Thursday, November 6, 2008

Relics - III

While I have been unable to locate the Breviary Office for Holy Relics pro aliquibus locis, I have found, via Google Books, the Neo-Gallican Office of this feast, which in the Paris Breviary was celebrated on the 8th of November, the Octave Day of All Saints (see the Autumn volume of the Breviarium Parisiense, pages 493 to 500).  

As was the fashion in the eighteenth century among innovating liturgists, all the antiphons, responsories, versicles and such were taken from Holy Writ alone, and that a very fulsome and rich collection of apposite passages was assembled it must be admitted; the only Ecclesiastical compositions present were the Patristic texts for the second and third Nocturn (from St Chrysostom's 26th Homily on II Corinthians, n. 5; and St Jerome's Letter LXXV against Vigilantius), the reading of a short canon approving the cult of relics from a 1584 French provincial synod (a peculiarity of Prime according to the French diocesan breviaries), the two Office hymns O vos unanimes and Adeste sancti plurimo (by a contemporary French writer) and the collect, which is the same as the Roman.

Here's the Canon:

(We honour the Relics of the Martyrs, that God, Whose servants they are, we may adore: we honour the servants, that the honour of the servants may redound to the Lord.  For if the bones of the Martyrs pollute those who touch them, how, Elias the Prophet being dead, did he raise the dead?)

To give an idea of some modernistic notions of the compilers of the Paris Breviary, for the whole feast, at every Hour, the ferial psalms are prescribed, and there are no proper Scripture readings for the 1st Nocturn; instead, they were to be taken from the occurring lectio continua!

Here, then, are the proper Lessons (for the 2nd and 3rd Nocturns) from the Parisian Breviary for the feast of Holy Relics:

A Sermon of St John Chrysostom

Homily 26 on II Corinthians, n. 5]

And the tombs of the servants of the Crucified are more splendid than the palaces of kings; not for the size and beauty of the buildings, (yet even in this they surpass them,) but, what is far more, in the zeal of those who frequent them. For he that wears the purple himself goes to embrace those tombs, and, laying aside his pride, stands begging the saints to be his advocates with God, and he that has the diadem implores the tent-maker and the fisherman, though dead, to be his patrons. Will you dare then, tell me, to call the Lord of these dead; whose servants even after their decease are the patrons of the kings of the world? And this one may see take place not in Rome only, but in Constantinople also. For there also Constantine the Great, his son considered he should be honoring with great honor, if he buried him in the porch of the fisherman; and what porters are to kings in their palaces, that kings are at the tomb to fisherman.

But if you will compare these tombs with the royal palaces, here again the palm remains with them. For there indeed there are many who keep off, but here many who invite and draw to them rich, poor, men, women, bond, free; there, is much fear; here, pleasure unutterable. 'But,' says one, 'it is a sweet sight to look on a king covered with gold and crowned, and standing by his side, generals, commanders, captains of horse and foot, lieutenants.' Well, but this of ours is so much grander and more awful that that must be judged, compared with it, to be stage scenery and child's play. For the instant you have stepped across the threshold, at once the place sends up your thoughts to heaven, to the King above, to the army of the Angels, to the lofty throne, to the unapproachable glory.

… the bones of the saints… summon demons and put them to the torture, and loose from those bitterest of all bonds, them that are bound. What is more fearful than this tribunal? Though no one is seen, though no one piles the sides of the demon, yet are there cries, and tearings, lashes, tortures, burning tongues, because the demon cannot endure that marvellous power. And they that once wore bodies, are victorious over bodiless powers; [their] dust and bones and ashes rack those invisible natures. And therefore in truth it is that none would ever travel abroad to see the palaces of kings, but many kings and have often traveled to see this spectacle. For the Martyries of the saints exhibit outlines and symbols of the judgment to come; in that demons are scourged, men chastened and delivered. Do you see the power of saints, even dead?

A Homily of St Jerome the Priest.

[Ep. 75 adversus Vigilantium, n. 5]

It is nothing less than the relics of the martyrs which he is vexed to see covered with a costly veil, and not bound up with rags or hair-cloth, or thrown on the midden, so that Vigilantius alone […] may be worshipped. Are we, therefore guilty of sacrilege when we enter the basilicas of the Apostles? Was the Emperor Constantius [I] guilty of sacrilege when he transferred the sacred relics of Andrew, Luke, and Timothy to Constantinople? In their presence the demons cry out, and […] confess that they feel the influence of the saints. And at the present day is the Emperor Arcadius guilty of sacrilege, who after so long a time has conveyed the bones of the blessed Samuel from Judea to Thrace? Are all the bishops to be considered not only sacrilegious, but silly into the bargain, because they carried that most worthless thing, dust and ashes, wrapped in silk in golden vessel? […] You show mistrust because you think only of the dead body, and therefore blaspheme. Read the Gospel— [Matthew 22:32] “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob: He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

[n. 6]  You say, in your pamphlet, that so long as we are alive we can pray for one another; but once we die, the prayer of no person for another can be heard, and all the more because the martyrs, though they [Revelation 6:10] cry for the avenging of their blood, have never been able to obtain their request. If Apostles and martyrs while still in the body can pray for others, when they ought still to be anxious for themselves, how much more must they do so when once they have won their crowns, overcome, and triumphed? A single man, Moses, oft wins pardon from God for six hundred thousand armed men [cf. Exodus 12:37, etc.]; and [Acts 7:59-60] Stephen, the follower of his Lord and the first Christian martyr, entreats pardon for his persecutors; and when once they have entered on their life with Christ, shall they have less power than before? The Apostle Paul [Acts 27:37] says that two hundred and seventy-six souls were given to him in the ship; and when [Philippians 1:23], after his dissolution, he has begun to be with Christ, must he shut his mouth, and be unable to say a word for those who throughout the whole world have believed in his Gospel? 

[n. 8]  Does the bishop of Rome do wrong when he offers sacrifices to the Lord over the venerable bones of the dead men Peter and Paul, as we should say, but according to you, over a worthless bit of dust, and judges their tombs worthy to be Christ's altars? And not only is the bishop of one city in error, but the bishops of the whole world, who, despite […] Vigilantius, enter the basilicas of the dead, in which “a worthless bit of dust and ashes lies wrapped up in a cloth,” defiled and defiling all else. Thus, according to you, the sacred buildings are [Matthew 23:27] like the sepulchres of the Pharisees, whitened without, while within they have filthy remains, and are full of foul smells and uncleanliness. […] Oh, monster, who ought to be banished to the ends of the earth! 

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