A Catalogue of the Feasts of the Lord Which are to Be Kept, and When Each of Them Ought to Be Observed.
XIII. Brethren, observe the festival days; and first of all the birthday which you are to celebrate on the twenty-fifth of the ninth month; after which let the Epiphany be to you the most honoured, in which the Lord made to you a display of His own Godhead, and let it take place on the sixth of the tenth month; after which the fast of Lent is to be observed by you as containing a memorial of our Lord's mode of life and legislation. But let this solemnity be observed before the fast of the passover, beginning from the second day of the week, and ending at the day of the preparation. After which solemnities, breaking off your fast, begin the holy week of the passover, fasting in the same all of you with fear and trembling, praying in them for those that are about to perish.
Concerning the Passion of Our Lord, and What Was Done on Each Day of His Sufferings; And Concerning Judas, and that Judas Was Not Present When the Lord Delivered the Mysteries to His Disciples.
XIV. For they began to hold a council against the Lord on the second day of the week, in the first month, which is Xanthicus; and the deliberation continued on the third day of the week; but on the fourth day they determined to take away His life by crucifixion. And Judas knowing this, who for a long time had been perverted, but was then smitten by the devil himself with the love of money, although he had been long entrusted with the purse, and used to steal what was set apart for the needy, yet was he not cast off by the Lord, through much long-suffering; nay, and when we were once feasting with Him, being willing both to reduce him to his duty and instruct us in His own foreknowledge, He said: |Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you will betray me;| and every one of us saying, |Is it I?| And the Lord being silent, I, who was one of the twelve, and more beloved by Him than the rest, arose up from lying in His bosom, and besought Him to tell who it should be that should betray Him. Yet neither then did our good Lord declare His name, but gave two signs of the betrayer: one by saying, |he that dippeth with me in the dish;| a second, |to whom I shall give the sop when I have dipped it.| Nay, although he himself said, |Master, is it I?| the Lord did not say Yes, but, |Thou hast said.| And being willing to affright him in the matter, He said: |Woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for him if he had never been born. Who, when he had heard that, went his way, and said to the priests, What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you? And they bargained with him for thirty pieces of silver.| And the scripture was fulfilled, which said, |And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value, and gave them for the house of the potter.| And on the fifth day of the week, when we had eaten the passover with Him, and when Judas had dipped his hand into the dish, and received the sop, and was gone out by night, the Lord said to us: |The hour is come that ye shall be dispersed, and shall leave me alone;| and every one vehemently affirming that they would not forsake Him, I Peter adding this promise, that I would even die with Him, He said, |Verily I say unto thee, Before the cock crows, thou shall thrice deny that thou knowest me.| And when He had delivered to us the representative mysteries of His precious body and blood, Judas not being present with us, He went out to the Mount of Olives, near the brook Cedron, where there was a garden; and we were with Him, and sang an hymn according to the custom. And being separated not far from us, He prayed to His Father, saying: |Father, remove this cup away from me; yet not my will, but Thine be done.| And when He had done this thrice, while we out of despondency of mind were fallen asleep, He came and said: |The hour is come, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. And behold Judas, and with him a multitude of ungodly men,| to whom he shows the signal by which he was to betray Him -- a deceitful kiss. But they, when they had received the signal agreed on, took hold of the Lord; and having bound Him, they led Him to the house of Caiaphas the high priest, wherein were assembled many, not the people, but a great rout, not an holy council, but an assembly of the wicked and council of the ungodly, who did many things against Him, and left no kind of injury untried, spitting upon Him, cavilling at Him, beating Him, smiting Him on the face, reviling Him, tempting Him, seeking vain divination instead of true prophecies from Him, calling Him a deceiver, a blasphemer, a transgressor of Moses, a destroyer of the temple, a taker away of sacrifices, an enemy to the Romans, an adversary to Cæsar. And these reproaches did these bulls and dogs in their madness cast upon Him, till it was very early in the morning, and then they lead Him away to Annas, who was father-in-law to Caiaphas; and when they had done the like things to Him there, it being the day of the preparation, they delivered Him to Pilate the Roman governor, accusing Him of many and great things, none of which they could prove. Whereupon the governor, as out of patience with them, said: |I find no cause against Him.| But they bringing two lying witnesses, wished to accuse the Lord falsely; but they being found to disagree, and so their testimony not conspiring together, they altered the accusation to that of treason, saying, |This fellow says that He is a king, and forbids to give tribute to Cæsar.| And themselves became accusers, and witnesses, and judges, and authors of the sentence, saying, |Crucify Him, crucify Him;| that it might be fulfilled which is written by the prophets concerning Him, |Unjust witnesses were gathered together against me, and injustice lied to itself;| and again, |Many dogs compassed me about, the assembly of the wicked laid siege against me;| and elsewhere, |My inheritance became to me as a lion in a wood, and has sent forth her voice against me.| Pilate therefore, disgracing his authority by his pusillanimity, convicts himself of wickedness by regarding the multitude more than this just person, and bearing witness to Him that He was innocent, yet as guilty delivering Him up to the punishment of the cross, although the Romans had made laws that no man unconvicted should be put to death. But the executioners took the Lord of glory and nailed Him to the cross, crucifying Him indeed at the sixth hour, but having received the sentence of His condemnation at the third hour. After this they gave to Him vinegar to drink, mingled with gall. Then they divided His garments by lot. Then they crucified two malefactors with Him, on each side one, that it might be fulfilled which was written: |They gave me gall to eat, and when I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink.| And again: |They divided my garment among themselves, and upon my vesture have they cast lots.| And in another place: |And I was reckoned with the transgressors.| Then there was darkness for three hours, from the sixth to the ninth, and again light in the evening; as it is written: |It shall not be day nor night, and at the evening there shall be light.| All which things, when those malefactors saw that were crucified with Him, the one of them reproached Him as though He was weak and unable to deliver Himself; but the other rebuked the ignorance of his fellow and turning to the Lord, as being enlightened by Him, and acknowledging who He was that suffered, he prayed that He would remember him in His kingdom hereafter. He then presently granted him the forgiveness of his former sins, and brought him into paradise to enjoy the mystical good things; who also cried out about the ninth hour, and said to His Father: |My God! my God! why hast Thou forsaken me?| And a little afterward, when He had cried with a loud voice, |Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,| and had added, |Into Thy hands I commit my spirit,| He gave up the ghost, and was buried before sunset in a new sepulchre. But when the first day of the week dawned He arose from the dead, and fulfilled those things which before His passion He foretold to us, saying: |The Son of man must continue in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.| And when He was risen from the dead, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, then to Cleopas in the way, and after that to us His disciples, who had fled away for fear of the Jews, but privately were very inquisitive about Him. But these things are also written in the Gospel.
Of the Great Week, and on What Account They Enjoin Us to Fast on Wednesday and Friday.
XV. He therefore charged us Himself to fast these six days on account of the impiety and transgression of the Jews, commanding us withal to bewail over them, and lament for their perdition. For even He Himself |wept over them, because they knew not the time of their visitation.| But He commanded us to fast on the fourth and sixth days of the week; the former on account of His being betrayed, and the latter on account of His passion. But He appointed us to break our fast on the seventh day at the cock-crowing, but to fast on the Sabbath-day. Not that the Sabbath-day is a day of fasting, being the rest from the creation, but because we ought to fast on this one Sabbath only, while on this day the Creator was under the earth. For on their very feast-day they apprehended the Lord, that oracle might be fulfilled which says: |They placed their signs in the middle of their feast, and knew them not.| Ye ought therefore to bewail over them, because when the Lord came they did not believe on Him, but rejected His doctrine, judging themselves unworthy of salvation. You therefore are happy who once were not a people, but are now an holy nation, delivered from the deceit of idols, from ignorance, from impiety, who once had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy through your hearty obedience: for to you, the converted Gentiles, is opened the gate of life, who formerly were not beloved, but are now beloved; a people ordained for the possession of God, to show forth His virtues, concerning whom our Saviour said, |I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest to them that asked not after me. I said, Behold me, to a nation which did not call upon my name.| For when ye did not seek after Him, then were ye sought for by Him; and you who have believed in Him have hearkened to His call, and have left the madness of polytheism, and have fled to the true monarchy, to Almighty God, through Christ Jesus, and are become the completion of the number of the saved -- |ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;| as it is written in David, |A thousand shall fall beside thee, and ten thousand at thy right hand;| and again, |The chariots of God are by tens of thousands, and thousands of the prosperous.| But unto unbelieving Israel He says: |All the day long have I stretched out mine hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people, which go in a way that is not good, but after their own sins, a people provoking me before my face.|
An Enumeration of the Prophetical Predictions Which Declare Christ, Whose Completion Though the Jews Saw, Yet Out of the Evil Temper of Their Mind They Did Not Believe He Was the Christ of God, and Condemned the Lord of Glory to the Cross.
XVI. See how the people provoked the Lord by not believing in Him! Therefore He says: |They provoked the Holy Spirit, and He was turned to be their enemy.| For blindness is cast upon them, by reason of the wickedness of their mind, because when they saw Jesus they did not believe Him to be the Christ of God, who was before all ages begotten of Him, His only-begotten Son, God the Word, whom they did not own through their unbelief, neither on account of His mighty works, nor yet on account of the prophecies which were written concerning Him. For that He was to be born of a virgin, they read this prophecy: |Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emanuel.| |For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, whose government is upon His shoulders; and His name is called the Angel of His Great Council, the Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Potentate, the Prince of Peace, the Father of the Future Age.| Now, that because of their exceeding great wickedness they would not believe in Him, the Lord shows in these words: |Who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?| And afterward: |Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: for the heart of this people is waxed gross.| Wherefore knowledge was taken from them, because seeing they overlooked, and hearing they heard not. But to you, the converted of the Gentiles, is the kingdom given, because you, who knew not God, have believed by preaching, and |have known Him, or rather are known of Him,| through Jesus, the Saviour and Redeemer of those that hope in Him. For ye are translated from your former vain and tedious mode of life and have contemned the lifeless idols, and despised the demons, which are in darkness, and have run to the |true light,| and by it have |known the one and only true God and Father,| and so are owned to be heirs of His kingdom. For since ye have |been baptized into the Lord's death,| and into His resurrection, as |new-born babes,| ye ought to be wholly free from all sinful actions; |for you are not your own, but His that bought you| with His own blood. For concerning the former Israel the Lord speaks thus, on account of their unbelief: |The kingdom of God shall be taken from them, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof;| that is to say, that having given the kingdom to you, who were once far estranged from Him, He expects the fruits of your gratitude and probity. For ye are those that were once sent into the vineyard, and did not obey, but these they that did obey; but you have repented of your denial, and you work therein now. But they, being uneasy on account of their own covenants, have not only left the vineyard uncultivated, but have also killed the stewards of the Lord of the vineyard, -- one with stones, another with the sword; one they sawed asunder, another they slew in the holy place, |between the temple and the altar;| nay, at last they |cast the Heir Himself out of the vineyard, and slew Him.| And by them He was rejected as an unprofitable stone, but by you was received as the corner-stone. Wherefore He says concerning you: |A people whom I knew not have served me, and at the hearing of the ear have they obeyed me.|
How the Passover Ought to Be Celebrated.
XVII. It is therefore your duty, brethren, who are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, to observe the days of the passover exactly, with all care, after the vernal equinox, lest ye be obliged to keep the memorial of the one passion twice in a year. Keep it once only in a year for Him that died but once.
Do not you yourselves compute, but keep it when your brethren of the circumcision do so: keep it together with them; and if they err in their computation, be not you concerned. Keep your nights of watching in the middle of the days of unleavened bread. And when the Jews are feasting, do you fast and wail over them, because an the day of their feast they crucified Christ; and while they are lamenting and eating unleavened bread in bitterness, do you feast. But no longer be careful to keep the feast with the Jews, for we have now no communion with them; for they have been led astray in regard to the calculation itself, which they think they accomplish perfectly, that they may be led astray on every hand, and be fenced off from the truth. But do you observe carefully the vernal equinox, which occurs on the twenty-second of the twelfth month, which is Dystros (March), observing carefully until the twenty-first of the moon, lest the fourteenth of the moon shall fall on another week, and an error being committed, you should through ignorance celebrate the passover twice in the year, or celebrate the day of the resurrection of our Lord on any other day than a Sunday.
A Constitution Concerning the Great Passover Week.
XVIII. Do you therefore fast on the days of the passover, beginning from the second day of the week until the preparation, and the Sabbath, six days, making use of only bread, and salt, and herbs, and water for your drink; but do you abstain on these days from wine and flesh, for they are days of lamentation and not of feasting. Do ye who are able fast the day of the preparation and the Sabbath-day entirely, tasting nothing till the cock-crowing of the night; but if any one is not able to join them both together, at least let him observe the Sabbath-day; for the Lord says somewhere, speaking of Himself: |When the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, in those days shall they fast.| In these days, therefore, He was taken from us by the Jews, falsely so named, and fastened to the cross, and |was numbered among the transgressors.|
Concerning the Watching All the Night of the Great Sabbath, and Concerning the Day of the Resurrection.
XIX. Wherefore we exhort you to fast on those days, as we also fasted till the evening, when He was taken away from us; but on the rest of the days, before the day of the preparation, let every one eat at the ninth hour, or at the evening, or as every one is able. But from the even of the fifth day till cock-crowing break your fast when it is daybreak of the first day of the week, which is the Lord's day. From the even till cock-crowing keep awake, and assemble together in the church, watch and pray, and entreat God; reading, when you sit up all night, the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, until cock-crowing, and baptizing your catechumens, and reading the Gospel with fear and trembling, and speaking to the people such things as tend to their salvation: put an end to your sorrow, and beseech God that Israel may be converted, and that He will allow them place of repentance, and the remission of their impiety; for the judge, who was a stranger, |washed his hands, and said, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. But Israel cried out, His blood be on us, and on our children.| And when Pilate said, |Shall I crucify your king? they cried out, We have no king but Cæsar: crucify Him, crucify Him; for every, one that maketh himself a king speaketh against Cæsar.| And, |If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar's friend.| And Pilate the governor and Herod the king commanded Him to be crucified; and that oracle was fulfilled which says, |Why did the Gentiles rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ;| and, |They cast away the Beloved, as a dead man, who is abominable.| And since He was crucified on the day of the Preparation, and rose again at break of day on the Lord's day, the scripture was fulfilled which saith, |Arise, O God; judge the earth: for Thou shalt have an inheritance in all the nations;| and again, |I will arise, saith the Lord; I will put Him in safety, I will wax bold through Him;| and, |But Thou, Lord, have mercy upon me, and raise me up again, and I shall requite them.| For this reason do you also, now the Lord is risen, offer your sacrifice, concerning which He made a constitution by us, saying, |Do this for a remembrance of me;| and thenceforward leave off your fasting, and rejoice, and keep a festival, because Jesus Christ, the pledge of our resurrection, is risen from the dead. And let this be an everlasting ordinance till the consummation of the world, until the Lord come. For to Jews the Lord is still dead, but to Christians He is risen: to the former, by their unbelief; to the latter, by their full assurance of faith. For the hope in Him is immortal and eternal life. After eight days let there be another feast observed with honour, the eighth day itself, on which He gave me Thomas, who was hard of belief, full assurance, by showing me the print of the nails, and the wound made in His side by the spear. And again, from the first Lord's day count forty days, from the Lord's day till the fifth day of the week, and celebrate the feast of the ascension of the Lord, whereon He finished all His dispensation and constitution, and returned to that God and Father that sent Him, and sat down at the right hand of power, and remains there until His enemies are put under His feet; who also will come at the consummation of the world with power and great glory, to judge the quick and the dead, and to recompense to every one according to his works. And then shall they see the beloved Son of God whom they pierced; and when they know Him, they shall mourn for themselves, tribe by tribe, and their wives apart.
A Prophetic Prediction Concerning Christ Jesus.
XX. For even now, on the tenth day of the month Gorpiæus, when they assemble together, they read the Lamentations of Jeremiah, in which it is said, |The Spirit before our face, Christ the Lord was taken in their destructions;| and Baruch, in whom it is written, |This is our God; no other shall be esteemed with Him. He found out every way of knowledge, and showed it to Jacob His son, and Israel His beloved. Afterwards He was seen upon earth, and conversed with men.| And when they read them, they lament and bewail, as themselves suppose, that desolation which happened by Nebuchadnezzar; but, as the truth shows, they unwillingly make a prelude to that lamentation which will overtake them. But after ten days from the ascension, which from the first Lord's day is the fiftieth day, do ye keep a great festival: for on that day, at the third hour, the Lord Jesus sent on us the gift of the Holy Ghost, and we were filled with His energy, and we |spake with new tongues, as that Spirit did suggest to us;| and we preached both to Jews and Gentiles, that He is the Christ of God, who is |determined by Him to be the Judge of quick and dead.| To Him did Moses bear witness, and said: |The Lord received fire from the Lord, and rained it down.| Him did Jacob see as a man, and said: |I have seen God face to face, and my soul is preserved.| Him did Abraham entertain, and acknowledge to be the Judge, and his Lord. Him did Moses see in the bush; concerning Him did he speak in Deuteronomy: |A Prophet will the Lord your God raise up unto you out of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things, whatsoever He shall say unto you. And it shall be, that every soul that will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among his people.| Him did Joshua the son of Nun see, as the captain of the Lord's host, in armour, for their assistance against Jericho; to whom he fell down, and worshipped, as a servant does to his master. Him Samuel knew as the |Anointed of God,| and thence named the priests and the kings the anointed. Him David knew, and sung an hymn concerning Him, |A song concerning the Beloved;| and adds in his person, and says, |Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O Thou who art mighty in Thy beauty and renown: go on, and prosper, and reign, for the sake of truth, and meekness, and righteousness; and Thy right hand shall guide Thee after a wonderful manner. Thy darts are sharpened, O Thou that art mighty; the people shall fall under Thee in the heart of the king's enemies. Wherefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.| Concerning Him also spake Solomon, as in His person: |The Lord created me the beginning of His ways, for His works: before the world He founded me, in the beginning before He made the earth, before the fountains of waters came, before the mountains were fastened; He begat me before all the hills.| And again: |Wisdom built herself an house.| Concerning Him also Isaiah said: |A Branch shall come out of the root of Jesse, and a Flower shall spring out of his root.| And, |There shall be a root of Jesse; and He that is to rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him shall the Gentiles trust.| And Zechariah says: |Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, just, and having salvation; meek, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.| Him Daniel describes as |the Son of man coming to the Father,| and receiving all judgment and honour from Him; and as |the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, and becoming a great mountain, and filling the whole earth,| dashing to pieces the many governments of the smaller countries, and the polytheism of gods, but preaching the one God, and ordaining the monarchy of the Romans. Concerning Him also did Jeremiah prophesy, saying: |The Spirit before His face, Christ the Lord, was taken in their snares: of whom we said, Under His shadow we shall live among the Gentiles.| Ezekiel also, and the following prophets, affirm everywhere that He is the Christ, the Lord, the King, the Judge, the Lawgiver, the Angel of the Father, the only-begotten God. Him therefore do we also preach to you, and declare Him to be God the Word, who ministered to His God and Father for the creation of the universe. By believing in Him you shall live, but by disbelieving you shall be punished. For |he that is disobedient to the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.| Therefore, after you have kept the festival of Pentecost, keep one week more festival, and after that fast; for it is reasonable to rejoice for the gift of God, and to fast after that relaxation: for both Moses and Elijah fasted forty days, and Daniel for |three weeks of days did not eat desirable bread, and flesh and wine did not enter into his mouth.| And blessed Hannah, when she asked for Samuel, said: |I have not drunk wine nor strong drink, and I pour out my soul before the Lord.| And the Ninevites, when they fasted three days and three nights, escaped the execution of wrath. And Esther, and Mordecai, and Judith, by fasting, escaped the insurrection of the ungodly Holofernes and Haman. And David says: |My knees are weak through fasting, and my flesh faileth for want of oil.| Do you therefore fast, and ask your petitions of God. We enjoin you to fast every fourth day of the week, and every day of the preparation, and the surplusage of your fast bestow upon the needy; every Sabbath-day excepting one, and every Lord's day, hold your solemn assemblies, and rejoice: for he will be guilty of sin who fasts on the Lord's day, being the day of the resurrection, or during the time of Pentecost, or, in general, who is sad on a festival day to the Lord. For on them we ought to rejoice, and not to mourn.