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Diebus Saltem Dominicis: Constant fear and love in equal degree

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This week’s offering presented a dilemma.  In many places the Vetus Ordo Feast of Corpus Christi will be observed on Sunday as an “external solemnity”.  Corpus Christi falls on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday and, in the Vetus Ordo, it had to be celebrated on that day.  However, it is permitted to repeat the Mass texts on the Sunday following.  This gives more people an opportunity to participate in it and, hopefully, take part in the Eucharistic procession that is so much a part of the day.

However, it we are always observing Corpus Christi on the Sunday, what becomes of the Mass for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, the first “green” Sunday since the time after Epiphany, before the “Gesima” Sundays?

Hence, given that for the past two years I have written in this column about Corpus Christi, I will attend to the forlorn 2nd Sunday after Pentecost. But first, something for Corpus Christi.

What follows is not original from me.  What is somewhat original is how it is presented.  I have made a small edit.  Have a read.

Praise your Savior. Praise your leader and shepherd in hymns and canticles. Praise Him as much as you can, for He is beyond all praising and you will never be able to praise Him as He merits. But today a theme worthy of particular praise is put before us-the living and life-giving bread that, without any doubt, was given to the Twelve at table during the Holy Supper. Therefore, let our praise be full and resounding and our soul’s rejoicing full of delight and beauty, for this is the festival day to commemorate the first institution of this table. At this table of the new King, the New Law’s new Pasch puts an end to the old Pasch. The new displaces the old, reality the shadow and light the darkness. Christ wanted what He did at the Supper to be repeated in His memory. And so we, in accordance with His holy directions, consecrate bread and wine to be salvation’s Victim.

Christ’s followers know by faith that bread is changed into His flesh and wine into His blood. Man cannot understand this, cannot perceive it; but a lively faith affirms that the change, which is outside the natural course of things, takes place. Under the different species, which are now signs only and not their own reality, there lie hid wonderful realities. His Body is our food, His Blood our drink. And yet Christ remains entire under each species. The communicant receives the complete Christ uncut, unbroken and undivided. Whether one receives or a thousand, the one receives as much as the thousand. Nor is Christ diminished by being received. The good and the wicked alike receive Him, but with the unlike destiny of life or death. To the wicked it is death, but life to the good. See how different is the result, though each receives the same.

Last of all, if the Sacrament is broken, have no doubts. Remember, there is as much in a fragment as in an unbroken Host. There is no division of the reality, but only a breaking of the sign. Nor does the breaking diminish the condition or size of the One hidden under the sign. Behold, the bread of angels is become the pilgrim’s food. Truly, it is bread for the sons, and is not to be cast to dogs. It was prefigured in type when Isaac was brought as an offering, when a lamb was appointed for the Pasch and when manna was given to the Jews of old.

Jesus, Good Shepherd and true Bread, have mercy on us; feed us and guard us. Grant that we find happiness in the land of the living. You know all things, can do all things, and feed us here on earth. Make us Your guests in Heaven, co-heirs with You and companions of Heaven’s citizens.

I will guess that, along the way, most of you twigged to the authorship and the name of this text, which I cleverly tried to disguise by leaving out the first word: Sion.  Usually when we encounter this text it is presented in short lines like a poem and in stanzas.  It has a different impact when presented as straight prose.   This was, of course, the Sequence, Lauda Sion Salvatorem penned by St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274) for the Feast of Corpus Christi.  The last stanzas are often teased out to be sung on their own, Ecce Panis Angelorum.  The other three hymns by Aquinas for Corpus Christi also have endings which are sung on their own.  The hymn Pange lingua gloriosi Corporis mysterium, sung during Eucharistic processions, ends with the Tantum ergo Sacramentum.  The hymn Verbum supernum prodiens concludes with O salutaris Hostia.  The hymn Sacris solemniis resolves with the Panis Angelicus.  Urban IV instituted the Feast in 1264 after the Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena in 1263 when a Host bled onto a linen corporal during Mass.  Urban IV was residing in nearby Orvieto at the time.  St. Thomas was also there from 1259 to 1265.  That linen corporal, the square cloth upon which rest the chalice and host, is preserved in the Cathedral of Orvieto.

After that superb review of the doctrine of the Eucharist, let us continue with a look into something from the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost.  Let’s see the Collect.

Just as it is delightful to chant the Sequence above, this is a wonderful oration to sing.  It is at the same time stark and lavish. It is carefully balanced and quintessentially Roman in its concision.  It is found already in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary for the Sunday after the Ascension Thursday.  It survived the scissor and paste-pot wielders who assembled the Novus Ordo for the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time.  It is also prayed, for obvious reasons, after the Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

Sancti nominis tui, Domine, timorem pariter et amorem fac nos habere perpetuum, quia numquam tua gubernatione destituis, quos in soliditate tuae dilectionis instituis. 

Gubernatio means “a steering, piloting of a ship” or “direction, management”, which is where we get the word “government”.   A gubernator is the pilot of a ship.  Perpetuus, a, -um is the adjective for “continuing throughout, continuous, unbroken, uninterrupted; constant,…” etc.


Make us to have, O Lord, in equal degree constant fear and love of Your Holy Name, for You never forsake with Your steering those whom You establish in the firmness of Your love.

Note the balancing of ideas: timor/amor (fear/love) and instituo/destituo (establish/abandon).   In instituo I hear a “setting down” in the sense of how God made us and by that making He takes us upon Himself.  He has our care and our governance.  God sets us down next to Himself, under His watchful eye, so that we don’t go wrong.  In destituo I hear a “setting down” in the sense of a setting to one side away from Himself, an abandonment of interest.  In gubernatio God is our pilot, our steersman, keeping His hand on the wheel of our lives.  We are solid because His loving hand is firm.  Were He to abandon us, our ship would wreck and we would be “destitute”. 

Amidst the vicissitudes of this world we depend in fear and love on His Holy Name.  We stand in the proper place before God’s fearful glance and under His guiding hand of love only through both love and fear His Name which points to His Person.

A name, in biblical and liturgical terms, refers to the essence of the one named.  The Divine Name made Moses put off his shoes.  Moses learned God’s Name to tell the captive Jews that the one who is Being Itself – “I AM” – would set them free (cf Exodus 2).  Once destitute, they were instituted as His People.  So sacred was the terrible Name of God for the Jews that they would not pronounce the four Hebrew letters used to indicate it in Scripture, substituting instead “Adonai”, “Lord”.

What does Our Lord says about His own Name?  In John 16:23 Jesus – Hebrew/Aramaic Yeshua from Yehoshua, “Yahweh saves” – reveals His unity with the Father and the power of His Name saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name.”  In Mark 9:38-39 there is an exchange between the beloved disciple and the Lord about people casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Jesus said, ‘No one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me.’” The Name “Jesus” can change hearts.  John 20:31 says, “these [signs] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name”.

His Name – His Person – is our path to everlasting life.

The Name of God, of God the Father, of God the Son Jesus Christ, of God the Holy Spirit, is worthy of our fear and our love.   Many today want to stress only the love of the Name of Jesus without the holy fear which is its due.  We must not exclude reverential awe and fear of that which God’s Name implies.  In Scripture forms of words for “fear” occur hundreds and hundreds of times.  Scripture is imbued with loving fear of God, indeed, a fear leading to love and wisdom.

Through reverential fear of His Name and of who He is and what He has done, we move to the love that knows no fear (cf 1 John 4:16-18).

To conclude, and to bring this full circle, we may apply the same to our reverential fear and love of His Sacred Body and Blood in the Eucharist.  My great hope for you all is that you will be able to participate in a Eucharistic procession, and before the Blessed Sacrament sing with joy His Holy Name.

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