John Chrysostom’s Easter Homily

Because we cannot post this enough!

tissot-the-resurrection-480x736

The Resurrection of Christ from the Tomb (James Tissot)

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?

Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

John Chrysostom’s Easter Homily

A bit late, but a great piece to read regardless! +N+


Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!


HT: Esgetology (the link to the original Fordham Internet History Sourcebook seems to be dead)

Lenten Practices in the 15th Century: Fish and More Fish

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Frans Snyders and Jan Wildens, Fish Stall (ca. 1618-1621) (Wikimedia Commons)

Given that Lent is coming up in a few weeks (February 10th, mark your calendars), I thought it would be interesting today to share with you a discussion of the practice of eating fish for Lent during the 1400s.  This comes from one of my more favorite books to come out in the last ten years, Brian Fagan’s Fish on Friday: Feasting, Fasting, and the Discovery of the New World. I have preserved Fagan’s endnotes at the end of this excerpt.

Still, even when cod replaced herring on the menu, Lent was an ordeal for most people.  The Christian world of that era ran like a clock, its rhythms marked by fast and feast.  Each fast ended in a feast–Advent before Christmas, Lent before Easter.  The devout engaged in penance and then received both a lavish meal in this life and a spiritual reward in the next.  Fasts were the conscious offerings of each individual, each community, society as a whole.  Those of individuals could be nominal or rigorous.

Quite apart from private fasting, Catholic doctrine sanctioned official fast days to cleanse and discipline the faithful.  By the tenth century there were usually three such days a week–Wednesday, the day when Judas accepted a bribe for betraying Christ; Friday, to atone for the Savior’s suffering on the Cross; and Saturday, in commemoration of the Virgin Mary.

Advent was a time of personal renewal, of rebirth, when “so owe ye to begynne  and renewe youre lyffe.”[7] The fast was brief–four weeks or so–and relatively joyful, filled with anticipation for the celebrations to come. The six-week ordeal of Lent, the duration of Christ’s fast in the wilderness,was another matter: a lengthy intercession for forgiveness, a time for calling on God to save Humanity from its transgressions. The forty days of penance coincided with the dreary days of late winter, when food was often short. At this time people paid their tithes, up to a tenth of their harvest, to lord or parish priest.

The prolonged fast of Lent permitted one meal a day, eaten at the end of the day during the early centuries of Christianity but at noon by the ninth century. The one daily repast was no longer than one of the two or three meals normally served to working people–Lent was hard on people who labored in the fields or on other backbreaking jobs that required constant physical labor. The church encouraged the faithful by permitting a feast, a specially prepared meal of approved foods, on the fourth Sunday in Lent, sometimes called Mid-Lent Sunday. The occasion might only be marked by some small luxury like a sweet, but the introit appointed for the day came from the prophet Isaiah: “Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her; rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her.”

The Lenten diet was difficult for everyone–fish and yet more fish, usually salted herring: “King Herring, who mounted his throne on Ash Wednesday, and stayed there, however much his subjects grumbled, until Easter Sunday,”[8] as historian Bridget Ann Henisch described it. When John Gladman of Norwich arranged a procession of the months and seasons in 1448, Lent was “cladde in white with redde herrings skinnes and his hors trapped with oyster shelles after him in token that sadnesse and abstinence of mirth shulde followe and an holye time.”[9]

This monotonous regime of herring ruled the households of rich and poor alike. Life was much easier for the wealthy, who moved their households to their properties near the sea or close to fishponds, so they could obtain fresh catches. Less affluent families took care to buy their salted fish after harvest in the autumn, when prices were lower, and then put it away for Lent. Prices spiked sharply as Ash Wednesday approached and stayed high until Easter. There was money to be made off penitents, notably by religious houses and towns, which imposed tolls on barges and carts laden with salted herring during Lent.

Vigorous celebrations preceded Lent on Shrove Tuesday, when people stuffed themselves with fresh meat and other indulgences before the belt tightening of the next forty days. A fifteenth-century schoolboy lamented in his notebook: “Thou wyll not beleve how wery I am off fysshe, and how moch I desir that flesch were cum ageyn. For I have ete none other but salt fysh this Lent.”[10] Imagine eating hard, kipperlike but flavorless sticks of fish week in and week out. Even the devout looked for ways around the monotony. Many found it in alcohol, taking as their text the words of St. Paul in the Scriptures: “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for they stomach’s sake.”[11] In the words of a memorable fifteenth-century sermon: “In this time of Lent, when by the law and custom of the church men fast, very few people abstain from excessive drinking: on the contrary they go to the taverns, and some imbibe and get drunk more than they do out of Lent, thinking and saying: ‘Fishes must swim.'”[12] In fact, salted herring increased the diner’s thirst, and beer and wine were safer than the unsanitary water supplies of the day.

Salted herring posed an extraordinary challenge to even the most expert cooks, who concocted ingenious sauces to disguise the dry flesh.  Mustard, spooned promiscuously atop the fish, was a perennial favorite.  Herring with mustard is a gourmet dish in France today; the medieval ancestor of this dish was but a crude reflection of today’s refined presentation.  Dried figs, raisins, currents, and almonds imported from the Mediterranean added variety to more affluent tables.  Talented chefs with fresh fish to hand could bake it, grill it, simmer it, and dress it up in a myriad of sauces.  They used all kinds of ingenious tricks to substitute for forbidden ingredients like butter, eggs, or meat products.  Oil substituted for animal fat in the frying pan.  Almonds blanched and steeped in water produced a weak “milk” that could be used in fish stews or to bind pastry.  Some master cooks even devised “mock eggs,” magnificent creations of white and yellow almond purée served in an empty eggshell.

None of these ingenious concoctions was an adequate substitute for the real thing.  When Easter dawned, a collective sigh of gustatory relief could be felt across Europe.  Church bells tolled to commemorate the Resurrection.  Alleluias echoed high in cathedral naves.  The artist Pieter Breughel the Elder (1525-1569) portrayed the endless tension in his Fight Between Carnival and Lent in 1559.  We see a lively scene of celebration, with Carnival atop a barrel, brandishing sausages and chickens on a spit.  Lent faces him to the right, depressed and emaciated, holding forth a paddle with two herrings.  Behind him the fishmongers enjoy the roaring trade and beggars solicit for alms.[13]  The painting was powerfully evocative in an era when everyone, for a while, experienced at least some of the deprivation suffered by the poor year-round in urban poorhouses and slums, “bare places where every day is Lent.”[14]

 

====================================
7 E.H. Weatherly, ed., Speculum Sacerdotale (Oxford: Old English Text Society, 1935), old series 200, 4.
8 Bridget Ann Henisch, Fast and Feast (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1976), p.33.
9 E. L. Guilford, Select Extracts Illustrating Sports and Pastimes in the Middle Ages (New York: Macmillan, 1920), p.52.
10 W. Nelson, ed., A Fifteenth Century Schoolbook (Oxford: Clarendon, 1956), p.8.
11 1 Timothy 5:23.
12 The sermon was preached by Robert Rypon, an eminent cleric of his day and a contemporary of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer. Discussed in G. R. Owst, Literature and Pulpit in Medieval England (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1961), p.435.
13 Pieter Breughel, Fight Between Carnival and Lent, was painted in 1559 and can be seen at the Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna.
14 B. White, ed., Alexander Barclay: Eclogues (Oxford: Early English Text Society, 1928), old series 9.1. (From the First Eclogue.)

From B. Fagan, Fish on Friday: Feasting, Fasting, and the Discovery of the New World (New York: Basic Books, 2006): 147-150; 307 (notes).