Shine! Shine, O New Jerusalem

JMJ

The Readings for Mary, Mother of the Church
Monday in the Week of Pentecost (B2)

Diligit Dominus portas Sion super omnia tabernacula Jacob. Gloriosa dicta sunt de te, civitas Dei! Numquid Sion dicet : Homo et homo natus est in ea? et ipse fundavit eam Altissimus.
The Lord loveth the gates of Sion above all the tabernacles of Jacob. Glorious things are said of thee, O city of God. Shall not Sion say: This man and that man is born in her? and the Highest himself hath founded her. 

In the Eastern Rite, there is a hymn sung at every Divine Liturgy during the Easter Season. In part, it runs:

Shine! Shine
O, New Jerusalem!
The glory of the Lord
Has shown, on you!

This hymn, seemingly (and truly) about the City in the book of St John’s Apocalypse, is in fact a hymn about the Mother of God. In full it runs like this:



The Angel cried to the Lady full of Grace
Rejoice, O Pure Virgin! 
Again I say: Rejoice! 
Your Son is risen from His three days in the tomb! 
With Himself He has raised all the dead! 
Rejoice, all you people!
Shine! Shine 
O New Jerusalem! 
The Glory of the Lord 
has shone on you! 
Exult now, exult 
and be glad, O Zion! 
Be radiant, 
O Pure Theotokos, 
in the Resurrection of your Son!

The interplay of images is important: the New Jerusalem is the Church; it is also the Theotokos, the Dei Para, Mary, the Mother of God. Mary is the birth-giver of God, the church is his body, Mary is the Mother of the Church. In the Resurrection of Christ, the Church rises from the dead as well and Mary, who is both a member of the Church and the Mother of the Church, draws us all upward in her sinlessness. This rich interplay of images is brought to the West today with a new feast, instituted by Pope Francis: the Memorial of Mary the Mother of the Church.

The title itself predates the feast going back before the Schism between East and West. Yet liturgically this title had to wait until Pope St John Paul II added the “Mother of the Church” to the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1980.

All of the Psalms are prophecy of Christ: so, taking the city of Jerusalem as a type of the Blessed Virgin, we see in today’s Responsorial Psalm that the Lord loves the Gates of Zion above all the houses of Jacob. Zion here is Jerusalem, and so the Blessed Virgin herself. Zion is the Church as well, as the Eastern Hymn says, called to Exult not only in the Resurrection of Jesus, but also in the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, poured out on her in all fullness, and on all the Church in the feast of Pentecost, making a great chiasmas of the Christ Event.

This man is born in her (in Mary) is Christ, but all of us are born in the Church, that is, in Mary. We are her daughters and sons in that we are children of the Church. As the Church is our Mother, so is Mary. The Font is the tomb of Christ, the womb of the Church where we are born anew. The altar is the tomb of Christ, and the table of the Holy House, where our Mother feeds us. The Gates of Zion are round about us. Here is an 11th century image from the Monte Cassino Psalter of the Church as Mother. Mater Ecclesia, (as opposed to Mater Ecclesiae, Mother of the Church).

And so this feast ties a lot of things together: Mother, Mary, Church, Body of Christ, and us as Children of Church, Children of Mary, Sons and Daughters of God in Christ.

I am not even yet adding to this tapestry the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist in which we are the Body of Christ, fed on the Body of Christ, within the Body of Christ. Christ who is both God and Man, uniting in himself the Divine and the Human, the spiritual and eternal, the celestial and the earthly, feeding us himself, into that same divine dance shared by the Holy Trinity.  Created by God the Father, redeemed in Love by the God the Son, and overshadowed in Love by God the Holy Spirit. We are, as St Basil says, creatures of dirt given the vocation to become divine.

Maria, Mater Ecclesiae, ora pro nobis!

Contemplata Aliis Tradere

JMJ

The Readings for the 8va Day of Christmas, 
The Solemnity of the Mother of God:

Maria autem conservabat omnia verba hæc, conferens in corde suo.
But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.

How does Luke know this? Because Mary told him…

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that “Vita contemplativa simpliciter est melior quam activa quae occupatur circa corporales actus, sed vita activa secundum quam aliquis praedicando et docendo contemplata aliis tradit, est perfectior quam vita quae solum contemplatur, quia talis vita praesupponit abundantiam contemplationis. Et ideo Christus talem vitam elegit” (Summa Theologiae, III, Q. 40, A. 1, Ad 2). A translation is: “the contemplative life is, absolutely speaking, more perfect than the active life, because the latter is taken up with bodily actions: yet that form of active life in which a man, by preaching and teaching, delivers to others the fruits of his contemplation, is more perfect than the life that stops at contemplation, because such a life is built on an abundance of contemplation, and consequently such was the life chosen by Christ.” (Quote the Wiki)

I’m not going to dare an essay on the Dominican contemplative tradition here, but only note that if St Thomas is correct about Jesus choice of life, then Jesus learned it from his mother.

It is traditional on New Year’s Day (or maybe last night) for Mother Church to sing a Te Deum for all of Last Year.

Yesterday at Mass I heard a Latin Te Deum sung after Mass in this way and I was thinking of all the things that God has blessed me with in 2017.  And as I contemplatively tap danced around the year thinking of this event or that, it finally dawned on me that I was doing this in the Catholic Church! I thank God daily that it is so. Here I have found a family and it is the family I would have chosen.

For what will you sing Te Deum ?

Te Deum laudámus: te Dominum confitémur.
Te ætérnum Patrem omnis terra venerátur.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi cæli et univérsae potestátes.
Tibi Chérubim et Séraphim incessábili voce proclámant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dóminus Deus Sábaoth.
Pleni sunt cæli et terra majestátis glóriæ tuæ.
Te gloriósus Apostolórum chorus;
Te Prophetárum laudábilis númerus;
Te Mártyrum candidátus laudat exércitus.
Te per orbem terrárum sancta confitétur Ecclésia:
Patrem imménsæ majestátis;
Venerándum tuum verum et únicum Fílium;
Sanctum quoque Paráclitum Spíritum.
Tu Rex glóriæ, Christe.
Tu Patris sempitérnus es Fílius.
Tu ad liberándum susceptúrus hóminem, non horruísti Vírginis úterum.
Tu, devícto mortis acúleo,
    aperuísti credéntibus regna cælórum.
Tu ad déxteram Dei sedes, in glória Patris.
Judex créderis esse ventúrus.
Te ergo quǽsumus, tuis fámulis súbveni,
    quos pretióso sánguine redemísti.
Ætérna fac cum sanctis tuis in glória numerári.

[added later, mainly from Psalm verses:]
Salvum fac pópulum tuum, Dómine, et bénedic hæreditáti tuæ.
Et rege eos, et extólle illos usque in ætérnum.
Per síngulos dies benedícimus te.
Et laudámus nomen tuum in sǽculum, et in sǽculum sǽculi.
Dignáre, Dómine, die isto sine peccáto nos custodíre.
Miserére nostri, Dómine, miserére nostri.
Fiat misericórdia tua, Dómine, super nos, quemádmodum sperávimus in te.

In te, Dómine, sperávi: non confúndar in ætérnum.

We praise thee, O God : we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee : the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud : the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim : continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy : Lord God of Hosts;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty : of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles : praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets : praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs : praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world : doth acknowledge thee;
The Father : of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true : and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost : the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory : O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son : of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man : thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death :
    thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God : in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come : to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants :
    whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints : in glory everlasting.
O Lord, save thy people : and bless thine heritage.
Govern them : and lift them up for ever.
Day by day : we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name : ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord : to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us : have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us : as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted : let me never be confounded.