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Introductions to Each Season

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

During these two weeks, the Christian, on awaking in the morning, should unite himself with the Church, who repeats these words of St. Paul at every Hour of the Divine Office during the last three days of Holy Week.

Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis.
Christ became, for our sake, obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.

He should, after this, profoundly adore that great God, who was not to be appeased but by the Blood of Jesus; he should, also, adore the infinite goodness of this Jesus, who made Himself a Victim, that He might save us sinners. It is with these two sentiments 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 being 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, through the merits of the Blood of Jesus; 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 nostris: 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 mentions our redemption by the sufferings and death of Jesus. Let us lovingly confess this mystery of a God suffering and dying for us. Let us, by our repentance and amendment, merit that this precious Blood may perfect the conversion that has been begun in us.

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, dead, 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 acceptabile,
Da lacrymarum 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 canamus 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 formula 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 these two weeks, the following should be the leading subjects of our meditation; the severity of God’s justice towards His divine Son, who had taken upon Himself our sins; the ingratitude of the Jews, who, though laden by Jesus with favours, clamour for His death; the share we have taken, by our sins, in the crucifixion; the sufferings, both of body and soul, endured by our Redeemer; His patience and meekness under every injury; and finally, the infinite love He shows He has for us, by saving us at the cost of His Blood, yea, of His very life.

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 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 et 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.


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 Passiontide.

Hymn

Vexilla Regis prodeunt;
Fulget crucis mysterium,
Qua Vita mortem pertulit,
Et morte vitam protulit.

Quæ vulnerata lanceæ
Mucrone diro, criminum
Ut nos lavaret sordibus,
Manavit unda et sanguine.

Impleta sunt quæ concinit
David fideli carmine,
Dicendo nationibus:
Regnavit a ligno Deus.

Arbor decora et fulgida,
Ornata regis purpura,
Electa digno stipite
Tam sancta membra tangere.

Beata cujus brachiis
Pretium pependit sæculi,
Statera facta corporis,
Tulitque prædam tartari.

O crux, ave, spes unica,
Hoc Passionis tempore,
Piis adauge gratiam,
Reisque dele crimina.

Te, fons salutis, Trinitas,
Collaudet omnis spiritus;
Quibus crucis victoriam
Largiris, adde præmium.

Amen.
The standard of our King comes forth;
the mystery of the cross shines upon us,
that cross on which Life suffered death,
and by his death gave life.

He was pierced with the cruel spear,
that, by the Water and the Blood
which flowed from the wound,
he might cleanse us from sin.

Here on the cross was fulfilled
the prophecy foretold
in David’s truthful words:
‘God hath reigned from the tree.'

O fair and shining tree!
beautified by the scarlet of the King,
and chosen as the noble trunk
that was to touch such sacred limbs.

O blessed tree!
on whose arms hung the ransom of the world!
It was the balance, wherein was placed the Body of Jesus,
and thereby hell lost its prey.

Hail, O cross! our only hope!
During these days of the Passion,
increase to the good their grace,
and cleanse sinners from their guilt.

May every spirit praise thee, O holy Trinity,
thou fount of salvation! and by the cross,
whereby thou gavest us victory,
give us, too, our recompense.

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 iniquitatibus resurgamus. 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, O 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 Stabat Mater, which is given below on Friday in Passion Week.

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 intendentes: 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 misericordia: 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 famularumque 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, O 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 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.
Ant. Save us, O Lord, while awake, and watch us as we sleep; that we may watch with Christ, and rest in peace.

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

V. Have mercy on us, O 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 these words of the apostle:

Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis.
Christ became, for our sake, obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.

 

 

 

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

If there he any time in the year, when the holy Sacrifice of the Mass should excite the heart of the Christian to devotion, it is Passiontide. During these days set apart for the celebration of the death of our Redeemer, the faithful soul can scarcely turn her thoughts from her Jesus expiring on the cross; she envies those who were witnesses of the sublime mystery on Calvary; she wishes that she could have stood at the foot of the cross, have compassionated the sufferings of her Saviour, have heard His last words, and reverently have taken up each drop of the precious Blood and applied it to her own wounds.

These holy desires have not been given to the Christian that they might be nothing but desires: God has given him the means of carrying them into effect, for the sacrifice of the Mass is no other than the sacrifice of Calvary. Jesus offered Himself but once on the cross for our sins; but He renews the offering, by an unbloody, yet real and complete, immolation on our altars. He comes down on the altar as soon as the sacred words of consecration are pronounced by the priest, and He comes as the Victim of the world’s salvation. His Body is really present there, under the appearance of bread; the chalice contains His Blood under the species of wine; and why this mystic separation of the Body and Blood of the Man-God, who can die now no more, if it be not to represent before the divine Majesty the real death which was once suffered in a bloody manner on Calvary, and to renew, in man’s favour, the merits and fruits of that death?

This is the sacrifice of the new Law, as far above all the sacrifices of the old, both in holiness and efficacy, as the Creator is above all His creatures. Our Jesus in the omnipotence of His love, has invented a means for uniting His dignity, as immortal King of ages, with His office of our Victim. He can die now no more; but His death is truly represented on the altar: it is the same Body, bearing on it its five precious Wounds; it is the same Blood, which redeemed us. If it were possible for Him to die again, the power of the mysterious words, which produce the presence of His Blood in the chalice, would be the sword of His immolation.

Let, then, the Christian approach with confidence; on the holy altar, he will find his Saviour dying for him, and offering Himself as the great High Priest. Yes, He is there, with the same love He had for us on Calvary; He is there making intercession for all men, but, in a special manner, for those who are present at the Mass and unite themselves with Him. Let us see, in the action of the holy sacrifice, that same immolation of which we have read the history in the Gospel. Let us hope for everything from that adorable goodness which thus makes use of omnipotence in order to facilitate, by such stupendous means, the salvation and sanctification of man.

We will now endeavour to embody these sentiments in our explanation of the mysteries of the holy Mass, and initiate the faithful into these divine secrets; not, indeed, by indiscreetly presuming to translate the sacred formulæ, but by suggesting such acts as will enable those who hear Mass to enter into the ceremonies and the spirit of the Church and of the priest.

The purple vestments, and the other rites of which we have already treated, give to the holy sacrifice an appearance of mournfulness, so well suited to the season. Nevertheless, if the feast of a saint occurs between Passion and Palm Sunday, the Church lays aside her purple, and celebrates the Mass in honour of the saint. The crucifix and the holy images, however, continue to be veiled, beginning from the first Vespers of Passion Sunday.

On the Sundays, if the Mass at which the faithful assist be the parochial, or, as it is often called, the public Mass, two solemn rites precede it, and they are full of instruction and blessing: the Asperges, or sprinkling of the holy water, and the procession.

During the Asperges, let us ask with David, whose words are used by the Church in this ceremony, that our souls may be purified by the hyssop of humility, and become whiter than snow.

Antiphon of the Asperges

Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo, et mundabor; lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.
Ps. Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Ant. Asperges me, etc.

℣. Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam.
℟. Et salutare tuum da nobis.

℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
℟. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

Oremus

Exaudi nos, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus: et mittere digneris sanctum Angelum tuum de cœlis, qui custodiat, foveat, protegat, visitet atque defendat omnes habitantes in hoc habitaculo. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
℟. Amen.
Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, O Lord, and I shall be cleansed; thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.
Ps. Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy.
Ant. Thou shalt sprinkle me, etc.

℣. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.
℟. And grant us thy salvation.

℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.
℟. And let my cry come unto thee.

℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

Let us Pray

Graciously hear us, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: and vouchsafe to send thy holy angel from heaven, who may keep, cherish, protect, visit and defend all who are assembled in this place. Through Christ our Lord.
℟. Amen.

The procession, which immediately precedes the Mass, shows us the ardour wherewith the Church advances towards her God. Let us imitate her fervour, for it is written: The Lord is good to them that hope in Him, to the soul that seeketh Him.[1]

But see, Christians! the sacrifice begins! The priest is at the foot of the altar; God is attentive, the angels are in adoration, the whole Church is united with the priest, whose priesthood and action are those of the great High Priest, Jesus Christ. Let us make the sign of the cross with him.

 

The Ordinary Of The Mass

 

In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

℣. Introibo ad altare Dei.
℟. Ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam.

℣. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
℟. Qui fecit cœlum et terram.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

 

I unite myself, O my God, with thy Church, whose heart is filled with the hope of soon seeing, and in all the splendour of his Resurrection, Jesus Christ thy Son, who is the true altar.

This my hope comes not from any merits of my own, but from the all-powerful help of my Creator.


The thought of being about to appear before his God, excites in the soul of the priest a lively sentiment of compunction. He cannot go further in the holy sacrifice without confessing, and publicly, that he is a sinner, and deserves not the grace he is about to receive. Listen, with respect, to this confession of God’s minister, and earnestly ask our Lord to show mercy to him; for the priest is your father; he is answerable for your salvation, for which he every day risks his own. When he has finished, unite with the servers, or the sacred ministers, in this prayer:

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, make your confession, saying with a contrite spirit:

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 Michaelem 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 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 Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, and thee, father, to pray to the Lord our God for me.

Receive with gratitude the paternal wish of the Priest, who says to you:

Misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis vestris, perducat vos ad vitam æternam.
℟. Amen.

Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.
℟. Amen.
May Almighty God be merciful to you, and forgiving your sins, bring you to everlasting life.
℟. Amen.

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

 

Invoke the divine assistance, that you may approach to Jesus Christ.

℣. Deus, tu conversus vivificabis nos.
℟. Et plebs tua lætabitur in te.
℣. Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam.
℟. Et Salutare tuam da nobis.
℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
℟. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
℣. O God, it needs but one look of thine to give us life.
℟. And thy people shall rejoice in thee.
℣. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.
℟. And give us to know and love the Saviour whom thou hast sent unto us.
℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.
℟. And let my cry come unto thee.


The Priest here leaves you to ascend to the altar; but first he salutes you:

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℣. The Lord be with you.

 

Answer him with reverence:

℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
℣. Oremus.
℟. And with thy spirit.
℣. Let us pray.

He ascends the steps, and comes to the Holy of holies. Ask, both for him and for yourself, deliverance from sin:

Aufer a nobis quæsumus, Domine, iniquitates nostras; ut ad Sancta sanctorum puris mereamur mentibus introire. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Take from our hearts, O Lord, all those sins, which make us unworthy to appear in thy presence. We ask this of thee by thy divine Son, our Lord.

When the priest kisses the altar, out of reverence for the relics of the martyrs which are there, say:

Oramus te Domine, per merita sanctorum tuorum, quorum reliquiæ hic sunt, et omnium sanctorum: ut indulgere digneris omnia peccata mea. Amen.
Generous soldiers of Jesus Christ, who have mingled your own blood with his, intercede for us that our sins may be forgiven: that so we may, like you, approach unto God.

     If it be a High Mass at which you are assisting, the priest here blesses the incense, saying:

Ab illo benedicaris, in cujus honore cremaberis. Amen.
Mayst thou be blessed by him, in whose honour thou art to be burned. Amen.

He then censes the altar in a most solemn manner. This white cloud, which you see ascending from every part of the altar, signifies the prayer of the Church, who addresses herself to Jesus Christ; while the divine mediator causes that prayer to ascend, united with His own, to the throne of the majesty of His Father.

The priest then says the Introit. It is a solemn opening-anthem, in which the Church, at the very commencement of the holy sacrifice, gives expression to the sentiments which fill her heart.

It is followed by nine exclamations, which are even more earnest, for they ask for mercy. In addressing them to God, the Church unites herself with the nine choirs of angels, who are standing round the altar of heaven, one and the same as this before which you are kneeling.

To the Father:

Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!

To the Son:

Christe eleison.
Christe eleison.
Christe eleison.
Christ, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!

To the Holy Ghost:

Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!

As we have already mentioned, the Church abstains, during this season, from the heavenly hymn which the angels sang over the crib of the divine Babe. But, if she be keeping the feast of a saint, she recites this beautiful canticle on that day. The beginning of the Angelic Hymn seems more suitable for heavenly than for earthly voices; but the second part is in no way out of keeping with the sinner's wants and fears, for we there remind the Son of the eternal Father that He is the Lamb who came down from heaven that He might take away the sins of the world. We beseech Him to have mercy on us, and receive our humble prayer. Let us foster these sentiments within us, for they are so appropriate to the present season.

The Angelic Hymn

Gloria in excelsis Deo, Et in terra pax homibus bonæ voluntatis.
Laudamus te: benedicimus te: adoramus te: glorificamus te: gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.
Domine Deus, Rex cœlestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.
Domine, Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram.
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis.
Quoniam tu solus sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe, cum Sancto Spiritu, in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.
Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace to men of good will.
We praise thee: we bless thee: we adore thee: we glorify thee: we give thee thanks for thy great glory.
O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty.
O Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son.
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father.
Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Who takest away the sins of the world, receive our humble prayer.
Who sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For thou alone art holy, thou alone art Lord, thou alone, O Jesus Christ, together with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

The priest then turns towards the people, and again salutes them, as it were to make sure of their pious attention to the sublime act, for which all this is but the preparation.

Then follows the Collect or Prayer, in which the Church formally expresses to the divine Majesty the special intentions she has in the Mass which is being celebrated. You may unite in this prayer, by reciting with the priest the Collects which you will find in their proper places: but on no account omit to join with the server of the Mass in answering Amen.

After this comes the Epistle, which is generally a portion of one or other of the Epistles of the apostles, or a passage from some Book of the old Testament. While it is being read, ask of God that you may profit by the instructions it conveys.

The Gradual is a formula of prayer intermediate between the Epistle and Gospel. It again brings to us the sentiments already expressed in the Introit. Read it with devotion, that so you may enter more and more into the spirit of the mystery proposed to you by the Church.

During every other portion of her year, the Church here repeats her joyous Alleluia; but now she denies herself this demonstration of gladness, until such time as her divine Spouse has passed through that sea of bitterness into which our sins have plunged Him. Instead of the Alleluia, then, she sings in a plaintive tone some verses from the Psalms, appropriate to the rest of that day’s Office. This is the Tract, of which we have already spoken.

If it be a High Mass the deacon, meanwhile, prepares to fulfil his noble office—that of announcing the ‘good tidings’ of salvation. He prays God to cleanse his heart and lips. Then kneeling before the priest, he asks a blessing; and, having received it, at once goes to the place where he is to sing the Gospel.

As a preparation for hearing it worthily, you may thus pray, together with both priest and deacon:

Munda cor meum, ac labia mea, onmipotens Deus, qui labia Isaiæprophetæ calculo mundasti ignito: ita me tua grata miseratione dignare mundare, ut sanctum Evangelium tuum digne valeam nuntiare. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Dominus sit in corde meo, et in labiis meis: ut digne et competenter annuntiem Evangelium suum: In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
Alas! these ears of mine are but too often defiled with the world’s vain words: cleanse them, O Lord, that so I may hear the words of eternal life, and treasure them in my heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Grant to thy ministers thy grace, that they may faithfully explain thy law; that so all, both pastors and flock, may be united to thee for ever. Amen.

You will stand during the Gospel, as though you were awaiting the orders of your Lord; and at the commencement, make the sign of the cross on your forehead, lips, and breast; and then listen to every word of the priest or deacon. Let your heart be ready and obedient. ‘While my Beloved was speaking,’ says the bride in the Canticle, ‘my soul melted within me.’[2] If you have not such love as this, have at least the humble submission of Samuel, and say: ‘Speak, Lord! Thy servant heareth.’[3]

After the Gospel, if the priest says the symbol of faith, the Credo, you will say it with him. Faith is that gift of God, without which we cannot please Him. It is faith that makes us see the light which shineth in darkness, and which the darkness of unbelief did not comprehend. It is faith alone that teaches us what we are, whence we come, and the end for which we are made. It alone can point out to us the path whereby we may return to our God, when once we have separated ourselves from Him. Let us love this admirable faith, which, if we but make it fruitful by good works, will save us. Let us then say with the Catholic Church, our mother:

The Nicene Creed

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem cœli et terræ, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.
Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum. Et ex Patre natum ante omnia sæcula, Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero. Genitum non factum, consubstantialem Patri, per quem omnia facta sunt. Qui propter nos homines, et propter nostram salutem, descendit de cœlis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine; ET HOMO FACTUS EST. Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus est. Et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas. Et ascendit in cœlum; sedet ad dexteram Patris. Et iterum venturus est cum gloria judicare vivos et mortuos; cujus regni non erit finis.
Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem, qui ex Patre Filioque procedit. Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur; qui locutus est per Prophetas. Et unam sanctam Catholicam et Apostolicam Ecclesiam. Confiteor unum Baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi sæculi. Amen.
I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God. And born of the Father before all ages; God of God, light of light; true God of true God. Begotten, not made; consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And became incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary; AND WAS MADE MAN. He was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered, and was buried. And the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of the Father. And he is to come again with glory, to judge the living and the dead; of whose kingdom there shall be no end.
And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son. Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified; who spoke by the Prophets. And one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the remission of sins. And I expect the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The priest and the people should, by this time, have their hearts ready: it is time to prepare the offering itself. And here we come to the second part of the holy Mass, which is called the Oblation, and Mass of catechumens, on account of its being formerly the only part at which the candidates for Baptism had a right to be present.

See, then, dear Christians! bread and wine are about to be offered to God, as being the noblest of inanimate creatures, since they are made for the nourishment of man; and even that is only a poor material image of what they are destined to become in our Christian sacrifice. Their substance will soon give place to God Himself, and of themselves nothing will remain but the appearances. Happy creatures, thus to yield up their own being, that God may take its place! We, too, are to undergo a like transformation, when, as the apostle expresses it, that which is mortal shall put on immortality.[4] Until that happy change shall be realized, let us offer ourselves to God, as often as we see the bread and wine presented to Him in the holy sacrifice; and let us glorify Him, who, by assuming our human nature, has made us partakers of the divine nature.[5]

The priest again turns to the people with the usual salutation, as though he would warn them to redouble their attention. Let us read the Offertory with him, and when he offers the Host to God, let us unite with him in saying:

Suscipe, sancte Pater, omnipotens æterne Deus, hanc immaculatam hostiam, quam ego indignus famulus tuus offero tibi Deo meo vivo et vero, pro innumerabilibus peccatis et offensionibus et negligentiis meis, et pro Omnibus circumstantibus, sed et pro omnibus fidelibus christianis vivis atque defunctis; ut mihi et illis proficiat ad salutem in vitam æternam. Amen.
All that we have, O Lord, comes from thee, and belongs to thee; it is just, therefore, that we return it unto thee. But how wonderful art thou in the inventions of thy immense love! This bread which we are offering to thee, is to give place, in a few moments, to the sacred Body of Jesus. We beseech thee, receive, together with this oblation, our hearts which long to live by thee, and to cease to live their own life of self.

When the priest puts the wine into the chalice, and then mingles with it a drop of water, let your thoughts turn to the divine mystery of the Incarnation, which is the source of our hope and our salvation; and say:

Deus, qui humanæ substantiæ dignitatem mirabiliter condidisti, et mirabilius reformasti: da nobis per hujus aquæ et vini mysterium, ejus divinitatis esse consortes, qui humanitatis nostræ fieri dignatus est particeps, Jesus Christus Filius tuus Dominus noster: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
O Lord Jesus, who art the true vine, and whose Blood like a generous wine, has been poured forth under the pressure of the cross! thou hast deigned to unite thy divine nature to our weak humanity, which is signified by this drop of water. Oh, come and make us partakers of thy divinity, by showing thyself to us in thy sweet and wondrous visit.

The priest then offers the mixture of wine and water, beseeching God graciously to accept this oblation, which is so soon to be changed into the reality, of which it is now but the figure. Meanwhile, say, in union with the priest:

Offerimus tibi, Domine, calicem salutaris, tuam deprecantes clementiam: ut in conspectu divinæ Majestatis tuæ, pro nostra et totius mundi salute, cum odore suavitatis ascendat. Amen.
Graciously accept these gifts, O sovereign Creator of all things. Let them be fitted for the divine transformation, which will make them, from being mere offerings of created things, the instrument of the world’s salvation.

After having thus held up the sacred gifts towards heaven, the priest bows down; let us, also, humble ourselves, and say:

In spiritu humilitatis, et in animo contrito suscipiamur a te, Domine: et sic fiat sacrificium nostrum in conspectu tuo hodie, ut placeat tibi, Domine Deus.
Though daring, as we do, to approach thy altar, O Lord, we cannot forget that we are sinners. Have mercy on us, and delay not to send us thy Son, who is our saving Host.

Let us next invoke the Holy Ghost, whose operation is about to produce on the altar the presence of the Son of God, as it did in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, in the divine mystery of the Incarnation:

Veni Sanctificator, omnipotens æterne Deus, et benedic hoc sacrificium tuo sancto nomini præparatum.
Come, O divine Spirit, make fruitful the offering which is upon the altar, and produce in our hearts him whom they desire.

If it be a High Mass, the priest, before proceeding further with the sacrifice, takes the thurible a second time, after blessing the incense in these words:

Per intercessionem beati Michaelis archangeli, stantis a dextris altaris incensi, et omnium electorum suorum, incensum istud dignetur Dominus benedicere, et in odorem suavitatis accipere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Through the intercession of blessed Michael the archangel, standing at the right hand of the altar of incense, and of all his elect, may our Lord deign to bless this incense, and to receive it for an odour of sweetness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

He then censes first the bread and wine, which have just been offered, and then the altar itself; hereby inviting the faithful to make their prayer, which is signified by the fragrant incense, more and more fervent, the nearer the solemn moment approaches. St. John tells us that the incense he beheld burning on the altar in heaven is made up of the 'prayers of the saints'; let us take a share in those prayers, and with all the ardour of holy desires, let us say with the priest:

Incensum istud, a te benedictum, ascendat ad te, Domine, et descendat super nos misericordia tua.

Dirigatur, Domine, oratio mea sicut incensum in conspectu tuo: elevatio manuum mearum sacrificium vespertinum. Pone, Domine, custodiam ori meo, et ostium circumstantiæ labiis meis; ut non declinet cor meum in verba malitiæ, ad excusandas excusationes in peccatis.
May this incense, blessed by thee, ascend to thee, O Lord, and may thy mercy descend upon us.

Let my prayer, O Lord, be directed like incense in thy sight: the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, and a door round about my lips; that my heart may not incline to evil words, to make excuses in sins.

Giving back the thurible to the deacon, the priest says:

Ascendat in nobis Dominus ignem sui amoris, et flammam æternæ charitatis. Amen.
May the Lord enkindle in us the fire of his love and the flame of eternal charity. Amen.

But the thought of his own unworthiness becomes more intense than ever in the heart of the priest. The public confession, which he made at the foot of the altar, is not enough; he would now, at the altar itself, express to the people, in the language of a solemn rite, how far he knows himself to be from that spotless sanctity wherewith he should approach to God. He washes his hands. Our hands signify our works; and the priest, though by his priesthood he bear the office of Jesus Christ, is, by his works, but man. Seeing your father thus humble himself, do you also make an act of humility, and say with him these verses of the psalm.

Psalm 25

Lavabo inter innocentes manus meas: et circumdabo altare tuum, Domine.
Ut audiam vocem laudis: et enarrem universa mirabilia tua.
Domine, dilexi decorem domus tuæ, et locum habitationis gloriæ tuæ.
Ne perdas cum impiis, Deus, animam meam, et cum viris sanguinum vitam meam.
In quorum manibus iniquitates sunt: dextera eorum repleta est muneribus.
Ego autem in innocentia mea ingressus sum: redime me, et miserere mei.
Pes meus stetit in directo: in ecclesiis benedicam te, Domine.

I, too, would wash my hands, O Lord, and become like unto those who are innocent, that so I may be worthy to come near thy altar, and hear thy sacred canticles, and then go and proclaim to the world the wonders of thy goodness. I love the beauty of thy House, which thou art about to make the dwelling place of thy glory. Leave me not, O God, in the midst of them that are enemies both to thee and me. Thy mercy having separated me from them, I entered on the path of innocence, and was restored to thy grace; but have pity on my weakness still; redeem me yet more, thou who hast so mercifully brought me back to the right path. In the midst of these thy faithful people, I give thee thanks.

The priest, taking encouragement from the act of humility he has just made, returns to the middle of the altar, and bows down full of respectful awe, begging of God to receive graciously the Sacrifice which is about to be offered to Him, and expresses the intentions for which it is offered. Let us do the same.

Suscipe, sancta Trinitas, hanc oblationem, quam tibi offerimus ob memoriam Passionis, Resurrectionis, et Ascensionis Jesu Christi Domini nostri: et in honorem beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis, et beati Joannis Baptistæ, et sanctorum apostolorum Petri et Pauli, et istorum, et omnium sanctorum: ut illis proficiat ad honorem, nobis autem ad salutem: et illi pro nobis intercedere dignentur in cœlis, quorum memoriam agimus in terris. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
O holy Trinity, graciously accept the Sacrifice we have begun. We offer it in remembrance of the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. Permit thy Church to join with this intention that of honouring the ever glorious Virgin Mary, the blessed Baptist John, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, the martyrs whose relics lie here under our altar awaiting their resurrection, and the saints whose memory we this day celebrate. Increase the glory they are enjoying, and receive the prayers they address to thee for us.

The priest again turns to the people; it is for the last time before the sacred mysteries are accomplished. He feels anxious to excite the fervour of the people. Neither does the thought of his own unworthiness leave him; and before entering the cloud with the Lord, he seeks support in the prayers of his brethren who are present. He says to them:

Orate, fratres: ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat apud Deum Patrem omnipotentem.
Brethren, pray that my Sacrifice, which is yours also, may be acceptable to God, our almighty Father.

This request made, he turns again to the altar, and you will see his face no more until our Lord Himself shall have come down from heaven upon that same altar. Assure the priest that he has your prayers, and say to him:

Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis, ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostram totiusque Ecclesiæ suæ sanctæ.
May our Lord accept this Sacrifice at thy hands, to the praise and glory of his name, and for our benefit and that of his holy Church throughout the world.

Here the priest recites the prayers called the secrets, in which he presents the petition of the whole Church for God’s acceptance of the sacrifice, and then immediately begins to fulfil that great duty of religion, thanksgiving. So far he has adored God, and has sued for mercy; he has still to give thanks for the blessings bestowed on us by the bounty of our heavenly Father, the chief of which, during this season, is His giving us His only-begotten Son, to be our Mediator by His Blood. The priest, in the name of the Church, is about to give expression to the gratitude of all mankind. In order to excite the faithful to that intensity of gratitude which is due to God for all His gifts, he interrupts his own and their silent prayer by terminating it aloud, saying:

Per omnia sæcula sæculorum!
For ever and ever.

In the same feeling, answer your Amen! Then he continues:

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

℣. Sursum corda!
℣. Lift up your hearts!

Let your response be sincere:

℟. Habemus ad Dominum.
℟. We have them fixed on God.

And when he adds:

℣. Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.
℣. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,

Answer him with all the earnestness of your soul:

℟. Dignum et justum est.
℟. It is meet and just.

Then the priest:

The Preface

Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus: Qui salutem humani generis in ligno Crucis constituisti: ut, unde mors oriebatur, inde vita resurgeret: et, qui in ligno vincebat, in ligno quoque vinceretur: per Christum Dominum nostrum. Per quem majestatem tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates. Coeli coelorumque Virtutes, ac beata Seraphim, socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admitti iubeas deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes:
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God, who hast appointed that the salvation of mankind should be wrought on the wood of the cross; that from whence death came, thence life might arise; and that he who overcame by the tree, might also by the tree be overcome; through Christ our Lord. By whom the Angels praise thy majesty, the Dominations adore it, the Powers tremble before it; the Heavens and the heavenly Virtues, and the blessed Seraphim, with common jubilee, glorify it. Together with whom, we beseech thee that we may be admitted to join our humble voices, saying:

 


Here unite with the priest, who, on his part, unites himself with the blessed spirits, in giving thanks to God for the unspeakable gift: bow down and say:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus sabaoth!
Pleni sunt cœli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis!
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis!
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of thy glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed be the Saviour who is coming to us in the name of the Lord who sends him.
Hosanna be to him in the highest!

After these words commences the Canon, that mysterious prayer, in the midst of which heaven bows down to earth, and God descends unto us. The voice of the priest is no longer heard; yea, even at the altar all is silent. Let a profound respect stay all distractions, and keep our senses in submission to the soul. Let us respectfully fix our eyes on what the priest does in the holy place.

The Canon of the Mass

In this mysterious colloquy with the great God of heaven and earth, the first prayer of the sacrificing priest is for the Catholic Church, his and our mother.

Te igitur, clementissime Pater, per Jesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum, supplices rogamus ac petimus, uti accepta habeas, et benedicas hæc dona, hæc munera, hæc sancta sacrificia illibata; in primis quæ tibi offerimus pro Ecclesia tua sancta Catholica; quam pacificare, custodire, adunare, et regere digneris toto orbe terrarum, una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N. et Antistite nostro N., et omnibus orthodoxis, atque catholicæ et apostolicæ fidei cultoribus.
O God, who manifestest thyself unto us by means of the mysteries which thou hast entrusted to thy holy Church, our mother; we beseech thee, by the merits of this sacrifice, that thou wouldst remove all those hindrances which oppose her during her pilgrimage in this world. Give her peace and unity. Do thou thyself guide our holy Father the Pope, thy Vicar on earth. Direct thou our Bishop, who is our sacred link of unity; and watch over all the orthodox children of the Catholic, apostolic, Roman Church.

Here pray, together with the priest, for those whose interests should be dearest to you.

Memento, Domine, famulorum famularumque tuarum N. et N., et omnium circumstantium, quorum tibi fides cognita est, et nota devotio: pro quibus tibi offerimus, vel qui tibi offerunt hoc sacrificium laudis pro se suisque omnibus, pro redemptione animarum suarum, pro spe salutis et incolumitatis suæ; tibique reddunt vota sua æterno Deo vivo et vero.
Permit me, O God, to intercede with thee for special blessings for those for whom thou knowest that I have a special obligation to pray: * * * Apply to them the fruits of this divine sacrifice, which is offered unto thee in the name of all mankind. Visit them by thy grace, pardon them their sins, grant them the blessings of this present life and of that which is eternal.

Here let us commemorate the saints: they are that portion of the Body of Jesus Christ, which is called the Church triumphant.

Communicantes, et memoriam venerantes, in primis gloriosæ semper Virginis Mariæ, Genitricis Dei et Domini nostri Jesu Christi: sed et beatorum apostolorum ac martyrum tuorum, Petri et Pauli, Andreæ, Jacobi,Joannis, Thomæ, Jacobi, Philippi, Bartholomæi, Matthæi, Simonis, et Thaddai: Lini, Cleti, Clementis, Xysti, Cornelii, Cypriani, Laurentii, Chrysogoni, Joannis et Pauli, Cosmæ et Damiani, et omnium sanctorum tuorum: quorum meritis precibusque concedas, ut in omnibus protectionis tuæ muniamur auxilio. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
But the offering of this Sacrifice, O my God, does not unite us with those only of our brethren who are still in this transient life of trial: it brings us closer to those also, who are already in possession of heaven. Therefore it is that we wish to honour by it the memory of the glorious and ever Virgin Mary, of whom Jesus was born to us; of the apostles, confessors, virgins, and of all the saints; that they may assist us, by their powerful intercession, to be worthy of this thy visit, and of  contemplating thee, as they themselves now do, in the mansion of thy glory.

The priest, who up to this time has been praying with his hands extended, now joins them, and holds them over the bread and, wine, as the high priest of the old Law did over the figurative victim; he thus expresses his intention of bringing these gifts more closely under the notice of the divine Majesty, and of marking them as the material offering whereby we profess our dependence, and which is, in a few instants, to yield its place to the living Host, upon whom are laid all our iniquities.

Hanc igitur oblationem servitutis nostræ, sed et cunctæ familiæ tuæ, quæsumus, Domine, ut placatus accipias: diesque nostros in tua pace disponas, atque ab æterna damnatione nos eripi, et in electorum tuorum jubeas grege numerari. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Quam oblationem tu, Deus, in omnibus, quæsumus, benedictam, adscriptam, ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilemque facere digneris; ut nobis Corpus et Sanguis fiat dilectissimi Filii tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi.
Vouchsafe, O God, to accept the offering which this thine assembled family presents to thee as the homage of its most happy servitude. In return, give us peace, save us from thy wrath, and number us among thine elect, through him who is coming to us—thy Son our Saviour!

Yea, Lord, this is the moment when this bread is to become his sacred Body, which is our food; and this wine is to be changed into his Blood, which is our drink. Ah! delay no longer, but bring us into the presence of this divine Son, our Saviour!

And here the priest ceases to act as man; he now becomes more than a mere minister of the Church. His word becomes that of Jesus Christ, with all its power and efficacy. Prostrate yourself in profound adoration: for God Himself is about to descend upon our altar, coming down from heaven.

Qui pridie quam pateretur, aocepit panem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas: et elevatis oculis in cœlum, ad te Deum Patrem suum omnipotentem, tibi gratias agens, benedixit, fregit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite, et manducate ex hoc omnes.

HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM.
What, O God of heaven and earth, my Jesus, the long-expected Messias! what else can I do at this solemn moment but adore thee, in silence, as my sovereign Master, and open to thee my whole heart, as to its dearest King? Come then, O Lord Jesus, come!

The divine Lamb is now lying on our altar! Glory and love be to Him for ever! But He is come, that He may be immolated. Hence, the priest, who is the minister of the will of the Most High, immediately pronounces over the chalice those sacred words, which will produce the great mystical immolation, by the separation of the Victim’s Body and Blood. The substances of bread and wine have ceased to exist: the species alone are left, veiling, as it were, the Body and Blood, lest fear should keep us from a mystery, which God gives us in order to give us confidence. Let us associate ourselves to the angels, who tremblingly look upon this deepest wonder.

Simili modo postquam cœnatum est, accipiens et hunc præclarum calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas: item tibi gratias agens, benedixit, deditque discipulis suis dicens: Accipite et bibite ex eo omnes.

HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI, NOVI ET ÆTERNI TESTAMENTI: MYSTERIUM FIDEI: QUI PRO VOBIS ET PRO MULTIS EFFUNDETUR IN REMISSIONEM PECCATORUM.

Hæc quotiescumque feceritis, in mei memoriam facietis.
O precious Blood! thou price of my salvation! I adore thee! Wash away my sins, and make me whiter than snow. O Lamb ever slain, yet ever living, thou comest to take away the sins of the world! Come also and reign in me by thy power, and by thy love.

The priest is now face to face with God. He again raises his hands towards heaven, and tells our heavenly Father, that the oblation now on the altar is no longer an earthly offering, but the Body and Blood, the whole Person, of His divine Son.

Unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta, ejusdem Christi Filii tui Domini nostri tam beatæ Passionis, nec non et ab inferis Resurrectionis, sed et in cœlos gloriosæ Ascensionis: offerimus præclaræ Majestati tuæ de tuis donis ac datis, Hostiam puram, Hostiam sanctam, Hostiam immaculatam: Panem sanctum vitæ æternæ, et Calicem salutis perpetuæ.

Supra quæ propitio ac sereno vultu respicere digneris: et accepta habere, sicuti accepta habere dignatus es munera pueri tui justi Abel, et sacrificium patriarchæ nostri Abrahæ, et quod tibi obtulit summus sacerdos tuus Melchisedech, sanctum sacrificium, immaculatam hostiam.
Father of infinite holiness! the Host so long expected is here before thee. Behold this thine eternal Son, who suffered a bitter Passion, rose again with glory from the grave, and ascended triumphantly into heaven. He is thy Son; but he is also our Host, Host pure and spotless, our meat and drink of everlasting life.

Heretofore thou acceptedst the sacrifice of the innocent lambs offered to thee by Abel; and the sacrifice which Abraham made thee of his son Isaac, who, though immolated, yet lived; and, lastly, the sacrifice which Melchisedech presented to thee of bread and wine. Receive our Sacrifice, which surpasses all those others: it is the Lamb, of whom all others could be but figures; it is the undying Victim; it is the Body of thy Son, who is the Bread of life, and his Blood, which, whilst a drink of immortality for us, is a tribute adequate to thy glory.

The priest bows down to the altar, and kisses it as the throne of love on which is seated the Saviour of men.

Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus: jube hæc perferri per manus sancti angeli tui in sublime altare tuum, in conspectu divinæ Majestatis tuæ: ut quotquot ex hac altaris participatione, sacrosanctum Filii tui Corpus et Sanguinem sumpserimus, omni benedictione cœlesti et gratia repleamur. Per eumdem Christium Dominum nostrum. Amen.
But, O God of infinite power! these sacred gifts are not only on this altar here below: they are, also, on that sublime altar in heaven, which is before the throne of thy divine Majesty. These two altars are one and the same, on which is accomplished the great mystery of thy glory and our salvation. Vouchsafe to make us partakers of the Body and Blood of the august Victim, from whom flows every grace and blessing.

Nor is the moment less favourable for making supplication for the Church suffering. Let us, therefore, ask the divine Liberator, who has come down among us, that He mercifully visit, by a ray of His consoling light, the dark abode of Purgatory; and permit His Blood to flow, as a stream of mercy’s dew, from this our altar, and refresh the panting captives there. Let us pray expressly for those among them who have a claim on our suffrages.

Memento, etiam, Domine, famulorum famularumque tuarum N. et N. qui nos præcesserunt cum signo fidei, et dormiunt in somno pacis. Ipsis, Domine, et omnibus in Christo quiescentibus, locum refrigerii, lucis et pacis, ut indulgeas, deprecamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Dear Jesus! let the happiness of this thy visit extend to every portion of thy Church. Thy face gladdens the elect, in the holy city; even our mortal eyes can see beneath the veil of our delighted faith; ah! hide not thyself from those brethren of ours, who are imprisoned in the abode of expiation. Be thou refreshment to them in their flames, light in their darkness, and peace in their agonies of torment.

This duty of charity fulfilled, let us pray for ourselves, sinners, alas! who profit so little by the visit which our Saviour pays us. Let us, together with the priest, strike our breast, saying:

Nobis quoque peccatoribus famulis tuis, de multitudine miserationum tuarum sperantibus, partem aliquam et societatem donare digneris cum tuis sanctis apostolis et martyribus; cum Joanne, Stephano, Mathia, Barnaba, Ignatio, Alexandro, Marcellino, Petro, Felicitate, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucia, Agnete, Cæcilia, Anastasia, et omnibus sanctis tuis; intra quorum nos consortium, non æstimator meriti, sed veniæ, quæsumus, largitor admitte. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Per quem hæc omnia, Domine, semper bona creas, sanctificas, vivificas, benedicis, et præstas nobis: per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti, in unitate Spiritus sancti, omnis honor et gloria.
Alas! we are poor sinners, O God of all sanctity! yet do we hope that thine infinite mercy will grant us to share thy kingdom; not, indeed, by reason of our works, which deserve little else than punishment, but because of the merits of this sacrifice, which we are offering unto thee. Remember, too, the merits of thy holy apostles, of thy holy martyrs, of thy holy virgins, and of all thy saints. Grant us, by their intercession, grace in this world, and glory eternal in the next: which we ask of thee, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son. It is by him thou bestowest upon us thy blessings of life and sanctification; and by him also, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, may honour and glory be to thee!

While saying the last of these words, the priest has taken up the sacred Host, which was upon the altar; he has held it over the chalice: thus reuniting the Body and Blood of the divine Victim, in order to show that He is now immortal. Then raising up both chalice and Host, he offers to God the noblest and most perfect homage which the divine Majesty could receive.

This sublime and mysterious rite ends the Canon. The silence of the mysteries is interrupted. The priest concludes his long prayers, by saying aloud, and so giving the faithful the opportunity of expressing their desire, that his supplications be granted:

Per omnia sæcula sæculorum.
For ever and ever!

Answer him with faith, and in a sentiment of union with your holy mother the Church:

Amen.
Amen! I believe the mystery which has just been accomplished. I unite myself to the offering which has been made, and to the petitions of the Church.

 It is now time to recite the prayer taught us by our Saviour Himself. Let it ascend to heaven together with the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. How could it be otherwise than heard, when He Himself who made it for us, is in our very hands now while we say it? As this prayer belongs in common to all God’s children, the Priest recites it aloud, and begins by inviting us all to join in it; he says:

Oremus

Præceptis salutaribus moniti, et divina institutione formati, audemus dicere:
Let us Pray

Having been taught by a saving precept, and following the form given us by divine instruction, we thus presume to speak:

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 nostris: et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
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.

Let us answer with a deep feeling of our misery:

Sed libera nos a malo.
But deliver us from evil.

The priest falls once more into the silence of the holy mysteries. His first word is an affectionate Amen to your last petition—deliver us from evil—on which he forms his own next prayer: and could he pray for anything more needed? Evil surrounds us everywhere; and the Lamb on our altar has been sent to expiate it, and to deliver us from it.

Libera nos, quæsumus, Domine, ab omnibus malis, præteritis, præsentibus et futuris: et, intercedente beata et gloriosa semper Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beatis apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque Andrea, et omnibus sanctis, da propitius pacem in diebus nostris: ut ope misericordiæ tuæ adjuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione securi. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus.
How many, O Lord, are the evils which beset us! Evils past, which are the wounds left on the soul by her sins, and which strengthen her wicked propensities. Evils present, that is, the sins now, at this very time, upon our soul; the weakness of this poor soul; and the tempations which molest her. There are, also, future evils, that is, the chastisement which our sins deserve from the hand of thy justice. In presence of this Host of our salvation, we beseech thee, O Lord, to deliver us from all these evils, and to accept in our favour the intercession of Mary the Mother of Jesus, of thy holy apostles Peter and Paul and Andrew. Liberate us, break our chains, give us peace: through Jesus Christ, thy Son, who with thee liveth and reigneth God.

The priest is anxious to announce the peace, which he has asked and obtained; he therefore finishes his prayer aloud, saying:

Per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

℟. Amen.
World without end.

℟. Amen.

Then he says:

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.
May the Peace of our Lord be ever with you.

To this paternal wish reply:

℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
℟. And with thy spirit.

The mystery is drawing to a close: God is about to be united with man, and man with God, by means of Communion. But first an imposing and sublime rite takes place at the altar. So far, the priest has announced the Death of Jesus; it is time to proclaim His Resurrection. To this end, he reverently breaks the sacred Host; and having divided it into three parts, he puts one into the chalice, thus reuniting the Body and Blood of the immortal Victim. Do you adore, and say:

Hæc commixtio et consecratio Corporis et Sanguinis Domini nostri Jesu Christi, fiat accipientibus nobis in vitam æternam. Amen.
Glory be to thee, O Saviour of the world! who didst, in thy Passion, permit thy precious Blood to be separated from thy sacred Body, afterwards uniting them again together by thy divine power.

Offer now your prayer to the ever-living Lamb, whom St. John saw on the altar of heaven, standing though slain:[6] say to this your Lord and King, who has taken upon Himself all our iniquities, in order to wash them away by His Blood:

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us!
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us!
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, give us peace!

Peace is the grand object of our Saviour’s coming into the world: He is the Prince of peace.[7] The divine Sacrament of the Eucharist ought therefore to be the mystery of peace, and the bond of Catholic unity; for, as the apostle says, all we who partake of one Bread, are all one bread and one body.[8] It is on this account that the priest, now that he is on the point of receiving, in Communion, the sacred Host, prays that fraternal peace may be preserved in the Church, and more especially in this portion of it which is assembled round the altar. Pray with him, and for the same blessing:

Domine Jesu Christe, qui dixisti apostolis tuis: Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis: ne respicias peccata mea, sed fidem Ecclesiæ tuæ: eamque secundum voluntatem tuam pacificare et coadunare digneris. Qui vivis et regnas Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst to thy apostles, 'My peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:' regard not my sins, but the faith of thy Church, and grant her that peace and unity which is according to thy will. Who livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

     If it be a High Mass, the priest here gives the kiss of peace to the deacon, who gives it to the subdeacon, and he to the choir. During this ceremony, you should excite within yourself feelings of Christian charity, and pardon your enemies, if you have any. Then continue to pray with the priest:

Domine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi, qui ex voluntate Patris, cooperante Spiritu sancto, per mortem tuam mundum vivificasti: libera me per hoc sacrosanctum Corpus et Sanguinem tuum, ab omnibus iniquitatibus meis, et universis malis, et fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis, et a te nunquam separari pcrmittas. Qui cum eodem Deo Patre et Spiritu sancto vivis et regnas, Deus, in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who according to the will of the Father, through the co-operation of the Holy Ghost, hast by thy death, given life to the world; deliver me, by this thy most sacred Body and Blood, from all mine iniquities, and from all evils; and make me always adhere to thy commandments, and never suffer me to be separated from thee, who with the same God the Father and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

 If you are going to Communion at this Mass, say the following prayer; otherwise prepare yourself to make a spiritual Communion:

Perceptio Corporis tui, Domine Jesu Clmste, quod ego indignus sumere præsumo, non mihi proveniat in judicium et condemnationem: sed pro tua pietate prosit mihi ad tutamentum mentis et corporis, et ad medelam percipiendam. Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre, in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Let not the participation of thy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, though unworthy, presume to receive, turn to my judgment and condemnation; but through thy mercy may it be a safeguard and remedy both to my soul and body. Who with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

When the priest takes the Host into his hands, in order to receive it in Communion, say:

Panem cœlestem accipiam, et nomen Domini invocabo.
Come, my dear Jesus, come!

When he strikes his breast, confessing his unworthiness, say thrice with him these words, and in the same disposition as the centurion of the Gospel, who first used them:

Domine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea.
Lord! I am not worthy that thou enter under my roof: say it, only with one word of thine, and my soul shall be healed.

Whilst the priest receives the sacred Host, if you also are to communicate, adore profoundly your God, who is ready to take up His abode within you, and again say to Him with the bride: 'Come, Lord Jesus, come!'

But should you not be going to receive sacramentally, make here a spiritual Communion. Adore Jesus Christ, who thus visits your soul by His grace, and say to Him:

Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam æternam. Amen.
I give thee, O Jesus, this heart of mine, that thou mayst dwell in it, and do with me what thou wilt.

Then the priest takes the chalice, in thanksgiving, and says:

Quid retribuam Domino pro omnibus quæ retribuit mihi? Calicem salutaris accipiam, et nomen Domini invocabo. Laudans invocabo Dominum, et ab inimicis meis salvus ero.
What return shall I make to the Lord for all he hath given to me? I will take the chalice of salvation, and will call upon the name of the Lord. Praising, I will call upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from mine enemies.

But if you are to make a sacramental Communion, you should, at this moment of the priest’s receiving the precious Blood, again adore the God who is coming to you, and keep to your prayer: Come, Lord Jesus, come!

If you are going to communicate only spiritually, again adore your divine Master, and say to Him:

Sanguis Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam æternam. Amen.
I unite myself to thee, my beloved Jesus! do thou unite thyself to me and never let us be separated.

 It is here that you must approach to the altar, if you are going to Communion.

The Communion being finished, while the priest is purifying the chalice the first time, say:

Quod ore sumpsimus, Domine, pura mente capiamus; et de munere temporali fiat nobis remedium sempiternum.
Thou hast visited me, O God, in these days of my pilgrimage: give me grace to treasure up the fruits of this visit, and to make it tell upon my eternity.

While the priest is purifying the chalice the second time, say:

Corpus tuum Domine, quod sumpsi, et Sanguis quem potavi, adhæreat visceribus meis: et præsta ut in me non remaneat scelerum macula, quem pura et sancta refecerunt Sacramenta. Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Be thou for ever blessed, O my Saviour, for having admitted me to the sacred mystery of thy Body and Blood. May my heart and senses preserve, by thy grace, the purity which thou hast imparted to them; and may I be thus rendered less unworthy of thy divine visit.

The priest, having read the antiphon called the Communion, which is the first part of his thanksgiving for the favour just received from God, whereby He has renewed His divine presence among us, turns to the people with the usual salutation; after which he recites the prayers, called the Postcommunion, which are the completion of the thanksgiving. You will join him here also, thanking God for the unspeakable gift He has just lavished on you, and asking Him, with most earnest entreaty, that He will bestow upon you a lasting spirit of compunction.

These prayers having been recited, the priest again turns to the people, and full of joy for the immense favour he and they have been receiving, he says:

Dominus vobiscum.
The Lord be with you.

Answer him:

℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
℟. And with thy spirit.

 

 

 

℣. Ite, Missa est.
℣. Go, the Mass is finished.

 



℟. Deo gratias.


℟. Thanks be to God.

The priest makes a last prayer, before giving you his blessing; pray with him:

Placeat tibi, sancta Trinitas, obsequium servitutis meæ, et præsta ut sacrificium, quod oculis tuæ majestatis indignus obtuli, tibi sit acceptabile, mihique, et omnibus pro quibus illud obtuli sit, te miserante, propitiabile. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Eternal thanks be to thee, O adorable Trinity, for the mercy thou hast shown to me, in permitting me to assist at this divine Sacrifice. Pardon me the negligence and coldness wherewith I have received so great a favour, and deign to confirm the blessing which thy minister is about to give me in thy name.

The priest raises his hand, and thus blesses you:

Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus. ℟. Amen.
May the almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, bless you! ℟. Amen.

He then concludes the Mass, by reading the first fourteen verses of the Gospel according to St. John, which tell us of the eternity of the Word, and of the mercy which led Him to take upon Himself our flesh, and to dwell among us. Pray that you may be of the number of those, who, now that He has come unto His ownreceive Him, and are made the sons of God.

℣. Dominus vobiscum.

℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
The Last Gospel
Initium sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
Cap. i.

In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. Hoc erat in principio apud Deum. Omnia per ipsum facta sunt; et sine ipso factum est nihil quod factum est. In ipso vita erat, et vita erat lux hominum: et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebræ eam non comprehenderunt. Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Joannes. Hic venit in testimonium, ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine, ut omnes crederent per illum. Non erat ille lux, sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine. Erat lux vera, quæ illuminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum. In mundo erat, et mundus per ipsum factus est, et mundus eum non cognovit. In propria venit, et sui eum non receperunt. Quotquot autem receperunt eum, dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri, his, qui credunt in nomine ejus: qui non ex sanguinibus, neque ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt. ET VERBUM CARO FACTUM EST, et habitavit in nobis: et vidimus gloriam ejus, gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre, plenum gratiæ et veritatis.

℟. Deo gratias.
℣. The Lord be with you.

℟. And with thy spirit.

The beginning of the Holy Gospel according to John.
Ch. i.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. That was the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them he gave power to he made the sons of God; to them that believe in his name, who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw his glory, as it were the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

℟. Thanks be to God.

 



[1] Lam. iii. 25.
[2] Cant. v. 6.
[3] 1 Kings iii. 10.
[4] 1 Cor. xv. 53.
[5] 2 St. Pet. i. 4.
[6] Apoc. v. 6.

[7] Is. ix. 6.

[8] 1 Cor. x. 17.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The holy Mass is the true sacrifice, of which the sacrifices of the old Law were but figures. This sacrifice was expected by mankind for four thousand years. It was during the present season that it was first offered up. It is now mysteriously renewed, each day, upon our Christian altars.

No greater glory can be given to God than the celebration of this sacrifice, wherein God Himself is the Victim; at the same time, nothing can be more advantageous to man than to partake of this divine Victim, to become himself this Victim, by incorporating it with himself by holy Communion, whereby is realized that wonderful promise of our Redeemer: He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood, abideth in Me, and I in him.[1]

Now, it is by the immolation of our Redeemer on the cross that the Flesh of this Lamb of God has become truly our food, and His Blood truly our drink.[2] By the mysteries of His Incarnation and birth, we had Him as our Brother; His Passion and death have made Him both our Saviour and our Food. Thus was realized that figurative sacrifice which God prescribed to His people through Moses, and in which the victim, after being immolated, was to be eaten by the priest who offered it, and by the person in whose name it was offered.

St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, speaks thus: ‘As often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord, until He come.’[3] Therefore, there is a close relation between holy Communion and our Saviour’s Passion; and it is on this account that we are going to celebrate, during this present season, the institution of the holy Eucharist and the sacrifice of the Lamb, our Redeemer. The two anniversaries come close to each other. If Jesus has desired with so ardent a desire to eat this last Pasch with His disciples,[4] it is because He had something infinitely grander to give them than He had given them the two preceding years: then He gave them to eat of the flesh of the figurative lamb; but now, in this the last Pasch, He is going to give them a pledge of pardon and immortality, by making them partake of the very substance of the true Lamb, whose Blood imparts remission of sin, and opens the gate of heaven. He immolates Himself on the table of the last Supper before men immolate Him on Calvary; and this wondrous anticipation of His sacrifice, in which He gives such a rich proof of His love and His power, is founded on the real sacrifice of the morrow, which is to cost Him every drop of His Blood.

In approaching, therefore, the holy Table, during this season of the Passion, the faithful must be absorbed in the remembrance of the Lamb that was sacrificed for us; they must keep this great truth uppermost in their hearts: that the divine Food which nourishes their souls was prepared on Calvary; and that, although this Lamb is now living and impassible, yet it was by His death on the cross that He became our Food. The sinner, reconciled to his offended God, must receive the Body of Jesus with sentiments of hearty contrition, and reproach himself, in all the bitterness of his soul, for having shed that precious Blood by his multiplied sins. The just man must make his Communion, and humble himself with the thought that he, too, has had too great a share in causing suffering to the innocent Lamb; and that if he now have reason to believe himself to be in the state of grace, he owes it to the Blood of the Victim who is about to be given to him for the increase of his spiritual life.

We will here give, as in our other volumes, acts which may serve as a preparation for holy Communion during these two weeks. 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 is for me thou didst assume my human nature, and wast born at Bethlehem; it is for me that thou fastest forty days in the desert; 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 me 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, O 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, O 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 to know also 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, O 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! 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 wonderful 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 when and where 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 I can 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.’[5] Henceforth, O Bread which came down from heaven![6] 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. O all ye saints of God! pray for the sinner, unto whom he has given this pledge of his divine pardon.

 


[1] St. John vi. 57.
[2] Ibid. 56.
[3] 1 Cor. xi. 26.
[4] St. Luke xxii. 15.
[5] St. John vi. 58.
[6] 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 this season.

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; but it also speaks of His humiliations. It tells of the triumphs of Christ; but, before His exaltation, He is to drink of the torrent of sufferings.

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. Fidelia.
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 to 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. Faithful.

 


The following psalm commemorates the mercies of God to His people: of these, the greatest is His having given us a Redeemer. He has made an eternal Covenant with us: but this Covenant was signed with the Blood of His own Son.

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. Fidelia omnia mandata ejus; confirmata in sæculum sæculi.
Ant. In mandatis.
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 judgment.
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. Faithful are all his commandments; confirmed for ever and ever.
Ant. In his commandments.

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. 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.
Acceptable is the man that showeth mercy and lendeth; he shall order his words with judgment: 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. In his commandments he delighteth exceedingly.
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 benedictum: 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 nomen Domini benedictum in sæcula.
Ant. Nos qui vivimus.
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?
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. We that live.

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 terram.
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. Nos qui vivimus, benedicimus Domino.
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. We that live bless the Lord.

After these five psalms, a short lesson from the holy Scriptures is read. It is called Capitulum, because it is always very short. Those for the two Sundays are given in the Proper.

After the capitulum, follows the hymn Vexilla Regis.* It is the 'hymn of the cross' composed by St. Venantius Fortunatus, at the request of Saint Radegund.

Hymn

 

Vexilla Regis prodeunt;
Fulget crucis mysterium,
Qua Vita mortem pertulit,
Et morte vitam protulit.

Quæ vulnerata lanceæ
Mucrone diro, criminum
Ut nos lavaret sordibus,
Manavit unda et sanguine.

Impleta sunt quæ concinit
David fideli carmine,
Dicendo nationibus:
Regnavit a ligno Deus.

Arbor decora et fulgida,
Ornata regis purpura,
Electa digno stipite
Tam sancta membra tangere.

Beata cujus brachiis
Pretium pependit sæculi,
Statera facta corporis,
Tulitque prædam tartari.

O crux, ave, spes unica,
Hoc Passionis tempore,
Piis adauge gratiam,
Reisque dele crimina.

Te, fons salutis, Trinitas,
Collaudet omnis spiritus;
Quibus crucis victoriam
Largiris, adde præmium.

Amen.

℣. Eripe me, Domine, ab homine malo.
℟. A viro iniquo eripe me.
The standard of our King comes forth;
the mystery of the cross shines upon us,
that cross on which Life suffered death,
and by his death gave life.

He was pierced with the cruel spear,
that, by the Water and the Blood
which flowed from the wound,
he might cleanse us from sin.

Here on the cross was fulfilled
the prophecy foretold
in David’s truthful words:
‘God hath reigned from the tree.’

O fair and shining tree!
beautified by the scarlet of the King,
and chosen as the noble trunk
that was to touch such sacred limbs.

O blessed tree! on whose arms
hung the ransom of the world!
It was the balance, wherein was placed the Body of Jesus,
and thereby hell lost its prey.

Hail, O cross! our only hope!
During these days of the Passion,
increase to the good their grace,
and cleanse sinners from their guilt.

May every spirit praise thee, O holy Trinity,
thou fount of salvation!
and by the cross, whereby thou gavest us victory,
give us, too, our recompense.

Amen.

℣. Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man.
℟. Rescue me from the unjust man.

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.

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. De ore leonis, * Libera me, Domine. De ore. ℣. Et a cornibus unicornium humilitatem meam. * Libera.   Then is repeated: ℟. De ore,

Vexilla Regis prodeunt;

Fulget crucis mysterium,

Quo carne carnis Conditor

Suspensus est patibulo.

Quo vulneratus insuper

Mucrone diro lanceæ,

Ut nos lavaret crimine,

Manavit unda et sanguine.

Impleta sunt quæ concinit

David fideli carmine,

dicens: In nationibus

Regnavit a ligno Deus.

Arbor decora et fulgida,

Ornata Regis purpura,

Electa digno stipite

Tam sancta membra tangere.

Beata, cujus brachiis

Sæcli pependit pretium,

Statera facta corporis,

Prædamque tulit tartari.

O crux, ave, spes unica,

Hoc Passionis tempore,

Auge piis justitiam,

Reisque dona veniam.

Te summa, Deus, Trinitas,

Collaudet omnis spiritus:

Quos per crucis mysterium

Salvas, rege per sæcula. 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:

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

The priest answers:

Noctem quietam, et finem perfectum concedat nobis Dominus omnipotens.

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

℟. 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:

℟. Deo gratias.
℟. Thanks be to God.

Then, the priest:

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

The choir:

℟. Qui fecit cœlum et terram.
℟. 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 Michaelem 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 omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis vestris, perducat vos ad vitam æternam.

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

℟. Amen.

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

℣. Converte nos, Deus, Salutaris noster.
℟. Et averte iram tuam a nobis.

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

Gloria Patri, &c.
Laus tibi, Domine, Rex æternæ gloriæ.

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

℟. Amen.

℣. Convert us, O God, our Saviour.
℟. And turn away thy anger from us.

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

Glory, &c.
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 quæritis 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 vestris compungimini.
Sacrificate sacrificium justitiæ, et sperate in Domino: multi dicunt: Quis ostendit nobis bona?
Signatum est super nos lumen vultus tui Domine: dedisti 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 shall 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 Church has introduced here the first six verses of Psalm xxx, because they contain the prayer which our Saviour made when dying: Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit!—words so beautifully appropriate in this Office of the close of the day.

Psalm 30

In te, Domine, speravi, non confundar in æternum: in justitia tua libera me.
Inclina ad me aurem tuam: accelera ut eruas me.
Esto mihi in Deum protectorem, et in domum refugii: ut salvum me facias.
Quoniam fortitudo mea et refugium meum es tu: et propter nomen tuum deduces me, et enutries me.
Educes me de laqueo hoc, quem absconderunt mihi: quoniam tu es protector meus.
In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum: redemisti me, Domine, Deus veritatis.
In thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be confounded: deliver me in thy justice.
Bow down thine ear to me: make haste to deliver me.
Be thou unto me a God, a protector and a house of refuge, to save me.
For thou art my strength, and my refuge: and for thy name’s sake thou wilt lead me, and nourish me. Thou wilt bring me out of this snare, which they have hidden for me: for thou art my protector. Into thy hands I commend my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth.

The third 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 timore 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 custodiant 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 eum, 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 fourth 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 manus 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, O 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 invocatum 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.

 

 

℟. In manus tuas, Domine: * Commendo spiritum meum. In manus tuas.
℣. Redemisti nos, Domine Deus veritatis. * Commendo.
Gloria In manus tuas.
℣. Custodi nos, Domine, ut pupillam oculi.
℟. Sub umbra alarum tuarum protege nos.
ANT. Salva nos.
℟. Into thy hands, O Lord: * I commend my spirit. Into thy hands.
℣. Thou hast redeemed us, O Lord God of truth. * I commend.
 Into thy hands.
℣. Preserve us, O Lord, as the apple of thine eye.
℟. 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, &c.

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, &c.

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.
℣. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
℟. Sed libera nos a malo.

Credo in Deum, &c.

℣. Carnis resurrectionem.
℟. Vitam æternam. Amen.

℣. Benedictus es Domine Deus patrum nostrorum.
℟. Et laudabilis et gloriosus in sæcula.

℣. Benedicamus Patrem et Filium cum sancto Spiritu.
℟. Laudemus, et superexaltemus eum in sæcula.

℣. Benedictus es, Domine, in firmamento cœli.
℟. Et laudabilis, et gloriosus et superexaltatus in sæcula.

℣. Benedicat et custodiat nos omnipotens et misericors Dominus. ℟. Amen.

℣. Dignare, Domine, nocte ista.
℟. Sine peccato nos custodire.

℣. Miserere nostri, Domine,
℟. Miserere nostri.

℣. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos.
℟. Quemadmodum speravimus in te.

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

Our Father.
℣. And lead us not into temptation.
℟. But deliver us from evil

I believe in God, &c.

℣. The resurrection of the body.
℟. And life everlasting. Amen.

℣. Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers.
℟. And praiseworthy and glorious for ever.

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

℣. Thou art blessed, O Lord, in the firmament of heaven.
℟. And praiseworthy, and glorious, and magnified for ever.

℣. May the almighty and merciful Lord bless us and keep us. ℟. Amen.

℣. Vouchsafe, O Lord, this night.
℟. To keep us without sin.

℣. Have mercy on us, O Lord,
℟. Have mercy on us.

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

℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.
℟. And let my cry come unto thee.

 


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

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. 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.

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
℣. Benedicamus Domino.
℟. Deo gratias.

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

℟. Amen.
℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. 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.

℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

℣. Let us bless the Lord.
℟. Thanks be to God.

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

℟. 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.

℣. Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata.
℟, 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.

℣. Divinum auxilium maneat semper nobiscum.
℟. 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.

℣. Vouchsafe, 0 holy Virgin, that I may praise thee.
℟. 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.

℣. May the divine assistance remain always with us.
℟. Amen.[3]

 


Then, in secret, PaterAve, and Credo; page 26.


 

[1] In the monastic rite, as follows: Te lucis ante terminum, Rerum Creator, poscimus, Ut solita clementia 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. Amen.
[2] 1 Thess. v. 10.
[3] In the monastic rite, this response is as follows:

℟. Et cum fratribus nostris absentibus. Amen.           ℟. And with our absent brethren. Amen.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

WE give the name of Paschal Time to the period between Easter Sunday and the Saturday following Whit Sunday. It is the most sacred portion of the liturgical year, and the one towards which the whole cycle converges. We shall easily understand how this is, if we reflect upon the greatness of Easter, which is called the feast of feasts, and the solemnity of solemnities, in the same manner, says St. Gregory,[1] as the most sacred part of the Temple was called the Holy of holies; and the book of sacred scripture, wherein are described the espousals between Christ and the Church, is called the Canticle of Canticles. It is on this day that the mission of the Word Incarnate attains the object towards which it has hitherto been tending: man is raised up from his fall and regains what he had lost by Adam’s sin.

Christmas gave us a Man-God; three days have scarcely passed since we witnessed his infinitely precious Blood shed for our ransom; but now, on the day of Easter, our Jesus is no longer the victim of death: He is a conqueror, who destroys death, the child of sin, and proclaims life, that undying life which he has purchased for us. The humiliation of his swathing-bands, the sufferings of his agony and cross, these are passed; all is now glory—glory for himself, and glory also for us. On the day of Easter, God regains, by the Resurrection of the Man-God, his creation such as he made it at the beginning; the only vestige now left of death is sin, the likeness of which the Lamb of God deigned to take upon himself. Neither is it Jesus alone that returns to eternal life; the whole human race also has risen to immortality together with our Jesus. ‘By a man came death,’ says the Apostle; ‘and by a Man the Resurrection of the dead; and as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.’[2]

The anniversary of this Resurrection is, therefore, the great day, the day of joy, the day par excellence; the day to which the whole year looks forward in expectation, and on which its whole economy is formed. But as it is the holiest of days—since it opens to us the gate of Heaven, into which we shall enter because we have risen together with Christ—the Church would have us come to it well prepared by bodily mortification and by compunction of heart. It was for this that she instituted the fast of Lent, and that she bade us, during Septuagesima, look forward to the joy of her Easter, and be filled with sentiments suitable to the approach of so grand a solemnity. We obeyed; we have gone through the period of our preparation; and now the Easter sun has risen upon us!

But it was not enough to solemnize the great day when Jesus, our Light, rose from the darkness of the tomb: there was another anniversary which claimed our grateful celebration. The Incarnate Word rose on the first day of the week—that same day whereon, four thousand years before, he, the uncreated Word of the Father, had begun the work of creation, by calling forth light, and separating it from darkness. The first day was thus ennobled by the creation of light. It received a second consecration by the Resurrection of Jesus; and from that time forward Sunday, and not Saturday, was to be the Lord’s Day. Yes, our Resurrection in Jesus, which took place on the Sunday, gave this first day a pre-eminence above the others of the week: the divine precept of the Sabbath was abrogated together with the other ordinances of the Mosaic Law, and the Apostles instructed the faithful to keep holy the first day of the week, which God had dignified with that twofold glory, the creation and the regeneration of the world. Sunday, then, being the day of Jesus’ Resurrection, the Church chose that day, in preference to every other, for its yearly commemoration. The Pasch of the Jews, in consequence of its being fixed on the fourteenth of the moon of March (the anniversary of the going out of Egypt), fell by turns on each day of the week. The Jewish Pasch was but a figure; ours is the reality, and puts an end to the figure. The Church, therefore, broke this last tie with the Synagogue; and proclaimed her emancipation, by fixing the most solemn of her feasts on a day which should never agree with that on which the Jews keep their now unmeaning Pasch. The Apostles decreed that the Christian Pasch should never be celebrated on the fourteenth of the moon of March, even were that day to be a Sunday; but that it should be everywhere kept on the Sunday following the day on which the obsolete calendar of the Synagogue still marks it.

Nevertheless, out of consideration for the many Jews who had received baptism, and who formed the nucleus of the early Christian Church, it was resolved that the law regarding the day for keeping the new Pasch should be applied prudently and gradually. Jerusalem was soon to be destroyed by the Romans, according to our Saviour’s prediction; and the new city, which was to rise up from its ruins and receive the Christian colony, would also have its Church, but a Church totally free from the Jewish element, which God had so visibly rejected. In preaching the Gospel and founding Churches, even far beyond the limits of the Roman Empire, the majority of the Apostles had not to contend with Jewish customs; most of their converts were from among the Gentiles. St Peter, who in the Council of Jerusalem had proclaimed the cessation of the Jewish Law, set up the standard of emancipation in the city of Rome; so that the Church, which through him was made the Mother and Mistress of all Churches, never had any other discipline regarding the observance of Easter than that laid down by the Apostles, namely, that it should be kept on a Sunday.

There was, however, one province of the Church which for a long time stood out against the universal practice: it was Asia Minor. The Apostle St John, who lived for many years at Ephesus—where indeed he died—had thought it prudent to tolerate, in those parts, the Jewish custom of celebrating the Pasch; for many of the converts had been members of the Synagogue. But the Gentiles themselves, who, later on, formed the mass of the faithful, were strenuous upholders of this custom, which dated from the very foundation of the Church of Asia Minor. In the course of time, however, this anomaly became a source of scandal: it savoured of Judaism, and it prevented unity of religious observance, which is always desirable, but particularly so in what regards Lent and Easter.

Pope St Victor, who governed the Church from the year 193, endeavoured to put a stop to this abuse; he thought the time had come for establishing unity in so essential a point of Christian worship. Already, that is in the year 160, under Pope St Anicetus, the Apostolic See had sought, by friendly negotiations, to induce the Churches of Asia Minor to conform to the universal practice; but it was difficult to triumph over a prejudice, which rested on a tradition held sacred in that country. St Victor, however, resolved to make another attempt. He would put before them the unanimous agreement which reigned throughout the rest of the Church. Accordingly, he gave orders that councils should be convened in the several countries where the Gospel had been preached, and that the question of Easter should be examined. Everywhere there was perfect uniformity of practice; and the historian Eusebius, who lived a hundred and fifty years later, assures us that the people of his day used to quote the decisions of the Councils of Rome, of Gaul, of Achaia, of Pontus, of Palestine, and of Osrhoene in Mesopotamia. The Council of Ephesus, at which Polycrates, the bishop of that city, presided, was the only one that opposed the Pontiff, and disregarded the practice of the universal Church.

Deeming it unwise to give further toleration to the opposition, Victor separated from communion with the Holy See the refractory Churches of Asia Minor. This severe penalty, which was not inflicted until Rome had exhausted every other means of removing the evil, excited the commiseration of several bishops. St Irenæus, who was then governing the see of Lyons, pleaded for these Churches, which, so it seemed to him, had sinned only through a want of light; and he obtained from the Pope the revocation of a measure which seemed too severe. This indulgence produced the desired effect. In the following century St Anatolius, bishop of Laodicea, in his book on the Pasch, written in 276, tells us that the Churches of Asia Minor had then, for some time past, conformed to the Roman practice.

About the same time, and by a strange coincidence, the Churches of Syria, Cilicia, and Mesopotamia gave scandal by again leaving the Christian and Apostolic observance of Easter, and returning to the Jewish rite of the fourteenth of the March moon. This schism in the Liturgy grieved the Church; and one of the points to which the Council of Nicæa directed its first attention was the promulgation of the universal obligation to celebrate Easter on the Sunday. The decree was unanimously passed, and the Fathers of the Council ordained that ‘all controversy being laid aside, the brethren in the East should solemnize the Pasch on the same day as the Romans, the Alexandrians, and the rest of the faithful.’[3] So important seemed this question, inasmuch as it affected the very essence of the Christian Liturgy, that St Athanasius, assigning the reasons which had led to the calling of the Council of Nicæa, mentions these two: the condemnation of the Arian heresy, and the establishment of uniformity in the observance of Easter.[4]

The bishop of Alexandria was commissioned by the Council to see to the drawing up of astronomical tables, whereby the precise day of Easter might be fixed for each future year. The reason of this choice was that the astronomers of Alexandria were looked upon as the most exact in their calculations. These tables were to be sent to the Pope, and he would address letters to the several Churches, instructing them as to the uniform celebration of the great festival of Christendom. Thus was the unity of the Church made manifest by the unity of the holy Liturgy; and the Apostolic See, which is the foundation of the first, was likewise the source of the second. But, even previous to the Council of Nicæa, the Roman Pontiff had addressed to all the Churches, every year, a Paschal Encyclical, instructing them as to the day on which the solemnity of the Resurrection was to be kept. This we learn from the synodical Letter of the Fathers of the great Council held at Arles in 314. The Letter is addressed to Pope St Sylvester, and contains the following passage: ‘In the first place, we beg that the observance of the Pasch of the Lord may be uniform, both as to time and day, in the whole world, and that You would, according to the custom, address Letters to all concerning this matter.’[5]

This custom, however, was not kept up for any length of time after the Council of Nicæa. The want of precision in astronomical calculations occasioned confusion in the method of fixing the day of Easter. It is true, this great festival was always kept on a Sunday; nor did any Church think of celebrating it on the same day as the Jews; but, since there was no uniform understanding as to the exact time of the vernal equinox, it happened some years, that the feast of Easter was not kept, in all places, on the same day. By degrees, there crept in a deviation from the rule laid down by the Council, of taking March 21 as the day of the equinox. A reform in the Calendar was needed, and no one seemed competent to undertake it. Cycles were drawn up contradictory to one another; Rome and Alexandria had each its own system of calculation; so that, some years, Easter was not kept with that perfect uniformity for which the Nicene Fathers had so strenuously laboured: and yet this variation was not the result of anything like party-spirit.

The West followed Rome. The Churches of Ireland and Scotland, which had been misled by faulty cycles, were at length brought into uniformity. Finally, science was sufficiently advanced in the sixteenth century for Pope Gregory XIII to undertake a reform of the Calendar. The equinox had to be restored to March 21, as the Council of Nicæa had prescribed. The Pope effected this by publishing a Bull, dated February 24, 1581, in which he ordered that ten days of the following year, namely from October 4 to October 15, should be suppressed. He thus restored the work of Julius Cæsar, who had, in his day, turned his attention to the rectification of the year. Easter was the great object of the reform, or, as it is called, the New Style, achieved by Gregory XIII. The principles and regulations of the Nicene Council were again brought to bear on this the capital question of the liturgical year; and the Roman Pontiff thus gave to the whole world the intimation of Easter, not for one year only, but for centuries. Heretical nations were forced to acknowledge the divine power of the Church in this solemn act, which interested both religion and society. They protested against the Calendar, as they had protested against the Rule of Faith. England and the Lutheran States of Germany preferred following, for many years, a Calendar which was evidently at fault, rather than accept the New Style, which they acknowledged to be indispensable, because it was the work of a Pope![6]

All this shows us how important it was to fix the precise day of Easter; and God has several times shown by miracles that the date of so sacred a feast was not a matter of indifference. During the ages when the confusion of the cycles and the want of correct astronomical computations occasioned great uncertainty as to the vernal equinox, miraculous events more than once supplied the deficiencies of science and authority. In a letter to St Leo the Great, in the year 444, Paschasinus, bishop of Lilybæa[7] in Sicily, relates that under the Pontificate of St Zosimus—Honorius being consul for the eleventh, and Constantius for the second time—the real day of Easter was miraculously revealed to the people of one of the churches there. ‘In the midst of a mountainous and thickly wooded district of the island was a village called Meltinas. Its church was of the poorest, but it was dear to God. Every year, on the night preceding Easter Sunday, as the priest went to the baptistery to bless the font, it was found to be miraculously filled with water, for there were no human means wherewith it could be supplied. As soon as baptism was administered, the water disappeared of itself, and left the font perfectly dry. In the year just mentioned, the people, misled by a wrong calculation, assembled for the ceremonies of Easter Eve. The Prophecies having been read, the priest and his flock repaired to the baptistery—but the font was empty. They waited, expecting the miraculous flowing of the water, wherewith the catechumens were to receive the grace of regeneration: but they waited in vain, and no baptism was administered. On the following April 22 the font was found to be filled to the brim, and thereby the people understood that that was the true Easter for that year.[8]

Cassiodorus, writing in the name of king Athalaric to a certain Severus, relates a similar miracle, which happened every year on Easter Eve, in Lucania, near the small island of Leucothea, at a place called Marcilianum. There was a large fountain there, whose water was so clear that the air itself was not more transparent. It was used as the font for the administration of baptism on Easter Night. As soon as the priest, standing under the rock wherewith nature had canopied the fountain, began the prayers of the blessing, the water, as though taking part in the transports of the Easter joy, arose in the font; so that, if previously it was to the level of the fifth step, it was seen to rise up to the seventh, impatient, as it were, to effect those wonders of grace whereof it was the chosen instrument. God would show by this, that even inanimate creatures can share, when he so wills it, in the holy gladness of the greatest of all days.[9]

St Gregory of Tours tells us of a font, which existed even then, in a church of Andalusia, in a place called Osen, whereby God miraculously certified to his people the true day of Easter. On the Maundy Thursday of each year, the bishop, accompanied by the faithful, repaired to this church. The bed of the font was built in the form of a cross, and was paved with mosaics. It was carefully examined, to see that it was perfectly dry; and after several prayers had been recited, everyone left the church, and the bishop sealed the door with his seal. On Holy Saturday the pontiff returned, accompanied by his flock; the seal was examined, and the door was opened. The font was found to be filled, even above the level of the floor, and yet the water did not overflow. The bishop pronounced the exorcisms over the miraculous water, and poured the chrism into it. The catechumens were then baptized; and as soon as the sacrament had been administered the water immediately disappeared, and no one could tell what became of it.[10] Similar miracles were witnessed in several churches in the East. John Moschus, a writer in the seventh century, speaks of a baptismal font in Lycia, which was thus filled every Easter Eve; but the water remained in the font during the whole fifty days, and suddenly disappeared after the festival of Pentecost.[11]

We alluded, in our History of Passiontide, to the decrees passed by the Christian emperors, which forbade all law proceedings during the fortnight of Easter, that is from Palm Sunday to the octave day of the Resurrection. St Augustine, in a sermon he preached on this octave, exhorts the faithful to extend to the whole year this suspension of lawsuits, disputes, and enmities, which the civil law interdicted during these fifteen days.

The Church imposes upon all her children the obligation of receiving holy Communion at Easter. This precept is based upon the words of our Redeemer, who left it to his Church to determine the time of the year when Christians should receive the blessed Sacrament. In the early ages Communion was frequent, and, in some places, even daily. By degrees the fervour of the faithful grew cold towards this august mystery, as we gather from a decree of the Council of Agatha (Agde), held in 506, where it is defined that those of the laity who shall not approach Communion at Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, are to be considered as having ceased to be Catholics.[12] This decree of the Council of Agatha was accepted as the law of almost the entire Western Church. We find it quoted among the regulations drawn up by Egbert, Archbishop of York, as also in the third Council of Tours. In many places, however, Communion was obligatory for the Sundays of Lent, and for the last three days of Holy Week, independently of that which was to be made on the Easter festival.

It was in the year 1215, in the fourth General Council of Lateran, that the Church, seeing the ever-growing indifference of her children, decreed with regret that Christians should be strictly bound to Communion only once in the year, and that that Communion of obligation should be made at Easter. In order to show the faithful that this is the uttermost limit of her condescension to lukewarmness, she declares, in the same council, that he that shall presume to break this law may be forbidden to enter a church during life, and be deprived of Christian burial after death, as he would be if he had, of his own accord, separated himself from the exterior link of Catholic unity.[13] These regulations of a General Council show how important is the duty of the Easter Communion; but, at the same time, they make us shudder at the thought of the millions, throughout the Catholic world, who brave each year the threats of the Church, by refusing to comply with a duty, which would both bring life to their souls, and serve as a profession of their faith. And when we again reflect upon how many even of those who make their Easter Communion have paid no more attention to the Lenten penance than if there were no such obligation in existence, we cannot help feeling sad, and we wonder within ourselves how long God will bear with such infringements of the Christian Law.

The fifty days between Easter and Pentecost have ever been considered by the Church as most holy. The first week, which is more expressly devoted to celebrating our Lord’s Resurrection, is kept as one continued feast; but the remainder of the fifty days is also marked with special honours. To say nothing of the joy, which is the characteristic of this period of the year, and of which the Alleluia is the expression—Christian tradition has assigned to Eastertide two practices, which distinguish it from every other season. The first is, that fasting is not permitted during the entire interval: it is an extension of the ancient precept of never fasting on a Sunday, and the whole of Eastertide is considered as one long Sunday. This practice, which would seem to have come down from the time of the Apostles, was accepted by the Religious Rules of both East and West, even by the severest. The second consists in not kneeling at the Divine Office, from Easter to Pentecost. The Eastern Churches have faithfully kept up the practice, even to this day. It was observed for many ages by the Western Churches also; but now it is little more than a remnant. The Latin Church has long since admitted genuflexions in the Mass during Easter time. The few vestiges of the ancient discipline in this regard which still exist are not noticed by the faithful, inasmuch as they seldom assist at the Canonical Hours.

Eastertide, then, is like one continued feast. This was remarked by Tertullian in the third century. He is reproaching those Christians who regretted having renounced, by their baptism, the festivities of the pagan year, and thus addresses them: ‘If you love feasts, you will find plenty among us Christians; not merely feasts that last only for a day, but such as continue for several days together. The pagans keep each of their feasts once in the year; but you have to keep each of yours many times over, for you have the eight days of its celebration. Put all the feasts of the Gentiles together, and they do not amount to our fifty days of Pentecost.’[14] St Ambrose, speaking on the same subject, says: ‘If the Jews are not satisfied with the Sabbath of each week, but keep also one which lasts a whole month, and another which lasts a whole year;—how much more ought not we to honour our Lord’s Resurrection? Hence our ancestors have taught us to celebrate the fifty days of Pentecost as a continuation of Easter. They are seven weeks, and the feast of Pentecost commences the eighth. . . . During these fifty days the Church observes no fast, nor does she on any Sunday, for it is the day on which our Lord rose: and all these fifty days are like so many Sundays.’[15]

 

[1] Homilia, xxii.
[2] 1 Cor. xv 21, 22.
[3] Spicilegium Solesmense, t. iv, p. 541.
[4] Epist. ad Afros episcopos.
[5] Concil. Galilæ. t. i.
[6] Great Britain adopted the New Style, by Act of Parliament, in the year 1752.—TR.
[7] The modern Marsala.
[8] S Leonis, Opera, Epist. iii.
[9] Cassiodorus, Variarum, lib. vii, epist. xxxiii.
[10] De Gloria Martyrum, lib. i cap. xxiv.
[11] Pratum spirituale, cap. ccxv.
[12] Concil. Agath. Canon xviii.
[13] Two centuries after this, Pope Eugenius IV, in the Constitution Digna Fide, given in the year 1440, allowed this annual Communion to be made on any day between Palm Sunday and Low Sunday inclusively. This remains the law of the Church, but individual bishops may now extend the period from the Fourth Sunday in Lent until Trinity Sunday inclusively, and in England they may still use the former permission granted by Holy See for the further extension from Ash Wednesday to Low Sunday inclusively.
[14] De Idololatria, cap. xiv.
[15] In Lucam, lib. viii cap. xxv.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

OF all the seasons of the liturgical year Eastertide is by far the richest in mystery. We might even say that Easter is the summit of the Mystery of the sacred Liturgy. The Christian who is happy enough to enter, with his whole mind and heart, into the knowledge and love of the Paschal Mystery, has reached the very centre of the supernatural life. Hence it is that the Church uses every effort in order to effect this: what she has hitherto done was all intended as a preparation for Easter. The holy longings of Advent, the sweet joys of Christmas, the severe truths of Septuagesima, the contrition and penance of Lent, the heart-rending sight of the Passion—all were given us as preliminaries, as paths, to the sublime and glorious Pasch, which is now ours.

And that we might be convinced of the supreme importance of this solemnity, God willed that the Christian Easter and Pentecost should be prepared by those of the Jewish Law—a thousand five hundred years of typical beauty prefigured the reality: and that reality is ours!

During these days, then, we have brought before us the two great manifestations of God’s goodness towards mankind—the Pasch of Israel, and the Christian Pasch; the Pentecost of Sinai, and the Pentecost of the Church. We shall have occasion to show how the ancient figures were fulfilled in the realities of the new Easter and Pentecost, and how the twilight of the Mosaic Law made way for the full daylight of the Gospel; but we cannot resist the feeling of holy reverence, at the bare thought that the solemnities we have now to celebrate are more than three thousand years old, and that they are to be renewed every year from this till the voice of the angel shall be heard proclaiming: ‘Time shall be no more!’[1] The gates of eternity will then be thrown open.

Eternity in heaven is the true Pasch: hence, our Pasch here on earth is the feast of feasts, the solemnity of solemnities. The human race was dead; it was the victim of that sentence, whereby it was condemned to lie mere dust in the tomb; the gates of life were shut against it. But see! the Son of God rises from his grave and takes possession of eternal life. Nor is he the only one that is to die no more, for, as the Apostle teaches us, ‘He is the first-born from the dead.’[2] The Church would, therefore, have us consider ourselves as having already risen with our Jesus, and as having already taken possession of eternal life. The holy Fathers bid us look on these fifty days of Easter as the image of our eternal happiness. They are days devoted exclusively to joy; every sort of sadness is forbidden; and the Church cannot speak to her divine Spouse without joining to her words that glorious cry of heaven, the Alleluia, wherewith, as the holy Liturgy says,[3] the streets and squares of the heavenly Jerusalem resound without ceasing. We have been forbidden the use of this joyous word during the past nine weeks; it behoved us to die with Christ—but now that we have risen together with him from the tomb, and that we are resolved to die no more that death which kills the soul and caused our Redeemer to die on the cross, we have a right to our Alleluia.

The providence of God, who has established harmony between the visible world and the supernatural work of grace, willed that the Resurrection of our Lord should take place at that particular season of the year when even Nature herself seems to rise from the grave. The meadows give forth their verdure, the trees resume their foliage, the birds fill the air with their songs, and the sun, the type of our triumphant Jesus, pours out his floods of light on our earth made new by lovely spring. At Christmas the sun had little power, and his stay with us was short; it harmonized with the humble birth of our Emmanuel, who came among us in the midst of night, and shrouded in swaddling clothes; but now he is ‘as a giant that runs his way, and there is no one that can hide himself from his heat.’[4] Speaking, in the Canticle, to the faithful soul, and inviting her to take her part in this new life which he is now imparting to every creature, our Lord himself says: ‘Arise, my dove, and come! Winter is now past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have appeared in our land. The voice of the turtle is heard. The fig-tree hath put forth her green figs. The vines, in flower, yield their sweet smell. Arise thou, and come!’[5]

In the preceding chapter we explained why our Saviour chose the Sunday for his Resurrection, whereby he conquered death and proclaimed life to the world. It was on this favoured day of the week that he had, four thousand years previously, created the light; by selecting it now for the commencement of the new life which he graciously imparts to man, he would show us that Easter is the renewal of the entire creation. Not only is the anniversary of his glorious Resurrection to be, henceforward, the greatest of days, but every Sunday throughout the year is to be a sort of Easter, a holy and sacred day. The Synagogue, by God’s command, kept holy the Saturday or the Sabbath in honour of God’s resting after the six days of the creation; but the Church, the Spouse, is commanded to honour the work of her Lord. She allows the Saturday to pass—it is the day on which her Jesus rested in the sepulchre: but, now that she is illumined with the brightness of the Resurrection, she devotes to the contemplation of his work the first day of the week; it is the day of light, for on it he called forth material light (which was the first manifestation of life upon chaos), and on the same, he that is the ‘Brightness of the Father,’[6] and ‘the Light of the world,’[7] rose from the darkness of the tomb.

Let, then, the week with its Sabbath pass by; what we Christians want is the eighth day, the day that is beyond the measure of time, the day of eternity, the day whose light is not intermittent or partial, but endless and unlimited. Thus speak the holy Fathers, when explaining the substitution of the Sunday for the Saturday. It was, indeed, right that man should keep, as the day of his weekly and spiritual repose, that on which the Creator of the visible world had taken his divine rest; but it was a commemoration of the material creation only. The Eternal Word comes down in the world that he has created; he comes with the rays of his divinity clouded beneath the humble veil of our flesh; he comes to fulfil the figures of the first Covenant. Before abrogating the Sabbath, he would observe it as he did every tittle of the Law; he would spend it as the day of rest, after the work of his Passion, in the silence of the sepulchre: but, early on the eighth day, he rises to life, and the life is one of glory. ‘Let us,’ says the learned and pious Abbot Rupert, ‘leave the Jews to enjoy the ancient Sabbath, which is a memorial of the visible creation. They know not how to love or desire or merit aught but earthly things. . . . They would not recognize this world’s creator as their king, because he said: "Blessed are the poor!” and "Woe to the rich!” But our Sabbath has been transferred from the seventh to the eighth day, and the eighth is the first. And rightly was the seventh changed into the eighth, because we Christians put our joy in a better work than the creation of the world. . . . Let the lovers of the world keep a Sabbath for its creation: but our joy is in the salvation of the world, for our life, yea and our rest, is hidden with Christ in God.’[8]

The mystery of the seventh followed by an eighth day, as the holy one, is again brought before us by the number of weeks which form Eastertide. These weeks are seven; they form a week of weeks, and their morrow is again a Sunday, the glorious feast of Pentecost. These mysterious numbers—which God himself fixed when he instituted the first Pentecost after the first Pasch—were adopted by the Apostles when they regulated the Christian Easter, as we learn from St Hilary of Poitiers, St Isidore, Amalarius, Rabanus Maurus, and from all the ancient interpreters of the mysteries of the holy Liturgy. ‘If we multiply seven by seven,’ says St Hilary, ‘we shall find that this holy season is truly the Sabbath of sabbaths; but what completes it, and raises it to the plenitude of the Gospel, is the eighth day which follows, eighth and first both together in itself. The Apostles have given so sacred an institution to these seven weeks that, during them, no one should kneel, or mar by fasting the spiritual joy of this long feast. The same institution has been extended to each Sunday; for this day which follows the Saturday has become, by the application of the progress of the Gospel, the completion of the Saturday, and the day of feast and joy.’[9]

Thus, then, the whole season of Easter is marked with the mystery expressed by each Sunday of the year. Sunday is to us the great day of our week, because beautified with the splendour of our Lord’s Resurrection, of which the creation of material light was but a type. We have already said that this institution was prefigured in the Old Law, although the Jewish people were not in any way aware of it. Their Pentecost fell on the fiftieth day after the Pasch; it was the morrow of the seven weeks. Another figure of our Eastertide was the year of Jubilee, which God bade Moses prescribe to his people. Each fiftieth year the houses and lands that had been alienated during the preceding forty-nine returned to their original owners; and those Israelites who had been compelled by poverty to sell themselves as slaves recovered their liberty. This year, which was properly called the sabbatical year, was the sequel of the preceding seven weeks of years, and was thus the image of our eighth day, whereon the Son of Mary, by his Resurrection, redeemed us from the slavery of the tomb, and restored us to the inheritance of our immortality.

The rites peculiar to Eastertide, in the present discipline of the Church, are two: the unceasing repetition of the Alleluia, of which we have already spoken, and the colour of the vestments used for its two great solemnities, white for the first and red for the second. White is appropriate to the Resurrection: it is the mystery of eternal light, which knows neither spot nor shadow; it is the mystery that produces in a faithful soul the sentiment of purity and joy. Pentecost, which gives us the Holy Spirit, the ‘consuming Fire,’[10] is symbolized by the red vestments, which express the mystery of the divine Paraclete coming down in the form of fiery tongues upon them that were assembled in the Cenacle. With regard to the ancient usage of not kneeling during Paschal Time, we have already said that there is a mere vestige of it now left in the Latin Liturgy.

The feasts of the saints, which were interrupted during Holy Week, are likewise excluded from the first eight days of Eastertide; but when these are ended, we shall have them in rich abundance, as a bright constellation of stars round the divine Sun of Justice, our Jesus. They will accompany us in our celebration of his admirable Ascension; but such is the grandeur of the mystery of Pentecost, that from the eve of that day they will be again interrupted until the expiration of Paschal Time.

The rites of the primitive Church with reference to the Neophytes, who were regenerated by baptism on the night of Easter, are extremely interesting and instructive. But as they are peculiar to the two octaves of Easter and Pentecost, we will explain them when they are brought before us by the Liturgy of those days.

 

[1] Apoc. x 6.
[2] Coloss. i 18.
[3] Pontificale Rom. In Dedicat. Eccles.
[4] Ps. xviii 6, 7.
[5] Cant, ii 10, 13.
[6] Heb. i 3.
[7] St John viii 12.
[8] De Divinis Officiis, lib. vii cap. xix.
[9] Prologus in Psalmos.
[10] Heb. xii 29.

 

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