Thursday, November 6, 2008

Relics - IV

I've finally tracked down the Roman Office of Holy Relics; as I surmised, it is almost wholly taken from the Common of Many Martyrs, excepting only the proper Collect (which I have already given in an earlier post), the use of the second alternative lessons for the 3rd Nocturn (from St Ambrose - they are in the Breviary, Adverte omnia and so forth), and, as the only special item, 2nd Nocturn lessons from St John Damascene - honestly, not so relevant as those provided in the Paris Breviary - which I here append in both the original Latin (thanks to a tip given by a commenter at NLM, located at Google Books) and in the Marquess of Bute's idiosyncratic translation:

Ex Tractatu Sancti Joannis Damasceni
de Fide orthodoxa. 

Lectio iv.   (Lib. 4. c. 15.)

Christus Dominus Sanctorum Reliquias velut salutíferos fontes præbuit, ex quibus plurima nobis beneficia manant, suavissimumque unguentum profluit. Nec vero quisquam huic sermoni fidem detrahat; nam si aqua in deserto ex áspera et solida rupe, atque ex asini maxilla ad sedandam Samsonis sitim, Deo ita volente, prosiliit, eritne, cur cuiquam incredibile videatur, ex Martyrum Reliquiis suave unguentum scaturire? Minime certè; iis quidem, quibus Dei potentia, honorque, quo Sanctos suos afficit, perspectus et exploratus est. Atque illud quidem veteri lege comparatum erat, ut quisquís mortuum contigisset, immundus censeretur; verùm hi in mortuorum numéro minime habendi sunt.

Lectio v.

Ex quo enim ipsamet vita, ac vitæ auctor inter mortuos adscriptus est, eos, qui in spe resurrectionis fideíque erga eum diem extremum clauserunt, mortuos haudquaquam appellamus. Qui enim mortuum corpus miracula edere queat? Per ea dæmones expelluntur, morbi profligantur, ægroti sanantur, cæci prospiciunt, leprosi mundantur, tentationes ac mærores discutiuntur, ac denique omne donum optimum a Patre luminum, eorum opera, ad eos, qui flde minine dubia postulant, descendit. Quid non laboris suscipias, ut patronum quemdam nanciscaris, qui te mortali régi оfferat, ас tuo nomine ad eum verba faclat? An non igitur hi honorandi sunt, qui totius humani generis patronos se profitentur, ac Deo nostra causa supplicant?

Lectio vj.

Honorandi certè, et quidem ita, ut in eorum nomine templa Deo extruamus, dona offeramus, eorum memoriam colamus, atque in ea spiritualiter oblectemur; quo nimirum lætitia nostra iis, a quibus invitamur, congruat, ne, dum eos colère et demereri studemus, offendamus potiùs, et irritemus. Quibus enim rebus Deus colitur, iisdem quoque servi ipsius oblectantur; quibus autem Deus offenditur, iisdem etiam ipsius milites offenduntur. Quocirca in psalmis, et hymnis, et canticís spiritualibus, et compunctione, et eorum, qui in egestate versantur, commiseratione, quibus obsequiis Deus potlssimùm conciliator, Sanctos colamus, statuas ipsis, et visibiles imagines erigamus; imo ipsi virtutibus eorum imitandis hoc consequamur, ut vivæ eorum statuæ atque imagines simus.

The Lesson is taken from the Treatise by St John of Damascus upon the Orthodox Faith (iv. 15.)

He the Lord Christ hath made the relics of the Saints to be as it were healing wells, whence floweth for us much good, and a right sweet balm. Do not let any one gainsay this. If God was pleased that water should flow out of the hard and living rock in the desert, or again out of the jaw bone of an ass in order to quench the thirst of Samson, why should it seem to any one impossible to believe that He should cause a sweet balm to flow from the relics of the martyrs? Nay. None will gainsay this who hath seen and known that power and honour wherewith God doth glorify His Saints. It is written in the old Law, [Num. xi. 16] "Whosoever toucheth… a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean." But the martyrs we cannot reckon among the dead. 

For since the Life Himself and the Author of life was numbered among the dead we cannot call them dead who have died in the hope of the Resurrection, and in faith toward Him. How could a corpse work miracles? But through the Saints devils are cast out, diseases are put to flight, the sick are healed, the blind receive their sight, lepers are cleansed, trials and sorrows are done away; in short, through the Saints every good gift and every perfect gift cometh down from the Father of Lights upon them who believe, nothing wavering. What trouble wouldst thou not take to find a patron to commend thee unto an earthly king and to speak unto him on thy behalf? and are not they to be honoured who offer themselves as the patrons of all mankind and who entreat God on our behalf? 

In good sooth are they to be honoured, and thus honoured that we should build temples and offer oblations to God in their name, that we should worship their memories and rejoice therein with spiritual joy, but a joy which should become them by whom we are invited thereto, and not one by which, while we are seeking to worship them and deserve well of them, we should rather insult and provoke them. Those things by which God is worshipped give pleasure to His servants. Those things by which God is insulted offend His champions, therefore let us worship the Saints with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and repentance, and pitifulness toward the poor, the which things are a service acceptable to God. Let us put up to them statues and visible images, but let us rather by imitating their goodness make ourselves their living images.


Anonymous said...

You're welcome. You're aware that I'm one of the NLM writers, not just a commenter, though, aren't you.

Joshua said...

How embarrassing - I read NLM religiously, yet in my stupidity I missed the very obvious point that you, Gregor, were the author of the posting: please excuse me for being so inattentive!