Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Durandus on the Ember Wednesday of Lent

In the Introit Reminiscere, (the Church) asks for liberation, namely, that which is had through fasting, and in the epistle and reading, we are admonished to fast by the example of Moses and Elijah.

Introitus, Ps. 24 Reminíscere miseratiónum tuárum, Dómine, et misericordiæ tuæ, quæ a sǽculo sunt: ne umquam dominentur nobis inimíci nostri: líbera nos, Deus Israël, ex ómnibus angustiis nostris. Ps. Ad te, Dómine, levávi ánimam meam: Deus meus, in te confído, non erubescam. Gloria Patri... Reminíscere.

Introit, Psalm 24 Remember Thy compassion, O Lord, and Thy mercy, that are of old, lest ever our enemies have dominion over us; deliver us, o God of Israel, from all our distress. Ps. To Thee have I lifted up my soul, o Lord; my God, in thee do I trust; let me not be put to shame. Glory be to the Father... Remember.
The reading... is taken from Exodus chapter 24 (12-18), “Go up to me on the mountain, etc.” But the Epistle is from the Third Book of Kings (19, 3-8), “Elijah came (to Bersabee of Judah).” How our fast ought to be, namely, spiritual, is shown to us through the fast of Moses, but its usefulness through Elijah. For in unleavened food does one come to Horeb, the mountain of God, that is, to the height of that table, when we shall eat upon the table of the Father of Christ in His kingdom. Indeed, through fasting the wrath of God is tempered and mitigated, which is shown through the Gospel (Matthew 12, 38-50), which treats of the Ninivites, who tempered the wrath of God through their fast.
The Transfiguration of Christ (the Gospel of both Ember Saturday and the Second Sunday of Lent), with Moses, Elijah, the Apostles Peter, James and John, and the donor, Jacob Rassler; ca. 1618, by the Swiss painter Kaspar Memberger. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.
And note that on this feria, the solemnity of the fast is doubled, since one fasts both because it is Lent and because it is the Embertide. And because the bodies of the penitents who fast more severely are dried up, there does not dwell in them the unclean spirit, who walks around in dry places, seeking rest, and findeth it not, as is said in the Gospel. For (such a spirit) is disgusted by bodies withered with fasting, therefore, so that we might seek to fast more willingly, Moses and Elijah are put forth as examples, both of whom are asserted in their readings to have fasted for forty days and forty nights. (William Durandus, Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, 6.35)

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