Thursday 21 April 2016

Imperial Sunday - "Honour Caesar, the Emperor" says St Peter, the first Pope [1 Pet 2:17]

Imperial Sunday
the 3rd Sunday after Easter

St Peter commands us:

"Honour Caesar, the Roman Emperor..."
(1 Pet 2:17)
The double-headed Eagle
was the emblem and Arms of the Holy Roman Empire
signifying the Eagle of Rome looking both East and West across the whole world

The Epistle for the 3rd Sunday after Easter renders it fitting to call it "Imperial Sunday" in memory of the teaching of the first Pope, St Peter, in his first Encyclical Letter to the Faithful commanding us to honour the Roman Caesar.

Here it is:

[13] Subjecti igitur estote omni humanae creaturae propter Deum: sive regi quasi praecellenti: [14] sive ducibus tamquam ab eo missis ad vindictam malefactorum, laudem vero bonorum: [15] quia sic est voluntas Dei, ut benefacientes obmutescere faciatis imprudentium hominum ignorantiam: [16] quasi liberi, et non quasi velamen habentes malitiae libertatem, sed sicut servi Dei. [17] Omnes honorate: fraternitatem diligite: Deum timete: regem honorificate. [18] Servi, subditi estote in omni timore dominis, non tantum bonis et modestis, sed etiam dyscolis. [19] Haec est enim gratia, si propter Dei conscientiam sustinet qui tristitias, patiens injuste.

[13] Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God' s sake: whether it be to the king [i.e. the Roman Emperor or, in Greek, Basileus] as excelling; [14] Or to dukes as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of the good: [15] For so is the will of God, that by doing well you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: [16] As free, and not as making liberty a cloak for malice, but as the servants of God. [17] Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king [i.e. Caesar, the Emperor]. [18] Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. [19] For this is thankworthy, if for conscience towards God, a man endure sorrows, suffering wrongfully.

At that time, the Roman Emperor was still pagan but, nonetheless, St Peter commanded us to honour and obey him, in all things but sin, as the lay vicegerent of God.

So much the more, then, should we honour and obey the Roman Emperor when he became Christian, as the Emperor Theodosius did, following the conversion of the Emperor Constantine.

in hoc signo vinces
The Roman Caesar Augustus and Emperor Constantine the Great
sees a vision of the Holy Cross in the sky with the words "in this conquer"
before his victory in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, Rome

The Roman Emperor and Caesar Augustus Constantine I the Great saw a vision of the Chi-Rho symbol of Christ and the words, in Greek, Εν τουτο νικα (pronounced: "en touto nika") - usually rendered in Latin since then as IN HOC SIGNO VINCES ("in this sign conquer"), before his great victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge just outside Rome.

Not long after he liberated Christianity throughout the Empire, later himself becoming a Christian.

Although Christianity was not made the religion of the Roman Empire until the next emperor, Theodosius, nevertheless winning this battle, seemingly by divine inspiration, caused Constantine to defend, and later to convert to, Christianity.

So this victory is said to mark the beginning of the nearly two thousand years of the Christian and Catholic Roman Empire.

The Roman Emperor Charlemagne
who restored the Christian Roman Empire to the West in 800AD

The tail end of the Romand Catholic Empire came, first, at the disaster of the French Revolution, with the threats of the Arch-heretical Anti-Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, and then, later, with the Protestant Anti-Emperor of Germany, and, finally, at the fall of the Austrian Empire in 1918, in World War I, when the last successor of Caesar Augustus, the Blessed Emperor Charles of Austria, was forced off his throne despite trying throughout his reign to stop the bloody and futile First World War.

The Blessed Emperor Charles of Austria
was the last ruler of the successor to the Holy Roman Empire, spent his short reign dedicated to peace and stopping the First World War and suffered so much for this that he died at the early age of only 34 in exile in Madeira

Since the earliest of times, until the impious destruction of the liturgy by the offensively impious Monsignor (later Archbishop) Annibale Bugnini, the Christian Faithful have prayed, in the public liturgy of the Church, for the Catholic Roman Emperor.

Here are the sublime prayers for the Emperor that were a familiar feature (until removed in 1955 by Mgr Bugnini) of the Easter Triduum, the oldest known liturgy in the entire Christian Church.

On Good Friday, during the Great Intercessions:

Oremus et pro Christianissimo imperatore nostro [Nomen] ut Deus et Dominus noster subditas illi faciat omnes barbaras nationes ad nostram perpetuam pacem…. 

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, in cujus manu sunt omnium potestates, et omnium jura regnorum: respice ad Romanum benignus imperium; ut gentes, quae in sua feritate confidunt, potentiae tuae dexterae comprimantur. Per Dominum. 

“Let us pray also for the most Christian Emperor [Name] that the Lord God may reduce to his obedience all barbarous nations for our perpetual peace…. 

O almighty and eternal God, in whose hands are all the power and right of kingdoms, graciously look down on the Roman Empire that those nations who confide in their own haughtiness and strength, may be reduced by the power of Thy right hand. Through the same Lord…”

At the Easter Vigil, in the Exsultet, directly after the prayers for the Pope (the lamps are lit from the Paschal fire halfway through the Exsultet to signify the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ):
Respice etiam ad devotissimum imperatorem nostrum (Nomen) cujus tu, Deus, desiderii vota praenoscens, ineffabili pietatis et misericordiae tuae munere, tranquillum perpetuae pacis accommoda, et coelestem victoriam cum omni populo suo.
"Regard also our most devout Emperor [Name] and since Thou knowest, O God, the desires of his heart, grant by the ineffable grace of Thy goodness and mercy, that he may enjoy with all his people the tranquillity of perpetual peace and heavenly victory."

In the Roman missal there was also always a Mass Pro Imperatore for the Roman Emperor with the following prayers:

"O God, who prepared the Roman Empire for the preaching of the Gospel of the eternal King, extend to Thy servant, our Emperor, the armoury of heaven, so that the peace of the churches may remain undisturbed by the storms of war. Through Christ our Lord. Amen."

This was used also at the Coronation of an emperor, when the Emperor-elect was anointed by the Cardinal-bishop of Ostia, given the sword and orb by the Pope, ordained by him a Sub-deacon (from the time of Emperor Charles V, a Deacon) and then crowned Caesar semper Augustus, Romanorum Imperator with the sacred crown of Charlemagne, after which, as Deacon, he served the papal mass.

Emperor St Henry II
Holy Roman Emperor (1014-1024)
was born in 973 and died in 1024. He was the last member of the Ottonian dynasty of emperors as he had no children. Duke of Bavaria from 995, King of Germany and of the Romans (Rex Romanorum or Emperor-elect) from 1002, crowned King of Italy in 1004, he was crowned by the Pope as Caesar Semper Augustus and Imperator Romanorum or Holy Roman Emperor on 14 February 1014 in old St Peter's Basilica. He married Princess Cunigunde of Luxemburg and, after his death, the Prince-electors of the Empire elected Conrad II to succeed him, as the first of the Salic dynasty of emperors.


 All ye holy Roman and Catholic Emperors and Empresses,
pray for us!

Good Shepherd Sunday - Ego sum Pastor Bonus...

Ego sum Pastor bonus, allelúja: et cognósco oves Meas, et cognóscunt Me Meæ. Allelúja, allelúja.

I am the good Shepherd, alleluia: and I know My sheep, and Mine know Me, alleluia, alleluia.

The Gospel is from John 10: 11-16:

In illo témpore: Dixit Jesus Pharisæis: "Ego sum Pastor bonus. Bonus pastor ánimam suam dat pro óvibus. Mercenárius autem et qui non est pastor, cujus non sunt oves própriæ, videt lupum veniéntem, et dimíttit oves, et fugit: et lupus rapit et dispérgit oves: mercenárius autem fugit, quia mercenárius est, et non pértinet ad eum de óvibus. Ego sum Pastor bonus: et cognósco oves meas, et cognóscunt me meæ. Sicut novit me Pater, et ego agnósco Patrem: et ánimam meam pono pro óvibus meis. Et alias oves hábeo, qum non sunt ex hoc ovíli: et illas opórtet me addúcere, et vocem meam áudient, et fiat unum ovíile, et unus pastor."

At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: "I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep and flieth: and the wolf catcheth and scattereth the sheep: and the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling, and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good Shepherd: and I know Mine, and Mine know Me, as the Father knoweth Me, and I know the Father: and I lay down My life for My sheep. And other sheep I have that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd."

Take note all pastors and bishops and be not hirelings but true shepherds.

We should also note that our Lord says He has sheep that are "not of this fold" who shall hear His voice - perhaps better than those who are currently of His Flock - and they shall become part of the Flock, too.

This should teach us to be humble and not to presume or become complacent. Some who are not currently of the Flock may be judged better than us to sit amongst the saints in Heaven.

Let us pray for them, also, and remember that the Catholic Church is for all, including those who are not yet members. It is not a convenient little club only for cradle Catholics.

God chose the Israelites but all but a few later rejected Him and he transferred His favour to the Gentiles who converted to Him and loved Him better than many of His own chosen people.

Lord Jesus, Good Shepherd of us, your flock, have mercy on us and protect us!


Monday 4 April 2016

Quasimodo Sunday - (Feast of Divine Mercy on Low Sunday) - "As newborn babes desire the rational milk without guile..."

Dominica in Albis Deponendis

(Sunday when the newly baptised finally put off their white garments of Easter)

also called

Quasimodo Sunday


Low Sunday



the Feast of Divine Mercy

"Quasimodo geniti infantes, alleluia, rationabile sine dolo lac concupiscite.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."

"As newborn babes, alleluia, desire the rational milk without guile. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia" 
[1 Peter 2:2; Introit for the Mass of Low Sunday]

"Deinde dicit Thomae: infer digitum tuum huc et vide manus meas, et affer manum tuam et mitte in latus meum et noli esse incredulus sed fidelis.
Respondit Thomas et dixit ei: Dominus meus et Deus meus!"
"Then He said to Thomas 'Put in thy fingers hither and see my hands and bring hither thy hand and put it into my side and be not faithless but believing'. Thomas answered and said to him 'My Lord and my God!' " 
[John 20:27-28; Gospel of Low Sunday]

Caravaggio. Doubting Thomas. 1602-1603.

"Dearly beloved, laying away all malice and all guile and dissimulations and envies and all detractions as new-born babes desire the rational milk without guile, that thereby you may grow unto salvation, if so be you have tasted that the Lord is sweet...for you are a chosen race, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people that you may declare His virtues who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light."
[1 Peter 2:2-3, 9]

"Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you. And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. Now Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you. Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. Thomas answered, and said to him: My Lord, and my God. Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed."
[John 20:19-29]

"In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart. (1588)

It's a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy; let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed forth for them. (848)

Before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the doors of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the doors of My mercy must pass through the doors of My justice... (1146)"

[Diary of Divine Mercy, Revelation of our Lord to St Maria Faustina (Kowalska) of the Blessed Sacrament]

St Faustina Kowalska, messenger of Divine Mercy
"Sanctus Deus, Sanctus Fortis, Sanctus Immortalis, miserere nobis" [Latin]
"Hagios Theos, hagios ischyros, hagios athanatos, eleison imas" [Greek]
"Elohim hakadosh, Elohim hakol yakhol, rakhem aleinu, veal kol haolam" [Hebrew]

"Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us"

[The ancient prayer of the Trisagion from the Improperia or "Reproaches" of the Good Friday liturgy in Latin, Greek, Aramaic and English, dating back to at least the 5th century. They form part of the Divine Mercy prayers requested of St Faustina by our Lord.]

"Feed my sheep".
Rafaello Sanzio. The gift of the keys to Peter.