Pope Benedict XVI

"Beauty... is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God Himself and His revelation."
(Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 35)

06 February 2010

Sexagesima Sunday

Sun 7 SEXAGESIMA SUNDAY (2 Cl V) Station at St. Paul's
No Gl Cr Pr of the Holy Trinity
5pm. St. Patrick's Church, College Road, Kilkenny. 
Celebrant: Rev. Thomas O'Toole CC.

'Cum turba plurima convenirent ad Jesum, et de civitatibus properarent ad eum, dixit per similitudinem: Exiit, qui seminat, seminare semen suum.'
'When a very great crowd was gathering together and men from every town came to Jesus, He said in a parable: The sower went out to sow his seed.'

Ant. ad Benedictus for Sexagesima Sunday
Late 12thC window of the 'Sower on stony ground', Canterbury Cathedral, UK.
The following is the reading, on the Gospel of the day, i.e. The parable  of the sower, Luke 8.4-15.,  taken from the Divine Office at Matins.

Homily by Pope St Gregory the Great,15th on the Gospels.

Dearly beloved brethren, the passage from the Holy Gospel which ye have just heard, needeth not so much that I should explain it, as that I should seek to enforce its lesson. The Truth Himself hath explained it, and, after that, it beseemeth not man's frailty to fritter away His exposition by any further comment. But there is, in that very explanation by the Lord, somewhat, which it behoveth us well to weigh. If it were but we who bade you believe that by the seed is signified the word; by the field, the world; by the birds, the devils; and by the thorns, riches ye would perchance doubt of the truth of our explanation. Therefore the Lord Himself hath vouchsafed to give this explanation, and that, not for this parable only, but that ye may know in what manner to interpret others, whereof He hath not given the meaning.Beginning His explanation, the Lord saith that He speaketh in parables. Hereby He doth certify us, when our weakness would unveil to you the hidden meaning of His words. If I spake of myself, who would believe me when I say that riches are thorns? Thorns prick, but riches lull to rest. And yet riches are indeed thorns, for the anxiety they bring is a ceaseless pricking to the minds of their owners, and, if they lead into sin, they are thorns which bloodily tear the soul. But we understand from another Evangelist (Matth. xiii. 22) that in this place the Lord speaketh, not of riches themselves, but of the deceitfulness of riches.Those riches are deceitful riches, which can be ours only for a little while; those riches are deceitful riches, which cannot relieve the poverty of our souls. They are the only true riches, which make us rich in virtues. If then, dearly beloved brethren, ye seek to be rich, earnestly desire the true riches. If ye would be truly honourable, strive after the kingdom of heaven. If ye love the bravery of titles, hasten to have your names written down at Court above, where Angels are. Take to heart the Lord's words which your ear heareth. The food of the soul is the word of God when the stomach is sick it throweth up again the food which is put into it, and so is the soul sick when a man heareth and digesteth not in his memory the Word of God. And if any man cannot keep his food, that man's life is in desperate case.

Late 12thC window of the 'Sower on good and thorny ground', Canterbury Cathedral, UK.

Some comments on the Season of Septuagesima.

The time of Septuagesima can be likened unto the 'portico' of the 'outer courts' of the Temple, leading one into the Holy of Holies of the mysteries of Jesus, which is His Passion. The two outer courts of this season being Septuagesima and Lent respectively.This description of the season echoes the words of Dom Marmion, who describes how the Church each year commemorates in detail the different phases of the Mystery of the Redemption, which reaches towards the triumphant consummation on Easter morning. 

During Septuagesima the liturgy of the Mass and the Divine Office remind us of the first sin, the Fall, and the necessity of penance - confidence in God Who gives light and strength abundantly to those who return to Him.

To read an article on Sexagesima Sunday and the teaching of St. Paul 'The Doctor of the Gentiles' mentioned in the collect of the Mass click here. The station church this Sunday is that of the major Basilica of St. Paul's 'Outside the Walls'.

The two images of the 12thC windows showing the sower from the parable of the Gospel of the Mass tie in well with the article linked to above. They were originally in a series of images, in the middle ages, that showed various types relating to the Eucharist.
'The Host we dare to receive, made from the flour of seeds of wheat, is the seed Christ the High Priest sows in us.  St. Paul teaches us a stern lesson the reception of the Eucharist by the worthy and the unworthy.  We are not in control of our salvation, but we cooperate.'