Catholic Tradition Newsletter A16: Easter Sunday

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Vol 12 Issue 16 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
April 20, 2019 ~ Holy Saturday

1.      What is the Holy Eucharist
2.      Palm Sunday
3.      Saint Anselm
4.      Family and Marriage
5.      Articles and notices

Dear Reader:

Catholics are called to be philosophers. One may say, how so? Do we need to go to a university and take a philosophy course? No! But we are to love Wisdom, and that is the true meaning of a philosopher. Our course should be the following of Christ, the Eternal Wisdom. We should be familiar with the Gospels to such an extent that we know the life of Christ from the Incarnation to the Ascension. We should understand that our reflection on the life of Christ should be found during our devout recitation of the holy Rosary along with that of Holy Mass, the liturgy which provides the thoughts from the reading of the Gospel during the Mass of the Catechumens which is then supported with the prayers and Psalms. We find this realized during Holy Week when the Passion account is read from each of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Saint Paul writes in his First Epistle to the Corinthians:

The word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the prudence of the prudent I will reject. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world, by wisdom, knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of our preaching, to save them that believe. For both the Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and unto the Gentiles foolishness: But unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Cor. 1:18-25)

It is easy for human nature, in effortless comfort, to look to the world, to jump on the band wagon, to follow like sheep—but even the pagan philosophers knew this was wrong and the Greeks formed the word that indicated the person who did not look to the world, did not jump on the band wagon, did not follow the masses: a philosopher, a lover of wisdom. Why? Because the Eternal Wisdom is Whom we should follow, Whom we should desire, Whom we should love. The transitory things of this world—its pleasures, its honors, it riches—pass quickly as mist. Only Our Lord, the Eternal Wisdom, remains forever. All wisdom is from the Lord God, and hath been always with him, and is before all time. (Ecclus. 1:1) Solomon prayed: Give therefore to thy servant an understanding heart, to judge thy people, and discern between good and evil. (3 Kings 3:9) The response from God to Solomon:

Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life or riches, nor the lives of thy enemies, but hast asked for thyself wisdom to discern judgment, behold I have done for thee according to thy words, and have given thee a wise and understanding heart(ibid. vv. 10-11)

To obtain wisdom, to be a true philosopher, the first step is fear of the Lord: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7; cf. Ps. 110:10) As one reads in the book of Wisdom:

For perverse thoughts separate from God: and his power, when it is tried, reproveth the unwise: For wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins. For the Holy Spirit of discipline will flee from the deceitful, and will withdraw himself from thoughts that are without understanding, and he shall not abide when iniquity cometh in. For the spirit of wisdom is benevolent, and will not acquit the evil speaker from his lips: for God is witness of his reins, and he is a true searcher of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue. For the spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world: and that, which containeth all things, hath knowledge of the voice. (Wisd. 1:3-7)

What is wisdom? The acceptance of reality as it is, not as it seems. It is the realization that God is and we are to live the life He gave us in all goodness and justice and truth. (Cf. Eph. 5:9) This demands that one know what is goodness, what is justice and what is truth and once knowing, living goodness, justice and truth. The preparation of the catechumens prior to the Easter Vigil was to teach them wisdom. The preparation for the faithful was to remind them to be wise as Our Divine Saviour taught: Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves. (Matt. 10:16)

The Feast of the Resurrection is to find Catholics now living their lives according to the wisdom of God because they have died to sin and risen in grace. One who is dead does not live for this world, and our baptism was to be a death to sin in order for us to live the supernatural life, the life of grace. Unfortunately, being foolish through weakness we find that sin has once more entered our lives through lack of zeal. Lent was to call us to repentance and provide an opportunity to remove it once again from our lives by taking up our cross and following Jesus to Calvary: And they that are Christ’s, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences. (Gal. 5:24)

It is not a call to be foolish according to reason, but according to the world. Today many have become foolish because they follow the standards of the world: effeminate men with woman’s jewelry, women publicly wearing lingerie (leotards/tights) with no shame to their nakedness. Christ was publicly humiliated when Herod sent Him back in His white undergarment—a sign to everyone that he thought the Christ was just a crazy. So what does that say of many girls and women today? Women are taking over men’s natural roles because men have ceased to be men under the foolishness of political correctness—though wise to the world in order to become famous, wealthy and have power. Contrary to the standards of the world, Catholics, in wisdom, follow the Divine Commands and the laws of the Church knowing only under the sweet yoke of Christ (Cf. Matt. 11:30) there is freedom to live a good life that never ends. May we have the grace to be wise—true philosophers. (Cf. Matt. 25:2ff)

Since it is not possible for everyone to be present for the mysteries of the faith lived by the Church through her Holy Week and Easter liturgy we have included you in our intention at Holy Mass that the graces flowing from this august Sacrifice of Christ offering Himself through the human hands of a lowly priest may also be efficacious for you.

Finally, a most blessed feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit. —The Editor

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WHAT IS THE HOLY EUCHARIST

By Rev. Courtney Edward Krier

Eucharistic Controversies

Berengarius of Tours and Transubstantiation

Born in the city of Tours in the year 999, Berengarius, according to his contemporary Guitmund, was ambitious from youth but found himself unrecognized until he raised controversial questions in the school of Chartres. Despite his unorthodoxy, he was allowed to teach in the School in Tours when Fulbert of Chartres, who disapproved of him, died in 1029. Even when Berengarius was raised to Archdeacon of Angers he kept his position as master of the school in Tours, through which many of the bishops and priests would attend while still preparing for sacred orders. Through these students, the influence of Berengarius grew in France. Taking the writings of John Scotus Eriugena (cir. 815-877), Berengarius developed several errors as a consequence of the denial of objective evil and John Scotus’s opposition to the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Regarding the rejection of evil as objective, it meant a denial of actual sin and original sin:

At that time, to curry the favor of worldly men and those who wished to sin, if they could with impunity, he made these things known, destroying lawful marriages, in so far as he was able, and overturning the practice of infant baptism; the devil in the former case, through his mouth, said it was licit for evil men to abuse all women; in the second case, having abolished infant baptism altogether, he urged people to rush with impunity into the depths of every form of evil and be baptized afterwards. (Lanfranc & Guitmund, 93)

With the added rejection of transubstantiation, Berengarius came to say there was not only no sin in receiving the Holy Eucharist unworthily, because it was not Christ’s Body and Blood substantially, but only figuratively. It seems his students were reluctant to oppose him, but by the year 1047, the teachings of Berengarius on the Holy Eucharist that rejected transubstantiation was taken up by the other bishops and schools of France.

Moreover, if there were some who accepted him in any way, they were those who were terrified by the apostolic teaching which says: “He who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks unto his own judgment,” (1 Cor. 11:29) and, forced to receive Holy Communion because of ecclesiastical custom, would rather consider it as either nothing or no great matter, rather than refrain from sinning in any way because of fear of it.

The term, transubstantiation, was introduced by Radbert Paschasius in his work, De Corpore et Sanguine Domini (831) not yet as a word, but in the expression that at the consecration the bread no longer was bread, but was the same body of Christ that Mary gave birth, the same body of Christ that suffered, died and rose from the dead (cf. 1, 2; P.L. 120, 1269). A fellow monk, Ratramnus, in reply (cf. De Corpore et Sanguine Domini; P.L. 121, 126f) claimed it was repugnant to be eating the flesh of Christ and should be understood in a spiritual sense, under the shadow of a mystery (Umbratici). John Scotus Eruigena supported Ratramnus but, with the condemnation of his errors concerning predestination at the Synods of Valencia on January 8, 855 and Langres in 859, as also most accepting the teaching of Radbert Paschasius, there was no more discussion in the following century concerning the Holy Eucharist. It would be Berengarius who would resurrect John Scotus Eruigena’s errors and bring up the discussion among the Church members how best to define the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.

One may see that unworthiness in receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, already condemned by Saint Paul, 1 Corinthians chapter eleven, either already expresses a disbelief that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly received or leads to the denial that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly received.  During this same period that Berengarius denied the real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and took up John Scotus Eruigena’s pantheistic conclusions (just as the Teilhardists today). Saint Peter Damian wrote The Book of Gomorra(Liber Gomorrhianus; PL 145: 159-90) that gave a picture of depravity among some of the clergy and religious. Leo IX wrote the LetterAd splendidum nitentis to Peter Damian, in 1054, in which the Pope wrote:

It is necessary, as you desire, that We should interpose Our apostolic authority in order to remove from readers any scrupulous doubt and so that it should be clear to all that what this book [the liber Gomorrhianusi, opposed to the diabolic fire like water, contains has pleased Our judgment. Therefore, lest the unrestrained license of filthy lust should spread abroad, it is necessary that it be repelled by a suitable reprimand of apostolic severity and that some attempt at more austere discipline should be made (with them).

Those who are polluted by impurity of any of the four kinds mentioned are expelled from all the grades of the immaculate Church both by the appropriate censure envisaged by the sacred canons as well as by Our judgment. But We, proceeding with much clemency and trusting in the divine mercy, will and indeed command that those who have brought forth the seed either by their own hands or among themselves or who have even shed it between the legs, but not by long habit nor with many people, if they restrain their desire and wash away their shameful deeds by worthy repentance, should be admitted to the same grades that they would not have retained forever if they had remained in their pollution; but We withdraw any hope of recovering their order from those others who have been stained by either of the two sorts of impurity that you have described, whether during a long period alone or with others, or even for a short period with many people, or who, horrible to say or hear, have sinned in the back (of others). If anyone shall dare to judge or complain against this Our decree of apostolic sanction, let him know that he acts in peril of his order. (cf. DBH 687)

Lanfranc, abbot of the monastery of Le Bec, realized he had to retrace the errors and began with the condemnation of the errors of John Scotus and the defense of the teachings of Radbert Paschasius. By doing so, Berengarius was forced to defend his errors and this defence was read at the Council of Rome in 1050. The Council condemned his teachings and ordered him to appear before a synod to be called in Vercelli, but King Henry I had him imprisoned while his teachings were examined at the Synod and condemned. His errors were condemned the next year as also the Bishop of Anger, Eusebius Bruno, for defending Berengarius. Finally, in a council held at Tours in 1055 and in which Hildebrand presided as representative of the Pope, a profession of Faith was drawn up and Berengarius signed. Berengarius, despite his submission, continued to teach his errors. When called to Rome for a Council held in 1059, he attended and again retracted his errors, signing a formula of faith that stated after the consecration the bread and wine are truly the Body and Blood of Christ that Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida composed:

I, Berengar, . . . knowing the true and apostolic faith, anathematize all heresy, especially that with which I have hitherto been blamed: which dares to affirm that the bread and wine that are placed on the altar, after the consecration, are only a sacrament and not the true Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and that they cannot sensibly, except in sacrament alone, be touched or broken by the hands of priests or ground by the teeth of the faithful. I am in accord with the holy Roman Church and with the Apostolic See and with mouth and heart profess concerning the sacrament of the Lord’s table that I hold that faith which the venerable lord Pope Nicholas and this holy synod, by evangelical and apostolic authority, have handed down to be held and have confirmed to me: namely, that the bread and wine that are placed on the altar, after the consecration, are not only a sacrament, but also the true Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and that they are sensibly, not only in sacrament but in truth, touched and broken by the hands of priests and ground by the teeth of the faithful, swearing by the holy and consubstantial Trinity and by these most holy Gospels of Christ. And those who may go against this faith, together with their doctrines and followers, 1 declare to be worthy of eternal anathema. (Cf. DBH 690)

His persistence in rejecting the profession of faith afterwards would only cement the teaching of the Church that after consecration there is no longer bread, but only the Body and Blood of Christ. After being condemned again and again, finally Pope Saint Gregory VII (1073-1085) called a for the Roman Council VI (1079) to once and for all demand Berengarius, who wrote a book defending his errors, to accept the faith of the Church by taking the following oath:

I, Berengarius, in my heart believe and with my lips confess that through the mystery of the sacred prayer and the words of our Redeemer the bread and wine which are placed on the altar are substantially changed into the true and proper and living flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and that after consecration it is the true body of Christ which was born of the Virgin and which, offered for the salvation of the world, was suspended on the Cross, and which sitteth at the right hand of the Father, and the true blood of Christ, which was poured out from His side not only through the sign and power of the sacrament, but in its property of nature and in truth of substance, as here briefly in a few words is contained and I have read and you understand. Thus I believe, nor will I teach contrary to this belief. So help me God and these holy Gospels of God. (Cf. DB 355)

This profession of faith, pronounced at Saint John Lateran, is the universal belief of the Church and though Berengarius at first attacked the formula, he accepted it at the Council of Bordeaux in 1080, afterwards retiring to solitude on the island of St. Cosme. Less than four hundred and fifty years later the Innovators would take up the same arguments of Berengarius and go even further in the complete rejection of Mass.

Lanfranc in writing his tract refuting Berengarius provides a copious source of extracts from the writings of the Doctors of the Church, especially Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine, recognized as two of the greatest doctors of the Church along with Saint Jerome and Pope Saint Gregory I. 

Lanfranc ends with these words: Therefore, that which is asserted and believed by you about the body of Christ is false. It is his true flesh which we eat, and his true blood which we drink. (On the Body and Blood, 87) He shows the error of Berengarius:

You believe that the bread and wine of the Lord’s table, during the consecration, as far as it applies to its substance, remain unchanged, that is, bread and wine existed before the consecration, and bread and wine exist after the consecration. Therefore, [what is consecrated] is only to be called the flesh and blood of Christ in memory of the flesh that was crucified and the blood that poured forth from his side. You say that these are celebrated by the Church, so that we, chastened by them, might always call to mind the Lord’s Passion, and in remembering it, we constantly crucify our flesh with its vices and sinful desires. But if these things are true, then the sacraments of the Jews are more excellent and divine than the sacraments of the Christians. For who does not know that the manna the Lord rained down from heaven, or that the living and sensate creatures which that people were accustomed to sacrifice, were more excellent than a small mouthful of bread and a little bit of wine? Again, who does not know that it is more divine to announce future events than it is to narrate past ones; that to foretell the future is impossible unless someone is filled with the Spirit of God?. . . (op. cit., 84)

(To be continued)

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The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers

M. F. Toal

THE GOSPEL OF THE EASTER VIGIL

MATTHEW xxviii. 1-7

And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre. And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. And his countenance was as lightning, and his raiment as snow. And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror, and became as dead men. And the angel answering said to the women: Fear not you, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen, as he said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid. And going quickly, tell ye his disciples that he is risen: and behold he will go before you into Galilee; there you shall see him. Lo, I have foretold it to you.

EXPOSITION FROM THE CATENA AUREA

V. 1. And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn.

AUGUSTINE, Serm. on the Resurrection: After the blows and the mockery, after the gall and the drink of vinegar, after the agony and the wounds of the cross, the new Body, returning more beautiful than before, has risen again from its grave; the latent life returning from its setting, and the salvation that was laid up for us in His death now appears.

AUGUSTINE, Harmony of the Gospels, III, 24, 65: A question here rises which we may not lightly pass over: as to the hour at which the women came to the tomb. For when Matthew tells us that: In the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, what does Mark mean when he says: And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they come to the sepulchre? Now, by the first part of the night, which is here called evening (vespere), Matthew desired to refer to this very night at the close of which they came to the tomb. Since they were prevented by the sabbath from coming earlier, he calls night the time in which it began to be lawful for them to do whatever they did in the course of that night. The words therefore: In the end of the sabbath (vespere autem sabbathi) are used, as though he would say: In the night of the day of the sabbath; that is, in the night following the day of the sabbath.

His words express this. For he goes on: When it began to dawn towards the first day of the week; and this could not be the case if by the words, end of the sabbath (vespere) we were to understand only the first brief part of the night; that is, merely the beginning of the night. For it was not the actual beginning of the night, that began to dawn towards the first day of the week, but the night itself; which began to end with the break of day. It is a frequent practice of Holy Scripture to signify the whole by the part. By evening (vespere) the Evangelist signifies the whole night: whose extremity is the first light of day. They therefore came to the tomb as it began to dawn.

BEDE in Matthew: Or again; That it was said, namely: that in the evening of the sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, the women came to see the sepulchre, must be understood to mean that they began to come in the evening, but that they arrived at the sepulchre as the first day of the week was breaking; that is, in the evening they prepared the sweet spices, with which they desired to anoint the body of the Lord, but brought them to the tomb in the morning; which Matthew relates a little obscurely, for the sake of brevity; but the other Evangelists show more clearly in what order the events took place.

For the Lord being buried on the sixth day, the women, returned from the tomb, got ready the spices and ointments for as long as it was permissible for them to work. On the sabbath they rested, according to the commandment of the Law; and as Luke expressly tells us. But when the sabbath had passed, and with the night drawing on, the time to work returned. Eager in their devotion, they bought spices (according to Mark) of which they had prepared an insufficient quantity, so that coming they might anoint Jesus, and very early in the morning they come to the sepulchre.

JEROME, in Matthew: That different times concerning the women are referred to in the Gospels is not a sign of untruth, as the impious assert, but the dutiful service of loving devotion; since they repeatedly go and return, and cannot endure to stay for long, or afar, from the tomb of their Lord.

REMIGIUS: We should mark how Matthew, mystically speaking, seeks to impress on us what greatness this most blessed night receives from the glory of the Lord’s Resurrection and triumph over death. Accordingly, he said: And in the end of the sabbath etc. For since the usual ordering of time has it that evening does not lighten into day, but rather darkens into night, he shows by his words that the Lord made this whole night joyful and shining by the light of His own Resurrection.

BEDE: From the beginning of earthly creation until now, the course of time has been so divided that day precedes the night; because man, fallen through sin from the light of paradise, has turned away into the toils and darkness of this world. But now most fittingly does day follow night, since through faith in the Resurrection we are, through the bounty of Christ, brought back from the shadow of death and the darkness of sin to the light of life.

SEVERIANUS, Sermon on the passion. It is the sabbath that began to be given light: for the sabbath is illumined by Christ, not abolished. I am not come, He says, to destroy the Law, but to fulfil (Mt. v. 17). It is enlightened so that in the day of the Lord it may shine; that grows clear in the Church which grows dark in the Synagogue: the Jews seeking to obscure it.

Then follows: There came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre. At length woman hastens to receive forgiveness, who early had hastened to sin. She who had begun unfaith in paradise, hastens to begin faith at the sepulchre. She hastened to receive life from death, who had taken death from life. The Evangelist does not say, they came, but Mary came (non dixit venerunt, sed venit); under the one name two came: in mystery, not in grammar. She came, but also the other; that woman might be changed, not in name, but in soul; in excellence, not in sex. Came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary.

The women, who are a figure of the churches, precede the Apostles to the tomb of the Lord; Mary, namely, and Mary: as she came so also the other: the other as she: Mary the Mother of Christ, the other Mary also. The one name is repeated for the two women, because here the Church, arising from two peoples (that is, from the Jews and from the Gentiles), is prefigured as one coming from the two peoples.

Mary came to the tomb, as to the womb of the Resurrection: that Christ Who was born from a womb of flesh might be born again from the tomb of faith; and that He Whom sealed virginity had born into this present life, the sealed tomb would give forth to life eternal. It is a token of Divinity, that He should leave the virgin womb inviolate after childbirth; and come forth in His Body from the tomb that was sealed.

V. 2. And there was a great earthquake . . .

JEROME: Our Lord, One and the Same the Son of God and of man, according to the natures both of the divinity and of man, sets up now a sign of His Majesty, now one of His lowliness. And…

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