Sunday, April 21, 2019

Christos Voskrese!

Observing a longstanding tradition of this blog, I would like to mark the Feast of the Resurrection by sharing the Paschal Sermon of St. John Chrysostom:

Are there any who are devout and love God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!

Are there any who are grateful servants?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!

If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward.

If any have come after the third hour,
let them with gratitude join in the Feast!

And those who arrived after the sixth hour,
let them not doubt; for they too shall sustain no loss.

And if any have delayed until the ninth hour,
let them not hesitate; but let them come too.

And those who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let them not be afraid by reason of their delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to those who came at the eleventh hour,
as well as to those who toiled from the first.

To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward.

Rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!

Feast royally, for the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry.

Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed death by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.

Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.

It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.

It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.

It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!

Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ, having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

Christ is Risen! AMDG.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Es ist vollbracht.

This year I'm spending the Paschal Triduum at the Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, with very limited access to the Internet; this post and the one that will follow on Easter Sunday were accordingly scheduled ahead of time, before I left Paris. Repeating an established Good Friday tradition of this blog, here is the aria "Es ist vollbracht" ("It is accomplished") from J. S. Bach's Johannes-Passion, BWV 245. This video comes from a 1985 performance by Concentus Musicus Wien and the Tölzer Knabenchor, directed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (RIP); the soloists are Panito Iconomou (alto) and Christophe Coin (playing the viola da gamba, a Baroque instrument).

In the Johannes-Passion, this aria comes immediately after Jesus' final words on the cross - "Es ist vollbracht" in the German text - and right before the Evangelist announces Jesus' death. Given below in the original German and in an English translation from the Bach Cantatas Website, the words of the aria move from mournful lament to sure yet somber faith in Christ's final victory:

Es ist vollbracht!
O Trost vor die gekränkten Seelen!
Die Trauernacht
Läßt nun die letzte Stunde zählen.
Der Held aus Juda siegt mit Macht
Und schließt den Kampf.
Es ist vollbracht!


It is accomplished!
What comfort for all suffering souls!
The night of sorrow
now reaches its final hours.
The hero from Judah triumphs in his might
and brings the strife to an end.
It is accomplished!

Prayers for those who are celebrating the Paschal Triduum, and good wishes to all. AMDG.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Notre-Dame de Paris.

At the center of Parisian and French national life for over 850 years, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris narrowly escaped destruction last night in a devastating fire that began in the early evening and was brought under control after hours of labor by hundreds of heroic Paris firefighters. Though the structure suffered considerable damage, the fact that the worst was avoided has lent a sense of hope and optimism to the restoration efforts; a souscription nationale was immediately launched to attract donations to rebuild the cathedral, and billionaire businessman François-Henri Pinault quickly announced that his family would donate 100 million euros to the project. Another sign of hope is the news that many irreplacable relics and works of art in the cathedral were apparently saved, including the relic of the Crown of Thorns acquired by St. Louis IX in 1238, preserved nearby at the Sainte-Chapelle before the French Revolution and preserved at Notre-Dame de Paris since 1806.

Having heard the news of the fire earlier in the evening, late last night I walked to the Seine to observe what I could of the burning cathedral and to keep vigil with others who would be watching. Nestled among the expected gawkers, there was a large group singing the Je vous salue, Marie continuously in an elegant modern setting that is seemingly shared by almost all French Catholics. (I have featured it here before, in a post on my time in Lourdes last summer.) The damage from the fire will take time and effort to repair, but I nevertheless find signs of hope in the determined efforts of the firefighters who fought to save the cathedral and in the prayerful witness of those gathered nearby. I leave this morning to spend the Paschal Triduum at the Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, and as I do so I shall think of what happened last night on the first day of Holy Week as a surprisingly hopeful anticipation of the Resurrection.