9 February 2020

A preface for the Gesimas? (2)

So here is a version, cleaned up, from the ms sources, of the Preface I discussed yesterday:

VD ... Ad cuius immensam pertinet gloriam ut non solum mortalibus tua deitate* succurreris; sed et de ipsa etiam mortalitate nostra nobis remedium provideris, et perditos quosque unde perierant, inde salvaris; Per.

[Crudely and literally: It is very meet and right ... to whose great glory it pertaineth that not only didst thou come to the aid of mortals with thy Godhead, but also, from our own very mortality didst provide for us a remedy, and didst save the lost whomsoever from that place whence they perished.]

It has all the terse elegance, all the avoidance of ostentatious verbosity, which we associate with the best formulae in the old Roman Sacramentaries; perhaps it ... even ... who knows ... has a whiff of S Leo about it. (Edmund Bishop neatly compared the concision of the Roman Pentecost Preface with a 'Gothic' Pentecost preface which rambled on for eighty lines.)

The erudite Marist Fr Anthony Ward (so badly treated under this pontificate) adduced S Ambrose De Sac 2:17; S Leo Sermo 22; 1; and Chromatius of Aquila Sermo 19:7, from the last of whom I offer a brief passage in translation.

Christ "sustained evil things, but gave good things in return; he received death, but gave life. Not without cause he was crucuified in this place where the body of Adam is said to be buried. So, therefore, Christ is crucified where Adam had been buried, that thence life might work where first death had worked, so that from death life might rise again. Death through Adam, life through Christ."

You see how typologically suitable such material is to the Genesis themes which we revisit in the Divine Office at this time. You will remember the significance of the iconography, Eastern and Western, of the skull at the foot of the Cross of Calvary, and the figure of Christ rescuing Adam and Eve from Hell in the 'Anastasis' Ikon.

*Footnote: there is an intriguing textual variant which could be 'original': pietate for deitate. Majuscule P and D can easily be confused.

3 comments:

Fr PJM said...

There is a preface somewhere in Missal of St Paul VI which echoes some of the above, I think. Something about "fashioned a remedy out of death itself. Triumph of the Cross, maybe?

Fr John Hunwicke said...

My previous post was about the version of this preface which appears in the Missal of S Paul VI.

Voice from the roof top said...

Fr. John, it will be nice if you mention link to Gothic Pentecost preface of 80 lines.