Saturday, November 6, 2010

Breviary Homily for 4th Sunday after Epiphany

Talk about the Breviary being, as its name implies, an abbreviated Office... while its prayers, hymns and psalms may not be, the Matins readings certainly are.  The dangerous practice of clipping away at the lessons used of old has had bad effects over the ages; how far the liturgy has fallen from the great lengthy extracts used during Advent at Cluny, where all of Isaias was read through within a week or so.  It was particularly foolish of the last pre-Conciliar liturgical reform to slice away the remaining Patristic texts almost to nothing on Sundays – no wonder the Council Fathers called for longer readings (and less psalms) at Matins!

Herewith, the third lesson for the 4th Sunday after Epiphany in the 1962 Roman and Dominican Breviaries:

Homily of St Jerome the Priest
The fifth sign He wrought, when going up into the boat from Capharnaum, He commanded the wind and sea.  The sixth, when in the region of the Gerasenes he gave power to the demons in the pigs.  The seventh, when entering into His city, he cured the second paralytic on a bed.  For the first paralytic is the son of the centurion.

And that's it.

For somewhat more than this barest of outlines, I turn to a 1953 Monastic Breviary and translate the rest of the extract from St Jerome's commentary:

For He Himself had slept: and they approached unto Him, and woke Him, saying: Lord, save us.  A type of this sign we read in Jonas, when amongst other perils, he himself was secure, and slept, and was awoken; and by the authority (imperio) and sacrament of His passion He freed those awaking Him.
Then arising He commanded the wind and sea.  From this place we understand, that all creatures know the Creator.  For what he rebuked, and what He commanded, knew the Commander: not according to the error of heretics, who believe that all things are ensouled, but according to the majesty of the Maker, of which amongst us we are insensible, of which they were aware.
Moreover, the men were amazed, saying: Of what sort is this man, for the wind and sea obey Him?  It was not the disciples, but the sailors, and others, who were in the boat, who marvelled.  If however some contentious man should wish that those, who were surprised, to have been the disciples: we will respond, rightly they are yclept men, who as yet knew not the power of the Saviour.

Now, this at least supplies some meat.

How stupid of the revisers not to take up the second passage as the most pregnant with meaning...

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