De Canonum Observantia 21: On the Penitential and Gradual Psalms

Proposition XXI

In many praiseworthy uses other particular offices, such as the penitential and gradual psalms and in Lent the whole psalter and others, are kept in certain seasons

We spoke in praise of the seven penitential psalms above in Proposition 9, and will now say how to do them fittingly. The psalms begin immediately[1] and each is said with Gloria Patri. At the end of the last, Alleluia or Laus tibi; the versicle Intret oratio; then Kyrie eleison while lying prostrate; the greater preces with the psalm Inclina and the orations used for this office: of all saints, for the pope, for peace, for the bishop, for the emperor, against heretics, for benefactors, for travelers, for the people, for sins, for serenity, for the living and the dead, and for necessities of this sort. The use of Liège has thirteen orations. This office must be said after Prime on days of three lessons outside of Eastertide and major octaves. This is the general custom, as I saw stated in a Roman ordinary. Innocent III, however, ordered his chaplains to say it only in Lent,[2] and the Friars Minor follow suit.

The fifteen gradual psalms are said in three parts: the first five for the dead, under one Requiem aeternam with Pater noster, versicle, and collect; the last five are said for all the faithful in the same way as the second five. The aforesaid religious say this office before Matins on three-lesson days, but few of those who say them also bother to say the seven penitential psalms. But other religious and seculars, acting with better reason, fulfill both offices by saying the fifteen gradual psalms in succession at the five little hours of the daily office of the Holy Virgin, saying the seven penitential psalms on the requisite days, thus lightening the day’s service without omitting the seven psalms. The orations which are said with the fifteen gradual psalms at Prime and after the seven penitential psalms have already been discussed. But on days when the principal service is of theBlessed Virgin, it fittingly takes the places of the fifteen gradual psalms.

And because during holy Lent the holy Fathers wished to augment the Church’s office with other good works in sundry ways, as said above in Proposition 16, hence, for the augmentation of the divine worship in that season, on ferial days of Lent without nine-lesson feasts, after Prime the psalter is read in the following manner. After a prostration, the priest begins: Deus in adiutorium, Gloria, Laus tibi. Then each day are read ten psalms from the psalter, two by two under one Gloria. After the last one, Laus tibi, the versicle Intret, then the entire litany, after which all prostrate themselves and say the greater preces with the aforesaid seven psalms and orations. At Per Dominum, all rise. Others, however, observed other particular offices both during Lent and during private days. But the offices we have mentioned always seem fitting and devout.

Moreover, on vigils of feasts which they wish to solemnize, the Romans perform a certain office in the evening, which they call a “vigil,” in the following way. After the bells toll, they begin the office with the antiphon and say three psalms with three antiphons, a versicle, the Pater noster, and three lessons and responsories, as in one Matins nocturn. Having sung the Te Deum or Te decet, they conclude with an oration and Benedicamus Domino. On the Vigil of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this office is celebrated at Saint Peter’s with nine lessons and their responsories. Ancient Roman antiphonaries, on the aforesaid vigil and the Vigil of Christmas, have nine antiphons with their psalms and nine responsories assigned for this office.[3] In the Ambrosian custom, the office of this sort of vigil is richly supplemented with a proper processional chant. This is the reason why on vigils in many collegiate churches parish priests sing Matins in the evening. Other particular offices, such as processions, both festive and of Rogations, blessings of various objects for ecclesiastical use and other things of this sort, are common and well known.


[1] I.e. without any introductory verse or antiphon.

[2] Mohlberg: This provision of Innocent III is quoted by liturgists after Radulph. See G. Catalani, Rituale Romanum commentariis illustratum, vol. 1, pg. 341 (Rome, 1757); B. Gavanti, Thesaurus sacrorum rituum, vol. 2, pg. 249 (Venice, 1749); V. Thalhofer-Eisenhofer, Handbuch der katholischen Liturgik, vol. 2, pg. 628 (Fribourg, 1912).

[3] On this Roman “double office” on certain solemnities, see Joseph Dyer, “The double office at St Peter’s Basilica on Dominica de Gaudete,” in Terence Bailey and Alma Santosuosso, eds., Music in Medieval Europe (Aldershot, 2007): 200–219, who writes, “How long any of the double offices persisted anywhere in Rome after the twelfth century is a question beyond the scope of this chapter. Radulph de Rivo (d. 1403), something of a liturgical antiquarian, gives the impression that a double office was still observed on some feasts.[…] His historical description is well informed, but he may have been reporting on an admired, idealized past.”

De canonum observantia 19: On Vigils and Octaves

Proposition XIX

Major solemnities are sometimes preceded by a vigil office, and sometimes extended through an octave

As Pope Alexander III, who began to rule on the year of Our Lord 1159, says (Extra, De feriis, chapter II): “Although it is written, From evening until evening you shall celebrate your sabbaths, nevertheless the beginning and end of feasts must be considered according to their kind and the custom of the several regions. And just as the importance of the day demands that it be begun earlier and ended later,”[1] the regulars, following the authority of Sacred Scripture, place the start and end of feasts from Vespers to Vespers. But based on their importance they precede them earlier with a vigil office and extend them longer with an octave office. Let us therefore discuss these two.

Vigil offices precede feasts of Our Lord, two feasts of his mother (namely the Assumption and, following a constitution of Gregory XI promulgated when he returned to Rome,[2] the Nativity of Mary), and the days of John the Baptist, Laurence, and, as Innocent III says in De observatione ieiunii chapter 2, “the vigils of all the apostles are to be celebrated with a fast except the vigils of the apostles Philip and James and John the Evangelist, because the feasts of the former pair are celebrated within the solemnity of Easter, and the latter within Christmas.”[3] As Alexander III says in De verborum significatione, chapter Quaesivit, “on the Vigil of Blessed Matthew, unless it fall on a Sunday, fasting is observed.”[4] Vigils on which there is fasting consequently also have a Mass. In the antiphoner which I brought from Rome, the vigil office for the Assumption of Mary begins with Matins, as we shall see for Christmas. In the Ambrosian Office, the major solemnities of the place, such as Gervase and Protase, Nazarius and Celsus, Nabor and Felix, Simplicianus and Dionysius and other local saints also have a proper Mass office on the vigils. Other nations are also accustomed to do this for their patrons and similarly important saints, such as for Saint Lambert in Liège and Saint Martin in Utrecht.

According to the pious and religious custom of the more solemn churches, whenever fasting is observed on the vigil, and the de tempore service is celebrated at the hours with a commemoration of the saints, if any occur, as we do in the fasting seasons of Advent and Lent. And they say this should be piously observed likewise on other vigils of saints for which Mass is said but on which there is no fasting obligation.

The vigil Mass is said in ferial fashion on account of the fast, and—according to Micrologus chapter 55—“this, too, is appropriately observed on all vigils, namely that if None is postponed until after Mass, it should be said of the future feast. In other words, once we have begun the feast after Mass, let us not introduce any dissonance into the office at None, since the holy Fathers especially strove to avoid such dissonance in their arrangement of the offices.” And if the vigil falls on a Sunday, the Sunday office, which is greater, is not changed on account of it, and the Mass of the vigil should be said as the Sunday morrow mass, or on Saturday, or at some other apposite time.

Now that we have spoken about vigils, by which feast days are “begun earlier,” we must speak about octaves, by which they are “ended later.” In the first place we must note that according to the more approved uses such as that of the Carthusians and others, and as written in many liturgical commentaries, octaves are of two sorts: major and minor. In major octaves the first and eighth day as well as the intervening Sunday have nine lessons, while the rest have three. The office of the first and eighth day are identical to that of the feast. But the Sunday Mass is celebrated within the office borrowed from the feast day, because both Vespers use the psalms of the feast day, and at Vigils the Invitatory, hymn, nine responsories are from the feast, and likewise Lauds and the rest are of the feast itself. Further, the three nocturns use the Sunday psalms under three or nine antiphons, depending on how many the feast has; six of the readings are taken from the history that is being read at that time, along with the Sunday homily and the Te Deum; at both Vespers and at Lauds there is a commemoration of the Sunday; at Prime the psalms Deus in nomine, Confitemini, etc. The Mass of the Sunday is celebrated with a commemoration of the feast. On private days, the Invitatory will be brief and in the ferial tone, while the hymn is of the feast, the nocturn of the feria, recited under one antiphon from the festal nocturns, whichever is most appropriate, the lessons from the current history, the responsories from the feast in proper order, omitting the first according to Roman custom, and, once they are used up, beginning again from the second. Neither Te Deum nor Gloria in excelsis should be said, as shown in proposition 13; at Lauds use five antiphons over the common psalms; at Vespers five antiphons from Lauds over the ferial psalms, unless the ferial antiphons are used. The rest of the office is of the feast.

In minor octaves, the solemnity is not mentioned on any day before the octave day, which is kept with three lessons like any simple feast of three lessons. Hence we read in Micrologus chapter 44:

According to Roman authority, we must not observe the octaves of any saints unless we have a certain tradition to that effect from the holy fathers. And during those octaves which we do celebrate, there should be no daily commemoration on the days intervening, because we have no authority for such a thing, except for the Virgin Mary and for St. Peter, both of whom we never cease to commemorate even in other times.

We find the same in the commentary called Gemma Ecclesiae:

“Saints’ feasts of nine lessons within major octaves and to be kept with a commemoration of the octave. Let other saints be only commemorated; but if they should have a proper mass, let it be sung with Ite missa est.[5]

Christmas, Epiphany, the Ascension, Trinity, Corpus Christi, the Assumption, the Nativity of Mary, and Peter and Paul have this sort of major octave. Andrew, Laurence, and Martin, and, according to the Carthusians, John the Baptist have minor octaves. And note that private days within major octaves are regarded as if they were within Eastertide. Hence on those days there are no prostrations, preces with Miserere, and other things of that sort which are omitted on Eastertide; even the Carthusians observe this. Based on this consideration, many Germans on these days say only three psalms with three antiphons at Matins, as they are accustomed to do in Eastertide, but this practice was castigated above in Proposition 10.


[1] CJC, Decr. Greg. II, 9, 2 – Frdbg. II, 271.

[2] Pagi, Breviarium Rom. Pont, p. 1? in Greg. XI, Nr. 32; cf. Benedict XIV De festis BMV, pars II, 138, and O. Raynaldus, Annales Ecclesiastici, ed. J. D. Mansi, t. 7, 297 (Lucca, 1752)

[3] CJC, Decr. Greg. III, 46, 2 – Frdbg. II, 650–51. See proposition 17 and ML 215, 810.

[4] CJC, Decr. Greg. V, 40, 14 – Frdbg. II, 915 and proposition 17.

[5] If he refers to the Gemma anime (which often appeared under the title Gemma ecclesiae), then this passage is either a later addition or belongs to a tradition of unedited Gemma manuscripts.

Aurora: Praises of the Virgin

More from the Aurora today, this time on the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Praises of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Wrought in the Language of Scripture

She was the Ark,[1] Noe’s dove,[2] Moses’ bush,[3] Aaron’s staff,[4]

Jacob’s ladder,[5] Joseph’s seven sheaths of grain,[6]

The cloud raining Manna,[7] the rock gushing an abundant Stream,[8]

The Serpent’s healing pole,[9]

David’s sling bearing the Stone that struck the enemy,[10]

 Bethlehem’s spring, for whose water David thirsted,[11]

Solomon’s throne made of flashing white ivory,[12]

The scallop shell wet with Dew by Gedeon’s work,[13]

The amber vessel which the prophet saw in the fire,[14]

The ever-closed door in the Lord’s house,[15]

The lamp that gleams brighter than the seven other lights

Which Zacharias saw,[16] a blooming olive,[17]

One of the two staves, which is called Beauty,[18]

The earth spawning the worm which killed Jonas’s shade,[19]

The woman clothed with the sun’s brightness, her head adorned

By a gleaming crown of twelve stars.[20]

Let us go over each of the sentences I have just now gathered about the Virgin

In order; our errant speech seeks a plain path.

May the Golden Virgin gild this writer’s pen,

So that elegant order might grace our speech.

Mary was the Ark, wherein seed was saved;

She rules, saves, and covers her own.

She was a dove: like a dove’s eyes,

Simple, meek, with no gall of evil.[1] 

She is Moses’ burning bush: the fire does not harm the bush,

No lust touched the Virgin’s beauty.

The Virgin is the staff: without a bud that staff bore

Flowers, and without a man she bore God.

She is Jacob’s ladder, whose prayer, intercession,

And example lead you up to the stars of heaven.

She was at once Joseph’s seven sheaves and his store-house, who

Conceived by the Holy Ghost, as mother of the Sacred Bread.

This cloud gives manna, this rock water, when she bears Him

Who was heavenly Food and the Fount of everlasting water.

The Virgin was the pole that raised that Serpent

That saved us, harboring no venom.

The sling David bore, which bore the Stone that bore into the enemy’s brow:

The Virgin bore God, who killed the evil enemy.

She is Bethlehem’s spring, which the king thirsted for, because

In the House of Bread[21] she gave birth to the Bread of Heaven.

When the scallop shell brims with Dew removed from the sodden fleece,

Judea rejoices; the Virgin brims with God.

She is Solomon’s ivory throne, the seat of chastity,

Made God’s chair, white as ivory.

She is the vessel of amber, gleaming with silver, beaming with gold,

When she gives birth to him who is God and man.

The door stays closed because no man could cross

Its threshold: the Virgin conceived without a man.

She is the lamp which seven lights surrounded,

Shining and full of Christ’s seven-fold gift;

She is also the blooming olive because she is light, food, remedy—

Light to the blind, food to the poor, remedy to sinners;

She is also the beautiful staff because the Virgin exceeds the sun’s light

And all heaven’s candles in her beauty.

Earth creates the worm, withering the ivy, because the Virgin

Bore Christ, who cast down the teary Synagogue.

As for the woman bright like the sun and crowned with twelve stars:

I think the stars were the twelve disciples.

Such a beloved Virgin, so noble, was born into the world,

At her rising, light dawned upon our sinful race.


[1] Genesis 6:14–22.

[2] Genesis 7:8–12.

[3] Exodus 3:2.

[4] Numbers 17.

[5] Genesis 28:11–16.

[6] Genesis 37:7.

[7] Exodus 16.

[8] Exodus 17:5–6 ?

[9] Numbers 21:8–9.

[10] 1 Kings 17:19.

[11] 2 Kings 23:15–17.

[12] 3 Kings 10:18–20.

[13] Judges 6:36–38.

[14] Ezechiel 1.

[15] Ezechiel 44:1–3.

[16] Zacharias 4.

[17] Ecclesiasticus 24:19.

[18] Zacharias 11:7.

[19] Jonas 4:7.

[20] Apocalypse 12:1.

[21] The meaning of “Bethlehem.”


Petrus Riga’s Aurora

The Aurora is a verse paraphrase and commentary on the Latin Bible that became a popular school textbook throughout the later Middle Ages. Its moral and allegorical interpretations were valued as a form of popular theology, devotional reading, moral instruction, and even entertainment.

Prologue to the Four Gospels

After expounding the Old Law, catch your breath a while, Peter.
The New Law dawns; for its newness, make new verses!
No need for art’s trappings; let rich meaning be your gold;
True worth is better than specious appearance.
May the Gospel’s light guide my song; from it I shall weave
The fabric of my song and work.

I see the four rivers of Paradise; and Christ’s
Chariot I see moving on four wheels.
What the harnesses, what the wheels be, I shall relate, what the bridles and the axle,
Who the man, the calf, the lion, and the bird:
Each law is an axle, the bridle judgment, Christ
Is the driver, the harnesses are thy commands, O God.
The work of pulling the wheels is shared out—the first wheel turns, the second
Hurries, the third whirls speedily, and the fourth flies.
The man signifies Matthew, the bull Luke, the lion Mark,
The bird the disciple who was without stain.
A man’s form is given to Matthew because in his book
And its title, he shows that God lived as a man.
The sacrificial bull signifies Luke, who took
Thy Cross, O Christ, as his special theme.
The lion represents Mark, who describes in plain speech
How mightily thy flesh rose, O Christ.
The aquiline figure signifies the chaste disciple,
Who soars above the stars uttering celestial words.
Matthew’s page is redolent with the Hebrew tongue;
The other three wrote in Greek.
Matthew’s page is milk, Luke’s letter blood,
Mark’s writ is wine, John’s work honey.
Study the Scriptures: Matthew’s pen is iron, Luke’s copper,
Mark’s silver, John’s golden.
One has the taste of earth, another like that of myrrh,
One transpires a flowery scent, the other a spicy.
Matthew shows us Christ’s birth, Luke his death,
Mark his rising, John his journey to the stars.
Now all of these things can be referred to Christ
To Whom, I pray, our quill might fly.
Christ is the man, Christ the calf, Christ the lion, Christ
The bird; you can see all in the person of Christ:
He is a man in life, an ox in death, a lion when
He rises from the dead, a bird when he goes up to heaven.
The same qualities pertain to the lives of just men;
The just man can be each of these things.
When reason triumphs, he is a man; an ox when he worships the flesh;
A lion when he conquers evil; a bird when he seeks the things above.
Man excels in deeds, the ox lords over beasts of burden;
The lion and eagle are kings: note these four.

With these lines as prologue, my quill turns back
And lets the history spin its tale.

Seek Ye the Lord, While He May Be Found: A Sermon for Ash Wednesday

Honorius Augustodunensis’
Sermon
On Ash Wednesday

Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found: call upon him, while he is near.[1] Dearly beloved, in this life we must seek God, in this life we must call upon him. Those who seek him through faith and good works in this life will find him in the life to come, and will rejoice and be glad. But he is not found there by anyone who does not seek him in this life through holy living. In this life he is night unto all that call upon him in truth;[2] there he will be far from all who walk in vanity.[3] How we are to seek him, the Lord himself teaches through the prophet: Let the wicked forsake his way, namely an evil life, and the unjust man his thoughts, namely his evil intentions, and let him return to the Lord, by confessing and doing penance, and he will have mercy on him, by absolving him, and to our God, by living a better life, for he is bountiful to forgive, exempting us from punishment and giving the reward of eternal life. To seek the Lord is to forsake evil designs and do good works. To persevere in good works unto the end is to find God, who is eternal life.[4]

How we are to call upon him, the Lord also teaches through the same prophet: Deal thy bread to the hungry, bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house, cover the naked,[5] and forgive those who sin against you. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, ‘Here I am’.[6]  Dearly beloved, seek the Lord at all times, but especially in the coming days, by living well, and your soul shall live.[7] Call upon him by frequent prayer, and he will grant you eternal joys. 

How we are to call upon him, the Lord also teaches through the same prophet: Deal thy bread to the hungry, bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house, cover the naked,[8] and forgive those who sin against you. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, ‘Here I am’.[9]  Dearly beloved, seek the Lord at all times, but especially in the coming days, by living well, and your soul shall live.[10] Call upon him by frequent prayer, and he will grant you eternal joys. 

Missal of Eberhard von Greiffenklau, fol. 28r

Scripture cries out, spurring us to future goods: Be mindful from whence thou art fallen, and do penance.[11] In paradise we were amidst all manner of delights, but, alas! through the devil’s cunning we fell into this pit of misery.[12] Soon we were hit by the sad sentence, which—oh, the pain!—compelled us to undergo death and return to dust. So today, humbled by penance, we impose ashes on our heads, grieving that we have been reduced to the dust of death. And since we earned death for ourselves by tasting forbidden food, now we afflict ourselves with fasts so that abstinence might open up a way for us to the tree of life, which has been closed off because of our coveting for the prohibited tree. Yea, miserable is the human heart, plagued by many miseries, and in its misery it became numb, hardened, insensible to pain. Therefore our merciful and gracious God,[13] the Father of mercies,[14] had compassion on our wretched heart, and nursed it with the many remedies of the Scriptures. Even today he comforts our benumbed heart and soothes it with this admonition:

Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning, and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of evil.[15] Now let us hear him teach us how we ought to be converted: Sanctify a fast.[16] How? You must abstain from not only others’ but also your own wives and from meats; be free of hatred and envy; distribute what surplus food and drink you have among the poor; persevere in continual prayer; do not take revenge for injuries but pray for your enemies instead; obey all God’s precepts; and do not go against his commands by any evil action. However, one who fasts from wrangling and bickering, then after lunch gives himself to drunkenness and lechery imitates the devil as one of his members, who eats no physical food but ever grazes on malice and iniquity. For as it is written in Tobias:  Fasting and alms are worth much,[17] for fasting casts out the devil from the soul, but almsgiving redeems the soul from death.[18] For a kind of demon can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.[19] And as water quencheth a flaming fire, so alms sins.[20] It also delivers the soul from death, and will not suffer it to go into darkness.[21]

St. Louis distributing alms, Luis Tristán, 1615

Once man had gone out from paradise he fell into the pit of death. Therefore, the Son of God left his palace in heaven and suffered exile for his sake, waking us from the sleep of indifference with signs and miracles, and then restored us to life by his death. Thus it is written: Thy eyes shall see thy teacher, and thy ears shall hear the word of one admonishing thee behind thy back.[22] Our teacher was Christ, who gave us the teachings of life. The blessed eyes of the apostles saw this teacher and heard with their ears the words of life that were made known in those days through his preaching, and in our days in the Scriptures. But we lazy and useless servants turn our backs on our Lord’s face when by our scorn and neglect we trample upon his teachings. Though we rebel he warns us behind our backs, calling to us as we rush to our destruction, coaxing us when we do not want to return, holding out the promise of eternal life, grasping those who return in a loving embrace, and forgiving us as his sons. And so, dearly beloved, as he is our Father and Lord and we are mud, let us return to him as servants to a most indulgent master, let us return as children to a most affectionate father.

Therefore, dearly beloved, fast diligently throughout these days, so that you might overcome the devil when he tempts you with vices and concupiscence. Redeem your sins with almsgiving, merit the reward of eternal life with your prayers. Wash the stains of sin from your baptismal garment with your tears, and stay clean by holy works. Cease at last to do perversely, learn to do well, namely relieve the oppressedjudge for the fatherless justly in court, defend the widow and the stranger,[23] rescue the poor and needy from the hand of their oppressor.[24] And you shall be the Lord’s people: and he will be your God.[25]

When we were cast out of paradise, we were told:  Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.[26] So that we might go back, we do penance today in sackcloth and ashes. For we are dust and ashes, man is rottenness and the son of man is a worm.[27] As we hasten to go back to our fatherland, we know that the demons lie in wait for us along the way of salvation, and so we take up the spiritual weapons of prayer, humiliation, and affliction, that we might fight against the spiritual forces of evil and quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.[28] Today when we process with crosses, we go out as it were armed to meet our enemies in battle. That is why in the Litany we call the saints to our aid, so that we have the strength to fight manfully and hold our triumph in the palace of heaven.[29]

In the world’s fourth age, Solomon built the Lord a temple in the space of seven years.[30] When it was destroyed by the Babylonians it was rebuilt by the priest Jesus in forty-six years. Solomon is Christ, the temple the Church. Solomon’s temple took seven years to build because Christ edifies the Church with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Babylonians destroy it because the demons undermine the Church with various vices. But it is rebuilt by Jesus in forty-six years because throughout these forty-six days the Church is built up into God’s temple. From this day, indeed, until Easter there are forty-six days. The temple of Christ’s body, to which the Church is joined, is also built in forty-six years. For Mary was twelve years old when she gave birth to Christ,[31] and Christ was thirty-four years old when he collapsed, undone by death. These years when added together give forty-six, the same as the number of days from Ash Wednesday to Easter, when Christ restored the temple of his body which the Jews had broken up with their attack. Now we begin the fast on Wednesday because we believe that Christ began his fast on a Wednesday after being baptized on a Monday. [32] We desire to be joined to him through our fasting and we imitate Solomon who built a temple in the world’s fourth age as a figure of the Church, in which we now yearn to be built up by Christ. We fast for the next four days because the Church is gathered from the four corners of the world into the structure of God’s Temple. Then we fast for another forty days because through the four Gospels and the Ten Commandments of the Law this temple is brought to completion in Christ, who did not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it.[33] The letter X, the first in Christ’s name, signifies ten, and stands for the Decalogue, and expresses the form of the Cross, by hanging on which Christ paid all our debts to God the Father.

The building of Solomon’s temple, from
Petrus Comestor’s Historia Scholastica (MS Den Haag, MMW, 10 B 23.)

Therefore, dearly beloved, let us imitate Christ like cherished sons. Let us follow his footsteps, that we might see him in glory. Because Scripture says, Man storeth up, and he knoweth not for whom he shall gather these things;[34] because the senseless and the fool shall perish together, and they shall leave their riches to strangers, and their sepulchers shall be their houses for ever;[35] and because he shall inherit serpents, and beasts, and worms,[36] let us spurn all earthly things and seek the heavenly; disciplining our flesh with fasts, vigils, and prayers now, that in the coming resurrection we might reign forever with the Lord of glory, where eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, what things God hath prepared for them that love him. [37]


In capite jejunii

Querite Dominum, dum inueniri potest, inuocate eum, dum prope est. Karissimi, in hac uita est Deus querendus, in hac uita inuocandus. Qui in hac uita querunt eum fide et operatione, post hanc uitam inuenient eum in leticia et exultatione. A nullo autem ibi inuenitur, a quo hic sancta conuersatione non queritur. Hic prope[38] est omnibus inuocantibus eum in ueritate; ibi longe erit omnibus qui hic ambulant in uanitate. Qualiter autem sit querendus per prophetam[39] docet ipse Dominus: Derelinquat impius uiam suam, id est malam uitam, et uir iniquus cogitationes suas, id est malas uoluntates, et reuertatur ad Dominum, per confessionem et penitentiam, et miserebitur eius, per indulgentiam, et ad Dominum nostrum per melioris uitę inmutationem, quoniam multus est ad ignoscendum,[40] liberans a penis, dans uitę ęternę remunerationem. Mala incepta derelinquere, et bona opera facere, est Dominum querere. In bono opere usque in finem perseuerare, est Deum qui est uita ęterna inuenire. 

Qualiter autem sit inuocandus, docet per eundem prophetam idem Dominus: Frange[41] esurienti panem tuumegenos induc in domum tuamnudum operi, dimitte in te peccanti. Et tunc inuocabis et Dominus exaudiet. Clamabis, et dicetEcce assum.[42]Omni tempore, karissimi,[43] sed maxime istis diebus, querite Dominum bene uiuendo, et uiuet anima vestra. Inuocate eum assidue orando, et dabit uobis ęterna gaudia.

Clamat Scriptura, excitans nos ad bona futura: Memento unde excideris et age penitentiam. In paradyso in omnibus deliciis fuimus; sed, heu! astucia diaboli inde in hunc lacum miserię excidimus. Moxque[44] tristis sententia perculit nos, quę omnes—proh dolor!—mortem subire et in puluerem reuerti compulit. Vnde penitentia hodie afflicti, cinerem nostris capitibus imponimus, quia nos in puluerem mortis redigi gemimus. Et quia per gustum uetiti cibi mortem incidimus, ideo nunc ieiuniis nos affligimus, quatenus abstinentia nobis aditum ligni uitę aperiat, quę concupiscentia interdictę arboris clauserat. Miserum quippe humanum cor, multis miseriis infectum, in miseria[45] obstupuit, obduruit,[46] sensum doloris amisit. Idcirco misericors et miserator Dominus, pater misericordiarum, misero condoluit, multis medicaminibus Scripturarum[47] ei consuluit. E quibus hodie medicamento penitentię stupidum cor demulcet, sicque blandiens admonet:

Conuertimini ad me in toto corde uestro, in ieiunio et fletu et planctu, et conuertimini ad Dominum Deum uestrum, quia benignus et misericors est, paciens et multum misericors, et prestabilis super malicia. Sed qualiter conuerti debeamus, ipsum docentem audiamus: Sanctificate ieiunium. Qualiter? Non solum ab extraneis, sed[48] a propriis uxoribus et a carnibus[49] debetis istis abstinere diebus; odio et inuidia carere; quę uobis in cibo et potu superfuerint pauperibus distribuere; orationi iugiter insistere; illatam iniuriam non uindicare, sed potius pro inimicis orare; preceptis Dei in omnibus obedire, nulla praua actione eius monitis contraire. Porro qui ad lites et contentiones ieiunat, et post prandium ebrietati et luxui uacat, diabolum ut puta[50] membrum ipsius similat,[51] qui nullo corporali cibo uescitur, sed malicia et nequicia semper pascitur. Vt autem scribitur in Tobya: Multum valet ieiunium cum elemosina, quia per ieiunium diabolus[52] ab anima expellitur; per elemosinam uero anima a morte redimitur. Genus enim demoniorum in nullo potest exire nisi cum ieiunio et orationeEt sicut aqua extinguit ignem, ita elemosina peccatum, et hanc liberat a morte, et non patitur ire in tenebras

Ideo, karissimi, hos dies cum omni diligentia ieiunate, ut possitis diabolum uicia et concupiscentias persuadentem superare. Elemosinis peccata redimite, orationibus ęternę uitę premia acquirite. A sordibus peccatorum uestem baptismatis lacrimis lauate; in sanctis operibus mundi estoteQuiescite iam aliquando peruerse agere, discite nunc benefacere, scilicet oppresso subuenite, pupillo iuste in iudicio iudicate, uiduam et aduenam defenditeegenum et pauperem de manu tribulantis eripiteEt[53] eritis Domino in populum, et ipse erit uobis in Deum.

Quia enim homo de paradyso exiens in lacum mortis corruit, Filius Dei de aula celi egrediens pro eo exilium subiit, signis et miraculis nos de somno desidię excitauit, demum morte sua ad uitam reparauit. Vnde scriptum est: Erunt oculi tui uidentes preceptorem tuum, et aures tuę audientes uocem post tergum monentis. Preceptor noster xpc erat, qui nos precepta uitę docuerat. Hunc preceptorem beati oculi apostolorum uiderunt, et auribus suis uerba uitę audierunt, quę tunc mundo predicationibus, nobis autem scriptis innotuerunt. Sed nos pigri et inutiles serui terga in faciem Domini nostri damus, cum precepta ejus contempnendo calcamus. Ipse autem nos rebelles post tergum monet, ut ad interitum properantes reuocet; reuerti nolentibus blanditur, uitam pollicetur, reuersos benigne amplectitur, ut filiis miseretur. Vnde, karissimi, quia ipse Pater et Dominus noster est et nos lutum, reuertamur ut serui ad dominum clementissimum, reuertamur ut filii ad patrem piissimum.

Cum de paradyso expulsi sumus, dictum est nobis: Puluis es et in puluerem reuerteris. Vt ergo redire possimus, penitentiam hodie in cinere et cilicio agimus. Puluis quippe sumus et cinis, uermis et putredo filius hominis. Et quia repatriare contendimus, hostes id est demones iter salutis nobis obsidere nouimus; ideo arma spiritualia quae sunt oratio humiliatio afflictio sustollimus, ut contra spiritualia nequicię[54] pugnare et omnia tela ignea nequissimi hostis extinguere possimus.[55] Cum enim hodie processionem cum crucibus facimus, quasi hostibus armati ad pugnam obuiam imus. Vnde et per letaniam sanctos in adiutorium nostrum inuocamus, quatenus uiriliter decertare et in aula celesti triumphare ualeamus.

Quarta etate mundi ędificauit Salomon Domino templum, vii. annis, quod destructum a Babyloniis reedificatum est a ihu sacerdote xl.vi annis. Salomon est xpc, templum Ęcclesia. Hoc templum vii. annis a Salomone edificatur, quia Ęcclesia vii. donis Spiritus sancti a xpo informatur. A Babyloniis destruitur, quia a demonibus uariis uiciis subruitur. Sed iterum ab ihu xl. et vi. annis reedificatur, quia his xl. et vi. diebus Ęcclesia in templum Dei coedificatur. Ab hodierna quippe die usque in Pascha xl. et vi. dies computantur. Templum quoque corporis xpi xl. et vi. annis edificatur, cui Ęcclesia incorporatur. MARIA quippe xii. annorum extitit, quando xpm genuit. Xpc uero[56] xxx. et iiii.or annorum fuit, dum morte solutus corruit. Qui anni simul iuncti xl. et vi. fiunt; totque dies a capite ieiunii usque in Pascha existunt. Qua die xpc corporis sui templum restituit, quod prius impulsio Iudeorum soluit. Ideo ergo iiii. feria ieiunium inchoamus, quia xpm suum ieiunium iiii. feria inchoasse predicamus; quem ii. feria baptizatum non ignoramus, cui per ieiunium incorporari desideramus, et Salomonem qui quarta etate mundi templum in figura Ęcclesię construxit similamus, in qua nunc coedificari a xpo optamus. Ideo istis iiii.or diebus ieiunatur, quia Ęcclesia a quatuor plagis mundi in edificium templi Dei congregatur. Deinde xl. diebus ieiunatur, quia per iiii.or Ęuangelia et decem legis precepta hoc templum in xpo consummatur, qui non uenit soluere legem, sed implere. Ideo x. littera quę prima est in nomine xpi decem significat, et decalogum legis insinuat, et formam crucis exprimit, in qua xpc pendens cuncta debita nostra pro nobis Deo Patri soluit. 

Ergo dilectissimi, imitemur xpm ut filii karissimi. Sequamur eius uestigia, ut uideamus illum[57] in gloria. Et quia Scriptura dicit: Thesaurizat homo et ignorat cui congregabit ea, quia insipiens et stultus peribunt et relinquent alienis diuicias suas et sepulchra eorum, domus illorum in ęternum, quia hereditabit homo uermes, bestias, serpentes, cuncta terrena despiciamus, celestia appetamus; ieiuniis, uigiliis, orationibus corpus nostrum nunc maceremus, ut in resurrectione futura cum Domino glorię perenniter regnemus, ubi oculus non uidit nec auris audiuit quę preparauit Deus diligentibus se


[1] Isaiah 55:6.

[2] Psalm 144:18

[3] Ephesians 4:17.

[4] Cf. Matthew 10:22.

[5] Isaiah 58:7, short chapter at None during Lent, and also read at the Mass of the Friday after Ash Wednesday.

[6] Isaiah 58:9

[7] Psalm 118:175.

[8] Isaiah 58:7

[9] Isaiah 58:9

[10] Psalm 118:175.

[11] Apocalypse 2:5.

[12] Psalm 39:3.

[13] Passim.

[14] 2 Corinthians 1:3

[15] Joel 2:12, 13; short chapter at Terce during Lent.

[16] Joel 2:15.

[17] Cf. Tobias 12:8

[18] Cf. Tobias 12:9.

[19] Matthew 27

[20] Ecclesiasticus 3:33.

[21] Cf. Tobias 4:11

[22] Cf. Isaiah 30:21-21.

[23] Isaiah 1:16-17.

[24] Cf. Psalm 81:4.

[25] Jeremiah 30:22.

[26] Genesis 3:19

[27] Cf. Job 25:6.

[28] Ephesians 6:12, 16.

[29] Cf. the oration at the conclusion of the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday, Concede nobis…praesidia militiae.

[30] The most important precedents for the elaborate allegories of this passage are Augustine,  Enarratio in Psalmos 95, Tractatus in Ioannem 9.14 and 10:10–13. Cf. Elucidarium (PL 172:945). The observation that Mary’s age at Christ’s conception and Christ’s at his death also equal thirty-six may be Honorius’s own creation. Christ died in the course of his thirty-fourth year, making him thirty-four at death if counting inclusively. 

[31] The Protoevangelium of James tells how Mary dwelt in the Temple at Jerusalem until her twelfth year, when she left to marry Joseph.

[32] Cf. Gemma animae 3.41.

[33] Matthew 5:17.

[34] Psalm 38:7.

[35] Psalm 48:11-12

[36] Cf. Ecclesiasticus 10:13.

[37] Cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9

[38] quippe PL

[39] prophetiam PL

[40] Isaiah 55:7

[41] inquit add. PL

[42] Ibid.

[43] dilectissimi PL

[44] Mox PL

[45] miseriis PL

[46] duruit PL

[47] Scripturae PL

[48] etiam add. PL

[49] et a carnibus omit. PL

[50] puto PL

[51] simulat PL

[52] diabolum PL

[53] tunc add. PL

[54] nequicia PL

[56] namque PL

[57] eum PL