Feria V post Cineres – 19 Feb 2015
Thursday after Ash Wednesday – Lent
Carrus Pharaonis et exercitum emus proiecit in mare.
Pharao’s chariots and his army he hath cast into the sea. (Ex 15.4)
From this morning’s Lauds, we read in the Canticum Moysis (Canticle of Moses, Ex 15) that the Lord God, as a part of His people Israel’s redemption, has drowned the pursuing Egyptian army in the waters of the sea.
This is baptism, the redemptive action of the Lord God upon his people, the Church: the body of the sinner, the chariots of Pharao, is plunged and drowned in the watery tomb of Christ’s saving blood; the demons who haunt, taunt, and tempt the sinner, his army, are scattered, exorcised from about the body of the sinner.
I have baptism on my mind because my friend and colleague’s newest son was recently baptized this last Sunday (right before the Lenten cut-off), and the right was performed in the usus antiquior (i.e., in both English and Latin).
After the saving sacrament of baptism is completed, however, the care of the soul is taken up in Confession, both in the Sacrament of Penance and in the public confession, called the Confiteor (lit. I confess)
We see all this clearly in the Confiteor of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (see below): firstly, to Our Lady, Mary ever Virgin, whose matronal care we as Christ’s disciples are entrusted; secondly, to Saint Michael the Archangel, who is vigilant in battle against the Adversary and all the evil spirits who prowl around the world seeking the ruin of souls; thirdly, to Saint John the Baptist, the forerunner of Our Blessed Lord and the one to whom Our Lord submitted himself to John’s baptism to fulfill all justice. Into John’s care we commend our prayers concerning both baptism and confession, as he is the patron of the First Sacrament, but also since John came in the way of justice, commended his own disciples to fast, and confessed Christ to be the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world, connecting John to both confession and to Christ’s absolution of our sin. Our Lord, moreover, even said of John that “amongst those that are born of women, there is not a greater prophet than him; fourthly, to the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul – the former whose successors guard the keys to the kingdom and the power to bind and to loose, and the latter who tells us that with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. In addition, these Apostles made fertile the ground of the Eternal City with the blood and witness of their martyrdom.
The chariots of Pharaoh are also the old man that the Apostle warns us about:
Put you also all away: anger, indignation, malice, blasphemy, filthy speech out of your mouth. Lie not one to another: stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds, and putting on the new, him who is renewed unto knowledge, according to the image of him that created him.
Note that the old man is given over to all manner of verbal sins. The old man, originally corrupted according to the desire of error, is now crucified with Christ, that the body of sin may be destroyed, to the end that we may serve sin no longer. With this, it is only fitting that confession be made such an integral part of all remission of sins.
Canon Law commends the faithful to perform, among others, two things: first, once admitted to the blessed Eucharist, each of the faithful is obliged to receive holy communion at least once a year (Can. 920 §1) during Eastertide. And second, All the faithful who have reached the age of discretion are bound faithfully to confess their grave sins at least once a year (Can 989). In this way, it is often encouraged that we make a good confession now during the forty days of fasting and prayer,.
In ending this meditatio, let us return to Pharao’s chariots; look, lastly to the Song (of Solomon/Songs):
To a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots
I have likened you, O my beloved (1.9, trans Griffiths)
My graduate advisor Paul J. Griffiths offers this in his commentary on the Song:
Confíteor Deo omnipoténti, beátæ Maríæ semper Vírgini, beáto Michaéli Archángelo, beáto Ioánni Baptístæ, sanctis Apóstolis Petro et Paulo, ómnibus Sanctis, et vobis, fratres: quia peccávi nimis cogitatióne, verbo et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa. Ideo precor beátam Maríam semper Vírginem, beátum Michaélem Archángelum, beátum Ioánnem Baptístam, sanctos Apóstolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et vos, fratres, orare pro me ad Dóminum, Deum nostrum.
I confess to almighty God, to the blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you, brothers, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you, brothers, to pray to the Lord our God for me.