Images de page

whereon men have offered incense to Satan, are to be destroyed. The house of the strong one is to be entered by his Divine Adversary, and his goods are to be rifled. The Hand-writing of our condemnation is snatched from the Serpent.2 The Cross, which he had so exultingly prepared for the Just One, has been his overthrow, or, as St. Antony so forcibly expresses it, the bait thrown out to the Leviathan, which he took, and, taking it, was conquered.

The Soul of our Jesus makes its presence felt also by the just who dwell in the abode of expiation. It mercifully alleviates their sufferings, and shortens their Purgatory. Many of them are delivered alto-, gether, and numbered with the Saints in Limbo, where they spend the Forty Days, between this and the Ascension, in the happy expectation of ascending to Heaven with their Deliverer. It is not contrary to the principles of Faith, to suppose, as several learned Theologians have taught, that the visit of the Man-God to Limbo was a source of blessing and consolation to the abode of unregenerated Children, and that they then received a promise, that the time would come when they should be re-united to their bodies, and, after the Day of Judgment, be placed in a happier land than that in which Divine Justice now holds them captives.

We adore thee, Ō holy Soul of our Redeemer! for thy having deigned to pass these hours with thy Saints, our fathers, in the heart of the earth. We extol thy goodness and love shown towards these thy Elect, whom thou hast made to be thine own Brethren. We give thee thanks for that thou didst humble our enemy: oh, give us grace to conquer him! But now, dearest Jesus! it is time for thee to rise from thy Tomb, and re-unite thy Soul to thy Body! Heaven and Earth await thy Resurrection! The Church, thy

1 St. Matth. xii. 29.

2 Coloss. ii. 14.

Spouse, has already sung the Alleluia of her glad expectation! Rise, then, from thy Grave, O Jesus, our Life! Triumph over Death, and reign our King for ever!

Let us close our day and our volume with the following Preface, taken from the Ambrosian Missal. It is one of the finest pieces of this venerable Liturgy, and is the blessing of the Paschal Candle. The mystery of this great Night is here treated with an eloquence and poetry truly worthy of the subject.


Truly it is meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should here and in all places give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Almighty Father, Eternal God! Thou hast consecrated the Pasch, unto which thou invitest all mankind, not by the gore and fat of sheep, but by the Blood and Flesh of thine Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord: that thus the rite of an ungrateful people being abolished, grace should succeed the law, and the sins of the whole world be expiated by one Victim, once, and by himself, offered up to thy Majesty.

This is the Lamb that was pre-figured on tablets of stone. He was not taken from the flock, but was brought from heaven. He needed not a shepherd, but was himself the one Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, and again assumed it, that his divine condescension might show us how to be humble,

Vere, quia dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare nos tibi semper hic, et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus. Qui populorum Pascha cunctorum, non pecudum cruore, nec adipe, sed Unigeniti tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi sanguine, corporeque dedicasti; ut supploso ritu gentis ingratæ, legi gratia succederet, et una victima, per semetipsam tuæ Majestati semel oblata, mundi totius expiaret offensam.

Hic est Agnus lapideis præfiguratus in tabulis : non abductus e gregibus, sed evectus e cœlo: non pastore indigens, sed Pastor bonus, ipse tantummodo: qui animam suam pro suis posuit ovibus, et rursus assumpsit; ut nobis et humilitatem divina dignatio, et spem resurrectio corporalis ostenderet.

Qui coram tondente se non vocem queruli balatus emisit, sed evangelico proclamavit oraculo, dicens: Amodo videbitis Filium hominis sedentem ad dexteram Majestatis. Ipse nobis et te reconciliet, Pater omnipotens, et pari tecum Majestate fultus indulgeat.

Nam quæ patribus in figura contingebant, nobis in veritate proveniunt. Ecce jam ignis columna resplendet, quæ plebem Domini beatæ noctis tempore ad salutaria fluenta præibat: in quibus persecutor mergitur, et Christi populus liberatus emergit. Nam Sancti Spiritus unda conceptus, per Adam natus ad mortem, per Christum regignitur ad vitam. Solvamus igitur voluntarie celebrata jejunia, quia Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus: nec solum corpore epulemur Agni, sed etiam inebriemur et sanguine. Hujus enim tantummodo cruor non creat piaculum bibentibus, sed salutem. Ipso quoque vescamur et Azymo, quoniam non de solo pane vivit homo, sed de omni verbo Dei. Siquidem hic est Panis, qui descendit e cœlo, longe præstantior illo quondam mannæ imbre frugifluo, quo tunc Israël epulatus interiit. Hoc vero qui vescitur corpore, vitæ perennis possessor existit.

and his body's Resurrection teach us to hope. No plaintive voice came from him when under his shearer, but thus spake he the prophecy of his Gospel : Hereafter, ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of Majesty. May he, O Almighty Father! reconcile us with thee, and, by the Majesty wherewith he is co-equal with thee, may he be merciful unto us.


For those things which happened in figure to our fathers, have become realities to us. Lo! now shineth that pillar of fire, which, on that blessed night, went before the people of God, leading to waters that saved them for in them was the persecutor drowned, and from the same came liberated the people of Christ. ceived in the stream made fruitful by the Holy Ghost, man, that was born of Adam unto death, is regenerated by Christ unto life. Let us, therefore, bid farewell to the fast we have been voluntarily keeping, for Christ, our Pasch, is slain: let us not only feast on the Flesh of the Lamb, but let us also be inebriated with his Blood. Yea, let us also eat the Unleavened, for not by bread alone doth man live, but by every word of God, for Christ is the Bread that came down from heaven, more excellent far than that manna of old

which fell in abundant showers, and of which the Israelites, who then were, ate, yet died. Whereas he that eats of this Body, is made a possessor of everlasting life

[ocr errors]

Lo! the old things have passed away all things are made new. The knife of the Mosaic Circumcision has become blunted, and the cruel sharp stone of Josue has gone out of use: but the people of Christ is signed on the forehead, and not invisibly; by a baptism, not by a wound; by Chrism, not by blood.


Rightly, therefore, during this Night,-when we awaiting the Resurrection of the Lord our Saviour,-do we burn a rich waxen torch, whose properties are fair whiteness, sweet fragrance, and bright light: which flows not down as it melts, nor sends forth an offensive smell as it burns. For what could be more appropriate, what more festive, than that we should keep watch for the Flower of Jesse, with torches that are the juice of flowers? The more so, as Wisdom thus sang in her own praise: "I am the flower of the field, "and the lily of the valley." Wax is not the sweat that oozes from a burnt pine, nor the tear that trickles from the cedar when wounded with many blows of the axe: it is a mysterious virginal production; and one that is transfigured into the whiteness of snow. Its fount-like melted stream feeds the (wick of) papyrus, which, as a guileless soul, stands, with its unbent, unjointed oneness, surrounded by the virginal substance, and becomes, by the flame, the stream's much cherished guest.


Ecce vetera transierunt: facta sunt omnia nova. Nam Circumcisionis Mosaicæ mucro jam scabruit, et Jesu Nave acuta lapidum obsolevit asperitas: Christi vero populus insignitur in fronte, non inguine: lavacro, non vulnere: Chrismate, non cruore.

Decet ergo in hoc Domini Salvatoris nostri vespertinæ Resurrectionis adventu ceream nos adolere pinguedinem, cui suppetit candor in specie, suavitas in odore, splendor in lumine: quæ nec marcescenti liquore defluit, nec offensum tetri nidoris exhalat. Quid enim magis accommodum, magis festivum, quam ut Jesseïco flori floreis excubemus et tædis? Præsertim cum et Sapientia de semetipsa cecinerit : Ego sum flos agri, et lilium convallium. Ceras igitur nec pinus exusta desudat, nec crebris sauciata bipennibus cedrus illacrymat; sed est illis arcana de virginitate creatio; et ipsæ transfiguratione nivei candoris albescunt. Eamdem vero papyrum liquida fontis unda producit: quæ instar insontis animæ nullis articulatur sinuata compagibus; sed virginali circumsepta materie fit hospitalis ignibus alumna rivorum.

Decet ergo adventum Sponsi dulcatis Ecclesiam luminaribus opperiri : et largitatem sanctitatis acceptam quanta valet devotionis dote, pensare: nec sanctas interpolare tenebris excubias; sed tædam sapienter perpetuis præparare luminibus: ne, dum oleum candelis adjungitur, adventum Domini tardo prosequamur obsequio; qui certe in ictu oculi, ut coruscus, adveniet.

Igitur in hujus diei vespere cuncta venerabilis sacramenti plenitudo colligitur: et, quæ diversis sunt præfigurata, vel gesta temporibus, hujus noctis curriculo devoluta supplentur. Nam primum hoc vespertinum lumen, sicut illa dux Magorum stella, præcedit. Deinde mysticæ regenerationis unda subsequitur, velut, dignante Domino, fluenta Jordanis. Tertio resurrectionem Christi vox apostolica Sacerdotis annuntiat. Tum ad totius mysterii supplementum, Christo vescitur turba fidelium. Quæ summi Sacerdotis, et Antistitis tui Ambrosii oratione sanctificata et meritis, resurrectionis Dominicæ diem, Christo in omnibus prosperante, suscipiat.

Therefore doth it behove the Church to await, with sweet lights, the coming of the Spouse, and with all possible devotion, to weigh the holy gift she has received. Holy vigils, such as this, should have no fellowship with darkness. We should be wise, and make the light of our lamp be unceasing; lest, whilst preparing to trim it with oil, our Lord should come, and we be too late to do him homage, for we are assured that he will come in the twinkling of the eye, as a flash of light.

Therefore, this day's evening is rich in the fulness of the most august mysteries, which, though prefigured or accomplished at various times, are all brought before us during the course of this night. For firstly, we have this Evening Torch, which leads the way, as did the Star that guided the Magi. Then follows the Font of spiritual regeneration, as it were the river of Jordan, in which our Lord vouchsafed to be baptised. Thirdly, we have the Priest's apostolic words announcing the Resurrection of Christ. Then, to complete the mysteries, the faithful flock feeds on the flesh of Christ. Being sanctified by the prayer and merits of thy high Priest and Pontiff Ambrose, and being prospered in all things by Christ, may this flock enjoy the day of our Lord's Resurrection.

[merged small][ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »