Friday, December 30, 2022

Durandus on the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas

Since Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, the Mass and Office of the Sunday within the octave of Christmas are transferred to December 30th. Here is William Durandus’ commentary on the Mass, the 14th chapter of book six book of his Rationale Divinorum Officium.

On the Sunday which falls within the octave of the Lord’s birth, the Mass is sung of the Nativity; whence the Introit is “Dum medium silentium tenerent omnia.”

Introitus (Sap. 18) Dum medium silentium tenérent omnia, et nox in suo cursu medium iter habéret, omnípotens Sermo tuus, Dómine, de caelis a regálibus sédibus venit. Ps 92 Dóminus regnávit, decórem indútus est: indútus est Dóminus fortitúdinem, et præcinxit se. Gloria Patri ... Sicut erat... Dum médium siléntium...
Introit (Wisdom 18) When a profound stillness compassed all things, and the night in its swift course was half-spent, Thy almighty Word, o Lord, came down from heaven’s royal throne. Ps. 92 The Lord hath reigned, he is clothed in splendor; robed is the Lord with strength, and hath girt himself. Glory be... As it was in the beginning... When a profound stillness...
The silence is threefold, namely, of ignorance, of despair, and of glory. The silence of ignorance was before the Law, because they knew not their sins, and therefore they did not cry out to the Lord; for death reigned from Adam until Moses (Rom. 5, 14). But after the Law was given for the knowledge of sin, for a long time they kept the Law, but at the last, they despaired, namely, when “all (had) gone aside (and) become unprofitable together.” (Ps. 13, 3). Then was the silence of despair. But after Christ came, the silence was broken, whence all cry out the praises of God. The silence of glory will come, when all our desire is fulfilled. In the silence of despair the Lord will come, so that the salvation of the human race may be attributed to Him who is the true healer. …
There follows “the night”, that is, the devil, “in his course had the middle way”, i.e. the common way, for all were going down into hell together; “Thy almighty word”, that is, Thy son, “Lord” and Father, who is called the Word of the Father, because He was born through Him, came from the royal seats to seek (men) and make them kings. Or literally, “When all things had the middle, that is common silence, from the night, namely, when all things are silent, and the night was in the midst of its course, Thy almighty Word (came) form the royal seats” because the Lord was born in the night. …
The Graduale is “Thou art beautiful (above the sons of men; Ps. 44)” because He is immune from all sin, and full of all virtues; for as the Apostle says, “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead corporeally” (Col. 2, 9), … according to grace (divinity) is in the Saints, but by way of union it is in Christ, and therefore, “grace is poured forth upon thy lips (Ps. 44, 3).” Grace, since never did a man speak thus (Jo, 7, 46) is poured forth, I say, because the law of clemency is on his tongue (Prov. 31, 26), as when he said, “Woman … doth none condemn thee? … neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.” (Jo. 8, 1-11). The Gospel (Luke 2, 33-40) likewise pertains to His Birth… “His father, putative, of course, and Mother were wondering at the things which were being said about him, namely, by the shepherds.
There follows in the Gospel the prophecy of Simeon “ Behold (this child) is set for the fall”, that is, of unbelievers, “and for the resurrection of many”, that is, of the faithful, “and for a sign which shall be contradicted…”
The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, 1620, by the Flemish painter Cornelis de Vos. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.
Again, the introit Dum medium is the voice of the primitive Church, in which it recalls the birth of the Lord, the fruit of which it preaches in the Epistle, because we have passed from servitude to adoption … but in the Postcommunion, “Take up the boy”, the time of the flight is invoked, when the Lord went down into Egypt, and mystically, this looks to the adoption of the gentile nations, because the Lord passed from Judea to the nations, that he might adopt them as heirs.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: