Sunday, June 12, 2011


In due remote preparation for the great feast of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, now rather under two months' hence (on the 27th of July), I first do encourage any and all who wish to keep the feast of "all the saints who are at Ephesus" (cf. Eph, i. 1), where the ruins of both their hiding-place and the later church built in their honour may be seen to this day, to note that, as this day is a feria in the Ordinary Form, and these Sleepers do in sober truth appear in the modern Roman Martyrology, it would be quite proper to have a priest celebrate a Votive in their honour.

Would-be Dormitionist Oblates, take heed!

Likewise, according to the 1962 Martyrology and Missal, this may licitly be done, saving only that there must be made a commemoration of St Pantaleon...

My ever-slumbering friends the Dormitionists have of course a great devotion to this sacred septemvirate of Christian youths, who outdid Epimenides in his slumbers, holy Rip van Winkles all, preserved, securely "hid with Christ in God", as once a hundred prophets of the Lord were secreted in caverns, safe from Jezebel's fury (cf. III Kings xviii, 4 and 13); and it is therefore unsurprising to find their liturgical calendar marked with this feast day of the Sleepers as a great solemnity, provided with a proper Mass, as given in the 1785 Missale O.Dorm. (hence the use of the long ess):
Miſſa Sanctorum ſeptem Dormientium Epheſi
Vade, populus meus, intra in cubicula tua; claude oſtia tua ſuper te, abſcondere modicum ad momentum, donec pertranſeat indignatio. (T.P. Alleluja, alleluja.) Ps. Et habebis fiduciam, propoſita tibi ſpe: et defoſſus ſecurus dormies. Gloria Patri. Sicut erat. Vade.
Gloria in excelsis.
Concede, quæſumus, omnipotens Deus: ut ad meliorem requiem beatorum ſeptem Dormientium Epheſi exempla nos provocent; quatenus, quorum memoriam agimus, etiam ſomnum imitemur. Per.
Lectio libri Regum.
In diebus illis: 
Elias perrexit in deſertum, viam unius diei. Cumque veniſſet, et ſederet ſubter unam juniperum, petivit animæ ſuæ ut moreretur, et ait: Sufficit mihi, Domine: tolle animam meam: neque enim melior ſum quam patres mei. Projecitque ſe, et obdormivit in umbra juniperi: et ecce angelus Domini tetigit eum, et dixit illi: Surge, et comede. Reſpexit, et ecce ad caput ſuum ſubcinericius panis, et vas aquæ: comedit ergo, et bibit, et rurſum obdormivit. Reverſuſque eſt angelus Domini ſecundo, et tetigit eum, dixitque illi: Surge, comede: grandis enim tibi reſtat via. Qui cum ſurrexiſſet, comedit et bibit, et ambulavit in fortitudine cibi illius quadraginta diebus et quadraginta noctibus uſque ad montem Dei Horeb. Cumque veniſſet illuc, manſit in ſpelunca: et ecce ſermo Domini ad eum, dixitque illi: Quid hic agis, Elia? At ille reſpondit: Zelo zelatus ſum pro Domino Deo exercituum, quia dereliquerunt pactum tuum filii Iſraël: altaria tua deſtruxerunt, prophetas tuos occiderunt gladio, derelictus ſum ego ſolus, et quærunt animam meam ut auferant eam. Et ait ei: Egredere, et ſta in monte coram Domino: et ecce Dominus tranſit. Et ſpiritus grandis et fortis ſubvertens montes, et conterens petras, ante Dominum: non in ſpiritu Dominus. Et poſt ſpiritum commotio: non in commotione Dominus. Et poſt commotionem ignis: non in igne Dominus. Et poſt ignem ſibilus auræ tenuis. Quod cum audiſſet Elias, operuit vultum ſuum pallio, et egreſſus ſtetit in oſtio ſpeluncæ. Et ecce vox ad eum dicens: Quid hic agis, Elia? Et ille reſpondit: Zelo zelatus ſum pro Domino Deo exercituum, quia dereliquerunt pactum tuum filii Iſraël: altaria tua deſtruxerunt, prophetas tuos occiderunt gladio, derelictus ſum ego ſolus, et quærunt animam meam ut auferant eam. Et ait Dominus ad eum: Vade, et revertere in viam tuam per deſertum.
In deſertis habitabant torrentium, et in cavernis terræ, vel ſuper glaream. V/. Quibus dignus non erat mundus: in ſolitudinibus errantes, in montibus, in ſpeluncis, et in cavernis terræ.
TRACTUS (T. Sept. uſque ad Paſcha)
Si dormieris, non timebis; quieſces, et ſuavis erit ſomnus tuus. V/. Surge qui dormis, et exſurge a mortuis, et illuminabit te Chriſtus. V/. Ego dormivi, et ſoporatus ſum; et exſurrexi, quia Dominus ſuſcepit me.
Alleluja, alleluja. V/. Quod cum vidiſſent viri ſe in arcto poſitos (afflictus enim erat populus), abſconderunt ſe in ſpeluncis, et in abditis, in petris quoque, et in antris, et in ciſternis. Alleluja.
V/. Et deſcendens habitaverunt in ſpelunca petræ. Alleluja.
Sequentia ſancti Evangelii ſecundum Joannem.
In illo tempore:
Jeſus fremens in ſemetipſo, venit ad monumentum. Erat autem ſpelunca, et lapis ſuperpoſitus erat ei. Ait Jeſus: Tollite lapidem. Dicit ei Martha, ſoror ejus qui mortuus fuerat: Domine, jam fœtet, quatriduanus eſt enim. Dicit ei Jeſus: Nonne dixi tibi quoniam ſi credideris, videbis gloriam Dei? Tulerunt ergo lapidem: Jeſus autem, elevatis ſurſum oculis, dixit: Pater, gratias ago tibi quoniam audiſti me. Ego autem ſciebam quia ſemper me audis, ſed propter populum qui circumſtat, dixi: ut credant quia tu me miſiſti. Hæc cum dixiſſet, voce magna clamavit: Lazare, veni foras. Et ſtatim prodiit qui fuerat mortuus, ligatus pedes, et manus inſtitis, et facies illius ſudario erat ligata. Dixit eis Jeſus: Solvite eum et ſinite abire. Multi ergo ex Judæis, qui venerant ad Mariam, et Martham, et viderant quæ fecit Jeſus, crediderunt in eum. 
Penetrabo omnes inferiores partes terræ, et inſpiciam omnes dormientes, et illuminabo omnes ſperantes in Domino. (T.P. Alleluia.)
Pro honore beatorum famulorum tuorum Dormientium, hoſtiam, Domine, ſuſcipe benignus oblatam: ut hoc ſacrificio ſingulari, etiam nos requiem mereamur æternam. Per.
Multa corpora ſanctorum, qui dormierant, ſurrexerunt, et exeuntes de monumentis venerunt in civitatem, et apparuerunt multis. (T.P. Alleluia.)
Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus: ut, quos tuis reficis ſacramentis, intercedentibus beatis ſeptem Dormientibus, tibi etiam placitis ſomnis dignanter tribuas deſervire. Per.
In English translation:
Mass of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus
OFFICE [i.e. INTROIT] (Isaias xxvi, 20; Job xi, 18)
Go, my people, enter into thy chambers, shut thy doors upon thee, hide thyself a little for a moment, until the indignation pass away. (P.T. Alleluia, alleluia.) Ps. And thou shalt have confidence, hope being set before thee, and being buried thou shalt sleep secure. Glory be… As it was… Go, my people… 
Gloria in excelsis...
Concede, we beg, almighty God: that the example of the blessed seven Sleepers of Ephesus may summon us to a better rest; that we may even imitate their repose whose memory we keep. Through...
EPISTLE (III Kings xix, 4-15a)
A Lesson from the Book of the Kings.
In those days:
Elias went forward, one day's journey into the desert. And when he was there, and sat under a juniper tree, he requested for his soul that he might die, and said: It is enough for me, Lord, take away my soul: for I am no better than my fathers. And he cast himself down, and slept in the shadow of the juniper tree: and behold an angel of the Lord touched him, and said to him: Arise and eat. He looked, and behold there was at his head a hearth cake, and a vessel of water: and he ate and drank, and he fell asleep again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said to him: Arise, eat: for thou hast yet a great way to go. And he arose, and ate, and drank, and walked in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights, unto the mount of God, Horeb. And when he was come thither, he abode in a cave: and behold the word of the Lord came unto him, and he said to him: What dost thou here, Elias? And he answered: With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant: they have thrown down thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword, and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away. And he said to him: Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord: and behold the Lord passeth, and a great and strong wind before the Lord over throwing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: the Lord is not in the wind, and after the wind an earthquake: the Lord is not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire: the Lord is not in the fire, and after the fire a whistling of a gentle air. And when Elias heard it, he covered his face with his mantle, and coming forth stood in the entering in of the cave, and behold a voice unto him, saying: What dost thou here, Elias? And he answered: With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant: they have destroyed thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword, and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away. And the Lord said to him: Go, and return on thy way through the desert.
GRADUAL RESPONSORY (Job xxx, 6; Hebrews xi, 38)
They dwelt in the desert places of torrents, and in caves of earth, or upon the gravel. V/. Of whom the world was not worthy; wandering in deserts, in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth.
TRACT from Sept. until Easter (Proverbs iii, 24; Ephesians v, 14b; Psalm iii, 6)
If thou sleep, thou shalt not fear: thou shalt rest, and thy sleep shall be sweet. V/. Rise thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead: and Christ shall enlighten thee. V/. I have slept and taken my rest: and I have risen up, because the Lord hath protected me.
ALLELUIA (I Kings xiii, 6)
Alleluia, alleluia. V/. And when the men saw that they were straitened, (for the people were distressed,) they hid themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in dens, and in pits. Alleluia.
2nd ALLELUIA (P.T) (Cf. Judges xv, 8b)
V/. And going down they dwelt in a cavern of the rock. Alleluia.
GOSPEL (St John xi, 38-45)
The continuation of the holy Gospel according to John.
At that time:
Jesus groaning in himself, cometh to the sepulchre. Now it was a cave; and a stone was laid over it. Jesus saith: Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith to him: Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he is now of four days. Jesus saith to her: Did not I say to thee, that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? They took therefore the stone away. And Jesus lifting up his eyes said: Father, I give thee thanks that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always; but because of the people who stand about have I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. When he had said these things, he cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth. And presently he that had been dead came forth, bound feet and hands with winding bands; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them: Loose him, and let him go. Many therefore of the Jews, who were come to Mary and Martha, and had seen the things that Jesus did, believed in him. 
OFFERTORY (Ecclesiasticus xxiv, 45)
I will penetrate to all the lower parts of the earth, and will behold all that sleep, and will enlighten all that hope in the Lord. (P.T. Alleluia.)
For the honour of thy blessed servants the Sleepers, Lord, benignly accept the offered host: that by this one sacrifice, we also may merit eternal rest.  Through.
COMMUNION (Cf. Matthew xxvii, 52b-53)
Many bodies of the saints that had slept arose, and coming out of the tombs came into the city, and appeared to many. (P.T. Alleluia.)
Bowing low we pray thee, almighty God: that we, whom thou refreshest by thy sacraments, by the intercession of the blessed seven Sleepers, thou also mayest grant worthily to serve thee by pleasing sleeps. Through.
It will be seen that the chants of the Mass refer to the various incidental details in the legend of the Seven Sleepers, while the Epistle and Gospel refer to Scriptural types and foreshadowings of them: to Elias, hiding in a cave from wicked Jezebel; and to St Lazarus, who slept four long days in a cave in the earth ere his return to this mortal life, to the end that those beholding him should be converted and saved.

In German lands, the weather on the Sleeper's feast day, the 27th of July, is held to be a herald of the weather to be expected for the next seven weeks: hence the special devotion attached, even to-day, to Siebenschläfertag.  Be prepared for it!

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