De Canonum Observantia 17: On Saints’ Feasts

Proposition XVII

Various uses venerate God’s saints under different ranks; this is based partly on the Gospel; partly on the City; partly on general custom; partly on the country or place

Gather ye together his saints to him, who set his covenant before sacrifices.[1] God’s saints are gathered together with the God of Abraham, and their names are in the book of life.[2] Knowledge of their names and passions are collected in the Church’s Martyrology, but we are unable to venerate each one of them in the sacrifice of divine praise. Yet out of their number a certain few should be gathered and noted in a public register, that we may duly venerate them when their days occur. We call this public register a CalendarGather therefore for our God his saints in the Church’s calendar, who set Christ’s covenant before the sacrifices of their own praise, and we are by every means obliged to render this praise to him.

But as we gather such saints into this Calendar, those saints of God are to be chosen whom we are obliged to venerate by the Holy Gospel or the Roman office of St. Gregory, as well as those whom the general custom of the Church venerates and worships. These ones are to be written into everyone’s use and we have included them in the calendar placed at the beginning, though among the Romans Saints Bartholomew, Ambrose, Chrysogonus, Pope Martin, Eustachius, Linus, Chrysanthus and Daria, the Seven Sleepers, and several others are assigned to different days than they have among us. On this point the Apostolic See commands “let local custom be observed,” Extra, De observation ieiuniorum, Consilium[3] and De verborum significatione, Quaesivit.[4] Furthermore, every use should include in its proper calendar those saints who are especially venerated in their land or place. And in order to avoid errors in the redaction of a church’s calendar on these and other matters, the custom is to rely on the cathedral church. The statues of Cologne and Liège order as much. And saints whom we do not venerate in the office should not be noted in the calendar. Otherwise the calendars become complex and simple priests are furnished an excuse for omitting the ferial office. Moreover, none should be allowed to institute new saints by writing them in, giving them their own office in contravention of the aforementioned authorities. Having gathered and inscribed, therefore, those of God’s saints whom we are bound to venerate, let us see about their offices.

It is clear that we must not and cannot venerate all the saints equally, nor is it the general custom. Therefore some saints are classed as a simple commemoration, others as three lesson feasts, and others as nine. Those who must have nine lessons are:

First, the saints’ feasts celebrated by the clergy and people based on Roman or diocesan authority, and classed as double feasts must be observed with nine lessons. Further, let those saints’ days which episcopal statutes order be observed with nine lessons be so kept. Feasts of our Lord and his Mother, the Invention of the Holy Cross, the twelve apostles, the Nativity of John the Baptist, of St. Laurence, Michael, and the Dedication of a church are celebrated by the clergy and people based on apostolic authority; likewise general custom celebrates a church’s patron, the Conversation of Paul, the Chair and Chains of Peter, the feasts of Martin and Nicholas, Mary Magdalene and Catherine. In the statues of Cologne, moreover, the clergy and people are enjoined to celebrate Agnes, George, Pantaleon, the Decollation of John, the Exaltation of the Cross, Gereon, the twelve thousand virgins, Severinus, Cunibert, and Cecilia. The statues of Liège enjoin the celebration of Servatius, Lambert, Dionysius, and Hubert. And thus let each add the feasts important to their place. 

Likewise, according to the constitution of Pope Boniface VIII, the Church celebrates, “the principal feasts of the twelve apostles, the four evangelists, and the four doctors as double feasts.”[5] Further, by general custom the Apostle Barnabas, Pope Clement, Benedict, Dionysius, Agatha, Agnes, Cecilia, and the Division of the Apostles are kept as feasts of nine lessons. According to the statues of Cologne, Fabian and Sebastian, Giles, Lambert, Dionysius, Maurice, and Remigius; and according to the statutes of Liège, Dominic, Francis, Leonard, and the eleven thousand virgins have nine lessons in their places and dioceses. And similarly in other dioceses the bishop and his clergy must determine which feasts they should observe with nine lessons. For just as bishops determine the feasts to be celebrated by their people (as stated in De consecratione, distinction 3 chapter PronunciandumExtra, De feriis, chapter Capellanus), so they must also determine the festivities for their clergy.[6]

If a diocese has not determined the feasts, great discretion must be exercised so that the general and reasonable observance of the whole diocese is taken into account, hewing to the principle of moderation, that we should not admit too many feasts of nine lessons. For we find that the statues of the aforementioned dioceses assign nine lessons to only a few of their bishops even though they possess the bodies of many saints and have many local saints—such as the bodies of Saints Maurice and Ewald, and the local saints Eliphius, Heribert, and many others in Cologne; and Theodard, Remacius, Mono, Oda, and several others in Liège, for that church had over thirty canonized bishops. But the same bishops were moderate in instituting nine-lesson feasts. And according to Saint Bernard in his epistle to the canons of Lyons, festivities are not to be multiplied because “such a frequency of joys belongs to our fatherland, not to our exile, and the numerosity of feasts befits citizens, not exiles.”[7]

The Carthusians, Cistercians, Preachers, and others have few particular or special festivities. The special feasts of the Carthusians are Anthony, Vincent, Barnabas, Bernard, Maurice, Dionysius, the eleven thousand virgins, Catherine, Thomas of Canterbury, and—on account of their Order—the two Hughs and the feast of Relics. If it be objected that the use of the Friars Minor keeps everything with nine lessons, we respond that, although the Romans have more festivities than other nations because of the great number of local saints, nevertheless the said Friars abusively go far beyond the ancient Roman use with respect to their nine-lesson feasts, and that their abuse is not to be followed, but rather altogether abominated, as, with God’s grace, I shall further explain in good time when my books arrived from the City, and say below in Proposition 22. 

Let this be, then, the great and foremost principle, which you must follow with decency and according to order, namely that your places receive local festivals of nine lessons only sparingly and on the weightiest authority. For we keep one festival of our Lord Jesus Christ, namely Sunday, followed by six ferias; that the feast days of his servants and private days should be in this proportion of one to six is a mystery we find in the Gospel. For every apostle our Lord put in a higher rank, he put six disciples in a lower, and when he chose the twelve apostles, he picked out six times as many disciples. For six times twelve makes seventy-two, which is the number of Christ’s disciples. “For his actions themselves are precepts: what he does without saying anything shows us what we must do,” according to a homily of St. Gregory.[8] So just as there are few Sundays and many ferias, few apostles and many disciples, so festivals should be few and ferias or saints’ days of three lessons many. And let the ultimate goal be to sing the entire psalter, which is the primary purpose of the Office, as shown above. If you count and order things well, there will not be as many festivals in the year as there are Sundays, since “the servant” should not be “above the master, nor the disciple above his master.” Be assured that it pleases God’s saints more in the end when the psalter, sacred Scripture, the Office of the Dead, the seven Penitential psalms, the fifteen Gradual psalms, and the like are kept in their right order, and there are few. For God’s saints do not seek undue praise, preferring that our “service [to them] be reasonable.”[9] Now that we have seen which saints ought to be venerated with nine readings, let us see which are to be venerated with three readings or a commemoration.  

Note especially that all the saints we have given a Mass for in the prefixed calendar have a proper mass in the Gregorian office and everywhere else, and every use venerates them with three lessons unless they coincide with a major festival, in which case they have a commemoration [in the Office] and should have a separate Mass. These saints especially, therefore, should be venerated with at least three readings on their days. For that reason our calendar lists them with three lessons and a Mass; several of them also have a proper history. 

Apart from these, the various uses differ over which saints they venerate with three readings, such as, among the Carthusians, Polycarp, Blaise, Peter Martyr, Cyriacus and Julitta, Leo, Margaret, Christina, Nazarius and companions, Germanus, Eusebius, Lucy and Euphemia, Thecla, Faith, Crispin and Crispinian, Eustace and companions, Brice, Columban, Linus, Vitalis and Agricola, Silas the Apostle, Saturninus, and Eulalia. Further, they keep Fabian and Sebastian, the Invention of the Holy Cross, the Invention of St. Stephen, Dominic, Remigius, and Francis with three lessons, though others keep them with nine. 

Others they keep with a commemoration, either because they coincide with a major feast or fall within major octaves, as Sylvester, Paul the First Hermit, Hilary, Alexander, and others, and the rest noted as commemorations. On days free of festivals or major octaves they keep any occurring saints of three lessons or the ferial office.  Some, such as the Preachers and their imitators, have saints of a lower class on such days, which they keep with only a commemoration in the temporal office. Such is the third way of commemorating a saint, if he be of lesser importance.  

Behold, I give examples from the use of the Teutonic Knights of Prussia, who beyond the saints who have proper masses noted in the Calendar above, keep the following with three lessons: Anthony, Timothy, Chrysogonus, Blaise, Vitus and Modestus, Paulinus of Nola, Pantaleon and others, Germanus, the Octave of St. Laurence, Bernard, Giles, Lambert, and Remigius; and the following with nine: Maurice and companions, Cosmas and Damian; and with a commemoration in the ferial office: Maurus, Emerentiana, Polycarp, Vedastus and Amandus, Scholastica, Albinus, Perpetua and Felicity, Pudentiana and Petronilla, Nicomedes, Medard, Quiricus and Julitta, Christina, Donatus, Romanus, Eusebius, Rufus, Euphemia, Leodegar, Faith, Martha, Crispin and Crispinian, Narcissus, Quentin, Leonard, Pope Martin, Brice, Agricola and Vitalis, Bishop Saturninus, Eligius, Barbara, Sabbas, the Octave of Andrew, Damasus, and Lazarus. And since their name is Hospitalers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Jerusalem, they keep the following bishops of Jerusalem: Simeon and Alexander with three readings; and Matthias, Zacharias, and Mark with a commemoration. 

Now let us recall the reasons we venerate the saints. Saints are venerated with nine lessons either because they are celebrated by the clergy and people, or because they are classed as duplex feasts, or because they are so designated by episcopal statute or an equivalent authority. They are kept with three lessons either because they have a proper mass office in the Roman office, or because they have been raised to this level of honor in a particular use. They pass with only a commemoration either because they coincide with a greater festival, or fall within major octaves; at least, those are the two general conditions, though the low rank of the saint in a particular use is another cause. Many keep this rule, including the Liègois during Paschaltide for saints who do not have a Mass.   

Consider, my lords and brothers, how reasonably and almost identically the Carthusian brethren stationed in the desert and the Teutonic lords equipped for battle keep this “salutary worship” in their orders, namely, with regard to their saints, observing few of them as festivals or three lesson feasts on account of the temporal office of our High God; both of them, however, say a nocturn on all feasts of three lessons, in accord with Proposition 10. The majority of secular churches abandon the temporal office on ordinary days when a saint occurs. The Cistercians, on the contrary, similarly to other uses, keep but a rare few festivals of twelve lessons. All other saints they keep with a simple commemoration. In this matter, the Carthusians are exemplary.


[1] Psalm 49:5.

[2] Philippians 4:3.

[3] CJC, Decr. Greg. III, 16.2—Frdbrg II, 630

[4] CJC, Decr. Greg. V, 10.14—Frdbg. II, 915. Cf. Prop. 19.

[5] CJC, Sexti Decr. III. 22 – Frdbg. II, 1059.

[6] CJC, Decr. III, 3.1 – Frdbg. I, 1353; Decor. Greg. II, 9.4 — Frdbg. II, 272.

[7] Saint Bernard, Epistula CLXXIV (PL 182:334 ff.)

[8] Gregory, Homilia XVII in Evangelia, Luke 10:1–9 – ML 76:1159.

[9] Cf. Romans 12:1

Rupert of Deutz on the Entrance to the Altar

As the priest makes his way up to the holy altar, he himself and the entire Church present must expand their souls and cherish in the ample bosom of faith the memory of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s incarnation, nativity, passion, resurrection, and ascension, as well as the memory of all the holy men who from the beginning of the world awaited these things in hope, prefigured them with deeds, and prophesied them with words or writings. As they contemplate, let them break out into speech, singing the antiphon called the “introit.” 

For just as the priest’s entrance manifests the Son of God’s entry into this world, so the antiphon called “introit” manifests the voices and expectation of the patriarchs and prophets. As the priest enters, therefore, the aforesaid antiphon is sung at least once with a pomp that is most suitable to the reality signified. Forth first go the flaming candles as a symbol of the joy that irradiated all the earth at the Savior’s birth, of which the angel told the shepherds: I bring you good tidings of great joy.[1] Two ministers go before the priest, not together or side by side, but the subdeacon first, then the deacon. For these two signify the Old and New Testaments, the Law and the Gospel: the Law prior in time, but the Gospel greater in dignity. And the Savior brought with him these two salvific dispensations, for he brought the Gospel, and came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it.[2] These two are the feet of the angel who came down from heaven, clothed with a cloud, and set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot upon the earth.[3] For when John the Baptist and our Lord were teaching, the people listened calmly to the Law’s moral teaching, but against the worshipful Gospel and the plain doctrine of the faith, their tempestuous and salty hearts swelled with rage as the wonderful surges of the sea,[4] as when, for example, he said, “I and the Father are one,”[5] and “Before Abraham was made, I am.”[6]

The subdeacon carries the Gospel book precisely because the law bears witness to Christ, as he said to the Jews: If you did believe Moses, you would believe me also, for he wrote of me.[7] He carries it closed because before the slain Lamb had opened the seven seals, the mystery of his Passion was hidden in the book of the Law.


De antiphona ad introitum

Sacerdote tandem ad sanctum altare ingressuro debet tam ipse sacerdos quam et tota praesens Ecclesia dilatare animam suam et amplo fidei sinu tenere memoriam incarnationis, nativitatis, passionis, resurrectionis et ascensionis Iesu Christi Domini nostri et memoriam omnium sanctorum, qui eum ab initio mundi votis exspectaverunt, gestis praefiguraverunt, dictisque aut scriptis prophetaverunt, et in eorum contemplatione in voces erumpere, praecinendo antiphonam, quae dicitur ad introitum. 

Nam sicut introitus sacerdotis ingressum Filii Dei in hunc mundum, sic antiphona, quae dicitur ad introitum, voces et exspectationem praefert patriarcharum et prophetarum. Ingreditur ergo antiphona praedicta non minus quam semel decantata cum eiusmodi pompa quae significatae rei aptissime congruit. Praecedunt flammantes cereoli, videlicet in signum gaudii, quod in ortu Salvatoris omni mundo effulsit, de quo angelus ad pastores: Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum etc. Praeveniunt sacerdotem ministri duo, non pariter, neque a latere incedentes sed ante subdiaconus, post diaconus. Signant enim hi duo Vetus et Novum Testamentum, id est legem et Evangelium, quorum lex tempore prior, Evangelium vero dignitate maius est. Haec namque duo salutis ministeria Salvator invexit, qui Evangelium quidem attulit, legem vero non solvere, sed adimplere venit

Isti sunt duo pedes angeli, qui, ut supra dictum est: Descendit de caelo amictus nube, et posuit pedem dextrum suum supra mare, sinistrum super terram. Legalis enim moralitas, Ioanne baptista vel ipso Domino docente, tranquillitus audita est. Contra evangelicam vero dignitatem, id est manifestam fidei doctrinam, verbi gratia cum diceret: Ego et Pater unum sumus, et: Antequam Abraham fieret ego sum, veluti mirabiles elationes maris fluxa et salsa corda tumuerunt. 

Subdiaconus quoque praefert textum Evangelii, quia profecto lex testimonia continet Christi, sicut ipse dicit Iudaeis: Si crederetis Moysi, crederetis forsitan et mihi; de me enim ille scripsit. Portat vero clausum quia videlicet antequam Agnus occisus aperuisset signacula septem, clausum erat in libro legis sacramentum eius passionis.


[1] Luke 2:10

[2] Cf. Matthew 5:17

[3] Apocalypse 10:1–2

[4] Psalm 92:4

[5] John 10:30

[6] John 8:58

[7] John 5:46

Almsgiving is Good with Fasting: Honorius Augustodunensis on the Second Sunday of Lent

Be at agreement with thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him.[1] This life we live, dearly beloved, is like a way by which we press on to the fatherland, and each day we dwell here is, as it were, a stage of our journey. Our adversary in this way is the divine speech. For when we begin to burn with wrath or hatred, he says to us: Thou shalt not kill.[2] When we lust to drink our fill of the flesh’s  impurity, he says: Thou shalt not commit adultery.[3] When we covet another’s property, he says: Thou shalt not steal.[4] When we work wickedness against our neighbors, he says: Thou shalt not bear false witness.[5] So he stands athwart us in all our desires, accompanying us on the way like an adversary. Let us be in agreement with him betimes, lest perchance he accuse us before Christ the Judge, and the Judge hand us over to the bailiff, that is, the devil, that he might put us in jail, that is, in hell, for we shall not go out from thence until we pay the last farthing,[6] that is, until we have been punished for the least of our sins. Since we are composed of four elements, we must pay God four farthings. From fire we owe the fervor of charity, from air clarity of thought, from water the cleansing that comes from baptism and tears, and from earth the devotion of our bound service. But this last farthing perverts the other senses with carnal impulses and leads them astray into unlawful deeds. Earth, forsooth, brings anger from fire, pride from air, the flood of lust from water, and attachment to worldly pleasures from itself. We are bound to pay back this farthing in prison, when we are made to atone for our worldly deeds through everlasting punishments. 

And so, dearly beloved, it behoves you during these days to come together frequently in church, to hear salutary admonitions with an attentive ear, to pray for yourselves and for the entire people, and to refrain from gossiping and empty chatter, especially in church, since for every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment.[7] For many frequent churches—’tis with pain that I am bound to say it—who would have done much better to remain at home. 

When Our Lord was preaching, crowds flocked together to him with divers intentions. Some for the doctrine of heavenly life which sweetly flowed from his mouth. Others for the sake of healing, since he cured all infirmities. Others because of want, since he easily sated five thousand men with five loaves of bread. Others because of the grandeur of his miracles, since he gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, walking to the lame, and life to the dead. Others because of envy, that they might mock his words and twist his deeds to appear evil. Likewise today many come to church, some to hear the divine office and the words of life, other to confess their sins and pour forth their prayers to God, others to chatter with their friends, others to ambush their enemies, others to be seen in glamorous garments, others to parley with pretty girls, others to mock God’s words and disrupt the divine service. These come at the devil’s bidding, for while he is otherwise occupied he sends forth these men to impede God’s work. But just as Christ did not halt his preaching of heavenly things to Peter and the apostles, even though he knew that it tormented Judas and the Pharisees, so we must needs preach eternal joys to the sons of God who yearn for their fatherland, even though we know that this will harrow the heralds, nay, the sons of the devil. 

There was a commandment under the Law that little bells should be woven into the priestly garment,[8] so that as the priest entered the tabernacle a sound should be heard and he should not die. The garment adorned with bells is the life of priests, dedicated to preaching. For if they proclaim God’s kingdom and his justice to the people, they save their souls. But if they should conceal his justice, and the people should perish in their iniquity, their blood shall be required at the priests’ hand, as if they had killed them.[9]

There is a beautiful, multicolored beast called the panther.[10] It enters the woods and feeds on divers herbs. Then it stands upon a rock and cries out, and the entire throng of beasts gathers hastily around it, except the dragon who alone takes flight. Then the panther belches out a sweet smell that heals every infirmity. This beast signifies the priests, particolored with many virtues, who ought to enter the forest of Scripture and each their fill of various verses like so many herbs. Then they should stand upon the Rock that is Christ through their good works, summon the people from all parts with their preaching, and then breathe out the healthful odor of Scripture, curing the sick of their diseases with the medicine of their tongue and driving the dragon, which is the devil, away from them.

The Panther as depicted in a 13th-century English bestiary (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. 764, fol. 7v).

During these days, dearly beloved, we omit the Alleluia, which is a joyful strain, and sing the Tract, a song of sadness, since it behoves us here below to be saddened on account of our sins so that we might be permitted someday to rejoice with the angels. Hence, too, a veil is now suspended in the churches which hides the secrets of the sanctuary from the people, since heavenly things are concealed from us on account of our sins, but they shall be disclosed to us through penance. 

We read that Jerusalem was surrounded by a triple wall. Nabuchodosonor assaulted and seized it with the help of six kings, killing some of the inhabitants and hauling the others off to Babylon. Some who fled to the tower in the midst of the city were saved. 

Jerusalem is the faithful people, surrounded by a triple wall, to wit, by faith, hope, and charity. Nabuchodonosor—that is, pride, the chief vice—attacks it with the other six vices—that is, envy, hate, vainglory, avarice, gluttony, and lust—and destroys its walls—that is, faith, hope, and charity. He kills the inhabitants when he crushes the faithful with mortal sins. He hauls the others off to Babylon when he carries off to the underworld those who are dead in their sins. Let each of the faithful, then, when once the walls of virtue have been destroyed,  flee forthwith to the tower of confession, lest the Chaldeans—that is, the demons—slay them. 

We also read today[11] that when our Lord withdrew into the parts of Tyre, a woman of Canaan cried out to him for the sake of her daughter, who was grievously troubled by a demon, and begged him insistently for her health. Tyre is this world, into whose parts our Lord retired when he put on our flesh. The woman who came out of those coasts is the Church, gathered from the Gentiles. Her daughter, troubled by a demon, is what soul soever has been seized by vices. She is cured at her mother’s entreaties when the soul, converted by the Church’s prayers, is cleansed of her vices. For the merciful Lord comes to seek the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel, that is, of the assembly of the angels, and, having found them, to restore them to their company. 

Christ and the Canaanite woman, with the Second Sunday of Lent’s Introit. From the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, 1410.

Wherefore, dearly beloved, sanctify ye a fast[12] in order that you might merit to rejoice in the eternal banquet with the angels in the pastures of life. Honor your prelates and elders, support your parents in their old age or poverty out of your own resources. 

The examples of the birds admonish us to carry out these good works. We read that when the eagle grows old,  its chicks feed it until it is reborn and its youth restored. Likewise, too, it is said that the bee-eater, when it grows old, is nourished by its chicks.[13] And when the stork is weighed down by old age and bereft of its feathers, its chicks envelop it with their wings and restore it with plentiful food.[14] If the birds do such things, how much more meet is it that men do the same?

Redeem yourselves with alms from the peril of punishment for your sins, for almsgiving is good with fasting.[15] It delivereth from death and purgeth away sins,[16] and does not suffer the soul to go into darkness,[17] but obtains for it life everlasting. Yea verily, Tabitha, full of good works and almsdeeds,[18] was raised back to life amidst the weeping of widows and orphans, for when they showed Peter the garments she had made for them, he forthwith restored life to her. Dearly beloved, behold the value of almsgiving. Not only does it free souls from death, but it even raises bodies from death. Tobias, too, who lost the light of his eyes for four years, received it again when an angel visited him thanks to his almsdeeds and fasts.[19]

St. Peter raises Tabitha (13th century French psalter, Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.729, fol. 303r).

We read about a certain toller who never gave alms to any poor beggar.[20] One day, the beggars were comparing their haul of goods which various people had given them and noted how the toller, although exceedingly rich, never gave them anything. Then one of the beggars said that he would get alms from him presently. After each of the other beggars promised to give him their shares of alms if he could wring even a penny from the toller, he ran forthwith to his house and begged for alms with importunate cries. At that moment, the stewards were placing bread on the table. The toller, full of wrath, looked around to see if mayhap any wood or stone offered itself to him to throw in the face of the yeller. Finally out of anger he grabbed a loaf of bread and cast it into the mouth of the beggar as he cried out. Taking it, he returned happily to his companions and showed them the loaf which he told them he received from the toller.

Not much later the same toller was struck by a serious illness and was near his end. Demons immediately gathered around him, reviewing before him all his evil deeds. Angels then arrived and required of the toller’s guardian angel his good deeds, but he replied that the toller had never wished to assent to his encouragements to do good, except that one day he wrathfully threw a loaf of bread at a beggar which he had brought with him now. The angels took the loaf from him and broke it into tiny crumbs, and as the demons put the heavy weights of the toller’s sins on the scales, the angels placed a crumb, which proved heavier. They continued doing so until the crumbs were heavier than the devil’s weights. But the demons roared that an injury had been done to them, crying out that they would drag their servant away with them by force. The matter was given over to God’s judgment, but at the angel’s prayers the toller was permitted to return to life. As soon as he recovered from his illness, he gave thanks to the immense clemency of God, and thenceforth distributed countless alms to all the destitute. 

One day, he met a beggar on the road and forthwith dressed him with the precious garment he was warning. The beggar, however, wished to sell it. When the toller saw the garment hanging in a market, he was saddened, and returned home weeping and thus fell asleep on account of his sorrow. Our Lord Jesus appeared to him clad in that same garment and asked him why he wept. He replied, “Because what I, all unworthy, give your servants, they scorn to wear.” But Jesus showed him the garment and said, “Behold, I am wearing the garment you gave me.” The toller awoke and declared that blessed are the poor, among whose number the Lord counts himself. He immediately sold all his belongings and distributed them to the needy. Moreover, he commanded his servant to sell him and pay out the money he made among the poor.  With difficulty he compelled the servant to do so, but the servant finally sold the toller to traders and bestowed the money on the destitute, as he had asked. After being sold, the toller served his lord faithfully and daily gave his lunch to the indigent, contenting himself with bread and water. At last he merited the starry kingdom and shone with glorious miracles.

Therefore, dearly beloved, since alms thus free us from every evil and so powerfully exalt man to the heavens, distribute them frequently according to your means, and hasten to stow away your belongings as heavenly treasures. Let no one say that he has nothing to give, since the Judge promises a reward for a cup of cold water.[21] And he who has no possessions to give can offer good will. Make, therefore, paupers to be your friends of the mammon of iniquity, that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings,[22] where there are joys which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, &c.[23]

St. Laurence distributing alms.

Esto consentiens aduersario tuo cito, dum es cum illo in uia. Vita ista, karissimi, qua uiuimus est quędam uia qua ad patriam tendimus. Quot enim dies hic ducimus, quasi tot dietas currimus. In uia hac noster aduersarius est sermo diuinus. Cum enim iram uel odium perficere exardescimus, dicit nobis: Non occides. Cum carnis inmundiciam explere concupiscimus, dicit: Non mechaberis. Cum alienis rebus inhiamus, dicit: Non furaberis. Cum proximis[24] mala molimur, dicit: Non falsum testimonium dices. Ergo quia in omnibus desideriis nostris nobis aduersatur, quasi aduersarius in uia nos comitatur. Huic aduersario consentiamus cito, ne forte accusando tradat nos iudici xpo, iudex uero ministro, id est diabolo, qui mittat nos in carcerem, id est in infernum, quia inde non exibimus donec nouissimum quadrantem reddamus, id est pro minimo peccato penas recipiamus. Ex iiii.or namque qualitatibus subsistimus, et ideo iiii.or quadrantes Deo persoluere debemus. Ex igne enim caritatis feruorem, ex aere ingenii perspicacitatem, ex aqua baptismi et lacrimarum abolitionem, ex terra debitę seruitutis debemus deuotionem. Sed hic quadrans nouissimus peruertit cęteros sensus per carnales impetus, et pertrahit eos ad illicitos actus. Et de igne quidem furorem, de aere elationem, de aqua libidinis fluxum, terra de se reddit mundanorum desideriorum appetitum. Hunc quadrantem cogimur in carcere persoluere, dum terrena opera in ęternis pęnis compellimur luere.

Vnde, karissimi, decet uos frequenter istis diebus ad ęcclesiam conuenire, monita salutaria intenta aure audire, pro vobis et pro omni populo orare, fabulas et inania colloquia ubique, sed maxime in ęcclesia declinare, quia de omni uerbo ocioso quod locuti fuerint homines reddent Deo racionem in die iudicii. Multi etenim[25] frequentant ęcclesias, quod cum gemitu cogor dicere, quibus multo melius esset domi residere.

Predicante Domino, turbę ad eum diuersa mente confluxere. Quidam ob celestis uitę doctrinam, quę dulcis de ore ipsius manabat; quidam ob medelam, quia omnem languorem curabat; quidam ob inopiam, quia facile quinque panibus v. milia hominum saciabat; quidam ob signorum magnitudinem, quia cecis uisum, surdis auditum, claudis gressum, mortuis uitam dabat; quidam ob inuidiam, ut uerba ejus irriderent et opera eius ad malum peruerterent. Ita hodie plurimi ad ęcclesiam confluunt, quidam ut diuinum officium et uitę uerba audiant, quidam ut peccata sua confiteantur et preces Domino fundant, aliqui ut amicis confabulentur, alii ut inimicis insidientur, quidam ut preciose vestiti uideantur, alii ut mulierculis colloquantur, alii ut uerba Dei irrideant et operi[26] Dei impedimento fiant. Hii ueniunt missi a diabolo, quia dum ipse alias occupatur, premittit hos ut opus Dei per eos impediatur.[27]Sed sicut xpc non cessauit Petro et apostolis celestia nunciare, quamuis sciret hoc[28] Iudam et Phariseos cruciare, ita oportet nos filiis Dei patriam suam desiderantibus gaudia sempiterna preloqui, quamuis nouerimus nuncios, immo filios diaboli inde torqueri.

Erat namque preceptum in lege, ut tintinnabula essent intexta in sacerdotali ueste, ut ingrediens[29] tabernaculum sonitus audiretur, et non moreretur. Vestis tintinnabulis intexta, est uita sacerdotum predicatione subnixa. Si enim populo regnum Dei et iusticiam eius annuntiant, animas suas saluant. Si autem iusticiam absconderint, et populus iniquitate mortuus fueritsanguis eius de manu sacerdotum requiritur, quasi eum occiderit.

Est bestia nomine panthera, uariis coloribus decora. Hęc siluam ingreditur, diuersis herbis uescitur, et deinde in petra stans uocem emittit, et omnis turba bestiarum[30] in circuitu accurrit, solus draco fugit. Tunc suauem odorem eructat, et omnes languores sanat. Per hanc bestiam significantur sacerdotes multis uirtutibus discolores, quos conuenit siluam Scripturę ingredi, uariis sententiis ut herbis repleri, deinde in petra xpo bonis operibus stare, populum undique predicando[31] conuocare, et tunc salubrem Scripturę odorem efflare, et egros morbis lingu​​ę medicamine curare, draconem diabolum ab eis effugare.

Istis diebus, karissimi, Alleluia quod est melos laeticię intermittimus, et Tractum, cantum tristicię, canimus, quia pro peccatis nostris oportet nos hic tristari, ut liceat nobis quandoque cum angelis letari. Ideo etiam nunc uela in ecclesiis suspenduntur, quo populo secreta sanctuarii absconduntur, quia cęlestia nobis ob peccata celantur quę ob penitentiam nobis reserantur.

Legitur quod Ierusalem[32] triplici muro circumdata fuerit, quam Nabuchodonosor auxilio vi. regum expugnando cepit, inhabitantes quosdam occidit, quosdam in Babylonem duxit. Aliqui qui in turrim in medio ciuitatis sitam fugerunt, saluati sunt.

Ierusalem[33] sunt fidelium populi, triplici muro scilicet fide, spe, caritate circumdati. Quos Nabuchodonosor, id est superbia, principale uicium, cum aliis vi. uiciis, id est inuidia, odio, uanagloria, auaricia, crapula, luxuria, pugnans inuadit, muros, id est fidem, spem, caritatem destruit. Inhabitantes occidit dum fideles peccatis mortis obruit. Alios in Babylonem duxit, dum in peccatis mortuos ad tartara rapit. Turris uero civitatis, est protectio confessionis. Quisque ergo fidelium, destructis muris uirtutum, ad turrim[34] confessionis festinanter fugiat, ne a Chaldeis, id est a demonibus, pereat.

Legitur etiam hodie, cum Dominus in partes Tyri secederet, quod mulier Chananea ad eum pro filia sua clamaret, quam demonium male uexabat, et protinus salutem filię impetrabat. Tyrus est hic mundus, in cuius partes Dominus secessit, dum carnem nostram induit. Mulier, a finibus illis egressa, est Ecclesia de gentibus congregata. Cuius filia quę a demonio uexatur est quęlibet anima quę a uiciis occupatur. Hęc matre orante curatur, dum conuersa anima per orationem Ęcclesię[35] a uiciis purgatur. Venit enim pius Dominus ut querat oues[36] quę perierunt domus Israel, id est cetus angelorum, et inuentas reducat ad societatem eorum. 

Vnde, karissimi, sanctificate ieiunium, ut pascuis uitę[37] mereamini cum angelis habere ęternarum epularum gaudium. Prelatos uestros et omnes maiores honorate, parentes uestros in senectute uel egestate consumptos rebus uestris sustentate. Ad hec enim exercenda, monent nos auium exempla. Nam legitur quod aquila senescens a pullis suis pascatur, usque dum in pristinam iuventutem renascatur. Similiter etenim[38] fertur quod merops senescens, a pullis suis nutriatur. Cyconia quoque, senectute grauata et plumis nudata, a pullis alis circumuelatur et cibo assiduo recreatur. Et si talia exercent uolucres, quanto magis decet ut ea expleant homines? 

Elemosinis redimite uos a peccatorum[39] penarum periculo, quia bona est ęlemosina cum ieiunio. Hęc a morte liberat et hęcpeccata purgatet in tenebras ire non patitur, sed uitam ęternam per eam dabitur. Thabita quippe, plena operibus bonis et ęlemosinis, ad uitam resuscitatur, uiduis et orphanis flentibus. Cum enim uestes ostenderent quas illis faciebat, mox eam Petrus uitę restituebat. En, karissimi, quantum ęlemosinę ualent. Non solum enim a morte animę[40] liberant, sed etiam a morte corporis suscitant. Tobyas quoque, qui quadriennio lumen oculorum amiserat, per ęlemosinas et ieiunia angelo uisitante receperat.

Legitur de quodam theloneario, quod nunquam ęlemosinam prebuerit alicui pauperculo. Quadam die dum pauperes inter se conferrent[41] quanta bona illi et illi eis impendissent, ille uero thelonearius, quamvis ditissimus, nunquam aliquid boni eis exhibuisset, unus illorum intulit quod ad presens elemosinam ab eo accepturus sit. Cui dum unusquisque prout habuit deposuisset, si ab eo saltim[42] minimum quid acciperet, ille protinus ad domum thelonearii cucurrit, elemosinam importunis uocibus petiit. Ea uero hora panis a ministris mensę inponebatur. Cumque thelonearius furore repletus circumspiceret, si forte lignum uel lapis se furenti offerret, quod in faciem uociferantis iactaretur, pre ira cuneum arripuit, in ora clamantis pauperis proiecit. Quem ille amplectitur, letus ad socios regreditur, cuneum demonstrat, quem se ab eo accepisse memorat. 

Non multo post idem thelonearius est graui infirmitate tactus, et ad extrema perductus. Ad quem mox demones convenerunt, cuncta eius male gesta eo uidente recensuerunt. Cumque et[43] angeli adessent, et ab eius custode bona eius requirerent, dixit quod nunquam sibi assensum ad bonum prebere uoluerit, nisi quod quadam die cuneum iratus in pauperem iactauerit, quem ipse nunc secum adtulerit. Angeli uero cuneum ab eo acceperunt, et in minimas micas diuiserunt. Et cum demones grauia pondera peccatorum in statera ponerent, angeli micam imponebant, quę preponderabat. Hoc tamdiu fecerunt usque dum micę ponderibus demonum preponderabant. Demones uero iniuriam sibi factam uociferabant, proprium suum seruum per uim sibi tolli clamitabant. Res in iudicium Dei differtur, sed angelis orantibus ad uitam redire permittitur. Qui mox de infirmitate conualuit, gratias immensę clementię Dei retulit, infinitas elemosinas omnibus egenis deinde cottidie exhibuit. 

Quodam die pauperem obuium habuit, quem protinus ueste preciosa, qua ipse utebatur, induit, pauper uero eam uendere uoluit. Postquam ille uestem in uenalium rerum loco pendentem uidit, mestus factus, domum rediens fleuit, et ita pre tristicia obdormiuit. Cui Dominus ihc eadem ueste indutus apparuit, cur fleret inquisiuit. At ille: « Quia inquit, quod tuis famulis a nobis indignis datur, portare dedignatur. » Ille uero uestem pretulit. « En, inquit, quam dedisti uestis me tegit. » At ille euigilans, pauperes beatos predicat, de quorum numero se Dominus affirmat. Protinus omnem substantiam suam uendidit, egenis cuncta distribuit. Insuper seruo suo precepit ut se uenderet et acceptam pro eo pecuniam pauperibus erogaret. Quem vix ad hoc compulit quod eum negociatoribus uendidit et pecuniam, ut petiit, miseris impertiit. Ipse uero uenditus domino suo fideliter seruiuit, annonam suam cottidie indigentibus tribuit, ipse pane et aqua contentus fuit. Tandem gloriosis miraculis claruit, qui iam syderea regna promeruit. 

Igitur, karissimi, dum ęlemosina ita ab omni malo liberet et sic potenter ad celestia hominem exaltet, hanc omnes pro modulo vestro frequentate, res uestras in cęlestes thesauros recondere festinate. Nemo dicat quod quid det non habeat,[44] cum iudex pro calice aquę frigide premium repromittat. Et cui deest substantia quę detur, ab eo bona uoluntas accipitur. Facite ergo uobis pauperes amicos de iniquitatis mammona, ut cum defeceritis, recipiant uos in ęterna tabernacula, ubi sunt gaudia quę oculus non uidit, nec auris, &c. 


[1] Matthew 5:25.

[2] Exodus 20:13.

[3] Exodus 20:14.

[4] Exodus 20:15.

[5] Exodus 20:16.

[6] Matthew 5:26.

[7] Matthew 12:36.

[8] Cf. Exodus 39:23, 34.

[9] Cf. Ezechiel 3:18–21. ​​Gregory makes use of this and the next biblical passage in his discussion of a pastor’s burden in Letter 34 (PL 77:488).

[10] See Physiologus (CPL 1154), “On the Panther.” Eng. trans. by Michael Curley (Austin, 1979), 42–45. Honorius draws the connection between the panther, the virtues, and priestly vestments most explicitly in a passage from the Sacramentarium 29 (PL 172:762–763): “The panther is a beast of seven colors: black, white, gray, gold, green, bronze, red. The panther feeds on various herbs and, perched on a rock, cures with its breath the sick animals who come to it. The panther stands for the priest, who has seven vestments and seven virtues. The color black signifies humility, white chastity, gray prudence, gold wisdom, green faith, bronze hope, and red charity. The various herbs are the various verses of Scripture; the rock is Christ, and the sick beasts are men sick with sin. The priest cures them when he recites them verses from Scripture. When the priest vests, he as it were begins a duel with the devil on the Church’s behalf. He puts the amice, i.e. hope, on his head for a helmet; he dons the alb, i.e. faith, as a breastplate; the cingulum, i.e. chastity, for a swordbelt; the subcingulum, i.e. the witness of Scripture or the examples of the saints, as a bow and arrows; the stole, i.e. obedience or justice, for a lance or sling; the maniple on his hand, i.e. good works, for a war-club; the chasuble, i.e. charity, for a shield; the Gospel book, i.e. God’s word, for a sword; sandals, i.e. preaching, for his knightly shoes.” See also Gemma animae 1.83, on the priest’s armor. On the history of color interpretation from early Latin sources through the medieval encyclopedic tradition, see the exhaustive study of Christel Meier and Rudolf Suntrup, Lexikon der Farbenbedeutungen im Mittelalter: Pictura et Poesis (Cologne, 2011).

[11] The Gospel pericope Honorius expounds here is Matthew 15:21–28, which was read in a number of medieval Transalpine uses. The Tridentine pericope, however, is the account of the Transfiguration in Matthew 17:1–9.

[12] Joel 

[13] See Pliny, Natural History X, 33; and St. Isidore of Seville, Etymologies XII, 94; and Physiologus 10 (Curley 14–15).

[14] See Pliny, Natural History VIII, 41; and St. Isidore of Seville, Etymologies XII, 7.

[15] Cf. Tobias 12:8

[16] Tobias 12:9.

[17] Tobias 4:11.

[18] Acts 9:36.

[19] Cf. Tobias 11.

[20] The story of Peter the Toller, famously recorded in the Golden Legend in the entry of St. John the Almsgiver, is told in Leontius’ life of this saint (ch. 31), translated into Latin by Anastasius Bibliothecarius in the 9th century (PL 73:356–359). 

[21] Matthew 10:42.

[22] Luke 16:9.

[23] 1 Corinthians 2:9.

[24] nostris add. PL

[25] enim PL

[26] operae PL

[27] insidiatur PL

[28] haec PL

[29] ingrediente PL

[30] herbarum A in margine

[31] omit. PL

[32] Hierosolyma PL

[33] Hierosolyma PL

[34] turrem PL

[35] omit. PL

[36] omit. PL

[37] passionis eius consortes PL

[38] omit. PL

[39] et add. PL

[40] differrent PL

[41] different PL

[42] saltem PL

[43] omit. PL

[44] Ab eo bona voluntas accipitur add. PL

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

De Can. Observ. 18: Saints’ Feasts of Nine and Three Lessons

In Proposition 18, Radulph addresses the difference between saints’ feasts of nine and of three lessons. He argues that the former should imitate the Sunday office and the latter the ferial office, criticizing uses which drew up sub-categories of feasts of three lessons. Radulph defends the simplicity in this matter followed by orders such as the Carthusians and the Teutonic Knights.


Proposition XVIII

The office of saints’ feasts of nine lessons is kept like a Sunday, that of three readings like a feria

“The disciple is not above the master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.”[1]

Let the servant be glad to be in his lord’s family; it does not suit him to be honored above his lord. God’s saints, therefore, who are the Lord’s servants, are happy when their days are kept in a manner proportional to those of Christ their Lord. So saints’ days of nine lessons, which are called festivals (festivitates), should have an office like Sunday’s, running from Vespers to Vespers. St. Benedict prescribes as much in chapter 33, saying:

On the festivals of saints, and all other solemnities, let the Office be ordered as we have prescribed for Sundays: except that the psalms, antiphons, and lessons suitable to the day are to be said. Their quantity, however, shall remain as we have appointed above.[2]

Thus far there. 

Likewise when we observe saints of three lessons we ought to follow the structure of a private day of the ferial office, as set forth below.  It is part of the beauty of the divine office that festivals are kept with features of the Sunday office and saints’ days of three lessons like the ferial or private office. And if the prerogatives of Sunday and the privileges of nine lessons be applied to private days, it would spoil the office and undo the order itself. For the Holy Fathers were studiously careful to preserve harmony in ecclesiastical services and prohibit all dissonance. 

Nine-lesson feasts in the kalendar of the 1302 Breviary of Metz (Verdun, Bibl. mun., ms. 0107, fol. 103).

So festivals are kept on the pattern of Sunday with both Vespers, and at these offices and at Lauds the [proper] antiphons, when they exist, are by all means to be sung over the psalms always and everywhere, as stated in proposition 10. For first Vespers the ferial psalms and ferial antiphons, unless proper ones exist. With respect to the Vespers responsory of a double office, it is a widespread custom to sing a responsory at both Vespers. And if the people celebrate the festival, let it be sung at first Vespers. Suffrages should be said as on Sunday, but abbreviated on solemnities. The Invitatory should be solemn and the hymn should, of course, be sung at Nocturns, in which the nine antiphons over nine psalms are not to be omitted. Let the lessons and responsories be authentic, and sing nine responsories. Te DeumGloria in excelsis, and Ite missa est are said in seasons when they can be said on the Sunday; otherwise, let not the servant be greater than his master, without the Lord’s special dispensation. It is customary to celebrate the Mass of the festival as a community. At second Vespers all the antiphons from Lauds are said over the ferial psalms, unless the festival has special ones, such as of the Apostles and, according to a widespread custom, of several others. But if two festivals of nine readings or a festival and a Sunday or a feast of three readings fall on the same day, both of which demand per sea full office, let the more important be kept in full and only a commemoration made of the other. But if it seems good to celebrate both in full, let one be deferred to the following day, just as Pope Gregory celebrated the feast of St. Paul after the feast of St. Peter. For the other practice, which lumps together two offices for celebration on the same day, keeping one nocturn of one feast and the rest of the other, is not allowed by the authority of the holy Fathers, who always instructed us to maintain harmony in the offices, as said above, for when we strain to perform both on the same day, we find that we have celebrated neither with the reverence due to the divine offices. 

The festal office will be discharged most fittingly if it is made proportionately equal to the Sunday office, as far as the given office permits.

When two festivals occur back to back, they should not share a common Vespers in full, as the Minors do it today abusively. Instead observe what Micrologus says in chapter 35:

All the authentic antiphonaries grant St. Stephen a full second Vespers. Following this example, therefore, we grant all festivals of the year a second Vespers in full, even if a major feast falls on the next day. For it is not reasonable to sing only the vesperal psalms from the previous feast but the rest of the office from the subsequent feast. The Holy Fathers have left us no examples of this, and they taught us above all to preserve the harmony of the offices with particular diligence. Nevertheless, when a high feastival follows a lesser one, it is not unreasonable if it claims for itself the previous feast’s second Vespers in whole, as the Octave day of Christmas takes the Second Vespers of St. Sylvester. First we complete the Vespers of one feast in its entirety then, if necessary, commemorate the next one after the Benedicamus Domino, as we do for St. Stephen and St. John.[3]

Precisely the same principle holds for feasts of three reasons. Just as nine-lesson feasts are kept on the model of Sundays, so three-lesson feasts are kept on the model of ferias. The Carthusian monks and the aforementioned Teutonic lords keep this custom admirably. Thus in the office of saints of three readings there are prostrations whenever they would be done in the ferial office of the season. When there is first Vespers, the ferial antiphons and psalms are said, and the short chapter, hymn, verse, Magnificat antiphons and collect of the saint, and suffrages, as in the ferial office. Compline and Prime in full and with the psalm Miserere, as in the ferial office. The Invitatory is sung in the ferial tone. After the saint’s hymn, a ferial Nocturn is sung, as shown in Proposition 10. Let the lessons from Sacred Scripture be read, according to all the doctors; the responsories, versicles, verse, Lauds antiphons, and the rest are of the saint. Let Vigils and Vespers of the Dead and the gradual and penitential psalms with what follows them be observed just as in the ferial office. Te Deum and Gloria in excelsis should never be said, just as they are not in the ferial office. So it is written, as shown above in Proposition 13. So, therefore, we should do and sing.

At Terce, Sext, and None, according to the widespread custom, let the antiphons of the Holy Trinity be said. But the Mass must be of the saint, if there is a proper one, without Gloria in excelsis and with Benedicamus Domino. And just as on saints’ days of three lessons at the preces of Compline and Prime we add Miserere mei Deus, the Carthusians, who have preces at every hour, add the same psalm to every hour on these days, and in this respect on these days these monks diverge from our custom.

Thus for one who desires to respect the ferial office, it will be easy to keep saints’ days of three lessons. It is true, however, that in both the monastic and our own usage, when these days fall within Eastertide or major octaves, the preces and the rest are omitted, since throughout Eastertide they are omitted. 

But the office of saints of three readings should end with the Mass, for as Micrologus says in chapter 44: 

The Roman custom is that no mention of a saint of three responsories is made after the Mass, whether it be sung at Terce or at Sext. Rather, mention of the saint ends at the Mass,” and we say the rest as a ferial office. “But on a feast of nine lessons the office is festal until Second Vespers.[4]

Thus far the Micrologus.

The Carthusians end feasts this way. This is, therefore, the simple observance of three-lesson feasts, such that they are proportional to the ferial office, as said above. But many alter and corrupt this observance in various ways. For some people distinguish saints’ days of three lessons by various names, entitling them “of three responsories,” etc.[5] Others call them “said on any feria, including (or excluding) Sunday.”[6] Others have it as a “Collect” or without one, as a “Mass,”[7] as “three readings” and a Te Deum or, if it falls on a Sunday, nine readings. Others say them with a Te Deum or without it, or various other ways.[8] In the abusive practice of others, a three-lesson saint’s day cancels the ferial and other particular offices on certain days, just as if they were nine lesson feasts. 

The complex ranking of three-lesson feasts in the Kalendar of the 1492 Utrecht breviary, p. 13.

[1] Matthew 10:24–25.

[2] Actually Benedict, Rule 14. Translation by Justin McCann.

[3] Micrologus 35.

[4] Micrologus 49.

[5] Cf. Breviarium Camaracense (1497), which uses various titles: III lec., III ℟ cum nocturno, III ℟. cum missa.

[6] Breviarium Traiectense (1492), which uses titles such as Missa de hoc omni feria sed non in dominica or simply De hoc omni feria.

[7] Cf. Missale Leodiensis Eccleisae (1502), which uses various titles: III lec, Collecta, Missa

[8] A marginal notation reads “at Groenendael,” an Augustinian house mentioned above. We could not find any books for comparison.