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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.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The guilty pair appear before the great God, whom they have offended; and instead of acknowledging their guilt, they seek to palliate and excuse it. But divine justice pronounces their condemnation, and the sentence will be felt by their posterity, even to the last generation. The two beings, that had committed the heinous crime, had been enriched with every gift of nature and grace. It was not with them, as it is with us. Concupiscence which gives us an inclination for what is wrong; ignorance and forgetfulness which cloud the intellect of fallen man, these miseries had nothing whatever to do with the fall of our first parents. They sinned through sheer ingratitude. They began by weighing the proposal of revolt, when they ought to have spurned it with indignation and conquered by flight. Then, by degrees, the proposed crime seemed no great harm, because, though God would lose their obedience, they would gain by the disobedience! And at length, the love of God was made to give place to the love of self, and they declared their independence! Yet God had mercy on them, because of their posterity.

The angels were all created at one and the same instant, and each of them was subjected to the trial, which was to decide his eternal future. Each angel depended on his own act, on his own choice between fidelity to his Creator and rebellion against Him; so that they who rebelled drew on themselves the eternity of God’s chastisement. The human race, on the contrary, existed not save as represented in its two first parents, and was plunged by and with them into the abyss of God’s reprobation: therefore, God, who spared not the angels, mercifully spared the human race.

But let us listen to the three sentences pronounced by God after the fall of man. The first is against the serpent, and is the severest. The curse, which is already upon him, is deepened, and the pardon, which is about to be promised to the human race, is to be given in the form of an anathema against that wicked spirit, that has dared to war with God in the work of His hands.

'I will put enmities between thee and the woman; she shall crush thy head.’[1] Thus does God avenge Himself on His enemy. The victory won over the woman is made to turn against the proud conqueror, and become his humiliation and his defeat. In his fiendish craft, he had directed his first attack, not against the man, but against the woman. She, by nature, was weaker and more credulous; and if he conquered her, he hoped—too well, alas!—that Adam would be led to turn against his Creator, in order not to displease the creature. All happened as he willed it: but now, see how God uses the woman to foil and punish him. He enkindles in her heart an implacable hatred against His and our enemy. This cruel serpent may raise his proud head, and, here and there, find men that will adore him: the day will come, when a woman’s foot shall crush this head, which refused to bend before God. This daughter of Eve, whom all generations are to call blessed,[2] shall be prefigured by other women: by Debbora, Judith, Esther, and others, all celebrated for their victories over the serpent. She shall be followed, until the end of time, by an uninterrupted succession of Christian virgins and matrons, who, with all their weakness, shall be powerful in co-operating with God’s designs, and, as the apostle says, ‘the unbelieving husband shall be sanctified by the believing wife.’[3]

Thus will God punish the serpent’s pride. Before pronouncing upon our first parents the sentence they have deserved, He promises to bless their posterity, and pours into their own hearts a ray of hope.

In Dominica Tyrophagi.

Tunc sediti Adamus, ploravitque contra paradisi delicias, oculos manibus feriens, atque dicebat: Misericors miserere mei lapsi.

Intuitus Adamus angelum impellentem claudentemque divini horti fores, ingemuit vehementer, dicebatque: Misericors, miserere mei lapsi.

Doleas vices, paradise, domini tui ad mendicitatem detrusi, foliorumque tuorum sonitu Conditorem deprecare ne te claudat. Misericors, miserere mei lapsi.
Then did Adam look back on the Eden of delights, and sitting wept; he hid his face in his hands, and said: O merciful God! have mercy on me the fallen one!

He saw the angel that drove him from the garden of God; and as he beheld him shutting its gates against him, he heaved a deep sigh, and said: O merciful God! have mercy on me the fallen one!

Weep, Eden, over thy master thus made poor! Let the rustling of thy leaves become a prayer, asking our Creator that he close thee not. O merciful God! have mercy on me the fallen one!

 

 

[1] Gen. iii. 15.
[2] St. Luke i. 48.
[3] 1 Cor. vii. 14.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Forgiveness is promised; but atonement must be made. Divine justice must be satisfied, and future generations be taught that sin can never pass unpunished. Eve is the guiltier of the two, and her sentence follows that of the serpent. Destined by God to aid man in peopling the earth with happy and faithful children, formed by this God out of man’s own substance 'flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones,’ woman was to be on an equality with man. But sin has subverted this order, and God’s sentence is this: conjugal union, notwithstanding the humiliation of concupiscence now brought upon it, is to be, as before, holy and sacred; but it is to be inferior in dignity, before both God and man, to the state of virginity, which disdains the ambitions of the flesh.

Secondly, woman shall be mother still, as she would have been in the state of innocence; but her honour shall be a burden. Moreover, she shall give birth to her children amidst cruel pains, and sometimes even death must be the consequence of her infant’s coming into the world. The sin of Eve shall thus be memorialized at every birth, and nature shall violently resist the first claims of him, whom sin has made her unwelcome lord.

Lastly, she who was at first created to enjoy equality of honour with man, is now to forfeit her independence. Man is to be her superior, and she must obey him. For long ages, this obedience will be no better than slavery; and this degradation shall continue till that Virgin comes, whom the world shall have expected for four thousand years, and whose humility shall crush the serpent’s head. She shall restore her sex to its rightful position, and give to Christian woman that influence of gentle persuasiveness, which is compatible with the duty imposed upon her by divine justice, and which can never be remitted: the duty of submission.

In Dominica Tyrophagi

Dominator sæculorum omnium Domine, qui me voluntate tua procreasti, dolosi draconis invidia quondam afflictum, teque, Salvator, ad iracundiam concitantem, ne despicias, Deus, sed revoca me.

Hei mihi! pro stola splendida, turpitudinis indumentis obvolutus, lugeo, Salvator, exitium meum, et fide ad te clamo; ne despidas me bone Deus, sed revoca.

Serpentium ferarumque dominus effectus, quo pacto serpenti animabus exitiali familiariter congressus es, inimico velati bono consiliario usus? O errorem tuum, miserrima anima mea!

(Canimus te, Maria, Dei gratia plena, lucidum divinæ incarnationis tabernaculum; quare me cupiditatibus fœde obtenebratum illumina, fons misericordiæ, spes eorum quos omnis spes dereliquit.)
O Lord! King of all ages! who didst create me by thy love; I have been injured by the envy of the crafty serpent, and have provoked thee, my Saviour, to anger: but despise me not, O God! Call me back to thee.

Alas! my bright robe has been changed into this garb of shame. I bewail my ruin, O Saviour, and to thee do I cry with confidence: My good God! Despise me not, but call me back to thee.

How, my soul, couldst thou, that wast made the lord of serpents and beasts, treat the soul-slaying serpent with familiarity, and use thine enemy as a trusty counsellor? Bewail, my wretched soul, thy fatal error!

(To thee do we sing, O Mary, full of divine grace! Hail bright tabernacle of the Incarnation! O fount of mercy, hope of them that are in despair, enlighten me that am dishonoured by the dark clouds of my passions.)

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The curse, which is henceforth to lie so heavily on every human being, has been expressed in the sentence pronounced against Eve; the curse, to which the earth itself is to be subjected, is Adam’s sentence. ‘Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work (that is, on account of what thou hast done).’[1] Adam had excused his sin. God does not admit his excuse; yet He mercifully makes allowance for him, seeing that he sinned, not so much to gratify himself, as to please the frail creature that had been formed out of his own substance. He is not the originator of the disobedient act. God, therefore, sentences him to the personal humiliation of labour and toil, and of eating his bread in the sweat of his brow.[2] Outside the garden of Eden, there lies the immense desert of the earth. It is to be the valley of tears; and there must Adam dwell in exile for upwards of nine hundred years, with the sad recollection in his heart of the few happy days spent in paradise! This desert is barren: Adam must give it fruitfulness by his toil, and draw from it, by the sweat of his brow, his own and his children’s nourishment. If, in after ages, some men shall live without toil, they are the exception confirming the general law and chastisement. They rest, because others have laboured long and hard for them; neither will God ratify their exceptional dispensation from labour, except on the condition that they give encouragement, by their charity and other virtues, to their fellow-men, in whom Adam’s sentence is literally carried out. Such is the necessity of toil, that if it be refused, the earth will yield but thorns and thistles;[3] such, too, the importance of this law imposed on fallen man, that idleness shall not only corrupt his heart, it shall also enervate his bodily strength.

Before his sin, the trees of paradise bent down their branches, and man fed on their delicious fruits; but now he must till the earth and draw from it, with anxiety and fatigue, the seed which is to give him bread. Nothing could better express the penal relation between him and the earth, from which he was originally formed, and which is henceforth to be his tomb, than this law to which God sentences him, of being indebted to the earth for the nourishment which is to keep him in life. And yet here also divine mercy shall show itself; for, when God shall have been appeased, it shall be granted to man to unite himself to his Creator by eating the Bread of life, which is to come down from heaven, and whose efficacy for the nourishing of our souls shall be greater than ever the fruit of the tree of life could have been for the immortalizing of our bodily existence.

In Dominica Tyrophagi

Dulcis ad vescendum fructus scientiæ in Eden visus est mihi, amore capto; at demum in bilem conversus est. Hei mihi! misera anima, quomodo intemperantia te e paradisi laribus exturbavit?

Deus universorurn, misericordiæ Domine, ad humilitatem meam benigne respice, nec a divino Eden longe me ejicias, quo venustates unde excidi aspiciens, fletibus rursus amissa bona recipiam.

Fleo, ingemo, atque lamentor Cherubim ad paradisi ingressum custodiendum igneo ense locata conspiciens, transgressoribus omnibus, hei mihi! inaccessum, nisi tu, Salvator, aditum mihi facilem præstes.

Confido in multitudine misericordiæ tuæ, Christe salvator, ac divini lateris tui sanguine, unde hominum naturam sanctificasti, et colentibus te aperuisti, o bone, paradisi portas antea Adamo præclusas.

(Vitæ porta, impervia, spiritualis, virgo Deipara, innupta, pande mihi precibus tuis, paradisi clausas olim fores, quo te meam post Deum auxiliatricem firmumque refugium glorificem.)
My desire blinded me; and the fruit that grew on Eden’s tree of knowledge seemed to me to be sweet to eat; but it has been turned into bitterness. Unhappy man, I have been driven from my home of paradise by intemperance!

O God of the universe! O merciful Lord! look with pity upon my lowliness, and suffer me to dwell near thy divine Eden, that so my eyes may turn towards the fair land I have lost, and I, by my tears, regain it.

I weep, and sigh, and am afflicted, as I behold the Cherubim guarding, with a flaming sword, the gate of paradise, which is shut against all sinners, Alas! how can I enter, unless thou, my Saviour, grant me admission?

O Christ, my Saviour, my hope is in thy great mercy, and in the Blood which flowed from thy sacred Side, whereby thou didst sanctify mankind, and open, O good Jesus, to them that serve thee, the gate of paradise, which heretofore was shut against Adam.

(O gate of life! Spiritual gate, which God has kept for himself! O Virgin-Mother of God, espoused to none but him! Open to me, by thy prayers, the once closed gate of heaven; that so I may glorify thee, who, after God, art my helper and sure refuge!)

 

[1] Gen. iii 17.
[2] Gen. iii. 17, 19.
[3] Ibid., 18.

 

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The sentence pronounced by the Almighty upon our first parents was to fall upon their children to the end of time. We have been considering, during this week of Septuagesima, the penalties of the great sin; but the severest and most humiliating of them all remains to be told. It is the transmission to the whole human race of original sin. It is true that the merits of the promised Redeemer will be applied to each individual man, in the manner established by God at various periods of time: still, this spiritual regeneration, whilst cleansing us from the leprosy which covered us, and restoring us to the dignity of children of God, will not remove every scar of the old wound. It will save us from eternal death, and restore us to life; but, as long as our pilgrimage lasts, we shall be weak and sickly. Thus it is that ignorance makes us short-sighted in those great truths, which should engross all our thoughts; and this fills us with illusions, which, by an unhappy inclination of our will, we cling to and love. Concupiscence is ever striving to make our soul a slave to the body; and in order to escape this tyranny, our life has to be one continual struggle. An unruly love for independence is unceasingly making us desire to be our own masters, and forget that we were born to obey. We find pleasure in sin, whereas virtue rewards us with nothing, in this life, save the consciousness of our having done our duty.

Knowing all this, we are filled with admiration and love when we think of thee, O Mary! thou purest of God’s creatures. Thou art our sister in nature; thou art a daughter of Eve; but thou wast conceived without sin, and art therefore the honour of the human race. Thou art of the same flesh and blood as ourselves; and yet thou art immaculate. The divine decree, which condemned us to inherit the disgrace of original sin, could not include thy most pure conception; and the serpent felt, as thy foot crushed his haughty head, that thou hadst never been under his power. In thee, O Mary! we find our nature such as it was when our God first created it. Hail, then, spotless Mirror of justice!

O Mary! beautiful in thine unsullied holiness, pray for us who are weighed down by the consequences of that sin of our first parents, which God would not suffer to approach thee. Thou art the implacable enemy of the serpent; watch over us, lest his sting inflict death on our souls. We were conceived in sin, and born in sorrow; pray for us, that we may so live as to merit blessing. We are condemned to toil, to suffering, and to death; intercede for us, that our atonement may find acceptance with our Lord. We are exposed to the treachery of our evil inclinations; we are in love with this present life; we forget eternity; we are ever striving to deceive our own hearts: how could we escape hell, were the grace of thy divine Son not unceasingly offered to us, enabling us to triumph over all our enemies? Thou, O Immaculate Mother of Jesus, art the Mother of divine grace! Pray for us, that we, who glory in being thy kindred by nature, may be daily more and more enriched with this priceless gift.

Let us salute the blessed Mother of God in the words of the following sequence, taken from the ancient missal of Cluny. Catholic piety has consecrated to Mary the Saturday of each week.

Sequence

Ad laudem Matris Dei
Modulemur licet rei,
Poscentes remedia.

Hæc nostræ forma spei,
Spes mirandæ speciei,
Quæ vernat in gloria.

Hæc virtutis nutrimentum,
Spes Solaris, sola laris
Terreni fiducia.

Stella maria quæ vocaris,
Passus rectos et directos,
Da pacis suffragia.

Sicut sidus naufrago,
Fulgens dux in pelago,
Tu præclara.

Mundi lux in tenebris,
Stella nitens celebris,
Deo cara.

In sede cœlica
Residens, hæc mellica
Admitte cantica, Virgo pia.

Paventi psallere,
Trementi pro scelere
Des ausus, Tu plausus, Veri vena.

Tu cœli regina,
Mundi medicina,
Munda scelus nostrum,
Piissima.

In mortis ruina,
Nos ad vitam mina,
Placans Deum,
Tu benignissima.

Cara parens, O Maria,
Patria parens, Virgo pia,
Nos in umbræ mortis via
Sedentes illumina!

Ut te nobis stella duce,
Tui Nati tuti cruce,
Mereamur cœli luce
Per te frui, Domina.

Amen.
Let us, though sinners,
sing a hymn in praise of the Mother of God;
let us sing our prayer for help.

Oh! how well may we hope in her,
that beautiful Mother,
whose glory is bright as spring!

It is she that trains us to virtue,
and warms our earthly home
with the sunny beam of hope.

Thou that art called Star of the sea,
direct us, steer us,
get us the calm of peace.

Thou brightly shinest on life’s sea,
guiding us, as does the friendly star which leads
the shipwrecked into port.

Thou art a light to worldlings in their darkness,
thou art the shining well-known star,
so dear to God.

Seated on thy heavenly throne,
receive, O Virgin Mother,
these our sweet canticles.

To the sinner who fears to sing,
do thou, fount of truth,
give courage and applause.

Thou art the Queen of heaven,
thou art the solace of the world;
may thy loving prayers
cleanse us from our guilt.

We have merited death;
but intercede for us to God,
most merciful Queen!
and so lead us unto life.

O Mary, dear Mother!
Mother of thy Creator!
Virgin ever merciful! enlighten us
that are sitting in the shades of death.

That, guided by thee our star,
and protected by the cross of thy Son,
we may, through thy intercession,
be brought to the enjoyment of light eternal.

Amen.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Church offers to our consideration, during this week of Sexagesima, the history of Noah and the deluge. Man has not profited by the warnings already given him. God is obliged to punish him once more, and by a terrible chastisement. There is found out of the whole human race one just man; God makes a covenant with him, and with us through him. But, before He draws up this new alliance, He would show that He is the sovereign Master, and that man, and the earth whereon he lives, subsist solely by His power and permission.

As the ground-work of this week’s instructions, we give a short passage from the Book of Genesis: it is read in the Office of this Sunday’s Matins.

 

De Libro Genesis.

Cap. vi.

Videns autem Deus quod multa malitia hominum esset in terra, et cuncta cogitatio cordis intenta esset ad malum omni tempore, pœnituit eum quod hominem fecisset in terra. Et tactus dolore cordis intrinsecus: Delebo, inquit, hominem quem creavi, a facie terræ, ab homine usque ad animantia, a reptili usque ad volucres cœli, Pœnitet enim me feoisse eos. Noë vero invenit gratiam coram Domino.

Hæ sunt generationes Noë: Noë vir justus atque perfectus fuit in generationibus suis, cum Deo ambulavit. Et genuit tres filios, Sem, Cham, et Japheth. Corrupta est autem terra coram Deo, et repleta est iniquitate. Cumque vidisset Deus terram esse corruptam (omnis quippe caro corruperat viam suam super terrain) dixit ad Noe: Finis universæ carnis venit coram me: repleta est terra iniquitate a facie eorum, et ego disperdam eos cum terra.
From the Book of Genesis.

Ch. vi.

And God seeing that the wickedness of men was great on the earth, and that all the thought of their heart was bent upon evil at all times, it repented him that he had made man on the earth. And being touched inwardly with sorrow of heart, he said: I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth, from man even to beasts, from the creeping thing even to the fowls of the air. For it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace before the Lord.

These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just and perfect man in his generations: he walked with God. And he begot three sons: Sem, Cham, and Japheth. And the earth was corrupted before God, and was filled with iniquity. And when God had seen that the earth was corrupted (for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth), he said to Noah: The end of all flesh is come before me: the earth is filled with iniquity through them, and I will destroy them with the earth.

This awful chastisement of the human race by the deluge was a fresh consequence of sin. This time, however, there was found one just man; and it was through him and his family that the world was restored. Having once more mercifully renewed His covenant with His creatures, God allows the earth to be repeopled, and makes the three sons of Noah become the fathers of the three great families of the human race.

This is the mystery of the Divine Office during the week of Sexagesima. The mystery expressed in to-day’s Mass is of still greater importance, and the former is but a figure of it. The earth is deluged by sin and heresy. But the word of God, the seed of life, is ever producing a new generation: a race of men, who, like Noah, fear God. It is the word of God that produces those happy children, of whom the beloved disciple speaks, saying: ‘They are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’[1] Let us endeavour to be of this family; or, if we are already numbered among its members, let us zealously maintain our glorious position. What we have to do, during these days of Septuagesima, is to escape from the deluge of worldliness, and take shelter in the Ark of salvation; we have to become that good soil, which yields a hundredfold from the heavenly seed. Let us flee from the wrath to come, lest we perish with the enemies of God: let us hunger after that word of God, which converteth and giveth life to souls.[2]

With the Greeks, this is the seventh day of their week Apocreos, which begins on the Monday after our Septuagesima Sunday. They call this week Apocreos, because they then begin to abstain from flesh-meat, which abstinence is observed till Easter Sunday.

MASS

At Rome the Station is in the basilica of St. Paul outside the walls. It is around the tomb of the Doctor of the Gentiles, the zealous sower of the divine seed, the father by his preaching of so many nations, that the Roman Church assembles her children on this Sunday, whereon she is about to announce to them how God spared the earth on the condition that it should be peopled with true believers and with faithful adorers of His name.

The Introit, which is taken from the Psalms, cries out to our Lord for help. The human race, all but extinct after the deluge, is here represented as beseeching its Creator to bless and increase it. The Church adopts the same prayer, and asks her Saviour to multiply the children of the Word, as He did in former days.

Introit

Exsurge, quare obdormis, Domine? Exsurge, et ne repellas in finem; quare faciem tuam avertis, oblivisceris tribulationem nostram? Adhæsit in terra venter noster: exsurge. Domine adjuva nos, et libera nos. Ps. Deus, auribus nostris audivimus: patres nostri annuntiaverunt nobis. V. Gloria Patri. Exsurge.
Arise, why sleepest thou, O Lord? Arise, and cast us not off to the end. Why turnest thou thy face away? and forgettest our tribulation? Our belly cleaveth to the earth. Arise, O Lord, help us, and deliver us. Ps. We have heard, O God, with our ears: our fathers have declared to us thy wonders. V. Glory. Arise.

In the Collect, the Church expresses the confidence she puts in the prayers of the great apostle St. Paul, that zealous sower of the divine seed, who laboured more than the other apostles in preaching the word to the Gentiles.

Collect

Deus, qui conspicis quia ex nulla nostra actione confidimus: concede propitius, ut contra adversa omnia, Doctoris Gentium protectione, muniamur. Per Dominum.
O God, who seest that we place no confidence in anything we do: mercifully grant that, by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles, we may be defended against all adversity. Through, etc.

Then are added two other Collects, as in the Mass of Septuagesima Sunday, page 120.


The Epistle is that admirable passage from one of St. Paul’s Epistles, in which the great apostle, for the honour and interest of his sacred ministry, is necessitated to write his defence against the calumnies of his enemies. We learn from this his apology what labours the apostles had to go through, in order to sow the word of God in the barren soil of the Gentile world, and make it Christian.

Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios.

2 Cap. xi.

Fratres, libenter suffertis insipientes, cura sitis ipsi sapientes. Sustinetis enim si quis vos in servitutem redigit, si quis devorat, si quis accipit, si quis extollitur, si quis in faciem vos cædit. Secundum ignobilitatem dico, quasi nos infirmi fuerimus in hac parte. In quo quis audet (in insipientia dico), audeo et ego. Hebræi sunt, et ego. Israelitse sunt, et ego. Semen Abrahæ sunt, et ego. Ministri Christi sunt (ut minus sapiens dico), plus ego: in laboribus plurimis, in carceribus abundantius, in plagia supra modum, in mortibus frequenter. A Judæis quinquies quadragenas, una minus, accepi. Ter virgis cæsus sum, semel lapidatus sum, ter naufragium feci, nocte et die in profundo maris fui; in itineribus sæpe, periculis fluminum, periculis latronum, periculis ex genere, periculis ex gentibus, periculis in civitate, periculis in solitudine, periculis in mari, periculis in falsis fratribus; in labore et ærumna, in vigiliis multis, in fame et siti, in jejuniis multis, in frigore et nuditate. Præter illa, quæ extrinsecus sunt, instantia mea quotidiana, sollicitudoomnium Ecclesiarum. Quis infirmatur, et ego non infirmor? Quis scandalizatur, et ego non uror? Si gloriari oportet, quæ infirmitatis meæsunt, gloriabor. Deus et Pater Domini nostri Jesu Christi, qui est benedictus in sæcula, scit quod non mentior. Damasci præpositua gentis Aretæ regia, custodiebat civitatem Damascenorum, ut me comprehenderet; et per fenestram in sporta dimissus sum per murum, et sic effugi manus ejus. Si gloriari oportet (non expedit quidem), veniam autem ad visiones et revelationes Domini. Scio hominem in Christo ante annos quatuordecim (sive in corpore nescio, sive extra corpus nescio, Deus scit), raptum hujusmodi usque ad tertium cœlum. Et scio hujusmodi hominem (sive in corpore, sive extra corpus nescio, Deus scit), quoniam raptus est in paradisum, et audivit arcana verba quæ non licet homini loqui. Pro hujusmodi gloriabor; pro me autem nihil gloriabor, nisi in infirmitatibus meis. Nani, et si voluero gloriari, non ero insipiens; veritatem enim dicam: parco autem, ne quis me existimet supra id quod videt in me, aut aliquid audit ex me. Et ne magnitudo revelationum extollat me, datus est mihi stimulus carnis meæ, angelus Satanæ, qui me colaphizet. Propter quod ter Dominum rogavi ut discederet a me: et dixit mihi: Sufficit tibi gratia mea; nam virtus in infirmitate perficitur. Libenter igitur gloriabor in infirmitatibus meis, ut inhabitet in me virtus Christi.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.

2 Ch. xi.

Brethren, you gladly suffer the foolish, whereas yourselves are wise. For you suffer if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take from you, if a man be lifted up, if a man strike you on the face. I speak according to dishonour, as if we had been weak in this part. Wherein if any man dare (I speak foolishly) I dare also. They are Hebrews: so am I. They are Israelites: so am I. They are the seed of Abraham: so am I. They are the ministers of Christ: (I speak as one less wise) I am more: in many more labours, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes, save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea. In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren. In labour and painfulness, in much watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things which are without: my daily instance, the solicitude for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is scandalized, and I am not on fire? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for ever, knoweth that I lie not. At Damascus the governor of the nation under Aretas the king, guarded the city of the Damascenes, to apprehend me; and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and so escaped his hands. If I must glory (it is not expedient indeed), but I will come to the visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ about fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not, or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth), such an one rapt even to the third heaven. And I know such a man (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell, God knoweth), that he was caught up into paradise, and heard secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter. For such an one I will glory; but for myself I will glory nothing, but in my infirmities. For though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be foolish: for I will say the truth. But I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth from me. And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan to buffet me. For which thing thrice I besought the Lord that it might depart from me: and he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly, therefore, will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

In the Gradual, the Church beseeches her Lord to give her strength against those who oppose the mission He has entrusted to her, of gaining for Him a new people, adorers of His sovereign Majesty.

Gradual

Sciant gentes, quoniam nomen tibi Deus: tu solus Altissimus super omnem terram. V. Deus meus, pone illos ut rotam, et sicut stipulam ante faciem venti.
Let the Gentiles know that God is thy name: thou alone art the Most High over all the earth. V. O my God, make them like a wheel, and as stubble before the wind.

Whilst the earth is being moved, and is suffering those terrible revolutions which, deluge-like, come first on one nation and then on another, the Church prays for her faithful children, in order that they may be spared, for they are the elect, and the hope of the world. It is thus she prays in the following Tract, which precedes the Gospel of the word.

Tract

Commovisti, Domine, terram, et conturbasti eam. V. Sana contritiones ejus, quia mota est. V. Ut fugiant a facie arcus: ut liberentur electi tui.
Thou hast moved the earth, O Lord, and hast troubled it. V. Heal the breaches thereof, for it is moved. V. That they may flee from before the bow: that thy elect may be delivered.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. viii.

In illo tempore, cum turba plurima convenirent, et de civitatibus properarent ad Jesum, dixit per similitudinem: Exiit, qui seminat, seminare semen suum: et dum seminat, aliud cecidit secus viam, et conculcatum est, et volucres cœli comederunt illud. Et aliud cecidit supra petram: et natum, aruit; quia non habebat humorem. Et aliud cecidit inter spinas, et simul exortæ spinæ suffocaverunt illud. Et aliud cecidit in terram bonam: et ortum fecit fructum centuplum. Hæc dicens clamabat: Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat. Interrogabant autem eum discipuli ejus, quæ esset hæc parabola. Quibus ipse dixit: Vobis datum est nosse mysterium regni Dei, cæteris autem in parabolis; ut videntes non videant, et audientes non intelligant. Est autem hæc parabola. Semen est verbum Dei. Qui autem secus viam, hi sunt qui audiunt: deinde venit diabolus, et tollit verbum de corde eorum, ne credentes salvi fiant. Nam qui supra petram: qui cum audierint, cum gaudio suscipiunt verbum: et hi radices non habent: quia ad tempus credunt, et in tempore tentationis recedunt. Quod autem in spinas cecidit, hi sunt qui audierunt, et a sollicitudinibus, et divitiis, et voluptatibus vitæ, euntes, suffocantur, et non referunt fructmn. Quod autem in bonam terram: hi sunt, qui in corde bono et optimo audientes verbum retinent, et fructum afferunt in patientia.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. viii.

At that time, when a very great multitude was gathered together, and hastened out of the cities to meet Jesus, he spoke by a similitude. The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And other some fell upon a rock: and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other some fell among thorns; and the thorns growing up with it, choked it. And other some fell upon good ground, and being sprung up, yielded fruit a hundred fold. Saying these things he cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him what this parable might be. To whom he said: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to the rest in parables: that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And they by the wayside are they that hear; then the devil cometh, and taketh the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved. Now they upon the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy: and these have no roots; for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns, are they who have heard, and going their way, are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit. But that on the good ground, are they, who in a good and very good heart hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience.

St. Gregory the Great justly remarks, that this parable needs no explanation, since eternal Wisdom Himself has told us its meaning. All that we have to do, is to profit by this divine teaching, and become the good soil, wherein the heavenly seed may yield a rich harvest. How often have we, hitherto, allowed it to be trampled on by them that passed by, or to be torn up by the birds of the air! How often has it found our heart like a stone, that could give no moisture, or like a thorn plot, that could but choke! We listened to the word of God; we took pleasure in hearing it; and from this we argued well for ourselves. Nay, we have often received this word with joy and eagerness. Sometimes, even, it took root within us. But, alas! something always came to stop its growth. Henceforth, it must both grow and yield fruit. The seed given to us is of such quality, that the divine Sower has a right to expect a hundred-fold. If the soil, that is, our heart, be good; if we take the trouble to prepare it, by profiting by the means afforded us by the Church; we shall have an abundant harvest to show our Lord on that grand day, when, rising triumphant from His tomb, He will come to share with His faithful people the glory of His Resurrection.

Inspirited by this hope, and full of confidence in Him who has once more thrown this seed into this long ungrateful soil, let us sing with the Church, in her Offertory, these beautiful words of the royal psalmist: they are a prayer for holy resolution and perseverance.

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 sperantes in te, Domine.
Perfect thou my goings in thy paths; that my footsteps be not moved. O incline thy ear unto me and hear my words. Show forth thy wonderful mercies; who savest them that hope in thee, O Lord.

Secret

Oblatum tibi, Domine, sacrificium vivificet nos semper, et muniat. Per Dominum.
May the sacrifice we have offered to thee, O Lord, always quicken us and defend us. Through, etc.

To this are added the other Secrets, as on Septuagesima Sunday, page 127.


The visit, which our Lord makes to us in the Sacrament of His love, is the grand means whereby He gives fertility to our souls. Hence it is that the Church invites us, in the Communion antiphon, to draw nigh to the altar of our God; there, our heart shall regain all the youthful fervour of its best days.

Communion

Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam.
I will go up to the altar of God; to God, who rejoiceth my youth.

Postcommunion

Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus; ut quos tuis reficis sacramentis, tibietiam placitis moribus dignanter deservire concedas. Per Dominum.
Grant, we humbly beseech thee, O almighty God, that those whom thou refreshest with thy sacraments, may, by a life well pleasing to thee, worthily serve thee. Through, etc.

Two other Postcommunions are said after this, as on Septuagesima Sunday, page 128.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms and antiphons as on page 72.


Capitulum
(2 Cor. xi.)

Fratres, libenter suffertis insipientes, cum sitis ipsi sapientes. Sustinetis enim si quis vos in servitutem redigit, si quis devorat, si quis accipit, si quis extollitur, si quis in faciem vos cædit.
Brethren, you gladly suffer the foolish, whereas yourselves are wise. For you suffer if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take from you, if a man be lifted up, if a man strike you on the face.

The hymn and versicle, page 79.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Vobis datum est nosse mysterium regni Dei, cæteris autem in parabolis, dixit Jesus discipulis suis.

Oremus

Deus, qui conspicis quia ex nulla nostra actione confidimus: concede propitius, ut contra adversa omnia, Doctoris Gentium protectione, muniamur. Per Dominum.
To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to the others in parables, said Jesus to his disciples.

Let us Pray

O God, who seest that we place no confidence in anything we do: mercifully grant that by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles, we may be defended against all adversity. Through, etc.


We will end our Sunday by a hymn taken from the ancient breviaries of the Churches of France: it will help us to keep up in our souls the sentiments proper to the season of Septuagesima.

Hymn

Dies absoluti prætereunt; Dies observabiles redeunt.
Tempus adest sobrium: Quæramus puro corde Dominum.
Hymnis et in confessionibus
Judex complacabitur Dominus.
Non negabit hic veniam, Qui vult ut homo quærat gratiam.
Post jugum servile Pharaonis,
Post catenas diræ Babylonis: Liber homo patriam Quærat cœlestem Hierosolymam.
Fugiamus de hoc exilio: Habitemus cum Dei Filio: Hoc decus est famuli Si sit cohæres sui Domini.
Sis Christe nobis dux hujus vitæ:
Memento quod sumus oves tuæ,
Pro quibus ipse tuam Pastor ponebas morte animam.
Gloria sit Patri et Filio: Sancto simul honor Paraclito:
Sicut erat pariter In principio et nunc et semper. Amen.
The days of ease are about to close; the days of holy observance are returning; the time of temperance is at hand; let us seek our Lord in purity of heart.
Our sovereign Judge will be appeased by our hymns and praise. He who would have us sue for grace, will not refuse us pardon.
The slavish yoke of Pharaoh, and the fetters of cruel Babylon, have been borne too long: let man now claim his freedom, and seek his heavenly country, Jerusalem.
Let us quit this place of exile: let us dwell with the Son of God. Is it not the servant’s glory, to be made co-heir with his Lord?
O Jesus! be thou our guide through life. Remember that we are thy sheep, for whom thou, the Shepherd, didst lay down thine own life
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son; honour too be to the holy Paraclete: as it was in the beginning, now is, and shall ever be. Amen.

 

[1] St. John i. 13.
[2] Ps. xviii.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

All flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth.[1] The terrible lesson, then, which men had received, by being driven out of paradise in the person of our first parents, had been without effect. Neither the certainty of death, when they would have to stand before the divine Judge, nor the humiliations which attend man’s first coming into this world, nor the pains and fatigues and trials which beset the whole path of life, had subdued men’s hearts, or brought them into submission to that sovereign Master whose hand lay thus heavy upon them. They had the divine promise that a Saviour should be given to them, and that this Redeemer (who was to be the Son of her that was to crush the serpent’s head), would not only bring them salvation, but would moreover reinstate them in all the happiness and honours they had lost. But even this was not enough to make them rise above the base passions of corrupt nature. The example of Adam’s nine hundred years’ penance, and the admonitions he could so feelingly give who had received such proofs of God’s love and anger, began to lose their influence upon his children; and when he at last descended into the grave, his posterity grew more and more heedless of what they owed to their Creator. The long life, which had been granted to man in this the first age of the world, was made but a fresh means of offending Him who gave it. When, finally, the sons of Seth took to themselves wives of the family of Cain, the human race reached the height of wickedness, rebelled against the Lord, and made their own passions their god.

Yet, all this while, they had had granted to them the power of resisting the evil propensities of their hearts. God had offered them His grace, whereby they were enabled to conquer pride and concupiscence. The merits of the Redeemer to come were even then present to divine justice, and the Lamb, slain, as St. John tells us, from the beginning of the world,[2] applied the merits of His Blood to this as to every generation which existed before the great Sacrifice was really immolated. Each individual of the human family might have been just, as Noah was, and, like him, have found favour with the Most High; but the thought of their heart was bent upon evil, and not upon good, and the earth became peopled with enemies of God. Then it was that it repented God that He had made man,[3] as the sacred Scripture forcibly expresses it. He decreed that man’s life on earth should be shortened, in order that the thought of death might be ever before us. He, moreover, resolved to destroy, by a universal deluge, the whole of this perverse generation, saving only one family. The world would thus be renewed, and man would learn from this awful chastisement to serve and love this his sovereign Lord and God.

We find the following liturgical formula in the Mozarabic missal. Nothing could be more appropriate to the season of Septuagesima.

Missa
(Dominica ante carnes tollendas.)

Ecce jam in proximo sunt dies illi salutis, in quibus revoluto anni circulo, per salutari abstinentiæ opus, remedia cupimus auscipere pravorum actuum nostrorum. Etenim sicut ait apostolus: Hoc est acceptabile tempus, et hi sunt dies salutis, in quibus spiritualis medela exquirenti adveniat animæ, et mala dulcia scrabra peccaminum evellantur a mente; ut qui consuetudine noxia semper cogimur deorsum fluere, tandem divina nos erigente dementia, conemur sursum surgere, ut horum dierum votiva exhibentes susceptione, et maiorum nostrorum levemur a crimine, et beatitudinis electorum mereamur compotes esse. Amen.
Behold, now are close at hand those days of salvation, which the cycle of the year brings round to us, and in which we desire, by the exercise of salutary abstinence, to apply a remedy to our evil doings. For, as the apostle says: This is the acceptable time, and, these are the days of salvation, wherein a spiritual cure is given to the soul that seeks it, and the evil delights of sin are rooted from the mind. Hereby, we, whose evil habits are ever forcing us to a downward tendency, are by the uplifting mercy of God, encouraged to rise above this earth; that thus, by the devout observance of what these days require, we may not only be delivered from the guilt of our sins, but may moreover deserve to be companions with the elect in eternal bliss. Amen.

 

[1] Gen vi. 12
[2] Apoc. xiii. 8.
[3] Gen. vi. 6.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

When we reflect upon the terrible events which happened in the first age of the world, we are lost in astonishment at the wickedness of man, and at the effrontery wherewith he sins against his God. How was it that the dread words of God, which were spoken against our first parents in Eden, could be so soon forgotten? How could the children of Adam see their father suffering and doing such endless penance, without humbling themselves and imitating this model of repentance? How was it that the promise of a Mediator, who was to reopen the gate of heaven for them, could be believed, and yet not awaken in their souls the desire of making themselves worthy to be His ancestors, and partakers of that grand regeneration, which He was to bring to mankind? And yet, the years which followed the death of Adam were years of crime and scandal; nay, he himself lived to see one of his own children become the murderer of a brother. But why be thus surprised at the wickedness of these our first brethren? The earth is now six thousand years old in the continued reception of divine blessings and chastisements; and are men less dull of heart, less ungrateful, less rebellious towards their Maker? For the generality of men—we mean, of those who deign to believe in the fall and chastisement of our first parents, and in the destruction of the world by the deluge—what are these great truths? Mere historical facts, which have never once inspired them with a fear of God’s justice. More favoured than these early generations of the human race, they know that the Messias has been sent, that God has come down upon the earth, that He has been made Man, that He has broken Satan’s rule, that the way to heaven has been made easy by the graces embodied by the Redeemer in the Sacraments: and yet, sin reigns and triumphs in the midst of Christianity. Undoubtedly, the just are more numerous than they were in the days of Noah; but then, what riches of grace has our Redeemer poured out on our degenerate race by the ministry of His bride the Church! Yes, there are faithful Christians to be found upon the earth, and the number of the elect is every day being added to; but the multitude are living at enmity with God, and their actions are in contradiction to their faith.

When, therefore, the holy Church reminds us of those times, wherein all flesh had corrupted its way, she is urging us to think about our own conversion. Her motive in relating to us the history of the sins committed at the beginning of the world, is to induce us to examine our own consciences. Why, too, does she read to us those pages of sacred Writ, which so vividly describe the flood-gates of heaven opening and deluging the guilty earth, if not that she would warn us against mocking that great God, who thus chastised the sins of His rebellious creatures? Last week we were called upon to consider the sad consequences of Adam’s sin, a sin which we ourselves did not commit, but the effects of which lie so heavy upon us. This week we must reflect upon the sins we ourselves have committed. Though God has loaded us with favours, guided us by His light, redeemed us with His Blood, and strengthened us against all our enemies by His grace, yet have we corrupted our way, and caused our God to repent of having created us. Let us confess our wickedness, and humbly acknowledge that we owe it to the mercies of the Lord, that we have not been consumed.[1]

The Ambrosian missal contains the following exhortation for this season of the year.

Transitorium
(Dominica in Septuagesima.)

Convertimini omnes simul ad Denm mundo corde et animo, in oratione, jejuniis, et vigiliis multis. Fundite preces vestras cum lacrymis; ut deleatis chirographa peccatorum vestrorum, priusquam vobis repentinus superveniat interitus; antequam vos profundum mortis absorbeat; et cum Creator noster advenerit, paratos nos inveniat.
Be converted to God, all ye people, in purity of heart and soul, in prayer, fasting, and much watching. Pour out your prayers with tears; that the hand-writing of your sins may be blotted out, before sudden destruction come upon you, and before the deep flood of death engulf you. When our Creator comes, let him find us ready.

[1] Lam. iii. 22.

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