About Me

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I am a medievalist and an adjunct college instructor in the humanities at Union College. My research includes medieval theologies of history, text/image relationships in visionary and mystical texts, and the writings of the twelfth-century Doctor of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen. I am also a translator of medieval Latin and German texts, especially as relate to my research. My translation of Hildegard's Book of Divine Works is available from Catholic University of America Press here. I completed a Master's in Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame in 2010, a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany in 2008, and a B.A. in Classics and German at Boston College in 2007.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

“This is the day that the Lord has made!”

Opening of the sermon De Paschali Die,
from Oxford, Bodleian Library,
MS Lyell 56, fol. 58v.

A Sermon for Easter Day

From the Speculum Ecclesiae of Honorius Augustodunensis (early 12th cen.)[1]

This is the day that the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it! (Ps 117[118].24) Dear friends, the Lord has made all days in his majesty, but this one he chose in his loving kindness before all of them, as a joy for both angels and humans. Indeed, the night of death and pain that began with Adam’s sin and keeps all things wrapped in its gloom—this holy night has brought it to an end. And today began the day of happiness and joy that will have no evening. The entire course of time from Adam until Christ was called the day of death, in which every person was led at death into hell. But this time is called the day of life and resurrection—it begins when Christ is declared to have risen again with many; and when it ends, there is no doubt that the whole human[2] race will be raised again on that very same day. In that day indeed, that time of grace, the elect who have been withdrawn from the flesh soon shall enter the joy of the Lord (Mt 25.21); but when the last resurrection has been accomplished, they shall possess double in their land (Is 61.7), when they rejoice everlastingly in body together with the soul at the Lord’s good things.

Therefore, we say now in the Divine Office, Today the Lord has risen, although[3] we know that he rose many years ago. Because of the greatness of this day, moreover, this whole week is celebrated as a single day, so that This day… (Ps 117[118].24) is also sung every day. Therefore, too, the hour of vespers begins, not in the usual manner, but with the serving of Mass, because this sacred day is a figure of that great day that has no evening to end it.

This is that single day that is better than a thousand, when unspeakable joys are gathered through Christ for both angels and humans. Today, with death conquered, the Lord of hosts (Ps 23[24].10)[4] rose from the dead, and the King of glory (ibid.) brought the people, redeemed by his own blood and freed from death’s prison, into the court of the angels. Today the Good Shepherd has carried the lost sheep, found with great effort, back to the flock upon his own shoulders and given it fellowship with the joyous angels in the heavens (cf. Jn 10.11 and Lk 15.4-10). This day let us rejoice with God’s creation, which has today through Christ’s resurrection been restored to the rights of eternity. This day let us be glad with the ranks of angels, for today their number has been fulfilled by humans. This day indeed heaven’s height is delighted to be crystal clear, for today Jerusalem is rebuilt as a city in heaven. Today the citizens of heaven give thanks, for through Christ the elect are added to their number. The sun and moon and stars today express their joy by shining brighter, just as they showed their grief at Christ’s death by hiding their beams. And rightly so—for the sun’s brilliance is guaranteed to the moon,[5] while the cheerfulness of seven days’ light is guaranteed to the sun. The earth rejoices today more than all creation, because Christ was born, a Man from her material; when he died, he was buried in her bosom; and in his substance she is lifted up above all the angels’ dignities. The springs, the rivers, and the seas today delight in their calm, and by blessing God they make known upon their shores[6] that Christ has washed away the faults of the world. The birds today dance with sweet joy, as they cheerfully sing a sweet[7] melody as if in alternating chorus. Today all things created by God are flooded with joy through Christ’s resurrection, as one recognizes that the air is clear, the sea is calm, the forests are leafing, the meadows are blooming, the sown fields are growing, and various animals are happily bringing forth their broods.

Hell alone groans in pain, for today the mighty Lord has burst its gates of brass and iron bars (Ps 106[107].16, Is 45.2). He has afflicted hell alone, I say, with bitter sorrow, for today the Lion of the tribe of Judah, mightier than the mighty lion, has conquered (Rv 5.5), and the prey that hell devoured insatiably, he has placed in the heavenly palace as he returned on high.

This is the preeminent solemnity of solemnities—its beauty surpasses all other feasts like the Morning Star surpasses the stars or the topaz surpasses other gems. This feast is common to both angels and humans, for today humankind has been returned to their heavenly seats. This sacred feast is called Pascha, that is, Passover, for as the people of the Hebrews were delivered by the blood of slain lamb from the angel that passed through Egypt to strike, so the people of the faithful are defended against the Devil by the blood of Christ, the true Lamb. And as that people, delivered from Pharaoh’s yoke, entered into the Promised Land, so the Christian people, delivered from the Devil’s yoke by Christ, shall enter in their homeland of paradise.

Therefore, you who have been redeemed by the Lord: Sing unto him a new song—him whose praise is in the church of the saints (Ps 149.1). The one resounds the new song who, with sins abandoned, begins a new life with good works. Let the true Israel, that is, the people of the faithful, today[8] rejoice in him who made them (Ps 149.2). He snatched them with Leah and Rachel as they fled from their sojourn to their homeland, and restrained Laban with his company in their pursuit (cf. Gn 31)—that is, the Lord snatches[9] the Christian people from the exile of this life as they reach out to their homeland of paradise with the active and contemplative life,[10] and restrains the devil as he gets in the way with temptations and persecutions.[11] Let the daughters of Sion,[12] that is, souls reborn in Christ, also be joyful today in their King (Ps 149.2), who shall clothe them with the garment of salvation and the robe of justice (Is 61.10). Let my soul magnify the Lord today (Lk 1.46), whom I beseech you, all my brothers, to magnify with me, and with a loud voice let us extol his name therein (Ps 33.4[34.3]), that is, in Christ. Let us today declare his praises and his virtues and his wonders that he has done (Ps 77[78].4), for the Lord, the only-begotten of the Father,[13] has redeemed the cast-off servant—he has lifted the one who was lost out of the pit of misery and the mire of dregs (Ps 39.3[40.2]), and placed him with the princes upon the throne of glory (1 Sm 2.8). My soul exults today[14] in the Lord, whom every spirit today praises with shouts of joy. My mouth declares the Lord’s praise (Ps 50.17[51.15]), whose holy name I beg all flesh to bless (Ps 144[145].21).

The servant is led away by the tyrant into exile from the homeland of paradise, and the King’s Son is sent from the palace into the prison to call him back. The hundredth sheep, wandering away from the flock, is carried off by a wolf—but the gentle Shepherd puts on flesh to rescue it (cf. Mt 18.12-14). Indeed, the one through whom all creation comes into being out of nothing, becomes a little human from the fragile sex. The one who encloses all things in his fist, is enclosed in a maiden’s womb. The one through whom the whole universe is created, is born of woman. Covered in swaddling clothes, he is laid in a manger (Lk 2.7); robed in glory, he is supported by the angels on the throne of majesty. The one in whose sight not even the heavens can be declared clean, is cleansed by circumcision and sacrifice (cf. Lk 2.21-24). He is subject to human parents (Lk 2.51), in whose service all the angels’ supreme dignity is cast down prostrate. The one by whose holiness is wickedness wiped away, is immersed in the waves by a servant (cf. Mt 3.11-15). Hungry, he is tempted by the enemy (cf. Mt 4.1-4, Lk 4.2-4)—by him the angels’ love is strengthened in glory; he fills them up with his unspeakable sweetness, as they long to gaze ever upon him (1 Pt 1.12). When the one who is the source of all good things, the solace of all labors (cf. Mt 11.28), is fatigued by his journey, he asks for water to quench his thirst (Jn 4.6-7). He falls asleep (cf. Mk 4.38), in whose praise the heavens’ choir is described as keeping watch. The one from whom is every blessing, is cursed (cf. Jn 9.28). The one at whom demons tremble (Jas 2.9), is said to be possessed by a demon (cf. Mt. 12.24, Mk 3.22, Lk 11.15). The one, at whose name every knee bends, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (Phil 2.10), washes his disciples’ feet on bended knee (Jn 13.4-5). With sadness and grief is he moved (cf. Mt 26.37), by whom the crowd of the blessed is moved with joy and happiness. The one who led his life in such a way with humans, hidden beneath the form of a slave (Phil 2.7), shone, the true God, through his signs and wonders. For when he was born, the morning stars praised him (Jb 38.7), while the heavens cast forth at once a new star in his honor (cf. Mt 2.9). All the children of God have sung joyfully for him (Jb 38.7), while the angels leapt in his praise, singing with a loud voice, Glory to God on high (Lk 2.14, 19.38). Kings hasten to be there with gifts (Mt 2.11), and they bend their necks to adore the King of glory (Ps 23[24].10).

The sky above him is unlocked, the Father’s voice declares the Son, the Holy Spirit descending physically[15] upon him cooperates with him in all things (Mt 3.16-17, etc.). Angels minister unto him (Mt 4.11, Mk 1.13), unclean spirits fear his presence (Mk 3.11). He, the true Vine (Jn 15.5), changed water into wine (Jn 2.6-11); he, eternal Life, revived the dead at his word (cf. Lk 7.14-15, 8.49-55; Jn 11.43-44; etc.). He, the Light of the world (Jn 8.12), poured forth sight to the blind (Mk 8.25, Jn 9.6-7); he unstopped the blocked-up ears for the deaf (Mk 7.33-35). The Word[16] of God loosens the chains from the tongue of the mute (ibid.); the band of paralytics, healed at his bidding, takes up their bed (cf. Mt 9.1-8). He stops the flow of blood (Lk 8.44); he, the source of life, subdues the fever’s heat (Mt 8:14-15 etc.). He granted walking to the lame (cf. Jn 5.5-9), cleanness to the lepers (cf. Mt 8.1-4 etc.); he expelled the flocks of demons from the possessed (cf. Mk 5.1-13 etc.). He, the living bread (Jn 6.35), filled up four thousand people with seven loaves (Mt 15.32-39 etc.); again he, the bread of angels, filled up five thousand with five loaves (Mt 14.13-21 etc.). On the waves of the sea he walks with dry feet, he calms the wild winds (Mt 14.25-32, Mk 6.48-51). He loosens the crimes for criminals (cf. Lk 23.42-43); his disciples in his name tread underfoot all the power of the enemy (Lk 10.19). And because the sun and moon wonder at his beauty, he is transfigured before his own as God (Mt 17.2). And because he is beautiful in form beyond the sons of men (Ps 44.3[45.2]), his face shines as the sun (Mt 17.3). And because he is confirmed as the judge of the living and the dead, Moses (who died) and Elijah (who lives) converse with him (Mt 17.3).

Afterwards, with these and other such things, the true Light shone in the darkness (Jn 1.5,9) for more than thirty-three years. Gathering together into one faith the scattered children of God—no, indeed, the servants who deserted him—he prepared them richly to return to their homeland. The darkened hearts of the Jews could not bear the immense radiance of his flame-throwing light, so, forming a mob with weapons and torches (Jn 18.3), they wanted to snuff it out. Those who at first were knocked over by his word, at that time accomplished with his permission the salvation of the world. Therefore, the Good Shepherd (Jn 10.4) is surrounded by thieves and robbers (cf. Mt 27.38, Mk 15.22-28), but the tiny flock is scattered by the wolves. The Lamb is slain for the sheep, and Life is strangled by death. At that time, the cornerstone tested by God is rejected by the builders (1 Pt 2.6-7, Mt 21.42, etc.), where the framework of two walls, from east and west, is joined. Indeed, when he was born, he attracted gentiles with gifts from the east (cf. Mt 2.1-11); when he died, he attracted gentiles by confession from the west. Pilate, moreover, and the Roman centurion were from the west—they declared him just (cf. Mt 27.24) or the Son of God (Mt 27.54). Furthermore, the Jews—the cultivators of God’s vineyard—have condemned the heir, afflicted with many insults and reproaches, to a most shameful death (Wis 2.19-20 and Mt 21.38), as they lifted him up on the Cross as Moses did with the serpent in the desert (Nm 21.9 and Jn 3.14). Then a sweet bundle of cypress (Song 1.13[14]) was carried upon a pole, and the sweet cup of life was pressed from it in the winepress of the Cross. What’s more, the sky that is illumined with new light when he is born (cf. Mt 2.9), is darkened with terrible shadows when he dies upon the Cross (Mt 27.45 etc.). The sun, which is crowned with a golden circlet when he is born (cf. Mal 4.2), is hidden by a mournful gloom when he dies (cf. Lk 23.45). The ground, which brought forth rivers of oil[17] (Jb 29.6) when he was born, spewed forth the dead when he died and shook what was to fall (Mt 27.51-53).

Indeed, when the curse had been loosened (cf. Gal 3.13), he was taken down from the wood and slept, uneasy in the tomb (cf. Mk 15.46, Lk 23.53). The Jews, moreover, sealed the tomb by rolling a great stone to it, and added guards so that he would not be stolen away by the disciples (Mt 27.64-66). They imprisoned Joseph, the one who buried him (cf. Mt 27.59-60), under guard, fortifying it with seal and guards; while they removed Nicodemus, who had listened to him (Jn 3), from his rank.[18]

Meanwhile, the King of glory (Ps 23[24].10) arrives with a host of angels at the tyrant’s dark kingdom, seizes the spoils from him, returns today the victor[19] with noble pomp, assembles in heaven those released from hell, restores with humans the fallen angelic rank, revives his body from the tomb—never more to die, he grants eternal life to all who love him. He therefore sends forth a heavenly messenger to[20] report this to the grieving disciples, that their sorrow might be turned into joy (Jn 16.20). Removing the stone from the tomb, he sat upon it, and his face gleamed as lightning, his raiment as snow (Mt 28.2-3). At this sight, the guards were terrified and became as dead men (Mt 28.4).

But Mary,[21] the sister of Lazarus, and Mary, the mother of James (who was later the bishop of Jerusalem), and Mary, the sister of the Lord’s mother and wife of Salomeus, came to the tomb with precious ointments, with which they wanted to anoint the Lord, lest he be decayed by worms (Mk 16.1). But when they see the angel, they are shaken by great fear—yet they are sweetly consoled by the angel. He tells them that death has been conquered and the Lord has risen, and he indicates that they will see him in Galilee (Mk 16.5-8).

Meanwhile, the Lord of all consolation[22] appeared, gleaming as the sun, to Joseph in prison—and the latter thought it was Elijah; but the former affirmed that he was Jesus, buried by him and now revived from the dead, and he bore him away from prison and set him in Arimathea. Furthermore, on that day, the Jews convene in council and send [a party] to the prison, to bid Joseph to be led in for judgment. When they return, they report that they found the prison closed and the seal unharmed, but when the prison was opened, they found no one there. While they hesitate about what to do, behold, some of the guards (Mt 28.11) come running up to report that Jesus truly has risen and they themselves have seen angelic visions there.[23] But when the Jews do not believe them and demand that the wicked body be handed over into custody, they[24] respond with [words] such as these: “You hand over Joseph, whom you have in custody, and we’ll hand over Jesus, whom you entrusted to our custody. But as you couldn’t keep Joseph in custody without God overturning it, so we could do nothing to stop him—since he’s God—from rising again!” When they had heard this, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money and convinced them to say that he was stolen by the disciples while they were asleep (Mt 28.12-13). After they received the money, they reported to their own lord that Jesus had risen and that they had received money from the Jews.

Therefore, as the sun has risen which knows its setting (Ps 103[104].19), and again has illumined the world with its splendor—a world plunged by its absence into the shadows of grief—presently our Peace,[25] loosing now by his death the enmities between God and humans, has made peace for all things in heaven and on earth (Col 1.20), and has now reconciled the world to God the Father by his blood (cf. 2 Cor 5.19, Eph 2.16). Appearing to his disciples, he declared peace and gladdened their hearts with great joy (Jn 20.19-20); he ate broiled fish and a honeycomb with them (Lk 24.42), indicating by this that through his suffering, he will grant the sweetness of eternal life to all who hope in him. What’s more, many of the saints who had been raised with Christ came into the city and, appearing to many (Mt 27.53), told them many things about the other life, and they were delighted in all the good[26] things of the Lord. These are the sacred joys of this day, celebrated by both angels and humans, prefigured and foretold by the patriarchs and prophets.

Joseph indeed is sent by his father into the wilderness after his brothers, but is sold by them into Egypt on Judah’s counsel (cf. Gn 37). He is assailed impudently by a lustful lady and, caught by the shouting of the household, is locked in prison (cf. Gn 39). Then freed therefrom, he is established as a prince by the king; the name, savior of the world, is given to him (Gn 41.45 [Vulg.]). He is adored by his brothers and by all the people, and Egypt is delivered by him from famine (cf. Gn 47).

So is Christ sent by his Father after the fugitive servants, but is sold by Judah—the counsel of the Jews.[27] He is cruelly seized by Synagogue, lustful in things of the flesh;[28] he is surrounded by the soldiers, like Joseph by the household; slain, he is locked in the tomb as in a prison. Rising again therefrom, he is established as a prince over all things by God the King of all things; his name, Savior of the world (Jn 4.42), is loved everywhere by all the people. By the sun and moon and eleven stars he is adored (Gn 37.9), for today he is worshiped devoutly by Joseph and Mary and the eleven apostles. And behold, he is adored by all peoples and tongues, and the whole world is saved by him.

The people of God were once afflicted by their enemies, but it was foretold by an angel that Samson would be born to rescue them (Jgs 13.1-5). He was born and lived a Nazarite, that is, “a holy one,”[29] and the spirit of fortitude (Is 11.2 [Vulg.]) guided all his works. After he had grown up, as he was travelling to the enemy nation, he subdued a lion on the way (Jgs 14.5-6). From its carcass he later gathered honey (Jgs 14.8-9); he took a foreign wife, proposed the riddle of the honey and the lion to the dinner guests, and pledged a reward to those who solved it (Jgs 14.8-14). When Samson discloses the answer to his wife and she tells it to them, they solve it and receive the promised reward (Jgs 14.15-20). Thereafter, when he returns to his homeland to his father and mother, his wife is corrupted by another man, and returning, he exacts vengeance with foxes and fire (Jgs 15.1-5).

So the people of God were oppressed in this world by demons, but it was foretold by an angel to his virgin mother that the true Samson, which means “the sun”[30]—namely, Christ—would come to save them.[31] He was born and lived a Nazarean, that is, “holy” in all things, and the spirit of fortitude (Is 11.2 [Vulg.]), remaining with him, guided all his works. He goes to the enemy nation as he makes his way into Judaea, where he will suffer. He shattered a lion on the way as he—the way to life (cf. Jn 14.6) upon the way of this mortality—conquered upon the Cross the devil, who goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pt 5.8). Gathering honey from his carcass, he ate it (cf. Lk 24.42-43), as he drew the sweet souls of the elect (whom that greedy predator devoured) out of hell’s belly and incorporated them into himself. He united a foreign woman to himself, because from the gentiles he joined the Church through faith to himself. He proposed a riddle to the dinner guests, because he wanted the faithful to be taught the sacred Scripture concerning his Incarnation, his victory, and the salvation of the righteous. These mysteries are daily disclosed by the Key of David (Is 22.22, Rv 3.7) to his wife, the Church; they are resolved by Catholic exegetes and thus understood by the faithful, each of whom shall be requited with the reward of eternal life (cf. Rm 2.7). But as he indeed returns to his heavenly homeland, to the right hand of his Father and to his mother, the heavenly Jerusalem—his wife, the Church, is corrupted by heretics, and he, returning in judgment, exacts vengeance with flame and demons.

Now Samson, bound with many cords, is handed over by his kinsmen to the enemy (Jgs 15.13). But after the chains were burst, he laid low the enemy band with the jawbone of an ass and put others to flight (Jgs 15.14-16). The victory won, his labor makes him thirst, but a spring bursting from the jawbone refreshes the victor (Jgs 15.18-19 [Vulg.]).

So Christ, bound by his Jewish neighbors, fettered by the gentiles, is handed over to be destroyed. But when the chains of death were loosed, he overcame the gangs of demons by his humanity, put them to flight from the human race, fought against them through their adversaries, the apostles. The Jewish people indeed was asinine in its foolishness.[32] From them is born Christ’s flesh, the jawbone crushing the hard food of the law, as it unlocks for us his profound mysteries. The spring bursting from the jawbone is the font of baptism, flowing from Christ. Our victor thirsts for the salvation of humans, and this is quenched by baptism and the faith of the faithful.

Now Samson also goes into the city to a woman, but is beset by enemies (Jgs 16.1-2). In the middle of the night, however, he bore away the doors of the gates, and carrying them on his shoulders, climbed the mountain through the enemy troops (Jgs 16.3).

So Christ goes into hell to his wife,[33] namely, the Church kept prisoner there, but is beset by enemies in the tomb. In the middle of the night, however, he bursts the doors of hell and empties out the roaring lions’ lairs and the dragons’ dens, the houses of punishments, the lurking shadows, of the captives he has taken away. Rising again from death, he frightens the guards and enters heaven’s heights.

Now a harlot gets Samson drunk; he reclines in her lap to sleep (Jgs 16.19). As he is sleeping, she shaves off the hair of his head and delivers him, bound, into the hands of his enemies (Jgs 16.19). By them he is blinded and transferred to prison (Jgs 16.21). He is led out from there on the feasting day, but when the two columns are shaken, the feasting house[34] is felled by him, and as he dies, a great multitude is crushed (Jgs 16.25-30).

This harlot is Synagogue, which gave Christ to drink of bitterness and gathered him into her lap to sleep, when she laid him down in Jerusalem in the sleep of death through his punishments. She cut back his hair as she killed[35] the disciples, who had clung to him like hair. She handed him over, bound, to the enemies, for she offered the Lord, bound, to the gentiles. He is blinded by the enemies, as he is deprived of the light of this life by the soldiers. He is shut up in prison as his burial in the tomb is bewailed. He is led out on the feasting day, as on Easter Day, which is a feasting day for the angels, he is raised from the tomb. Truly the two columns have been shaken, the house falls down, and the people are crushed, for after Christ’s Passion, the two kings were shocked, the temple—which was the feasting house for the Jews—is overthrown, and the people are destroyed in vengeance for Christ’s death.[36]

These things are also expressed in figure for us in the nature of animals.[37] For it is said that the lion sleeps with eyes open, and erases its tracks with its tail, so that it cannot be found by hunters.[38] So the Lord Jesus, [39] the lion of the tribe of Judah (Rv 5.5), fell asleep and took hold of the sleep of death in his humanity, but stayed awake in his divinity. He thus concealed the mystery of our flesh’s restoration, which could not be ferreted out by the demons or persecutors.

It is also[40] said that a lioness bears her cubs stillborn, and they arise on the third day at the voice of their roaring father. So in the Triduum, Christ, who lay dead in the tomb, arose on the third day, awakened by his Father’s voice, as once the patriarch Jacob foretold especially of him: Judah sleeps as a lion’s whelp. Who shall rouse him? To the prey, my son, you have descended. He shall wash his robe in wine, and his garment in the blood of the olive[41] (Gn 49.9-11, with changes).

The Lord of the tribe of Judah (Rv 5.5) slept as a lion’s whelp, when he was hidden for three days in death, and then the Father roused him on the third day. He descended to the prey, when, descending to hell with fortune bound, he snatched away his spoils. He washes his robe in wine, when he wetted his body with blood. He washes his garment in the blood of the olive, when he sanctified the Church with the oil of chrism.

That this is what would happen, God had once also expressed through birds. Indeed, the phoenix lives more than five hundred years, and then it gathers shoots from aromatic trees into its nest, and beating its wings, it is set alight by the sun’s heat, burned up in the nest, and on the third day restored in the form of its onetime hatchling.[42] It is said that the phoenix is red, and it is Christ of whom it is said, Who is this that comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? (Is 63.1) Edom, which means “red,” is what Esau was called, because of the red pottage that he was given to eat by his brother Jacob (Gn 25.30).[43] From this comes the name of the kingdom of Idumaea, where the capital of the kingdom is the city of Bozrah. This is where Job ruled,[44] who prefigured Christ’s suffering with his infirmity. Christ came from Edom, as he suffered at the hands of the gentiles, his flesh reddened by his blood. His garment is dyed in Bozrah, as his garment is sprinkled with his blood in Jerusalem, which was the capital of the kingdom. He, like the phoenix, gathered shoots of aromatic trees into a nest, as he fulfilled the writings of the prophets of Jerusalem. But he was burned up with those same shoots in the nest, as he was consumed in the fire of his Passion in Jerusalem, according to the sayings of the prophets. On the third day the bird is renewed, for Christ is roused on the third day by the Father.

It is also said that the pelican loves its chicks so tightly that it kills them with its claws. But on the third day, in its grief it cuts itself, and as the blood drips from its side over the chicks, it rouses them from death.[45] The pelican signifies the Lord, who so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son for it (Jn 3.16), whom he roused, the victor, on the third day and exalted above every name (Phil 2.9).

At this point, preach to them the faith [i.e the Creed] and confession;[46] then add this:

Dear friends, because Christ has risen today from the dead, we too ought to raise ourselves from the death of the soul—that is, from sins, so that, because Christ dies no more (Rm 6.9), we can live evermore with him.

One reads from a certain special one of the Fathers something that is very profitable to the fraternal way of life, in both actions and speech. Pushed on by the devil, he fell into the ditch of fornication. But with an impulse from God, he is roused to repentance and afflicted for a whole year with fasts and vigils. But on the night of the Lord’s Resurrection, he sets out a lamp, prepares with oil and wick,[47] lays prostrate on the ground, pours forth a rain of tears, beseeches the Son of God that, if his sin has been forgiven, that lamp might be lit. And behold, he sees the lamp divinely set alight, flashing with red flame and with its light illuminating his breast with joy and happiness. With all his energy he gave immeasurable thanks for God’s loving kindness, and every day he pours oil into the lamp, and when he dies, it goes out. To this spring of mercy, dear friends, come near, all of you today with your prayers, and commend your soul and body to the bowels of his loving kindness, that when the kingdom is handed over to God and the Father, and God will be all in all (1 Cor 15.28), through Christ’s Resurrection you may be coheirs of God’s kingdom (Rm 8.17), when the righteous shall shine like the sun (Mt 13.43) and will be equal to the angels (Lk 20.36) in that glory that no eye has seen (1 Cor 2.9).


[1] This sermon has been translated from the text in Patrologia Latina 172, cols. 927-936, in consultation with the following manuscripts:  My thanks also to Tom Izbicki and Beverly Kienzle, for their help on several points.
[2] humanum: most MSS; om. PL 172 col. 929A. 
[3] dominus, cum: most MSS; dum: PL 172 col. 929B, Admont 131, Graz 173. 
[4] Dominus virtutum, lit. “the Lord of virtues”. 
[5] lune: most MSS; luna: PL 172 col. 929C. 
[6] in vadis suis: PL col. 929D, Admont 131, Graz 173; in undis suis, other MSS. 
[7] dulcem: most MSS; om. PL col. 929D; some MSS (incl. PL) add the adverb dulce before iubilant
[8] hodie: all MSS; om. PL 172, col. 930B. 
[9] eripit: most MSS; eripuit: PL 172 col. 930B, Admont 131, Graz 173. 
[10] Readers may be familiar with Dante’s use of the allegorical correspondence of Leah to the active life and Rachel to the contemplative life in Paradiso 27; Augustine developed the interpretation in Book 22 of his Contra Faustum Manichaeum
[11] Honorius likely derives the typology of Laban and the devil from a common text often attributed to Augustine—see Sermon 12.4 in PL 39, cols. 1763-64
[12] Filiae quoque Sion: the standard psalm text reads fili, “sons,” but Honorius has changed the grammatical gender to align with the feminine animae, “souls”. 
[13] patris: most MSS; om. PL 172, col. 930C. 
[14] hodie: all MSS; om. PL 172, col. 930C. 
[15] corporaliter: all MSS; om. PL 172, col. 931B. 
[16] verbum: all MSS; verbo: PL 172, col. 931C. 
[17] rivos olei: most MSS; favos olei: PL 172 col. 932B, Admont 131, Graz 173. 
[18] The traditions here and later concerning the afterlives of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus derive from the apocryphal late-antique text, “The Gospel of Nicodemus.” Most of the details of the harrowing of hell in the next section also come from there. 
[19] victor: all MSS, om. PL 172, col. 932B. 
[20] ut: all MSS; qui, PL 172, col. 932C. 
[21] At this point, St. Gall 1075 (p. 124) marks the beginning of a new sermon, De eodem
[22] totius consolationis, most MSS; consolationis, Admont 131, Graz 173; resurrectionis, PL 172, col. 932D. 
[23] ibi: all MSS; sibi, PL 172, col. 933A. 
[24] ipsi: all MSS; ibi, PL 172, col. 933A. 
[25] pax: all MSS, om. PL 172, col. 933B. 
[26] bonis: all MSS, om. PL 172, col. 933B. 
[27] The outlines of this interpretation can be found in Isidore, Quaestiones in Vet. Testam. – In Genesin 30 (PL 83, cols. 271B-276C). 
[28] in carnalibus, PL 172, col. 933C and most MSS; carnalibus illecebris, St. Gall 1075; in criminalibus, Göttweig 104 / 47. 
[29] sanctus; cf. Isidore, Etymologies X.190
[30] Cf. Isidore, Etymologies VII.vi.56
[31] The allegory can be found in Isidore, Quaestiones in Vet. Testam. – In librum Judicum 8 (PL 83, cols. 389B-390C). 
[32] I feel morally compelled to condemn Honorius for tipping here and elsewhere into what we would today call gross anti-Semitism, and I exhort my readers never to take license for it because of him—NMC. 
[33] in infernum ad uxorem suam: MSS; ad uxorem suam, ad infernum: PL 172, col. 934D. 
[34] domus convivii: all MSS; om. PL 172, col. 935A. 
[35] occidit: most MSS; abscidit, PL 172, col. 935A. 
[36] Again, I abjure and deplore all violence committed against the Jews—NMC. 
[37] The entire section concerning the lion is printed verbatim as part of a sermon De tribus diebus Passionis, Resurrectionis et Ascenionis in the Deflorationes Patrum 1, attributed to Werner, the abbot of St. Blase (PL 157, cols. 953C-954A); as Johann Kelle demonstrated, the Deflorationes Patrum contain, in part, large extracts from the Speculum Ecclesiae—see Kelle, “Untersuchungen über das Speculum ecclesiae des Honorius und die Libri deflorationum des Abtes Werner.” Sitzungsberichte des philosophisch-historischen Classe der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, vol. 145, nr. 8 (Vienna, 1903); online here
[38] Cf. Isidore, Etymologies 12.ii.5. 
[39] Ihesus: most MSS; Christus, PL 172, col. 935B. 
[40] etiam: most MSS; enim, PL 172, col. 935C. 
[41] olivae: this variant reading (the Vulgate has uvae, “grape”) can be found in the responsory, Vox tonitrui tui Deus, used at second nocturn for the feast of St. John before the Latin Gate (May 6; see Analecta Hymnica 26, p. 155). 
[42] Cf. Isidore, Etymologies XII.vii.22
[43] Cf. Isidore, Etymologies VII.vi.33-34
[44] Jerome reports that some commentators identify Jobab, the son of Zara and a ruler of Bozrah (Gn 36.33) with Job; see his Liber Hebraicarum Quaestionum in Genesim 36.33 (PL 23, col. 994B). 
[45] Cf. Isidore, Etymologies XII.vii.26
[46] This rubric likely points back to a paraphrase of the Creed and an extended confession and prayers that are included in the opening sermon of the Speculum Ecclesiae, for Christmas Day (PL 172, cols. 823C-830B). 
[47] cum oleo lichnoque instruit: most MSS; cum oleo et ligno instruxit, PL 172, col 935D. 

1 comment:

Michael said...

Glad to see you still active and I hope all is well! I will need to save reading this post till later when time is more plentiful; it looks like it deserves much attention. Christos Anesti!