Saturday, April 17, 2010

Our Lady in Eastertide

This Saturday, being an Easter feria, is kept as the commemoration of Our Lady on the Sabbath.  Taking up the Office at last after falling into much accidie and worse, having made my confession this morning as is my wont, was a beautiful consolation and grace.  Thanks be to God.

The Easter Office, combined with the Marian Office, is lovely.  For instance, there was the functional equivalent of the Byzantine staurotheotokion, commemorating the Mother of God at the foot of the Cross: for at Prime in the Dominican form, the Gospel extract read is the first verse detailing that very incident, St John xix, 25 (the matching Mass of the day, for Our Lady in Eastertide, appoints the whole of St John xix, 25-27).  And the Cross-and-Resurrection, that summation of the Paschal Mystery, likewise appear together as is most fitting, in the versicle at Saturday Matins: 

V/.  Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro, alleluja.  R/.  Qui pro nobis pependit in ligno, alleluja.
(The Lord hath arisen from the tomb, alleluia; Who for us hung upon the [Cross's] wood, alleluia.)

The psalms are read with a triple alleluia for antiphon; responsories and versicles are likewise adorned with that cry of joy and victory.  A nice detail: for all Sundays and feasts during Eastertide, even for Our Lady's Saturday Office, the Benedicamus Domino at Lauds and Vespers has a double alleluia added, just as throughout the Easter Octave; otherwise, on ferias in Paschal Time, a single alleluia is added at those cardinal Hours.

At Matins, first part of the Apocalypse was read (chapter v, 1-9a), depicting the Lamb once slain Who now liveth for ever, opening the book sealed with seven seals, at the acclaim of all the saints; then came a sweet effusion in honour of Our Lady, from whom was born Christ, the Saviour of our souls, written by the great St Epiphanius: " thee heavenly peace hath been given to the world... by thee men are made angels... by thee the Cross shineth forth throughout the whole world, upon which hung thy Son Christ our Lord; by thee death is trodden down and hell is despoiled... by thee we have come to know the Onlybegotten Son of God, Whom thou didst bear in thy womb."  Alleluia!

The 3rd Matins responsory at once took up the theme, praising she who did merit to bear the Lord, all to the glory of the Triune God:

R/.  Virgo parens Christi, paritura Deum genuisti: fulgida stella maris, nos protege, nos tuearis: * Dum paris et gaudes, cantant cæli agmina laudes.  Alleluia.  V/.  Intercede pia pro nobis, Virgo Maria. * Dum paris et gaudes, cantant cæli agmina laudes.  Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.  Alleluia.  
(R/.  Virgin parent of Christ, bringing forth the God thou begottest: shining star of the sea, protect us, defend us: * Whilst thou bearest and rejoicest, the hosts of heaven sing praises.  Alleluia.  V/.  Intercede sweetly for us, Virgin Mary. * Whilst thou bearest and rejoicest, the hosts of heaven sing praises.  Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.  Alleluia.)

Every great theme of the whole economy of redemption has been given full play.  What a joy to pray this!

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