Gemma Animae (24): De Baculis

Ch. 24

On Staves

Caravaggio, Rest on the Flight into Egypt, an allegory of the Old and New Testaments.

As the Gospel is read, the staves are put down from the hands, because at the preaching of the Gospel the legal observations were put aside by the people. For by precept of the Law they held a staff in their hands as they ate the Paschal Lamb, bound for their homeland. According to this custom, the chanters in the office of the Mass are known to bear staves, while the true Paschal Lamb is blessed: signifying that those who desire to hasten to the eternal homeland and the festival of the angels by eating the heavenly Lamb, must defend themselves from their enemies with staves, i.e. from the demons with the verses of Scripture. These they put down during the Gospel, for when they reach Christ whom the Gospel signifies, they will no longer need the aid of the Scriptures. The staves also signify priests, by whose doctrine those weak in faith are held up. These staves are put down during the Gospel, because the doctrines of all priests are inferior to the Gospel of Christ.

Then too head coverings are taken off, because as Christ was evangelizing, the veils of the Law were removed. And we bear our heads because in the Gospel we see Christ with his face revealed, and no longer in figures [aenigmata] (II Cor iii).

When the Gospel has been read, the deacon returns to the bishop and offers him the book to kiss, before returning it to its place, for after preaching the Apostles returned to Christ. Indeed they even brought back news of the demons they had subjugated in his name, as if placing a book in its place, for they ascribed everything not to themselves but to God.


De baculis.

Dum Evangelium legitur, baculi de manibus deponuntur; quia, praedicante Evangelio, legales observantiae a populo deponebantur. Ex legis quippe praecepto baculos manibus tenebant, qui paschalem agnum edentes ad patriam tendebant. Secundum hunc morem cantores in officio missae baculos tenere noscuntur, dum verus paschalis Agnus benedicitur: significantes quod hi qui ad aeternam patriam et ad festum angelorum cupiunt festinare, esu coelestis agni, et baculis contra hostes, id est sententiis Scripturarum contra daemones, se debent defensare. Hos inter Evangelium deponunt; quia cum ad Christum quem Evangelium signat perveniunt, nullis Scripturarum sustentaculis indigebunt. Per baculos, et sacerdotes denotantur per quorum doctrinam infirmi in fide sustentantur, qui baculi in Evangelio deponuntur, quia omnium sacerdotum doctrinae Christi Evangelio postponuntur. Tunc etiam velamina capitis auferuntur; quia, Christo evangelizante, velamina legis tollebantur. Et nos capita denudamus, quia revelata facie, non in aenigmate, Dominum in Evangelio videamus. Perlecto Evangelio, diaconus revertitur ad episcopum, librum ei offert ad osculandum, quem mox reponit in locum suum; quia apostoli, peracta praedicatione, ad Christum reversi sunt. Scilicet et daemonia in nomine eius subiecta retulerunt, quasi librum in locum suum reposuerunt, dum non sibi sed Domino cuncta ascripserunt.

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