Sunday, March 26, 2023

Durandus on Passiontide

The first of the following excerpts from William Durandus’ Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, 6.60.3-4 and 7-9, is based on St Augustine’s division of sacred history into four periods: before the giving of the law to Moses; under the law; under grace, i.e. from the Incarnation to the end of the world; and then finally, in peace, after the Lord’s Second Coming.
The reasons for which the Lord’s Passion is remembered for two weeks before Easter are these: first, because He himself suffered for two peoples, at the hands of two peoples; second, because through those two weeks, we express the two Testaments, the Old, which foretold that the Lord would suffer, and the New, which showed Him suffering; third, because in the two ages of this world, that is, before the Law and under the Law, that same passion was foretold; fourth, so that these two weeks may recall to our memory the murmuring of those who before the law and under the law were in hell (i.e., the Limbo of the Fathers, whose murmuring expresses their longing for Christ), until the time of grace, which is signified in the third week, that is the week of Easter. For from this day, on which “Glory be to the Father...” is omitted, there are two weeks until Easter. But then there is the third week, in which all the glorification that was omitted is restored, for in the third time, which is under grace, all the benefits which our fathers in the Church awaited are rendered to them.
The Harrowing of Hell, depicted in an early 16th-century illuminated manuscript of the history of the Passion in French, known as the Vaux Passional. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.  
Now for this reason, “Glory be to the Father...” is omitted, since that verse pertains to the praise of the Trinity, which was dishonored in the Lord’s Passion... for it is clear that Christ, who is the second person of the Trinity, was dishonored. But in the Resurrection, “Glory be to the Father...” is resumed, because through the Resurrection He was glorified with the glory of immortality. ...
(The partial omission of the doxology in Passiontide represents the events leading up to the Lord’s passion, principally, the plotting against Him, while the total omission represents the Passion itself.)
And we should note that it is not said in the introits and responsories, which are about the Passion, and in “Come, let us exult unto the Lord” (the invitatory psalm of the Divine Office), but not in the psalms or hymns, because the psalms symbolize working; but (thus far), they persecuted Him only in their tongues (i.e., in word, but not yet in deed), discussing His murder, and He himself did not cease to do good works. It is therefore not completely omitted... since it was not immediately after the council which they held concerning His murder that the Lamb was handed over to the hands of the wicked.
But in the three days before Easter, it is omitted completely, since then especially was the Trinity dishonored. ...
Now the Introit because from the Lord’s prayer in the Passion, “Judge me, o God, and discern my cause,” etc., For in this He instructs us in prayer. There follows, “Send forth Thy light” etc., for he that sees the rewards is made strong in the fight; “and Thy truth”, for he that sees good things, is easily led unto the eternal dwelling places. And it is of the fourth tone because of the form of the Cross, or because of the four things that are asked for, namely, judgement, discretion, liberation and strength.
Now the Epistle (Hebr. 9, 11-15), “Christ, being a high priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle” ...  shows the efficacy of Christ’s Passion. For through His passion, we are led unto the eternal dwelling places, of which we must be mindful.
... But the Postcommunion is “This is (My) Body” etc., and the priest intones it, to show that the Great Priest changed the old sacrifice into the new; and it is in the eighth tone, because that sacrifice is the true one which will be perfected in Paradise, when we will rise (i.e. on the eighth day) ...
“This is (My) Body, which shall be given up for you: this is the cup of the new covenant in My Blood, says the Lord; do this, as often as you receive it, in remembrance of Me.” (1 Cor. 11, 24-25)

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