Sunday, March 10, 2024

Durandus on Laetare Sunday

The fourth Sunday of Lent treats of the heavenly Jerusalem, and because we come into that land on the day on which the sons of Israel came into the Promised Land … therefore Exodus is now read (at Matins, chapter 3, 1-15) where the Lord says “I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt, and I have gone down to deliver them from the hands of the Egyptians.” And just as the Lord liberated his people through the plagues sent against Pharaoh, so also through plagues does He liberate us from the hand of the devil, who does not wish to let us go unless he is forced to by the Lord’s mighty hand … The first plague is the conversion of the waters into blood, by which is signified the sin of infidelity. Through the other plagues, it is signified that a man is forced to return to the Lord through many tribulations and pains which he has while he abides in sin… Therefore, Exodus is read, because one departs from the devil through Faith, through baptism, which is signified by the Red Sea, and through the fulfillment of the commandments. (Referring to the Tabernacle of the Covenant described in detail in the book of Exodus) In this way, a man makes himself a Tabernacle unto the Lord …

The Crossing of the Red Sea, by Agnolo di Cosimo, known as Bronzino, 1540; from the Chapel of Eleonora of Toledo in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.
Durandus now looks back to the Gospel of Septuagesima Sunday, Matthew 20, 1-16, the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Following the common interpretation of the Church Fathers the hours at which the workmen are hired (first, third, sixth etc.) taken to be symbols of the various ages of the world

… the first age is from Adam to Noah; the second from Noah to Abraham, or according to others to Moses; the third from Moses to David; the fourth from David to the Babylonian exile; the fifth from the Babylonian to the coming of the Lord; the sixth from the coming of the Lord until the end of the world, and the seventh likewise to the end of the world, for the sixth and seventh run together: the one in those who keep watch and labor, the other in those who sleep and take their rest where the souls of the elect rest, between the breasts of their nursing mother, the Jerusalem which is above.
This seventh and last Sunday (counting from Septuagesima) signifies the Sabbath of the world, in which the souls of the Saints rest. There does that Jerusalem which is above, which is free, who is our mother, rejoice … for this Sunday represents the liberty granted to the sons of Jerusalem to return from Babylon in the 70th year. Therefore, all the day’s liturgy is about rejoicing, to represent their joy, and also ours, since, when the six ages of the world are finished, we will be in the seventh, liberated from the exile of the world, and and shall enter the heavenly paradise which is our fatherland.
Introitus Laetáre, Jerúsalem, et conventum fácite, omnes qui dilígitis eam: gaudéte cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis, ut exsultétis, et satiémini ab ubéribus consolatiónis vestrae. Ps. 121 Laetátus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Dómini íbimus. Gloria Patri. Laetáre...

Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and come together, all you who love her: rejoice with joy, you who have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. Ps. 121 I rejoiced at the things that were said to me, We will go up to the house of the Lord. Glory be... Rejoice, O Jerusalem...
Therefore today is sung the introit Rejoice, O Jerusalem, to show that, like those who with great rejoicing came from Babylon into Jerusalem, so also we shall come rejoicing from this world into the heavenly Jerusalem. For the name Babylon means, “confusion”, and therefore, it signifies either the world or hell: in this world, the confusion of the vices, and in hell the confusion of torments. It is also called the Sunday of refreshment, because on it, the Lord refreshed and satisfied 5000 men, or because on it is shown the heavenly Jerusalem from which comes all that refreshment in which the Church rejoices… and where eternal rest is promised. … “from the breasts of her consolation”: these words signify the two Testaments from which are taken the sweet promises in which our consolation lies.
But the verse of the Psalm which speaks about the Jerusalem above is of the fifth tone because of the five thousand men whom He refreshed; or for this reason, because those who check and restrain and order well the five senses of the body will have refreshment and consolation of that very sort which is spoken of in the introit, and which is asked for in the collect: “Grant, we ask, almighty God, that we who deservedly are afflicted for our deeds may find relief in the consolation of Thy grace.” …
There follows the epistle (Galatians 4, 22-31), “it is written that Abraham had two sons”, which goes on to say “that Jerusalem which is above is free, which is our mother,” … so that we may serve the Lord not with the fear of slaves, but with love. …
The gradual is in the seventh tone because of the seventh age in which we shall be in rest, but because we are still labor (in this world), therefore there follows the Tract, but it is very sweet: “They who trust in the Lord are like Mount Sion”, in which it is shown that they who hope in the Lord alone will have that same refreshment.
Graduale Ps. 121 Laetátus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Dómini íbimus. V. Fiat pax in virtúte tua: et abundantia in túrribus tuis. (I rejoiced in the things which they said to me, ‘We will go unto the house of the Lord.’ V. May there be peace be in thy strength, and abundance in thy towers.)
Tractus Ps. 124 Qui confídunt in Dómino, sicut mons Sion: non commovébitur in aeternum, qui hábitat in Jerúsalem. V. Montes in circúitu ejus: et Dóminus in circúitu pópuli sui, ex hoc nunc et usque in sǽculum. (They who trust in the Lord are like Mount Sion; he shall not be moved forever, who dwelleth in Jerusalem. V. Mountains are round about it; and the Lord is round about His people, from henceforth and forever more.)
There follows the gospel (John 6, 1-15), “Jesus went across the sea of Galilee”, in which the five loaves of bread with which the Lord refreshed us are the five books of Moses, and the two fishes are the psalms and prophecy… and this did He refresh all. The Offertory is in the second tone, to show that we must praise the Lord for refreshment of both body and spirit. (Rationale Divinorum Officium, book 6, 50, excerpta)

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