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Introductions to Each Season

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

We have already said that the Christian who, by the meditations suitable to the spirit of Septuagesima, has come to a clearer knowledge, not only of the sad consequences of original sin, but also of the malice of his own personal faults, should be all the more eager to assist at the holy Sacrifice, wherein is offered the Victim of man’s salvation. But now that his own unworthiness is more than ever evident to him, ought he to abstain from partaking, by holy Communion, of this life-giving and purifying Host? Such is not our Saviour’s will. He came down from heaven, not to judge, but to save us.[1] He knows how long and rugged is the road we have to traverse, before we reach that happy day, on which we shall rest with Him, in the joy of His Resurrection. He has compassion on us; He fears lest we faint in the way;[2] and He, therefore, offers us the divine food, which gives life and strength to our souls, and refreshes them in their toil. We feel that our hearts are not yet pure enough; let us, then, with a humble and contrite heart, go to Him who has come that He may restore to our souls their original beauty. Let us, at all times, remember the solemn injunction, which this Saviour so graciously deigned to give us: ‘Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, ye shall not have life in you.’[3]

If, therefore, sin has no longer dominion over us; if we have destroyed it by true sorrow and sincere confession, made efficacious by the absolution of God’s priest: let us not deprive ourselves of the Bread of life,[4] no matter how great soever our infirmities may seem; for it is for us that our Jesus has prepared the feast. If we feel that the chains of sin are still upon us; if by self-examination, made with the light of the truth that is now granted to us, we discover in our souls certain stains, which the false principles of the world and too easy a conscience have hitherto made us overlook; let us lose no time, let us make a good confession: and when we have made our peace with the God of mercy, let us approach the holy Table, and receive the pledge of our reconciliation.

Yes, let us go to holy Communion, during this season of Septuagesima, with a most heart-felt conviction of our unworthiness. It may be that hitherto we have sometimes gone with too much familiarity, on account of our not sufficiently understanding our nothingness, our misery, and the infinite holiness of the God who thus unites Himself with His sinful creatures. Henceforth, our heart shall be more truthful; blending together the two sentiments of humility and confidence, we will say, with an honest conviction, those words of the centurion of the Gospel, which the Church puts upon our lips, when she is distributing to us the Bread of life: 'Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof; say but the word, and my soul shall be healed.’[5] We will here give, as in the two preceding seasons, acts, which may serve as a preparation for holy Communion during these weeks of Septuagesima. There are souls that feel the want of some such assistance as this; and, for the same reason, we will add a form of thanksgiving for after Communion.

BEFORE COMMUNION 

 

Act of Faith

The signal grace which thou, O my God, hast granted to me, that I should know the wounds of my soul, has revealed to me the greatness of my misery. I have been taught how deep was the darkness that covered me, and how much I needed thy divine light. But whilst the torch of faith has thus shown me the abyss of my own poor nature, it has also taught me how wonderful are the works, which thy love of thy ungrateful creature has made thee undertake, in order that thou mightest raise him up and save him. It was for me thou didst assume my human nature, and wast born at Bethlehem; it is for me that thou art soon to shed thy Blood on the cross. Thou commandest me to believe these miracles of thy love. I do believe them, O my God, humbly and gratefully. I also believe, and with an equally lively faith, that in a few moments thou art to give thyself to me in this ineffable mystery of holy Communion. Thou sayest to me: ‘ This is my Body, this is my Blood': —thy word is enough; in spite of my unworthiness seeming to forbid the possibility of such Communion, I believe, I consent, I bow down before thine infinite truth. Oh! can there be Communion between the God of all holiness and a sinner such as I? And yet thou assurest me that thou art verily coming to me! I tremble, 0 eternal Truth, but I believe. I confess that thy love of me is infinite, and that, having resolved to give thyself to thy poor and sinful creature, thou wilt suffer no obstacle to stand in thy way!

Act of Humility

During the season just past, I have often contemplated, 0 my Jesus, thy coming from thy high throne into the bosom of Mary, thy uniting thy divine Person to our weak mortal nature, and thy being born in the crib of a poor stable. And when I thought on these humiliations of my God, they taught me not only to love thee tenderly, but also to know my own nothingness, for I saw more clearly what an infinite distance there is between the creature and his Creator; and seeing these prodigies of thy immense love, I gladly confessed my own vileness. But now, dearest Saviour, I am led to consider something far more humiliating than the lowliness of my nature. That nothingness should be but nothingness, is not a sin. No; it is my sins that appal me. Sin has so long tyrannized over me; its consequences are still upon me; it has given me such dangerous tendencies; and I am so weak in resisting its bidding. When my first parent sinned, he hid himself, lest he should meet thee; and thou biddest me come unto thee, not to sentence me to the punishment I deserve, but to give me, oh! such a mark of love—union with thyself! Can this be? Art thou not the infinitely holy God? I must needs yield, and come, for thou art my sovereign Master; and who is there that dares resist thy will? I come, then, humbling myself, even to my very nothingness, before thee, and beseeching thee to pardon my coming, for I come because thou wilt have it so.

Act of Contrition

And shall I, 0 my Jesus, confess thus the grievousness and multitude of my sins, without promising thee to sin no more? Thou wishest this sinner to be reconciled with thee, thou desirest to press him to thy sacred Heart: and could he, whilst thanking thee for this thy wonderful condescension, still love the accursed cause which made him thine enemy? No, my infinitely merciful God, no! I will not, like my first parent, seek to escape thy justice, but, like the prodigal son, I will arise and go to my Father; like Magdalene, I will take courage and enter the banquet-hall; and, though trembling at the sight of my sins, I will comply with thy loving invitation. My heart has no further attachment to sin, which I hate and detest as the enemy of thy honour and of my own happiness. I am resolved to shun it from this time forward, and to spare no pains to free myself from its tyranny. There shall be no more of that easy life which chilled my love, nor of that studied indifference which dulled my conscience, nor of those dangerous habits which led me to stray from my loyalty to thee. Despise not, O God, this my humble and contrite heart.

Act of Love

Such is thy love for us in this world, O my Jesus, that, as thou thyself sayest, thou art come not to judge, but to save. I should not satisfy thee, in this happy Communion hour, were I to offer thee but this salutary fear, which has led me to thy sacred feet, and this shame stricken conscience, which makes me tremble in thy holy presence. The visit thou art about to pay me is a visit of love. The Sacrament, which is going to unite me to thee, is the Sacrament of thy love. Thou, my good Shepherd, hast said, that he loves most, who has been forgiven most. My heart then must dare to love thee; it must love thee with all its warmth; the very recollection of its past disloyalty must make its loving thee doubly needed and doubly fervent. Ah! sweet Lord!See this poor heart of mine; strengthen it, console it, drive away its fears, make it feel that thou art its Jesus! It has come back to thee, because it feared thee; if it love thee, it will never again leave thee.


And thou, O Mary, refuge of sinners, help me to love him, who is thy Son, and our Brother. Holy angels! ye who live eternally on that love, which has never ceased to glow in your mighty spirits, remember, I reverently pray you, that this God created me, as he did you, that I might love him. All ye holy saints of God! I beseech you, by the love wherewith ye are inebriated in heaven, graciously give me a thought, and prepare now my heart to be united with him. Amen.


AFTER COMMUNION

Act of Adoration

Thou art here within me, great God of heaven! Thou art, at this moment, residing in a sinner’s heart! I, yea, I, am thy temple, thy throne, thy resting-place I How shall I worthily adore thee, who hast deigned to come down into this abyss of my lowliness and misery? The angels veil their faces in thy presence; thy saints lay their crowns at thy feet; and I, that am but a sinful mortal, how shall I sufficiently honour thee, O infinite Power, infinite Wisdom, infinite Goodness? This soul, wherein thou art now dwelling, has presumed so many times to set thee at defiance, and boldly disobey and break thy commands. And thou canst come to me after all this, and bring all thy beauty and greatness with thee! What else can I do, but give thee the homage of a heart, that knows not how to bear the immensity of the honour thou art now lavishing on me? Yes, my own won-derful and loving God, I adore thee; I acknowledge thee to be the sovereign Being, the Creator and preserver of all creatures, and the undisputed Master of everything that belongs to me. I delightedly confess my dependence on thee, and offer thee, with all my heart, my humble service.

Act of Thanksgiving

Thy greatness, O my God, is infinite; but thy goodness to me is incomprehensible. Thy being now present within this breast of mine is, I know, a proof of that immense power, which shows itself where and when it wills; but it is also a mark of thy love for me. Thou art come to my soul, that thou mayst be closely united with her, comfort her, give her a new life, and bring her all good things. Oh! who will teach me how to value this grace, and thank thee for it in a becoming way? But how shall I hope to value it as I ought, when I am not able to understand either the love that brings thee thus within me, or my own need of having thee? And when I think of my inability to make thee a suitable return of thanks, I feel as though Ican give thee nothing but my speechless gratitude. Yet thou willest that this my heart, poor as it is, should give thee its thanks; thou takest delight in receiving its worthless homage. Take it, then, my loving Jesus! I give it thee with all possible joy, and beseech thee to reveal unto me the immensity of thy gift, and to enrich me more that I may give thee more.

Act of Love

But nothing will satisfy thee, O my infinite Treasure, unless I give thee my love. Thou hast ever loved me, and thou art still loving me; I must love thee in return! Thou hast borne with me; thou hast forgiven me; thou art, at this moment, overpowering me with honour and riches; and all this out of love for me! The return thou askest of me, is my love! Gratitude will not content thee, thou wilt have my love! But, Jesus, my dear Jesus!—my past life—the long years I have spent in offending thee—rise up before me, and tell me to hide myself from thee! And yet, whither could I go without carrying thee within me, for thou hast taken up thine abode in my inmost soul? No, I will not run from thee! I will summon all the energies of my heart to tell thee that I love thee; that thy love for me has emboldened me; that I belong to thee; that I love thee above all else that I love; and that, henceforth, all my joy and happiness shall be in pleasing thee, and doing whatsoever thou askest of me.

Act of Oblation

I know, dear Jesus, that what thou askest of me is not the passing sentiment of a heart excited by the thought of thy goodness towards it. Thou hast loved me from eternity; thou lovedst me, even when I was doing nothing for thee; thou hast given me light to know my miseries; thou hast shielded me against thine own angry justice; thou hast mercifully pardoned me a countless number of times; thou art even now embracing me with tenderest love; and all these works of thy almighty hand have been but for one end—to make me give myself to thee, and live, at last, for thee. It is this thou wouldst obtain of me, by granting me this precious earnest of thy love, which I have just received. Thou hast said, speaking of this ineffable gift: 'As I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.’[6] Henceforth, 0 Bread, which came down from heaven![7] thou art the source of my life. Now, more than ever, my life belongs to thee. I give it unto thee. I dedicate unto thee my soul, my body, my faculties, my whole being. Do thou direct and govern me. I resign myself entirely into thy hands. I am blind, but thy light will guide me; I am weak, but thy power will uphold me; I am inconstant, but thy unchangeableness will give me stability. I trust unreservedly in thy mercy, which never abandons them that hope in thee.


O Mary! pray for me, that I lose not the fruit of this visit. Holy angels! watch over this dwelling-place of your Lord, which he has so mercifully chosen: let nothing defile it. 0 all ye saints of God! pray for the sinner, unto whom he has given this pledge of his divine pardon.


[1] St. John iii. 17.
[2] St. Matt. xv. 32.
[3] St. John vi. 54.
[4] Ibid., 35.
[5] St. Matt. viii. 8.
[6] St. John vi. 58.
[7] Ibid., 51.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Office of Vespers, or Evensong, consists firstly of the five following psalms and antiphons. According to our custom, we preface each psalm with a short explanation, in order to draw attention to what is most in harmony with the spirit of Septuagesima.

After the Pater and Ave have been said in secret, the Church commences this Hour with her favourite supplication:

℣. Deus in adjutorium meum intende.
℟. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto:
Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Laus tibi, Domine, Rex æternæ gloriæ.

Ant. Dixit Dominus.
℣. Incline unto my aid, O God.
℟. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Praise be to thee, O Lord, King of eternal glory.

Ant. The Lord said.

The first psalm is a prophecy of the future glory of the Messias. It shows us His triumph; after His humiliations and His cross, the Man-God shall sit on the right hand of His Father. Moreover, He is to come again into this world, to judge it, and to crush the proud heads of sinners. Whilst thus celebrating His glory, let us not forget His justice.

psalm 109

 

Dixit Dominus Domino meo: * Sede a dextris meis.
Donec ponam inimicos tuos: * scabellum pedum tuorum.
Virgam virtutis tuæ emittet Dominus ex Sion: * dominare in medio inimicorum tuorum.
Tecum principium in die virtutis tuæ in splendoribus sanctorum: * ex utero ante luciferum genui te.
Juravit Dominus, et non poenitebit eum: * Tu es Sacerdos in æternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech.
Dominus a dextris tuis: * confregit in die iræ suæ reges.
Judicabit in nationibus, implebit ruinas: * conquassabit capita in terra multorum.
De torrente in via bibet: * propterea exaltabit caput.

Ant. Dixit Dominus Domino meo, sede a dextris meis.
Ant. Magna opera Domini.
The Lord said to my Lord, his Son: Sit thou at my right hand, and reign with me.
Until, on the day of thy last coming, I make thy enemies thy footstool.
O Christ! the Lord thy Father, will send forth the sceptre of thy power out of Sion: from thence rule thou in the midst of thy enemies.
With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength, in the brightness of the saints: For the Father hath said, to thee: From the womb, before the day star, I begot thee.
The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: he hath said, speaking of thee, the God-Man: Thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech.
Therefore, O Father, the Lord thy Son is at thy right hand: he hath broken kings in the day of his wrath.
He shall also judge among nations: in that terrible coming, he shall fill the ruins of the world: he shall crush the heads in the land of many.
He cometh now in humility: he shall drink, in the way, of the torrent of sufferings: therefore, shall he lift up the head.

Ant. The Lord said to my Lord, sit thou at my right hand.
Ant. Great are the works of the Lord.

 


The following psalm commemorates the mercies of God to His people, the promised Covenant, the Redemption, His fidelity to His word. But it also tells us that the name of the Lord is terrible because it is holy; and concludes by telling us, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

psalm 110

 

Confitebor tibi, Domine, in toto corde meo: * in concilio justorum et congregatione.
Magna opera Domini: * exquisita in omnes voluntates ejus.
Confessio et magnificentia opus ejus: * et justitia ejus manet in sæculum sæculi.
Memoriam fecit mirabilium suorum, misericors et miserator Dominus: * escam dedit timentibus se.
Memor erit in sæculum testamenti sui: * virtutem operum suorum annuntiabit populo suo.
Ut det illis haereditatem Gentium: * opera manuum ejus veritas et judicium.
Fidelia omnia mandata ejus, confirmata in sæculum sæculi: * facta in veritate et æquitate.
Redemptionem misit populo suo: * mandavit in æternum testamentum suum.
Sanctum et terribile nomen ejus: * initium sapientiæ timor Domini.
Intellectus bonus omnibus facientibus eum: * laudatio ejus manet in sæculum sæculi.

Ant. Magna opera Domini: exquisita in omnes voluntates ejus.
Ant. Qui timet Dominum.
I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: in the council of the just, and in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord: sought out according to all his wills.
His work is praise and magnificence: and his justice continueth for ever and ever.
He hath made a remembrance of his wonderful works, being a merciful and gracious Lord: and being the bread of life, he hath given food to them that fear him.
He will be mindful for ever of his covenant with men: he is come and will show forth to his people the power of his works.
That he may give them, his Church, the inheritance of the Gentiles: the works of his hand are truth and judgement.
All his commandments are faithful, confirmed for ever and ever: made in truth and equity.
He hath sent Redemption to his people; he hath thereby commanded his covenant for ever.
Holy and terrible is his name: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
A good understanding to all that do it: his praise continueth for ever and ever.

Ant. Great are the works of the Lord: sought out according to all his wills.
Ant. He that feareth the Lord.

The next psalm sings the happiness of the just man, and his hopes on the day of his Lord’s coming. It tells us, likewise, of the confusion and despair which will torment the sinner, who, during life, was insensible to his own interests, and deaf to the invitations made him by the Church.

psalm 111

 

Beatus vir qui timet Dominum: * in mandatis ejus volet nimis.
Potens in terra erit semen ejus: * generatio rectorum benedicetur.
Gloria et divitiæ in domo ejus: * et justitia ejus manet in sæculum sæculi.
Exortum est in tenebris lumen rectis: * misericors, et miserator, et justus.
Jucundus homo qui miseretur et commodat, disponet sermones suos in judicio: * quia in æternum non commovebitur.
In memoria æterna erit justus: * ab auditione mala non timebit.
Paratum cor ejus sperare in Domino, confirmatum est cor ejus: * non commovebitur donec despiciat inimicos suos.
Dispersit, dedit pauperibus, justitia ejus manet in sæculum sæculi: * cornu ejus exaltabitur in gloria.
Peccator videbit et irascetur, dentibus suis fremet et tabescet: * desiderium peccatorum peribit.

Ant. Qui timet Dominum, in mandatis ejus cupit nimis.
Ant. Sit nomen Domini.
Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord: he shall delight exceedingly in his commandments.
His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the righteous shall be blessed.
Glory and wealth shall be in his house: and his justice remaineth for ever and ever.
To the righteous a light is risen up in darkness: he is merciful, and compassionate, and just: he is born and dwells amongst us.
Acceptable is the man that showeth mercy and lendeth; he shall order his words with judgement: because he shall not be moved for ever.
The just shall be in everlasting remembrance: he shall not fear the evil hearing.
His heart is ready to hope in the Lord; his heart is strengthened: he shall not be moved until he look over his enemies.
He hath distributed, he hath given to the poor; his justice remaineth for ever and ever: his horn shall be exalted in glory.
The wicked shall see, and shall be angry; he shall gnash with his teeth, and pine away: the desire of the wicked shall perish.

Ant. He that feareth the Lord delighteth exceedingly in his commandments.
Ant. May the name of the Lord.

The psalm, Laudate pueri, is a canticle of praise to the Lord, who, from His high heaven, has taken pity on the fallen human race, and facilitated its return to its Maker.

psalm 112

 

Laudate, pueri, Dominum: * laudate nomen Domini.
Sit nomen Domini bene* dictum: * ex hoc nunc et usque in sæculum.
A solis ortu usque ad occasum: * laudabile nomen Domini.
Excelsus super omnes Gentes Dominus: * et super cœlos gloria ejus.
Quis sicut Dominus Deus noster qui in altis habitat: * et humilia respicit in cœlo et in terra?
Suscitans a terra inopem: * et de stercore erigens pauperem.
Ut collocet eum cum principibus: * cum principibus populi sui.
Qui habitare facit sterilem in domo: * matrem filiorum lætantem.

Ant. Sit nornen Domini benedictum in sæcula.
Ant. Deus autem noster.
Praise the Lord, ye children: praise ye the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord: from henceforth now and for ever.
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is worthy of praise.
The Lord is high above all nations: and his glory above the heavens.
Who is as the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high: and looketh down on the low things in heaven and in earth, nay, who cometh down amidst us?
Raising up the needy from the earth: and lifting up the poor out of the dunghill.
That he may place him with princes: with the princes of his people.
Who maketh a barren woman to dwell in a house, the joyful mother of children.

Ant. May the name of the Lord be for ever blessed.
Ant. But our God.

The fifth psalm, In exitu, recounts the prodigies witnessed under the ancient Covenant: they were figures, whose realities are to be accomplished in us, if we will but return to the Lord our God. He will deliver Israel from Egypt, emancipate the Gentiles from their idolatry, and pour out a blessing on every man who will consent to fear and love the Lord.

psalm 113

 

In exitu Israel de Ægypto: * domus Jacob de populo barbaro.
Facta est Judæa sanctificatio ejus: * Israel potestas ejus.
Mare vidit, et fugit: * Jordanis conversus est retrorsum.
Montes exsultaverunt ut arietes: * et colles sicut agni ovium.
Quid est tibi, mare, quod fugisti: * et tu, Jordanis, quia conversus es retrorsum?
Montes exsultastis sicut arietes: * et colles sicut agni ovium?
A facie Domini mota est terra: a facie Dei Jacob.
Qui convertit petram in stagna aquarum: * et rupem in fontes aquarum.
Non nobis, Domine, non nobis: * sed nomini tuo da gloriam.
Super misericordia tua, et veritate tua: * nequando dicant Gentes: Ubi est Deus eorum?
Deus autem noster in cœlo: * omnia quæcumque voluit, fecit.
Simulacra Gentium argentum et aurum: * opera manuum hominum.
Os habent, et non loquentur: * oculos habent, et non videbunt.
Aures habent, et non audient: * nares habent, et non odorabunt.
Manus habent, et non palpabunt, pedes habent, et non ambulabunt: * non clamabunt in gutture suo.
Similes illis fiant qui faciunt ea: * et omnes qui confidunt in eis.
Domus Israel speravit in Domino: * adjutor eorum et protector eorum est.
Domus Aaron speravit in Domino: * adjutor eorum et protector eorum est.
Qui timent Dominum, speraverunt in Domino: * adjutor eorum et protector eorum est.
Dominus memor fuit nostri: * et benedixit nobis.
Benedixit domui Israel: * benedixit domui Aaron.
Benedixit omnibus qui timent Dominum: * pusillis cum majoribus.
Adjiciat Dominus super vos: * super vos, et super filios vestros.
Benedicti vos a Domino: * qui fecit cœlum et terrain.
Cœlum cœli Domino: * terram autem dedit filiis hominum.
Non mortui laudabunt te, Domine: * neque omnes qui descendunt in infernum.
Sed nos qui vivimus, benedicimus Domino: * ex hoc nunc et usque in sæculum.

Ant. Deus autem noster in cœlo: omnia quæcumque voluit, fecit.
When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a barbarous people.
Judea was made his sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
The sea saw and fled; Jordan was turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams: and the hills like the lambs of the flock.
What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou didst flee: and thou, O Jordan, that thou wast turned back?
Ye mountains that ye skipped like rams: and ye hills like lambs of the flock?
At the presence of the Lord the earth was moved, at the presence of the God of Jacob.
Who turned the rock into pools of water, and the stony hills into fountains of waters.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us: but to thy name give glory.
For thy mercy and for thy truth's sake: lest the Gentiles should say: Where is their God?
But our God is in heaven: he hath done all things whatsoever he would.
The idols of the Gentiles are silver and gold: the works of the hands of men.
They have mouths, and speak not: they have eyes, and see not.
They have ears, and hear not: they have noses, and smell not.
They have hands, and feel not: they have feet, and walk not: neither shall they cry out through their throat.
Let them that make them become like unto them: and all such as trust in them.
The house of Israel hath hoped in the Lord: he is their helper and their protector.
The house of Aaron hath hoped in the Lord: he is their helper and their protector.
They that feared the Lord have hoped in the Lord: he is their helper and their protector.
The Lord hath been mindful of us, and hath blessed us.
He hath blessed the house of Israel: he hath blessed the house of Aaron.
He hath blessed all that fear the Lord, both little and great.
May the Lord add blessings upon you: upon you, and upon your children.
Blessed be you of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
The heaven of heaven is the Lord’s: but the earth he has given to the children of men.
The dead shall not praise thee, O Lord, nor any of them that go down to hell.
But we that live bless the Lord: from this time now and for ever.

Ant. But our God is in heaven: he hath done all things whatsoever he would.

After these five psalms, a short lesson from the holy Scriptures is read. It is called because it is always very short. The one for each Sunday is given in the Proper.

After the capitulum, follows the hymn, Lucis Creator. It was written by St. Gregory the Great. It sings of creation, and celebrates the praises of that portion of it which was called forth on this first day—the light. The saint teaches us to ask that our soul may be roused, may be loosed from the spells of this life, and may turn all her energies to eternal things.

Hymn*

Lucis Creator optime,
Lucem dierum proferens;
Primordiis lucis novæ,
Mundi parans originem,

Qui mane junctum vesperi
Diem vocari præcipis,
Illabitur tetrum chaos,
Audi preces cum fletibus.

Ne mens gravata crimine,
Vitae sit exul munere,
Dum nil perenne cogitat,
Seseque culpis illigat.

Cœleste pulset intimum,
Vitale tollat præmium:
Vitemus omne noxium,
Purgemus omne pessimum.

Præsta, Pater piissime,
Patrique compar Unice,
Cum Spiritu Paraclito
Regnans per omne sæculum.

Amen.

O infinitely good Creator of the Light!
by thee was produced the Light of day,
providing thus the world’s beginning
with the beginning of the new-made Light.

Thou biddest us call the time
from morn till eve, Day; this day is over;
dark Night comes on:
oh! hear our tearful prayers.

Let not our soul, weighed down by crime,
mis-spend thy gift of life,
and, forgetting what is eternal,
be earth-tied by her sins.

Oh! may we strive to enter our heavenly home,
and bear away the prize of life:
may we shun what would injure us,
and cleanse our soul from her defilements.

Most merciful Father!
and thou, his Only-Begotten Son, co-equal with him,
reigning for ever with the Holy Paraclete!
grant this our prayer.

Amen.

 

 

 


The Versicle which follows the Hymn which we here give is that of the Sunday: those for the Feasts are given in their proper places.

. Dirigatur, Domine, oratio mea.
℟. Sicut incensum in conspectu tuo.
℣. May my prayer, O Lord, ascend.
℟. Like incense in thy sight.

Then is said the Magnificat antiphon, which is to be found in the proper. After this, the Church sings the canticle of Mary, the Magnificat, in which are celebrated the divine maternity and all its consequent blessings. This exquisite canticle is an essential part of the Vespers throughout the year. Let us unite with all generations, and call her 'blessed'; but let us, also, enter into those sentiments of humility, which she recommends to us both by her words and her example. Her inspired lips speak to us this promise: If the great God, whose triumph is to gladden us on the glorious day of Easter, find us humble and submissive, He will exalt us, yea, raise us up even to Himself; if we confess our misery and poverty to Him, He will enrich us, even to the full, with every blessing.

Our Lady's Canticle
(St Luke i)

Magnificat: * anima mea Dominum:
Et exsultavit spiritus meus: * in Deo salutari meo.
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillæ suæ: * ecce enim ex hoc Beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est: * et sanctum nomen ejus.
Et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies: * timentibus eum.
Fecit potentiam in brachio suo: * dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
Deposuit potentes de sede: * et exaltavit humiles.
Esurientes implevit bonis: * et divites dimisit inanes.
Suscepit Israel puerum suum: * recordatus misericordiæ suæ.
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros: * Abraham et semini ejus in sæcula.
My soul doth magnify the Lord;
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is his name.
And his mercy is from generation unto generation, to them that fear him.
He hath showed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy.
As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

The Magnificat Antiphon is then repeated. The Prayer, or Collect, will be found in the Proper of each Sunday and Feast.

The Vespers end with the following Versicles:

℣. Benedicamus Domino.
. Deo gratias.

℣. Fidelium animæ per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace.
. Amen.
℣. Let us bless the Lord.
. Thanks be to God.

℣. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
℟. Amen.

 

 

 

* According to the Monastic Rite, it is as follows: ℟. breve. Quam magnificata sunt, * Opera tua Domine. Quam. ℣. Omnia in sapientia fecisti. * Opera. Gloria Patri, etc. Quam. Lucis Creator optime, Lucem dierum proferens; Primordiis lucis novæ, Mundi parans originem. Qui mane junctum vesperi Diem vocari præcipis, Tetrum chaos illabitur, Audi preces cum fletibus. Ne mens gravata crimine Vitæ sit exul mimere, Dum nil perenne cogitat, Seseque culpis illigat. Cœlorum pulset intimum, Vitale tollat præmium: Vitemus omne noxium, Purgemus omne pessimum. Præsta, Pater piissime, Patrique compar Unice, Cum Spiritu Paraclito Regnans per omne sæculum. Amen.

 

 

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

This Office, which concludes the day, commences by a warning of the dangers of the night: then immediately follows the public confession of our sins, as a powerful means of propitiating the divine justice, and obtaining God’s help, now that we are going to spend so many hours in the unconscious and therefore dangerous state of sleep, which is also such an image of death.

The lector, addressing the priest, says to him:

V. Jube, domne, benedicere.
Pray, father, give me thy blessing.

The priest answers:

Noctem quietam, et finem perfectum concedat nobis Dominus omnipotens.

R. Amen.
May the almighty Lord grant us a quiet night and a perfect end.

R. Amen.

The lector then reads these words, from the first Epistle of St. Peter:

Fratres: Sobrii estote, et vigilate: quia adversarius vester diabolus, tamquam leo rugiens circuit quærens quem devoret: cui resistite fortes in fide. Tu autem, Domine, miserere nobis,
Brethren, be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist ye, strong in faith. But thou, O Lord, have mercy on us.

The choir answers:

R. Deo gratias.
R. Thanks be to God.

Then, the priest:

V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.

The choir:

R. Qui fecit cœlum et terrain.
R. Who hath made heaven and earth.

Then the Lord’s Prayer is recited in secret; after which the priest says the Confiteor; and, when he has finished, the choir says:

Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam æternam.
May almighty God have mercy on thee, and, forgiving thy sins, bring thee to everlasting life.

The priest having answered Amen, the choir repeats the Confiteor, thus:

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatæ Mariæ semper Virgini, beato Michaeli archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistæ, sanctis apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus sanctis, et tibi, pater: quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelein archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes sanctos, et te, pater, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.
I confess to almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy apostles Peter and Paul, to all the saints, and to thee, father, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed; through my fault; through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, and thee, father, to pray to the Lord our God for me.

The priest then says:

Misereatur vestri omni* potens Deus, et dimissis peccatis vestris, perducat vos ad vitam æternam.

R. Amen.
May almighty God be merciful to you, and, forgiving your sins, bring you to everlasting life.

R. Amen.

Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum, tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.
R. Amen.

V. Converte nos, Deus, Salutaris noster.
R. Et averte iram tuam a nobis.

V. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
R. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.

Gloria Patri, etc.
Laus tibi, Domine, Rex æternæ gloriæ.

Ant. Miserere.
May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins.

R. Amen.

V. Convert us, O God, our Saviour.
R. And turn away thy anger from us.

V. Incline unto my aid, O God.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory, etc.
Praise be to thee, O Lord, King of eternal glory.

Ant. Have mercy.

The first psalm expresses the confidence with which the just man sleeps in peace; but it also rebukes those tepid Christians, whose dull hearts are but too often enslaved to vanity and lies, and exhorts them to examine, at the close of the day, the thoughts of their hearts, and be sorry for them at that time of stillness and repose.

Psalm 4

Cum invocarem exaudivit me Deus justitiæ meæ: * in tribulatione dilatasti mihi.
Miserere mei: * et exaudi orationem meam.
Filii hominum, usquequo gravi corde: * ut quid diligitis vanitatem, et quferitis mendacium?
Et scitote quoniam mirificavit Dominus sanctum suum: * Dominus exaudiet me, cum clamavero ad eum.
Irascimini, et nolite peccare: * quæ dicitis in cordibus vestris, in cubilibus ve~ stris compungimini.
Sacrificate sacrificium justitiæ, et sperate in Domino: * multi dicunt: Quis ostendit nobis bona?
Signatum est super nos lumen vultus tui Domine: * de disti lætitiam in corde meo.
A fructu frumenti, vini et olei sui: * multiplicati sunt.
In pace in idipsum: * dormiam et requiescam.
Quoniam tu, Domine, singulariter in spe: * costituisti me.
When I called upon him, the God of my justice heard me: when I was in distress, thou hast enlarged me.
Have mercy on me: and hear my prayer.
O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? why do you love vanity, and seek after lying?
Know ye also that the Lord hath made his holy One wonderful: the Lord will hear me, when I cry unto him.
Be ye angry, and sin not: the things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds.
Offer up the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord: many say, who showeth us good things?
The light of thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us: thou hast given gladness in my heart.
By the fruit of their corn, their wine, and oil, they are multiplied.
In peace, in the self-same, I will sleep, and I will rest.
For thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope.

The second psalm gives the motives of the just man’s confidence, even during the dangers of the night. The description here given of peace of mind should make the sinner long for a reconciliation with his God, that so he, too, may enjoy that divine protection, without which there can be no security or happiness in this life of peril and misery.

Psalm 90

 

Qui habitat in adjutorio Altissimi: * in protectione Dei cœli commorabitur.
Dicet Domino: Susceptor meus es tu, et refugium meum: * Deus meus, sperabo in eum.
Quoniam ipse liberavit me de laqueo venantium: * et a verbo aspero.
Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi: * et sub pennis ejus sperabis.
Scuto circumdabit te veritas ejus: * non timebis a more nocturno.
A sagitta volante in die, a negotio perambulante in tenebris: * ab incursu, et dæmonio meridiano.
Cadent a latere tuo mille, et decem millia a dextris tuis: * ad te autem non appropinquabit.
Verumtamen oculis tuis considerabis: * et retributionem peccatorum videbis.
Quoniam tu es, Domine, spes mea: * Altissimum posuisti refugium tuum.
Non accedet ad te malum: * et flagellum non appropinquabit tabernaculo tuo.
Quoniam angelis suis mandavit de te: * ut custo diant te in omnibus viis tuis.
In manibus portabunt te: * ne forte offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum.
Super aspidem et basiliscum ambulabis: * et conculcabis leonem et draconem.
Quoniam in me speravit, liberabo eum: * protegam euro, quoniam cognovit nomen meum.
Clamabit ad me, et ego exaudiam eum: * cum ipso sum in tribulatione, eripiam eum, et glorificabo eum.
Longitudine dierum replebo eum: * et ostendam illi salutare meum.
He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven.
He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust.
For he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters: and from the sharp word.
He will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust.
His truth shall compass thee with a shield: thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.
Of the arrow that flieth in the day: of the business that walketh about in the dark: of invasion, or of the noonday devil.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
But thou shalt consider with thy eyes: and shalt see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast said: Thou, O Lord, art my hope: thou hast made the Most High thy refuge.
There shall no evil come to thee, nor shall the scourge come near thy dwelling.
For he hath given his angels charge over thee: to keep thee in all thy ways.
In their hands they shall bear thee up: lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk: and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon.
God will say of thee: Because he hoped in me, I will deliver him: I will protect him, because he hath known my name.
He will cry to me, and I will hear him: I am with him in tribulation, I will deliver him, and I will glorify him.
I will fill him with length of days: and I will show him my salvation.

The third psalm invites the servants of God to persevere, with fervour, in the prayers they offer during the night. The faithful should say this psalm in a spirit of gratitude to God, for raising up, in the Church, adorers of His holy name, whose grand vocation is to lift up their hands, day and night, for the safety of Israel. On such prayers depend the happiness and the destinies of the world.

Psalm 133

Ecce nunc benedicite Dominum: * omnes servi Domini.
Qui statis in domo Domini: * in atriis domus Dei nostri.
In noctibus extollite manas vestras in sancta: * et benedicite Dominum.
Benedicat te Dominus ex Sion: * qui fecit cœlum et terram.
Ant. Miserere mihi, Domine, et exaudi orationem meam.
Behold now bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord.
Who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God.
In the nights lift up your hands to the holy places, and bless ye the Lord.
Say to Israel: May the Lord out of Sion bless thee, he that made heaven and earth.
Ant. Have mercy on me, 0 Lord, and hear my prayer.

Hymn[1]

Te lucis ante terminum,
Rerum Creator, poscimus,
Ut pro tua dementia
Sis præsul et custodia.

Procul recedant somnia,
Et noctium phantasmata;
Hostemque nostrum comprime,
Ne polluantur corpora.

Præsta, Pater piissime,
Patrique compar Unice,
Cum Spiritu Paraclito
Regnans per omne sæculum.

Amen.
Before the closing of the light,
we beseech thee, Creator of all things!
that in thy clemency,
thou be our protector and our guard.

May the dreams and phantoms of night
depart far from us;
and do thou repress our enemy,
lest our bodies be profaned.

Most merciful Father!
and thou, his only-begotten Son,
coequal with him,
reigning for ever with the holy Paraclete,
grant this our prayer!

Amen.

Capitulum
(Jeremias xiv.)

Tu autem In nobis es, Domine, et nomen sanctum tuum invocatimi est super nos; ne derelinquas nos, Domine Deus noster.
But thou art in us, 0 Lord, and thy holy name has been invoked upon us forsake us not, 0 Lord our God.

 

Responsory

R. In manus tuas, Domine: * Commendo spiritum menni. In manus tuas.
V. Redemisti nos, Domine Deus veritatis. * Commendo.
Gloria In manus tuas.
V. Custodi nos, Domine, ut pupillam oculi.
R. Sub umbra alarum tuarum protege nos.
Ant. Salva nos.
R. Into thy hands, 0 Lord: * I commend my spirit. Into thy hands.
V. Thou hast redeemed us, 0 Lord God of truth. * I commend.
Glory. Into thy hands.
V. Preserve us, 0 Lord, as the apple of thine eye.
R. Protect us under the shadow of thy wings.
Ant. Save us.

The canticle of the venerable Simeon—who, whilst holding the divine Infant in his arms, proclaimed Him to be the light of the Gentiles, and then slept the sleep of the just—admirably expresses the repose of heart which the soul that is in the grace of God will experience in her Jesus; for, as the apostle says, we may live together with Jesus, whether we are awake or asleep.[2]

Canticle Of Simeon
(St. Luke ii.)

Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine: * secundum verbum tuum in pace.
Quia viderunt oculi mei: * salutare tuum.
Quod parasti: * ante faciem omnium populorum.
Lumen ad revelationem Gentium: * et gloriam plebis tuæ Israel.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, etc.

Ant. Salva nos, Domine, vigilantes, custodi nos dormientes; ut vigilemus cum Christo, et requiescamus in pace.
Now dost thou dismiss thy servant, 0 Lord, according to thy word in peace.
Because my eyes have seen thy salvation.
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples.
A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Glory, etc.

Ant. Save us, 0 Lord, while awake, and watch us as we sleep; that we may watch with Christ, and rest in peace.

Prayers

Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison.

Pater noster.
V. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
R. Sed libera nos a malo. Credo in Deum, etc.

V. Carnis resurrectionem.
R. Vitam æternam. Amen.

V. Benedictus es, Domine Deus patrum nostrorum.
R. Et laudabilis et gloriosus in sæcula.

V. Benedicamus Patrem et Filium cum sancto Spiritu.
R. Laudemus, et superexaltemus eum in sæcula.

V. Benedictus es, Domine, in firmamento cœli.
R. Et laudabilis, et gloriosus, et superexaltatus in sæcula.

V. Benedicat et custodiat nos omnipotens et misericors Dominus. R. Amen.

V. Dignare, Domine, nocte ista,
R. Sine peccato nos custodire.

V. Miserere nostri, Domine.
R. Miserere nostri.

V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos,
R. Quemadmodum speravimus in te.

V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
Lord have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us.

Our Father.
V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil. I believe in God, etc.

V. The resurrection of the body.
R. And life everlasting. Amen.

V. Blessed art thou, 0 Lord God of our fathers.
R. And praiseworthy and glorious for ever.

V. Let us bless the Father and the Son, with the Holy Ghost.
R. Let us praise and magnify him for ever.

V. Thou art blessed, 0 Lord, in the firmament of heaven.
R. And praiseworthy, and glorious, and magnified for ever.

V. May the almighty and merciful Lord bless us and keep us. R. Amen.

V. Vouchsafe, O Lord, this night,
R. To keep us without sin.

V. Have mercy on us, 0 Lord.
R. Have mercy on us.

V. Let thy mercy be upon us, 0 Lord,
R. As we have hoped in thee.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.

After these prayers (which are omitted if the Office be of a double rite), the priest says:

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R, Et cum spiritu tuo.

Oremus.

Visita, quæsumus, Domine, habitationem istam, et omnes insidias inimici ab ea longe repelle: angeli tui sancti habitent in ea, qui nos in pace custodiant, et benedictio tua sit super nos semper. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

Amen.

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
V. Benedicamus Domino.
R. Deo gratias.

Benedicat et custodiat nos omnipotens et misericors Dominus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus sanctus.

R. Amen.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us Pray.

Visit, we beseech thee, 0 Lord, this house and family, and drive from it all snares of the enemy: let thy holy angels dwell herein, who may keep us in peace, and may thy blessing be always upon us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.

Amen.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

V. Let us bless the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

May the almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, bless and preserve us.

R. Amen.

Anthem to the Blessed Virgin

Ave Regina cœlorum,
Ave Domina angelorum:
Salve radix, Salve porta,
Ex qua mundo lux est orta;

Gaude, Virgo gloriosa,
Super omnes speciosa:
Vale, O valde decora,
Et pro nobis Christum exora.

V. Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata.
R, Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos.

Oremus.

Concede, misericors Deus, fragilitati nostræ præsidium: ut, qui sanctæ Dei Genitricis memoriam agimus, intercessionis ejus auxilio, a nostris iniquitatibus resurgamus. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum.

Amen.

V. Divinum auxilium maneat semper nobiscum.
R. Amen.
Hail Queen of heaven!
Hail Lady of the angels!
Hail blessed root and gate,
from which came light upon the world!

Rejoice, O glorious Virgin,
that surpassest all in beauty!
Hail, most lovely Queen!
and pray to Christ for us.

V. Vouchsafe, 0 holy Virgin, that I may praise thee.
R. Give me power against thine enemies.

Let us Pray.

Grant, O merciful God, thy protection to us in our weakness; that we who celebrate the memory of the holy Mother of God, may, through the aid of her intercession, rise again from our sins. Through the same Christ our Lord.

Amen.

V. May the divine assistance remain always with us.
R. Amen.[3]

 


Then, in secret, PaterAve, and Credo; page 16.


 

[1] According to the monastic rite, as follows: Te lucis ante terminum, Rerum Creator, poscimus, Ut solita dementia Sis præsul ad custodiam. Procul recedant somnia Et noctium phantasmata; Hostemque nostrum comprime Ne polluantur corpora. Præsta, Pater omnipotens, Per Jesum Christum Dominum, Qui tecum in perpetuum Regnat cum sancto Spiritu.
[2] 1 Thess. v. 10.
[3] In the monastic rite, this response is as follows: R. Et cum fratribus nostris absentibus. Amen. V. And with our absent brethren. Amen.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The forty days’ fast, which we call Lent,[1] is the Church’s preparation for Easter, and was instituted at the very commencement of Christianity. Our blessed Lord Himself sanctioned it by fasting forty days and forty nights in the desert; and though He would not impose it on the world by an express commandment (which, in that case, could not have been open to the power of dispensation), yet He showed plainly enough, by His own example, that fasting, which God had so frequently ordered in the old Law, was to be also practised by the children of the new.

The disciples of St. John the Baptist came, one day, to Jesus, and said to Him: ‘Why do we and the pharisees fast often, but Thy disciples do not fast?’And Jesus said to them: ‘Can the children of the Bridegroom mourn, as long as the Bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then thev shall fast.[2]

Hence we find it mentioned, in the Acts of the Apostles, how the disciples of our Lord, after the foundation of the Church, applied themselves to fasting. In their Epistles, also, they recommended it to the faithful. Nor could it be otherwise. Though the divine mysteries whereby our Saviour wrought our redemption have been consummated, yet are we still sinners: and where there is sin, there must be expiation.

The apostles, therefore, legislated for our weakness, by instituting, at the very commencement of the Christian Church, that the solemnity of Easter should be preceded by a universal fast; and it was only natural that they should have made this period of penance to consist of forty days, seeing that our divine Master had consecrated that number by His own fast. St. Jerome,[3] St. Leo the Great,[4] St. Cyril of Alexandria,[5] St. Isidore of Seville,[6] and others of the holy fathers, assure us that Lent was instituted by the apostles, although, at the commencement, there was not any uniform way of observing it.

We have already seen, in our ‘Septuagesima.’that the Orientals begin their Lent much earlier than the Latins, owing to their custom of never fasting on Saturdays (or, in some places, even on Thursdays). They are, consequently, obliged, in order to make up the forty days, to begin the lenten fast on the Monday preceding our Sexagesima Sunday. Exceptions of this kind do but prove the rule. We have also shown how the Latin Church—which, even so late as the sixth century, kept only thirty-six fasting days during the six weeks of Lent (for the Church has never allowed Sundays to be kept as days of fast)—thought proper to add, later on, the last four days of Quinquagesima, in order that her Lent might contain exactly forty days of fast.

The whole subject of Lent has been so often and so fully treated that we shall abridge, as much as possible, the history we are now giving. The nature of our work forbids us to do more than insert what is essential for entering into the spirit of each season. God grant that we may succeed in showing to the faithful the importance of the holy institution of Lent! Its influence on the spiritual life, and on the very salvation, of each one among us, can never be over-rated.

Lent, then, is a time consecrated in an especial manner to penance; and this penance is mainly practised by fasting. Fasting is an abstinence, which man voluntarily imposes upon himself as an expiation for sin, and which, during Lent, is practised in obedience to the general law of the Church. According to the actual discipline of the western Church, the fast of Lent is not more rigorous than that prescribed for the vigils of certain feasts, and for the Ember Days; but it is kept up for forty successive days, with the single interruption of the intervening Sundays.

We deem it unnecessary to show the importance and advantages of fasting. The sacred Scriptures, both of the old and new Testament, are filled with the praises of this holy practice. The traditions of every nation of the world testify the universal veneration in which it has ever been held; for there is not a people or a religion, how much soever it may have lost the purity of primitive traditions, which is not impressed with this conviction—that man may appease his God by subjecting his body to penance.

St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory the Great, make the remark, that the commandment put upon our first parents in the earthly paradise was one of abstinence; and that it was by their not exercising this virtue, that they brought every kind of evil upon themselves and upon us their children. The life of privation, which the king of creation had thenceforward to lead on the earth (for the earth was to yield him nothing of its own natural growth, save thorns and thistles), was the clearest possible exemplification of the law of penance imposed by the anger of God on rebellious man.

During the two thousand and more years, which preceded the deluge, men had no other food than the fruits of the earth, and these were obtained only by the toil of hard labour. But when God, as we have already observed, mercifully shortened man’s life that so he might have less time and power for sin, He permitted him to eat the flesh of animals, as an additional nourishment in that state of deteriorated strength. It was then, also, that Noe, guided by a divine inspiration, extracted the juice of the grape, which thus formed a second stay for human debility.

Fasting, then, is abstinence from such nourishments as these, which were permitted for the support of bodily strength. And firstly, it consists in abstinence from flesh-meat, because this food was given to man by God out of condescension to his weakness, and not as one absolutely essential for the maintenance of life. Its privation, greater or less according to the regulations of the Church, is essential to the very notion of fasting. For many centuries eggs and milk-meats were not allowed, because they come under the class of animal food; even to this day they are forbidden in the eastern Churches.

In the early ages of Christianity, fasting included also abstinence from wine, as we learn from St. Cyril of Jerusalem,[7] St. Basil,[8] St. John Chrysostom,[9] Theophilus of Alexandria,[10] and others. In the west, this custom soon fell into disuse. The eastern Christians kept it up much longer, but even with them it has ceased to be considered as obligatory.

Lastly, fasting includes the depriving ourselves of some portion of our ordinary food, inasmuch as it allows only one meal during the day. Though the modifications introduced from age to age in the discipline of Lent are very numerous, yet the points we have here mentioned belong to the very essence of fasting, as is evident from the universal practice of the Church.

It was the custom with the Jews, in the old Law, not to take the one meal, allowed on fasting days, till sunset. The Christian Church adopted the same custom. It was scrupulously practised, for many centuries, even in our western countries. But about the ninth century some relaxation began to be introduced in the Latin Church. Thus we have a capitularium of Theodulph, bishop of Orleans, who lived at that period, protesting against the practice, which some had, of taking their repast at the hour of None, that is to say, about three o’clock in the afternoon.[11] The relaxation, however, gradually spread; for, in the tenth century, we find the celebrated Ratherius, bishop of Verona, acknowledging that the faithful had permission to break their fast at the hour of None.[12]We meet with a sort of reclamation made as late as the eleventh century, by a Council held at Rouen, which forbids the faithful to take their repast before Vespers shall have been begun in the church, at the end of None;[13] but this shows us that the custom had already begun of anticipating the hour of Vespers, in order that the faithful might take their meal earlier in the day.

Up to within a short period before this time, it had been the custom not to celebrate Mass, on days of fasting, until the Office of None had been sung, which was about three o’clock in the afternoon; and, also, not to sing Vespers till sunset. When the discipline regarding fasting began to relax, the Church still retained the order of her Offices, which had been handed down from the earliest times. The only change she made was to anticipate the hour for Vespers; and this entailed the celebration of Mass and None much earlier in the day; so early, indeed, that, when custom had so prevailed as to authorize the faithful taking their repast at midday, all the Offices, even the Vespers, were over before that hour.

In the twelfth century, the custom of breaking one’s fast at the hour of None everywhere prevailed, as we learn from Hugh of Saint-Victor;[14] and in the thirteenth century, it was sanctioned by the teaching of the Schoolmen. Alexander Hales declares most expressly that such a custom was lawful;[15] and St. Thomas of Aquin is equally decided in the same opinion.[16]

But even the fast till None—i.e., three o’clock— was found too severe; and a still further relaxation was considered to be necessary. At the close of the thirteenth century, we have the celebrated Franciscan, Richard of Middleton, teaching that those who break their fast at the hour of Sext—i.e., midday—are not to be considered as transgressing the precept of the Church; and the reason he gives is this: that the custom of doing so had already prevailed in many places, and that fasting does not consist so much in the lateness of the hour at which the faithful take their refreshment, as in their taking but one meal during the twenty-four hours.[17]

The fourteenth century gave weight, both by universal custom and theological authority, to the opinion held by Richard of Middleton. It will, perhaps, suffice if we quote the learned Dominican, Durandus, bishop of Meaux, who says that there can be no doubt as to the lawfulness of taking one’s repast at midday; and he adds that such was then the custom observed by the Pope, and Cardinals, and even the religious Orders.[18] We cannot, therefore, be surprised at finding this opinion maintained, in the fifteenth century, by such grave authors as St. Antoninus, Cardinal Cajetan, and others. Alexander Hales and St. Thomas sought to prevent the relaxation going beyond the hour of None; but their zeal was disappointed, and the present discipline was established, we might almost say, during their lifetime.

But whilst this relaxation of taking the repast so early in the day as twelve o’clock rendered fasting less difficult in one way, it made it more severe in another. The body grew exhausted by the labours of the long second half of the twenty-four hours; and the meal, that formerly closed the day, and satisfied the cravings of fatigue, had been already taken. It was found necessary to grant some refreshment for the evening, and it was called a collation. The word was taken from the Benedictine rule, which, for long centuries before this change in the lenten observance, had allowed a monastic collation. St. Benedict’s rule prescribed a great many fasts, over and above the ecclesiastical fast of Lent; but it made this great distinction between the two: that whilst Lent obliged the monks, as well as the rest of the faithful, to abstain from food till sunset, these monastic fasts allowed the repast to be taken at the hour of None. But, as the monks had heavy manual labour during the summer and autumn months (which was the very time when these fasts till None occurred several days of each week, and, indeed, every day from September 14), the abbot was allowed by the rule to grant his religious permission to take a small measure of wine before Compline, as a refreshment after the fatigues of the afternoon. It was taken by all at the same time, during the evening reading, which was called conference (in Latin, collatio) because it was mostly taken from the celebrated ‘Conferences’(Collationes) of Cassian. Hence this evening monastic refreshment took the name of collation.

We find the Assembly, or Chapter of Aix-la-Chapelle, held in 817, extending this indulgence even to the lenten fast, on account of the great fatigue entailed by the offices, which the monks had to celebrate during this holy season. But experience showed that, unless something solid were allowed to be taken together with the wine, the evening collation would be an injury to the health of many of the religious; accordingly, towards the close of the fourteenth or the beginning of the fifteenth century, the usage was introduced of taking a morsel of bread with the collation-beverage.

As a matter of course, these mitigations of the ancient severity of fasting soon found their way from the cloister into the world. The custom of taking something to drink on fasting days, out of the time of the repast, was gradually established; and even so early as the thirteenth century, we have St. Thomas of Aquin discussing the question, whether or not drink is to be considered as a breaking of the precept of fasting.[19] He answers in the negative; and yet he does not allow that anything solid may be taken with the drink. But when it had become the universal practice (as it did in the latter part of the thirteenth century, and still more fixedly during the whole of the fourteenth) that the one meal on fasting days was taken at midday, a mere beverage was found insufficient to give support, and bread, herbs, fruits, etc., were added. Such was the practice, both in the world and in the cloister. It was, however, clearly understood by all, that these eatables were not to be taken in such quantity as to turn the collation into a second meal.

Thus did the decay of piety, and the general deterioration of bodily strength among the people of the western nations, infringe on the primitive observance of fasting. To make our history of these humiliating changes anything like complete, we must mention one more relaxation. For several centuries, abstinence from flesh-meat included likewise the prohibition of all animal food, with the single exception of fish, which, on account of its cold nature, as also for several mystical reasons, founded on the sacred Scriptures, was always permitted to be taken by those who fasted. Every sort of milk-meat was forbidden.

Dating from the ninth century, the custom of eating milk-meats during Lent began to be prevalent in western Europe, more especially in Germany and the northern countries. The Council of Kedlimberg, held in the eleventh century, made an effort to put a stop to the practice as an abuse; but without effect.[20] These Churches maintained that they were in the right, and defended their custom by the dispensations (though, in reality, only temporary ones) granted them by several sovereign Pontiffs: the dispute ended by their being left peaceably to enjoy what they claimed. The Churches of France resisted this innovation up to the sixteenth century; but in the seventeenth they too yielded, and milk-meats were taken during Lent, throughout the whole kingdom. As some reparation for this breach of ancient discipline, the city of Paris instituted a solemn rite, whereby she wished to signify her regret at being obliged to such a relaxation. On Quinquagesima Sunday, all the different parishes went in procession to the church of Notre Dame. The Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, and Augustinians, took part in the procession. The metropolitan Chapter, and the four parishes that were subject to it, held, on the same day, a Station in the courtyard of the palace, and sang an anthem before the relic of the true cross, which was exposed in the Sainte Chapelle. These pious usages, which were intended to remind the people of the difference between the past and the present observance of Lent, continued to be practised till the revolution.

But this grant for the eating of milk-meats during Lent did not include eggs. Here the ancient discipline was maintained, at least this far, that eggs were not allowed, save by an Indult, which had to be renewed each year. Invariably do we find the Church seeking, out of anxiety for the spiritual advantage of her children, to maintain all she can of those penitential observances, whereby they may satisfy divine justice. It was with this intention that Pope Benedict XIV., alarmed at the excessive facility wherewith dispensations were then obtained, renewed, by a solemn Constitution dated June 10, 1745, the prohibition of eating fish and meat, at the same meal, on fasting days.

The same Pope, whose spirit of moderation has never been called in question, had no sooner ascended the papal throne, than he addressed an encyclical letter to the bishops of the Catholic world, expressing his heartfelt grief at seeing the great relaxation that was introduced among the faithful by indiscreet and unnecessary dispensations. The letter is dated May 30, 1741. We extract from it the following passage: ‘The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the cross of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe.’[21]

More than a hundred years have elapsed since this solemn warning of the Vicar of Christ was given to the world; and during that time, the relaxation he inveighed against has gone on gradually increasing. How few Christians do we meet who are strict observers of Lent, even in its present mild form![22]

And must there not result from this ever-growing spirit of immortification, a general effeminacy of character, which will lead, at last, to frightful social disorders? The sad predictions of Pope Benedict XIV. are but too truly verified. Those nations, among whose people the spirit and practice of penance are extinct, are heaping against themselves the wrath of God, and provoking His justice to destroy them by one or other of these scourges—civil discord, or conquest. In our own country there is an inconsistency, which must strike every thinking mind: the observance of the Lord’s day, on the one side; the national inobservance of days of penance and fasting, on the other. The first is admirable, and, if we except puritanical extravagances, bespeaks a deep-rooted sense of religion; but the second is one of the worst presages for the future. The word of God is unmistakable: unless we do penance, we shall perish.[23] But if our ease-loving and sensual generation were to return, like the Ninivites, to the long-neglected way of penance and expiation, who knows but that the arm of God, which is already raised to strike us, may give us blessing and not chastisement?

Let us resume our history, and seek our edification in studying the fervour wherewith the Christians of former times used to observe Lent. We will first offer to our readers a few instances of the manner in which dispensations were given.

In the thirteenth century, the archbishop of Braga applied to the reigning Pontiff, Innocent III., asking him what compensation he ought to require of his people, who, in consequence of a dearth of the ordinary articles of food, had been necessitated to eat meat during the Lent. He at the same time consulted the Pontiff as to how he was to act in the case of the sick, who asked for a dispensation from abstinence. The answer given by Innocent, which was inserted in the Canon Law,[24] is, as we might expect, full of considerateness and charity; but we learn from this fact that such was then the respect for the law of Lent, that it was considered necessary to apply to the sovereign Pontiff when dispensations were sought for. We find many such instances in the history of the Church.

Wenceslaus, king of Bohemia, being seized with a malady which rendered it dangerous to his health to take Lenten diet, applied, in the year 1297, to Pope Boniface VIII., for leave to eat meat. The Pontiff commissioned two Cistercian abbots to inquire into the real state of the prince’s health; they were to grant the dispensation sought for, if they found it necessary, but on the following conditions: that the king had not bound himself by a vow, for life, to fast during Lent; that the Fridays, the Saturdays, and the vigil of St. Mathias, were to be excluded from the dispensation; and, lastly, that the king was not to take his meal in presence of others, and was to observe moderation in what he took.[25]

In the fourteenth century we meet with two briefs of dispensation, granted by Clement VI., in 1351, to John, king of jFrance, and to his queen consort. In the first, the Pope, taking into consideration that during the wars in which the king is engaged he frequently finds himself in places where fish can with difficulty be procured, grants to the confessor of the king the power of allowing, both to his Majesty and to his suite, the use of meat on days of abstinence, excepting, however, the whole of Lent, all Fridays of the year, and certain vigils; provided, moreover, that neither he, nor those who accompany him, are under a vow of perpetual abstinence.[26] In the second brief the same Pope, replying to the petition made him by the king for a dispensation from fasting, again commissions his Majesty’s present and future confessors, to dispense both the king and his queen, after having consulted with their physicians.[27]

A few years later—that is, in 1376—Pope Gregory XI. sent a brief in favour of Charles V., king of France, and of Jane, his queen. In this brief, he delegates to their confessor the power of allowing them the use of eggs and milk-meats during Lent, should their physician think they stand in need of such dispensation; but he tells both physicians and confessor that he puts it upon their consciences, and that they will have to answer before God for their decision. The same permission is granted also to their servants and cooks, but only as far as it is needed for tasting the food to be served to their Majesties.

The fifteenth century, also, furnishes us with instances of applications to the holy See for lenten dispensations. We will cite the brief addressed by Xystus IV., in 1483, to James III., king of Scotland, in which he grants him permission to eat meat on days of abstinence, provided his confessor considers the dispensation needed.[28] In the following century, we have Julius II. granting a like dispensation to John, king of Denmark, and to his queen Christina;[29] and, a few years later, Clement VII. giving one to the emperor Charles V.,[30] and again, to Henry II. of Navarre, and to his queen Margaret.[31]

Thus were princes themselves treated, three centuries ago, when they sought for a dispensation from the sacred law of Lent. What are we to think of the present indifference wherewith it is kept? What comparison can be made between the Christians of former times, who, deeply impressed with the fear of God’s judgments and with the spirit of penance, cheerfully went through these forty days of mortification, and those of our own days, when love of pleasure and self-indulgence are for ever lessening man’s horror for sin? Where there is little or no fear of having to penance ourselves for sin, there is so much the less restraint to keep us from committing it.

Where is now that simple and innocent joy at Easter, which our forefathers used to show, when, after their severe fast of Lent, they partook of substantial and savoury food? The peace, which long and sharp mortification ever brings to the conscience, gave them the capability, not to say the right, of being light-hearted as they returned to the comforts of life, which they had denied themselves in order to spend forty days in penance, recollection, and retirement from the world. This leads us to mention some further details, which will assist the Catholic reader to understand what Lent was in the ages of faith.

It was a season during which, not only all amusements and theatrical entertainments were forbidden by the civil authority,[32] but even the law courts were closed; and this in order to secure that peace and calm of heart, which is so indispensable for the soul’s self-examination, and reconciliation with her offended Maker. As early as the year 380, Gratian and Theodosius enacted that judges should suspend all law-suits and proceedings, during the forty days preceding Easter.[33] The Theodosian Code contains several regulations of this nature; and we find Councils, held in the ninth century, urging the kings of that period to enforce the one we have mentioned, seeing that it had been sanctioned by the canons, and approved of by the fathers of the Church.[34] These admirable Christian traditions have long since fallen into disuse in the countries of Europe; but they are still kept among the Turks, who, during the days of their Ramadan, forbid all law proceedings. What a humiliation for us Christians!

Hunting, too, was for many ages considered as forbidden during Lent: the spirit of the holy season was too sacred to admit such exciting and noisy sport. Pope St. Nicholas I, in the ninth century, forbade it the Bulgarians,[35] who had been recently converted to the Christian faith. Even so late as the thirteenth century, we find St. Raymund of Pennafort teaching that those who, during Lent, take part in the chase, if it be accompanied by certain circumstances which he specifies, cannot be excused from sin.[36] This prohibition has long since been a dead letter; but St. Charles Borromeo, in one of his Synods, reestablished it in his province of Milan.

But we cannot be surprised that hunting should be forbidden during Lent, when we remember that, in those Christian times, war itself, which is sometimes so necessary for the welfare of a nation, was suspended during this holy season. In the fourth century, we have the emperor Constantine the Great enacting that no military exercises should be allowed on Sundays and Fridays, out of respect to our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered and rose again on these two days, as also in order not to disturb the peace and repose needed for the due celebration of such sublime mysteries.[37] The discipline of the Latin Church, in the ninth century, enforced everywhere the suspension of war during the whole of Lent, except in cases of necessity.[38] The instructions of Pope St. Nicholas I. to the Bulgarians recommend the same observance;[39] and we learn, from a letter of St. Gregory VII. to Desiderius, abbot of Monte Cassino, that it was kept up in the eleventh century.[40] We have an instance of its being practised in our own country, in the twelfth century, when, as William of Malmesbury relates, the empress Matilda, Countess of Anjou, and daughter of king Henry, was contesting the right of succession to the throne against Stephen, count of Boulogne. The two armies were in sight of each other; but an armistice was demanded and observed, for it was the Lent of 1143.[41]

Our readers have heard, no doubt, of the admirable institution called ‘God's truce,’whereby the Church in the eleventh century succeeded in preventing much bloodshed. This law, which forbade the carrying of arms from Wednesday evening till Monday morning throughout the year, was sanctioned by the authority of Popes and Councils, and enforced by all Christian princes. It was an extension of the lenten discipline of the suspension of war. Our saintly king Edward the Confessor carried its influence still further by passing a law (which was confirmed by his successor, William the Conqueror), that God's truce should be observed without cessation from the beginning of Advent to the octave of Easter; from the Ascension to the Whitsuntide octave; on all the Ember days; on the vigils of all feasts; and lastly, every week, from None on Wednesday till Monday morning, which had already been prescribed.[42]

In the Council of Clermont, held in 1095, Pope Urban II., after drawing up the regulations for the Crusades, used his authority in extending God’s truce, as it was then observed during Lent. His decree, which was renewed in the Council held the following year at Rouen, was to this effect: that all war proceedings should be suspended from Ash Wednesday to the Monday after the octave of Pentecost, and on all vigils and feasts of the blessed Virgin and of the apostles, over and above what was already regulated for each week, that is, from Wednesday evening to Monday morning.[43]

Thus did the world testify its respect for the holy observances of Lent, and borrow some of its wisest institutions from the seasons and feasts of the liturgical year. The influence of this forty days’penance was great, too, on each individual. It renewed man’s energies, gave him fresh vigour in battling with his animal instincts, and, by the restraint it put upon sensuality, ennobled the soul. There was restraint everywhere; and the present discipline of the Church, which forbids the solemnization of marriage during Lent, reminds Christians of that holy continency, which, for many ages, was observed during the whole forty days as a precept, and of which the most sacred of the liturgical books, the missal, still retains the recommendation.[44]

It is with reluctance that we close our history of Lent, and leave untouched so many other interesting details. For instance, what treasures we could have laid open to our readers from the lenten usages of the eastern Churches, which have retained so much of the primitive discipline! We cannot, however, resist devoting our last page to the following particulars.

We mentioned, in the preceding volume, that the Sunday we call Septuagesima, is called, by the Greeks, Prophone, because the opening of Lent is proclaimed on that day. The Monday following it is counted as the first day of the next week, which is Apocreos, the name they give to the Sunday which closes that week, and which is our Sexagesima Sunday. The Greek Church begins abstinence from flesh-meat with this week. Then on the morrow, Monday, commences the week called Tyrophagos, which ends with the Sunday of that name, corresponding to our Quinquagesima. White-meats are allowed during that week. Finally, the morrow is the first day of the first week of Lent, and the fast begins with all its severity, on that Monday, whilst, in the Latin Church, it is deferred to the Wednesday.

During the whole of the Lent preceding Easter, milkmeats, eggs, and even fish, are forbidden. The only food permitted to be eaten with bread, is vegetables, honey, and, for those who live near the sea, shellfish. For many centuries wine might not be taken, but it is now permitted, and on the Annunciation and Palm Sunday a dispensation is granted for eating fish.

Besides the Lent preparatory to the feast of Easter, the Greeks keep three others in the year: that which is called ‘of the apostles’whiph lasts from the octave of Pentecost to the feast of Saints Peter and Paul; that ‘of the Virgin Mary’which begins on the first of August, and ends with the vigil of the Assumption; and lastly, the Lent of preparation for Christmas, which consists of forty days. The fasting and abstinence of these three Lents are not quite so severe as those observed during the great Lent. The other Christian nations of the east also observe several Lents, and more rigidly than the Greeks , but all these details would lead us too far. We therefore pass on to the mysteries which are included in this holy season.

 


 

[1] In most languages, the name given to this fast expresses the number of the days, forty. But our word Lent signifies the Springfast; for Lenten-tide, In the ancient English-Saxon language, was the season of Spring. [Tr.]
[2] St. Matt. ix. 14, 15.
[3] Epist. xxvii. ad Marcellam.
[4] Serm. ii, v. ix. de Quadragesima.
[5] Homil. Paschal.
[6] De Ecclesiast. Officiis, lib. vi, cap. xix.
[7] Catech. iv.
[8] Homily i. De Jejunio.
[9] Homily iv. Ad populum Antioch.
[10] Litt. Pasck. iii.
[11] Capitul. xxxix. Labb. Conc. tom. viii.
[12] Sermon 1, De Quadrages. D’Achery. Spicilegium, tom. ii.
[13] Orderic. Vital. Histor. lib. iv.
[14] In regul. S. Augustini, cap. iii
[15] Summa, Part iv. Quæst. 28, art. 2.
[16] 2a 2æ Q. 147, a. 7.
[17] In iv. Dist. xv., art. 3, Quæst. 8.
[18] In iv. Dist. xv., Quæst. 9, art. 7.
[19] In iv. Quæst. cxlvii. art. 6.
[20] Labbe, Concil. tom. x.
[21] Constitution: Non ambigimus.
[22] The Regulations of the Church with regard to Fasting and Abstinence have been revised in accordance with present circumstances and conditions. The Indult granted each Lent in former years is no longer necessary, and all are required to observe the common law of the Church. By the new code of Canon Law a distinction is made between fasting and abstinence. All the week days of Lent, the Ember Days and some vigils are days of fasting, but meat is allowed at the full meal except on Wednesdays and Fridays and the Ember Days in Lent.
[23] St. Luke xiii. 3.
[24] Decretal., lib. iii., cap. Concilium; de Jejunio. Tit. xlvi.
[25] Raynaldi, Ad. ann. 1297.
[26] D’Achery, Spicilegium, tom. iv.
[27] Ibid.
[28] Raynaldi, Ad. ann. 1484.
[29] Ibid. Ad. ann. 1505.
[30] Ibid. Ad. ann. 1524.
[31] Ibid. Ad. ann. 1533.
[32] It was the Emperor Justinian who passed this law, as we learn from Photius; Nomocanon. tit. vii. cap. i.
[33] Cod. Theodos. lib. ix. tit. xxxv. leg. 4.
[34] Labbe, Concil. tom. vii. and ix.
[35] Ad consultat. Bulgarorum, Labbe, Concil. tom. viii.
[36] Summ. cas. Pænit., lib. iii. tit. xxix. De laps, et disp. § 1.
[37] Euseb. Constant, vita, lib. iv., cap. xviii. et xix.
[38] Labbe, Concil. tom. vii.
[39] Ibid. tom. viii.
[40] Ibid. tom. X.
[41] Wilhelm. Malmesbur. Hist. nov. no. 30.
[42] Labbe, Concil. tom. ix.
[43] Orderic. Vital. Hist. Eedes. lib. ix.
[44] Missale Romanum. Missa pro sponso et sponsa.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

We may be sure that a season so sacred as this of Lent is rich in mysteries. The Church has made it a time of recollection and penance, in preparation for the greatest of all her feasts; she would, therefore, bring into it everything that could excite the faith of her children, and encourage them to go through the arduous work of atonement for their sins. During Septuagesima, we had the number seventy, which reminds us of those seventy years of captivity in Babylon, after which God’s chosen people, being purified from idolatry, was to return to Jerusalem and celebrate the Pasch. It is the number forty that the Church now brings before us: a number, as St. Jerome observes, which denotes punishment and affliction.[1]

Let us remember the forty days and forty nights of the deluge[2] sent by God in His anger, when He repented that He had made man, and destroyed the whole human race with the exception of one family. Let us consider how the Hebrew people, in punishment for their ingratitude, wandered forty years in the desert, before they were permitted to enter the promised land.[3] Let us listen to our God commanding the Prophet Ezechiel to lie forty days on his right side, as a figure of the siege which was to bring destruction on Jerusalem.[4]

There are two persons in the old Testament who represent the two manifestations of God: Moses, who typifies the Law; and Elias, who is the figure of the Prophets. Both of these are permitted to approach God: the first on Sinai,[5] the second on Horeb;[6] but both of them have to prepare for the great favour by an expiatory fast of forty days.

With these mysterious facts before us, we can understand why it is that the Son of God, having become Man for our salvation and wishing to subject Himself to the pain of fasting, chose the number of forty days. The institution of Lent is thus brought before us with everything that can impress the mind with its solemn character, and with its power of appeasing God and purifying our souls. Let us, therefore, look beyond the little world which surrounds us, and see how the whole Christian universe is, at this very time, offering this forty days’penance as a sacrifice of propitiation to the offended Majesty of God; and let us hope that, as in the case of the Ninivites, He will mercifully accept this year’s offering of our atonement, and pardon us our sins.

The number of our days of Lent is, then, a holy mystery: let us now learn, from the liturgy, in what fight the Church views her children during these forty days. She considers them as an immense army, fighting day and night against their spiritual enemies. We remember how, on Ash Wednesday, she calls Lent a Christian warfare. In order that we may have that newness of life, which will make us worthy to sing once more our Alleluia, we must conquer our three enemies: the devil, the flesh, and the world. We are fellow combatants with our Jesus, for He, too, submits to the triple temptation, suggested to Him by satan in person. Therefore, we must have on our armour, and watch unceasingly. And whereas it is of the utmost importance that our hearts be spirited and brave, the Church gives us a war-song of heaven’s own making, which can fire even cowards with hope of victory and confidence in God’s help: it is the ninetieth Psalm.[7] She inserts the whole of it in the Mass of the first Sunday of Lent, and every day introduces several of its verses into the ferial Office.

She there tells us to rely on the protection, wherewith our heavenly Father covers us, as with a shield;[8] to hope under the shelter of His wings;[9] to have confidence in Him; for that He will deliver us from the snare of the hunter,[10] who had robbed us of the holy liberty of the children of God; to rely upon the succour of the holy angels, who are our brothers, to whom our Lord hath given charge that they keep us in all our ways,[11] and who, when Jesus permitted satan to tempt Him, were the adoring witnesses of His combat, and approached Him, after His victory, proffering to Him their service and homage. Let us well absorb these sentiments wherewith the Church would have us to be inspired; and, during our six weeks’campaign, let us often repeat this admirable canticle, which so fully describes what the soldiers of Christ should be and feel in this season of the great spiritual warfare.

But the Church is not satisfied with thus animating us to the contest with our enemies: she would also have our minds engrossed with thoughts of deepest import; and for this end she puts before us three great subjects, which she will gradually unfold to us between this and the great Easter solemnity. Let us be all attention to these soul-stirring and instructive lessons.

And firstly, there is the conspiracy of the Jews against our Redeemer. It will be brought before us in its whole history, from its first formation to its final consummation on the great Friday, when we shall behold the Son of God hanging on the wood of the cross. The infamous workings of the Synagogue will be brought before us so regularly, that we shall be able to follow the plot in all its details. We shall be inflamed with love for the august Victim, whose meekness, wisdom, and dignity bespeak a God. The divine drama, which began in the cave of Bethlehem, is to close on Calvary, we may assist at it, by meditating on the passages of the Gospel read to us by the Church during these days of Lent.

The second of the subjects offered to us, for our instruction, requires that we should remember how the feast of Easter is to be the day of new birth for our catechumens, and how, in the early ages of the Church, Lent was the immediate and solemn preparation given to the candidates for Baptism. The holy liturgy of the present season retains much of the instruction she used to give to the catechumens; and as we listen to her magnificent lessons from both the old and the new Testament, whereby she completed their initiation, we ought to think with gratitude of how we were not required to wait years before being made children of God, but were mercifully admitted to Baptism even in our infancy. We shall be led to pray for those new catechumens, who this very year, in far distant countries, are receiving instructions from their zealous missioners, and are looking forward, as did the postulants of the primitive Church, to that grand feast of our Saviour’s victory over death, when they are to be cleansed in the waters of Baptism and receive from the contact a new being—regeneration.

Thirdly, we must remember how, formerly, the public penitents, who had been separated on Ash Wednesday from the assembly of the faithful, were the object of the Church’s maternal solicitude during the whole forty days of Lent, and were to be admitted to reconciliation on Maundy Thursday, if their repentance were such as to merit this public forgiveness. We shall have the admirable course of instructions, which were originally designed for these penitents, and which the liturgy, faithful as it ever is to such traditions, still retains for our sake. As we read these sublime passages of the Scripture, we shall naturally think upon our own sins, and on what easy terms they were pardoned us; whereas, had we lived in other times, we should have probably been put through the ordeal of a public and severe penance. This will excite us to fervour, for we shall remember that, whatever changes the indulgence of the Church may lead her to make in her discipline, the justice of our God is ever the same. We shall find in all this an additional motive for offering to His divine Majesty the sacrifice of a contrite heart, and we shall go through our penances with that cheerful eagerness, which the conviction of our deserving much severer ones always brings with it.

In order to keep up the character of mournfulness and austerity which is so well suited to Lent, the Church, for many centuries, admitted very few feasts into this portion of her year, inasmuch as there is always joy where there is even a spiritual feast. In the fourth century, we have the Council of Laodicea forbidding, in its fifty-first canon, the keeping of a feast or commemoration of any saint during Lent, excepting on the Saturdays or Sundays.[12] The Greek Church rigidly maintained this point of lenten discipline; nor was it till many centuries after the Council of Laodicea that she made an exception for March 25, on which day she now keeps the feast of our Lady’s Annunciation.

The Church of Rome maintained this same discipline, at least in principle; but she admitted the feast of the Annunciation at a very early period, and somewhat later, the feast of the apostle St. Mathias, on February 24. During the last few centuries, she has admitted several other feasts into that portion of her general calendar which coincides with Lent; still, she observes a certain restriction, out of respect for the ancient practice.

The reason why the Church of Rome is less severe on this point of excluding the saints’feasts during Lent, is that the Christians of the west have never looked upon the celebration of a feast as incompatible with fasting; the Greeks, on the contrary, believe that the two are irreconcilable, and as a consequence of this principle, never observe Saturday as a fasting-day, because they always keep it as a solemnity, though they make Holy Saturday an exception, and fast upon it. For the same reason, they do not fast upon the Annunciation.

This strange idea gave rise, in or about the seventh century, to a custom which is peculiar to the Greek Church. It is called the Mass of the Presanctified, that is to say, consecrated in a previous Sacrifice. On each Sunday of Lent, the priest consecrates six Hosts, one of which he receives in that Mass; but the remaining five are reserved for a simple Communion, which is made on each of the five following days, without the holy Sacrifice being offered. The Latin Church practises this rite only once in the year, that is, on Good Friday, and this in commemoration of a sublime mystery, which we will explain in its proper place.

This custom of the Greek Church was evidently suggested by the forty-ninth canon of the Council of Laodicea, which forbids the offering of bread for the Sacrifice during Lent, excepting on the Saturdays and Sundays.[13] The Greeks, some centuries later on, concluded from this canon that the celebration of the holy Sacrifice was incompatible with fasting; and we learn from the controversy they had, in the ninth century, with the legate Humbert,[14] that the Mass of the Presanctified (which has no other authority to rest on save a canon of the famous Council in Trullo,[15] held in 692) was justified by the Greeks on this absurd plea, that the Communion of the Body and Blood of our Lord broke the lenten fast.

The Greeks celebrate this rite in the evening, after Vespers, and the priest alone communicates, as is done now in the Roman liturgy on Good Friday. But for many centuries they have made an exception for the Annunciation; they interrupt the lenten fast on this feast, they celebrate Mass, and the faithful are allowed to receive holy Communion.

The canon of the Council of Laodicea was probably never received in the western Church. If the suspension of the holy Sacrifice during Lent was ever practised in Rome, it was only on the Thursdays; and even that custom was abandoned in the eighth century, as we learn from Anasta&ius the Librarian, who tells us that Pope St. Gregory II., desiring to complete the Roman sacramentary, added Masses for the Thursdays of the first five weeks of Lent.[16] It is difficult to assign the reason of this interruption of the Mass on Thursdays in the Roman Church, or of the like custom observed by the Church of Milan on the Fridays of Lent. The explanations we have found in different authors are not satisfactory. As far as Milan is concerned, we are inclined to think that, not satisfied with the mere adoption of the Roman usage of not celebrating Mass on Good Friday, the Ambrosian Church extended the rite to all the Fridays of Lent.

After thus briefly alluding to these details, we must close our present chapter by a few words on the holy rites which are now observed, during Lent, in our western Churches. We have explained several of these in our ‘Septuagesima’[17] The suspension of the Alleluia; the purple vestments; the laying aside of the deacon’s dalmatic, and the subdeacon’s tunic; the omission of the two joyful canticles Gloria in excelsis and Te Deum; the substitution of the mournful Tract for the Alleluia-verse in the Mass; the Benedicamus Domino instead of the 1te Missa est; the additional prayer said over the people after the Postcommunions on ferial days; the celebration of the Vesper Office before midday, excepting on the Sundays: all these are familiar to our readers. We have now only to mention, in addition, the genuflections prescribed for the conclusion of all the Hours of the Divine Office on ferias, and the rubric which bids the choir to kneel, on those same days, during the Canon of the Mass.

There were other ceremonies peculiar to the season of Lent, which were observed in the Churches of the west, but which have now, for many centuries, fallen into general disuse; we say general, because they are still partially kept up in some places. Of these rites, the most imposing was that of putting up a large veil between the choir and the altar, so that neither clergy nor people could look upon the holy mysteries celebrated within the sanctuary. This veil — which was called the Curtain, and, generally speaking, was of a purple colour—was a symbol of the penance to which the sinner ought to subject himself, in order to merit the sight of that divine Majesty, before whose face he had committed so many outrages. It signified, moreover, the humiliations endured by our Redeemer, who was a stumbling-block to the proud Synagogue. But as a veil that is suddenly drawn aside, these humiliations were to give way, and be changed into the glories of the Resurrection.[18] Among other places where this rite is still observed, we may mention the metropolitan church of Paris, Notre Dame.

It was the custom also, in many churches, to veil the crucifix and the statues of the saints as soon as Lent began; in order to excite the faithful to a livelier sense of penance, they were deprived of the consolation which the sight of these holy images always brings to the soul. But this custom, which is still retained in some places, was less general than the more expressive one used in the Roman Church, which we will explain in our next volume—the veiling of the crucifix and statues only in Passiontide.

We learn from the ceremonials of the middle ages that, during Lent, and particularly on the Wednesdays and Fridays, processions used frequently to be made from one church to another. In monasteries, these processions were made in the cloister, and barefooted.[19] This custom was suggested by the practice of Rome, where there is a Station for every day of Lent which, for many centuries, began by a procession to the stational church.

Lastly, the Church has always been in the habit of adding to her prayers during the season of Lent. Her discipline was, until recently, that, on ferias, in cathedral and collegiate churches which were not exempted by a custom to the contrary, the following additions were made to the canonical Hours: on Monday, the Office of the Dead; on Wednesday, the Gradual Psalms; and on Friday, the Penitential Psalms. In some churches, during the middle ages, the whole Psalter was added each week of Lent to the usual Office.[20]

 


[1] In Ezechiel, cap. xxix.
[2] Gen. vii. 12.
[3] Num. xiv. 33.
[4] Ezechiel iv. 6.
[5] Exod. xxiv. 18.
[6] 3 Kings xix. 8.
[7] Ps. Qui habitat in adjutorio, in the Office of Compline.
[8] Scuto circumdabit te varitas ejus. Office of None.
[9] Et sub pennis ejus sperabis. Sext.
[10] Ipse liberavit me de laqueo venantium. Tierce.
[11] Angelis suis mandavit de te, ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis. Lauds and Vespers.
[12] Labbe, Concil. tom. i.
[13] Labbe, Concil. tom. i.
[14] Contra Nicelam tom. iv.
[15] Can. 52. Labbe, Concil. tom. vi
[16] Anastas. In Gregorio II
[17] See their explanation in the volume for Septuagesima.
[18] Honorius of Autun. Gemma animoe, lib. iii. cap. lxvi.
[19] Martene. De antequis Eedes, ritibus, tom. iii. cap. xviii.
[20] Ibid.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Having spent the three weeks of Septuagesima in meditating upon our spiritual infirmities and upon the wounds caused in us by sin, we should be ready to enter upon the penitential season which the Church has now begun. We have now a clearer knowledge of the justice and holiness of God, and of the dangers that await an impenitent soul; and, that our repentance might be earnest and lasting, we have bade farewell to the vain joys and baubles of the world. Our pride has been humbled by the prophecy, that these bodies would soon be like the ashes that wrote the memento of death upon our foreheads.

During these forty days of penance, which seem so long to our poor nature, we shall not be deprived of the company of our Jesus. He seemed to have withdrawn from us during those weeks of Septuagesima, when everything spoke to us of His maledictions upon sinful man , but this absence has done us good. It has taught us how to tremble at the voice of God’s anger. ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom [1] we have found it to be so: the spirit of penance is now active within us, because we have feared.

And now, let us look at the divine object that is before us. It is our Emmanuel; the same Jesus, but not under the form of the sweet Babe whom we adored in His crib. He has grown to the fulness of the age of man, and wears the semblance of a sinner, trembling and humbling Himself before the sovereign Majesty of His Father whom we have offended, and to whom He now offers Himself as the Victim of propitiation. He loves us with a brother’s love; and seeing that the season for doing penance has begun, He comes to cheer us on by Htø presence and His own example. We are going to spend forty days in fasting and abstinence: Jesus, who is innocence itself, goes through the same penance. We have separated ourselves, for a time, from the pleasures and vanities of the world: Jesus withdraws from the company and sight of men. We intend to assist at the divine services more assiduously, and pray more fervently, than at other times: Jesus spends forty days and forty nights in praying, like the humblest suppliant; and all this for us. We are going to think over our past sins, and bewail them in bitter grief: Jesus suffers for them and weeps over them in the silence of the desert, as though He Himself had committed them.

No sooner had He received baptism from the hands of St. John, than the Holy Ghost led Him to the desert. The time had come for showing Himself to the world; He would begin by teaching us a lesson of immense importance. He leaves the saintly Precursor and the admiring multitude, that had seen the divine Spirit descend upon Him, and heard the Father’s voice proclaiming Him to be His beloved Son; He leaves them and goes into the desert. Not far from the Jordan there rises a rugged mountain, which has received, in after ages, the name of Quarantana. It commands a view of the fertile plain of Jericho, the Jordan, and the Dead Sea. It is within a cave of this wild rock that the Son of God now enters, His only companions being the dumb animals who have chosen this same for their own shelter. He has no food wherewith to satisfy the pangs of hunger; the barren rock can yield Him no drink; His only bed must be of stone. Here He is to spend forty days; after which, He will permit the angels to visit Him and bring Him food.

Thus does our Saviour go before us on the holy path of Lent. He has borne all its fatigues and hardships, that so we, when called upon to tread the narrow way of our lenten penance, might have His example wherewith to silence the excuses, and sophisms, and repugnances, of self-love and pride. The lesson is here too plainly given not to be understood; the law of doing penance for sin is here too clearly shown, and we cannot plead ignorance: let us honestly accept the teaching and practise it. Jesus leaves the desert where He has spent the forty days, and begins His preaching with these words, which He addresses to all men: ‘Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’[2] Let us not harden our hearts to this invitation, lest there be fulfilled in us the terrible threat contained in those other words of our Redeemer: ‘Unless you shall do penance, you shall perish.’[3]

Now, penance consists in contrition of the soul, and mortification of the body; these two parts are essential to it. The soul has willed the sin; the body has frequently co-operated in its commission. Moreover, man is composed of both soul and body; both, then, should pay homage to their Creator. The body is to share with the soul either the delights of heaven or the torments of hell; there cannot, therefore, be any thorough Christian life, or any earnest penance, where the body does not take’part, in both, with the soul.

But it is the soul which gives reality to penance. The Gospel teaches this by the examples it holds out to us of the prodigal son, of Magdalene, of Zaccheus, and of St. Peter. The soul, then, must be resolved to give up every sin; she must heartily grieve over those she has committed; she must hate sin; she must shun the occasions of sin. The sacred Scriptures have a word for this inward disposition, which has been adopted by the Christian world, and which admirably expresses the state of the soul that has turned away from her sins: this word is conversion. The Christian should, therefore, during Lent, study to excite himself to this repentance of heart, and look upon it as the essential foundation of all his lenten exercises. Nevertheless, he must remember that this spiritual penance would be a mere delusion, were he not to practise mortification of the body. Let him study the example given him by his Saviour, who grieves, indeed, and weeps over our sins; but He also expiates them by His bodily sufferings. Hence it is that the Church, the infallible interpreter of her divine Master’s will, tells us that the repentance of our heart will not be accepted by God, unless it be accompanied by fasting and abstinence.

How great, then, is the illusion of those Christians, who forget their past sins, or compare themselves with others whose lives they take to have been worse than their own; and thus satisfied with themselves, can see no harm or danger in the easy life they intend to pass for the rest of their days! They will tell you that there can be no need of their thinking of their past sins, for they have made a good confession! Is not the life they have led since that time a sufficient proof of their solid piety? And why should anyone speak to them about the justice of God and mortification? Accordingly, as soon as Lent approaches, they must get all manner of dispensations. Abstinence is an inconvenience; fasting has an effect upon their health, it would interfere with their occupations, it is such a change from their ordinary way of living; besides, there are so many people who are better than themselves, and yet who never fast or abstain. And Church by other penitential exercises, such persons as these gradually and unsuspectingly lose the Christian spirit.

The Church sees this frightful decay of supernatural energy; but she cherishes what is still left, by making her lenten observances easier, year after year. With the hope of maintaining that little, and of seeing it strengthen for some better future, she leaves to the justice of God her children who hearken not to her when she teaches them how they might, even now, propitiate His anger. Alas! these her children, of whom we are speaking, are quite satisfied that things should be as they are, and never think of judging their own conduct by the examples of Jesus and His saints, or by the undeviating rules of Christian penance.

It is true, there are exceptions; but how rare they are, especially in our large towns! Groundless prejudices, idle excuses, bad example, all tend to lead men from the observance of Lent. Is it not sad to hear people giving such a reason as this for their not fasting or abstaining—because they feel them? Surely, they forget that the very aim of fasting and abstinence is to make these bodies of sin[4] suffer and feel. And what will they answer on the day of judgment, when our Saviour shall show them how the very Turks, who were the disciples of a gross and sensual religion, had the courage to practise, every year, the austerities of their Ramadan?

But their own conduct will be their loudest accuser. These very persons, who persuade themselves that they have not strength enough to bear the abstinence and fasting of Lent even in their present mitigated form, think nothing of going through incomparably greater fatigues for the sake of temporal gains or worldly enjoyments. Constitutions which have broken down in the pursuit of pleasures which, to say the least, are frivolous, and always dangerous, would have kept up all their vigour, had the laws of God and His Church, and not the desire to please the world, been the guide of their conduct. But such is the indifference wherewith this non-observance of Lent is treated, that it never excites the slightest trouble or remorse of conscience; and those who are guilty of it will argue with you, that people who lived in the middle ages may perhaps have been able to keep Lent, but that now-a-days it is out of the question: and they can coolly say this in the face of all that the Church has done to adapt her lenten discipline to the physical and moral weakness of the present generation! How comes it that, whilst these men have been trained in, or converted to, the faith of their fathers, they can forget that the observance of Lent is an essential mark of Catholicity; and that when the Protestants undertook to reform her, in the sixteenth century, one of their chief grievances was that she insisted on her children mortifying themselves by fasting and abstinence?

But it will be asked: ‘Are there, then, no lawful dispensations?' We answer that there are; and that they are more needed now than in former ages, owing to the general weakness of our constitutions. Still, there is great danger of our deceiving ourselves. If we have strength to go through great fatigues when our own self-love is gratified by them, how is it we are too weak to observe abstinence? If a slight inconvenience deter us from doing this penance, how shall we ever make expiation for our sins? for expiation is essentially painful to nature. The opinion of our physician that fasting will weaken us, may be false, or it may be correct; but is not this mortification of the flesh the very object that the Church aims at, knowing that our soul will profit by the body being brought into subjection? But let us suppose the dispensation to be necessary: that our health would be impaired, and the duties of our state of life neglected, if we were to observe the law of Lent to the letter: do we, in such a case, endeavour, by other works of penance, to supply for those which our health does not allow us to observe? Are we grieved and humbled to find ourselves thus unable to join with the rest of the faithful children of the Church, in bearing the yoke of lenten discipline? Do we ask of our Lord to grant us the grace, next year, of sharing in the merits of our fellow-Christians, and of observing those holy practices which give the soul an assurance of mercy and pardon? If we do, the dispensation will not be detrimental to our spiritual interests; and when the feast of Easter comes, inviting the faithful to partake in its grand joys, we may confidently take our place side by side with those who have fasted; for though our bodily weakness has not permitted us to keep pace with them exteriorly, our heart has been faithful to the spirit of Lent.

How long a list of proofs we could still give of the negligence, into which the modern spirit of selfindulgence leads so many among us, in regard of fasting and abstinence! Thus, there are Catholics to be found in every part of the world who make their Easter Communion, and profess themselves to be children of the Catholic Church, who yet have no idea of the obligations of Lent. Their very notion of fasting and abstinence is so vague, that they are not aware that these two practices are quite distinct one from the other; and that the dispensation from one does not, in any way, include a dispensation from the other. If they have, lawfully or unlawfully, obtained exemption from abstinence, it never so much as enters into their minds that the obligation of fasting is still binding upon them during the whole forty days; or if they have had granted to them a dispensation from fasting, they conclude that they may eat any kind of food they wish upon any day. Such ignorance as this is the natural result of the indifference wherewith the commandments and traditions of the Church are treated.

So far, we have been speaking of the non-observance of Lent in its relation to individuals and Catholics; let us now say a few words upon the influence which that same non-observance has upon a whole people or nation. There are but few social questions which have not been ably and spiritedly treated of by the public writers of the age, who have devoted their talents to the study of political economy; and it has often been a matter of surprise to us that they should have overlooked a subject of such deep interest as this: the results produced on society by the abolition of Lent; that is to say, of an institution which, more than any other, keeps up in the public mind a keen sentiment of moral right and wrong, inasmuch as it imposes on a nation an annual expiation for sin. No shrewd penetration is needed to see the difference between two nations, one of which observes, each year, a forty-days’penance in reparation of the violations committed against the law of God, and another, whose very principles reject all such solemn reparation. And looking at the subject from another point of view—is it not to be feared that the excessive use of animal food tends to weaken, rather than to strengthen, the constitution? We are convinced of it: the time will come when a greater proportion of vegetable, and less of animal, diet will be considered as an essential means for maintaining the strength of the human frame.

Let, then, the children of the Church courageously observe the lenten practices of penance. Peace of conscience is essential to Christian life; and yet it is promised to none but truly penitent souls. Lost innocence is to be regained by the humble confession of the sin, when it is accompanied by the absolution of the priest; but let the faithful be on their guard against the dangerous error, which would persuade them that they have nothing to do when once pardoned. Let them remember the solemn warning given them by the Holy Ghost in the sacred Scriptures: ‘Be not without fear about sin forgiven ’![5] Our confidence of our having been forgiven should be in proportion to the change or conversion of our heart; the greater our present detestation of our past sins and the more earnest our desire to do penance for them for the rest of our lives, the better founded is our confidence that they have been pardoned. ‘Man knoweth not,’as the same holy Volume assures us, whether he be worthy of love or hatred,’[6] but he that keeps up within him the spirit of penance, has every reason to hope that God loves him.

But the courageous observance of the Church’s precept of fasting and abstaining during Lent must be accompanied by those two other eminently good works, to which God so frequently urges us in the Scripture: prayer and almsdeeds. Just as under the term ‘fasting ‘the Church comprises all kinds of mortification; so under the word ‘prayer ‘she includes all those exercises of piety whereby the soul holds intercourse with her God. More frequent attendance at the services of the Church, assisting daily at Mass, spiritual reading, meditation upon eternal truths and the Passion, hearing sermons, and, above all, approaching the Sacraments of Penance and the holy Eucharist—these are the chief means whereby the faithful should offer to God the homage of prayer, during this holy season.

Almsdeeds comprise all the works of mercy to our neighbour, and are unanimously recommended by the holy doctors of the Church, as being the necessary complement of fasting and prayer during Lent. God has made it a law, to which He has graciously bound Himself, that charity shown towards our fellow-creatures, with the intention of pleasing our Creator, shall be rewarded as though it were done to Himself. How vividly this brings before us the reality and sacredness of the tie which He would have to exist between all men! Such, indeed, is its necessity, that our heavenly Father will not accept the love of any heart that refuses to show mercy: but, on the other hand, He accepts as genuine and as done to Himself the charity of every Christian, who, by a work of mercy shown to a fellow-man, is really acknowledging and honouring that sublime union which makes all men to be one family with God as its Father. Hence it is that almsdeeds, done with this intention, are not merely acts of human kindness, but are raised to the dignity of acts of religion, which have God for their direct object, and have the power of appeasing His divine justice.

Let us remember the counsel given by the Archangel Raphael to Tobias. He was on the point of taking leave of this holy family, and returning to heaven; and these were his words: ‘Prayer is good with fasting and alms, more than to lay up treasures of gold: for alms delivereth from death, and the same is that which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find mercy and life everlasting.’[7] Equally strong is the recommendation given to this virtue by the Book of Ecclesiasticus: ‘Water quencheth a flaming fire, and alms resisteth sins.’[8] And again: ‘Shut up alms in the heart of the poor, and it shall obtain help for thee against all evil.’[9] The Christian should keep these consoling promises ever before his mind, but more especially during the season of Lent. The rich man should show the poor, whose whole year is a fast, that there is a time when even he has his selfprivations. The faithful observance of Lent naturally produces a saving; let that saving be given to Lazarus. Nothing, surely, could be more opposed to the spirit of this holy season, than keeping up a table as richly and delicately provided as at other periods of the year, when God permits us to use all the comforts compatible with the means He has given us. But how thoroughly Christian is it that, during these days of penance and charity, the life of the poor man should be made more comfortable, in proportion as that of the rich shares in the hardships and privations of his suffering brethren throughout the world! Poor and rich would then present themselves, with all the beauty of fraternal love upon them, at the divine Banquet of the Paschal feast, to which our risen Jesus will invite us after these forty days are over.

There is one means more whereby we are to secure to ourselves the great graces of Lent; it is the spirit of retirement and separation from the world. Our ordinary life, such as it is during the rest of the year, should all be made to pay tribute to the holy season of penance; otherwise, the salutary impression produced on us by the holy ceremony of Ash Wednesday will soon be effaced. The Christian ought, therefore, to forbid himself, during Lent, all the vain amusements, entertainments, and parties, of the world he lives in. As regards theatres and balls, which are the world in the very height of its power to do harm, no one that calls himself a disciple of Christ should ever be present at them, unless necessity, or the position he holds in society, oblige him to it: but if, from his own free choice, he throws himself amidst such dangers during the present holy season of penance and recollection, he offers an insult to his character, and must needs cease to believe that he has sins to atone for, and a God to propitiate. The world (we mean that part of it which is Christian) has thrown off ail those external indications of mourning and penance, which we read of as being so religiously observed in the ages of faith; let that pass; but there is one thing which can never change: God’s justice, and man’s obligation to appease that justice. The world may rebel as much as it will against the sentence, but the sentence is irrevocable: ‘Unless you do penance, you shall all perish.’[10] It is God’s own word. Say, if you will, that few nowadays give ear to it; but for that very reason many are lost. Those, too, who hear this word, must not forget the warnings given them by our divine Saviour Himself, in the Gospel read to us on Sexagesima Sunday. He told us how some of the seed is trodden down by the passers-by, or eaten by the fowls of the air; how some falls on rocky soil, and is parched; and how, again, some is choked by thorns. Let us be wise, and spare no pains to become that good ground, which not only receives the divine seed, but brings forth a hundredfold for the Easter harvest which is at hand.

An unavoidable feeling will arise in the minds of some of our readers, as they peruse these pages, in which we have endeavoured to embody the spirit of the Church, such as it is expressed, not only in the liturgy, but also in the decrees of Councils and in the writings of the holy fathers. The feeling we allude to is one of regret at not finding, during this period of the liturgical year, the touching and exquisite poetry, which gave such a charm to the forty days of our Christmas solemnity. First came Septuagesima, throwing its gloomy shade over those enchanting visions of the mystery of Bethlehem; and now we have come into a desert land, with thorns at every step, and no springs of water to refresh us. Let us not complain, however; holy Church knows our true wants, and is intent on supplying them. Neither must we be surprised at her insisting on a severer preparation for Easter, than for Christmas. At Christmas, we were to approach our Jesus as an Infant; all she put us through then were the Advent exercises, for the mysteries of our Redemption were but beginning.

And of those who went to Jesus’crib, there were many who, like the poor shepherds of Bethlehem, might be called simple, at least in this sense, that they did not sufficiently realize either the holiness of their Incarnate God or the misery and guilt of their own conscience. But now that this Son of the eternal God has entered the path of penance; now that we are about to see Him a victim to every humiliation, and suffering even a death upon a cross, the Church does not spare us; she rouses us from our ignorance and our self-satisfaction. She bids us strike our breasts, have compunction in our souls, mortify our bodies, because we are sinners. Our whole life ought to be one of penance; fervent souls are ever doing penance: could anything be more just or necessary, than that we should do some penance during these days, when our Jesus is fasting in'the desert, and is to die on Calvary? There is a sentence of our Redeemer, which He spoke to the daughters of Jerusalem on the day of His Passion; let us apply it to ourselves: ‘If in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?’[11] Oh, what a revelation is here! And yet, by the mercy of Jesus who speaks it, the dry wood may become the green, and so not be burned.

The Church hopes, nay, she is labouring with her whole energy, that this may be; therefore, she bids us bear the yoke; she gives us a Lent. Let us only courageously tread the way of penance, and the light will gradually beam upon us. If we are now far off from our God by the sins that are upon us, this holy season will be to us what the saints call the purgative life, and will give us that purity which will enable us to see our Lord in the glory of His victory over death. If, on the contrary, we are already living the illuminative life; if, during the three weeks of Septuagesima, we have bravely sounded the depth of our miseries, our Lent will give us a clearer view of Him who is our light; and if we acknowledged Him as our God when we saw Him as the Babe of Bethlehem, our soul’s eye will not fail to recognize Him in the divine Penitent of the desert, or in the bleeding Victim of Calvary.

 


[1] Ps. cx. 10.
[2] St. Matt. iv. 17.
[3] St. Luke xiii. 3.
[4] Rom. vi. 6.
[5] Ecclus. v. 5.
[6] Ecclesix. 1.
[7] Tob. xii. 8, 9.
[8] Ecclus. iii. 33.
[9] Ibid. xxix. 15.
[10] St. Luke xiii. 3.
[11] St. Luke xxiii. 31.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

During the season of Lent, the Christian, on waking in the morning, should unite himself with the Church, who, at the first dawn of day, begins her psalms of Lauds with these words of the royal prophet:

Miserere mei Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy.

He should, after this, profoundly adore that great God, before whom the sinner should tremble, yet whom he fears not to offend, as though deserving neither reverence nor love. It is with this deep sentiment of holy fear that he must perform the first acts of religion, both interior and exterior, wherewith he begins each day of this present season. The time for morning prayer having come, he may use the following method, which is formed upon the very prayers of the Church:—

Morning Prayers

V. Benedicamus Patrem et Filium, cum Sancto Spiritu:
R. Laudemus et superexaltemus eum in sæcula.

V. Gloria Patri et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto;
R. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
V. Let us bless the Father and the Son, and the Holy Ghost
R. Let us praise him and extol him above all, for ever.

V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Then, praise to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ:

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
V. We adore thee, O Christ, and we bless thee.
R. Because by thy holy cross thou hast redeemed the world.

Thirdly, invocation of the Holy Ghost:

Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle within them the fire of thy love.

After these fundamental acts of religion, recite the Lord’s Prayer, begging your heavenly Father to be mindful of His infinite mercy and goodness, to forgive you your trespasses, to come to your assistance in the temptations and dangers which so thickly beset the path of this life, and finally, to deliver you from evil, by removing from you every remnant of sin, which is the great evil, the evil that offends God, and entails the sovereign evil of man himself.

The Lord’s Prayer

Pater noster, qui es in cœlis, sanctificetur nomen tuum: adveniat regnum tuum: fiat voluntas tua sicut in cœlo, et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie: et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus noetris: et ne nos inducas in tentationem: sed libera nos a malo. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name: thy kingdom come: thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us: and lead us not into temptation: but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Then address our blessed Lady, using the words of the angelical salutation. Pray to her with confidence and love, for she is the refuge of sinners.

The Angelical Salutation

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum; benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. 

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

After this you should recite the Creed, that is, the symbol of faith. It contains the dogmas we are to believe; and during this season you should dwell with loving attention on that article, which is so full of hope, the forgiveness of sins. Let us do our utmost to merit, by our sincere conversion and amendment of our lives, that our Saviour, after these penitential forty days are over, may say to each of us those words which are so sweet to a penitent sinner: ‘Go, thy sins are forgiven!’

The Apostles’ Creed

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem, creatorem cœli et terræ. Et in Jesum Christum Filium ejus unicum, Dominum nostrum: qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine, passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus, et sepultus: descendit ad inferos, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis: ascendit ad cœlos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis: inde venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos. 

Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, sanctam Ecclesiam Catholicam, sanctorum communionem, remissionem peccatorum, carnis resurrectionem, vitam æternam. Amen.
I believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and buried; he descended into hell, the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

After having thus made the profession of your faith, endeavour to excite yourself to sorrow for the sins you have committed. Ask our Lord to give you the graces appropriate to this holy season; and, for this end, recite the following hymn, which the Church uses in her Lauds for Lent:

Hymn

O sol salutis, intimis,
Jesu, refulge mentibus,
Dum nocte pulsa gratior
Orbi dies renascitur.

Dans tempus acceptable,
Da lacrymaram rivulis
Lavare cordis victimam,
Quam læta adurat charitas.

Quo fonte manavit nefas,
Fluent perennes lacrymæ,
Si virga pœnitentiæ
Cordis rigorem conterat.

Dies venit, dies tua,
In qua reflorent omnia:
Lætemur et nos, in viam
Tua reducti dextera.

Te prona mundi machina,
Clemens, adoret, Trinitas,
Et nos novi per gratiam
Novum canamue canticum.

Amen.
O Jesus, thou Sun of the world’s salvation!
shine in the depths of our souls;
for now is the hour of night’s departure,
and sweeter daybreak dawns upon the earth.

O thou that givest us this acceptable time!
give us to wash, with our tears,
the victim we offer thee, which is our heart;
and grant that it may burn with joyous love.

If the rod of penance
but strike these hearts of stone,
a flood of ceaseless tears will flow from that same fount,
whence came our many sins.

The day, thine own day,
is at hand, when all things bloom afresh;
oh! grant, that we, too, may rejoice,
being brought once more to the path by thy right hand.

O merciful Trinity!
may the world prostrate itself before thee,
and adore; and we, made new by grace,
sing a new canticle of praise.

Amen.

Then make a humble confession of your sins, reciting the general formala made use of by the Church.

The Confession Of Sins

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatæ Mariæ semper Virgini, beato Michaeli archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistæ, sanctis apostolis Petro et Paulo, et omnibus sanctis, quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos apostolos Petrum et Paulum, et omnes sanctos, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.

Misereatur nostri omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis nostris, perducat nos ad vitam æternam. Amen.

Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus. Amen.
I confess to almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and to all the saints, 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, and all the saints, to pray to the Lord our God for me.

May almighty God have mercy on us, and, our sins being forgiven, bring us to life everlasting. Amen. 

May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins. Amen.

This is the proper time for making your meditation, as no doubt you practise this holy exercise. During Lent, the following should be the leading subjects of our meditations: the justice of God which we have provoked by our sins, and His infinite holiness which sin offends; conversion of heart, the necessity of breaking with dangerous occasions, and of doing penance for our sins; our Saviour’s forty days’fast in the desert, and, above all, His sacred Passion.

The next part of your morning prayer must be to ask of God, by the following prayers, grace to avoid every kind of sin during the day you are just beginning. Say, then, with the Church, whose prayers must always be preferred to all others:

V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.

R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.

Oremus.

Domine, Deus omnipotens, qui ad principium hujus diei nos pervenire fecisti, tua nos hodie salva virtute, ut in hac die ad nullum declinemus peccatum, sed semper ad tuam justitiam faciendam nostra procedant eloquia, dirigantur cogitationes et opera. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit ct regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer,

R. And let my cry come unto thee.

Let us Pray

Almighty Lord and God, who hast brought us to the beginning of this day, let thy powerful grace so conduct us through it, that we may not fall into any sin, but that all our thoughts, words, and actions may be regulated according to the rules of thy heavenly justice, and tend to the observance of thy holy law. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then beg the divine assistance for the actions of the day, that you may do them well; and say thrice:

V. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
R. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.

V. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
R. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.

V. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
R. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.

Oremus

Dirigere et sanctificare, regere et gubernare dignare, Domine Deus, Rex cœli et terræ, hodie corda et corpora nostra, sensus, sermones, et actus nostros in lege tua, et in operibus mandatorum tuorum, ut hic et in æternum te auxiliante, salvi et liberi esse mereamur, Salvator mundi. Qui vivis et regnas insæcula sæculorum. Amen.
V. Incline unto my aid, O God.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.

V. Incline unto my aid, O God.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.

V. Incline unto my aid, O God.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Let us Pray

Lord God, and King of heaven and earth, vouchsafe this day to rule and sanctify, to direct and govern our souls and bodies, our senses, words, and actions, in conformity to thy law, and strict obedience to thy commands: that by the help of thy grace, O Saviour of the world! we may be fenced and freed from all evils. Who livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen.

During the day, you will do well to use the instructions and prayers, which you will find in this volume, for each day of the season, both for the Proper of the time, and the Proper of the saints. 


In the evening, you may use the following prayers.

Night Prayers

 

After having made the sign of the cross, let us adore that sovereign Lord, who has so mercifully preserved us during this day, and blessed us, every hour, with His grace and protection. For this end, let us recite the following hymn, which the Church sings in her Vespers of Lent:

Hymn

Audi, benigne Conditor,
Nostras preces cum fletibus
In hoc sacro jejunio
Fusas quadragenario.

Scrutator alme cordium,
Infirma tu scis virium:
Ad te reversis exhibe
Remissionis gratiam.

Multum quidem peccavimus,
Sed parce confitentibus:
Ad nominis laudem tui
Confer medelam languidis.

Concede nostrum conteri
Corpus per abstinentiam:
Culpæ ut relinquant pabulum
Jejuna corda criminum.

Præsta, beata Trinitas,
Concede, simplex Unitas,
Ut fructuosa sint tuis
Jejuniorum munera.

Amen.
Hear, O merciful Creator,
the tearful prayers
we present to thee,
during these forty days of fast.

O loving searcher of the heart,
thou knowest that our strength is weak;
grant us the grace of thy pardon,
for we are converted unto thee.

Grievously have we sinned;
yet spare us, for we confess our sins to thee:
and, for the glory of thy name,
heal our languid hearts.

Grant that we may
subdue our flesh by abstinence;
that thus our hearts may leave what nourishes sin,
and fast from every crime.

O blessed Trinity!
O undivided Unity! grant to us,
thy servants, that our fasts
may produce abundant fruits.

Amen.

After this hymn, say the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Apostles’ Creed as in the morning.

Then make the examination of conscience, going over in your mind all the faults you have committed during the day. Think how great is the obstacle put by sin to the merciful designs your God would work in you; and make a firm resolution to avoid it for the time to come, to do penance for it, and to shun the occasions which might again lead you into it.

The examination of conscience concluded, recite the Confiteor (or ‘I confess’) with heartfelt contrition, and then give expression to your sorrow by the following act, which we have taken from the Venerable Cardinal Bellarmine’s catechism:

Act of Contrition

O my God, I am exceedingly grieved for having offended thee, and with my whole heart I repent of the sins I have committed: I hate and abhor them above every other evil, not only because, by so sinning, I have lost heaven and deserved hell, but still more because I have offended thee, O infinite Goodness, who art worthy to be loved above all things. I most firmly resolve, by the assistance of thy grace, never more to offend thee for the time to come, and to avoid those occasions which might lead me into sin.

You may then add the acts of faith, hope, and charity, to the recitation of which Pope Benedict XIV. has granted an indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines for each time.

Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe whatsoever the holy Catholic apostolic Roman Church requires me to believe: I believe it, because thou hast revealed it to her, thou who art the very truth.

Act of Hope

O my God, knowing thy almighty power, and thy infinite goodness and mercy, I hope in thee that, by the merits of the Passion and death of our Saviour Jesus Christ, thou wilt grant me eternal life, which thou hast promised to all such as shall do the works of a good Christian; and these I resolve to do by the help of thy grace

Act of Charity

O my God, I love thee with my whole heart and above all things, because thou art the sovereign Good: I would rather lose all things than offend thee. For thy love also, I love and desire to love my neighbour as myself.

Then say to our blessed Lady the following anthem, which the Church uses from the feast of the Purification to Easter:

Anthem of the Blessed Virgin

Ave Regina cœlorum,
Ave Domina angelorum:
Salve radix, salve porta,
Ex qua mundo lux est orta;

Gaude, Virgo gloriosa,
Super omnes speciosa:
Vale, O valde decora,
Et pro nobis Christum exora.

V. Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata.
R. Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos.

Oremus

Concede, misericors Deus, fragilitati nostræ præsidium: ut, qui sanctæ Dei Genitricis memoriam agimus, intercessionis ejus auxilio a nostris iniquitatibusresurgamus. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum.

Amen.
Hail Queen of heaven!
Hail Lady of the angels!
Hail blessed root and gate,
from which came light upon the world!

Rejoice, O glorious Virgin,
that surpassest all in beauty!
Hail, most lovely Queen!
and pray to Christ for us.

V. Vouchsafe, 0 holy Virgin, that I may praise thee.
R. Give me power against thine enemies.

Let us Pray

Grant, O merciful God, thy protection to us in our weakness; that we who celebrate the memory of the holy Mother of God, may, through the aid of her intercession, rise again from our sins. Through the same Christ our Lord.

Amen.

You would do well to add the litany of our Lady. An indulgence of three hundred days, for each time it is recited, has been granted by the Church.

The Litany of the Blessed Virgin

Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, eleison.
Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, audi nos.
Christe, exaudi nos.
Pater de cœlis, Deus, miserere nobis,
Fili, Redemptor mundi, Deus, miserere nobis.
Spiritus Sancte, Deus, miserere nobis.
Sancta Trinitas, unus Deus, miserere nobis.
Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis.
Sancta Dei Genitrix,
Sancta Virgo virginum,            
Mater Christi,
Mater divinæ gratiæ,
Mater purissima,
Mater castissima,
Mater inviolata,
Mater intemerata,
Mater amabilis,
Mater admirabilis,
Mater boni consilii,
Mater Creatoris,
Mater Salvatoris,
Virgo prudentissima,
Virgo veneranda,
Virgo prosdicanda,
Virgo potens,
Virgo clemens,
Virgo fidelis,
Speculum justitiæ,
Sedes sapientiæ,
Causa nostræ lætitiæ,
Vas spirituale,
Vas honorabile,
Vas insigne devotionis,
Rosa mystica,
Turris Davidica,
Turris eburnea,
Domus aurea,
Fœderis arca,
Janua cœli,
Stella matutina,
Salus infirmorum,
Refugium peccatorum,
Consolatrix afflictorum,
Auxilium Christianorum,
Regina Angelorum,
Regina Patriarcharum,
Regina Prophetarum,
Regina Apostolorum,
Regina Martyrum,
Regina Confessorum,
Regina Virginum,
Regina Sanctorum omnium,
Regina sine labe originali concepta,
Regina sacratissimi rosarii.
Regina pacis,
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, parce nobis, Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, exaudi nos, Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Christe, audi nos. Christe, exaudi nos.

V. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix.
R. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

Oremus

Concede nos famulos tuos quæsumus, Domine Deus, perpetua mentis et corporis sanitate gaudere: et gloriosa beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis intercessione, a præsenti liberari tristitia, et aeterna perirai lsetitia. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
Mother of Christ,
Mother of divine grace,
Mother most pure,
Mother most chaste,
Mother inviolate,
Mother undefiled,
Mother most amiable,
Mother most admirable,
Mother of good counsel,
Mother of our Creator,
Mother of our Redeemer,
Virgin most prudent,
Virgin most venerable,
Virgin most renowned,
Virgin most powerful,
Virgin most merciful,
Virgin most faithful,
Mirror of justice,
Seat of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Spiritual vessel,
Vessel of honour,
Singular vessel of devotion,
Mystical rose,
Tower of David,
Tower of ivory,
House of gold,
Ark of the covenant,
Gate of heaven,
Morning star,
Health of the weak,
Refuge of sinners,
Comforter of the afflicted,
Help of Christians,
Queen of Angels,
Queen of Patriarchs,
Queen of Prophets,
Queen of Apostles,
Queen of Martyrs,
Queen of Confessors,
Queen of Virgins,
Queen of all Saints,
Queen conceived without original sin,
Queen of the most holy rosary.
Queen of peace,
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, 0 Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, 0 Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray


Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we thy servants may enjoy constant health of body and mind; and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, be delivered from all present affliction, and come to that joy which is eternal. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Here invoke the holy angels, whose protection is, indeed, always so much needed by us, but never so much as during the hours of night. Say with the Church:

Sancti angeli, custodes nostri, defendite nos in prælio, ut non pereamus in tremendo judicio.

V. Angelis suis Deus mandavit de te.
R. Ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis.

Oremus.

Deus, qui ineffabili providentia sanctos angelos tuos ad nostram custodiam mittere dignaris: largire supplicibus tuis, et eorum semper protectione defendi, et æterna societate gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Amen.
Holy angels, our loving guardians, defend us in the hour of battle, that we may not be lost at the dreadful judgment.

V. God hath given his angels charge of thee.
R. That they may guard thee in all thy ways.

Let us Pray.

O God, who in thy wonderful providence, hast been pleased to appoint thy holy angels for our guardians: mercifully hear our prayers, and grant we may rest secure under their protection, and enjoy their fellowship in heaven for ever. Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Then beg the assistance of the saints by the following antiphon and prayer of the Church:

Ant. Sancti Dei omnes, intercedere dignemini pro nostra omniumque salute.
Ant. All ye saints of God, vouchsafe to intercede for us and for all men, that we may be saved.

And here you may add a special mention of the saints to whom you bear a particular devotion, either as your patrons or otherwise; as also of those whose feast is kept in the Church that day, or who have been at least commemorated in the Divine Office.

This done, remember the necessities of the Church suffering, and beg of God that He will give to the souls in purgatory a place of refreshment, light, and peace. For this intention recite the usual prayers.

Psalm 129

De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine: Domine, exaudi vocem meam.
Fiant aures tuæ inten dentes: in vocem deprecationis meæ.
Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine: Domine, quis sustinebit?
Quia apud te propitiatio est: et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine.
Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus: speravit anima mea in Domino.
A custodia matutina usque ad noctem: speret Israel in Domino.
Quia apud Dominum mi sericordia: et copiosa apud eum redemptio.
Et ipse redimet Israel: ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine.
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

V. A porta inferi.
R. Erue, Domine, animas eorum.

V. Requiescant in pace. R. Amen.

V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.

Oremus.

Fidelium Deus omnium Conditor et Redemptor, animabus famulorum famularum que tuarum remissionem cunctorum tribue peccatorum; ut indulgentiam, quam semper optaverunt, piis supplicationibus consequantur. Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum.

Amen.
From the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.
Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If thou wilt observe iniquities, O Lord, Lord, who shall endure it?
For with thee there is merciful forgiveness; and by reason of thy law I have waited for thee, 0 Lord.
My soul hath relied on his word; my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy, and with him plentyful redemption.
And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Eternal rest give to them, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon them.

V. From the gate of hell.
R. Deliver their souls, O Lord.

V. May they rest in peace. R. Amen.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.

Let us Pray.

O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, give to the souls of thy servants departed the remission of all their sins: that through the help of pious supplications, they may obtain the pardon they have always desired. Who livest and reignest for ever and ever.

Amen.

Here make a special memento of such of the faithful departed as have a particular claim upon your charity; after which, ask of God to give you His assistance, whereby you may pass the night free from danger. Say, then, still keeping to the words of the Church:

Ant. Salva nos, Domine, vigilantes, custodi nos dormientes: ut vigilemus cum Christo, et requiescamus in pace.

V. Dignare, Domine, nocte ista.
R. Sine peccato nos custodire.

V. Miserere nostri, Domine.
R. Miserere nostri.

V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos.
R. Quemadmodum speravimus in te.

V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.

Oremus.

Visita, quæsumus, Domine, habitationem istam, et omnes insidias inimici ab ca longe repelle: angeli tui sanctì habitent in ea, qui nos in pace custodiant, et benedictio tua sit super nos semper. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

Amen.
Ant. Save us, 0 Lord, while awake, and watch us as we sleep; that we may watch with Christ, and rest in peace.

V. Vouchsafe, 0 Lord, this night.
R. To keep us without sin.

V. Have mercy on us, 0 Lord.
R. Have mercy on us.

V. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us.
R. As we have hoped in thee.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.

Let us Pray.

Visit, we beseech thee, O Lord, this house and family, and drive from it all snares of the enemy: let thy holy angels dwell herein, who may keep us in peace, and may thy blessing be always upon us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.

Amen.

And that you may end the day in the same sentiments wherewith you began it, say once more to your God these words of the royal prophet:

Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Have mercy on me, 0 God, according to thy great mercy.

 

 

 

 

 

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