minima maxima sunt

The Small things are the Great things; as in a grain of mustard seed.

Archive for the tag “Jesus”

Obsecro Te

After the Gospel readings it was common to have a set of prayers to the Virgin Mary. I have completed the first and longest of the two prayers. This is the Obsecro Te, which translates as “I beseech thee”. Devotion and prayers to The Virgin Mary date back to the earliest years of Christianity and so it’s not surprising to find these in a book of hours. The prayers to the Virgin were sometimes personalized toward the intended owner of the book of hours. I have opted to represent the prayer as translated.

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Missa – Pater Noster

3512137269_0180b8cf3bThe Lord’s Prayer is probably the most recognized prayer in the church. Along with the Hail Mary and Psalm 23, it would be fair to say that even most non Christians would recognize the prayer because of its popularity, and unlike any other prayer; this prayer was given to the church in words vocalized by the incarnation of the Most High God; Jesus Christ.

It should go without saying that among the church this prayer has a very special place. The very idea of the Saviour demonstrating this example of prayer to the disciples must at the very least give rise to all sorts of speculation as to its relevance to the Christian community. To hear intonation and accent, observe facial expression, to feel the depth of meaning that must be weighed as it poured from the mouth of Christ, as only an author could provide to give life to the poetry he creates, must have been like standing on a cliffs edge. And as we pray, as Church, the mystical body of Christ, whether by ourselves or gathered together as we are hidden with Christ in God in the Divine Liturgy, I cannot allow myself to think of anything less as the words form in my own throat, as air passes through vocal chords translating the thoughts in my brain, to words. I am praying with Jesus Christ.

The Lords Prayer follows the Eucharistic prayers and the Great Amen and begins the Communion Rite.

The Priest will say:

At the Savior’s command

and formed by divine teaching,

we dare to say:

Then extend his hands to the people as we all recite:

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come,

thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

Then the Priest continues:

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil,

graciously grant peace in our days,

that, by the help of your mercy,

we may be always free from sin

and safe from all distress,

as we await the blessed hope

and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Then he folds his hands and the people all conclude the prayer by praying:

For the kingdom,

the power and the glory are yours

now and for ever.

Pater Noster, from the title of this post,  is Latin for the opening line of the prayer, Our Father. Most prayers in the church, as well as documents and encyclicals will use this device in naming which is why you may hear a Catholic refer to the Lord’s Prayer as the “Our Father” “Hail Mary”, or “Glory be”. Here is the prayer in Latin:


qui es in caelis,

sanctificetur nomen tuum.

Adveniat regnum tuum.

Fiat voluntas tua,

sicut in caelo et in terra.

Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,

et dimitte nobis debita nostra

sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.

Et ne nos inducas in tentationem,

sed libera nos a malo. Amen.

Adventus – The Jesse Tree


Jesse Tree from Illuminated manuscript

The season of Advent is here, the beginning of the Liturgical year in preparation for the Incarnation. The term comes from the Latin adventus which means “coming”, and it serves the church in two ways. It ties into the Second Coming; following last weeks Feast of Christ the King we await his return in Glory, and reminds us of the first coming which we celebrate yearly at Christmas.

Most people who celebrate Advent do so with the later in mind and the most popular custom today to keep Advent is the lighting of candles on an advent wreath. Throughout history, Advent has seen many different customs, some were strict fasts like those celebrated by it’s couterpart Lent. It has also been a time of penitence when people should make their way to confession.


Jesse tree from a Book of Hours

Another tradition is that of the Jesse Tree. This symbol dates back to Bohemia in the middle ages and is basically a representation of the genealogy of Christ as found in the Gospel of Matthew, another “advent” as this text ties together the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. The Famous Chi Rho symbol announced this text in several old Gospel manuscripts like the Book of Kells and Lindisfarne Gospels. In the Middle Ages the use of the Jesse Tree found popularity in illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, and sculpted art in cathedrals and churches. And because of its tie in with Advent passage, an interesting devotion took root.
Starting with the first of December an ornament is hung on a tree representing a person or persons in the genealogy of Christ, which would start with Adam and Eve. Beginning at the bottom of the tree and working your way up to the top, which will end with the Infant Jesus. Scripture readings accompany the daily hanging of ornaments.

While this custom seems to be gaining popularity today, a revival of sorts, I had to wonder if the historical celebration of this had anything to do with our modern Christmas tree. The resemblance is obvious, and I could see how this tradition, passing through time, merely morphed into the Christmas tree. Another similar modern tradition is the Advent Calendar, which is a daily devotional leading us through the Advent season. If there is any tie in with the Jesse Tree it would be hard to prove, but I would place my bets that at least the Christmas Tree drew from this older tradition.

As Advent begins and in whatever way you keep it, Dominus Vobiscum!


The Transfiguration and Last Supper in a Bible from Floreffe Abbey, c. 1155

August the 6th is the Feast of the Transfiguration. Known also as Metamorphosis and Preobrazhenie in Greek and Slavic respectively; along with baptism, crucifixion, resurrection and the ascension it is one of the major events of the life of Christ found in the Gospel.

The story from the Gospels tells of Jesus taking Peter, James and John to a mountain, and while there Jesus begins to shine like the sun, and his clothes turn white as the light. Moses and Elijah appear and converse with Jesus, and a cloud surrounds them where a Voice is heard saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him..”

A story like this is like a puzzle which all fits together into a complete picture, but non the less, is made up of several pieces that are distinct. We see Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and Prophets make an appearance, which apart from demonstrating the communion of saints as being a valid function within the church, tells us something about the authority of Christ over the law and tradition, and is a sort of trinity. We hear the Father speak, and a cloud appears; similar to the events at Jesus’ baptism, a picture of the Trinity. It seems like two opposing triangles representing the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and another trinity of God, His Law and His prophets, like the two triangles that form the star of David.


Transfigure comes from Latin and has the same components as it’s Greek and Slavic counterparts. Trans = to cross or change; figure = shape or form. It means to change shape or form and in the story we understand this to be exactly what happens, something is revealed, which becomes visible. The Son of Man, appearing in human form, reveals the eternity of his divinity. It is sacramental and in a way is very similar to the transubstantial quality of the Eucharist. In the transfiguration, something is revealed that was hidden to the senses, the glory of the almighty shines through. The Eucharist, being the real presence of Christ, becomes something without changing its physical appearance, a change in substance rather than appearance. It was a delight to find both the transfiguration and the last supper pictured on the page from Floreffe Abbey above as this fit perfectly with what was in my mind about this feastday, but then I thought that this must have been also in the mind of the artist as well, seeing the link between the Eucharist and the transfiguration.

Vox Clamantis

20120624-121153.jpgThere are three birthdays that are celebrated in the church year. The most popular is of course the Nativity of Jesus, better known as Christmas. The birth of the Theotokos, Mary, is another which falls in September. And last we come to the Nativity of John the Baptist on the 24th of June.

John is such an iconic figure in the gospels. He lives apart, in the wilderness dressed like a caveman, acting like a character from a Flannery O’connor story; drawing us in and scaring us at the same time. Or like the street prophet who carries a sign about the “end of the world”, but in John’s case, he is really preparing for the beginning of one. He is a voice crying in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.”.

His birth comes 6 months before the birth of Jesus, and even here he prepares the way, marking the midpoint of the year, we begin to move toward Christmas rather than away. The days diminish as we pass the summer solstice, like John who must decrease and allow Christ to increase.

The greatest moment in the ministry of this man, is remembered in every mass, as the priest identifies the sacrifice, “Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” and is re emphasized, in the Agnus Dei, (Agnus Dei, qui tollis pecatta mundi, miserere nobis). We are constantly reminded of this epiphany, this collision of heaven and earth as the last prophet prepares and passes the world into the hands of God Incarnate.


April from Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

April comes along as the fourth month of the year, but in ancient times was the second. The origin of the name for April is unknown, but some theories suggest that it comes from the Latin verb Aperire which means “to open”. The spring equinox having just passed, April would see the first signs of the coming summer as plants would begin to “open up” and flower. Another possible explanation would tie April to Aphrilis, a Latin rendering of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite.

Le Château de Dourdan today.

Continuing in the theme of using the months from Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry book of hours, the scene above for the month of April shows a couple exchanging engagement rings in the presence of their parents. Women pick flowers and trees are now clothed in green. In the background is the Chateau de Dourdan. Built in the 13th century (1220’s), it became the property of the Duke of Berry in 1385.

April has several holidays, one of which is an old Roman holiday known as the Natalis urbis Romae (The birthday of Rome) was celebrated on the 21st of April. Rome was founded sometime during the 8th century B.C. between 728 and 758.

Another lesser known holiday is the holiday of the Lucky Fool, which lands on April the 7th. April starts with the fools day and seven is called the lucky number. If you haven’t heard of this holiday that’s probably because it’s only about 43 years old, and was first celebrated in 1969.

The Christian holiday of Easter (Pascha in eastern christianity) usually lands on a day during the month of April, though it can come as early as March 22, for western churches. The differences between the east and west for their dates of Easter come from methods of dating and the calendars used, the Gregorian or Julian. Regardless, the holiday celebrating the Resurrection is the central holiday in the church, ending the Lenten season and beginning Eastertide, which will last until Pentecost Sunday. For all christian people this is the central theme of their religion. In relation to this is a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien, who created a word called Euchatastrophe. The term means a sudden turn of events which occur in a story where the hero is spared certain doom. Tolkien claimed that the “The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in Joy.”

The week before Easter is known as Holy Week, and begins with Palm Sunday which will be on April 1st this year. Holy Thursday ends the Lenten season and the period from evening on Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday is known as the Paschal Triduum and remembers the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ.

Feasts from the General Roman Calendar for the month of April are:

1. Palm Sunday, Sunday
5. Holy Thursday, Triduum
6. Good Friday, Triduum
7. Holy Saturday, Triduum
8. Easter Sunday, Solemnity
9. Easter Monday, Solemnity
10. Easter Tuesday, Solemnity
11. Easter Wednesday, Solemnity
12. Easter Thursday, Solemnity
13. Easter Friday, Solemnity
14. Easter Saturday, Solemnity
15. Divine Mercy Sunday, Solemnity
21. Anselm, Opt. Mem.
22. Third Sunday of Easter, Sunday
23. George; Adalbert, Opt. Mem.
24. St. Fidelis, Opt. Mem.
25. St. Mark, Feast
28. Peter Chanel (NZ, Feast); Louis Mary de Montfort; Gianna Molla, mother (Italy), Opt. Mem.
29. Fourth Sunday of Easter, Sunday
30. Pius V; Bl. Marie de l’Incarnacion (Can), Memorial

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