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4/8/07

on Easter...

From a poem by the 6th-century Latin poet Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus, titled "On Easter" or "On the Resurrection":



Behold, the favour of the reviving world bears witness that all gifts have returned together with its Lord.

For in honour of Christ rising triumphant after His descent to the gloomy Tartarus, the grove on every side with its leaves expresses approval, the plants with their flowers express approval.

The light, the heaven, the fields, and the sea duly praise the God ascending above the stars, having crushed the laws of hell.

Behold, He who was crucified reigns as God over all things, and all created objects offer prayer to their Creator.

Hail, festive day, to be reverenced throughout the world, on which God has conquered hell, and gains the stars!

The changes of the year and of the months, the bounteous light of the days, the splendour of the hours, all things with voice applaud.

Hence, in honour of you, the wood with its foliage applauds; hence the vine, with its silent shoot, gives thanks.

Hence the thickets now resound with the whisper of birds; amidst these the sparrow sings with exuberant love.

O Christ, Thou Saviour of the world, merciful Creator and Redeemer, the only offspring from the Godhead of the Father, flowing in an indescribable manner from the heart of Thy Parent, Thou self-existing Word, and powerful from the mouth of Thy Father, equal to Him, of one mind with Him, is fellow, coeval with the Father, from whom at first the world derived its origin!

Thou dost suspend the firmament, Thou heapest together the soil, Thou dost pour forth the seas, by whose government all things which are fixed in their places flourish.

Who seeing that the human race was plunged in the depth of misery, that Thou mightest rescue man, didst Thyself also become man: nor wert Thou willing only to be born with a body, but Thou becamest flesh, which endured to be born and to die.

Thou dost undergo funeral obsequies, Thyself the author of life and framer of the world, Thou dost enter the path of death, in giving the aid of salvation.

The gloomy chains of the infernal law yielded, and chaos feared to be pressed by the presence of the light.

Darkness perishes, put to flight by the brightness of Christ; the thick pall of eternal night falls.

But restore the promised pledge, I pray Thee, O power benign!

The third day has returned; arise, my buried One; it is not becoming that Thy limbs should lie in the lowly sepulchre, nor that worthless stones should press that which is the ransom of the world.

It is unworthy that a stone should shut in with a confining rock, and cover Him in whose fist all things are enclosed.

Take away the linen clothes, I pray; leave the napkins in the tomb: Thou art sufficient for us, and without Thee there is nothing.

Release the chained shades of the infernal prison, and recall to the upper regions whatever sinks to the lowest depths.

Give back Thy face, that the world may see the light; give back the day which flees from us at Thy death.

But returning, O holy conqueror! Thou didst altogether fill the heaven!

Tartarus lies depressed, nor retains its rights. The ruler of the lower regions, insatiably opening his hollow jaws, who has always been a spoiler, becomes a prey to Thee.

Thou rescuest an innumerable people from the prison of death, and they follow in freedom to the place whither their leader approaches.

The fierce monster in alarm vomits forth the multitude whom he had swallowed up, and the Lamb withdraws the sheep from the jaw of the wolf.



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G.K. Chesterton...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."