmuring, and with good will return to God what belongs to Him. 
 
“Children should love and honour their parents; obey them in everything, and remain far from stealing, murdering and debaucheries. 
 
“Clerics and canons should diligently obey the commands of their Bishops; they should live in their residences and not wander here and there among the people. Nor should they enter into secular questions. They should preserve their chastity: the reading of Holy Scriptures should remind them of their service to God and the Church. 
 
“Monks should be faithful to the promises they made to God. They should not do anything against the will of their Abbots or seek any shameful personal benefit. They should know their rule by heart and follow it regularly, reminding themselves that it would be better not to have made any vow than to have made them and not be faithful to them.
 
“Dukes, counts and judges should be just with the people and merciful to the poor. They should never sell justice for money, and never allow a personal hatred to lead them to condemn an innocent man. They should always have these words of the Apostle in their hearts: ‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that which he has done, whether it be good or bad.’ (2 Cor. 5:10). The Lord expressed this by the following words: ‘For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged’ (Matt 7:2); For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hidden, that shall not be known. (Luke 12:2); That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment’ (Matt 12:36).'
 
 "We must make an effort, therefore, with the help of God, to please Him in all our actions so that after this present life, we will merit eternal happiness in the company of the Saints of the Lord.This life is short, and the hour of death is uncertain. What matters except to be ready? Let us not forget how terrible it is to fall into the hands of the Lord. By means of confession, penance and alms, we make the Lord become merciful and clement. If He sees us turn to Him with a sincere heart, He will show us pity and will have mercy on us. 
 
“May God grant us prosperity in this life and an eternity with His Saints in the future life. 
 
“God keep you, my beloved brothers!”
 

[Translated by Hugh O’Reilly from Charles d’Hericault, Histoire Anecdotique de la France,  Paris: Bloud & Barral, vol. 1, pp 301-304]
 

The propers for the Feast of Emperor St Charlemagne can be found here:
 
 
 
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The Imperial Crown of Charlemagne worn ever after by the Holy Roman Emperors
 
 
Emperor St Charles the Great, pray for us and for the return of Roman Christendom!
 


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Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Feast of the Three Kings or Magi


The Feast of the Three Kings or Magi
or
Dreikoenigsfest
as it was called in the Holy Roman Empire and in German-speaking lands
and
the Theophany
or Manifestation of the Lord to the Gentiles


on the same day as later occurred


the Baptism of the Lord


and


the miracle of wine at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee


Whom Kings adore...
 
"When Jesus therefore was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of king Herod, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and are come to adore him. And king Herod hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda. For so it is written by the prophet: and thou Bethlehem the land of Juda art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the captain that shall rule my people Israel.

Then Herod, privately calling the wise men learned diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them; and sending them into Bethlehem, said: go and diligently inquire after the child, and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore him. Who having heard the king, went their way; and behold the star which they had seen in the East, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was. And seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him: and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their country."
[Matt 2:12 - Gospel for the Mass of the Epiphany]


The shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral

The Shrine of the Three Kings in Cologne Cathedral contains their relics brought from Milan by ship to the City of Cologne on the order of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, in 1164 as a gift to the Prince-Elector Archbishop, Rainald of Dassel.
 
This gave rise to the English Carol "I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing in".
 
The relics had first been taken from Constantinople to Milan in 344 by Bishop Eustorgius of Milan.
Around 1199, the Roman Emperor Otto IV gave three golden crowns made for the three wise men as a present to the church of Cologne, the city where, the previous year, he had been elected King of the Romans and Emperor-elect by the Prince-Electors of the Empire (he later gained the support of all the imperial princes at Frankfurt in 1208).

An inscription reads:

Otto rex coloniensis curiam celebrans tres coronas de auro capitibus trium magorum imposuit.
Otto the King, the court of Cologne celebrating, gave three golden crowns for the heads of the three Magi.
 
Emperor Otto IV was the only member of the Welf dynasty to be elected Holy Roman Emperor and, being the son of Matilda Plantagenet (married to Henry the Lion, Duke of Bavaria), he was allied to England in the Franco-English wars. He was also the personal preference of Pope Innocent III, who crowned him Roman Emperor at Rome in 1209, although they later fell out over the issue of the imperial rights in Italy.

Because of the importance of the shrine and the cathedral for the later development of the city, the Coat of Arms of Cologne still shows these three crowns symbolizing the Three Kings.

Construction of the present Cologne Cathedral was begun in 1248 to house these important relics. The cathedral took 632 years to complete and is now the largest Gothic church in northern Europe.

On July 20th, 1864, the shrine was opened, and the remains of the three Kings and the coins of Philipp von Heinsberg, Archbishop of Cologne, were discovered.

An eyewitness report reads:

“In a special compartment of the shrine now there showed - along with remains of ancient old rotten or moulded bandages, most likely byssus, besides pieces of aromatic resins and similar substances - numerous bones of three persons, which under the guidance of several present experts could be assembled into nearly complete bodies: the one in his early youth, the second in his early manhood, the third was rather aged. Two coins, bracteates made of silver and only one side striken, were adjoined; one, provably from the days of Philipp von Heinsberg, displayed a church, the other showed a cross, accompanied by the sword of jurisdiction, and the crozier on either side.”
The bones were wrapped in white silk and returned to the shrine where they remain to this day to be venerated by all the Faithful.

By long tradition, on the Feast of the Epiphany – called Dreikoenigsfest (the Feast of the Three Kings) in the lands of the old Holy Roman Empire – the Rector of the Parish (or in his absence, the father of each family) visits each house with a cross-bearer, 2 acolytes and 3 children dressed as the kings, one bearing a censer with lighted incense. At each house a little ceremony takes place, the house is blessed with Epiphany water, and over the door lintel of the house the following is inscribed with blessed chalk:
20 + C + M + B + 14
In my house we always perform this traditional ceremony.
This symbolises the present year and the blessing of the three Magi, Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, upon each home.

The symbols remain all year or until the weather has washed them away.
 
Blessed Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, wise men and kings from the East, pray for us!

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The Journey of the Magi

by T S Eliot


A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wineskins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.


+ + +

"three trees on the low sky... I should be glad of another death."
...

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Happy Christmas to all!



Christmas 2013


O most Holy Night, all the earth being at peace...


Sebastiano Conca. Adoration of the Shepherds. 1720.

O Adonai,
et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O Prince and Commander of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.
[Great O Antiphon for 18 December, sung before the Magnificat at Vespers]

Non auferetur sceptrum de Iuda, et dux de femore eius, donec veniat qui mittendus est: et ipse erit expectatio gentium

The royal sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a ruling prince from his loins, until He come that is to be sent, and He shall be the expectation of the nations.
[Genesis 49:10, sung at Vespers of the Advent Office]

"And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room in the Inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an Angel of the Lord stood by them and the brightness of God shone round about them, and they feared with a great fear. And the Angel said to them 'Fear not; for behold I bring you tidings of great joy that shall be to all people. For this day is born to you a Saviour who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you: you shall find the Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger'. And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.' "
[Luke 2:4-14]
[The Gospel of the Nativity of Our Lord, the first Mass of Christmas at midnight]

OCTAVO KALENDAS JANUARII
The Eighth Day before the Calends of January, being

CHRISTMAS DAY

In the 5199th year of the creation of the world, from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;

the 2957th year after the flood;
the 2015th year from the birth of Abraham;
the 1510th year from Moses, and the giving forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the 1032nd year from the anointing of King David;
in the 65th week according to the prophesy of Daniel;
in the 194th Olympiad;
the 752nd year from the foundation of the City of Rome;
the 42nd year of the rule of Octavian Augustus,

all the earth being at peace,

JESUS CHRIST

the eternal God,
and Son of the eternal Father,
desirous to sanctify the world by His most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
nine months after His conception
was born in Bethlehem of Judaea,
MADE MAN OF THE VIRGIN MARY.

THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO THE FLESH.

[Sung at Prime on Christmas Day from the Roman Martyrology]

Puer natus est nobis,
et filius datus est nobis, cujus imperium super humerum ejus et vocabitur nomen ejus, magni consilii Angelus.

Unto us a child is born,
a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder and His name shall be called Angel of great counsel."
[Isaias 9:6]
[Introit of the third Mass of Christmas, during the daytime]

Happy Christmas to all!