Saturday, 18 April 2015

Liturgy, Contemplation, and the Self (Part 2)

(Continued from part 1)

From everything said in the previous post, it can be gathered what folly it is to adapt the liturgy to human or worldly concerns - folly especially because it hinders contemplation, which is the participation in divine Wisdom. The reforms of the 20th century set the focus of the liturgy off its balance, centering it more on man than previously, and dramatically reducing the theocentric symbolism. Whereas the traditional liturgy incorporated elements, in both its text and external ritual, that served to direct the mind to the mysterious action taking place – the mystery in which the soul must participate by contemplation – and hence to God Himself, the new liturgy is celebrated in such a way that is more centered on man. This is true not only of the manner in which the new liturgy is commonly celebrated in the typical parish, but of its inherent form as well. 

In the Novus Ordo, the priest often faces the people, creating an atmosphere in which they are on equal footing, rather than in which the priest leads the people onward to witness the mysterious action. In the introductory rites, the priest sits at a chair placed prominently in the sanctuary, facing the people. The attention is shifted away from the altar to the person of the priest and his relation to the people, and for a while priest and congregation appear to interact with each other rather than with God. By contrast, in the traditional liturgy, the priest faces the altar, addresses God, and whenever he sits to the side it is rarely to bring any attention to himself. The center of focus is always the liturgical action itself, primarily performed upon the altar. The people are there to witness the action, the priest to make it present; the priest and people are not themselves the main attraction of the Mass.

This is clear in the traditional rite again during the parts of the Mass that are especially ordered towards the Eucharist itself, such as the offertory and principally the Eucharistic prayer. The priest here does a great deal more than recite the text of a prayer: he performs an action. Despite the fact that the priest faces away from the people and they cannot see everything that occurs, the traditional liturgy, fully celebrated, manages to foster the strong sense that the priest is doing something. During the Canon, the priest performs many physical gestures and rituals, such as bowing, the sign of the cross, genuflection, kissing the altar, extending and folding his hands in various positions, etc., and the ministers around him likewise participate physically in the action performed. By contrast, in the new rite the physical actions are largely reduced, even when the priest faces the people and the action he performs are visible to them. The priest now seems merely to be reciting a text – he is a narrator, and the people listen to the story he has to tell. The main visible physical actions which he performs are a very few signs of the cross, and the elevations at the consecration. Most everything else is recitation, for the edification, and perhaps even education, of the people.

This may be mitigated somewhat when the new rite is celebrated ad orientem, but even so, there is still the loss of external ritual, which diminishes the liturgical focus on the divine action. This demonstrates the rationalistic tendencies of the reformers, who thought that anything which appeared repetitive and "useless" should be suppressed. The priestly action of the liturgy was reduced to the bare essential actions which constitute it, which helps to obscure rather than clarify its nature as the action of God. At the same time, the laity were allowed a more external "participation." The laity were allowed and even encouraged to take a role in the liturgy that resembled the roles traditionally taken only by the clergy. Lay readers, cantors, and Eucharistic ministers entered the sanctuary, the congregation became much more involved in interaction with the priest, and generally confusion arose regarding the true action of the liturgy in which the faithful must participate. These changes were all based on a false notion of "active participation," where "active" was taken to imply external. But true liturgical participation is essentially contemplation, and so it essentially interior. The external elements of the liturgy exist to foster this contemplation; the externals are not an end in themselves. In their interpretation of liturgical participation of the faithful, the reformers went little further than mere external participation - which is ironic given the aforementioned reduction of the more priestly action. It might be said that the priestly action was replaced with a lay action. This does not so much indicate a shift of focus from priest to people as a shift from God to man; for the traditional priestly action is essentially the re-presentation of God's work, while its reduction and replacement introduces a focus on the work of man.

Many of the new texts and prayers also demonstrate this shift of attention. In the Order of Mass, this is most clear in the new prayers for the Offertory, which now glorify the role of the work of man, while the old prayers tended to invoke the work of God as the source of the acceptance of the gifts. But the shift from God to man is even more evident in the proper prayers, particularly the collects. The difference between the traditional and the new collects is similar to the case of the offertory prayers, in regards to the emphasis on the work of God versus the work of man. While nothing in any of the new texts is doctrinally false, the precedence of the work of divine grace to the work of human effort is no longer clear in the new texts of the collects, whereas it was abundantly clear in the traditional texts. Whereas the traditional collects emphasized that the work of God is prior to the work of man, and is indeed the source of man’s merit, the new collects tend to focus merely on man’s own merit, without the strong acknowledgement of God’s role or the role of grace. This is true not only of the individual collects, but of the entire set of collects, seen as expressing the different aspects of the relation between God and man which are manifested throughout the liturgical year. Dr. Lauren Pristas used the term “semi-Pelagian” to describe the attitude of the new collects.  

Indeed, the whole reform was influenced by an attitude of adaption to the mentalities of modern man - a purpose openly proclaimed by the reformers themselves. A great many prayers and texts were suppressed which might be thought offensive to modern ears, and they were replaced or rewritten in such a way that might be more appealing. In other words, the liturgy was made to be more mundane, closer to man, closer to worldly concerns. As a result, it is easier for one worshiping in the new liturgy to be more wrapped up with himself, or for the whole human race that worships in the new liturgy to be more wrapped up with itself.

All of this, and probably much more, goes to show the difference between the traditional liturgy and the new liturgy in how they aid in attaining the abandonment of self and the world, which is so necessary for contemplation and our participation in the divine Wisdom. If we are to follow the principles of Pseudo-Dinoysius, whose mystical teaching is the explanation for the mysticism of so many saints, then we must concede that the Novus Ordo, with its greater focus on man, the self, and the world, and its lesser focus on the divine action taking place, is significantly less conducive to contemplation than the traditional liturgy. The mystical encounter with the action of Christ, and thereby the assimilation to Christ’s own divine life, is possible only to the extent that we abandon self, the world, and lower things. This tradition is founded in the teaching of the scriptures themselves, wherein we read of the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican: the one whose prayer was self-absorbed and narcissistic, the other whose prayer was other-directed, selfless. The true contemplative adopts the attitude of the Publican, and in his prayer he detaches himself from the world, himself, and lower things. The construction of the Novus Ordo, on the other hand, was an indirect, but significant concession to these very things – often deliberately so. As such, it represents a rejection of the mystical and liturgical tradition of the Catholic religion.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Liturgy, Contemplation, and the Self (Part 1)

The Resurrection, by Fra Angelico

In a profound passage from the Summa (which is of course full of such passages), St. Thomas Aquinas writes of the gift of wisdom:
Wisdom denotes a certain rectitude of judgment according to the Eternal Law. Now rectitude of judgment is twofold: first, on account of perfect use of reason, secondly, on account of a certain connaturality with the matter about which one has to judge. Thus, about matters of chastity, a man after inquiring with his reason forms a right judgment, if he has learnt the science of morals, while he who has the habit of chastity judges of such matters by a kind of connaturality. Accordingly it belongs to the wisdom that is an intellectual virtue to pronounce right judgment about Divine things after reason has made its inquiry, but it belongs to wisdom as a gift of the Holy Ghost to judge aright about them on account of connaturality with them: thus Dionysius says (Div. Nom. ii) that "Hierotheus is perfect in Divine things, for he not only learns, but is patient of, Divine things."
The gift of wisdom is, according to St. Thomas, the basis of the prayer of contemplation, which is a simple, loving gaze upon the divine truths. The normal way of sanctity, we are taught by the saints, consists essentially in this infused prayer of contemplation. It is not the Beatific Vision, but its prelude, an experiential knowledge of God that surpasses the knowledge attained by speculation or imagination. One does not merely think about divine truths abstractly, but is “a patient of divine things” – that is, one receives, experiences, suffers the divine, without being granted to see it. This is to be likened to the experience of brilliant light which dazzles our weak human eyes so that we are first blinded before we are permitted to see with clarity. Likewise, contemplation is an experience of the divine light, but without the clarity of vision. In this contemplation we participate truly in the divine Wisdom, through the gift of wisdom, so that we are brought closer to our deification, the full participation in the divine nature – we become, to use St. Thomas’ terminology, connatural with the divine nature. Hence this contemplation is not only the preparation for, but also the very beginning of our union with God. It is indeed a foretaste of Wisdom, in which we “taste and see that the Lord is sweet.”

This union with God is made possible by God’s union with us in the person of Jesus Christ, who “became man so that man might become God” (St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation).  The act of becoming man, and the act of suffering and dying a criminal’s death, was for God an entirely selfless act. God, the Lord and Creator of the universe, humbled Himself to assume the infinitely inferior dignity of a servant and a creature, so that He might offer Himself up as a sacrifice. He forgot Himself, even His own divinity, that He might assume our humanity, and perform the greatest act of love for us. We, in turn, have been enabled to do the same for Him: to completely forget ourselves, and to unite ourselves to God, that leaving behind our frail humanity we might be elevated to partake of His divinity.

Contemplation is the earthly beginning of this elevation of man to God. Thus it is of the essence of this contemplation that man abandon himself, as Christ abandoned himself first in becoming man, and again in dying as the death of the worst of sinners. Contemplation is an inherently selfless act; it is entirely other-directed. Thus it is necessary for the contemplative soul to be completely detached from himself, and to throw himself completely into the arms of God. The mystic father of the Church, Dionysius the Areopagite – whom St. Thomas cited above – exhorts his disciple Timothy with the following words:
And thee, dear Timothy, I counsel that, in the earnest exercise of mystic contemplation, thou leave the senses and the activities of the intellect and all things that the senses or the intellect can perceive, and all things in this world of nothingness, or in that world of being, and that, thine understanding being laid to rest, thou strain (so far as thou mayest) towards an union with Him whom neither being nor understanding can contain. For, by the unceasing and absolute renunciation of thyself and all things, thou shalt in pureness cast all things aside, and be released from all, and so shalt be led upwards to the Ray of that divine Darkness which exceedeth all existence. (Dinoysius, Mystical Theology)
Now, the Catholic tradition assures us that this contemplation is the end and perfection of the sacred liturgy in all its forms. The liturgy is the formal worship of the Church, the first place wherein the soul finds the living representation of the sacred mysteries for his contemplation. The act of worship is an act of complete submission to God, and so it must necessarily involve an act of perfect self-abandonment to God. The liturgy is not first ordered to man himself, as a source of edification; rather, it is ordered to the worship of God for His own sake, which accomplished by a complete forgetfulness of oneself and the gift of oneself to God. The perfection of worship thus consists in the very union with the divine nature that is begun in contemplation.

Dionysius himself writes in another work, the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, that the purpose of the liturgy is the deification of the worshiper, which is his unification to God. “Let us affirm, then, that the supremely Divine Blessedness, the essential Deity, the Source of deification, from Which comes the deification of those deified, bequeathed, by Divine Goodness, the Hierarchy, for preservation, and deification of all rational and intellectual beings.” God in His goodness has raised man from the mire of sin in order to assimilate him to Himself. But this must be carried out through the rites of the liturgy. For “how could the Divine imitation otherwise become ours, unless the remembrance of the most holy works of God were perpetually being renewed by the mystical teachings and ministrations of the Hierarchy?” It is crucial to understand that this deification of man is not a self-deification. Man cannot make himself god; this can only be accomplished by participation in the God who alone is divine by nature. Thus, even as the sanctification and glorification of man is accomplished through the liturgy, it is only by forgetting and abandoning himself that man can attain this end. Man’s only good is to worship God. Thus, in complete opposition to the deification of self, man’s deification is accomplished only by his going out of himself and directing his attention entirely to another.

It follows that the liturgy, in order to be as efficacious as it possibly can be, must foster this spirit of self-abandonment and mortification, turning the focus of the worshiper away from his own ego and from mundane things, and towards God alone. The selfhood of the creature is involved in the act of worship only insofar as it is in submission to the Creator. The worshiping creature must not assert his own value, but must recognize that his only value derives from his submission and union to the divine. It is the sacrifice of Christ which pleases God; we please God now only inasmuch as we unite ourselves to Christ in the offering of the sacrifice. When the sacrifice of Christ is carried by the hands of God’s holy angel to the heavenly altar, we too will be carried up to be yet more closely united with God. Our deification is only accomplished by participation in the mysteries of Christ, who said “No one comes to Father except through Me.” The content of the liturgy must be formed in accordance with this rule of self-abandonment and submission to the mysteries of Christ, so as to be united to the divine nature by participation. The signs and symbols have the purpose of orienting the soul away from self, except insofar as the self is meant to be absorbed, as it were, into God and His mysteries. The liturgy must therefore be something set apart from the world and from merely human affairs, resembling the liturgy of heaven itself. The ordinary life of the Christian, as lived through the liturgy, must be something extraordinary with respect to the life of man in the world. The liturgy must foster the awareness that the Christian man is not a citizen of the world, but of the heavenly City of God. Indeed, the liturgy is itself the living out of this truth – the divine citizenship in act, to use an Aristotelian term. The liturgy is the primary act of the Church, by which it shows its essential connection to heaven, its identity with the City of God. Wrapped up with this great mystery is the theocentricity of the liturgy – its focus on the divine, rather than the human. As the liturgy is, in a way, the earthly presence of Heaven itself, set apart from the world, so is it the all absorbing presence of God on earth, in which man steps out of himself to give himself to God.  

(To be continued...)

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The Resurrection

The mystery of Easter is the center and culmination of the entire liturgical year. Every mystery of the faith which we celebrate throughout the whole year is directed and ordered to the resurrection. Without the resurrection, "our faith would be in vain," says St. Paul. The resurrection is the definitive enabling cause of our salvation and union with God, the flipside of the passion and death. Christ suffered and died, not only that He might make satisfaction for our sins, but that He might conquer the death of sin by rising again on the third day. The passion of Christ is incomplete without the resurrection.

The essential life of the Christian is a participation in the life of Christ Himself. Just as the divine person of Christ participated in human nature, so must we humans participate in divine nature, through our participation in the life of Christ Himself. Grace makes us sons of God and partakers of the divine nature. It elevates us to a spiritual adoption by God the Father, of Whom Christ said "no one comes to the Father except through Me." Therefore our spiritual adoption is only by participation in Christ's own life. The resurrection too, then, must become ours. Christ's resurrection becomes our resurrection.

Now we participate in Christ's resurrection through various means. First and foremost is the sacrament of Baptism, which the fathers and doctors of the Church teach us is a participation in "Christ dying and rising." For by Baptism, we die to sin and rise to God, regenerated with a new life of the soul. Baptism by immersion in an especially vivid manner recreates the image of being buried (immersed under water) and rising (emerging from the water). Secondly to Baptism, our participation in the resurrection occurs through the liturgical celebration of the resurrection, which is repeated every year on the feast of Easter, and also in various other ways throughout the year (every Sunday, every octave, etc). The constant renewal of this mystery within the liturgical cycle allows us to contemplate the mystery by a participation in the wisdom of God, thereby affecting our assimilation to God through the mystery itself. The resurrection thus literally becomes ours, or the promise of it. The fruits of Baptism itself gain more increase in this way, and our final resurrection to eternal life is better ensured. The liturgy, on the foundation of the sacraments, especially Baptism, is the primary means of our participating in eternal life itself, or its promise, in the virtue of hope.

The liturgy of the Easter Vigil makes these mysteries abundantly clear. The Easter Vigil is traditionally also a celebration of the sacrament of Baptism. The Baptismal font itself is blessed, and the catechumens are baptized this night. The readings of the Easter Vigil - twelve of them in the old rite - are a majestic meditation on the mystery of Baptism and the resurrection, prefigured and foretold in the Old Testament. Genesis, for example, gives us the accounts of the creation and the deluge, signifying the re-creation and purgation that occurs in Baptism. Abraham consents to sacrifice his son, who is nonetheless preserved from the hold of death. In Exodus, the Israelites pass dryshod through the Red Sea, emerging victorious from their Egyptian bondage, a symbol of the free people of the resurrection and regeneration that is Baptism; and yet the sea swallows and drowns Egyptian king and soldiers, who signify the forces of sin and death. A striking passage in Ezekiel relates the prophets vision of the valley of the dry bones, which rise to new life at the breath of God. The Paschal Lamb appears in another reading from Exodus. The whole liturgy is permeated with an awareness of the Baptismal significance of the resurrection, the mystery of Easter.

St. Augustine speaks of the two regenerations or resurrections. The first is the regeneration of the soul, and so it is the promise of eternal life; one who perseveres in the graces of Baptism will receive the fulfillment of the promise, as well as the second resurrection, of the body, to salvation. But those who do not persevere in the graces of Baptism will fall away from the first resurrection, which is of the soul, but will suffer the second resurrection, of the body, unto judgment and eternal damnation. The people of the City of God participate in the first resurrection, and by living the full life of that City while on pilgrimage on this earth, they better ensure their own perseverance in the first resurrection, that they might enjoy its fulfillment in eternity. The earthly incarnation of the City of God is of course the Church, whose primary acts are the sacraments and the liturgy. Thus it is by our participation in those primary acts that we participate in the first resurrection, and ensure our second resurrection unto eternal life.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

St. Gregory of Nazianzen - An Easter Oration

The following text is a beautiful oration which was given for the feast of Easter by the Eastern father, St. Gregory of Nazianzen. St. Gregory's teaches us that the liturgical feast is not merely a commemoration, in which we recall to mind the mystery of Christ's resurrection and victory over death. Rather, the liturgy offers us an opportunity to actually revisit that mystery, to encounter it truly, almost as if we were being transported back in time to witness the resurrection itself. Moreover, not only do we witness it, but we become one with the rising Christ: His resurrection becomes our resurrection. Thus, through our participation in the liturgy, we are united to Christ in His resurrection in the past, and thereby participate in the promise of our own future resurrection. The liturgy effects something real within our souls; it is more than merely symbolic.

Oration 1 
I. It is the Day of the Resurrection, and my Beginning has good auspices. Let us then keep the Festival with splendour, Isaiah 66:5 and let us embrace one another. Let us say Brethren, even to those who hate us; much more to those who have done or suffered anything out of love for us. Let us forgive all offenses for the Resurrection's sake: let us give one another pardon, I for the noble tyranny which I have suffered (for I can now call it noble); and you who exercised it, if you had cause to blame my tardiness; for perhaps this tardiness may be more precious in God's sight than the haste of others. For it is a good thing even to hold back from God for a little while, as did the great Moses of old, Exodus 4:10 and Jeremiah Jeremiah 1:6 later on; and then to run readily to Him when He calls, as did Aaron Exodus 4:27 and Isaiah, Isaiah 1:6 so only both be done in a dutiful spirit;— the former because of his own want of strength; the latter because of the Might of Him That calls.

II. A Mystery anointed me; I withdrew a little while at a Mystery, as much as was needful to examine myself; now I come in with a Mystery, bringing with me the Day as a good defender of my cowardice and weakness; that He Who today rose again from the dead may renew me also by His Spirit; and, clothing me with the new Man, may give me to His New Creation, to those who are begotten after God, as a good modeller and teacher for Christ, willingly both dying with Him and rising again with Him.

III. Yesterday the Lamb was slain and the door-posts were anointed, and Egypt bewailed her Firstborn, and the Destroyer passed us over, and the Seal was dreadful and reverend, and we were walled in with the Precious Blood. Today we have clean escaped from Egypt and from Pharaoh; and there is none to hinder us from keeping a Feast to the Lord our God— the Feast of our Departure; or from celebrating that Feast, not in the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but in the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, 1 Corinthians 5:8 carrying with us nothing of ungodly and Egyptian leaven.

IV. Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him; yesterday I died with Him; today I am quickened with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him; today I rise with Him. But let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us— you will think perhaps that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the mere passing material of earth, that remains here below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men, slaves of the world and of the Prince of the world. Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image. Let us recognize our Dignity; let us honour our Archetype; let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died.

V. Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. Let us become God's for His sake, since He for ours became Man. He assumed the worse that He might give us the better; He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich; 2 Corinthians 8:9 He took upon Him the form of a servant that we might receive back our liberty; He came down that we might be exalted; He was tempted that we might conquer; He was dishonoured that He might glorify us; He died that He might save us; He ascended that He might draw to Himself us, who were lying low in the Fall of sin. Let us give all, offer all, to Him Who gave Himself a Ransom and a Reconciliation for us. But one can give nothing like oneself, understanding the Mystery, and becoming for His sake all that He became for ours.

VI. As you see, He offers you a Shepherd; for this is what your Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep, is hoping and praying for, and he asks from you his subjects; and he gives you himself double instead of single, and makes the staff of his old age a staff for your spirit. And he adds to the inanimate temple a living one; to that exceedingly beautiful and heavenly shrine, this poor and small one, yet to him of great value, and built too with much sweat and many labours. Would that I could say it is worthy of his labours. And he places at your disposal all that belongs to him (O great generosity!— or it would be truer to say, O fatherly love!) his hoar hairs, his youth, the temple, the high priest, the testator, the heir, the discourses which you were longing for; and of these not such as are vain and poured out into the air, and which reach no further than the outward ear; but those which the Spirit writes and engraves on tables of stone, or of flesh, not merely superficially graven, nor easily to be rubbed off, but marked very deep, not with ink, but with grace.

VII. These are the gifts given you by this august Abraham, this honourable and reverend Head, this Patriarch, this Restingplace of all good, this Standard of virtue, this Perfection of the Priesthood, who today is bringing to the Lord his willing Sacrifice, his only Son, him of the promise. Do you on your side offer to God and to us obedience to your Pastors, dwelling in a place of herbage, and being fed by water of refreshment; knowing your Shepherd well, and being known by him; John 10:14 and following when he calls you as a Shepherd frankly through the door; but not following a stranger climbing up into the fold like a robber and a traitor; nor listening to a strange voice when such would take you away by stealth and scatter you from the truth on mountains, Ezekiel 34:6 and in deserts, and pitfalls, and places which the Lord does not visit; and would lead you away from the sound Faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the One Power and Godhead, Whose Voice my sheep always heard (and may they always hear it), but with deceitful and corrupt words would tear them from their true Shepherd. From which may we all be kept, Shepherd and flock, as from a poisoned and deadly pasture; guiding and being guided far away from it, that we may all be one in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and unto the heavenly rest. To Whom be the glory and the might for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Gregory of Nazianzen

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Lamentations of Jeremiah - From Tenebrae of Good Friday

These readings would normally be read on Thursday evening, following all the liturgies of Maundy Thursday. The entire office, in both Matins and Lauds, is permeated with a sense of immense sorrow of heart, the sorrow "even unto death" which Christ felt in Gethsemane the night that He was betrayed - which is indeed tonight. The reforms of Pope Pius XII moved this service of Tenebrae to Friday morning, which is strange for a variety of reasons, but here especially because Christ's agony in the garden did not occur on the morning of the day of His death, but the night before. It was soon after the Last Supper itself. Hence it was the traditional practice to sing these offices Thursday evening, in the dark.
Anyhow, the readings from the book of Lamentations carry an enormous amount of material to teach of the meaning of the passion of Christ and all the mysteries which we revisit this week, which are so central to the entire faith. Jerusalem represents the people of God, who have been destroyed by sin. The prophet weeps for the sins of Jerusalem, entreating her to turn again to her God. When will this great conversion be? When will we see the new Jerusalem? When will we witness the promise of her renewal? When but at the Resurrection of Our Lord, the very seed of our own resurrection?
Reading 1
Lesson from the book of Lamentations
Lam 2:8-11
8 Heth. The Lord hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Sion: he hath stretched out his line, and hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: and the bulwark hath mourned, and the wall hath been destroyed together.
9 Teth. Her gates are sunk into the ground: he hath destroyed, and broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law is no more, and her prophets have found no vision from the Lord.
10 Jod. The ancients of the daughter of Sion sit upon the ground, they have held their peace: they have sprinkled their heads with dust, they are girded with haircloth, the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground.
11 Caph. My eyes have failed with weeping, my bowels are troubled: my liver is poured out upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people, when the children, and the sucklings, fainted away in the streets of the city.
Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Return unto the Lord thy God.

R. All my friends have forsaken me, and mine enemies have prevailed against me; he whom I loved hath betrayed me.
* Mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me; he breaketh me with breach upon breach: and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
V. I am numbered with the transgressors; and my life is not spared.
R. Mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me; he breaketh me with breach upon breach; and (in my thirst) they gave me vinegar to drink.
Reading 2
12 Lamed. They said to their mothers: Where is corn and wine? when they fainted away as the wounded in the streets of the city: when they breathed out their souls in the bosoms of their mothers.
13 Mem. To what shall I compare thee? or to what shall I liken thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? to what shall I equal thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Sion? for great as the sea is thy destruction: who shall heal thee?
14 Nun. thy prophets have seen false and foolish things for thee: and they have not laid open thy iniquity, to excite thee to penance: but they have seen for thee false revelations and banishments.
5 Samech. All they that passed by the way have clapped their hands at thee: they have hissed, and wagged their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying: Is this the city of perfect beauty, the joy of all the earth?
Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Return unto the Lord thy God.

R. The veil of the Temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom,
* And all the earth did quake: the thief on the cross cried, saying: Lord, remember me when Thou comest into thy kingdom!
V. The rocks rent, and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints, which slept, arose.
R. And all the earth did quake: the thief on the cross cried, saying: Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
Reading 3
Lam 3:1-9
1 Aleph. I am the man that see my poverty by the rod of his indignation.
2 Aleph. He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, and not into light.
3 Aleph. Only against me he hath turned, and turned again his hand all the day.
4 Beth. My skin and my flesh he hath made old, he hath broken my bones.
5 Beth. He hath built round about me, and he hath compassed me with gall and labour.
6 Beth. He hath set me in dark places as those that are dead for ever.
7 Ghimel. He hath built against me round about, that I may not get out: he hath made my fetters heavy.
8 Ghimel. Yea, and when I cry, and entreat, he hath shut out my prayer.
9 Ghimel. He hath shut up my ways with square stones, he hath turned my paths upside down
Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Return unto the Lord thy God.
R. I had planted thee a noble vineyard;
* How then art thou turned into a degenerate plant, which willest that Barabbas should be released unto thee, and that I should be crucified.
V. I fenced thee, and gathered out the stones from thee, and built a tower in the midst of the land.
R. How then art thou turned into a degenerate plant, which willest that Barabbas should be released unto thee, and that I should be crucified.
R. I had planted thee a noble vineyard; * How then art thou turned into a generate plant, which willest the Barabbas should be released unto thee, and that I should be crucified.