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Temporal Cycle

Under this heading of Proper of the Time, we here comprise the movable Office of the Sundays and Ferias of Advent. Though anxious to give to the faithful the flowers of the Advent liturgy, yet were we to bring forward even those which might be considered as the choicest, four volumes would have barely sufficed. The fear of making our work too expensive to the faithful, persuaded us to limit it within much narrower bounds, and out of the abundant treasures before us, to give what we thought could be least dispensed with.

The plan we have adopted is this: We give the whole of the Mass and Vespers for the four Sundays of Advent. On the ferial days, we give one, at least, of the lessons from Isaias, which are read in the Office of Matins; adding to this a hymn or sequence, or some other poetic liturgical composition. All these have been taken from the gravest sources, for example, from the Roman and Mozarabic breviaries, from the Greek anthology and menæa, from the missals of the middle ages, &c. After this hymn or sequence, we have given a prayer from the Ambrosian, Gallican, or Mozarabic missal. So that the faithful will find in our collection an unprecedented abundance of liturgical formulæ, each of which carries authority with it, as being taken from ancient and approved sources.

We have not thought it desirable to give a commentary to each of the liturgical formulæ inserted in our work. It seemed to us that they would be rendered sufficiently intelligible by the general explanation which runs through our work, in which explanation we have endeavoured to excite the devotion of the reader, give unity to the several parts, and afford solid instruction. We shall thus avoid all those repetitions and commonplace remarks, which do little more than fatigue the reader.

We have inserted the Great Antiphons and the Office of Christmas Eve in the proper of the saints, because both of these have fixed days in the calendar, and to put them in the proper of the time, as they stand in the breviary and missal, would have required us to introduce into a book, destined for the laity, rubrics somewhat complicated, which would, perhaps, not have been understood.

For more information on the season of Advent, visit here.

We apply the name of Christmas to the forty days which begin with the Nativity of our Lord, December 25, and end with the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, February 2. It is a period which forms a distinct portion of the Liturgical Year, as distinct, by its own special spirit, from every other, as are Advent, Lent, Easter, or Pentecost. One same Mystery is celebrated and kept in view during the whole forty days. Neither the Feasts of the Saints, which so abound during this Season; nor the time of Septuagesima, with its mournful Purple, which often begins before Christmastide is over, seem able to distract our Holy Mother the Church from the immense joy of which she received the good tidings from the Angels[1] on that glorious Night for which the world had been longing four thousand years. The Faithful will remember that the Liturgy commemorates this long expectation by the four penitential weeks of Advent.
[1] St Luke ii 10.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Christmas)

For more information on the season of Christmas, visit here.

This third section of the liturgical year is much shorter than the two preceding ones; and yet it is one of real interest. The season of Septuagesima has only three weeks of the Proper of the Time, and the feasts of the saints are far less frequent than at other periods of the year. The volume we now offer to the faithful may be called one of transition, inasmuch as it includes the period between two important seasons—viz., Christmas and Lent. We have endeavoured to teach them how to spend these three weeks; and our instructions, we trust, will show them that, even in this the least interesting portion of the ecclesiastical year, there is much to be learned. They will find the Church persevering in carrying out the one sublime idea which pervades the whole of her liturgy; and, consequently, they must derive solid profit from imbibing the spirit peculiar to this season.

Were we, therefore, to keep aloof from the Church during Septuagesima, we should not have a complete idea of her year, of which these three weeks form an essential part. The three preliminary chapters of this volume will convince them of the truth of our observation; and we feel confident that, when they have once understood the ceremonies, and formulas, and instructions, offered them by the Church during this short season, they will value it as it deserves.

For more information on the season of Septuagesima, visit here.

We begin, with this volume, the holy season of Lent; but such is the richness of its liturgy, that we have found it impossible to take our readers beyond the Saturday of the fourth week. Passion-week and Holy Week, which complete the forty days of yearly penance, require to be treated at such length, that we could not have introduced them into this volume without making it inconveniently large.

The present volume is a very full one, although it only comprises the first four weeks of the season of Lent. We have called it Lent; and yet the two weeks of the next volume are also comprised in Lent; nay, they are its most important and sacred part. But, in giving the name of Lent to this first section, we have followed the liturgy itself, which applies this word to the first four weeks only; giving to the two that remain the names of Passion-week and Holy Week. Our next volume will, therefore, be called Passiontide and Holy Week.

For more information on Lent, visit here.

After having proposed the forty-days’ fast of Jesus in the desert to the meditation of the faithful during the first four weeks of Lent, the holy Church gives the two weeks which still remain before Easter to the commemoration of the Passion. She would not have her children come to that great day of the immolation of the Lamb, without having prepared for it by compassionating with Him in the sufferings He endured in their stead.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Passiontide and Holy Week)

For more information on Passiontide and Holy Week, visit here.

WITH this volume we begin the season of Easter, wherein are accomplished the mysteries prepared for, and looked forward to, since Advent. Such are the liturgical riches of this portion of the Christian year, that we have found it necessary to devote three volumes to it.

The present volume is wholly taken up with Easter Week. A week is indeed a short period; but such a week as this, with the importance of the events it brings before us, and the grandeur of the mysteries it celebrates, is, at least, equivalent to any other section of our Liturgical Year. We have abridged our explanations as much as possible; and yet we have exceeded two-thirds of one of our ordinary volumes. Hence, it was out of the question to add the remaining weeks; the more so, as the saints’ feasts recommence on the Monday following the Easter Octave, and their insertion would have obliged us to have made our volume considerably more bulky than even that of Passiontide. We have, therefore, been satisfied with giving the Mass and Office of the Annunciation, already given in our volume for Lent, but which are needed for the Monday after Low Sunday, when Easter falls between March 22 and April 2, which is frequently the case.

For more information on Paschal Tide, visit here.

This volume opens to us the second part of the Liturgical Year, beginning the long period of the Time after Pentecost. It treats of the feasts of the most holy Trinity, of Corpus Christi, and of the sacred Heart of Jesus. These three feasts require to be explained apart. Their dates depend on that of Easter; and yet they are detached, if we consider their object, from the moveable cycle, whose aim is to bring before us, each year, the successive, and so to speak historic, memories of our Lord’s mysteries. After the sublime drama, which has, by gradually presenting to us the facts of our Redeemer’s history, shown us the divine economy of the redemption, these feasts immediately follow, and give us a deep and dogmatic teaching: a teaching which is a marvellous synthesis, taking in the whole body of Christian doctrine.

The Holy Ghost has come down upon the earth, in order to sanctify it. Faith being the one basis of all sanctification, and the source of love, the holy Spirit would make it the starting-point of His divine workings in the soul. To this end, He inspires the Church, which has sprung up into life under the influence of His impetuous breathing, to propose at once to the faithful that doctrinal summary, which is comprised in the three feasts immediately coming after Pentecost. The volumes following the present one will show us the holy Spirit continuing His work, and, on the solid foundations of the faith He established at the outset, building the entire superstructure of the Christian virtues.

This was the idea which the author of the Liturgical year was busy developing in the second part of his work, when death came upon him; and the pen that had begun this volume was put by obedience into the hands of one, who now comes before the faithful, asking their prayers for the arduous task he has undertaken, of continuing the not quite finished work of his beloved father and master. He begs of them to beseech our Lord, that He Himself will vouchsafe to bring to a successful termination an undertaking that was begun for His honour and glory, and that has already produced so much fruit in the souls of men.

Br. L.F. O.S.B.

Solesmes, May 10, 1879.

 

For more information on Time after Pentecost, visit here.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The fourth Sunday after Pentecost was called, for a long period, in the west, the Sunday of mercy, because, formerly, there was read upon it the passage from St. Luke beginning with the words : ‘Be merciful, as your Father is merciful.’ But, this Gospel having been since assigned to the Mass of the first Sunday after Pentecost, the Gospel of the fifth Sunday was made that of the fourth; the Gospel of the sixth became that of the fifth; and so on, up to the twenty-third. The change we speak of was, however, not introduced into many Churches till a very late period;[1] and it was not universally received till the sixteenth century.

Whilst the Gospels were thus brought forward a week, in almost the whole series of these Sundays, the Epistles, Prayers, and the other sung portions of the ancient Masses were, with a few exceptions, left as originally drawn up. The connexion which the liturgists of the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries had fancied they found between the Gospel and the rest of the liturgy for these Sundays was broken. Thus the Church spared not those favourite views and explanations which were at times farfetched; and yet she did not intend thereby to condemn those writers, nor to discourage her children from perusing their treatises, for, as the holy reflections they contained were frequently suggested by the authority of the ancient liturgies, such reading would edify and instruct. We are quite at liberty, then, to turn their labours to profit; let us only keep this continually before us—that the chief connexion existing between the several portions of the proper of each Mass for the Sundays after Pentecost consists in the unity of the sacrifice itself.

In the Greek Church there is even less pretension to anything approaching methodical arrangement in the liturgy of these Sundays. On the morrow of Pentecost they begin the reading of the Gospel of St. Matthew, and continue it, chapter after chapter, up to the feast of the Exaltation of the holy Cross, in September. St. Luke follows St. Matthew, and is read in the same way. The weeks and Sundays of this season are simply named according to the Gospel of each day; or they take the name of the evangelist whose text is being read : thus, our first Sunday after Pentecost is called by them the first Sunday of St. Matthew; the one we are now keeping is their fourth of St. Matthew.

So important is the Sunday's liturgy, destined each week to honour such profound mysteries, that, for a long time, the Roman Pontiffs kept down the number of feasts which were above the rank of semi-doubles; that thus the Sunday, which is itself a semi-double, might not be superseded. It was not till the second half of the seventeenth century that this discipline of reserve was relaxed. Then it was that it had to give way in order thereby to meet the attacks, made by the Protestants and their allies the Jansenists, against the cult of the saints. It was needful to remind the faithful that the honour paid to the servants of God detracts not from the glory of their Master; that the cult of the saints, the members of Christ, is but the consequence and development of that which is due to Christ their Head. The Church owed it to her Spouse to make a protest against the narrow views of these innovators, who were really aiming at lessening the glory of the Incarnation by thus denying its grandest consequences. It was, therefore, by a special inspiration of the holy Spirit that the apostolic See then permitted several feasts, both old and new, to be ranked as of a double rite. To strengthen the solemn condemnation she had pronounced against the heretics of that period, she wisely adopted the course of allowing the feasts of saints to be sometimes kept on Sundays, although these latter were considered as being especially reserved for the celebration of the leading mysteries of our Catholic faith, and for the obligatory attendance of the people.

The Sunday, or dominical, liturgy was not, however, altogether displaced by the celebration of any particular feast on the Lord’s Day; for, no matter how solemn soever the feast falling on a Sunday may be, a commemoration must always be made of the Sunday, by adding its Prayers to those of the occurring feast, and by reading its proper Gospel, instead of that of St. John, at the end of Mass. Neither let us forget that after the assisting at the solemn Mass and the canonical Hours, one of the best means for observing the precept of keeping holy the sabbath-day is oar own private meditation upon the Epistle and Gospel appointed by the Church for each Sunday.

Recently, however, in view of the great increase in the number of festivals of Saints kept by the Universal Church, which had resulted in the Sunday liturgy being very rarely used, the Holy See has thought well to ordain that greater or lesser double feasts falling on Sundays shall be merely commemorated in the Mass and Office of the day. Henceforth the Mass of the season is said on every Sunday throughout the year which is not occupied by a double feast of the first or second class, or by a Feast of Our Lord. Thus the Sunday liturgy is restored to its former high rank in the scheme of the Church's year.

 

MASS

 

The Church, on the morrow of Trinity Sunday, began the reading of the Books of Kings in her Night Office. On this very night preceding our Sunday she entered on the admirable history of Davids triumph over Goliath, the Philistine giant. Now, who is the Church's true David but that divine leader who, for these eighteen hundred years, has been marshalling the army of the saints to victory? Is not she herself the King's daughter,[2] who was promised to Him who should win the battle against satan? That battle was won on Calvary by our Lord Jesus Christ; He saved the true Israel, and avenged the insult offered to the God of hosts. Filled with the sentiments breathed into her by this episode of sacred history, the Church, the bride, borrows the words of David,[3] wherewith to celebrate the noble exploits of her Spouse, and to tell the confidence which she has in Him, in consequence of His triumph. It is her Introit

Introit

Dominus illuminatio mea et salus mea, quem timebo? Dominus defensor vitæ meæ, a quo trepidabo? Qui tribulant me inimici mei, ipsi infirmati sunt et ceciderunt. Ps. Si consistant adversum me castra, non timebit cor meum. Gloria Patri. Dominus.
The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? My enemies that trouble me have themselves been weakened, and have fallen. Ps. If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear. Glory, etc. The Lord.

Notwithstanding her confidence in heaven’s help in times of trial, yet does the Church ever pray to the Most High that He would bless the world with peace. If, when the battle comes, the bride thrills at the thought that she will then have the chance of proving her devoted love, yet, as mother, she trembles when she thinks that many of her children, who would have been saved had the times been peaceful, will perish because of days of trouble overtaking them. Let us pray with her in the Collect.

Collect

Da nobis, quæsumus Domine, ut et mundi cursus pacifice nobis tuo ordine dirigatur : et Ecclesia tua tranquilla devotione lætetur. Per Dominum.
Grant us, we beseech thee, O Lord, that, by thy providence, the events of this world may be peacefully arranged for us, and that thy Church may be gladdened by being permitted to serve thee with peaceful devotedness. Through, etc.

Second Collect

A cunctis nos quæsumus, Domine, mentis et corporis defende periculis : et intercedente beata et gloriosa semper Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beato Joseph, beatis apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque beato N. et omnibus sanctis, salutem nobis tribue benignus et pacem; ut destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis, Ecclesia tua secura tibi serviat libertate.
Preserve us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, from all dangers of soul and body : and, by the intercession of the glorious and blessed Mary, the ever Virgin Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, of blessed N. (here is mentioned the titular mint of the church), and of all the saints, grant us, in thy mercy, health and peace; that, all adversities and errors being removed, thy Church may serve thee with undisturbed liberty.

The third Collect is left to the priest's own choice.


EPISTLE

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Romanos.

Cap. viii.

Fratres, Existimo quod non sunt condignæ passiones hujus temporis ad futuram gloriam, quæ revelabitur in nobis. Nam exspectatio creaturæ revelationem filiorum Dei exspectat. Vanitati enim creatura subjecta est non volens, sed propter eum qui subjecit eam in spe : quia et ipsa creatura liberabitur a servitute corruptionis in libertatem gloriæ filiorum Dei. Scimus enim quod omnis creatura ingemiscit, et parturit usque adhuc. Non solum autem illa, sed et nos ipsi primitias Spiritus habentes, et ipsi intra nosgemimus, adoptionem filiorum Dei exspectantes, redemptionem corporis nostri: in Christo Jesu Domino nostro.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Romans.

Ch. viii.

Brethren : I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us. For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope : because the creature also itself snail be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that every creature groaneth, and travaileth in pain even till now. And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The first-fruits of the Spirit are the grace and the virtues which He has put into our souls, as the earnest of salvation and the germ of future glory. Our faith confirms our possession of these divine pledges; and regenerate human nature, even amidst all the trials of this life, is consoled at the very thought of the noble destiny to which it is called. Satan may use his fiercest efforts to regain his lost ground; and the soul may have many and frequent battles to fight, in order to hold what was once under the dominion of the enemy; but Christian hope is an armour of heavens own making. Hope 'entereth in even within the veil';[4] and then she comes, telling the combatant about the disproportion, here mentioned by the apostle, between the fatigues of the march here below and the bliss which is to reward our fidelity in the happy land above. He has the promises of God and the marvellous dealings of the Paraclete in his regard, both in the past and now, all justifying his expectations of the future glory that shall then be revealed, be realized, in him. The very earth he dwells on, which now so often tyrannizes over him and deceives his senses, urges him to fix his heart on something far better than itself; it even seems to share in his hopes. St. Paul tells us so in our to-day's Epistle : the wild upheavings, the restless changes of material creation, are so many voices clamouring for the destruction of sin, and for the fìnal and total triumph over the which followed sin. The present condition of this world, therefore, furnishes a special and most telling motive, inviting us to the holy virtue of hope. They alone can find anything strange in such teaching who have no idea of how man's being raised up to the supernatural order was, from the beginning, a real ennobling of the world which was made for man's service. Men of this stamp have their own ways of explaining God's creation; but the truth which explains everything both on earth and in heaven—the divine axiom which is the principle and reason of everything that has been made—is this : that God, who of necessity does everything for His own glory, has, of His own free choice, appointed that the perfection of this His glory shall consist in the triumph of His love, by the ineffable mystery of divine union realized in His creature. To bring this divine union about is, consequently, by God's gracious will, not only the one sole end, but, moreover, the one only law, the vital and constitutive law, of creation. When the Spirit moved over chaos, He adapted the informal matter to the designs of infinite love. Thereby the various elements, and the countless atoms, of the world that was in preparation really derived from this infinite love the principle of their future development and power; they received it as their one single mission to co-operate, each in its own way, with the holy Spirit, in leading man, the creature chosen by eternal Wisdom, to the proposed glorious end—union with God. Sin broke the alliance, and would have destroyed the world by taking from it the purpose of its existence, had it not been for the incomprehensible patience of the God it outraged, and the marvellous renovations of the original plan achieved by the Spirit of love. A violent state, the state of struggle and expiation, has now been substituted for what, in the primal design of the Creator, was to be the effortless advance of the king of creation to his grand destiny, the spontaneous growth of what someone has called man, ‘the god in the bud.’ Divine union is still offered to the world, but at what a cost of trouble and travail! We may still enjoy the eternal music of triumph, and all the joys of the divine nuptial banquet; but oh! what a long prelude of sighs and sobs must precede!

Men who recognize no other law than that of the flesh may be as deaf and as indifferent as they please to the teachings of positive revelation; but mere matter will go on ever condemning their materialism. Nature, which they pretend to acknowledge as their only authority, will continue to preach the supernatural with her thousand mouths, and will preach it in every nook of the earth; and creation, disturbed though it be, and turned astray by the fall of Adam, will still keep proclaiming—all the louder because it is in suffering—that the fallen king, whom it was intended to serve, has a destiny far beyond all finite things. O ye mysterious sufferings of creatures, which the apostle here calls your groanings, may we not name you, as one of the poets did, ‘the tears of things'?[5] Truly, you are like the soul of music of this land of trial; we have but to listen to your sweet plaintive sounds, and let you speak your eloquence, and you lead us to Him who is the source of all beauty and love. The pagan world heard your voice; but its philosophers would have it that you meant pantheism! The Holy Ghost had not yet begun His reign. He alone could explain to us the strange language of nature, and her vehement aspirations, all of which had been put into her by Himself. All is now made clear to us : the Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole earth;[6] the divine witness, who giveth us assurance that we are the sons of God,[7] has carried His precious testimony to the farthest limits of creation; for all creation thrills with expectancy, impatient to see the coming of that glorious day which is to be the revelation of the glory that belongs to these sons of God. It is on their account that they too have had to suffer; together with them they shall be set free, and shall share in the brightness of their coronation-day. St. John Chrysostom compares the earth to 'the nurse who has brought up the king's son; when he succeeds to his father's kingdom, she too is made all the better off. . . . It is much the same with all men; when a son of theirs is to appear in the splendour of some new dignity, they let his very servants wear richer suits. So will God vest in incorruption every creature when the day of the deliverance and glory of His children shall come.’[8]

The Gradual offers up to God the prayers of Christians who, though they are far from being free from sin, and feel that they are unworthy of His assistance, yet, for His own glory's sake, sue Him to have compassion on them. Poor though they be, they are His soldiers; their cause is His. The Alleluia-verse shows us the Church, though here below she be poor and persecuted, sending up her prayer of confidence to the throne of her Spouse, the most just Judge.

Gradual

Propitius esto, Domine, peccatis nostris, nequando dicant gentes : ubi est Deus eorum?

V. Adjuva nos, Deus salutaris noster : et propter honorem nominis tui, Domine, libera nos. Alleluia, alleluia. V. Deus, qui sedes super thronum, et judicas æquitatem, esto refugium pauperum in tribulatione. Alleluia.
Be merciful, O Lord, to our offences, that the Gentiles may never say : Where now is their God?

V. Help us, O Lord, our Saviour, and, for the honour of thy name, deliver us, O Lord. Alleluia, alleluia. V. O God, who sittest on thy throne, and judgest justly, be a refuge to the poor in distress. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. v.

In illo tempore : Cum turbæ irruerent in Jesum, ut audirent verbum Dei, et ipse stabat secus stagnum Genezareth. Et vidit duas naves stantes secus stagnum: piscatores autem descenderant, et lavabant retia. Ascendens autem in unam navim, quæ erat Simonis, rogavit eum a terra reducere pusillum. Et sedens, docebat de navicula turbas. Ut cessavit autem loqui, dixit ad Simonem : Duc in altum, et laxate retia vestra in capturam. Et respondens Simon, dixit illi : Præceptor, per totani noctem laborantes, nihil cepimus : in verbo autem tuo laxabo rete. Et cum hoc fecissent, concluserunt pisci um multitudinem copiosam; rumpebatur autem rete eorum. Et annuerunt sociis, qui erant in alia navi, ut venirent, et adjuvarent eos. Et venerunt, et impleverunt ambas naviculas, ita ut pene mergerentur. Quod cum videret Simon Petrus, procidit ad genua Jesu, dicens : Exi a me, quia homo peccafcor sum, Domine. Stupor enim circumdederat eum, et omnes qui cum illo erant, in captura piscium quam ceperant : similiter autem Jacobum et Joannem, fìlios Zebedæi, qui erant socii Simonis. Et ait ad Simonem Jesus : Noli timere: exhoc jam homines eris capiens. Et subductis ad terram navibus, relictis omnibus secuti sunt eum.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. v.

At that time, it came to pass, that when the multitude pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Genesareth, and saw two ships standing by the lake; but the fishermen were gone out of them and were washing their nets. And going into one of the ships that was Simon's, he desired him to draw back a little from the land. And sitting he taught the multitudes out of the ship. Now when he had ceased to speak, he said to Simon : Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon, answering, said to him : Master, we have laboured all the night, and have taken nothing; but at thy word, I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes, and their net broke. And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking. Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying : Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken. And so were also James and John the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. And Jesus saith to Simon : Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things they followed him.

The prophecy and promise made by Jesus to Simon the son of John is now fulfilled. We were in amazement, on the day when the Holy Ghost came down, at the success which attended Peter's first fishing for men; he cast in his nets, and it was the choicest of the sons of Israel that he took, and offered them to the Lord Jesus. But the bark of Peter was not to be long confined within Jewish waters. Insignificant as it seems to human views, the ship is now sailing on the high seas; it rides on the deep waters, which are, so St. John tells us, peoples and nations.[9] The boisterous wind, the surging billows, the storm, no longer terrify the boatman of Lake Tiberias; for he knows that he has on board Him who is the master of the waves— Him, that is, who has given the deep as a garment to clothe the earth.[10] Endued with power from on high,[11] Peter has cast his net, the apostolic preaching, all over the great ocean; for it is large as the world, and is to bring the sons of the ‘great fish,’[12] the divine Ichthus,[13] to the eternal shore. Grand indeed is the work assigned to Peter. Though fellow-labourers have been joined to him in his divine enterprise, yet does he preside over them all as their undisputed head, as master of the ship where Jesus commands in person, and directs all the operations to be done for the worlds salvation. Our to-day's Gospel very opportunely prepares us for, and sums up, the teachings included in the feast of the prince of the apostles, which always comes close on the fourth Sunday after Pentecost. For that very reason, we leave for that feast the detailed enumeration of the glories inherent in the vicar of Christ; and limit ourselves, for the present, to the consideration of the other mysteries contained in the text before us.

The evangelists have left us the account of two miraculous fishings made by the apostles in presence of their divine Lord : one of these, related by St. Luke, the Church proposes for our consideration on this Sunday; the other, with its exquisite symbolism, was put before us by the beloved disciple on Easter Wednesday. The former of these, which took place while our Lord was still in the days of His mortal life, merely states that the net was cast into the water, and that it broke with the multitude of the draught; but no notice is taken by the evangelist of either the number or the kind of fish. In the second, it is our risen Lord who tells the fishermen, His disciples, that the net must be let down on the right side of their boat; it catches, and without breaking, a hundred and fifty great fishes ; these are brought to the shore where Jesus is waiting for them, that He may join them with the mysterious bread and fish that He Himself has already prepared for His labourers.[14] The fathers are unanimous in the interpretation of these two fishings : they represent the Church; first of all, the Church as she now is, and next as she is to be in eternity. As she now is, the Church is the multitude, without distinction between good and bad; but afterwards—that is, after the resurrection—the good alone will compose the Church, and their number will be for ever fixed. ‘The kingdom of heaven,’ says our Lord, ‘is like to a net cast into the sea, and gathering together of all kind of fishes; which, when it was filled, they drew out; they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad they cast forth.’[15]

To speak with St. Augustine, the fishers of men have cast forth their nets; they have taken the multitude of Christians which we see in wonderment; they have filled the two ships with them, the two peoples, Jew and Gentile. But what is this we are told? The multitude weighs down the ships, even to the risk of sinking them; it is what we witness now : the pressing and mingled crowd of the baptized is a burden to the Church. Many Christians there are who live badly; they are a trouble to, and keep back, the good. Worse than these, there are those who tear the nets by their schisms or their heresies; they are impatient of the yoke of unity, and will not come to the banquet of Christ; they are pleased with themselves. Under pretext that they cannot live with the bad, they break the net which kept them in the apostolic track, and they die far off the shore. In how many countries have they not thus broken the great net of salvation? The Donatists in Africa, the Arians in Egypt, Montanus in Phrygia, Manes in Persia; and since their times, how many others have excelled in the work of rupture! Let us not imitate their folly. If grace have made us holy, let us be patient with the bad while living in this world's waters. Let the sight of them drive us neither to live as they do, nor to leave the Church. The shore is not far off, where those on the right, or the good, will alone be permitted to land, and from which the wicked will be repulsed, and cast into the abyss.[16]

In the Offertory, the Christian army sues for that light of faith which alone can make it sure of victory; and this, because it tells where the enemy is, and what are his plans. For a servant of God who is thus enlightened, night has no dangers; the brightness of heaven's beams keeps off from his eyes that fatal sleep which implies defeat and death.

Offertory

Illumina oculos meos, ne unquam obdormiam in morte : nequando dicat inimicus meus : Prævalui adversus eum.
Enlighten mine eyes, that I may never sleep in death; lest the enemy should ever say: I have prevailed over him.

The gifts offered on the altar for the all-mighty transformation of the sacrifice are a figure of the faithful themselves. It is on this account that the Church prays, in the Secret, that our Lord would draw to Himself our rebel wills, and change them, as He is about to do with these gifts. Let us remember, that of all the fish that were in the mysterious net, those only, as the fathers tell us, will be the elect of the eternal shores who 'live in such wise as to deserve to be introduced, by the fishermen of the Church, to the banquet of Christ Jesus.'[17]

Secret

Oblationibus nostris, quæsumus Domine, placare susceptis : et ad te nostras etiam rebelles compelle propitius voluntates. Per Dominum.
Receive our offerings, we beseech thee, O Lord, and be appeased thereby; and mercifully compel our rebel wills to yield unto thee. Through, etc.

Second Secret

Exaudi nos, Deus Salutaris noster : ut per hujus sacramenti virtutem, a cunctis nos mentis et corporis hostibus tuearis, gratiam tribnens in præsenti, et gloriam in futuro.
Graciously hear us, O God, our Saviour; that, by virtue of this sacrament, thou mayst defend us from all enemies, of both soul and body; grant us grace in this life, and glory in the next.

The third Secret is left to the priest's own choice.


That God who enabled David's weakness to triumph over the giant Philistine, gives Himself to us in the sacred mysteries. Let us sing the psalm from which the Communion-anthem is taken: let us sing these few words in praise of His merciful power, which makes itself become ours by means of this adorable Sacrament.

Communion

Dominus firmamentum meum, et refugium meum, et liberator meus;Deus meus, adjutor meus.
The Lord is my support, and my refuge, and my deliverer : my God is my helper.

St. Augustine[18] gives the name of sacrament of hope to the divine mystery wherein the Church daily proclaims and restores, here below, her social union. The real union, though at present it be veiled, of the Head and the members in the banquet of eternal Wisdom, is a pledge of the future glories of regenerate humanity, far exceeding that restless expectation of creation, of which the apostle spoke to us in to-day's Epistle. Let us pray, in the Postcommunion, that our defilements may be removed, and may not impede this holy Sacrament from producing its full effect in us; for such is its virtue, that it is able to lead us to the consummate perfection of salvation.

Postcommunion

Mysteria nos, Domine, quæsumus, sumpta purificent, et suo munere tueantur. Per Dominum.
May the mysteries we have received, O Lord, both purify and defend us, by the gift they bestow. Through, etc.

Second Postcommunion

Mundet et muniat nos, quæsumus, Domine, divini Sacramenti munus oblatum, et intercedente beata Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beato Joseph, beatis apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque beato N. et omnibus sanctis, a cunctis nos reddat et perversitatibus expiatos, et adversitatibus expeditos.
May the oblation of this divine Sacrament, we beseech thee, O Lord, both cleanse and defend us; and by the intercession of blessed Mary, the VirginMother of God, of blessed Joseph, of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, of blessed N., and of all the saints, free us from all sin, and deliver us from all adversity.

The third Postcommunion is left to the priest's own choice.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms, capitulum, hymn, and versicle, as above, pages 71-81.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Præceptor, per totam noctem laborantes nihil cepimus; in verbo autem tuo laxabo rete.

Oremus.

Da nobis, quæsumus, Domine, ut et mundi cursus pacifìce nobis tuo ordine dirigatur, et Ecclesia tua tranquilla devotione lætetur. Per Dominum.
Master, we have laboured all night, and have taken nothing; but at thy word, I will let down the net.

Let us Pray.

Grant us, we beseech thee, O Lord, that, by thy providence, the events of this world may be peacefully arranged for us, and that thy Church may be gladdened by being permitted to serve thee with peaceful devotedness. Through, etc.

[1] Cf. cum Missali hodierno Bern. Aug. De offic. Mis. cap. V; Microlog. De eccl. obs. cap. lxi; Honor. Augustod. Gemma animæ,l. iv; Rupert. De div. off. l. xii; Durand. 1. vi; etc.
[2] Kings xvii. 25-27.
[3] Ps. xxvi.
[4] Heb. vi.19.
[5] Virg., ‘Æn.,’ I. 462.
[6] Wisd. i. 7.
[7] Rom. viii. 16.
[8] In Ep, ad Rom., Hom. xiv. 5.
[9] Apoc. xvii. 15.
[10] Ps. ciii. 6.
[11] St. Luke xxiv. 49.
[12] Titul. S. Abercii.
[13] Inscript. Augustod.
[14] St. John xxi. 1-13.
[15] St. Matt. xiii. 47, 48.
[16] S. Aug. Serm. 248-252, passim.
[17] Bruno Ast. Expos. in Gen., c. I.
[18] Contra Faustum. L. xii. 20.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

This Sunday, which, with the Greeks, is called the fifth of St. Matthew, was known by the Latins as the Sunday of the fishing;such was its name up to the time when the Church transferred to the previous Sunday the Gospel which suggested that title. The week which it commences is, in some ancient lectionaries, called the 'first after the feast of the apostles' or of St. Peter; in others it is the second or third after the same feast; these, and similar varieties of names, which it is no rare thing to find in the liturgical books of the Middle Ages, are due to the fact that Easter was kept earlier or later in the years when those books were written.

The Church began last night the reading of the second Book of Kings, which opens with the description of Saul's sad end and David's accession to the throne of Israel. The exaltation of Jesse’s son is the climax to the prophetic life of the ancient people. In David God had found His faithful servant,[1] and He resolved to exhibit him to the world as the most perfect figure of the future Messiah. A solemn promise of Jehovah assured the new monarch as to the future of his race; his throne was to be everlasting,[2] for at some future day it was to be the throne of Him who should be called the Son of the Most High, though, at the same time, He was to be Son of David.[3]

But whilst the tribe of Juda was hailing in Hebron the king elected by the Lord, there were dark clouds on the horizon. In her Vespers of yesterday the Church sang, as one of her finest antiphons, the funeral ode which inspiration dictated to David when he saw the regal crown that had been picked up from the dust and gore of the battlefield, whereon had fallen the princes of Israel: 'Ye mountains of Gelboe, let neither dew nor rain come upon you, for there was cast away the shield of the valiant, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil. How are the valiant fallen in battle! Jonathan slain on the high places! Saul and Jonathan exceedingly lovely and comely in their life; even in death they were not divided.'[4]

The proximity of the great solemnity of the apostles, June 29, to the Saturday when this antiphon is sung, has suggested to the Church to apply its last words to Saints Peter and Paul, during the octave of their feast : ‘Glorious princes of the earth! as they loved each other in their life, so even in their death they were not divided!'[5] Like the Hebrew people at this period of their history, our Christian armies have often had to hail the accession of a king on the field reddened with the blood of his predecessor.

MASS

 

As on last Sunday, so again to-day, the Church seems to unite together the readings of the previous night and the solemn entrance of the sacrifice. The Introit for this fifth Sunday is taken from Psalm xxvi., which was composed by David on occasion of his coronation in Hebron. It expresses the humble confidence of him who has nothing here below to trust in; and yet he has the Lord as his light and salvation. In the events just referred to, nothing less than a blind faith in God's promises could have kept up the courage of the young shepherd of Bethlehem, and nothing less could have inspired the people who had made him their king. But we must see beyond this; we must understand that the kingship of Jesse's son and his descendants, in the ancient Jerusalem, represents, for our mother the Church, a grander royalty, and a more lasting dynasty—the kingship of Christ and the dynasty of the sovereign Pontiffs.

Introit

Exaudi, Domine, vocem meam qua clamavi ad te : adjutor meus esto, ne derelinquas me. neque despicias me, Deus salutaris meus.

Ps. Dominus illuminatio mea, et salus mea; quem timebo? V. Gloria Patri. Exaudi.
Hear, O Lord, my voice, with which I have cried to thee : be thou my helper : forsake me not : do not thou despise me, O God, my Saviour!

Ps. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Glory, etc. Hear.

The blessings promised to David as recompense for his combats were but a poor figure of those which await in heaven the vanquishers of the world, the flesh, and the devil. They are to be kings for ever; on their thrones, they are to enjoy the fullness of those inebriating and heavenly delights, some drops of which are permitted by the divine Spouse to be tasted, here below, by souls that are faithful to Him. Let us, therefore, love Him, who thus recompenses our love; and since, of ourselves, we can do nothing, let us, through the Spouse, ask the giver of every best gift[6] to bestow on us the perfection of divine charity.

Collect

Deus, qui diligentibus te bona invisibilia præparasti : infunde cordibus nostris tui amoris affectum; ut te in omnibus, et super omnia diligentes, promissiones tuas, quæ omne desiderium superant, consequamur. Per Dominum.
O God, who hast prepared invisible good things for them that love thee : pour forth into our hearts an affectionate love for thee : that, loving thee, in all things, and above all things, we may come to the enjoyment of thy promises, which surpass all that we could desire. Through, etc.

The other Collects, as given above, in the Mass of the fourth Sunday, page 120.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Petri Apostoli.

1 Cap. iii.

Charissimi. Omnes unanimes in oratione estote, compatientes, fraternitatis amatores, misericordes, modesti, humiles: non reddentes malum pro malo, nec maledictum pro maledicto, sed e contrario benedicentes : quia in hoc vocati estis, ut benedictionem hereditate possideatis. Qui enim vult vitam diligere, et dies videre bonos, coerceat linguam suam a malo, et labia ejus ne loquantur dolum. Declinet a malo, et faciat bonmn: inquirat pacem, et sequatur eam. Quia oculi Domini super justos, et aures ejus in preces eorum : vultus autem Domini super facientes mala. Et quis est qui vobis noceat, si boni æmulatores fueritis? Sed et si quid patimini propter justitiam, beati. Timorem autem eorum ne timueritis, et non conturbemini. Dominum autem Christum sanctificate in cordibus vestris.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Peter the Apostle.

1 Ch. iii.

Dearly beloved : Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one ofanother, being lovers of the brotherhood, merciful, modest, humble : not rendering evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing : for unto this are you called, that you may inherit a blessing. For, he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile. Let him decline from evil, and do good: let him seek after peace, and pursue it : because the eyes of the Lord are upon the just, and his ears unto their prayers; but the countenance of the Lord upon them that do evil things. And who is he that can hurt you, if you be zealous of good? But if also you suffer any thing for justice' sake, blessed are ye. And be not afraid of their fear, and be not troubled. But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts.

The Gospel of last Sunday showed us the apostles gathering into their net the mystic fish, which represented the chosen souls called into the union of the Church. To-day we must look upon the faithful as the living stones of which that Church is built; for we are listening to the words of Peter, who is the rock and the foundation-stone. The Son of God came down from heaven for no other purpose than to found on earth a glorious city, in which God Himself might delight to dwell;[7] He came, that He might build for His Father a temple of matchless beauty, where praise and love, ceaselessly sounding from the very stones which form its walls, might worthily proclaim it to be the sanctuary of the great sacrifice. He became Himself the foundation of the thrice holy structure, wherein was to burn the eternal holocaust.[8] He communicated this character of foundation of the new temple to Simon, His vicar;[9] and by giving him the name of Peter or rock. He as good as told all future generations, what was the one aim of all His divine labours, viz., to build, here on earth, a temple worthy of His eternal Father. Let us, with respectful gratitude, receive from this vicar of the Man-God the practical lessons which are involved in this master-truth. And, as we are just now in the period of the year when the calendar brings the prince of the apostles into such welcome prominence, let us be led by the Church nearer and nearer to this shepherd and bishop of our souls.[10]

Union of true charity, concord, and peace, which must, at every cost, be kept up as the condition for their being happy both now and for ever—such is the substance of the instructions addressed by Simon, now Peter, to those other chosen stones, which rest upon him, and constitute that august temple to be presented by the Son of Man to the glory of the Most High. Do not the solidity and duration of even earth’s palaces depend on the degree of union between the materials used in their structure? Again, it is union which gives strength and beauty to all the parts of this immense universe;let there be a cessation of that mutual attraction which combines them together in one harmonious whole, let there be a suspension of that cohesion which holds their atoms together, and the whole universe will return to dust. The Creator hath made peace in His high places;[11] so that He asks: ‘Who can make the harmony of heaven to sleep?'[12] And yet, as the earth, in its present condition, is to have an end, so, too, the heavens are to pass away as some worn-out garment.[13] What, then, will be the cause of the stability, what the cement which is to hold together the house prepared for God to dwell in, which, when all else has crumbled into change, is to be ever the same? And that dwelling is the Church; the dwelling of the adorable Trinity, up to whose throne the fragrance which exhales from her divine Spouse will ascend for all eternity.

Here again it is the holy Spirit who must explain to us the mystery of this union, which makes up the holy city,[14] and which is to last as long as eternity itself. The charity which is poured forth into our hearts at the moment of our Baptism is an emanation of the very love that reigns in the bosom of the blessed Trinity; for the workings of the holy Spirit in the saints have this for their aim : to make them enter into a participation in the divine energies. Having become the life of the regenerate soul, the divine fire penetrates her whole being with God, and communicates, to her created and finite love, the direction and the power of the flame that is everlasting and divine. So that, henceforward, the Christian must love as God loves; his charity is then only what it should be, when it takes in everything that God loves. Now, such is the ineffable friendship established by the supernatural order between God and His intellectual creatures, that He vouchsafes to love them with the love wherewith He loves Himself; and therefore, our charity should include and embrace, not only God Himself, but, moreover, all those beings whom He has called to share, if they will, in His own infinite happiness. This will give us to understand the grandeur and incomparable power of the union, in which the Holy Ghost has established the Church. We are not surprised that its bonds should be stronger than death, and its cohesion be proof against all the power of hell;[15] for the cement, which joins the living stones of its walls together, partakes of the strength of God Himself, and imitates the stability of His eternal love. The Church is truly that tower built on the waters, which was shown to Hermas; it was formed of brightly polished stones, so closely joined one to the other that the eye could not perceive the joints.[16]

But let us also understand the importance and the necessity of mutual union for all Christians. There must be among them that love of the brotherhood which is so frequently and so strongly recommended by the apostles, the co-operators of the Spirit in the building up of the Church. The keeping aloof from schism and heresy, of whose terrible consequences we were told in last Sunday's Gospel; the repression of hatred and jealousy; no, these are not enough to make us become useful members of the Church of Christ : we must, moreover, have a charity which is effective, and devoted, and persevering, and brings all souls and hearts into true union and harmony; a charity, which, to be worthy of the name, must be warm-hearted and generous, for it must make us see God in our fellowmen, and that will bring us to look upon their happiness or misfortunes as though they were our own. We must have none of that phlegmatic egotism which finds satisfaction in never putting itself out of the way for anybody. Hateful as such a temperament is, it is far from being a rare one. It holds this peculiar view about charity, that the best way of observing it is to have a complete indifference for those who live with us! Souls of this stamp, it is evident, are not bedded in the divine cement; you could never make them part of the holy structure; the heavenly builder is compelled to reject them as unfit, or leave them to lie around the walls, a heap of unemployed material, which refused all adaptation, and all shaping to the general plan. If the building be finished before they have made up their minds not to be rubbish, woe to them! When it is too late, they will open their eyes, and understand that charity is one; so that, he does not love God who does not love his neighbour,[17] and he who does not love, abideth in death.[18] Let us, therefore, as St. John counsels us, measure the perfection of our love for God by the love we have for our neighbours : then only shall we have God abiding within us;[19] then only shall we be enabled to enjoy the unspeakable mysteries of divine union with Him, who only unites Himself with His elect, in order to make both them and Himself one magnificent temple to the glory of His Father.

The Gradual, recurring to the ideas which inspired the Introit, implores the divine protection in favour of the people, who have the Lord’s anointed as their King. The Alleluia-versicle proclaims His victories, and the salvation which He brought to this our earth.

Gradual

Protector noster aspice, Deus : et respice super servos tuos.

V. Domine Deus virtutum, exaudi preces servorum tuorum. Alleluia, alleluia.

V. Domine, in virtute tua lætabitur rex; et super salutare tuum exsultabit vehementer. Alleluia.
Look down, O God, our protector; and look down upon thy servants.

V. O Lord God of hosts, graciously hear the prayers of thy servants. Alleluia, alleluia.

V. O Lord, in thy might shall the king rejoice : and in thy salvation shall he exult exceedingly. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. v.

In illo tempore : Dixit Jesus discipulis suis : Nisi abundaverit justitia vestra plusquam scribarum et pharisæorum, non intrabitis in regnum cœlorum. Audistis quia dictum est antiquis : Non occides; qui autem occiderit, reus erit judicio. Ego autem dico vobis: quia omnis, qui irascitur fratri suo, reus erit judicio. Qui autem dixcrit fratri suo : Raca, rous erit concilio. Qui autem dixerit : Fatue, reus erit gehennae ignis. Si ergo offers munus tuum ad altare, et ibi recordatus fueris quia frater tuus habet aliquid adversum te; relinque ibi munus tuum ante altare, et vade prius reconciliari fratri tuo; et tunc veniens offeres munus tuum.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. v.

At that time : Jesus said to his disciples : Unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to them of old : Thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. If, therefore, thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there remember that thy brother hath any thing against thee; leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother : and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift.

The last days of the ancient Jerusalem are fast drawing to their close. In less than a month, we shall witness the frightful ruin of the city, that knew not the time of her Lord’s visitation.[20] It is on the ninth Sunday after Pentecost, during these months of July and August, in which the armies of Vespasian beheld the destruction of Jerusalem, that the sacred liturgy commemorates the fulfilment of our Redeemer’s prophecies. During the intervening years, the ancient temple is still there, with its inner doors closed against all Gentiles. It gives out that, as of old, so now, it holds the Divinity beneath the veils of the old Testament, screening off, even from the children of Israel, its impenetrable Holy of holies. And yet, the five weeks we have had since Pentecost have shown us how gloriously the Church has been begun on Mount Sion. There, fronting the temple of the restricted and imperfect covenant of Sinaï, the holy Spirit has founded the Church, making her the place where all the nations of earth are to meet in gladness;[21]she is the city of the great King, where all men shall henceforth live in the knowledge of God;[22] and, from the very first moment of her existence, she has been showing herself to us as the abode where eternal Wisdom has made it His delight to dwell;[23] she has proved herself to be the true Holy of holies, wherein God and we are to be brought into union.

The law of fear and bondage[24] is, therefore, for ever abrogated by the law of love. A lingering remnant of regard for the once approved institution, which was the depository of divine revelations,[25] permits the first generation of Jewish converts to observe, if it so please them, the practices of their forefathers; but the permission is to cease with the tempie, whose approaching destruction is to bury the Synagogue for ever. And even now, before that period of destruction, the prescriptions of the Mosaic law are insufficient to justify the sons of Jacob before God. The ritual ordinances, which aimed at keeping up the expectation of the future sacrifice by a ceremonial code of figurative representations, have become useless, now that the mysteries they foreshadowed have been accomplished. The very commandments of the Decalogue—those necessary commandments, which belong to all times and can never undergo change, because they pertain to the essence of the ties existing between creatures and their Creator — even these holy commandments have acquired such additional splendour from the teachings of Jesus, the Sun of all justice, that man's conscience now finds in them an almost immeasurable increase of moral responsibility and loveliness.

Independently of the positive precept concerning the fruit of the tree of knowledge, man had received from God, while yet in Eden, the knowledge of those eternal laws; they were written in the life there bestowed upon him. Prom that moment forward he would have to cease being a man before he could entirely divest himself of, or lose, that infused knowledge; for it had been given to him as part of his being, as the natural law of his practical judgments, and was thus, to a certain extent, identified with his reason. But man's reason having become greatly obscured by the fall, his soul had no longer the full and clear notion it previously had of the moral obligations resulting from his own nature as man. His will, too, was a sufferer by the same fall: it became depraved; it used the original weakness of reason as an excuse for its own malice; and that malice did but thicken the darkness which covered its own excesses. Voluntary or heedless victims of error, the Gentiles were seen adapting their conduct to false maxims, which were, at times, so contrary to the first principles of morality, that we who enjoy the blessings of faith can scarcely believe that men could ever be so wicked. Even the descendants of the Patriarchs, though singularly preserved through the benediction given by God to their fathers, were by no means free from the general corruption. When Moses, sent as he was by God, formed them into a nation, whose constitution was fidelity to that written law which was to restore the law of nature, several points had to be left unmentioned which, according to our Lord's expression, the hardness of Jewish hearts would never have taken in. After Moses' death, self-constituted teachers and peculiar sects rose up in the nation, and, by the aid of absurd traditions and false interpretations, corrupted the spirit, yea, at times the very letter, of the law of Sinaï.

The Jews looked upon the Law of God as the Magna Charta of their nation; as such, it was put under the protection of the civil power; various tribunals, with more or less of executive authority according to the importance of the cases that had respectively to be brought before them, were to pass sentence on the infractions committed, or the crimes perpetrated, against it. But—with the single exception of the sacred tribunal established under the law of grace, wherein God Himself acts and speaks in the person of the priest — every judgment passed by men, be their authority never so imposing, can only deal with exterior facts : so that Moses, in the legislative code he had drawn up, assigned no penalty for interior sins. These, however grievous they may be, are essentially beyond both the appreciation and cognizance of society and the human powers which govern it. Even now, under the new Law, the Church does not inflict her censures on interior faults, unless they be made manifest by some act which comes under the senses; just as Moses had done, who, whilst acknowledging the culpability of criminal thoughts or desires, yet left to God’s judgment what He alone can know.

But whereas every Christian child knows that a wicked thought or desire is unlawful, it was not so with the mass of the Hebrew people. The prophets were ever striving to get this privileged but grovelling race to raise their thoughts above this presentlife; and even supposing that much to be gained, there still remained the narrow-minded Jewish notion, that beyond the divinely inspired principles of its political constitution and the outward form of its legislation there was nothing worthy of their attention; they would have scouted the idea that there was a spiritual reality, of far greater and deeper importance, underlying the external code. We see all this strongly marked by what took place shortly after the return from captivity; the last prophets had disappeared, and free scope was given to doctrinal systems which fostered short-sighted theories. The Jewish casuists were not slow in drawing up their famous formula, that all moral goodness was guaranteed to him that had received circumcision! St. Paul, later on, told them how such a principle was a stumbling-block to the Gentiles, leading them to blaspheme the name of God.[26] According to the moral theology of those Hebrew doctors, conscience meant only what the tribunal of public justice issued as its decisions; the obligations of the interior tribunal of a man's conscience were to be restricted to the rules followed by the assize-courts. The result of such teaching soon showed itself : the only thing people need care for was what was seen by men; if the fault were not one that human eyes could judge of, you were not to trouble about it. The Gospel is filled with the woes uttered by our Lord against these blind guides, who taught the souls they professed to direct how best to smother law and justice and love under the outward cover of the letter. Jesus never lost an opportunity of denouncing, and castigating, and holding up to execration, those hypocritical scribes and pharisees who took such pains to be ever cleaning the outside of the dish, but within were lull of impurity, and murder, and rapine.[27]

The divine Word, who Lad come down from heaven to sanctify men in truth, that is, in Himself,[28] had to make this His first care : to restore what time had tarnished, to restore all the original brightness to the changeless principles of justice and right, which rest in Him as in their centre. No sooner had He called disciples around Him, and chosen twelve out of their number as apostles, than He began, with all possible solemnity, His divine work of moral restoration. The passage from the Sermon on the Mount, which the Church has selected for the Gospel of this fifth Sunday, follows immediately after His declaring that he had come, not to find fault with, or to destroy, the Law,[29] but to restore it to its true meaning, of which the scribes had deprived it. He had come that He might give it all the fullness, which the very contemporaries of Moses were too hard to take in. One should read the whole chapter of St. Matthew from which our Gospel is taken; the explanations we have been giving will make it easily understood.

In the few lines put before us to-day by the Church, our Lord tells us not to make human tribunals the standard of the justiceneeded for entering into the kingdom of heaven. The Jewish law brought a man who was guilty of murder before the criminal court of judgment; and He, the master and author of the law, declares to us, that anger, which is the first step leading to murder, even though it lurk in the deepest recesses of the conscience, may bring death to the soul; and thus really incur, in the spiritual order, the capital punishment which human tribunals reserve to actual murder. If, without going so far as to strike the offender, our anger should vent itself in insulting language, such as worthless wretch (which in Syriac is Raca), the sin becomes so serious that, weighed in the balance of its real guilt as known by God, it would be a case, not of the ordinary criminal jurisdiction, but of the highest council of the nation. If the angry man pass from insulting to injurious language, there is no human tribunal which, be it as severe as it can be in its verdict, can give us an idea of the enormity of the sin committed. But the authority of the sovereign Judge is not, like that of a human magistrate, confined within certain limits; when fraternal charity is outraged, there is an avenger who will demand justice beyond the grave. Such is the importance of holy charity, which God demands should unite all men together! And so directly opposed to God's design is the sin, which, in whatever degree, endangers or troubles the union of the living stones of the temple, which has to be built up in concord and love here below, to the glory of the undivided and tranquil Trinity!

The longer it lives, the better does the chosen people appreciate and understand its happiness in having chosen real and solid goods for its inheritance. With its royal model, David, it sings, in the Offertory, the heavenly favours and the uninterrupted presence of God, who has vouchsafed to make Himself its support.

Offertory

Benedicam Dominum qui tribuit mihi intellectum : providebam Deum in conspectra meo semper : quoniam a dextris est mihi, ne commovear.
I will bless the Lord, who hath given me understanding : I set God always in my sight : for he is at my right hand, that I be not moved.

In the Secret, let us beseech God graciously to receive the offering of our hearts, as He used to receive the offerings made to Him by the people of old. But if we would have this prayer of ours to be heard, we must remember the command given to us at the close of to-day's Gospel: God will not accept the hearts of those who are not—at least, as far as lies in their power—in peace with all men.

Secret

Propitiare, Domine, supplicationibus nostris : et has oblationes famulorum famularumque tuarum benigmis assume, ut, quod singuli obtulerunt ad honorem nominis tui, cunctis proficiat ad salutem. Per Dominum.
Be appeased, O Lord, by our humble prayers : and mercifully receive these offerings of thy servants : that what each hath offered to the honour of thy name may avail to the salvation of all Through, etc.

The other Secrets as on page 130.


The consoling presence of Goa, gratefully acknowledged in the Offertory anthem, was not the furthest condescension which God could bestow on His faithful ones. Won over by His inmute love in the ineffable union of the sacred mysteries, His people desire nothing, and ask for nothing, but that they may be permitted to fix their eternal abode in the house of the Lord.

Communion

Unam petii a Domino, hanc requiram : ut inhabitem in domo Domini omnibus diebus vitæ meæ.
One thing I have asked of the Lord; this will I seek after : that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

The effects of the sacred mysteries are manifold : they cleanse the deepest recesses of our soul, and protect us externally, by enabling us to shun the snares laid for us along the path of life.

Postcommunion

Quos cœlesti, Domine, dono satiasti, præsta quæsumus : ut a nostris mundemur occultis, et ab hostium liberemur insidiis. Per Dominum.
Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we whom thou hast fed with this heavenly gift may be cleansed from our hidden sins, and delivered from the snares of our enemies. Through, etc.

The other Postcommunions as on page 131.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms, capitulum, hymn, and versicle as on pages 71-81.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Si offers munus tuum ad altare, et recordatus fueris quia frater tuus habet aliquid adversus te, relinque ibi munus tuum ante altare, et vade prius reconciliari fratri tuo, et tunc veniens offeres munus tuum. Alleluia.

Oremus.

Deus qui diligentibus te bona invisibilia præparasti, infunde cordibua nostris tui amoris affectum, ut te in omnibus, et super omnia diligentes, promissiones tuas, quæ omne desiderium superant, consequamur Per Dominum.
If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and shalt remember that thy brother hath anything against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go first and be reconciled to thy brother; and, then coming, thou shalt offer thy gift. Alleluia.

Let us Pray.

O God, who hast prepared invisible good things for them that love thee : pour forth into our hearts an affectionate love for thee: that, loving thee, in all things, and above all things, we may come to the enjoyment of thy promises, which surpass all that we could desire. Through, etc.

 

[1] Ps.lxxxviii. 21.
[2] Ibid. 36-38.
[3] St. Luke i. 32.
[4] 2 Kings i. 21, 23, 25.
[5] Ant. Oct. Apost. ad Benedictus.
[6] St. James i. 17.
[7] Apoc. xxi. 2, 3.
[8] 1 St. Pet. ii. 4-7.
[9] St. Matt. xvi. 18.
[10] 1 St. Pet. ii. 25.
[11] Job xxv. 2.
[12] Ibid. xxxviii. 37.
[13] Ps ci. 26-28.
[14] Ps. cxxi. 3.
[15] Cant. vili. 6.
[16] Herm., Past. l. i; Visio, iii. 2.
[17] 1 St John iv. 21.
[18] Ibid. iii. 14.
[19] Ibid. iv. 12.
[20] St. Luke xix. 44.
[21] Ps. xlvii. 8.
[22] Jer. xxxi. 34.
[23] Prov. viii. 31,ix.1.
[24] Rom. viii. 15.
[25] Ibid. iii 2.
[26] Rom. ii 24.
[27] St. Matt. xxii., etc.
[28] St. John xvii. 17, 19.
[29] St. Matt. v. 17.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Office for the sixth Sunday after Pentecost, which began yesterday evening, reminded us, in its Magnificat antiphon, of a repentance which has never had an equal. David, the royal prophet, the conqueror of Goliath, himself conquered by sensuality, and from adulterer become a murderer, at last felt the crushing weight of his double crime, and exclaimed : 'I do beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant, for I have done foolishly!'[1]

Sin is always a folly and a weakness, no matter of what kind it may be, or who he be that commits it. The rebel angel, and fallen man, may, in their pride, make efforts to persuade themselves that, when they sinned, they did not act as fools, and were not weak; but all their efforts are vain; sin must ever have this disgrace upon it, that it is folly and weakness, for it is a revolt against God, a contempt for His law, a mad act or the creature, who, being made by his. Creator to attain infinite happiness and glory, prefers to debase himself by turning towards nothingness, and then falls even lower than the nothingness from which he was taken. It is, however, a folly that is voluntary, and a weakness that has no excuse; for, although the creature have nothing of his own but darkness and misery, yet his infinitely merciful Creator, by means of His grace, which is never wanting, puts within that creature's reach divine strength and light.

It is so with even the sinner that has been the least liberally gifted; he has no reason that can justify his offences. But when he that sins is a creature who has been laden with God's gifts, and, by His divine generosity, been raised higher than others in the order of grace, oh! then the offence he commits against his benefactor is an injury that has no name. Let this be remembered by those who, like David, could say that their God has 'multiplied His magnificence' over them.[2] They may, perhaps, have been led by Him into high paths which are reserved for the favoured few, and may have reached the heights of divine union : yet must they be on their guard; no one who has still to carry with him the burden of a mortal body of flesh is safe, unless by exercising a ceaseless vigilance. On the mountains, as on the plains and m the valleys, at all times and in all places, a fall is possible; but when it is on those lofty peaks which, in this land of exile, seem bordering on heaven, and but one step from the 'entrance into the powers of the Lord,'[3] what a terrific fall when the foot slips there! The yawning precipices which that soul had avoided on her ascent are now all open to engulf her; abyss after abyss of crime she rushes into, and with a violence of passion that terrifies even them that have long been nothing but wickedness.

Poor fallen soul! pride, like that of satan, will now try to keep her obstinately fixed in her crimes : but, from the depths into which she has fallen, let her, like David, send forth the cry of humility; let her lament her abominations; let her not be afraid to look up, through her tears, at those glorious heights which were once her abode—an anticipated heaven. Without further delay, let her imitate the royal penitent, and say with him : 'I have sinned against the Lord!' and she will hear the same answer that he did : 'The Lord hath taken away thy sin; thou shalt not die ';[4] and as with David, so also with her, God may still do grand things in her. David, when innocent, was a faithful image of Christ, who was the object of the love of both heaven and earth; David, sinner but penitent, was still the figure of the Man-God, as laden with the sins of the whole world, and bearing on His single self the merciful and just vengeance of His offended Father.

In the Mass of this Sunday, which they call the sixth of Saint Matthew, the Greeks read the account of the cure of the paralytic, which is related in the ninth chapter of that evangelist. The preceding chapter, with its episode of the centurion and the two possessed, had furnished them with the Gospels for their fourth and fifth Sundays.

 

MASS

 

It is difficult to see what connexion there is between the Mass and the Office of this Sunday, as they are at present arranged. Honorius of Autun and Durandus applied the Introit and the other sung portions which follow, to the inauguration of Solomon’s reign. At the period when those two writers lived,[5] the Scripture lessons for this Sunday were taken from the first pages of the second Book of Paralipomenon, where we have the account of the glorious early days of David’s son. But, since that time, it has been the Church’s practice to continue the reading of the four Books of Kings up to the month of August, omitting altogether the two Books of Paralipomenon, which were but a practical repetition of the events already related in previous lessons. So that the connexion suggested by the two writers just mentioned has no foundation in the actual arrangement of to-day's liturgy. We must, therefore, be satisfied with taking from the Introit the teaching of what it is that constitutes the Christian's courage, viz., his faith in God's power which is always ready to help him, and the conviction of his own nothingness, which keeps him from all presumption.

Introit

Dominus fortitudo plebis suæ, et protector salutarium Christi sui est : salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hæreditati tuæ, et rege eos usque in sæculum.

Ps. Ad te, Domine, clamabo; Deus meus, ne sileas a me, nequando tace as a me, et assimilabor descendentibus in lacum. Gloria Patri. Dominus.
The Lord is the strength of his people, and the protector of the salvation of his Christ : save, O Lord, thy people, and bless thine inheritance, and govern them for ever.

Ps. To thee, O Lord, will I cry out : O my God, be not silent, refuse not to answer me, lest I become like those who descend into the pit. Glory etc. The Lord.

The Collect gives us an admirable summing up of the strong, yet sweet, action of grace upon the whole course of Christian life. It has evidently been suggested by those words of St. James : 'Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.'[6]

Collect

Deus virtutum, cujus est totum quod est optimum : insere pectoribus nostris amorem tui nominis, et præsta in nobis religionis augmentum : ut quæ sunt bona, nutrias, ac pietatis studio, quæ sunt nutrita, custodias. Per Dominum.
O God of all power, to whom belongs whatsoever is best : implant in our hearts the love of thy name, and grant us an increase of religion : that thou mayst nourish what is good in us, and, whilst we make endeavours after virtue, mayst guard the things thus nourished. Through, etc.

The other Collects as on page 120.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Romanos.

Cap. vi.

Fratres, Quicumque baptizati sumus in Christo Jesu, in morte ipsius baptizati sumus. Consepulti enim sumus cum illo per baptismum in mortem : ut quomodo Christus surrexit a mortuis per gloriam Patris.ita et nos in novitate vitæ ambulemus. Si enim complantati facti sumus similitudini mortis ejus, simul et resurrectionis erimus. Hoc scientes, quia vetus homo noster simul crucifixus est, ut destruatur corpus peccati, et ultra non serviamus peccato. Qui enim mortuus est, justifìcatus est a peccato. Si autem mortui sumus cum Christo, credimus quia simul etiam vivemus cum Christo : scientes quod Christus resurgens ex mortuis, jam non moritur, mors illi ultra non dominabitur.Quod enim mortuus est peccato, mortuus est semel: quod autem vivit, vivit Deo. Ita et vos existimate, vos mortuos quidem esse peccato, viventes autem Deo in Christo Jesu Domino nostro.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Romans.

Ch. vi.

Brethren : all we who are baptized in Christ Jesus are baptized in his death. For we are buried together with him by baptism unto death : that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin may be destroyed, to the end that we may serve sin no longer. For he that is dead is justified from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall live also together with Christ. Knowing that Christ, rising again from the dead, dieth now no more, death shall no more have dominion over him. For in that he died to sin, he died once : but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. So do you also reckon that you are dead to sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Masses of the Sundays after Pentecost have, so far, given us but once a passage from St. Paul's Epistles. Hitherto SS. Peter and John have addressed the faithful at the commencement of the sacred mysteries. It may be that the Church, during these weeks which represent the early days of the apostolic preaching, has intended by this to show us the disciple of faith and the disciple of love as being the two most prominent in the first promulgation of the new Covenant, which was committed, at the outset, to the Jewish people. At that time, Paul was but Saul the persecutor, and was putting himself forward as the most rabid opponent of that Gospel which, later on, he would so zealously carry to the farthest parts of the earth. If his subsequent conversion made him become an ardent and enlightened apostle even to the Jews, it soon, became evident that the house of Jacob was not the special mission of his apostolate.[7] After publicly announcing his faith in Jesus the Son of God, after confounding the Synagogue by the weight of his testimony,[8] he waited in silence for the termination of the period accorded to Juda for the acceptance of the covenant; he withdrew into privacy,[9] waiting for the vicar of the Man-God, the head of the apostolic college, to give the signal for the vocation of the Gentiles, and open in person the door of the Church to these new children of Abraham.[10]

But Israel has too long abused God's patience; the day of the ungrateful Jerusalem's repudiation is approaching,[11] and the divine Spouse, after all this long forbearance with His once chosen, but now faithless bride, the Synagogue, has gone to the Gentile nations. Now is the time for the Doctor of the Gentiles to speak; he will go on speaking and preaching to them to his dying day; he will not cease proclaiming the word to them, until he has brought them back, and lifted them up to God, and consolidated them in faith and love. He will not rest until he has led this once poor, despised Gentile world to the nuptial union with Christ[12]—yes, to the full fecundity of that divine union of which, on the twenty-fourth and last Sunday after Pentecost, we shall hear him thus speaking : 'We cease not to pray for you, and to beg that ye may be filled with the knowledge of His will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye may walk worthy of God, in all things pleasing Him; being fruitful in every good work. ... Giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light, . . . and hath translated us into the kingdom of His beloved Son.'[13]

It is to the Romans that are addressed to-day's inspired instructions of the great apostle. For the reading of these admirable Epistles of St. Paul, the Church, during the Sundays after Pentecost, will follow the order in which they stand in the canon of Scripture : the Epistle to the Romans, the two to the Corinthians, then those to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, will be read to us in their turns. They make up the sublimest correspondence that was ever written— a correspondence where we find Paul's whole soul, giving us both precept and example how best we may love our Lord. 'I beseech you,' so he speaks to his Corinthians, 'be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ.' [14]

Indeed, the Gospel,[15] the kingdom of God,[16] the Christian life, is not an affair of mere words. Nothing is less speculative than the science of salvation. Nothing makes it penetrate so deeply into the souls of men as the holy life of him that teaches it. It is for this reason that the Christian world counts him alone as apostle or teacher who, in his one person, holds the double teaching of doctrine and works. Thus, Jesus, the Prince of pastors,[17] manifested eternal truth to men, not only by the words uttered by His divine lips, but likewise by the works He did during His life on earth. So, too, the apostle, having become a pattern of the flock,[18] shows us all, in his own person, what marvellous progress a faithful soul may make under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of sanctification.

Let us, then, be attentive to every word that comes from this mouth, ever open to speak to the whole earth;[19] but, at the same time, let us fix the eyes of our soul on the works achieved by our apostle, and let us walk in his footsteps.[20] He lives in his Epistles; he abides and continues with us all, as he himself assures us, for the furtherance ana joy of our faith.[21]

Nor is this all. If we value, as we ought, the example and the teaching of this father of the Gentiles,[22] we must not forget his labours, and sufferings, and solicitudes, and the intense love he bore towards all those who neither had seen, nor were ever to see, his face in the flesh.[23] Let us make him the return of dilating our hearts with affectionate admiration of him. Let us love, not only the light, but him also who brings it to us; yea, and all them that, like him, have been getting for us the exquisite brightness from the treasures of God the Father and of His Christ. It is the recommendation made so feelingly by St. Paul himself;[24] it is the intention willed by God Himself, when He confided to men like ourselves the charge of sharing with Him the imparting of this heavenly light to us. Eternal Wisdom does not show herself directly here below; she is hid, with all her treasures, in the Man-God;[25] she reveals herself by Him,[26] and by the Church,[27] which is the mystical body of that Man-God,[28] and by the chosen members of that Church, the apostles.[29] We can neither love nor know her save in and by our Lord Jesus Christ;[30] and we cannot love or understand Jesus unless we love and understand His Church.[31] Now, in this Church, this glorious aggregate of the elect both of heaven and of earth, we should especially love and venerate those who are, in a special manner, associated with our Lord's sacred Humanity in manifesting the divine Word, who is the one centre of our thoughts both in this world and in the world to come.

According to this standard, who ever had a stronger claim than Paul to the veneration, gratitude, and love, of the faithful? Who of the prophets and holy apostles went deeper into the mystery of Christ?[32] Who was like him, in revealing to the world 'the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus'?[33] Was there ever a more perfect teacher, or a more eloquent interpreter, of the life of union,—we mean of that marvellous union which brings regenerated humanity into the embrace of God, and continues and repeats the life of the Word Incarnate in each Christian? To him, the last and least of the saints (as he humbly calls himself), was given the grace of proclaiming to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; to him was confided the mission of teaching to all nations the mystery of creation, the mystery hidden so long in God, the secret of the world's history—viz., the manifestation of infinite Wisdom, by the Church, in Christ Jesus our Lord.[34]

For, as the Church is neither more nor less than the body and mystical complement of the ManGod, so, in St. Paul’s mind, the formation and growth of the Church are but the sequel of the Incarnation; they are but the continued development of the mystery shown to the angelic hosts, when this Word Incarnate made Himself visible to them in the crib at Bethlehem. After the Incarnation, God was better known by His angels; though ever the self-same in His own unchanging essence, yet, to them, He appeared grander and more magnificent in the brilliant reflection of His infinite perfections, as seen in the Flesh of His Word. So, too, although no increase in them was possible, and their plenitude was their fixed measure, yet the created perfection and holiness of the Man-God have their fuller and clearer revelation, in proportion as the marvels of perfection and holiness, which dwell in Him as in their source, are multiplied in the world.

Starting from Him, flowing ever from His fullness,[35] the stream of grace and truth[36] ceaselessly laves each member of the body of the Church. Principle of spiritual growth, mysterious sap, it has its divinely appointed channels : and these unite the Church more closely to her Head, than the nerves and vessels which convey movement and life to the extremities of our body unite its several parts to the head, which directs and governs the whole frame. But, just as in the human body the life of the head and of the members is one, giving to each of them the proportion and harmony which go to make up the perfect man, so, in the Church, there is but one life, the life of the ManGod, of Christ the Head, forming His mystical body, and perfecting, in the Holy Ghost, its several members.[37] The time will come when this perfection will have attained its full development; then will human nature, united with its divine Head in the measure and beauty of the perfect age of Christ, appear on the throne of the Word,[38]an object of admiration to the angels, and of delight to the most holy Trinity. Meanwhile, Christ is being completed in all things and in all men;[39] as heretofore at Nazareth, Jesus is still growing; and these His advancings are gradual fresh manifestations of the beauty of infinite Wisdom.[40]

The holiness, the sufferings, and then the glory of the Lord Jesus—in a word, His life continued in His members[41]—this is St. Paul’s notion of the Christian life : a notion most simple and sublime, which, in the apostle’s mind, resumes the whole commencement, progress, and consummation of the work of the Spirit of love in every soul that is sanctified. We shall find him, later on, developing this practical truth, of which the Epistle read to us to-day merely gives the leading principle. After all, what is Baptism, that first step on the road to heaven, but the neophyte's incorporation with the Man-God, who died once unto sin, that He might for ever live in God His Father? On Holy Saturday,[42] after having assisted at the blessing of the font, we had read to us a similar passage from another Epistle of St. Paul,[43] which put before us the divine realities achieved beneath the mysterious waters. Holy Church returns to the same teaching to-day, in order that she may recall to our minds this great principle of the commencement of the Christian life, and make it the basis of the instructions she is here going to give us. If the very first effect of the sanctification of one who, by Baptism, is buried together with Christ, be to make him a new man, to create him afresh in this Man-God,[44] to ingraft his new life upon the life of Jesus whereby to bring forth new fruits,—we cannot wonder at the apostle’s unwillingness to give us any other rule for our contemplation or our practice than the study and imitation of this divine model. There, and there only, is man’s perfection;[45] there is his happiness. As, then, have received the knowledge of Jesus Christ the Lord, walk ye in Him :[46] for, as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ.’[47] Our apostle emphatically tells us that he knows nothing, and will preach nothing, but Jesus.[48] If we be of St. Paul's school, adopting, as we shall then do, the sentiments of our Lord Jesus Christ, and making them our own,[49] we shall become other Christs, or, rather, one only Christ with the ManGod, by the sameness of thoughts and virtues, under the impulse of the same sanctifying Spirit.

Between the Epistle and the Gospel, the Gradual and Alleluia-verse come urging us to make that humble and confiding prayer which should ever be ascending to God from the Christian soul.

Gradual

Convertere, Domine, aliquantulum, et deprecare super servos tuos.

V. Domine, refugium factus es nobis, a generatione et progenie.

Alleluia, alleluia. V. In te, Domine, speravi, non confundar in æternum : in justitia tua libera me et eripe me : inclina ad me aurem tuam : accelera, ut eripias me. Alleluia.
Turn to us a little, O Lord, and be appeased with thy servants.

V. O Lord, thou hast been our refuge, from generation to generation.

Alleluia, Alleluia. V. In thee, O Lord, have I put my trust, let me never be confounded : save me by thy justice, and rescue me : bend thine ear unto me : make haste to save me. Alleluia.

Gospel

 

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Marcum.

Cap. viii.

In illo tempore : Quum turba multa esset cum Jesu, nec haberent quod manducarent, convocatis discipulis, ait illis : Misereor super turbam : quia ecce jam triduo sustinent me, nec habent quod manducent : et si dimisero eos jejunos in domum suam, deficient in via : quidam enim ex eis de longe venerunt. Et responderunt ei discipuli sui : Unde illos quis poterit hic saturare panibus in solitudine? Et interrogavit eos : Quot panes habetis? Qui dixerunt : Septem. Et præcepit turbæ discumbere super terram. Et accipiens septem panes, gratias agens fregit, et dabat discipulis suis ut apponerent, et apposuerunt turbæ. Et habebant pisciculos paucos : et ipsos benedixit, et jussit apponi. Et manducaverunt, et saturati sunt, et sustulerunt quod superaverat de fragmentis, septem sportas. Erant autem qui manducaverant, quasi quatuor millia : et dimisit eos.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Mark.

Ch. viii.

At that time : When there was a great multitude with Jesus, and had nothing to eat, calling bis disciples together, he saith to them : I have compassion on the multitude, for behold they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat; and if I shall send them away fasting to their home, they will faint in the way : for some of them came from afar off. And his disciples answered him : From whence can any one fill them here with bread in the wilderness? And he asked them : How many loaves have ye? Who said: Seven. And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, giving thanks he broke, and gave to his disciples for to set before them, and they set them before the people. And they had a few little fishes; and be blessed them, and commanded them to be set before them. And they did eat and were filled, and they took up that which was left of the fragments, seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand : and he sent them away.

The interpretation of the sacred text is given to us by St. Ambrose, in his homily which has been chosen for this Sunday. We shall there find the same vein of thought as is suggested by the whole tenor of the liturgy assigned for this portion of the year. The holy doctor thus begins: ‘After the woman, who is the type of the Church, has been cured of the flow of blood, and after the apostles have received their commission to preach the Gospel, the nourishment of heavenly grace is imparted.’ He had just been asking, a few lines previous, what this signified : and his answer was : ‘The old Law had been insufficient to feed the hungry hearts of the nations; so, the Gospel food was given to them.’[50]

We were observing this day week, that the Law of Sinai, because of its weakness,[51] had made way for the testament of the universal covenant. And yet, it is from Sion itself that the Law of grace has issued; here again it is Jerusalem that is the first to whom the word of the Lord is spoken.[52] But the bearers of the good tidings have been rejected by the obdurate and jealous Jews; they therefore turn to the Gentiles,[53] and shake off Jerusalem's dust from their feet. That dust, however, is to be an accusing testimony;[54] it is soon to be turned into a rain, showering down on the proud city a more terrible vengeance than was that of fire, which once fell on Sodom and Gomorrha.[55] The superiority of Juda over the rest of the human race had lasted for ages; but now all that ancient privilege of Israel, and all his rights of primogeniture, are gone; the primacy has followed Simon Peter to the west; and the crown of Sion, which has fallen from off her guilty head,[56] now glitters, and will do so for ever, on the consecrated brow of the queen of nations.

Like the poor woman of the Gospel who had spent all her substance over useless remedies, the Gentile world had grown weaker and weaker by the effects of original and subsequent sins; she had put herself under the treatment of false teachers, who gradually reduced her to the loss of that law and those gifts of nature which, as St. Ambrose expresses it, had been her ‘vital patrimony.’[57] At length the day came when she heard of the arrival of the heavenly physician : she at once roused herself; the consciousness of her miserable condition urged her on; her faith got the upper hand of her human respect, and brought her to the presence of the Incarnate Word; her humble confidence, which so strongly contrasted with the insulting arrogance of the Synagogue, led her into contact with Christ, and she touched Him; virtue went forth from Him,[58] cured her original wound, and at once restored to her all the strength she had lost by her long period of languor.

Having thus cured human nature, our Lord bade her cease her fast, which had lasted for ages; He gave her the excellent nourishment she required. St. Ambrose, whose comment we are following, compares the miraculous repast mentioned in today's Gospel with the other multiplication of loaves brought before us on the fourth Sunday of Lent; and he remarks how, both in spiritual nourishment and in that which refreshes the body, there are various degrees of excellence. The Bridegroom does not ordinarily serve up the choicest wine, He does not produce the daintiest dishes, at the beginning of the banquet He has prepared for His dear ones.[59] Besides, there are many souls here below who are incapable of rising, beyond a certain limit, towards the divine and substantial light which is the nourishment of the spirit. To these, therefore— and they are the majority, and are represented by the five thousand men who were present at the first miraculous multiplication—the five loaves of inferior quality[60] are an appropriate food, and one that, by its very number, is in keeping with the five senses, which, more or less, have dominion over the multitude. But, as for the privileged favourites of grace,—as for those men who are not distracted by the cares of this present life, who scorn to use its permitted pleasures, and who, even while in the flesh, make God the only king of their soul,—for these, and for these only, the Bridegroom reserves the pure wheat of the seven loaves, which, by their number, express the plenitude of the holy Spirit, and mysteries in abundance.

‘Although they are in the world,’ says St. Ambrose, ‘yet these men, to whom is given the nourishment of mystical rest, are not of the world’[61] In the beginning, God spent six days in giving to the universe He had created its perfection and beauty : He consecrated the seventh to the enjoyment of His works.[62] Seven is the number of the divine rest; it was also to be that of the fruitful rest of the sons of God, of perfect souls, in that peace which makes love secure, and is the source of the invincible power of the bride, as mentioned in the Canticle.[63] It is for this reason that the Man-God, when proclaiming on the mount the beatitudes of the law of love, attributed the seventh to the peace-makers, or peaceable[64] as deserving to be called, most truly, the sons of God.[65] It is in them alone that is fully developed the germ of divine sonship,[66] which is put into the soul at Baptism. Thanks to the silence to which the passions have been reduced, their spirit, now master of the flesh, and itself subject to God, is a stranger to those inward storms, those sudden changes, and even those inequalities of temperature, which are all unfavourable to the growth of the precious seed;[67] warmed by the Sun of justice in an atmosphere which is ever serene and unclouded, there is no obstacle to its coming up, there is no ill-shapen growth; absorbing all the human moisture of this earth wherein it is set, assimilating the very earth itself, it Boon leaves nothing else to be seen in these men but the divine, for they have become, in the eyes of the Father who is in heaven, a most faithful image of His firstborn Son.[68]

‘Rightly, then,’ continues St. Ambrose, 'the seventh beatitude is that of the peaceful; to them belong the seven baskets of the crumbs that were over and above. This bread of the Sabbath, this sanctified bread, this bread of rest, is something great; and I even venture to say, that if, after thou hast eaten of the five loaves, thou shalt have eaten also of the seven, thou hast no bread on earth that thou canst look forward to.’[69]

But take notice of the condition specified in our Gospel, as necessary for those who aspire to such nourishment as that. ‘It is not,’ says the Saint, 'to lazy people, nor to them that live in cities, nor to them that are great in worldly honours, but to them that seek Christ in the desert, that is given the heavenly nourishment : they alone who hunger after it are received by Christ into a participation of the Word and of God’s kingdom.’[70] The more intense their hunger, the more they long for their divine object and for no other, the more will the heavenly food strengthen them with light and love, the more will it satiate them with delight.

All the truth, all the goodness, all the beauty of created things, are incapable of satisfying any single soul; it must have God. So long as man does not understand this, everything good or true that his senses and his reason can provide him with, so far from being able to satiate him, is ordinarily nothing more than a distraction from the one object that can make him the happy being he was created to be, and a hindrance to his living the true life which God willed him to attain. Observe how our Lord waits for all his human schemes to fail, and then He will be his helper, if he will but permit Him. The men of our to-day's Gospel are not afraid to abide with Him in the desert, and put up with the consequent privations of meat and drink; their faith is greater than that of their brethren who have preferred to remain in their homes in the cities, and has raised them so much the higher in the order of grace; for that very reason, our Lord would not allow them to admit anything of a nature to interfere with the divine food He prepares for their souls.

Such is the importance of this entire self-abnegation for souls that aim at the highest perfection of Christian life, such, too, the difficulty which even the bravest find in reaching that total self-abnegation by their own efforts, that we see our Lord Himself acting directly upon the souls of His saints, in order to create in them that desert, that spiritual vacuum, whose very appearance makes poor nature tremble, and yet which is so indispensable for the reception of His gifts. Struggling like another Jacob with God,[71] under the effort of this unsparing purification, the creature feels herself to be undergoing a sort of indescribable martyrdom. She has become the favoured object of Jesus' research; and, as He intends to give Himself unreservedly to her, so He insists on her becoming entirely His. It is with a view to this that He, in the delicate dealings of His mercy, subdues and breaks her, in order that He may detach her from creatures and from herself. The piercing eye of the Word perceives every least crease or fold of her spiritual being; His grace carries its jealous work right down to the division of soul and spirit, and reaches to the very 'joints and marrow,’ scrutinizing and unmercifully probing the thoughts and intents of the heart.[72] As the prophet describes the refiner of the silver and gold which is to form the king’s crown and sceptre, so our divine Lord : 'He shall sit, refining and cleansing,'[73] in the crucible, this soul so dear to Him, that He wishes to wear her as one of the precious jewels of His everlasting diadem. Nothing could exceed His zeal in this work, which, in His eyes, is grander far than the creation of a thousand worlds. He watches, He fans, the flame of the furnace, and He Himself is called 'a consuming fire.’[74] When the senses have no more vile vapours to emit; when the dross of the spirit, which is the last to yield, has become detached from the gold, then does the divine Purifier show it, with complacency, to the gaze of men and angels; its lustre is all He would have it be; so He may safely produce on it a faithful image of Himself.

When the Jewish people were led forth by Moses from Egypt, they said : ‘The Lord God hath called us; we will go three days' journey into the wilderness, to sacrifice unto the Lord our God.'[75] In like manner, the disciples of Jesus have retired into the wilderness, as our to-day's Gospel tells us; and, after three days, they have been fed with a miraculous bread, which foretold the victim of the great sacrifice, of which the Hebrew one was a figure. In a few moments, both the bread and the figure are to make way, on the altar before which we are standing, for the highest possible realities. Let us, then, go forth from the land of bondage of our sins; and since our Lord's merciful invitation comes to us so repeatedly, let our souls get the habit of keeping away from the frivolities of earth, and from worldly thoughts. And now as we sing the Offertory-anthem, let us beseech our Lord that He may graciously give us strength to advance farther into that interior desert, where He is always the most inclined to hear us, and where He is most liberal with His graces.

Offertory

Perfice gressus meos in semitis tuis, ut non moveantur vestigia mea : inclina aurem tuam, et exaudi verba mea : mirifica misericordias tuas, qui salvos facis aperantes in te, Domine.
Perfect thou my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps be not moved : incline thine ear unto me, and graciously hear my words : show forth thy wonderful mercies, O thou that savest them who trust in thee, O Lord.

The efficacy of our prayers depends on this—that the object of those prayers be prompted and animated by faith. The Church bas just been receiving her children's offerings for the sacrifice; she now asks, in the Secret, that we may all be endowed with faith.

Secret

Propitiare, Domine, supplicationibus nostris, et has populi tui oblationes benignus assume : et ut nullius sit irritum votum, nullius vacua postulatio, præsta; ut quod fideliter petimus, efficaciter consequamur. Per Dominum.
Be appeased, O Lord, by our humble prayers, and mercifully receive the offerings of thy people : and, that the vows and prayers of none may be in vain, grant that we may effectually obtain what we ask with faith. Through, etc.

The other Secrets as on page 130.


We were just admiring the work of purification, achieved by the Angel of the Covenant in His chosen souls. The Prophet Malachy, who spoke to us about this mystery of refining the elect, tells us, in the next verse, why all this is done; his words give us an explanation of the Communionanthem we are now going to chant : 'And the sacrifice of Juda and of Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as in the days of old, and in the ancient years.'[76]

Communion

Circuibo, et immolabo in tabernaculo ejus hostiam jubilationis : cantabo et psalmum dicam Domino.
I will go up, and sacrifice, in his temple, a victim of praise : I will sing, and repeat a psalm to the Lord.

The sacred mysteries are the true fire that purifies : they entirely cleanse from the remnants of sin every Christian that allows their divine heat to tell upon him; they also strengthen him in the path of perfection. Let us, then, unite with the Church in this prayer:

Postcommunion

Repleti sumus, Domine, muneribus tuis : tribue quæsumus; ut eorum et mundemur effectu, et muniamur auxilio. Per Dominum.
We have been filled, O Lord, with thy gifts; grant, we beseech thee, that we may be cleansed by their efficacy, and strengthened by their aid. Through, etc.

The other Postcommunions, as on page 131.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms, capitulum, hymn, and versicle, as above, pages 71-81.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Misereor super turbam, quia ecce jam triduo sustinent me, nec habent quod manducent, et si dimisero eos jejunos, deficient in via. Alleluia.

Oremus.

Deus virtutuni, cujus est totum quod est optimum, insere pectoribus nostris amorem tui nominis, et præsta in nobis religionis augmentum, ut quæ sunt bona nutrias, ac pietatis studio, quæ sunt nutrita, custodias. Per Dominum.
I have compassion on the multitude, for behold I they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat; and, if I send them away fasting, they will faint in the way. Alleluia.

Let us Pray.

O God of all power, to whom belongs whatsoever is best : implant in our hearts the love of thy name, and grant us an increase of religion : that thou mayst nourish what is good in us, and, whilst we make endeavours after virtue,mayst guard the things thus nour ished. Through, etc.

[1] 1 Paralip. xxi. 8.
[2] Ps. lxx. 21.
[3] Ps. lxx. 16.
[4] 2 Kings xii. 13.
[5] The twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
[6] St. Jas. i. 17.
[7] Gal. ii. 9.
[8] Acts ix. 20, 22.
[9] Gal. i. 17-22.
[10] Acts x.
[11] Is. l. 1.
[12] 2 Cor. xi. 2.
[13] Col. i. 9-13. Epistle for the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost.
[14] 1 Cor. iv. 16, xi.1; Phil. iii. 17; 1 Thess. i. 6.
[15] 1 Thess i. 5.
[16] 1 Cor. iv. 20.
[17] 1 St. Pot. v. 4.
[18] Ibid. 3.
[19] 2 Cor. vi. 11.
[20] Phil iii. 17.
[21] Ibid. i. 25, 26.
[22] 1 Cor. iv. 14, 15.
[23] Col. ii. 1-5.
[24] 2 Cor. vi. 11-13; Heb. xiii. 7.
[25] Col. ii. 3.
[26] 1 Cor. i. 24.
[27] Eph. iii. 10.
[28] Ibid. i. 23.
[29] 1 Cor. ii. 6, 7.
[30] 1 Cor. ii. 8.
[31] St. John xv. 14; St. Luke x.16.
[32] Eph. iii. 4, 5.
[33] 2 Cor. iv. 6.
[34] Eph. iii. 8-11.
[35] St. John i 16.
[36] Ibid. 14.
[37] Eph. iv. 12-16.
[38] Eph. ii. 6.
[39] Ibid. i. 23.
[40] St. Luke ii. 40, 52.
[41] 2 Cor. iv. 10, 11.
[42] Our Volume for Passiontide and Holy Week, p. 624.
[43] Col. iii. 1-4 (the Epist. for Holy Saturday).
[44] Eph. ii. 10.
[45] Coloss. i. 28.
[46] Ibid. ii. 6.
[47] Gal. iii. 27.
[48] 1 Cor. ii. 2.
[49] Phil. ii. 5.
[50] St. Ambr., In Luc., lib. vi. 69.
[51] Heb. vii. 18, 19.
[52] Isa. ii. 3.
[53] Acts xiii. 46.
[54] St. Luke ix. 5.
[55] St. Matt. x. 15.
[56] Lam. V. 16.
[57] In Luc vi 56.
[58] St. Luke viii. 46.
[59] St. John ii. 10.
[60] Hordeacci; St. John vi. 9.
[61] In Luc. vi. 80.
[62] Gen. ii. 1-3.
[63] Cant. viii. 10.
[64] St. Ambr., In Lue., vi. 80.
[65] St. Matt. v. 9.
[66] Heb. iii. 14.
[67] 1 St. John iii. 9.
[68] Rom. viii. 29.
[69] In Luc., ubi supra.
[70] In Luc., vi. 69.
[71] Gen. xxxii. 24.
[72] Heb. iv. 12, 13.
[73] Mal iii. 3.
[74] Deut. iv. 24.
[75] Exod. iii. 18.
[76] Mal. iii. 4.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The dominical cycle of the Time after Pentecost completes to-day its first seven. Previous to the general adoption of the changes introduced into the Sunday Gospels for this portion of the year, the Gospel of the multiplication of the seven loaves gave its name to the seventh Sunday; and the mystery it contains is still evident in more than one section of to-day's liturgy.

As we have already seen, this mystery was that of the consummation of the perfect in the repose or rest of God Himself; it was the fruitful peace of the divine union. Nothing, then, could be more fitting than that Solomon, who is pre-eminently thepeaceful, the sacred and authorized chanter of the nuptial Canticle, should have been selected to come forward, on this day, to speak the praises of infinite Wisdom, and reveal her ways to the children of men. When Easter is kept as late in April as it is possible, the seventh Sunday after Pentecost is the first of the month of August; and the Church then begins, in her night Office, the lessons from the Sapiential Books. Otherwise, she continues the historic Scriptures, and that, in some years, for five weeks more; but even in that case eternal Wisdom maintains her rights to this Sunday, which the number of seven had already made hers in so special a way. For, when we cannot have the inspired instructions of Proverbs, we have Solomon's own example preaching to us in the third Book of Kings; we find him preferring Wisdom to all other treasures, and, on the throne of his father David, making her sit there with him as his inspirer and most noble Bride.

St. Jerome, who has been appointed by the Church herself as the interpreter of to-day's Scripture lessons,[1] tells us that David, at the close of his life of wars and troubles, knew, as well as Solomon, the loveliness of this incomparable Bride of the Peaceful; the chill of his age was remedied by her caresses, whose very contact is purity.

‘Oh that this wisdom may be mine!’ exclaims the fervent solitary of Bethlehem; 'may she embrace me, and abide with me. She never grows old. She is ever the purest of virgins, fruitful, yet ever immaculate. I think the apostle means her when he speaks of a something that can make us fervent in spirit.[2] So again, when our Lord tells us in the Gospel that, at the end of the world, the charity of many will grow cold,[3] I believe it will be because wisdom will then grow rare.’[4]

The history of the two blind men, as related in the ninth chapter of St. Matthew, is the subject of to-day's Gospel in the Greek Church.

 

MASS

 

The Church, leaving the Synagogue in its cities which are to perish, has followed Jesus into the wilderness. Whilst the children of the kingdom[5] are assisting at, without seeing it, this transmigration which is to be so fatal to them, the root of Jesse, now become the standard of nations,[6] is rallying the people, and marshals them by thousands on towards the Church. From east and west, from north and south, they are pouring in, sitting down to the banquet of the kingdom,[7] in company with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Here is our Introit; let us mingle our voices with these their glad chants.

Introit

Omnes gentes, piaudite manibus : jubilate Deo in voce exsultationis.

Ps. Quoniam Dominus excelsus, terribilis : Rex magnus super omnem terram. Gloria Patri. Omnes gentes.
Clap your hands, all ye Gentiles! Shout unto God with the voice of joy. 

Ps. For the Lord is most high : he is terrible : he is the great King over all the earth. Glory, etc. Clap.

All the opposition that men are capable of can never prevent divine Wisdom from compassing her ends. The Jewish people deny their King; but the Gentiles come forward and proclaim the Son of David. As we were just now singing in the Introit, His kingdom is extended the whole world over. In the Collect the Church asks that all evils may be removed, and that an abundance of blessings may consolidate in peace the power of the true Solomon.

Collect

Deus, cujus providentia in sui dispositione non fallitur : te supplices exoramus, ut noxia cuncta submoveas, et omnia nobis profutura concedas. Per Dominum.
O God, whose providence is never deceived in what it appointeth : we humbly beseech thee to remove whatever may be hurtful, and to grant us all that will profit us. Through, etc.

The other Collects as on page 120.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Romanos.

Cap. vi.

Fratres, Humanum dico propter infirmitatem carnis vestræ : sicut enim exhibuistis membra vestra servire immunditiæ et iniquitati ad iuiquitatem; ita nunc exhibete membra vestra servire justifciæ in sanctificationem. Cum enim servi essetis peccati, liberi fuistis justitiæ. Quem ergo fructum habuistis tunc in illis, in quibus nunc erubescitis? Nam finis illorum mors est. Nunc vero liberati a peccato, servi autem facti Deo, habetis fructum vesferum in sanctificationem, finem vero vitam æternam. Stipendia enim peccati, mors. Gratia autem Dei, vita æterna : in Christo Jesu Domino nostro.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Romans.

Ch. vi.

Brethren : I speak a human thing, because of the infirmity of your flesh : for as you have yielded your members to serve uncleanness and iniquity unto iniquity; so now yield your members to serve justice, unto sanctification. For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from justice. What fruit therefore had you then in those things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of them is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end life everlasting. For the wages of sin is death; but the grace of God, life everlasting in Christ Jesus our Lord.

‘Reckon that ye are dead unto sin, but alive unto God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.’[8] The apostle of the Gentiles enters to-day into the development of this leading formula of the Christian life. The Epistle of last Sunday aimed exclusively at putting it in language that could not be misunderstood; it showed us that it expresses what is meant by that Baptism which, when we are immersed in the water, unites us to Christ.

There, as in a sepulchre, the death of Jesus becomes ours, and delivers us from sin. Sold under sin[9] by our first parents even before we had seen the day, and branded with its infamous stigma, our whole life belonged to the cruel tyrant. He is a master who is never satisfied with our service; he is a merciless exactor; there is scarce an hour that he does not make us feel his power over the members of our body; he does not allow us to forget that our body is his slave. But, if the life of a slave is under his master’s control, death comes at last and sets the soul free; and as to the body, the oppressor can claim nothing, once it is buried.[10] Now, it was on the cross of the Man-God, who, as the apostle so strongly expresses it, was made sin[11] because of our sins, that guilty human nature was considered by God's merciful justice to have become what its divine and innocent Head was. The old man that was the issue of Adam the sinner has been crucified; he has died in Christ; the slave by birth, affranchised by this happy death, has had buried under the waters of Baptism the body of sin, which carried in its flesh the mark of its slavery.

The body of sin was indeed our flesh; not that innocent flesh which originally came all pure from its Creator's hands, but the flesh which, generation after generation, was defiled by the transmission of a disgraceful inheritance. In Baptism, which the apostle calls the mysterious sepulchre, the sacred stream has not only washed away the defilement of this degraded body, but it has also set it free from those members of sin, which are the evil passions. These passions were powers of iniquity—that is, powers which deformed, and turned into uncleanness, those faculties and organs wherewith God had endowed us, that we might fulfil all justice, unto sanctification.[12] At that moment of our Baptism the strong-armed tyrant forfeited his possession of us;[13]that Baptism was a death which set his slave free. Sin being thus destroyed, the head of triple concupiscence has been severed, and the monster may writhe as he can; aided by grace, man thus liberated may always prevent, if he wishes, the coils of the serpent from again being joined with their head.

Yes, this is the manifold, yet single, work of holy Baptism: in the twinkling of an eye, and by its own power, it extirpates sin, and annihilates all its rights over us; but, once this is achieved, man must co-operate with the grace of the sacrament, that is, he must keep watch over his treacherous inclinations to sin, which come to life again by the slightest encouragement; he must be ever keeping up the work which his baptism-day began—that is, he must be ever cutting down the vile and noxious weeds which are ever cropping up. First, then, there is the death of sin, which, in its complete and sudden defeat of the old enemy, is the result of God's divine operation; but all this is to be followed up by a work which it belongs to the affranchised slave to do : the life-long work of mortification of the spirit and of the senses. It is the virtue of the first sacrament which is still telling on the Christian in this work of two-fold mortification; in his mortification, the sacrament is still pushing on its ceaseless work of vengeance against sin. Holy Baptism, having operated in the wretched slave of sin what God alone could empower it to achieve, summons man, now that his chains have fallen, to join it in the glorious work of maintaining his liberty; it invites him to share with it the honour of the divine victory over satan and his works.

The keeping down of the flesh will be again brought before us next Sunday, as the true indicator of liberty on this earth, and as the authentication of our being truly children of God. As the apostle says : 'Let not sin reign in your mortal body, so as to obey the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of iniquity unto sin; but present yourselves to God as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of justice unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you : for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants are ye whom ye obey, whether it be of sin unto death, or of obedience unto justice? But thanks be to God, that ye were the servants of sin; . . . but being freed from sin, we have been made servants of justice.'[14]

And shall we do less for justice than is being done everywhere in favour of our enemy, sin? Surely justice deserves that we should make greater efforts in her service than for that odious tyrant who requites his slaves with nothing but shame and death. And yet—oh admirable condescension of God to our weakness!—we have St. Paul telling us in to-day's Epistle, in the name of the Holy Ghost, that we shall be saints, we shall attain eternal life,[15] if we will but serve justice with as much earnestness as we once served uncleanness and iniquity.

Let us humble ourselves at hearing such words; let us be honest, and we shall feel that they contain a reproach. Many of usmight ask : What has become of that intense ardour wherewith we once used to follow after sin? To say that we have converted our ways would be no answer, for a conversion does not paralyse our faculties; it enlists our natural energy in God's service, it even intensifies it by the very fact of its now being employed as originally intended. At all events, conversion does not lessen the activity which was in us before our conversion; it would be an insult to grace to accuse it of diminishing in us the gifts of God.

What lessons, then, may we learn by seeing how eager in the pursuit of honour, interest, or pleasure, are the votaries of the world! What earnestness, what toil, what perseverance, what frequent sufferings, what abnegation at every turn, what misplaced heroism—and all for the purpose of satisfying the seven heads of the beast, and tasting a lew drops of the poisoned cup of Babylon![16] There are many souls in hell who have gone through more fatigue and pain to procure their damnation than even the martyrs endured for Christ; and even with all that, never attaining the object they sought to obtain in this world! so true is it that the fools who are the most subservient to satan's wishes do not always succeed in enjoying, even for a single day, the vile rewards he promises his slaves.

Justice treats her followers in a very different way; she does not degrade, she does not deceive them that keep her. She blesses them with peace of mind at every step they take in duty-doing; she is ever enriching their treasure of merit; she leads them safely to the perfection of love. The life of divine union then grows, almost spontaneously, on that high ground of justice; it rests on justice, as a flower does on its stem. 'He that possesseth justice,' says the Scripture, 'shall lay hold on wisdom': he shall find delights in that divine wisdom, which surpasses all that earth could procure.[17]

Would it, then, be fair to hesitate to go through those toils which procure heaven for us, and are a preparation here on earth for the glories which are to be revealed in us in our eternal home? The present life, how long soever it may be, seems but momentary to a faithful soul; she is glad to give this proof of the love she bears to Him she longs for. 'Jacob,' says St. Augustine, 'gave his twice seven years of service[18] for the sake of Rachel, whose name, they tell us, signifies vision of the Beginning, that is, of the Word, that is, of the Wisdom which shows us God. Every virtuous man on earth loves this Wisdom; it is for her he works and suffers, by serving justice. What he, like Jacob, aims at by his labours, is, not the fatigue for its own sake, but the possession of that which the fatigue is to bring him, namely, the fair Rachel, that is to say, rest in the Word, in whom we have the vision of the Beginning. Is there any true servant of God who can have any other thought, when he is under the influence of grace? Once converted, what is it that man wishes? What is in bis thoughts? What has he in his heart? What is it that he thus passionately loves and desires? It is the knowledge of Wisdom. Of course, man would, if he could, avoid all fatigue and suffering, and come straight to the delights which he knows are in the exquisitely beautiful and perfect Wisdom; but that cannot be in the land of the dying. "If thou desire Wisdom, keep justice; and God will give her unto thee."[19] Justice here means the commandments; and the commandments prescribe works of justice, of that justice which comes of faith; and faith lives amidst the uncertainty of temptations; that by piously believing what it does not as yet understand, it may merit the happiness of understanding.

‘We are not, therefore, to find fault with the ardour of those who are desirous of possessing truth in its unveiled loveliness; what we must do, is to put order in their love, by telling them to begin with faith, and strive, by the exercise of good deeds, to arrive at the bliss they long for. Do thou love and desire, at the very outset, and above all things, this object which is so worthy of thy possession; but, let the ardour which burns within thee show itself, first of all, by its leading thee cheerfully to endure the fatigues of the road which leads to the prize, towards which thy love is all directed. Yea, and when thou has reached it, remember, thou wilt never enjoy beautiful truth in this life, without having, at the same time, still to cultivate labourious justice. How comprehensive and pure soever may be the sight granted to mortal men of the unchangeable Good, the corruptible body is a load upon the soul, and the earthly habitation presseth down the mind that museth upon many things.”[20] One, then, is that to which we must tend; but many are the things we are to bear for that one’s sake.’[21]

In the Gradual, the Church keeps up the thought which pervades this seventh Sunday; she invites her sons to come and receive from her the knowledge of the fear of the Lord; for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.[22] The Alleluiaverse again calls upon the Gentiles, the heirs of Jacob, to celebrate in gladness the gift of God.

Gradual

Venite, filii, audite me: timorem Domini docebo vos.

V. Accedite ad eum, et illuminamini : et facies vestræ non confundentur. Alleluia, alleluia.

V. Omnes gentes, piaudite manibus : jubilate Deo in voce exsultationis. Alleluia.
Come, children, hearken unto me : I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

V. Come ye unto him, and be enlightened; and your faces shall not be confounded. Alleluia, alleluia.

V. Clap your hands, all ye Gentiles I shout unto God with the voice of joy. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. vii.

In illo tempore : dixit Jesus discipulis suis : Attendite a falsis prophetis, qui veniunt ad vos in vestimentis ovium, intrinsecus autem sunt lupi rapaces : a fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos. Numquid colligunt de spinis uvas, aut de tribulis ficus? Sic omnis arbor bona fructus bonos facit : mala autem arbor malos fructus facit. Non potest arbor bona malos fructus facere : neque arbor mala bonos fructus facere. Omnis arbor, quæ non facit fructum bonum, excidetur, et in ignem mittetur. Igitur ex fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos. Non omnis, qui dicit mihi : Domine, Domine, intrabit in regnum cœlorum : sed qui facit voluntatem Patris mei, qui in cœlis est, ipse intrabit in regnum cœlorum.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. vii.

At that time : Jesus said to his disciples: Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

By rejecting the Gospel, the Jewish people have refused the light. Whilst the Sun of justice, hailed with delight by the Gentiles, is lighting up, in all splendour, the land that was once in the shadow of death,[23] a black night is covering the heretofore blessed country of the patriarchs, and darkness is every hour thickening in Jerusalem. By the blindness which is leading her to destruction, the Synagogue is verifying our Lord’s words : ‘He that walketh in darkness, knoweth not whither he goeth.’[24]

False prophets and false Christs are numerous in Israel,[25] ever since the true Messiah, whom the prophets foretold, has been ignored, and treated by His own people[26] as the prophets themselves had been.[27] His witnesses, the apostles, have vainly tried to induce Juda to retract the fatal denial made in the pretorium. And yet, Jada knows better than all the world beside, that the times are accomplished; for, has not the sceptre fallen from his hands?[28] And Juda, who disdainfully disowns the spiritual royalty of the Saviour of men, is going on with his ceaseless expectation and search of the Christ of his own imagining,—a Messiah who will restore to him the power he has lost. The Jewish doctors have not as yet invented the sentence of Talmud, whereby they will endeavour to stifle the unpleasant prophecies which give them the lie: ‘Cursed be he, that calculates the times of the coming of Messiah!’[29] What, then, must be the feelings of a people, which has for ages been living in the expectation of an event the most important that could be, now that it sees the time specified by prophecy to be fast expiring, when it will be compelled either to disavow the past, or to acknowledge, at the foot of the cross which it has set up, its most sinful error.

A strange anxiety has seized on the nation of deicides. The spirit of madness governs her determinations. In the scare of her feverish excitement, which is the very opposite of the calm and resigned expectation of her ancient patriarchs, she takes every rebel for a Christ. She, that would not have the Son of David, hails every upstart as her Messiah, and follows every adventurer that sets up the cry of war against Rome, or that cheats her with the promise of making her country independent. With such materials, Judea is soon turned into a kingdom of anarchy and confusion. The very sanctuary of the temple is made the scene of party quarrels and bloodshed. The daughter of Sion follows her false Christs into the desert;[30] there organizes riot; and returns to the holy city, filling it with highwaymen, or with assassins imported from the wilderness. Long before these events, Ezechiel had thus spoken: 'Woe to the foolish prophets that see nothing! Thy prophets, O Israel, were like foxes in the deserts!’[31] And Isaias had thus prophesied :

‘Therefore, the Lord shall have no joy in their young men; neither shall He have mercy on their fatherless and widows; for every one is a hypocrite and wicked, and every mouth hath spoken folly.'[32]

The time is close at hand : the hour is come, when they that are in Judea must flee to the mountains,'[33] as our Lord had said. The Christians of Jerusalem will, as history records, soon be leaving the doomed city, under the guidance of Simeon, their bishop.[34] With them departs Sion’s last hope; God is about to avenge His Christ. Already has the signal of destruction been heard, the whistle, as the prophet Isaias had foretold,[35] has been heard from beyond the seas; and, as Balaam had seen it in vision, 'they are coming in galleys from Italy, to lay waste the Hebrews.'[36] The leader, announced by Daniel, is approaching towards that which was once the land of promise; the appointed desolation and ruin shall remain there even after the end of the war.[37]

Let us leave the Jews to hurry on their own ruin; let us return to the Church, which, at the same time, is rising up, so grand and so beautiful, on the corner-stone that had been rejected by the Synagogue.[38] Because of the absence of this stone, which the builders of Sion had not the wisdom to recognize as the basis indispensably necessary to their city, Jerusalem falls in Judea, but reappears, more than ever beauteous, on the hills,[39] whither Cephas,[40] prince of the apostles, has carried her everlasting foundation. Set firmly on the divine rock, she shall no longer fear the violence of the billows and winds, when they storm against her walls.[41] False prophets, and all the workers of lies, who had so successfully sapped the walls of the ancient, will not leave the new Jerusalem in peace; for our Lord had plainly said : 'It is necessary that scandals should come';[42] and the apostle, speaking of heresy (that greatest of all scandals), said : 'There must be heresies in order that they who are approved may be made manifest.’[43]

Indeed, for each individual Christian, as for the Church at large, the security of the spiritual building depends primarily on the firmness of the foundation, which is faith. The Holy Ghost will not build on a foundation that is unsound or unsafe. When, especially, He is to lead a soul to the higher degrees of divine union, He exacts from her, as the first condition, that her faith, too, be above the average, —a faith, that is, with heroism enough to fight successfully those battles which brace the soul, and so render her worthy of light and love. In every stage of the Christian life, however, it is faith that provides love with its enduring and substantial[44] nourishment; it is faith that gives to the virtues their supernatural motives, and makes them fit to form a worthy court for their queen, charity. A soul's development never goes beyond the measure of her faith. The capaciousness of faith, and its ever-growing plenitude, and its certified conformity with truth, these are the guarantees of the progress which will be made by a just man; whereas all such holiness as affects to be guided by a faith which is cramped or false is holiness of a very dubious kind, and one that is exposed to most fearful illusions.

It was, therefore, a good and a wholesome thing that faith should be put to the test, for it grows brighter and stronger under trial. St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, is enthusiastic in his praise of the triumphs won by the faith of our forefathers.[45]Could there be denied to the new Covenant those glorious combats which constituted the eternal merit and honour of the saints who lived in the period of expectation and figures? It is by their victorious faith in the word of the promise, that all those worthy ancestors of the Christian people merited to have God Himself as their praise-giver.[46] For us, who joyously have possession of that Messias who to them was but the object of heroic hope, our trial cannot be like theirs—the trial of expectation. This is quite true; and yet, heresy, which is the offspring of man's pride and hell's malice—heresy and its manifold outcomings, which are ever producing the diminution of truth in this world[47]—will give us occasions of merit even in our possession of what they beheld and saluted only afar off.[48] Man is ever trying to intrude his foolish ideas into the truths of divine revelation; and, as to the prince of this world,[49] he will do all in his power to encourage these audacious attempts at corrupting the purity of the word. But Wisdom, who is never overcome,[50] will turn all these impious efforts into an occasion of glorious victories for her children. Here we have the reason why God permitted, from the very commencement of the Church’s existence, and still permits, that sects should be continually springing up. It is in the battlefield against error that the Church brings forth the armour of God,[51] and shows herself all brilliant with that absolute truth which is the brightness of the Word, her Spouse;[52] it is by his personal triumph over the spirit of lying, and by spontaneous adhesion to the teachings of Christ and His Church, that the Christian shows himself to be a true child of light,[53] and becomes himself a light to the world.[54]

The combat is not without its dangers for the Christian who would hold, in all its integrity, the faith of his mother the Church. The tricks of the enemy, his studied and obstinate hypocrisy, the crafty skill wherewith he tries to stir up in the soul, almost without her knowing it, a score of little weaknesses of hers which more or less favour error—all this frequently ends in injuring the light, not perhaps in extinguishing it altogether, but in robbing it of some of us brilliancy. And yet, they who live on the teachings given us in our to-day's Gospel are sure to come off with the victory. Let us meditate upon them with gratitude and love; for it is by such teachings that eternal Wisdom grants us what we so ardently ask of Him, when in Advent we thus beseech Him : 'Come and teach us the way of prudence!'[55] Prudence, the friend of a wise man,[56] guardian of his treasures, and his surest defence, has no greater peril from which to keep him than shipwreck concerning the faith;[57] if faith be lost, all is lost. No price is too great to give[58] for that prudence of the serpent which, in a disciple of Christ, goes so admirably with the simplicity of the dove.[59] If we are happy enough to possess prudence, we shall readily distinguish between those false teachers whom we must shun and those to whom we must hearken—between the falsifiers of the word and its faithful interpreters.

By their fruits shall ye know them, says our Gospel, and history confirms the words of our Redeemer. Under the sheep's clothing, which they wear that they may deceive simple souls, the apostles of falsehood ever betray their real nature. The artful language they use,[60] and the flatteries they utter for gain's sake,[61] cannot hide the hollowness of their works.[62] They separate themselves from the flock of Christ,[63] and flee from the light; for, as the apostle says : 'All things that are reproved, or deserve to be so, are made manifest by the light; and as to the things that are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of them. Therefore, be ye not partakers with them.’[64] The useless or rotten fruits of darkness, and 'the trees of autumn, twice dead,'[65] which bear such fruits on their withered branches, both of them shall be cast into the fire. If you yourselves were heretofore darkness, now that you have become light in the Lord by Baptism, or by a sincere conversion, show yourselves to be so, and produce ‘the fruits of light, in all goodness, and justice, and truth.'[66] On this condition alone can you hope to enter into the kingdom of heaven, and call yourselves disciples of that Wisdom of the Father, who, on this seventh Sunday, asks us to give Him our love.

St. James the apostle almost seems to be giving a commentary on the Gospel of this seventh Sunday, where he says : ‘Can the fig-tree, my brethren, bear grapes, or the vine figs? So neither can the salt water yield sweet. Who is a wise man and endued with wisdom among you, let him, by a good conversation (that is, by his good conduct) show his work in the meekness of wisdom.' . . . For there is a wisdom which is bitter, and misleads others; it 'descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. . . . But the wisdom which is from above, first indeed is chaste, then peaceable, modest, easy to be persuaded, consenting to the good (and always sides with them), full of mercy and good fruits, without judging (the conduct of others), without dissimulation. And the fruit of justice is sown in peace to them that make peace.'[67]

The Offertory-anthem has been selected, according to Honorius of Autun,[68] in allusion to the sacrifice of the thousand victims which were offered at Gabaon by Solomon, in the early days of his reign; when the sacrifice was ended, he was bidden to ask, what he would have God give to him : he desired and obtained wisdom, with the addition of riches and glory, for which he had not asked.[69] It depends upon us, that the sacrifice which is here ready to be offered up, should be equally, and even more, accepted of God, for it is Incarnate Wisdom that is being offered to the most high God; He desires to obtain for us all the gifts of His eternal Father, and to give Himself also to us.

Offertory

Sicut in holocaustis arietum, et taurorum, et sicut in millibus agnorum pinguium : sic fiat sacrifìcium nostrum in conspectu tuo hodie, ut placeat tibi : quia non est confusio confidentibus in te, Domine.
As in holocausts of rams and bullocks, and as in thousands of fat sheep, so let our sacrifice be made in thy sight this day, that it may please thee : for there is no confusion to them that trust in thee, O Lord.

Another circumstance which confirms what we have said regarding the mysterious character of this seventh Sunday, as to its being especially sacred to eternal Wisdom, is the fact that the verse of Scripture which formerly used to be joined to the present Offertory-anthem[70] is the same as that which, in the Roman pontifical, opens the magnificent ceremony of the consecration of virgins : ‘And now we follow thee with all our heart, and we fear thee, and seek thy face; put us not to confusion, but deal with us according to thy meekness, and according to the multitude of thy mercies!’[71] After being thrice called by the bishop, the affianced of the divine Spouse, singing these words, advance to the altar, where they are to be espoused to Him.

The Secret speaks to God of how the multiplied variety of the ancient sacrifices, such as those mentioned in the Offertory, were all made one in the oblation of our Christian sacrifice.

Secret

Deus, qui legalium differentiam hostiarum unius sacrincii perfectione sanxisti : accipe sacrincium a devotis tibi famulis, et pari benedictione, sicut munera Abel, sanctifica: ut, quod singuli obtulerunt ad Majestatis tuæ honorem, cunctis proficiat ad salutem. Per Dominum.
O God, who, in one perfect sacrifice, hast united all the various sacrifices of the Law, accept, from thy devoted servants, this sacrifice, and sanctify it by a blessing like to that thou gavest to Abel’s offerings; that what each hath offered to thy divine Majesty, may avail to the salvation of all. Through, etc.

The other Secrets, as on page 130.


The Communion, says Honorius of Autun, gives us the prayer of Solomon, who asks wisdom of God, and obtains it.[72] 'If any of you,’ says St. James, 'want wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men abundantly, and upbraideth not : and it shall be given him.’[73]

Communion

Inclina aurem tuam, accelera ut eripias me.
Bow down thine ear unto me. Make haste to deliver me!

Original sin has vitiated man to such a degree— he is so far from divine union, at his first coming into this life—that, of himself, he can neither cleanse the defilement that is on him, nor enter on the path which leads to God. It is requisite that our God, as a generous and patient physician, take our cure into His own hand; and, even when the cure is effected, should support and guide us. Let us then, in the Postcommunion, say with the Church:

Postcommunion

Tua nos, Domine, medicinalis operatio et a nostris perversitatibus clementer expediat, et ad ea quæ sunt recta, perducat. Per Dominum.
Grant, O Lord, that the healing efficacy of these thy mysteries may, through thy mercy, free us from all our sins, and bring us to the practice of what is right. Through, etc.

The other Postcommunions, as on page 131.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms, capitulum, hymn and versicle, as above, pages 71-81.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Non potest arbor bona fructus malos facere, nec arbor mala fructus bonos facere : omnis arbor quæ non facit fructum bonum, excidetur, et in ignem mittetur. Alleluia.

Oremus.

Deus, cujus providentia in sui dispositione non fallitur, te supplices exoramus ut noxia cuncta submoveas, et omnia nobis profutura concedas. Per Dominum.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, nor the evil tree bring forth good fruit : every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Alleluia.

Let us Pray.

O God, whose providence is never deceived in what it appointeth : we humbly beseech thee to remove whatever may be hurtful, and to grant us all that will profit us. Through, etc.

[1] In II. Noct., ex Epist ad Nepotianum.
[2] Rom. xii. 11.
[3] St. Matt. xxiv. 12.
[4] Ep. ad Nepot. 4.
[5] St. Matt. viii. 12.
[6] Isa. xi. 10.
[7] St. Matt. viii. 11.
[8] Rom. vi. 11.
[9] Ibid. vii. 14.
[10] Job iii. 18.
[11] 2 Cor. v. 21.
[12] Col. iii 5-9.
[13] St. Luke xi. 21
[14] Rom. vi. 12-18.
[15] Ibid. 19-23.
[16] Apoc. xvii. 7.
[17] Ecclus. xv. 1-8.
[18] Gen. xxix. 18-30.
[19] Ecclus. i. 33.
[20] Wisd. ix. 15.
[21] St. Augustine, Contra Faust, xxii. 50-58 (freely epitomized).
[22] Ps. cx.10.
[23] Isa. ix. 2.
[24] St. John xii. 35.
[25] St. Matt. xxiv. 24.
[26] St. John i. 11.
[27] St. Matt. xxiii 29-82.
[28] Gen. xlix. 10.
[29] Tract. Sanhedr., c. x.
[30] St. Matt. xxiv. 26.
[31] Ezech. xiii. 1-8.
[32] Isa. ix. 17.
[33] St. Matt. xxiv. 16.
[34] Euseb., Hist. Eccl., iii. 5.
[35] Isa. v. 26.
[36] Num. xxiv. 24.
[37] Dan. ix. 26, 27.
[38] Ps. cxvii. 22.
[39] Isa. ii. 2.
[40] St. John i. 42.
[41] St. Matt. vii. 24-27.
[42] Ibid. xviii. 7.
[43] 1 Cor. xi. 19.
[44] Heb. xi. 1.
[45] Ibid. 4-40.
[46] Ibid. 2, 39.
[47] Ps. xi. 2.
[48] Heb. xi. 13.
[49] St. John xvi. 11.
[50] Wisd. vii. 30.
[51] Eph. vi. 11-17.
[52] Heb. i. 3.
[53] St. John xii. 36.
[54] St. Matt. v. 14.
[55] First of the Great Antiphons.
[56] Prov. vii. 4.
[57] 1 Tim. i. 19.
[58] Prov. iii. 13-19.
[59] St. Matt. x. 16.
[60] Eph. v. 6.
[61] St. Jude. 16.
[62] Eph. v. 11.
[63] St. Jude 19
[64] Eph. v. 13, 12, 7.
[65] St. Jude 12.
[66] Eph. v. 8, 9.
[67] St. James iii. 11-18.
[68] Gemma Anim., iv. 57.
[69] 3 Kings iii.; 2 Paralip. i.
[70] Antiph. Gregor. ap. Thomasi, v.
[71] Dan. iii. 40-42.
[72] Honorius, ubi supra.
[73] St. Jas. i. 5.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

In the middle ages this Sunday was called the sixth and last Sunday after the Natalis of the apostles (that is, the feast of St. Peter); it was, indeed, the last for the years when Easter had been kept as late in April as was possible; but it was only the first after that feast of St. Peter when Easter immediately followed the spring equinox.

We have already noticed the variable character of this last portion of the liturgical cycle, which is the result of Easter being kept on a different day each year; and that in consequence of this variation this week may be the second in which the Sapiential Books are read, or, what is of more frequent occurrence, the Books of Kings may still be providing the lessons for the Divine Office. In this latter case it is the ancient temple raised by Solomon, the king of peace, to the glory of Jehovah, that engages the Church's attention to-day. We shall find that the portions of the Mass which are chanted on this Sunday are closely connected with the lessons read in last night’s Office.

Let us, then, turn our reverential thought's once more to this splendid monument of the ancient Covenant. The Church is now going through that month which immediately preceded the events so momentous to Jerusalem; she would do honour to-day to the glorious and divine past which prepared her own present. Let us, like her, enter into the feelings of the first Christians, who were Juda’s own children; they had been told of the impending destruction foretold by the prophets, and an order from God bade them depart from Jerusalem. What a solemn moment that was, when the little flock of the elect,the only ones in whom was kept up the faith of Abraham and the knowledge of the destinies of the Hebrew people—had just begun their emigration, and looked back on the city of their fathers, to take a last farewell! They took the road to the east; it led towards the Jordan, beyond which God had provided a refuge for the remnant of Israel.[1] They halted on the incline of Mount Olivet, whence they had a full view of Jerusalem; in a few moments that hill would be between them and the city. Not quite forty years before the Man-God had sat down on that same spot,[2] taking His own last look at the city and her temple. Jerusalem was seen in all her magnificence from this portion of the mount, which afterwards would be visited and venerated by our Christian pilgrims. The city had long since recovered from its ruins, and had, at the time we are speaking of, been enlarged by the princes of the Herodian family, so favourably looked on by the Romans. Never in any previous period of her history had Jerusalem been so perfect and so beautiful as she then was, when our fugitives were gazing upon her. There was not, as yet, the slightest outward indication that she was the city accursed of God. There, as a queen in her strength and power, she was throned amidst the mountains of which the psalmist had sung;[3] her towers[4] and palaces seemed as though they were her crown. Within the triple enclosure of the walls built by her latest kings, she embraced those three hills, the grandest, not only of Judea, but of the whole world: first, there was Sion, with its unparalleled memories; then, Golgotha, which had not yet been honoured on account of the holy sepulchre, and which, nevertheless, was even then attracting to itself the Roman legions, who were to wreak vengeance on this guilty land; and, lastly, Moriah, the sacred mount of the old world, on whose summit was raised that unrivalled temple, which gave Jerusalem to be the queen of all the cities of the east, for as such even the Gentiles acknowledged her.[5]

‘At sunrise, when in the distance there appeared the sanctuary, towering upwards of a hundred cubits above the two rows of porticoes which formed its double enclosure; when the sun cast his morning rays on that façade of gold and white marble; when there glittered the thousand gilded spires which mounted from its roof, it seemed, says Josephus, that it was a hill capped with snow, which gradually shone, and reddened, with the morning beams. The eye was dazzled, the soul was amazed, religion was roused within the beholder, and even the pagans fell down prostrate.'[6] Yes, when the pagan came hither either for conquest or for curiosity, if he ever returned, it was as a pilgrim. Full of holy sentiments, he ascended the hill; and, having reached the summit, he entered by the golden gate into the gorgeous galleries which formed the outward enclosure of the temple. In the court of the Gentiles he met with men from every country. His soul was struck by the holiness of a place where he felt that there were preserved in all purity the ancient religious traditions of the human race; and he, being profane, stood afar off, assisting at the celebrations of the Hebrew worship, such as God had commanded it to be, that is, with all the magnificence of a divine vritual. The white column of smoke from the burning victims rose up before him as earth’s homage to God, its Creator and Saviour; from the inner courts there fell on his ear the harmony of the sacred chants, carrying as they did to heaven both the ardent prayer of those ages of expectation and the inspired expression of the world’s hope; and when, from the midst of the levite choirs and the countless priests who were busy in their ministry of sacrifice and praise, the high priest, with his golden crown on his head, came forth holding the censer in his hand, and entering himself alone within the mysterious veil which curtained off the Holy of holies, the stranger, though he had but a glimpse of all those splendid symbols of religion, yet confessed himself overpowered, and acknowledged the incomparable greatness of that invisible Deity, whose majesty made all the vain idols of the Gentiles seem to him paltry and foolish pretences. The princes of Asia and the greatest kings considered it an honour to be permitted to contribute, both by personal gifts of their own making and by sums taken from the national treasuries, towards defraying the expenses of the holy place.[7] The Roman generals and the Cæsar themselves kept up the traditions of Cyrus[8] and Alexander[9] in this respect. Augustus ordered that every day a bull and two lambs should be presented in his name to the Jewish priests, and be immolated on Jehovah's altar for the well-being of the empire;[10] his successors insisted on the practice being continued; and Josephus tells us that the beginning of the war was attributable to the sacrificers refusing any longer to accept the imperial offerings.[11]

But, if the majesty of the temple thus impressed the very pagans right up to its last days, there were reasons for an intensity of veneration and love on the part of a faithful Jew, which he alone could realize. He was the inheritor of the submissive faith of the patriarchs; as such, he was well aware that the prophetic privileges of his fatherland were but an announcement to the whole world, that it was one day to be blessed with the more real and lasting benefits of which he, the Jew, possessed but a figure; he quite understood that the hour had come when the children of God would not confine their worship within the narrow limits of one mountain or one city;[12] he knew that God's true temple was then actually being built up on every hill of the Gentile world;[13] and that, in its immensity, it took in all those countries of the earth into which the Blood that flowed first from Calvary had won its way. And yet, we can easily understand what a sharp pang of anguish thrilled through his patriot heart, now that God was about to consummate, before the astonished universe, the terrible consumption[14] of the ungrateful people, whom He had chosen for His portion, His inheritance.[15] Who is there that would not share in the grief of these holy ones of Jacob, few in number as the ears of corn gathered by the gleaner,[16] and now bidding an eternal farewell to that holy, but now accursed, city? These true Israelites might well weep; they were leaving for ever, leaving to devastation and ruin, their homes, their country, and, dearest of all, that temple, which, for ages, had sanctified the glory of Israel, and given Juda the right and title to be the noblest of the nations of the earth.[17]

There was something even beyond all this : it was that their dear Jerusalem had been the scene of the grandest mysteries of the law of grace. Was it not in yonder temple that, as the prophets expressed it, God had manifested the Angel of the Testament,[18]and given peace? The honour of that temple is no longer the exclusive right of an isolated people; for the Desired of all nations, by His going into it, has brought it a grander glory than all the ages of expectation and prophecy have imparted.[19] It was under the shadow of those walls that Mary—she that was to be the future seat of Wisdom eternalprepared within her soul and body a more august sanctuary for the divine Word than was that whose cedared and golden wainscoting made it so exquisite a shelter for the infant maiden. Yes, it was there that, when but three years old, Mary joyously mounted up the fifteen steps which separated the court of women from the eastern gate, offering to God the pure homage of her immaculate heart. Here, then, on the summit of Moriah, began, in the person of their Queen, the long line of consecrated virgins, who, to the end of time, will come offering, after her, their love to the King.[20] There, also, the new priesthood found its type and model in the blessed Mother, presenting in that holy temple the world’s victim, Jesus, the new-born Child of her chaste womb. In that same dwelling, made by the hands of men; in those halls where sat the doctors, eternal Wisdom, too, seated Himself under the form of a child of twelve, instructing the very teachers of the Law by His sublime questions and divine answers.[21] Every one of those courts had seen the Word Incarnate giving forth treasures of goodness, power, and heavenly doctrine. One of those porticoes was the favourite one where Jesus used to walk,[22] and the infant Church made it the place of its early assemblies.[23]

Truly, then, this temple is holy with a holiness possessed by no other spot on earth; it is holy for the Jew of Sinai; it is holy for the Christian, be he Jew or Gentile, for here he finds that the Law ends, because here are verified all its figures.[24] With good reason did our mother the Church, in her Office for this night, repeat the words which were spoken by God to Solomon : ‘I have sanctified this house which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and my heart shall be always there.'[25]

How, then, is it that dark forebodings are come terrifying the watchmen of the holy mount? Strange apparitions, fearful noises, have deprived the sacred edifice of that calm and peace which become the house of the Lord. At the Feast of Pentecost the priests, who were fulfilling their ministry, have heard in the holy place a commotion like that of a mighty multitude, and many voices crying out together: 'Let us go hence!' On another occasion, at midnight, the heavy brazen gate which closed the sanctuary on the eastern side, and which took twenty men to move it, has opened of itself.[26] O temple, O temple, let us say it, with them that witnessed these threatening prodigies,[27] why art thou troubled? why workest thou thine own destruction? Alas! we know what awaits thee! The prophet Zacharias foretold it when he said: ‘Open thy gates, O Libanus, and let fire devour thy cedars!'[28]

Has God forgotten His promises of infinite goodness? No : but let us think upon the terrible and just warning, which He added to the promise He made to Solomon, when he had finished building the temple : ‘But if ye and your children, revolting, shall turn away from following Me, and will not keep My commandments and My ceremonies which I have set before you, I will take away Israel from the face of the land, which I have given them; and the temple which I have sanctified to My name, I will cast out of My sight; and Israel shall be a proverb, and a by-word among all people. And this house shall be made an example of; every one that shall pass by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss, and say : "Why hath the Lord done thus to this land, and to this house?'"[29]

O Christian soul! thou that, by the grace of God, art become a temple[30] more magnificent, more beloved in His eyes, than that of Jerusalem, take a lesson from these divine chastisements; and reflect on the words of the Most High, as recorded by Ezechiel: ‘The justice of the just shall not deliver him, in what day soever he shall sin.... Yea, if I shall say to the just, that he shall surely live, and he, trusting in his justice, commit iniquity all his justices shall be forgotten, and, in his iniquity, which he hath committed, in the same shall he die.'[31]

With the Greeks, the multiplication of the five loaves and two fishes is the subject of the Gospel for this Sunday; they count it the eighth of St. Matthew.

 

MASS

 

The Introit speaks of the glory of the ancient temple, and of the holy mount. But greater far is the splendour of the Church, which is now carrying the name and praise of the Most High even to the end of the earth, far more efficiently than had done that temple which was but a figure of our mother the Church.

Introit

Not only are we incapable, of ourselves, of doing any good work, but, without the help of grace, we cannot even have a thought of supernatural good. Now, the surest means for obtaining the help that is so needed by us is to acknowledge humbly before God that we depend entirely upon Him; it is what the Church does in the Collect.

Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuan in medio templi tui; secundum nomen tuum, ita et laus tua in fines terræ : justitia plena est dextera tua.

Ps. Magnus Dominus, et laudabilis nimis : in civitate Dei nostri, in monte sancto ejus. Gloria Patri. Suscepimus.
We have received thy mercy, O God, in the midst of thy temple : according to thy name so also is thy praise, unto the ends of the earth : thy right hand is full of justice.

Ps. Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised: in the city of our God, on his holy mountain. Glory, We have received.

Collect

Largire nobis, quæsumus Domine, semper spiritum cogitandi quæ recta sunt, propitius et agendi; ut, qui Bine te esse non possumus, secundum te vivere valeamus. Per Dominum.
Grant us, O Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit of always thinking what is right; and grant us mercifully the spirit of doing it : that we, who cannot subsist without thee, may live according to thee. Through, etc.

The other Collects, as on page 120.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Romanos.

Cap. viii.

Fratres, Debitores sumus non carni, ut secundum carnem vivamus. Si enim secundum carnem vixeritis, moriemini : si autem spiritu facta carnis mortificaveritis, vivetis. Quicumque enim Spiritu Dei aguntur, ii sunt filii Dei. Non enim accepistis spiritum servitutis iterum in timore, sed accepistis spiritum adoptionis filiorum, in quo clamamus : Abba (Pater). Ipse enim Spiritus testimonium redditi spiritui nostro, quod sumus filii Dei. Si autem filii, et hæredes : hæredes quidem Dei, cohæredes autem Christi.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul, the Apostle, to the Romans.

Ch. viii.

Brethren : We are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die : but if by the spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live. For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear : but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry : Abba (Father). For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God. And if sons, heirs also : heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ.

The apostle and doctor of the Gentiles here goes on, forming to the Christian life the new recruits, whom his own voice and that of his fellow apostles, dispersed as they are throughout the world, are every day leading, by hundreds, to the fount of salvation. Although the Church is all attention to the events which are preparing for Judea, yet is she full of maternal solicitude for the great work of training those children whom she has given to her divine Spouse. Whilst Israel is obstinate in his fatal refusal to accept the Messiah, another family is growing up in his place; and, by its docility, richly repays our Lord for all the rebellion and slights offered Him by the children He had first made His chosen ones. They were the ancient people, and are jealous of others being now called to the same privilege. The contradictions of which Christ complains in the Psalm are anything but over; and yet, thanks to the Church, the Man-God is already the Head of the Gentiles.[32]

Admirable is the fruitfulness of the bride; for wonderful is the power of sanctification which she is using all through the world of various nations. Scarcely has she sprung into her beauteous existence, than she offers to her Lord and her King a new empire, consolidated in unity of love; she presents Him with a generation that is all pure in the intelligence and practice of every virtue. It is quite true, that the Holy Ghost acts directly on the souls of the newly baptized; but there is something else to be considered in the divine plan. It is this : the Word, having been made flesh, and having taken to Himself a bride (which is the visible Church on earth), whom He has made His associate in the work of man's salvation, has willed that the invisible operation of the divine Spirit, who proceeds from Him (the Word), shall not be in its normal state, unless there be added to it the extrinsic cooperation and intervention of this His bride. Not only is the Church the depository of those allpotent formulas and mysterious rites which change man’s heart into a new soil, cleansing it from thorns and weeds, making it able to produce a hundredfold, but she also sows the seed of the divine husbandman into that same soil,[33] by her countless modes of teaching the truth. To the Holy Ghost, indeed, a magnificent share is due of that fecundity and that social life of the Church; still, her portion of work is exquisite; it deals with the elect taken as individuals, and consists especially in bringing them to profit by the divine energies of the sacraments which she administers, and in developing the germs of salvation which her teaching plants in their souls.

How important, then, and sublime will ever be that mission, winch is confided to those men who are set over particular churches, as teachers or directors of souls; they represent, to these isolated congregations, the common mother of all the faithful, for, in her name, they really provide for the holy Spirit those elements upon which He is to make His all-powerful action felt. For that very same reason, woe to those times when the dispensers of the divine word, having themselves nought but halved or false principles, give but weak, shrivelled seed to the souls entrusted to them! The Holy Ghost; is not bound to supply their insuffciency; ordinarily speaking, He does not supply it, for such is not the way established by Christ for the sanctification of the members of His Church.

The common mother, however, has a supplementary aid for such of her children as may be thus treated; it is her liturgy. There they will find, not only the holy sacrifice which will support them, and the graces of the Sacrament of love which will nourish spiritual life within them, but, moreover, the surest rule of conduct, and the sublimest teachings of every virtue. Such souls as these have perhaps the idea that the poor subjective system they have made for themselves is the royal road to perfection; but, if they be of an earnest good will, desirous to find the best way, God will, some happy day, lead them to find, and, finding, to appreciate, the inexhaustible and divinely given treasures of the Church's liturgy; possessing and enriching themselves with these, they will soon put aside what the prophet Isaias terms bread without strength, and water without power.[34] The same prophet would thus urge them, in the Church's name, to what is best: 'All ye that thirst, come to the waters! And ye that have no money, make haste, buy, and eat. Come ye! buy wine and milk, without money, and without any price. Why spend ye money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which doth not satisfy you? Hearken diligently to me, and eat that which is good, and your soul shall be delighted in fatness!'[35] And truly there is a fact which should rouse, both to attention and gratitude, any Christian who longs to be enlightened as to the best way of getting to heaven : this fact is, that the Church herself has made a selection, for our reading, from the treasury of the Scriptures, and, in her missal, which she puts into our hands, she has inserted practical teachings from the same divine Books, which she knew were best suited to the wants of her children. A Christian, who is humbly and devoutly assiduous in the study of this admirable book of the liturgy, will abound in spiritual knowledge. His guide will say to him, and with a well-grounded assurance : 'This is the way; walk in it! And go not aside, neither to the right, nor to the left!'[36] We have no need to wonder at all this; for, in the guidance of souls, the Church is far superior to the most learned doctors and to the greatest saints, all of whom were humble disciples in her school.

Let us put together the few lines which have been read to us as the Epistles of the last three Sundays, taken from that written by St. Paul to the Romans. To say nothing of their infallible truth as being inspired by the Holy Ghost, could we have had any exposition of the principles of revealed morality which could be compared to it? Clearness, simplicity of diction, earnest vehemence of exhortation–all are perfect in these few words; and yet, they are but the outward expression of the sublimest truths of Christian dogma. Let us make the barest possible summary of what these three Epistles have taught us; and we shall see how grand they are. Christ Jesus, foundation of man's salvation; His death and burial made, in Baptism, the regeneration of man; His life in God, the model of our own; the disgrace of our enslaved bodies and its removal; the sanctifying fruitfulness of every virtue substituted in our members for the poisonous roots of all vices; and, on this very Sunday, the pre-eminence of the spirit over the flesh; the duties incumbent on our spirit, if she is to maintain her superiority; what man must do, if he would preserve the liberty bestowed on him by the Spirit of love, and prove himself to be, what he really is, a son of God and joint-heir of Christ. Yes, these are the splendid realities, which are henceforth to light up in us the law of the spirit of life (that is, the law of the life we are to live by the Spirit) in Christ Jesus;[37] these are the axioms of the science of salvation now taught to the whole world, which are to be substituted for both the weaknesses of the Jewish law and the empty ethics of philosophers.

For, the leading idea which pervades the whole of this sublime Epistle to the Romans is this : man, unaided by grace, is incapable of producing perfect justice and absolute good. Experience has proved it, St. Paul teaches it, the fathers will, later on, unanimously assert it, and the Church, in her Councils, will define it. True, by the mere powers of his fallen nature, man may come to the knowledge of some truths, and to the practice of some virtues; but, without grace, he can never know, and still less observe, the precepts of even the natural law, if they are taken as a whole.

From Jesus, then, from Jesus alone, comes all justice. Not only is supernatural justice, which supposes the infusion of sanctifying grace in the sinner's soul, wholly from Him; but even that natural justice, of which men are so proud, and which they say is quite enough without anything else, soon leaves one who does not cling to Christ by faith and love. Our modern world has a pompous phrase about 'the independence of the human mind let those who pretend to acknowledge no other goodness but that, go on with their boasting of being moral and honest men; but, as to us Christians, we believe what our mother the Church teaches us; and, agreeably to such teaching, we believe that 'a moral and honest man,' that is to say, a man who lives up to all the duties which nature puts upon him, can only be such here below by a special aid of our Redeemer and Saviour Christ Jesus. With St. Paul, therefore, let us be proud of the Gospel; for, as he calls it, it is the power of God,[38] not only to justify the ungodly,[39] but also to enrich souls, that thirst after what is right, with an active and perfect justice. 'The just man,' says the same apostle, 'liveth by faith'; and according to the growth of his faith, so is his growth in justice. Without faith in Christ, the pretension to reach perfection in good, by one’s own power and works, produces nothing but the stagnation of pride and the wrath of God.[40]

The Jews are a proof of it. Proud of their Law, which gave them light greater than that enjoyed by the Gentiles,[41] and wishing to make their whole virtue consist in the possession of that Law, they have rejected Him who was the end of the Law, and the source of all holiness;[42] they have refused to accept the Christ, who not only delivered them from tneir previous misery,[43]but also brought them the knowledge of what would save them, and the strength to fulfil it;[44] they have continued in their iniquity, adding sin upon sin to that contracted from their first parents, and thus 'treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath.'[45]Now is being fulfilled the prediction of Isaias, whose words might very appropriately have been used by the faithful few of Israel, as they fled from Jerusalem : 'Except the Lord of hosts had left us seed, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like to Gomorrha.'[46]

‘What, then, shall we say?’ asks the apostle; and he answers his own question thus : 'That the Gentiles, who followed not after justice, have attained to justice, even the justice that is of faith. But Israel, by following after the law of justice, is not come unto the law of justice. Why so? Because they sought it, not by faith, but as it were of works; for they stumbled at the stumbling-stone, as it is written : 'behold! I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and a rock of scandal; and whosoever believeth in Him, shall not be confounded.’[47]

The Gradual seems to express the sentiments of the Jewish converts, who had to depart from their cities; they might thus have besought God to be henceforth their protector and a place of refuge where they might be safe. The Alleluia-versicle again sings of the glory that was once given to the Lord in Jerusalem, especially on the holy mountain where His temple was built.

Gradual

Esto mihi in Deum protectorem, et in locum refugii, ut salvum me facias.
V. Deus, in te speravi : Domine, non confundar in æternum.

Alleluia, alleluia. V. Magnus Dominus, et laudabilis valde, in civitate Dei nostri, in monte sancto eius. Alleluia.
Be thou unto me a God, a protector, and a place of refuge to save me.
V. O God, in thee have I hoped; let me, O Lord, never be confounded.

Alleluia, alleluia. V. Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised, in the city of our God, on his holy mountain. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. xvi.

In illo tempore : Dixit Jesus discipulis suis parabolani hanc : Homo quidam erat dives, qui habebat villicum : et hic diffamatus est apud illum quasi dissipasset bona ipsius. Et vocavit ilium, et ait illi: Quid hoc audio de te? Redde rationem villicationis tuæ : jam enim non poteria villicare. Ait autem villicus intra se : Quid faciam, quia dominus meus aufert a me villicationem? Fodere non valeo, mendicare erubesco. Scio quid faciam, ut, cura amotus fuero a villicatione, recipiant me in domos suas. Convocatis itaque singulis debitoribua domini sui, dicebat primo : Quantum debes domino meo? At ille dixit : Centum cados olei. Dixitque illi : Accipe cautionem tuam : et sede cito, scribe quinquaginta. Deinde alii dixit : Tu vero quantum debes? Qui ait : Centum coros tritici. Ait illi : Accipe litteras tuas, et scribe octoginta. Et laudavit dominus villicum iniquitatis, quia prudenter fecisset : quia filii hujus sæculi prudentiores filiis lucis in generatione sua sunt. Et ego vobis dico : Facite vobis amicos de mammona iniquitatis : ut, cum defeceritis, recipiant vos in æterna tabemacula.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. xvi.

At that time : Jesus spoke to his disciples this parable: There was a certain rich man who had a steward : and the same was accused unto him, that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said to him : How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship : for now thou canst be steward no longer. And the steward said within himself : What shall I do, because my lord taketh away from me the stewardship? To dig I am not able; to beg I am ashamed. I know what I will do, that when I shall be removed from the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. Therefore, calling together every one of his lord's debtors, he said to the first : How much dost thou owe my lord? But he said : A hundred barrels of oil. And he said to him : Take thy bill and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then he said to another : And how much dost thou owe? Who said : A hundred quarters of wheat. He said to him : Take thy bill and write eighty. And the lord commended the unjust steward, forasmuch as he had done wisely : for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. And I say to you : Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity, that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.

The several parts of the parable here proposed to us are easy to be understood, and convey a deep teaching. God alone is richby nature, for to Him alone belongs the direct and absolute dominion over all things : they are His, because He made them.[48]But, by sending His Son into the world under a created form, He, by this temporal mission, appointed Him heir to all the works of His hands,[49] just as truly as He already was owner of the riches of the divine Nature because of His eternal generation. The rich man, then, of our Gospel is Jesus, who, in His sacred Humanity, united to the Word, is heir of all things,[50] and, as such, all things of the most high God, created or uncreated, finite or infinite, belong to Him. To Him belong the heavens which proclaim His glory,[51] and which, as long as they last,[52] clothe Him with their garment of light;[53] to Him the ocean, whose surges are but a voice that speaks His praise,[54] and hushes the fury of its tempests when He bids it be still;[55] to Him the earth, which gladly offers Him the homage of all its fullness.[56] The grass and flowers of the meadows, the varied fruits, the fertile loveliness of the fields;[57] the birds of the air and the fishes that inhabit the rivers, or that sport in the paths of the sea;[58] the huge oxen as well as the tiniest insect that lives; the wild beasts of forest or mountain;[59] all are His, all are subject to His rule. Silver, too, is His, and gold is His;[60] and man, too, is His, and would have been eternally His servant, had not Jesus mercifully vouchsafed to divinize him, and make him a partaker of His own eternal happiness and riches.

Instead of our being His slaves or servants, He would have us be His brothers; and, when He returned from this world to His Father, whom He had also made to be ours by the grace He had infused into us,[61] He sent us the Holy Ghost, who should bear testimony to us that we are the sons of God,[62] and be to us the pledge of our sacred inheritance, heaven.[63]O ineffable riches of the world to come! O inheritance the fullest that ever was!Our Jesus Himself is all joy at the sight of it, and, in the psalm of His Resurrection, He gives expression to that joy. We, His members and jointheirs, have a right to repeat those words after Him, and say : 'The lines are fallen unto me in goodly places; for my inheritance is goodly to me! for the Lord Himself is my portion! I will bless Him for having given me to understand my happiness!'[64]

But, in order that we may attain to those eternal riches, there is a condition imposed on us : we must turn to profit the visible domain of Christ; we must see that it is used in His service. The future rewards we are to have in heaven depend upon the greater or less fidelity wherewith we have employed our share of these inferior good things, for they are entrusted to us, to each of us in the measure which seemed good in God's eyes. What a divine agreement has been drawn up for us! What perfect adjustment between justice and love! Our Lord Jesus Christ has divided His property into two portions; He gives the eternal portion unreservedly to us; it is the only one that is truly great, the only one that is capable of contenting our infinite longings. As to the other portion, which, in itself, would not be worthy of the attention of beings that are made for the contemplation of the divine essence, He could not think of allowing us to set our hearts on it, neither will He permit us to have absolute dominion over it. The real possession of temporal goods belongs, therefore, to Him alone; the ownership of earthly riches, which He permits to the future joint-heirs of His own blissful eternity, is subject to numberless restrictions during their life-time, and, at their death, exhibits its essentially precarious tenure, by not being able to follow its owner beyond the grave.

For the fool, as well as for the wise man, the day will come when his soul will be required of him;[65] and when the rich man, as well as the poor, will be brought before his Maker, exactly as he was on the day of his first entrance into the world,[66] and it will be said to him : Give an account of thy stewardship! At that dread hour, the rule observed for the judgment will be that which our Lord revealed to us during His mortal life : ‘Unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required; and to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand the more.’[67] Woe, at that hour, to the servant who has comported himself as though he were the absolute master! Woe to the steward who, disregarding the trust assigned to him, has done just what his own whim suggested with the goods of which he was only the dispenser![68] When the light of eternity shall be upon him, he will understand the error of his foolish pride. He will see the shameful injustice of a life which the world perhaps thought a very decent one, but which was spent without the slightest regard to God's intentions in giving him the riches of which he boasted. He will then be entirely deprived of them all; neither will it be then in his power to make a better use of them for the future—that is, a use more in accordance with the designs of God. If he might, at least, make some restitution for the goods he has abused! if he might sue for aid from those with whom he lived upon earth! But, no! when time is over, labour is over too. He has nothing to show for all his riches; he is powerless; and when he goes before that dread tribunal, where every man is afraid that he cannot put his own accounts right, whom can he get to help him?[69]

Happy, therefore, if, now that time is still granted him, he would allow the thousand calls of God[70] to awaken him from his false conscience. Happy if, like the steward mentioned in our Gospel, he would profit by the days he has still to live, and would say to himself those words of Job: 'What shall I do, when God shall rise to judge? And, when He shall examine, what shall I answer Him?'[71]

This very Judge, whom he so rightly fears, now most mercifully points out to him how he may escape the punishment due to his past mal-administration. Let him imitate the prudence of the unjust steward, and he will have praise for it from his Lord; not only because of his prudence, but because by thus spreading over God's servants the riches that were entrusted to his care, far from robbing his divine Master, he acts in strict accordance with His wishes. ‘Who thinkest thou,’ asks our Lord, ‘is the faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord setteth over His family, to give them, in due time, their measure of wheat[72] and oil?'[73]Alms, whether corporal or spiritual, secure us powerful friends for that awful day of our death and judgment. It is to the poor that the kingdom of heaven belongs;[74] so that if we spend the riches of this present life in solacing the sufferings of the poor now that they are living here below, afterwards they will not fail to make us a return by receiving us into their future homes, the everlasting dwellings of heaven.

Such is the immediate and obvious meaning of the parable given to us to-day. But if we would go furtherif we would understand the whole intention of the Church in her choice of the present Gospelwe must listen to St. Jerome, whose homily for last night’s Office is put before us as the official interpretation of the sacred text. Let us first listen to the words of Scripture which the saint quotes (they immediately follow those of our Gospel): 'He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater; and he that is unjust in that which is little, is unjust also in that which is greater. If, then, ye have not been faithful in the unjust mammon, who will trust you with that which is the true?'[75]These words, says St. Jerome, were said in the presence of the scribes and pharisees; they felt that the parable was intended for them; and they derided the divine preacher. The one that was 'unjust in that which is little' is the jealous Jew, who, in the limited possession of the present life, refuses to his fellow-men the use of those goods which were created for all. If, then, you avaricious scribes are convicted of mal-administration in the management of temporal riches, how can you expect to have confided to you the true, the eternal, riches of the divine word, and the teaching of the Gentiles?[76]Terrible question, which our Lord leaves thus unanswered;let these unjust stewards, the depositaries of the figurative law, deride Jesus as much as they please, and pretend that His question does not refer to them; they will soon receive the true answer, the ruin of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the little humble flock of the elect of Juda, leaving these hard-hearted men to the vengeance which their proudmadness is hurrying on, is continuing its journey, knowing that the promises of Sion belong to it. The Offertory-anthem is the expression of their faith and their hope.

Offertory

Populum humilem salvum facies, Domine, et oculos superborum humiliabis : quoniam quis Deus præter te, Domine?
Thou wilt save the humble people, O Lord! and thou wilt humble the eyes of the proud : for, who is God besides thee, O Lord?

It is from God that we receive the gifts, which He deigns to accept at our hands; and yet, the sacred mysteries, which are about to transform our oblation, do, none the less, obtain for us, by His grace, the sanctification of our present life, and the joys of eternity.

Secret

Suscipe, guæsumus Domine, munera quæ tibi de tua largitate deferimus : ut hæc sacrosancta mysteria, gratiæ tuæ operante virtute, et præsentis vitæ nos conversatione sanctificent, et ad gaudia sempiterna perducant. Per Dominum.
Receive, we beseech thee, O Lord, the offerings we bring, which are the gifts of thine own bounty : that these most holy mysteries may, by the power of thy grace, make our conduct in this life holy, and bring us to those joys that will never end. Through, etc.

The other Secrets, as on page 130.


The hope which man has in his God could never disappoint him; what, stronger pledge could he wish for than the sweetnessof the divine banquet which he is now enjoying?

Communion

Gustate, et videte, quoniam suavis est Dominus : beatus vir, qui sperat in eo.
Taste and see, that the Lord is sweet I blessed is the man that putteth his trust in him.

The heavenly nourishment we have now received has power to renew both our souls and bodies:let us make ourselves worthy of experiencing the fullness of its effects.

Postcommunion

Sit nobis, Domine, reparatio mentis et corporis cœleste mysterium : ut cujus exsequimur cultum, sentiamus effectum. Per Dominum.
May this heavenly mystery, O Lord, renew us both in soul and body; that we may find in ourselves the effects of what we celebrate. Through, etc.

The other Postcommunions, as on page 131.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms, capitulum, hymn, and versicle as above, pages 71-81.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Quid faciam, quia dominus meus aufert a me villi-. cationem? Fodere non valeo, mendicare erubesco. Scio quid faciam, ut cum amotus fuero a villicatione, recipiant me in domos suas.

Oremus.

Largire nobis, quæsumus, Domine, semper spiritum cogitandi quæ recta sunt, propitius et agendi, ut qui sine te esse non possumus, secundum te vivere valeamus. Per Dominum.
What shall I do, because my lord taketh away from me the stewardship? To dig I am not able; to beg I am ashamed. I know what I will do, that, when I shall be removed from the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.

Let us Pray.

Grant us, O Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit of always thinking what is right; and grant us, mercifully, the spirit of doing it : that we, who cannot subsist without thee, may live according to thee. Through, etc.

 


[1] Isa. x. 20-23.
[2] St. Mark xiii. 1-3.
[3] Ps. cxxiv. 2.
[4] Ps. cxxi. 7.
[5] Pliny, 'Nat. Hist.,' v.15.
[6] JOSEPHUS, De Bell., v. 5, translated by Champagny.
[7] 2 Mach. iii. 2, 3.
[8] 1 Esdras vi 7.
[9] Jos., 'Antiq.,’ xi. 5.
[10] Philo., Legat.
[11] Jos. De bell. ii.17.
[12] St. John iv. 21, 28.
[13] Isa. ii. 2.
[14] Ibid. x. 23.
[15] Deut xxxii. 9.
[16] Isa. xvii. 5.
[17] Deut. iv. 6-8.
[18] Mal. iii.1.
[19] Agg. ii. 8, 10.
[20] Ps. xliv.15, 16.
[21] St. Luke ii. 46, 47.
[22] St. John X. 23.
[23] Acts iii. 11, v. 12.
[24] Rom. x. 4.
[25] 3 Kings ix. 3.
[26] Jos. De Bell., vi. 5.
[27] Talmud, as quoted by Sepp, 2nd part, vi. 62.
[28] Zach. xi. 1.
[29] 3 Kings ix. 6-8.
[30] 1 Cor. in. 16, 17.
[31] Ezech. xxxiii.12,13.
[32] Ps. xvii. 44-46.
[33] St. Luke viii. 11.
[34] Isa. iii 1, xxx 20.
[35] Ibid. lv. 1, 2.
[36] Isa. Xxx. 21.
[37] Rom. viii. 2.
[38] Rom. i. 16.
[39] Ibid. iv. 5.
[40] Ibid. i. 17, 18.
[41] Ibid. ii. 17-20.
[42] Ibid. x. 3, 4.
[43] Ibid. iii. 25.
[44] Ibid. viii. 3, 4.
[45] Ibid. ii. 5.
[46] Isa. i 9.
[47] Rom. ix. 30-33.
[48] Ps. xxiii. 2, lxxxviii.12.
[49] Ps. viii. 6-8.
[50] Heb. i. 2, ii. 8.
[51] Ps. xviii. 2, 6.
[52] Ibid. ci. 27
[53] Ibid. ciii. 2.
[54] Ibid. xcii. 3, 4.
[55] St. Mark iv. 39, 40.
[56] Ps. xxiii. 1.
[57] Ibid. xlix.11.
[58] Ibid. viii. 9.
[59] Ibid. xlix. 9, 10.
[60] Agg. ii. 9.
[61] St. John xx. 17.
[62] Rom. viii. 16.
[63] Eph. i. 14.
[64] Ps. xv. 5-7.
[65] St. Luke xii. 20.
[66] Job i. 21.
[67] St. Luke xii. 48.
[68] Ibid. 45-47.
[69] St. Matt. xxv. 9.
[70] Ps. xciv. 8.
[71] Job. xxxi. 14.
[72] St. Luke xii. 42.
[73] 2 Esdras v. 11.
[74] St. Matt. v. 3.
[75] St. Luke xvi. 10. 14.
[76] S. Hieron., Ep. ad Algasiam, cap, vi.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The lamentation over Jerusalem's woes, the subject of to-day's Gospel, has given its name to this ninth Sunday after Pentecost, at least among the Latins. We have already observed that it is easy to find, even in the liturgy as it now stands, traces of how the early Church was all attention to the approaching fulfilment of the prophecies against Jerusalem—that ungrateful city upon which our Jesus heaped His earliest favours. The last limit put by mercy upon justice has, at length, been passed. Our Lord, speaking of the ruin of Sion and its temple, had foretold that the generation that was listening to His words should not pass until what He had announced should be fulfilled.[1] The almost forty years accorded to Juda, that he might avert the divine wrath, have had no other effect than to harden the people of deicides in their determination not to accept Christ as the Messiah. As a torrent, which, having been long pent back, rushes along all the fiercer when the embankment breaks, vengeance at length burst on the ancient Israel; it was in the year 70 that was executed the sentence he himself had passed when, delivering up his King and God to the Gentiles,[2]he had cried out: 'His blood be upon us and upon our children!'[3]

Even as early as-the year 67, Rome, irritated by the senseless insolence of the Jews, had deputed Flavius Vespasian to avenge the insult. The fact of this new general being scarcely known was, in reality, the strongest reason for Nero's approving of his nomination; but to the hitherto obscure family of this soldier God reserved the empire, as a reward for the service done to divine justice by this Flavius and his son Titus. Later on, Titus will see and acknowledge[4] that it is not Rome but God Himself who conducts the war and commands the legions. Moses, ages before, had seen the nation, whose tongue Israel could not understand, rushing like an eagle upon the chosen people, and punishing them for their sins.[5] But no sooner has the Roman eagle reached the land where he is to work the vengeance, than he finds himself visibly checked by a superior power; and his spirit of rapine is held back, or urged on, precisely as the prophets of the Lord of hosts had foretold. The piercing eye of that eagle, as eager to obey as it was to fight, almost seemed to be scrutinizing the Scriptures. It was actually here that he found the order of the day for the terrible years of the campaign.[6]

As an illustration of this, we may mention what happened in the year 66. The army of Syria, under the leadership of Cestius Gallus, had encamped under the walls of Jerusalem. Our Lord intended this to be nothing more, in His plan, than a warning to His faithful ones, which He had promised them when foretelling the events that were to happen. He had said: 'When ye shall hear of wars, and seditions, and rumours of wars, be not terrified; these things must first come to pass; but the end is not yet presently.[7]But when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed about with an army, then know that the desolation thereof is at hand.'[8] The Jews had been for years angering Rome by their revolts, but she bore with it all, if not patiently, contemptuously; but when, in one of these seditions, Roman blood had been spilt, then she was provoked and sent her legions. Her army, however, had first of all to furnish Jesus' disciples with a sign[9]; He had promised them that this sign should consist in her Compassing Jerusalem,' then withdrawing for a time; this would give the Christians an opportunity of quitting the accursed city. The Roman proconsul had his troops stationed so near to Jerusalem that it seemed as though he had but to give the word of command and the war would be over; instead of that, he gave the strange order to retreat, and throw up the victory which he might have if he wished.[10] Cestius Gallus seemed to men to have lost his senses; but no, he was following, without being aware of it, the commands of heaven. Jesus had promised an escape to His loved ones; He fulfilled His promise by this unwitting instrument.

Vespasian himself had scarcely started for Judea when he met with one of those divine adjournments which all the Roman tactics were several times powerless to resist; the hour marked for them to act had not come, so they must wait, however reluctantly. The preordained counsel of the Most High decreed that before all these things[11] which men were to bring about, before the already broken sceptre of the ancient alliance[12] should have disappeared in the flames enkindled by the Jews themselves[13]the establishment of the new Testament was to be solidly set up among the Gentiles, and be solemnly confirmed by the blood of the apostles, its witnesses.[14] It was on June 29 in the year 67 that Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom in the city of Rome. Rome was thus made the mother-Church; and the reign of the Messiah, whom Israel rejected, was promulgated to the whole world, with an evidence which only the voluntarily blind could resist. Though Vespasian had opened the campaign against Judea in the spring of that year 67, yet he had to wait for the glorious confession of these two princes of the apostles; that triumph secured, the impatient legions might rush to victory as soon as they pleased. For fortyseven long days they had been kept, by some power, staring at the citadel of Jotapata, which it was so easy for them to take, and which would make them masters of Galilee; but June 29 had now had its apostolic triumph in Rome, and Vespasian was at liberty to do what he had so long wished to do; on that very June 29 he did it—he took Jotapata.

Forty thousand dead, strewn on the steeps of the hill, and heaped up as high as the walls, showed the Romans what desperate resistance they were to expect from Jewish fanaticism. Of all the male defenders or inhabitants of Jotapata, only two survived; one of these was Josephus, a chief leader in the Jewish forces, and historian of these cruel wars. The women and children were spared.[15] But, some short time later on, another fortress, Gamala, was attacked; it overhung a chasm. When one-half of the besieged had been slain, and it was evident that further resistance was impossible, the survivors, assembling together the women and children, threw them and themselves down the rock; and five thousand was their number. When the legions stood looking around, at the close of that day's work, they could see but a desert and death.[16]

In every part of the unhappy Galilee blood was flowing in torrents, and the flames of burning villages lighted up the horizon. It was hard to recognize this as the land where Jesus had spent the years of His childhood, or as the scene of His first miracles, and of those teachings of His which were ever borrowing some exquisite parable or other from the sight of the pretty hills and fertile vales of that then favoured country. The arm of God was now pressing with all its weight on this land of Zabulon and Nephthali, on which first so brightly shone the light of salvation,[17] as we sang on Christmas night. So again this time it was the first to be visited by God. But these were unhappy times; and the visit was no longer that of the divine Orient, opening out to the world the paths of peace.[18] He was hid behind the tempest,[19] and darted the fiery arrows of destruction on the ungrateful country that had refused to welcome Him in the weakness of human flesh, which nothing but His mercy had led Him to assume. 'They cried out, on the day of my vengeance,' says this rejected King of Israel, 'but there was none to save them; they cried to me their Lord, but I heard them not : and I will break them as small as dust, and scatter them before the wind; I will bring them to nought, like the dirt in the streets.'[20]

Terrible lesson which the Church learned and has never forgotten, that no blessing, no past holiness, is of itself a guarantee that the place thus favoured will not afterwards draw down on itself desecration and destruction! She saw, and trembled as she saw, these events of the first age of her history. She beheld violence and every sort of crime profaning the paths that had been trodden by the feet of her adorable Master, and the hills where He had passed whole nights in prayer and praise to His eternal Father. She one day witnessed even the pure waters of the Lake of Genesareth fearfully polluted; those waters that had so oft reflected the features of her divine Spouse, as when He walked on their glassy surface, or sat in Peter’s bark superintending those mysterymeaning fishings of His apostles. The event we here allude to was that of six thousand Jewish insurgents—hemmed in between God's wrath and their Roman pursuersreddening with their blood this Sea of Tiberias, where once Jesus had spoken to the storm and quelled it.[21] Their livid carcasses were thrown back by the waves on the shore, where our Lord had uttered woe to the cities that had witnessed His miracles, and yet were not converted.[22]

And souls, too, on whom God heaps His choicest favours, inviting them thereby to a closer union with Himself, have a lesson to learn from all this. Woe to them if, through indifference or sloth, they neglect to correspond with their graces! Woe to them if they imitate the cities on the Lake of Galilee, by greedily accepting the honour done them but never producing the fruits of holiness which should follow such signal and frequent gifts of heaven. The prophet Amos couples these forgetful, careless souls with the cities which our Lord had treated with such partiality, and which yet remained apathetic and worldly; and he tells us what this slighted benefactor will say to both : ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth! therefore will I visit upon you all your iniquities! Shall two walk together, except they be agreed?’[23]

As to Israel, the highly-favoured above all people, he would not agree with the Jesus who so loved him, and was visited with chastisements exactly corresponding to his crimes. In the spring of the year 68, an officer under Vespasian scoured the left banks of the Jordan, driving the terrified Israelites before him.[24] They fled in thousands towards Jericho, where they hoped to find refuge; but the river had so flooded the country round the city, that entrance was impossible; the wretched fugitives were overtaken and slain by the Roman troops. The Ark of the Covenant had once opened there a miraculous passage to the tribes of Israel; but even had it been there now, how was it to protect such unworthy descendants of the patriarchsdescendants, that is, who broke the Covenant made by God with the sons of Jacob? A frightful massacre, a merciless mowing down of human beings, followed; and, at what a place! the very place where, forty years before, St. John the Baptist had seen the axe laid to the root of the tree, and foretold the wrath to come upon this brood of vipers, who called themselves children of Abraham, and would not do penance.[25] A countless multitude drowned themselves in the Jordan; they found death in the very stream to which our Saviour had imparted sanctification by being Himself baptized in it, and imparting to it the power to give light to the world. But Israel had chosen the kingdom of the prince of this world in preference to that of the divine Giver of life.[26] The number of those who perished in that holy stream was so great that the heap of their dead bodies made it impossible for vessels to sail in the river; and this fearful obstado continued until such time as the current had swept the corpses down to the Dead Sea, and scattered far into that dismal lake of malediction that hideous jetsam of the Synagogue. Had not our Lord saia, that Sodom’s guilt was less than theirs?[27]

Rome and her legions were masters, in the north, of Galilee and Samaria; in the east and west, of the banks of the Jordan and of the Mediterranean coast; and the conquest of Idumæa completed the circle of iron and fire that was to shut Jerusalem in. Roman garrisons held Emmaus, Jericho, and all the fortified positions round the Jewish capital. Having, as God's instrument, chastised so many other ungrateful cities, Vespasian was preparing to lay siege to the most guilty of all, when Nero’s fall, and the events which followed it, drew the attention, both of himself and of the whole world, from Judea.

The last years of the tyrant had witnessed frequent 'earthquakes in divers places,'[28] and 'plagues,'[29] and ‘signs in the heavens';[30] but when he died there came 'risings of nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.’[31] The entire west was in arms; and the east herself was attracted towards Rome by the immense political commotion of the year 69. From the heights of Atlas to the Euxine Sea, and from the Humber to the Nile, provinces and peoples were striving for the mastery. Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, proclaimed emperors by their respective armies, sent their rival legions from Britain and the Rhine, from Illyria and the Danube; they met at Bedriac for mutual slaughter. In one thing alone they that survived were unanimous : friends or foes, all must lay Italy waste. Rome was taken by the Romans; whilst on the undefended frontiers appeared Suevians, Sarmatians, and Dacians. The Capitol and Jupiter’s temple in flames excited the Gauls to declare their independence, and Velleda to stir up Germany to revolt. The old world was gradually disappearing beneath the universal anarchy and war.

Circumstances, then, suddenly seemed favourable to Jerusalem; they gave her a fresh invitation to atone for her crimes; but, as we shall see when commenting on this Sunday's Gospel, she made no other use of them than to multiply her sins, and treat herself with greater cruelty than the Romans would have done.

In the Mass of this Sunday, which is their ninth of St. Matthew, the Greeks read the episode of Jesus' walking upon the waters.

 

MASS

 

Israel had made himself the enemy of the Church; and God, as He had warned him,[32] punishes and disperses his children. The Church takes occasion, from the fulfilment of the divine judgments, to profess the humble confidence she has in her Spouse’s aid.

Introit

Ecce Deus adjuvat me, et Dominus susceptor est animæ meæ : averte mala inimicis meis, et in ventate tua disperde illos, protector meus, Domine.

Ps. Deus in nomme tuo salvum me fac : et in virtute tua libera me. Gloria Patri. Ecce.
Behold! God is my helper, and the Lord is the support of my soul: turn aside the evils upon mine enemies, and cut them off in thy truth, O Lord, my protector. 

Ps. O God, in thy name save me : and, in thy strength, deliver me. Glory, etc. Behold.

The Jews cried to heaven, and the ears of God were deaf to their supplications, because they asked for what was displeasing to Him. In her Collect, the Church prays that it may never be thus with her children.

Collect

Pateant aures misericordiæ tuæ, Domine, precibus supplicalitium : et ut petentibus desiderata concedas, fac eos, quæ tibi sunt placita, postulare. Per Dominum.
May the ears of thy mercy, O Lord, be opened to the prayers of thy suppliants : and, that thou mayst grant to thy petitioners the things they desire, make them to ask those that are agreeable to thee. Through, etc.

The other Collects, as on page 120.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios.

1 Cap. x.

Fratres : Non simus concupiscentes malorum, sicut et illi concupierunt. Neque idololatræ effciamini sicut quidam ex ipsis : quemadmodum scriptum est : Sedit populus manducare, et bibere, et surrexerunt ludere. Neque fornicemur, sicut quidam ex ipsis fornicati sunt, et ceciderunt una die viginti tria millia. Neque tentemus Christum, sicut quidam eorum tentaverunt, et a serpentibus perierunt. Neque murmuraveritis, sicut quidam eorum murmuraverunt, et perierunt ab exterminatore. Hæc autem omnia in figura contingebant illis : scripta sunt autem ad correptionem nostram, in quos fines sæculorum devenerunt. Itaque qui se existimat stare, videat ne cadat. Tentatio vos non apprehendat, nisi numana : fidelis autem Deus est, qui non patietur vos tentari supra id, quod potestis, sed faciet etiam cum tentatione proventum, ut possitis sustinere.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul, the Apostle, to the Corinthians.

1 Ch. x.

Brethren : Let us not covet evil things, as they also coveted. Neither become ye idolaters, as some of them : as it is written: The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed fornication, and there fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ : as some of them tempted, and perished by the serpents. Neither do ye murmur : as some of them murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now, all these things happened to them in figure : and they are written for our correction, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall. Let no temptation take hold on you, but such as is human. And God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which ye are able; but will make also with temptation issue, that ye may be able to bear it.

‘I have great sadness,’ cried out the Apostle of the Gentiles, as he thought of the malediction which was about to fall on the Jews: 'continual sorrow have I in my heart; for I wished myself to be an anathema from Christ for my brethren, who are my kinsmen according to the flesh; who are Israelites, to whom belongeth the adoption of children, and the glory, and the covenant, and the giving of the Law, and the service (the worsnip of God, prescribed by Himself), and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is over all things, God blessed for ever!’[33] But now, they are gone astray by their own fault; they see nothing; they understand nothing.[34] The royal banquet of the Scriptures, on which their fathers feasted,[35] is now turned by them into an occasion of error; they have made those Scriptures a snare for their own destruction; darkness covers their understanding, and chastisement for all future ages is their own making.[36]

Gentiles! you that have been substituted for those broken branches, and are grafted on the stem of the Covenant,[37] learn a lesson from their fall. God, who has shown you so much and so great gratuity of mercy, and that at the very time He was inflicting upon them the chastisements they so richly merited, will not allow His loving designs upon you to be frustrated against your own will. If you are faithful to the call of His grace, He will be faithful to you, and preserve you from temptations which you could not resist; or, He will so watch the combat that His divine help will make your soul rise superior to the trial; and thus in every temptation you will find, not defeat, but the merit of a victory, all the more glorious, as it seemed so much above the power of human strength. And yet, never forget that the same causes which brought about the destruction of the Jews would also lead you to ruin. They fell, because of their unbelief; you, who once had no faith and yet God showed mercy to you, are now what you are by faith. Be not, therefore, high-minded with self-complacency; but remember how God, who broke off the natural branches from the glorious tree, will not spare you, if you cease to be faithful; and whilst you do well to admire His mercy, you do not wisely if you forget His inexorable justice.[38]

Well, therefore, does our mother the Church instruct us in to-day's Epistle, as to the lamentable antecedents of the Jewish deicides; she tells us of that list of sins and chastisements, which gradually led on to the final crime and total ruin of the apostate nation. We, who live in what the Church calls the 'evening of the world,'[39] have this great advantage, that we can profit by what the past ages have experienced. The holy Spirit had no other end in view, when He would have the history of the ancient people written : He would have the future ages there learn lessons of salvation. By the various episodes of that history, which form so many groups of prophetic events, He would show us the economy of God's providence in His government of the world and of His Church. Founded as she has been by her divine Spouse in immutable truth, and maintained by the Holy Ghost in unfailing and ever-increasing holiness, the Church has nothing to fear of that which happened to the Synagogue—we mean, of that total wreck which the liturgy brings forward for our consideration to-day. No, the ruin of the Jews is a prophetic image of the destruction of the world,[40] which will have rejected the Church; not of the Church herself, who will then ascend to her Lord, perfected in love and holiness by the trials endured in those latter days.[41] But the assurance of salvation, granted to the bride of the Son of God, does not extend to her children, taken either individually or collectively—that is, men or nations. On each one of us it is incumbent that we meditate on the sad fate which befell Jerusalem; as also on what happened, ages before, to the ancestors of the Jewish people, viz., that scarce one of those who were living when Moses led them out of Egypt lived to enter into the promised land.

And yet, as the apostle argues, they were all journeying in the path of life, protected by the mysterious cloud, beneath which divine Wisdom shaded them by day, and served them as a pillar of fire by night.[42] Led on by Moses—who was a type of the future divine Head of the Christian peoplethey had all passed through the sea. All of them thus baptized in that symbolic cloud and in those saving waters which had engulfed their foes, just as the water of the Christian font destroys the sins of them that are washed in itall of them were fed by the same spiritual food, and all drank at the same holy source which issued from the rock, which was Christ. Yet were there very few, out of all those thousands, with whom God was pleased.[43] But how much more grievous would the sins of Christians be, who are blessed with the resplendent and solid realities of the Law of grace, than were the evil desires, and idolatry, and fornication, and murmurings of the Israelites, who had but the figures and foreshadowings of our privileges!

The fervent expression of praise given to our good God in the words whicn now follow is a solace to our hearts, which are grieved at the sight of the ingratitude of the Jewish people and the chastisements that ingratitude drew down upon them. How sad soever may be the day, the Church never neglects her tribute of praise to the divine Majesty; for no event can happen here below that can make the bride forget the infinite perfections of her Spouse, or keep her from extolling His magnificence We have all this in the Gradual. The Alleluiaverse is plaintive and suppliant; it well suits today's recollections.

Gradual

Esto mihi in Deum protectorem, et in locum refugii, ut salvum me facias.
V. Deus, in te speravi : Domine, non confundar in æternum.
Alleluia, alleluia.
V. Magnus Dominus, et laudabilis valde, in civitate Dei nostri, in monte sancto eius. Alleluia.
Be thou unto me a God, a protector, and a place of refuge to save me.
V. O God, in thee have I hoped; let me, O Lord, never be confounded.
Alleluia, alleluia.
V. Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised, in the city of our God, on his holy mountain. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. xix.

In illo tempore : Cum appropinquaret Jesus Jerusalem, videns civitatem, flevit super illam, dicens : Quia si cognovisses et tu, et quidem in hac die tua, quæ ad pacem tibi, nunc autem abscondita sunt ab oculis tuis. Quia venient dies in te : et circumdabunt te inimici tui vallo, et circumdabunt te : et coangustabunt teundique: et ad terram prosternent te, et filios tuos, qui in te sunt, et non relinquent in te lapidem super lapidem : eo quod non cognoveris tempus visitationis tuæ. Et ingressus in templum, cœpit ejicere vendentes in illo, et ementes, dicens illis: Scriptum est : Quia domus mea domus orationis est. Vos autem fecistis illara speluncam latronum. Et erat docens quotidie in templo.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Chapter xix.

At that time : When he drew near Jerusalem, seeing the city, he wept over it, saying : If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace : but now they are hidden from thy eyes. For the days shall come upon thee : and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side, and beat thee flat; to the ground, and thy children who are in thee : and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone: because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation. And entering into the temple, he began to cast out them that sold therein. and them that bought. Saying to them : It is written : My house is the house of prayer: but you have made it a den of thieves. And he was teaching daily in the temple.

The passage just read to us from the holy Gospel takes us back to the day of our Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. This triumph, which God the Father willed should be offered to His Son before the commencement of His Passion, was not, as we well know, anything of a recognition of the Messiah made by the Synagogue. Neither the meek, gentle manners of this King, who came to the daughter of Sion seated on an ass,[44] nor His merciful severity upon the profaners of the temple, nor His farewell teachings in His Father's house, could open the eyes of men who were determined to keep them shut against the light of salvation and peace. Not even the tears of the Son of Man, then, could stay God’s vengeance : there is a time for justice, and the Jews were resolved it should come to themselves.

How loudly had the prophets spoken to them in God’s name! 'Woe to the provoking and redeemed city! She hath not hearkened to the voice of her God. Her princes are in the midst of her as roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; her prophets are senseless, men without faith; her priests have defiled the sanctuary; they have acted unjustly against the law (they have violated it).[45] Crush the city as in a mortar![46] Go through the city, and strike! let not your eye spare, nor be ye moved to pity! Utterly destroy old and young, maidens, children, and women —yea, destroy all that are not marked upon their foreheads with Thau! And begin ye at my sanctuary; slay the priests, and the ancients; defile the house (my temple), and fill its courts with the bodies of the slain!'[47]

Alas! precedence in chastisement was richly due to those princes of the people who had had precedence in crime; it was due to those priests and ancients who had decreed the death of the Just One, and driven the multitude to cry out : 'Crucify Him!’[48]Jealous of the miracles of the Man-God, they said in their perfidious hypocrisy : 'If we let Him alone’ (doing all these miracles), ‘all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away our city and nation.’[49] God has turned their impious diplomacy against them. But, as far as they themselves are concerned, they will have their way; not one of them will see the Romans; for, before the arrival of the legions, John of Gischala, and Simon the son of Gioras, will have annihilated this deicidal aristocracy, hated of both heaven and earth. When, after the war is over, Titus shall enter into Rome, these two brigand chiefs, and prime movers of the war, shall adorn his triumph; they shall be the substitutes of the nobles of Juda before the conqueror’s chariot. Two bandits, representatives of Jerusalem, in the streets of Rome, her rival! What a divine retaliation for the two thieves, whom the Synagogue gave as an escort to its King on the Dolorous Way, and made them His crucified fellows on Calvary!—But, let us resume the sequel of events, and give them as briefly as the subject permits.

After the rupture with Rome, and the retreat of Cestius Gallus, the government of Jerusalem had been entrusted to the high-priest Ananus,[50] brotherin-law to Caiphas, and the last of the five sons of Annas, who succeeded each other in the office of high-priest. By a visible dispensation of God's justice, this family, the guiltiest of all in the crime of the crucifixion, found itself at the head of the nation when the fatal hour came : it was impossible then to mistake the meaning of God's vengeance upon His people. Independently of the enormous crime, whose responsibility rested on his race, Ananus had a personal sin to atone for—the death of St. James the Less, who had been martyred, by his orders, in the year 62. Rationalist or Sadducee like his kin, he deplored the war, and would have been glad to see peace restored;[51] but he could not shirk the obligation his office imposed on him of organizing the defence. Ruler most unworthy, yet ruler he was; and therefore, as the Prophet Isaias expresses it, this whole ruin was under his hand,[52] under his management; it would, necessarily, when it came, fall on him and crush him.

It was not long before the fanatics, who had instigated the rebellion and taken the name of Zealots, became dissatisfied with the way in which Ananus was managing affairs: so they revolted against him, and put to death the most illustrious men of the city. Reinforced by all the enthusiasts of other towns, and by the highway-robbers who were daily flocking to Jerusalem, they made themselves masters of the temple. Out of hatred for the ancient priestly families, they changed the order of offering sacrifice. They put the office of high-priest on a peasant, who happened to be a descendant of Aaron’s family, but was so unfitted for the dignity that he did not even know what was meant by a priest.[53]

About this same time the wreck of the Galilean bands, headed by John of Gischala, occasioned the first defeats, and excited the people to exasperation; they made common cause with the rebels, and increased their fury against all whom they suspected of an inclination to treat with Rome. The Zealots were hard pressed by the troops of Ananus, and had already been forced back into the inner temple; on the advice of John of Gischala, they called the wild Idumean herdsmen to come to their aid. These fierce auxiliaries came on Jerusalem in the thick of a storm that was raging during the night; they found the watchmen asleep, and put them to death. The very earth, says Josephus, had shaken at their approach; and, on the evening before their arrival, had been heard to moan.[54] Up to the morning, amidst violent wind and rain and lightning, howling themselves as if to add to the din of the tempest, amidst the shouts of the wounded and the screams of women, they pitilessly murdered every one they met. When at length daylight appeared, it revealed the horrors of the previous night; eight thousand five hundred dead bodies were lying on the ground, and the blood was running in streams all round the temple. The corpse of Ananus, after being insulted, stripped, trodden on, was given as food to the dogs. The following days, twelve thousand men, in the vigour of health, and picked out of the most distinguished families, were also put to death by the Idumeans, either by torture or by other means. As soon as they had left, the Zealots became masters of the city, and were guilty of cruelties even greater than those exercised by the Idumeans. All those whose independent character, or influence, or noble birth, excited suspicions were at ° once massacred, nor were their friends or relatives allowed to bury or mourn over them. The lower classes, the poor, and the unknown, alone escaped with their lives.

The justice of God overtook the princes of Juda.[55] Their blood mingled with the dust, their unburied bodies lying as dung upon the streets,[56] would all this remind Sion of those prophecies which had foretold these days of tribulation and anguish, these days of bitterness for the mighty and the strong?[57] The Christians of Jerusalem, who were then sheltering beyond the Jordan, would remember, if no one else did, the inspired words which their bishop, St. James, had written eight years before to the twelve tribes who were dispersed throughout the world:[58] ‘Go to now, ye rich men! weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you! Your riches are putrefied; your treasure is a store of wrath. Ye have feasted; but your feasts have but nourished you for the day of slaughter. Ye have condemned, and put to death the just one, and he resisteth you not. ... But the coming of the Lord draweth near.’[59] It was truly the Lord, who was avenging His own cause;[60] and Vespasian was well aware of it, when he thus answered those who urged him to take advantage of all these troubles, and attack the city: ‘God is a better general than I :let us leave Him to deliver up the Jews to the Romans without any trouble on our side, and give us victory without our incurring any risk.’[61]

Jerusalem was then but in the beginning of her woes and of her civil strifes. The ambitious character of John of Gischala did not allow him to be long at peace with the Zealots. He separated himself from them; and to the Galileans, who supported his cause, he gave permission to do whatsoever they pleased. To pillage and murder were added the frightful excesses of that halfidolatrous race which, in the days of the Assyrian kings, had been substituted for the tribes of Israel;[62] it had borrowed from Judaism little better than a mass of superstition, which it mingled with the customs and vices of its predecessors. Then was the daughter of Sion compelled to witness and endure the abominations, wherewith the prophets of the Most High had threatened her. Humbled and indignant, the unhappy city would fain have shaken off the yoke.[63]

In those days a celebrated brigand was laying Idumea waste; towns and villages were destroyed, houses were pulled down or burnt; and, according to the prophecy of Abdias,[64] he was ransacking Edom through and through, right to the very core. His name was Simon, son of Gioras. What with slaves, criminals, outlaws, and malcontents of every party, he had got together upwards of 20,000 well-armed men, not counting other 40,000 who followed him. This was the strange Messiah on whom Jerusalem cast her eyes for help in her trouble! A deputation, headed by a high-priest, waited on this son of Gioras, begging him to accept the sovereignty. He deigned to consent to their wishes! Proud and haughty, says Josephus,[65] he graciously allowed Sion to offer him her suppliant homage. He was led into the city of David, amidst the enthusiastic acclamations of the people, who hailed as their protector and saviour Simon the murderer, Simon the brigand! O Jesus, Son of David and Son of God, how art Thou avenged by all this! They wished it to be; they themselves had passed the sentence : 'Not Him, but Barabbas!'[66] The choice of the children was in keeping with the preference entertained by their fathers. Bar Gioras — worthy descendant of Barabbas—once he was master of the city, treated alike both them that had invited him and them that he had been invited to reduce to order—that is, he treated them all as enemies. Day and night was the massacre kept up by his savage horde, until every man of worth or credit in Jerusalem was made away with.[67]

Meanwhile, the Galileans, driven back from Sion and the lower town by the new-comers, had retreated to the temple, of which they occupied the first enclosure. The Zealots had grown more than ever discontented with John of Gischala, and made the inner temple their fortified place of refuge. They were less numerous than the two other parties, but their position was far preferable, for it was on the very summit of the holy mount. Then, too, they had provisions in abundance, seeing that all the first-fruits and offerings made to the temple were under their absolute control. They passed their time in feasting and drunken revellings. Little cared they for the stones hurled by the Galilean catapults; nor were they in the least troubled at finding that these huge missiles struck the priests at the altar, thus mingling the blood of the sacrificers with that of the victims, and strewing the sacred courts with the bodies of dead or dying. Sacrilege and drunkenness—such was the end of those descendants of the austere pharisees![68] Here again Jesus, their crucified victim, was avenged.

Whilst the abomination of desolation, foretold by Daniel, was thus standing in the holy place,[69] John of Gischala saw that the Zealots were too stupefied by their feastings to cause him any further alarm. He fell on the city, like a bird of prey, there to find the necessary provisions; and out of hatred for Simon, he destroyed by fire all he could not carry away. Simon, instead of quenching the fire, extended it in every part where John was likely to pass, hoping, by this means, to deprive the Galileans of all further victualling. Immense stores of corn and other provisions had been amassed by the Jewish leaders, as a necessary resource in case of a future siege; but all were now destroyed by these two men, who were greater enemies to their country than were the Romans themselves. Thus was spent the year 69a year of respite, which Rome, torn as she was by factions of her own, was compelled to allow, and which might have been of such incalculable benefit to the Jews.[70]

With the exception of armed troops, there were no other inhabitants in Jerusalem but women and old men. The passover of 70 was drawing near, and it produced a sort of truce among the several parties. The city began to be again crowded, and with a population far exceeding the ordinary number. The Romans had pillaged the Jewish provinces; Sion had been even more cruelly treated, and by her own children : and yet, in this year 70, there assembled within this city of final vengeance as though it were the whole nation, and that from every quarter of the globe.[71] It had been the same at the time of our Jesus' crucinxion; it seemed as though the whole Jewish people insisted on witnessing the consummation of the deicide. The apostles afterwards besought them to confess their having been accomplices in the crime of Calvary, but the preaching was fruitless; the terrific lesson of recent events was unable to open their eyes. As it was in the days of that Pasch so salutary to mankind, but so fatal to Juda; and as it was at the subsequent Pentecost, so now there were Jews congregated 'out of every nation under heaven,'[72] not, indeed, to hear an apostle preaching to them to do penance,[73]but to undergo that which Moses had foretold, and St. Peter had recalled to their memorythe extermination of all such as should refuse to hearken to the Messiah of the Lord.[74]

As the Man-God had said, the terrible day came suddenly, and as a snare, upon this immense assemblage of people.[75]The empire was in the hands of Vespasian; the prosperous fortune of Rome was re-established on the whole of the frontiers; and Titus had just reached Cæsarea, with orders to put an end to the eastern question. He sent word to the legions then in Judea to effect, from the respective points they occupied, a joint concentration towards the capital. When the tenth legion marched from Jericho and was seen encamped on Mount Olivet—that is, on the very place where Jesus wept as He looked on Jerusalem, and foretold the siege which was to be its ruinthe unexpected arrival of the Romans alarmed the pilgrims, and made them busy themselves with preparations for a battle, rather than for the solemnization of the Pasch. The several parties agreed to forget, at least for a day, tneir own animosities, and unite all their forces together; they made two desperate sallies, for the purpose of dislodging the enemy from the Mount; but each time they were repelled.[76]

The Pasch which is about to be celebrated is, as ever, and now more than ever, the passover of the Lord; but the Lord is no longer leading the sons of Jacob to their deliverance by it. Juda has made himself the enemy of the Lamb, whose blood should be the sign of the redeemed of the Pasch. Whilst the blood of this divine Lamb is enriching the whole earth, whilst the light of the vanquisher of death is illumining the whole world, Juda is there, obstinately keeping to his figures and shadows. More stiff-necked than the Egyptian, and more guilty than Pharaoh, he would, if he could, hold the true Israel in the trammels of his own slavish law, just as he once vainly tried to make the true Son of God an everlasting prisoner in the tomb. As to Jesus, He has, years ago, set Himself free; and now, more terrible than He was in Mesraïm, He is passing over, as the avenger both of Himself and of His Church. The Paschthe feast of feasts, whose memory is every Sunday brought back to us —is now about to receive its final completion. On the Tuesday of our Easter, we were saying: 'How terrible will be the passage of the Lord over Jerusalem, when the sword of the Roman legions shall destroy a whole people!'[77]

‘Woe to thee, O Ariel! Ariel, the city which David took—the city where God had His temple and His altarthy years are passed; thy solemnities are at an end![78] Take away from me the tumult of thy songs! Psalms, in thy mouth, have lost all their meaning. I will not hear the canticles of thy harp.[79] The song of lamentation is heard in Israel, for his house is fallen.[80] In every street there shall be wailing; and in all places, they shall say: Woe! Woe!’[81]

This prophetic cry of Woe—this most gloomy foreboding that all the threats uttered in Scripture against Jerusalem are on the point of being fulfilledwas forced upon the inhabitants' ears. Ever since the feast of Tabernacles of the year 62, an unknown peasant—the husbandman, as the prophet Amos called him, a man skilful in lamentation[82]—had been ceaselessly pacing the streets of the wretched city, crying out day and night : 'A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, a voice against all this people!' Tried, questioned, scourged, even till his flesh was torn to pieces and his bones laid bare—nothing could prevent him from continuing his most unwelcome work. On the festival days above all, this precursor of the vengeance of the Son of Man redoubled the energy of his plaintive enthusiasm, which gave a superhuman emphasis to his cry of Woe. To every word of kindness or reproach, to every act of charity or cruelty, he gave neither thanks nor plaints, but went on with the same words : 'Woe! Woe! to Jerusalem ‘And thus he continued for seven years and five months, without his voice being altered by weakness or hoarseness. During the early days of the siege he was seen by the Romans running to and fro along the walls, shouting :'Woe to the city! Woe to the people! Woe to the holy house!' At length he added : 'Woe! woe to me!’ Immediately a stone, thrown from one of the engines, smote him, and he died on the spot.[83]

Jerusalem has drunk of the cup of madness, and nothing seems to impress her; she is drunk with the cup of God's wrath; yea, she has drained it to the dregs.[84] What a terrific day, this last celebration of the Jewish Pasch! The historian Josephus tells us what it wassacrilegious, bloody, and noisy with the shouts, which even the enemy could hear, of the strife of the dissentient factions, for all had revived. Taking advantage of the gates being opened to the pilgrims, some Galileans, disguised, made their way into the inner temple; where, throwing aside their cloaks, and displaying their weapons, they attacked the crowd that stood round the altar. They beat and murdered; then, trampling on the dying and the dead, they drove the people outside the courts. Meanwhile, the Zealots, who were taken unawares, rushed, in dismay, into the subterranean caverns of the temple.[85] What a Pasch! What a feast! worthy, indeed, of God’s hatred and rejection.[86] Unhappy feasters, that had come from the ends of the world to this solemnity! how is it that they forgot to apply the words of the prophet? 'Woe to them that desire the day of the Lord! To what end is it for you? This day of the Lord is darkness and not light. You shall be as a man fleeing from the face of a lion, and a bear should meet him; or, as one that entereth into the house, and, when he leaneth with his hand upon the wall, a serpent should bite him.'[87] Terrible prophecy! how strangely is it verified : —the Romans are yonder in their camps; Simon is in the city; John of Gischala is in the temple, its sole master!

As in the days of Jeremias, so now : the sword and famine—it is hard to say, which was the busier to make this multitude its prey;[88] for, owing to the previous depredations, famine had made itself felt from the beginning of the siege. Each day added to its intensity, and urged on the savage instincts of the armed ruffians to attack all who were not of their party. It was not hatred only that now filled Sion with murder; to rob, or to get something to keep themselves from starvation, these were additional motives to make such men grudge each other’s existence. Under plea that they were conspirators, Simon and John had the rich summoned to their respective tribunals; and then, adding insult to injustice, these two wretches, who, in the intervals between fighting against the Romans, were carrying on their own deadly feud— these two judges, having first seized the property of their victims, sent them to the second bar,[89] under pretence that they wished to show each other a mutual kindly feeling; giving the one who had nothing to steal, the option of condemning to death. Scarcely forty years before in these very streets, through which the Jewish aristocracy was being ignominiously dragged from Simon to John, and from John to Simon, there was another Victim who, amidst the approving ridicule of the leaders of the nation, was made the pledge of a mock reconciliation, and, with a fool's uniform put on Him, was sent back from Herod to Pilate, there to await judgment![90]

Whilst these tyrants were thus living on the public distress, there were hundreds of starved creatures, whom hunger drove to go forth by night into the fields, and there try to find some wild herbs. If they fell into the hands of the Romans, these, unwilling to be burdened with such prisoners, had them crucified within sight of the walls. Five hundred and upwards were thus captured each day; and, oh! what a fearful detail, but how loud in its significance!—all this was done, with Calvary opposite! and, as Josephus tells us, there was not room enough to plant the crosses, nor wood enough for making them.[91]

Titus had flattered himself that the taking of Jerusalem would be an affair of a few days. He, of course, disregarded the prophecies which declared that the deicide city was to be 'compassed round with a trench'; and preferred to use negotiations and a series of assaults, rather than be detained by the tedious operation of a blockade. But he was, of course, mistaken; his messengers receives, in answer to their parleys of peace, nothing but insults and arrows; and, as to assaults, all the bravery of his legions was powerless against the fortresses where the factions were protected. Two months thus passed away in useless attempts; all that the Romans had possession of was the lower town, which the Jewish contesting parties had already reduced to ruins; but Sion and Moriah still held up their heads in defiance against the determined invaders. There was nothing, then, to do, but make up their minds to defer Rome and her pleasures to some later season,[92] and encircle Jerusalem with that terrible trench, which the Gospel had said must be cast about her. The literal following out of the plan traced by God got the better of Titus' impatience. He set ms legions to the work; they must change their manual labour, and, instead of bows and arrows, they must handle pickaxe and spade. To have seen them at work, one would have said they were thinking of Jesus' words, for they were fulfilling them as though they were the most devoted of His servants; Josephua would have it, that they were animated by a divine influence.[93] In the brief space of three days, they completed an earth-wall measuring a little over five miles round, a work which would, ordinarily, have occupied several months. God had thus spoken by the prophet Isaias : 'I will make a trench about Ariel;and it shall be in sorrow and mourning; and it shall be to me as Ariel. I will make a circle round about thee (O Jerusalem), and will cast up a rampart against thee, and raise up bulwarks to besiege thee.’[94] Truly, Jerusalem was thus made as an Ariel to Jehovah—that is, one immense altar of countless victims.

The famine, by this time, was intensely increased; for every exit into the fields was now closed against the unfortunate creatures, who, till then, had been able to eke out their miserable existence by picking up, at the risk of their lives, a few seeds or roots.[95] A bushel of wheat was sold for a talent (about 240 pounds sterling). Those who could afford it gave their costliest treasures for a morsel of bread;[96] but, as to those who had nothing to give, they must drag the sewers in the hope of finding food. The vilest rubbish was devoured with avidity. Filth, too foul to have a name, was hidden as though it were a treasure, for which husband quarrelled with his wife, and mothers grudged it their children.[97] The factions had, thus far, laughed at the people's starvation;but they soon began themselves to feel the gnawings of famine, and then they furiously attacked those who were reported as having something to eat. If a man were sinking, he was said to be feigning the weakness of death, in order to prevent search being made for his victuals; if he had just strength enough to walk a few steps, it was taken as an indication that he had some hidden eatables about him. All were savagely tortured to make them own the imputed crime of having something yet to live on. Like famished dogsit is the expression used both by the historian and the Psalmist[98]—they ran wildly through the city, knocking down the doors of the suspected, ferreting in every nook and hole, and returning two or three times within the hour. A savoury smell was one day perceived coming from a house which had been thus frequently visited; this was more than enough for a further search. In they rushed; a woman was there; they threatened her with death, unless she at once declared where was her feast. 'It is my son,' she replied; 'there are the remnants!’ The woman was Mary, daughter of Eleazer; once rich, and of a noble family, she, maddened by hunger, had murdered her infant child, and had fed on his flesh.[99]

All these horrors failed to subdue the ferocious obstinacy of John of Gischala and Simon, son of Gioras. In spite, however, of their precautions, and their cruelties towards those who were suspected of meditating an escape, there were, every day, scores who, by throwing themselves down the walls, were able to reach the Roman camp. Deeply moved at the sight of so much misery, Titus received them kindly, and gave them their liberty. But, adds Josephus, 'God had condemned the whole of this people, and turned the very means of safety into occasion of destruction.'[100] Many of these poor fugitives were so exhausted on reaching the camp that they died on taking the food which had been too long denied them. A still greater number fell victims to the Arabs and Syrians, who followed the Roman army; for, a report having been circulated that some of the Jews had swallowed their gold before leaving Jerusalem, in order the more effectually to hide it, these wild auxiliaries, strangers to the discipline of the legions and born enemies of the Jewish people, ensnared the unfortunate fugitives and cut them into pieces, hoping to find what would satisfy their monstrous avarice. During one single night there were two thousand found lying thus embowelled.[101] How all this forces us to think of the death of Judas,[102] and of the punishment of his deicidal betrayal! And had not all this people imitated that traitorous apostle? He, the Iscariot, had delivered up the Son of Man to the chief priests and leaders of the Jews; the Jews delivered Him up to the Gentiles; and the Prophet Zacharias makes them all share in the responsibility of that infamous barter, wherewith began the sacred Passion of our sweet Jesus.[103]

In the city, the ravages of the famine were beyond all imagination. Josephus, speaking of them, uses, without being aware of it, the very expression of our Redeemer : 'In no time did any other city ever suffer such miseries.’[104] In the space of a few months there were counted six hundred thousand dead, and to these burial of one sort or other was given; as to the rest, they could not be numbered, for the survivors had not the strength needed for burying them, and they were left to rot in the houses or streets.

Meanwhile, on July 12, a greater trial than all this befell Jerusalem and the whole Jewish people: lor want of victims, the continual sacrifice was taken away, as in the days of Antiochus,[105] but this time it was for ever. It was the end, the openly declared end, of Mosaism and its worship, to be henceforth replaced, and without dispute, by the Sacrifice of the law of love; the end, with but the brief interval of a siege and a war, which had then no other object to achieve, and therefore no further reason for its continuance. An immense grief—a grief that admitted no consolation—seized the hearts of the Jewish people, who, up to the very last, had lived on the empty hope fostered by the false prophets.[106]

The foolhardy obstinacy of Simon and John rejected, even then, the proposals of Titus, that he would spare both city and temple. Hostilities were therefore resumed, implacably and pitilessly resumed. But the Jewish soldiers had not energy enough to keep pace with the fanaticism of their leaders; worn out by famine, they had not the unflinching resistance needed for repelling the sustained assaults of the Romans. Already the tower of Antonia, which commanded the temple, was in the power of the enemy, and each day he was seen closing in nearer to the sacred edifice. Its defenders resolved on one last effort; roused by the greatness of their misfortune, they rushed through the vale of Cedron, and made a desperate charge on the post of Mount Olivet. It looked as though, for these final engagements, the instinct of God's vengeance, which weighed upon them, was leading them to this place of prophecy, where the Son of Man had wept over Jerusalem, and where, as we have already said, the first battle was fought. Repelled, and in despair, they returned to the city, which they were never again to leave; then, with their own hands, setting fìre to the outer porticoes of the temple, they gave the first enclosure over to the Romans.

Titus was desirous, above all things, to save the temple; but, as Josephus observes, 'God had, for certain, long ago doomed it to the fìre; . . . and the flames were kindled by the Jews themselves, when that fatal day came.'[107] It was August 4, in the year 70, a Sabbath-day, and the anniversary of the first destruction of the holy place under Nabuchodonosor. The guards of the temple, exasperated by suffering, stupefied by hunger, attacked the soldiers who, by Titus' orders, were quenching the fire that had been some days burning at the outer portion of the building. They were soon beaten back into the temple, and, this time, they were not the only ones to enter. While they were falling by hundreds beneath the sword of the Romans, now unexpectedly made masters of the inner enclosure, one of the soldiers, forgetting the orders given by Titus, but, as Josephus puts it, 'urged on by a divine power,'[108] seized a firebrand, and hurled it, through a window, into one of the rooms adjoining the sanctuary. The flame burst forth and spread; the efforts of Titus to stay it were useless. Simon’s soldiers on Mount Sion saw it rising up towards the sky. At this fearful spectacle, the famished and wounded, turning towards the falling temple, forgot all their sufferings. From these thousands of dying Jews, all of them possessed with the one same grief, there arose a loud scream of despair, which, blending with the shouts of the pagan soldiers, was heard even on the mountains of Perea, beyond the Jordan and the Dead Sea. Mount Moriah, on fire, seemed as though its very foundations were burning, and blood was flowing enough to quench the flames. The number of the slain was so great that the ground could not be seen, and the soldiers, as they marched, had to trample on the dead. The priests who had mounted on the roof of their temple, the women and children crouching by thousands in its galleries, all perished in the flames, with the treasures of the sanctuary.[109]

John of Gischala, gathering together his few remaining followers, had escaped between the enemy's battalions, and had joined Simon in the high portion of the city. The contest continued for a few weeks longer, but it was the effort of a last agony. On September 1, Sion was taken, plundered and burnt like Moriah and the lower town. The prediction of to-day's Gospel was fulfilled. Jerusalem, beaten flat to the ground, and her children that were in her, was but a mass of smoking ruins. Eleven hundred thousand men had perished during the siege. Of the ninety-seven thousand that had been taken prisoners during the whole war, seven hundred were picked out as fit to grace the conqueror's triumph; of the remainder, those who were over seventeen years of age were sent to the mines, or reserved for the amphitheatre; the others supplied the slavemarkets of the empire for some length of time.[110]

In the Offertory of to-day's Mass, the Church delights in the thought that her children, aided by the grace of her divine Spouse, are all care to keep the commandments (the justices) of their Lord. It is this obedience of theirs which renders those judgments a joy and a sweetness to them, whereas, for the Synagogue, they were so fearful.

Offertory

Justitiæ Domini rectæ, lætificantes corda, et judicia ejus dulciora super mel et favum : nam et servus tuus custodit ea.
The justices of the Lord are right, rejoicing hearts; and his precepts are sweeter than honey and the honey-comb; and therefore doth thy servant observe them.

The Secret is a prayer, that God would grant us children of the Church the grace of assisting worthily at the holy sacrifice, which really renews, each time it is offered, the work of our salvation.

Secret

Concede nobis quæsumus Domine, hæc digne frequentare mysteria : quia, quoties hujus hostiæ commemoratio celebratur, opus nostræ redemptionis exercetur. Per Dominum.
Grant us, O Lord, we beseech thee, frequently and worthily to celebrate these mysteries : for, as many times as this commemorative sacrifice is celebrated, so often is the work of our redemption performed. Through, etc.

The other Secrets, as on page 130.


The Communion-anthem expresses the mystery of divine union, which is realized in the Sacrament just received.

Communion

Qui manducat meam carnem, et bibit meum sanguinem, in me manet, et ego in eo, dicit Dominus.
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him, saith the Lord.

The sanctification of each individual member of the Church, and the unity of the social body, are the two fruits of these sacred mysteries : the Church, in her Postcommunion, asks them of God.

Postcommunion

Tui nobis, quæsumus Domine, communio sacramenti et purificationem conferat, et tribuat unitatem. Per Dominum.
May the participation of this thy sacrament, O Lord, we beseech thee, both purify us, and unite us. Through, etc.

The other Postcommunions, as on page 131.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms, capitulum, hymn and versicle, as above, pages 71-81.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Scriptum est enim : Quia domus mea domus orationis est cunctis gentibus : vos autem fecistis illam speluncam latronum : et erat quotidiedocens in templo.

Oremus.

Pateant aures misericordiæ tuæ, Domine, precibus supplicantium : et ut petentibus desiderata concedas, fac eos, quæ tibi sunt piacita, postulare. Per Dominum.
For it is written : My house is the house of prayer, unto all nations : but ye have made it a den of thieves. And he was teaching daily in the temple.

Let us Pray.

May the ears of thy mercy, O Lord, be opened to the prayers of thy suppliants : and, that thou mayst grant to thy petitioners the things they desire, make them to ask those that are agreeable to thee Through, etc.

 

[1] St. Luke xxi. 32.
[2] St. Matt. xx.19.
[3] Ibid. xxvii. 25.
[4] Jos., De Bello Jud., vi. 9.
[5] Deut. xxviii. 49.
[6] St. Luke xxi. 22.
[7] St. Matt. xxiv. 6; St. Luke xxi. 9.
[8] Ibid. 20.
[9] St. Mark xiii. 4.
[10] Jos., De Bello Jud., ii.19.
[11] St. Luke xxi. 12.
[12] Zach. xi. 10.
[13] Isa. 1. 11.
[14] St. Matt. xxiv. 9; St. Mark xiii.10.
[15] Jos., De Bello Jud., iii. 7.
[16] Ibid. iv. 1.
[17] Isa. ix. 1, 2.
[18] St. Luke i. 78, 79.
[19] Ps. xvii. 12.
[20] Ps. xvii. 42, 43.
[21] Jos., De Bello Jud., iii. 9.
[22] St. Matt. xi. 20, 21.
[23] Amos iii. 2, 3.
[24] Jos., De Bello Jud., iv. 7.
[25] St. Matt. iii. 5-12.
[26] St. John xix. 15.
[27] St. Luke x. 12.
[28] Senec., Natur. Quœst., vi.1.; Tac. An., xiv. 27, xv. 22.
[29] Senec., Ibid., 27; Tac., Ibid., xvi. 13; Suet, in Ner., 39.
[30] Tac., Hist., v.13; Jos., De Bello Jud., vi. 5.
[31] St. Luke xxi. 10, 11.
[32] Deut. xxviii. 15-68.
[33] Rom. ix. 2-5.
[34] Isa. vi. 9; St. Matt. xiii. 14, 15.
[35] Ibid, iv. 4.
[36] Ps.lxviii. 23, 24.
[37] Rom. xi. 17.
[38] Rom. xi. 20-30.
[39] Hymn for Adv. Vesp.
[40] St. Matt. xxiv. 3.
[41] Apoc. xxii. 17.
[42] Wisd. x.17
[43] 1 Cor. x. 1-6.
[44] Zach. ix. 9.
[45] Soph. iii. 1-4, i. 9.
[46] Ibid. 11.
[47] Ezech. ix. 4-7.
[48] St. Matt. xxvii. 20.
[49] St. John xi. 47-53.
[50] Jos., De Bello Jud., ii. 20 et seq.
[51] Jos., De Bello Jud., iv. 5.
[52] Isa. iii. 6.
[53] Jos., De Bello Jud., iv. 3.
[54] Jos., De Bello Jud., iv. 4.
[55] Isa. iii. 14.
[56] Soph. i. 8, 17.
[57] Ibid. 14-16; Ezech. xxiv. 3-5.
[58] St. James i. 1.
[59] Ibid, v. 1-8.
[60] Jer. v. 5, 9.
[61] Jos., De Bello Jud., iv. 6.
[62] 4 Kings XV. 29, xvii. 6, 18, 23-41.
[63] Jos., De Bello Jud., iv. 7, 9.
[64] Abdias 5, 6.
[65] Ubi supra.
[66] St. John xviii. 40.
[67] Jos., De Bello Jud., vii. 8.
[68] Jos., Ibid., v.1.
[69] St. Matt. xxiv.15.
[70] Jos., ubi supra.
[71] Ibid. vi. 9.
[72] Acts ii. 5.
[73] Ibid. 38.
[74] Ibid. iii. 22, 23.
[75] St. Luke xxi. 34, 35.
[76] Jos., De Bello Jud., v. 2.
[77] See our first vol. of 'Paschal Time,' p. 226.
[78] Isa. xxix.1.
[79] Amos v. 23.
[80] Ibid.1.
[81] Ibid.16.
[82] Ibid.
[83] Jos., De Bello Jud., vi. 5.
[84] Isa. xxix. 9-14, li.17.
[85] Jos., De Bello Jud., v. 3.
[86] Amos v. 21.
[87] Ibid,18, 19.
[88] Jer. xiv. 18.
[89] Jos., De Bello Jud., v. 10.
[90] St. Luke xxiii. 7-12.
[91] Jos., De Bello Jud., v. 11.
[92] Tac., Hist., v.11.
[93] Jos., De Bello Jud., v. 12.
[94] Isa. xxix. 2, 3.
[95] Lam. v. 9, 10.
[96] Lam. i. 11.
[97] Deut. xxviii. 56, 57; Jos., De Bello Jud., v. 10-12.
[98] Ibid. vi. 3; Ps. lviii. 7, 15, 16.
[99] Jos., De Bello Jud., vi. 3; Deut. xxviii. 53-56.
[100] Jos., De Bello Jud., v. 13.
[101] Ibid.
[102] Acts i. 18.
[103] Zach. xi., 12. 13.
[104] Jos., De Bello Jud., v. 10; St. Matt. xxiv. 21.
[105] Dan. viii. 11-13.
[106] Jos., De Bello Jud., vi. 5.
[107] Jos., De Bello Jud., vi 4.
[108] Jos., De Bello. Jud., vi. 4.
[109] Ibid, 5.
[110] Jos., De Bello Jud., vi. 9.

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