Sunday, 29 March 2009

PASSION SUNDAY: "Before Abraham was, I AM"

Judica me Deus et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso eripe me: quia tu es Deus meus , et fortitudo mea...

"Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art my God and my strength" [Ps. 42:1-3, Introit for Passion Sunday and the opening Psalm of every mass]

Vexilla Regis

by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609)

1. Vexilla Regis prodeunt: Fulget Crucis mysterium,
Qua vita mortem pertulit, Et morte vitam protulit.

2. Quae vulnerata lanceae Mucrone diro, criminum
Ut nos lavaret sordibus, Manavit und(a) et sanguine.

3. Impleta sunt quae concinit David fideli carmine,
Dicendo nationibus: Regnavit a ligno Deus.

4. Arbor decor(a) et fulgida, Ornata Regis purpura,
Electa digno stipite Tam sancta membra tangere.

5. Beata, cuius brachiis Pret(i)um pependit saeculi:
Statera facta corporis, Tulitque praedam tartari.

6. O CRUX AVE, SPES UNICA, Hoc Passionis tempore
Piis adauge gratiam, Reisque dele crimina.

7. Te, fons salutis Trinitas, Collaudet omnis spiritus:
Quibus Crucis victoriam Largiris, adde praemium. Amen.

1. Abroad the Regal Banners fly,
Now shines the Cross's mystery;
Upon it Life did death endure,
And yet by death did life procure.

2. Who, wounded with a direful spear,
Did, purposely to wash us clear
From stain of sin, pour out a flood
Of precious Water mixed with Blood.

3. That which the Prophet-King of old
Hath in mysterious verse foretold,
Is now accomplished, whilst we see
God ruling nations from a Tree.

4. O lovely and reflugent Tree,
Adorned with purpled majesty;
Culled from a worthy stock, to bear
Those Limbs which sanctified were.

5. Blest Tree, whose happy branches bore
The wealth that did the world restore;
The beam that did that Body weigh
Which raised up hell's expected prey.

Now in this mournful Passion time,
Improve religious souls in grace,
The sins of criminals efface.

7. Blest Trinity, salvation's spring,
May every soul Thy praises sing;
To those Thou grantest conquest by
The holy Cross, rewards apply. Amen.

In the Gospel for Passion Sunday, our Lord, for the first time, publicly confesses His Godhead by using the sacred Tetragrammaton used only by God of God Himself - the Hebrew phrase "I AM" - and He does so in relation to the Father of the Jews, Abraham, in the most sacred manner possible to describe Himself thus making clear to the Jews that He is Moshiach, the Messias, Emmanuel, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, Very God of Very God, the Incarnate Deity Himself. The Jews will either believe Him and be saved or else they will call Him a devil, a blasphemer and seek to kill Him...

"31 dicebat ergo Iesus ad eos qui crediderunt ei Iudaeos si vos manseritis in sermone meo vere discipuli mei eritis 32 et cognoscetis veritatem et veritas liberabit vos 33 responderunt ei semen Abrahae sumus et nemini servivimus umquam quomodo tu dicis liberi eritis 34 respondit eis Iesus amen amen dico vobis quia omnis qui facit peccatum servus est peccati 35 servus autem non manet in domo in aeternum filius manet in aeternum

36 si ergo Filius vos liberaverit vere liberi eritis 37 scio quia filii Abrahae estis sed quaeritis me interficere quia sermo meus non capit in vobis 38 ego quod vidi apud Patrem loquor et vos quae vidistis apud patrem vestrum facitis 39 responderunt et dixerunt ei pater noster Abraham est dicit eis Iesus si filii Abrahae estis opera Abrahae facite 40 nunc autem quaeritis me interficere hominem qui veritatem vobis locutus sum quam audivi a Deo hoc Abraham non fecit

41 vos facitis opera patris vestri dixerunt itaque ei nos ex fornicatione non sumus nati unum patrem habemus Deum 42 dixit ergo eis Iesus si Deus pater vester esset diligeretis utique me ego enim ex Deo processi et veni neque enim a me ipso veni sed ille me misit 43 quare loquellam meam non cognoscitis quia non potestis audire sermonem meum 44 vos ex patre diabolo estis et desideria patris vestri vultis facere ille homicida erat ab initio et in veritate non stetit quia non est veritas in eo cum loquitur mendacium ex propriis loquitur quia mendax est et pater eius 45 ego autem quia veritatem dico non creditis mihi

46 quis ex vobis arguit me de peccato si veritatem dico quare vos non creditis mihi 47 qui est ex Deo verba Dei audit propterea vos non auditis quia ex Deo non estis 48 responderunt igitur Iudaei et dixerunt ei nonne bene dicimus nos quia Samaritanus es tu et daemonium habes 49 respondit Iesus ego daemonium non habeo sed honorifico Patrem meum et vos inhonoratis me 50 ego autem non quaero gloriam meam est qui quaerit et iudicat

51 amen amen dico vobis si quis sermonem meum servaverit mortem non videbit in aeternum 52 dixerunt ergo Iudaei nunc cognovimus quia daemonium habes Abraham mortuus est et prophetae et tu dicis si quis sermonem meum servaverit non gustabit mortem in aeternum 53 numquid tu maior es patre nostro Abraham qui mortuus est et prophetae mortui sunt quem te ipsum facis 54 respondit Iesus si ego glorifico me ipsum gloria mea nihil est est Pater meus qui glorificat me quem vos dicitis quia Deus noster est 55 et non cognovistis eum ego autem novi eum et si dixero quia non scio eum ero similis vobis mendax sed scio eum et sermonem eius servo

56 Abraham pater vester exultavit ut videret diem meum et vidit et gavisus est 57 dixerunt ergo Iudaei ad eum quinquaginta annos nondum habes et Abraham vidisti 58 dixit eis Iesus amen amen dico vobis ANTEQUAM ABRAHAM FIERET, EGO SUM 59 tulerunt ergo lapides ut iacerent in eum Iesus autem abscondit se et exivit de templo."

"31 Then Jesus said to those Jews, who believed him: If you continue in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33 They answered him: We are the seed of Abraham, and we have never been slaves to any man: how sayest thou: you shall be free? 34 Jesus answered them: Amen, amen I say unto you: that whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin. 35 Now the servant abideth not in the house for ever; but the son abideth for ever.

36 If therefore the son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. 37 I know that you are the children of Abraham: but you seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. 38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and you do the things that you have seen with your father. 39 They answered, and said to him: Abraham is our father. Jesus saith to them: If you be the children of Abraham, do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill me, a man who have spoken the truth to you, which I have heard of God. This Abraham did not.

41 You do the works of your father. They said therefore to him: We are not born of fornication: we have one Father, even God. 42 Jesus therefore said to them: If God were your Father, you would indeed love me. For from God I proceeded, and came; for I came not of myself, but he sent me: 43 Why do you not know my speech? Because you cannot hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth; because truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof. 45 But if I say the truth, you believe me not.

46 Which of you shall convince me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe me? 47 He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God. 48 The Jews therefore answered, and said to him: Do not we say well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered: I have not a devil: but I honour my Father, and you have dishonoured me. 50 But I seek not my own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.

51 Amen, amen I say to you: If any man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever. 52 The Jews therefore said: Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest: If any man keep my word, he shall not taste death for ever. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead. Whom dost thou make thyself? 54 Jesus answered: If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is your God. 55 And you have not known him, but I know him. And if I shall say that I know him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know him, and do keep his word.

56 Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad. 57 The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you, BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM. 59 They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple."

[John 8:31-59, Gospel for Passion Sunday]

"I AM"



Patricius said...

I have been following your blog now for some time, finding it interesting and informative but I believe that if you check you will find that"Jehovah" is incorrect.

Tribunus said...

Since the sacred name was never said except by the High Priest and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement and in the Holy of Holies, alone and unheard, no-one really knows how it sounds.

It is, moreover, all consonants so you have to add your own vowel sounds.

The closest we can probably get is "Yahveh" but "Jehovah" is a fair approximation into English sounds.

"Yahoweh" is the closest to what modern day Hebrews would say, however, so you are right to that extent.

Ben Fairhall said...

As a recent convert to Roman Catholicism, I am keen to hear the Tridentine Mass (as opposed to the Mass of Paul VI generally practiced in my diocese.)

Do I need to join the Society of St.Pius X in order to do this; or are there 'mainstream' churches where the rite is still said?

Like you, I hail from London.

Tribunus said...

No, you certainly do not need to join the SSPX to go to the old rite!

The Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP), the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP) and a number of other new orders are dedicated to celebrating the traditional rites and have churches all over the world now.

If you live in London then you are in for a treat!

There are numerous places where you can attend the traditional rites.

I recommend St Bede's Clapham South, probably the centre of tradition in London since they have a sung traditional rite mass every Sunday - and the traditional rites were made to be sung.

This year the traditional Holy Week services will be celebrated at the La Retraite Convent, round the corner from St Bede's.

This Sunday, Palm Sunday, you will have the greater advantage of seeing the rites at La Retraite as they were celebrated unchanged for many centuries since the pre-1955 rite is to be celebrated which is an extraordinarily beautiful rite.

You also need to attend Tenebrae, which was lifted from the ancient Jewish Temple worship. It is Matins and Lauds of the Holy Triduum of Holy Week.

You can get hear them at:

- Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane at 7pm on Spy Wednesday night;
- The Church of the Knights of Malta, at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, St John's Wood on

Maundy Thursday 10am
Good Friday 10 am
Holy Saturday 10 am

Holy Week services are also being held in the traditional rites at:

- La Retraite Convent, Clapham South
- Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane
- The Church of the Knights of Malta

I recommend either La Retraite or the Knights (or both).

And thereafter, go to St Bede's every Sunday and you will get a feast of liturgy such as you will not find in many other places.

Lucky you if you live in London. Catholic liturgical Tradition is alive and well there!

Anonymous said...

An extremely informative answer, thank you.

I know very little about the subject, so forgive me if this seems a redundant question; but are all traditional rites in Latin?

May I ask your opinion on SSPX, generally?

(I am unable to log into my Blogger account for some reason, hence the 'Anonymous' posting.)

Tribunus said...

Yes, the traditional rites are entirely in Latin but if you go to them regularly you soon get used to the chants and prayers and soon have them off by heart for the most part - which is right and proper since they form part of the heritage of every Christian.

Once the rites are put into the vernacular errors start to creep in and you start to lose the universality of the rite.

The argument that one needs to have the vernacular so that the people can understand is not only false but it is patronising since it is predicated upon the falsehood that the people are lazy and stupid and are incapable of understanding the Latin which they hear week after week.

It is false because one can readily be at a Novus Ordo mass in a foreign vernacular and not understand a word of what's going on whereas you would instantly understand if it was in Latin since you get Latin at home.

The vernacular does not lend itself well to chant - especially English which sounds particularly silly when chanted - and if you lose the Latin, then you lost some of the oldest music in Christian history.

The liturgy is firstly a prayer but it is also a drama - a dramatic unfolding of the Church's history, doctrine and devotion.

To interpose vernacular - especially the silly, chatty comments of modern clergy - is a bit like interrupting a Shakespeare play to make some trite comments about the costumes or the weather. It spoils the drama utterly.

Likewise with the liturgy which is a drama in song and verse.

Once you understand the Latin of the Roman rite you will begin to see how it all fits together with the utmost perfection as if knit together by a celestial hand - which, of course, is exactly what did happen.

Then you will begin to love it and to love its Author even more.

You will soon see how the liturgical year is knit together around the beautiful rites of the Roman liturgy and will see how utterly wrong it would be to interfere with it in any but a minor way since it would be like slashing through something infinitely more beautiful than, say, a Leonardo painting or a Bellini carving.

You will find that living the sacred liturgy is like being on a permanent retreat and is like a permanent foretaste of heaven where we shall all be singing the praises of God tirelessly wrapt in ecstasy and perfect charity for all eternity.

Assisting at the ancient liturgies of the Church one can really and fully taste that.

Try it - you will find it all true!

Let me give my view of SSPX another time. I'll do a post soon.