Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Feast of All Saints 2014 - the Patriarchs and Prophets

From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the continuation of the sermon for the fifth day in the Octave of All Saints:

Dearest brethren, because we cannot commemorate each individual among the different orders of Saints whose feast we keep today, let us briefly sum up the orders themselves. Of these, the first Saints were the Patriarchs, some of whom, approved (by God) for their faith, obedience and virtues, showed forth the majesty of the divinizing Trinity through the prophetic mystery of their earthly comportment. Others, delivered from servitude in Egypt, and brought forth by the Lord’s command to the root of the mountain of the Law, awaited the return of their leader, who had gone up to the top of that same mountain, and beheld the Lord’s glory. By this, we were given to understand that our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was longed for by the Patriarchs, foretold by the Prophets, prefigured by the fathers, awaited by the just, after His passion and death would ascend the seat of glory in the throne of the Father’s majesty. The most-blessed John the Baptist, who, as the link between the Law and grace, first proclaimed Him from the very womb of his mother, and then pointed Him out with his own finger, now contemplates Him as He rules triumphantly in heaven over all things.

A Deesis panel (the upper part of an iconostasis), early 16th-century Russian, now in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. (click image to enlarge) In the upper row, the Virgin and Child, surrounded by Prophets of the Old Testament holding scrolls with passages foretelling Christ’s birth: Habakkuk (?), Micah, Jeremiah, Moses, Daniel, David, Solomon, Jonah, Jacob, Isaiah (?), Gedeon, and Zechariah. Below, Christ seated on the throne of judgment, flanked by Saints entreating Him (hence the name of the motif “deesis - supplication”). On His right, the Virgin, St. Peter, Metropolitan Peter of Moscow, St. Sergius of Radonezh and St. George. On His left, John the Baptist, St. Paul, Metropolitan Alexis of Moscow, St. Cyril of Belozersk and St. Demetrius. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

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