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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.

O God of infinite justice! we have sinned; we have abused the life Thou hast given us: and when we read, in Thy Scriptures, how Thine anger chastised the sinners of former days, we are forced to acknowledge, that we have deserved to be treated in like manner. We have the happiness to be Christians and children of Thy Church; the light of faith, and the power of Thy grace, have brought us once more into Thy friendship; but how can we forget that we were once Thy enemies? And are we so deeply rooted in virtue, that we can promise ourselves perseverance in it to the end? Pierce, O Lord! pierce my flesh with Thy fear.[1] Man’s heart is hard, and unless it fear Thy sovereign Majesty, it may again offend Thee.

We are penetrated with fear, when we remember that Thou didst bury the world and destroy mankind by the waters of the deluge; for we learn by this, how Thy patience and long-suffering may be changed into inexorable anger. Thou art just, O Lord! and who shall presume to take scandal, or to murmur, when Thy wrath is enkindled against sinners?

We have defied Thy justice, we have braved Thine anger; for, though Thou hast told us that Thou wilt never more destroy sinners by a deluge of water, yet we know that Thou hast created, in Thy hatred for sin, a fire, which shall eternally prey on them that depart this life without being first reconciled with Thy offended Majesty.

O wonderful dignity of our human nature! We cannot be indifferent towards that infinite Being that created us: we must be His friends or His enemies! It could not have been otherwise. Ile gave us understanding and free-will: we know what is good and what is evil, and we must choose the one or the other: we cannot remain neutral. If we choose good, God turns towards us and loves us; if evil, we separate from Him, who is our sovereign Good. But, whereas He bears most tender mercy towards this frail creature whom He created out of pure love, and because He wills that all men should be saved, He waits with patience for the sinner to return to Him, and, in countless ways, draws his heart to repentance.

But woe to him that obeys not the divine call, when that call is the last! Then justice takes the place of mercy, and revelation tells us how fearful a thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God.[2] Let us, then, flee from the wrath to come,[3] by making our peace with the God we have offended. If we be already restored to grace, let us walk in His fear, until love shall have grown strong enough in our hearts to make us run the way of the commandments.[4]

The following prayer is from the Mozarabic breviary of the Gothic Church of Spain.

(In capite jejunii.)

Averte faciem tuam a peccatis nostris, Domine, et omnes iniquitates nostras dele; remove ab oculis tuis malarum nostrarum facinus voluptatum, nostræque confessioni clementer tuum appone auditum. Miserere, quæsumus, rogantibus nobis, qui propitius respicis in adversis, et qui desperatis cor pœnitens tribuis ad confessionem gloriæ tuæ. Sed quia publicanus a longe stans et percutiens pectus suum, sola confessione purgatus est, similiter et nos peccatores exaudi; ut sicut illi meritospetitionis suæ fructus donasti, ita et nobis supplicantibus indignis servistuis veniam digneris impendere peccatis. Amen.
Turn away thy face from our sins, O Lord, and blot out all our iniquities. Take from thine eyes the guilt of our sinful pleasures, and mercifully incline thine ear to our confession. Have mercy, we beseech thee, upon us thy suppliants, O thou that lookest with pity on them that are in affliction, and givest to the disconsolate a penitent heart, that so they may praise thy name. The publican who stood afar off and struck his breast, found forgiveness by this alone, that he confessed his sin; do thou, in like manner, mercifully hear us sinners and as thou didst give to him the fruit his prayer deserved, so also vouchsafe to grant unto us, thy suppliant unworthy servants, the pardon of our sins. Amen.

[1] Ps. cxviii. 120.
[2] Heb. x. 31.
[3] St. Matt. iii. 7.
[4] Ps. cxviii. 32.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

God promised Noah that He would never more punish the earth with a deluge. But, in His justice, He has many times visited the sins of men with a scourge which, in more senses than one, bears a resemblance to a deluge: the invasion of enemies. We meet with these invasions in every age; and each time we see the hand of God. We can trace the crimes that each of them was sent to punish, and in each we find a manifest proof of the infinite justice wherewith God governs the world.

It is not requisite that we should here mention the long list of these revolutions, which we might almost say make up the history of mankind, for in its every page we read of conquests, extinction of races, destruction of nations, and violent amalgamations, which effaced the traditions and character of the several peoples that were thus forced into union. We will confine our considerations to the two great invasions, which the just anger of God has permitted to come upon the world since the commencement of the Christian era.

The Roman Empire had made itself as preeminent in crime as it was in power. It conquered the world, and then corrupted it. Idolatry and immorality were the civilization it gave to the nations which had come under its sway. Christianity could save individuals in the great empire, but the empire itself could not be made Christian. God let loose upon it the deluge of barbarians. The stream of the wild invasion rose to the very dome of the Capitol; the empire was engulfed. The ruthless ministers of divine justice were conscious of their being chosen for this mission of vengeance, and they gave themselves the name of ‘God's scourge.’

When, later on, the Christian nations of the east had lost the faith which they themselves had transmitted to the western world; when they had disfigured the sacred symbol of faith by their blasphemous heresies; the anger of God sent upon them, from Arabia, the deluge of Mahometanism. It swept away the Christian Churches, that had existed from the very times of the apostles. Jerusalem, the favoured Jerusalem, on which Jesus had lavished His tenderest love, even she became a victim to the infidel hordes. Antioch and Alexandria, with their patriarchates, were plunged into the vilest slavery; and at length Constantinople, that had so obstinately provoked the divine indignation, was made the very capital of the Turkish empire.

And we, the western nations, if we return not to the Lord our God, shall we be spared? Shall the flood-gates of heaven's vengeance, the torrent of fresh Vandals, ever be menacing to burst upon us, yet never come? Where is the country of our own Europe, that has not corrupted its way, as in the days of Noah? that has not made conventions against the Lord and against His Christ?[1] that has not clamoured out that old cry of revolt: Let us break their bonds asunder, let us cast away their yoke from us?[2] Well may we fear lest the time is at hand, when, despite our haughty confidence in our means of defence, Christ our Lord, to whom all nations have been given by the Father, shall rule us with a rod of iron, and break us in pieces like a potter’s vessel.[3] Let us propitiate the anger of our offended God, and follow the inspired counsel of the royal prophets Serve ye the Lord with fear; embrace the discipline of His Law; lest, at any time, the Lord be angry, and ye perish from the just way.[4]

We find the following beautiful words in the Ambrosian liturgy for Septuagesima. They occur in the missal.

(Dominica in Quinquagesima.)

Venite, convertimini ad me, dicit Dominus. Venite flentes, fundamus lacrymas ad Deum: quia nos negleximus, et propter nos terra patitur. Nos iniquitatem fecimus, et propter nos fundamenta commota sunt. Festinemus iram Dei antevertere, flentes, et dicentes: Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Come, be converted unto me, saith the Lord. Let us come weeping, and pour out our tears before God, for we have been negligent, and because of us is the earth suffering. We have committed iniquity, and because of us are the foundations of the world moved. Let us hasten to avert the wrath of God; let us weep, and say: O thou, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us!

[1] Ps. ii 2.
[2] Ps. ii. 3.
[3] Ibid., 9.
[4] Ibid., 12.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

God chastises the world by the deluge; but He is faithful to the promise made to our first parents, that the head of the serpent should be crushed. The human race has to be preserved, therefore, until the time shall come for the fulfilment of this promise. The Ark gives shelter to the just Noah, and to his family. The angry waters reach even to the tops of the highest mountains; but the frail yet safe vessel rides peacefully on the waves. When the day fixed by God shall come, they that dwell in this Ark shall once more tread the earth, purified as it then will be; and God will say to them, as heretofore to our first parents: ‘Increase, and multiply, and fill the earth.'[1]

Mankind, then, owes its safety to the Ark. O saving Ark, that wast planned by God Himself, and didst sail unhurt amidst the universal wreck! But if we can thus bless this contemptible wood,[2] how fervently should we love that other Ark, of which Noah’s was but the figure, and which, for now eighteen hundred years, has been saving and bringing men to their God! How fervently should we bless that Church, the bride of our Jesus, out of which there is no salvation, and in which we find that truth which delivers us from error and doubt,[3] that grace which purifies the heart, and that food which nourishes the soul and fits her for immortality!

O sacred Ark! thou art inhabited, not by one family alone, but by people of every nation under the sun. Ever since that glorious day, when our Lord launched thee in the sea of this world, thou hast been tossed by tempests, yet never wrecked. Thou wilt reach the eternal shore, witnessing, by thy unworn vigour and beauty, to the divine guidance of the Pilot, who loves thee, both for thine own sake, and for the work thou art doing for His glory. It is by thee that He peoples the world with His elect, and it is for them that He created the world.[4] When He is angry, He remembers mercy,[5] because of thee, for it is through thee that He has made His covenant with mankind.

O venerable Ark! be thou our refuge in the deluge. When Rome’s great empire, that was drunk with the blood of the martyrs,[6] sank beneath the invasion of the barbarians, the Christians were safe, because sheltered by thee; the waters slowly subsided, and the race of men that had fled to thee for protection, though conquered according to the flesh, was victorious by the spirit. Kings, who till then had been haughty despots and barbarians, kissed reverently the hand of the slave, who was now their pastor and baptized them. New peoples sprang up, and, with the Gospel as their law, began their glorious career in those very countries which the Cæsars had degraded and forfeited.

When the Saracen invasion came sweeping into ruin the eastern world, and menacing the whole of Europe, which would have been lost had not the energy of thy sons repelled the infidel horde, was it not within thee, O Ark of salvation! that the few Christians took refuge, who had resisted schism and heresy, and who, whilst the rest of their brethren apostatized from the faith, still kept alive the holy flame? Under thy protection they are even now perpetuating, in their unfortunate countries, the traditions of faith, until the divine mercy shall bring happier times, and they be permitted to multiply, as did of old the sons of Sem, in that land once so glorious and holy.

Oh! happy we, dear Church of God! that are sheltered within thee, and protected by thee against that wild sea of anarchy, which the sins of men have let loose on our earth! We beseech our Lord to check the tempest with that word of His omnipotence: 'Thus far shalt thou come, and no further, and here shalt thou break thy swelling waves.’[7] But if His divine justice has decreed that it prevail for a time, we know that it cannot reach such as dwell in thee. Of this happy number are we. In thy peaceful bosom, dear mother, we find those true riches, the riches of the soul, of which no violence can deprive us.[8] The life thou givest us is the only real life. Our true fatherland is the kingdom formed by thee. Keep us, O thou Ark of our God! Keep us, and all that are dear to us, and shelter us beneath thy roof, until the deluge of iniquity be passed away.[9] When the earth, purified by its chastisements, shall once more receive the seed of the divine word which produces the children of God, those among us, whom thou shalt not have led to our eternal home, will then venture forth, and preach to the world the principles of authority and law, of family and social rights: those sacred principles, which came from heaven, and which thou, O holy Church, art commissioned to maintain and teach, even to the end of time.

We borrow from the Mozarabic missal the following eloquent appeal to divine mercy.

(In Dominica V. post Epiphaniam.)

Exaudi nos Domino Dens noster, et humanæ iniquitatis oblitus, divinæsolius misericordiæ recordare. Exaudi, quæsumus, dum peccare non pateris, dura emendare nos præcipis, dum rogare permittis: dum patientia reditum quærendæ correctionis exspectat; dum justitia metum futuræ discussionis insinuat: dum misericordia locum evadendæ mortis ostentat. Inveniant ante oculos tuos sacrificia nostra gratiam: peccata veniam: vulnera medicinam: suspiria pietatem: flagella consolationem: lamenta temperiem: temporaquietem: officia dignitatem: vota mercedem. Mereatur petitio effectum, contritio solatium, consecratio Sacramentum. Oblatio sanctificatione pinguescat, trepidatio securitate discedat, benedictio salubritate proficiat; ut in omnibus multiplici pietatis tuæ gratia redundante, erigas plebem, dum lætificas sacerdotem. Amen.
Graciously hear, O Lord our God, and forgetting man’s iniquity, remember only thine own mercy. Graciously hear us, we beseech thee, O thou that forbiddest us to sin, that commandest us to repent, that permittest us to pray! Thy patience awaits our return to the needed repentance; thy justice inspires us with a fear of the future judgment; thy mercy shows us how we may avoid death. May our sacrifices find favour in thine eyes; our sins, pardon; our wounds, cure; our sighs, pity; our chastisements, consolation; our tears, joy; our days, peace; our duties, honour; our prayers, reward. May our petition produce its effect; our contrition, forgiveness; our consecration, the sacred mystery. May our oblation be rich unto sanctification, our fear be cast out by security, and our blessing be fruitful unto salvation; that thus in all things, by the manifold and overflowing grace of thy mercy, thou mayst bless the people, whilst thou givest joy to the priest. Amen.

[1] Gen. ix. 1.
[2] Wisd. x. 4.
[3] St. John viii. 32.
[4] St. Matt. xxiv. 22.
[5] Hab. iii. 2.
[6] Apoc. xvii. 6.
[7] Job xxxviii. 11.
[8] St. Matt. vi. 20.
[9] Ps. lvi. 2.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

On the Saturday of the preceding week, which was devoted to the consideration of the fall of our first parents both in its own malice and in its sad consequences upon us, we turned our thoughts towards our blessed Lady, who, though a daughter of Eve, was, by the special mercy of God, preserved from the stain of original sin. Let us end this week with a like act of veneration and love towards this Immaculate Queen of heaven. We, even the most saintly among us, have not only been stained with original sin; we have our actual sins to grieve over and do penance for. This should give us a higher appreciation of her, the one single member of the human family who never committed the slightest sin. Let us turn towards her, and give expression to our feelings.

We, O Mary! have corrupted our way; we have disobeyed our Lord; we have broken His law; we have preferred our own selfish gratifications to the service we owed Him: but thou wast ever filled with His holy love, and there passed not even a shadow of sin upon thy soul, O spotless mirror of justice and holiness! Virgin most faithful! the grace of thy Bon ever triumphed in thy heart. Mystical rose! the fragrance of thy virtues unceasingly ascended to His throne, changing only in its daily increase of sweetness. Tower of ivory! fair beyond measure, without one spot to mar thy purity! House of gold! thou didst ever reflect the precious gifts of the Holy Ghost. Have pity, then, upon us, for we are sinners.

We have obliged our God to repent that He made us: but in thee, dear Mother, He has ever been well pleased. Thou art the good land, wherein His divine seed yielded its thousandfold of fruit: pray for us, that He give fresh fertility to our hearts, and root up from them the thorns, which choke the heavenly plant. We are defiled by sin; may He, through the merits of the tears thou didst shed at the foot of the cross, mercifully cleanse us. If thy divine Son have already pardoned us, there are the consequences of our sins, which still weaken and humble us, like the sores of wounds that have been cured: take us, sweet Mother of our Jesus, under the mantle of thy tender care. We have too little dread of sin; we are so often on the verge of offending our God; oh! obtain for these poor children of thine courage and firmness of resolution, and ambition for holiness of life. Thy intercession must win for us that precious devotedness to God’s honour, which kills self-love, the root of sin. Oh! accursed self-love, which may lead us to hell, who are now perhaps in the grace of thy divine Son!

The deluge, brought on by our sins, is hurrying its vengeance against mankind; and we, O Mary! are resolved to seek our refuge in the Ark of the Church, the safe shelter created for us by thy Jesus. But we presume to pray to thee for our brethren throughout the world. Our God has given thee a power to stay His anger, and to win for guilty mortals an extension of mercy: show this power now, for our world is provoking its Master to destroy it. If the flood-gate of His just indignation burst upon the face of our earth, millions of souls that have been redeemed by the Blood of thy divine Son would be lost eternally. If the sweet dove of peace bring her olive-branch only when that terrible justice is appeased, it would be too late for thy loving heart. Come before the deluge, O beautiful rainbow of our Father’s reconciliation! The love of a Mother, who is the very Queen of mercy, emboldens us to sue for universal mercy. Can the prayer of her, in whose purity and innocence the very God of holiness finds no blemish, be denied? Pray Him, then, to pardon us, and all sinners!

We select a few stanzas from the celebrated ‘Complaint to Mary,’ composed by the monk Euthymius. The Greek Church has inserted it in her liturgy.


Quomodo, O Domina, vitam meam impuram et immensorum peccatorum meorum multitudinem lamentabor? Nescio quid dicam tibi, castissima, et male metuo; sed adjuva me.

Unde exordiar dicere ego miser de improbitate mea, et delictis nefandis? Ha! quid de me fiet? Verum age, Domina, et mei ante exitum ex hac luce miserare.

Omnem viam peccatorum cum ambulassem, immaculata Virgo, salutis semitam handquaquam inveni. Sed ad bonitatem tuam confugio; ne me ex animo pœnitentem aspernare.

Mortis horam, O purissima, terribileque tribunal assidue cogito; sed peccandi consuetudine vehementer ad peccatum illicior. Fer mihi opem.

Bonorum exitiabilis inimicus cernens me nunc nudum, et patrono ac tutore destitutum, et a divinis virtutibus alienissimum, ad devorandum me irruit. Præveni, et averte illuni, o Domina.

Proh dolor! imaginem Dei in me ego miser mentis arrogantia contaminavi. Quo in posterum me vertam? Festina, Virgo, ad auxilium.

Angelorum ordines et exercitus, Virtutes cœlorum, potentiam Filii tui contremiscunt, o castissima. Ego vero desperatus omni timore vaco.

In fovea delictorum meorum suffocatum non me derelinquas, Domina. Improbissimua enim hostis me desperatione conflictantem videns, ridet; sed tu potenti mana tua me erige.

Formidabile est judicium, O misera et stolida anima mea, et pœna horribilis atque sempiterna. Nihilominus vel nunc ante Matrem judieis ac Dei tui, supplex procumbe. Cur enim te ipsam desperas?

O intaminata Virgo, ego ob multitudinem immensorum peccatorum meorum repletus sum tenebris, oculique animæ meæ, et mens mea immutata sunt.

Quare tu luminis tui splendoribus ad dulcedinem in vacuitate passionum sitam celeriter me revoca.

Gemitus perennes mihi largire, Domina, fontemque lacrymarum, ut tam multa flagitia mea vulneraque inexplicabilia eluam, quo vitam æternam adipiscar.

En ego servus tuus, incorruptissima Virgo, multo cum timore et desiderio ad te accedo: gnarus quantum sæpenumero tua valuerit deprecatio. Valet sane plurimum, O benedictissima, apud Filium Matris supplicatio, et ejus viscera commovet.

Judicem misericordem et benignum exspecto Filium tuum, O linguis omnium prædicanda; ne me despicias sed eum mihi redde propitium, ut me tunc ad dexteram tribunalis sui incorrupti statuat: in te enim speravi.
O blessed Lady! how shall I worthily lament over my impure life, and the multitude of my grievous sins? I know not how to address thee, most chaste Virgin! I tremble with fear; but do thou help me.

I will speak of my wickedness and my hateful sins; but where shall I begin? Alas! what will become of me, a wretched sinner? Do thou, O blessed Lady, have compassion on me before my departure from this life.

I, having gone in every path that sinner ever trod, how shall I find now the way of salvation, O Immaculate Virgin? Yet have I recourse to thy goodness; despise me not, for I repent from my heart.

My thoughts are ever on the hour of death, and on the dread tribunal; and yet an evil habit violently tempts me to sin. O most pure Virgin, do thou help me.

The deadly enemy of all that is good, seeing me poor and naked, without patron or protector, and most destitute of heavenly virtue, rushes forward that he may devour me. O blessed Lady! forbid him, and drive him far from me.

Alas, unhappy man! in the arrogance of my soul, I have defiled the image of God that was in me. Whither shall I now turn? Hasten to my assistance, O Virgin ever holy!

The choirs and hosts of Angels, the heavenly Powers, tremble in the presence of thy all-powerful Son, O Immaculate Mother! and I, who have nothing wherein to hope, am so devoid of fear!

Suffer me not, O blessed Lady! to perish in the pit of my sins, into which I have fallen. The cruel enemy sees me struggling in despair, and mocks me. Do thou stretch forth thy hand, that can so well deliver me.

Awful is the judgment of God, unhappy senseless soul! and everlasting is the punishment. But turn thee, whilst yet there is time, and prostrate in prayer before the Mother of thy Judge and Lord. Why wouldst thou despair?

O Immaculate Virgin! the multitude of my grievous sins has set a thick darkness around me; the eyes of my soul, and my understanding, are blinded.

Wherefore, I beseech thee, quickly lead me, by the brightness of thy light, to sweet freedom from my passions.

Grant me an unceasing sorrow, O blessed Lady, and a fount of tears, that I may wash away my countless sins and wounds, and gain eternal life.

Lo! I thy servant, most sinless Virgin! approach thee in deep reverence and love, for I know the power of thy prayer. Great, indeed, with her Son, is the power of the Mother's prayer, and his heart is moved when she asks, O most blessed Mother!

O Mother worthy of the whole world’s praise! thy Son will be to me a merciful and compassionate Judge. Despise me not, but let me find favour in his sight, that he may set me on the right hand of his most just tribunal; for in thee have I put my trust.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Church gives us to-day another subject for our meditation: it is the vocation of Abraham. When the waters of the deluge had subsided, and mankind had once more peopled the earth, the immorality, which had previously excited God’s anger, again grew rife among men. Idolatry, too, into which the antediluvian race had not fallen, now showed itself, and human wickedness seemed thus to have reached the height of its malice. Foreseeing that the nations of the earth would fall into rebellion against Him, God resolved to select one people that should be peculiarly His, and among whom should be preserved those sacred truths, of which the Gentiles were to lose sight. This new people was to originate from one man, who would be the father and model of all future believers. This was Abraham. His faith and devotedness merited for him that he should be chosen to be the father of the children of God, and the head of that spiritual family, to which belong all the elect of both the old and the new Testament.

It is necessary, therefore, that we should know Abraham, our father and our model. This is his grand characteristic: fidelity to God, submissiveness to His commands, abandonment and sacrifice of everything in order to obey His holy will. Such ought to be the prominent virtues of every Christian. Let us, then, study the life of our great patriarch, and learn the lessons it teaches.

The following passage from the Book of Genesis, which the Church gives us in her Matins of to-day, will serve as the text of our considerations.

De Libro Genesis. Cap. xii. Dixit autem Dominus ad Abram: Egredere de terra tua, et de cognatione tua, et de domo patris tui, et veni in terrain quam monstrabo tibi. Faciamque te in gentem magnani, et benedicam tibi, et magnificabo nomen tuum, erisque benedictus. Benedicam benedicentibus tibi, et maledicam maledicentibus tibi; atque in te benedicentur universæcognationes terræ. Egressus est itaque Abram sicut præceperat ei Dominus, et ivit cum eo Lot. Septuaginta quinque annorum erat Abram, cum egrederetur de Haran. Tulitque Sarai uxorem suam, et Lot filium fratris sui, universamque substantiam quam possederant et animas quas fecerant in Haran: et egressi sunt ut irent in terram Chanaan. Cumque venissent in eam, pertransivit Abram terram usque ad locum Sichem, usque ad convallem illustrem: Chananæus autem tunc erat in terra. Apparuit autem Dominus Abram, et dixit ei: Semini tuo dabo terram hanc. Qui sedificavit ibi altare Domino, qui apparuerat ei. Et inde transgrediens ad montem, qui erat contra orientem Bethel tetendit ibi tabernaculum suum, ab occidente habens Bethel, et ab oriente Hai. Ædificavit quoque ibi altare Domino, et invucavit nomen ejus.
From the Book of Genesis. Ch. xii. And the Lord said to Abram: Go forth out of thy country, and from thy kindred and out of thy father’s house, and come into the land which I shall show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and magnify thy name, and thou shalt be blessed. I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee shall all the kindred of the earth be blessed. So Abram went out as the Lord had commanded him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventyfive years old when he went forth from Haran. And he took Sarai his wife, and Lot, his brother’s son, and all the substance which they had gatherde, and the souls which they had gotten in Haran: and they went out to go into the land of Chanaan. And when they were come into it, Abram passed through the country into the place of Sichem, as far as the noble vale: now the Chanaanite was at that time in the land. And the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him: To thy seed will I give this land. And he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And passing on from thence to a mountain, that was on the east side of Bethel, he there pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Haï on the east. He built there, also, an altar to the Lord, and culled upon his name.

Could the Christian have a finer model than this holy patriarch, whose docility and devotedness in following the call of his God are so perfect? We are forced to exclaim, with the holy fathers: ‘O true Christian, even before Christ had come on the earth! He had the spirit of the Gospel, before the Gospel was preached! He was an apostolic man before the apostles existed!’ God calls him: he leaves all things—his country, his kindred, his father’s house—and he goes into an unknown land. God leads him, he is satisfied; he fears no difficulties; he never once looks back. Did the apostles themselves more? But see how grand is his reward! God says to him: 'In thee shall all the kindred of the earth be blessed.’ This Chaldean is to give to the world Him that shall bless and save it. Death will, it is true, close his eyes ages before the dawning of that day, when one of his race, who is to be born of a Virgin and be united personally with the divine Word, shall redeem all generations, past, present, and to come. But meanwhile, till heaven shall be thrown open to receive this Redeemer and the countless just who have won the crown, Abraham shall be honoured, in the limbo of expectation, in a manner becoming his great virtue and merit. It is in his bosom,[1] that is, around him, that our first parents (having atoned for their sin by penance), Noah, Moses, David, and all the just, including poor Lazarus, received that rest and happiness, which were a foretaste of, and a preparation for, eternal bliss in heaven. Thus is Abraham honoured; thus does God requite the love and fidelity of them that serve Him.

When the fullness of time came, the Son of God, who was also Son of Abraham, declared His eternal Father’s power, by saying that He was about to raise up a new progeny of Abraham’s children from the very stones, that is, from the Gentiles.[2] We Christians are this new generation. But are we worthy children of our father? Let us listen to the apostle of the Gentiles: 'By faith, Abraham, when called (by God), obeyed to go out into a place, which he was to receive for an inheritance: and he went out not knowing whither he went. By faith, he abode in the land, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the co-heirs of the same promise; for he looked for a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.'[3]

If, therefore, we be children of Abraham, we must, as the Church tells us during Septuagesima, look upon ourselves as exiles on the earth, and dwell by hope and desire in that true country of ours, from which we are now banished, but towards which we are each day drawing nigher, if, like Abraham, we are faithful in the various stations allotted us by our Lord. We are commanded to use this world as though we used it not;[4] to have an abiding conviction of our not having here a lasting city,[5] and of the misery and danger we incur when we forget that death is one day to separate us from every thing we possess in this life.

How far from being true children of Abraham are those Christians who spend this and the two following days in intemperance and dissipation, because Lent is soon to be upon us! We can easily understand how the simple manners of our Catholic forefathers could keep a leave-taking of the ordinary way of living, which Lent was to interrupt, and reconcile their innocent carnival with Christian gravity; just as we can understand how their rigorous observance of the laws of the Church for Lent would inspire certain festive customs at Easter. Even in our own times, a joyous shrovetide is not to be altogether reprobated, provided the Christian sentiment of the approaching holy season of Lent be strong enough to check the evil tendency of corrupt nature; otherwise the original intention of an innocent custom would be perverted, and the forethought of penance could in no sense be considered as the prompter of our joyous farewell to ease and comforts. While admitting all this, we would ask, what right or title have they to share in these shrovetide rejoicings, whose Lent will pass and find them out of the Church, because they will not have complied with the precept of Easter Communion? And they, too, who claim dispensations from abstinence and fasting during Lent, and, for one reason or another, evade every penitential exercise during the solemn forty days of penance, and will find themselves at Easter as weighed down by the guilt and debt of their sins as they were on Ash Wednesday—what meaning, we would ask, can there possibly be in their feast-making at shrovetide?

Oh! that Christians would stand on their guard against such delusions as these, and gain that holy liberty of children of God,[6] which consists in not being slaves to flesh and blood, and preserves man from moral degradation! Let them remember that we are now in that holy season, when the Church denies herself her songs of holy joy, in order the more forcibly to remind us that we are living in a Babylon of spiritual danger, and to excite us to regain that genuine Christian spirit, which everything in the world around us is quietly undermining. If the disciples of Christ are necessitated, by the position they hold in society, to take part in the profane amusements of these few days before Lent, let it be with a heart deeply imbued with the maxims of the Gospel. If, for example, they are obliged to listen to the music of theatres and concerts, let them imitate St. Cecily, who thus sang, in her heart, in the midst of the excitement of worldly harmonies: ‘May my heart, O God, be pure, and let me not be confounded!’ Above all, let them not countenance certain dances, which the world is so eloquent in defending, because so evidently according to its own spirit; and therefore they who encourage them will be severely judged by Him, who has already pronounced woe upon the world. Lastly, let those who must go, on these days, and mingle in the company of worldlings, be guided by St. Francis of Sales, who advises them to think, from time to time, on such considerations as these:—that while all these frivolous, and often dangerous, amusements are going on, there are countless souls being tormented in the fire of hell, on account of the sins they committed on similar occasions; that, at that very hour of the night, there are many holy religious depriving themselves of sleep in order to sing the divine praises and implore God’s mercy upon the world, and upon them that are wasting their time in its vanities; that there are thousands in the agonies of death, while all that gaiety is going on; that God and His angels are attentively looking upon this thoughtless group; and finally, that life is passing away, and death so much nearer each moment.[7]

We grant that, on these three days immediately preceding the penitential season of Lent, some provision was necessary to be made for those countless souls, who seem scarce able to live without some excitement. The Church supplies this want. She gives a substitute for frivolous amusements and dangerous pleasures; and those of her children upon whom faith has not lost its influence, will find, in what she offers them, a feast surpassing all earthly enjoyments, and a means whereby to make amends to God for the insults offered to His divine Majesty during these days of carnival. The Lamb, that taketh away the sins of the world, is exposed upon our altars. Here, on this His throne of mercy, He receives the homage of them who come to adore Him, and acknowledge Him for their King; He accepts the repentance of those who come to tell Him how grieved they are at having ever followed any other Master but Him; He offers Himself to His eternal Father for poor sinners, who not only treat His favours with indifference, but seem to have made a resolution to offend Him during these days more than at any other period of the year.

It was the pious Cardinal Gabriel Paleotti, archbishop of Bologna, who first originated the admirable devotion of the Forty Hours, He was a contemporary of St. Charles Borromeo, and, like him, was eminent for his pastoral zeal. His object in this solemn Exposition of the most blessed Sacrament was to offer to the divine Majesty some compensation for the sins of men, and, at the very time when the world was busiest in deserving His anger, to appease it by the sight of His own Son, the Mediator between heaven and earth. St. Charles immediately introduced the devotion into his own diocese and province. This was in the sixteenth century. Later on, that is, in the eighteenth century, Prosper Lambertini was archbishop of Bologna; he zealously continued the pious design of his ancient predecessor, Paleotti, by encouraging his flock to devotion towards the blessed Sacrament during the three days of carnival; and when he was made Pope, under the name of Benedict XIV., he granted many Indulgences to all who, during these days, should visit our Lord in this mystery of His love, and should pray for the pardon of sinners. This favour was, at first, restricted to the faithful of the Papal States; but in the year 1765 it was extended, by Pope Clement XIII., to the universal Church. Thus, the Forty Hours Devotion has spread throughout the whole world, and become one of the most solemn expressions of Catholic piety. Let us, then, who have the opportunity, profit by it during these last three days of our preparation for Lent. Let us, like Abraham, retire from the distracting dangers of the world, and seek the Lord our God. Let us go apart, for at least one short hour, from the dissipation of earthly enjoyments, and, kneeling in the presence of our Jesus, merit the grace to keep our hearts innocent and detached, whilst sharing in those we cannot avoid.[8]

We will now resume our considerations upon the liturgy of Quinquagesima Sunday. The passage of the Gospel selected by the Church, is that wherein our Saviour foretells to His apostles the sufferings He was to undergo in Jerusalem. This solemn announcement prepares us for Passiontide. We ought to receive it with feeling and grateful hearts, and make it an additional motive for imitating the devoted Abraham, and giving our whole selves to our God. The ancient liturgists tell us that the blind man of Jericho spoken of in this same Gospel is a figure of those poor sinners, who, during these days, are blind to their Christian character, and rush into excesses, which even paganism would have coveted. The blind man recovered his sight, because he was aware of his wretched state, and desired to be cured and to see. The Church wishes us to have a like desire, and she promises us that it shall be granted.

In the Greek Church, this Sunday is called Tyrophagos, because it is the last day on which is allowed the use of white meats, or, as we call them, milk-meats. From to-morrow it is forbidden to eat them, for Lent then begins, and with all the severity wherewith the oriental Churches observe it.


The station is in the church of St. Peter, on the Vatican. The choice was suggested, as we learn from the Abbot Rupert's 'Treatise on the Divine Offices,' by the lesson of the Law given to Moses, which used then to be read in this Sunday's Office. Moses was looked upon, by the early Christians of Rome, as a type of St. Peter. The Church having, since that time, substituted the vocation of Abraham for the passage from Exodus (which is now deferred till Lent), the station for this Sunday is still in the basilica of the prince of the apostles, who was prefigured also by Abraham, the father of believers.

The Introit is the prayer of mankind, blind and wretched as the poor man of Jericho; it asks for pity from its Redeemer, and beseeches Him to guide and feed it.


Esto mihi in Deum protectorem, et in locum refugii, ut salvum me facias: quoniam firmamentum meum, et refugium meum es tu: et propter nomen tuum dux mihi eris et enutries me. Ps. In te, Domine, speravi, non confundar in æternum: in justitia tua libera me, et eripe me. V. Gloria Patri. Esto.
Be thou unto me a God, a protector, and a house of refuge, to save me; for thou art my strength, and my refuge; and for thy name’s sake thou wilt lead me, and nourish me. Ps. In thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let mo never be confounded; deliver me in thy justice, and rescue me. V. Glory. Be thou.


Preces nostras, quæsumus, Domine, clementer exaudi: atque a peccatorum vinculis absolutos, ab omni nos adversitate custodi. Per Dominum.
Mercifully hear our prayers O Lord, we beseech thee; and delivering us from the bonds of sin, preserve us from all adversity. Through, etc.

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


Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios.

1 Cap. xiii.

Fratres, si linguis hominum loquar, et angelorum, charitatem autem non habeam, factus sum velut æs sonans, aut cymbalum tinmens. Et si habuero prophetiam, et noverim mysteria omnia, et omnem scientiam: et si habuero omnem fidem, ita ut montes transferam, charitatem autem non habuero, nihil sum. Et si distribuero in cibos pauperum omnes facultates meas: et si tradidero corpus meum ita ut ardeam, charitatem autem non habuero, nihil mihi prodest. Charitas patiens est, benigna est; charitas non æmulatur, non agit perperam, non inflatur, non est ambitiosa, non quærit quæ sua sunt, non irritatur, non cogitat malum, non gaudet super iniquitate, congaudet autem ventati: omnia suffert, omnia credit, omnia sperat, omnia sustinet. Charitas nunquam excidit: sive prophetiæevacuabuntur, sive linguæ cessabunt, sive scientia destruetur. Ex parte enim cognoscimus, et ex parte propnctamus. Cum autem venerit quod perfectum est, evacuabitur quod ex parte est. Cum essem parvulus, loquebar ut parvulus, sapiebam ut parvulus, cogitabam ut parvulus. Quando autem factus sum vir, evacuavi quæ erant parvuli. Videmus nunc per speculum in ænigmate: tunc autem facie ad faciem. Nunc cognosco ex parte: tunc autem cognoscam sicut et cognitus sum. Nunc autem manent fides, spes, charitas, tria hæc: major autem horum est charitas.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.

1 Ch. xiii.

Brethren, if I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy, and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity is patient, is kind, charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up, is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never falleth away; whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away the things of a child. We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then, face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know, even as I am known. And now there remain faith, hope, charity, these three: but the greater of these is charity.

How appropriate for this Sunday is the magnificent eulogy of charity, here given by our apostle! This virtue, which comprises the love both of God and of our neighbour, is the light of our souls. Without charity we are in darkness, and all our works are profitless. The very power of working miracles cannot give hope of salvation, unless he who does them have charity. Unless we are in charity, the most heroic acts of other virtues are but one snare more for our souls. Let us beseech our Lord to give us this light. But let us not forget that, however richly He may bless us with it here below, the fullness of its brightness is reserved for when we are in heaven; and that the sunniest day we can have in this world, is but darkness when compared with the splendour of our eternal charity. Faith will then give place, for we shall be face to face with all truth; hope will have no object, for we shall possess all good; charity alone will continue, and, for this reason, is greater than faith and hope, which must needs accompany her in this present life. This being the glorious destiny reserved for man when redeemed and enlightened by Jesus, is it to be wondered at that we should leave all things, in order to follow such a Master? What should surprise us, and what proves how degraded is our nature by sin, is to see Christians, who have been baptized in this faith and this hope, and have received the first-fruits of this love, indulging, during these days, in every sort of worldliness, which is only the more dangerous because it is fashionable. It would seem as though they were making it their occupation to extinguish within their souls the last ray of heavenly light, like men that had made a covenant with darkness. If there be charity within our souls, it will make us feel these offences that are committed against our God, and inspire us to pray to Him to have mercy on these poor blind sinners, for they are our brethren.

In the Gradual and Tract, the Church sings the praises of God's goodness towards His elect. He has set them free from the slavish yoke of the world, by enlightening them with His grace; they are His own children, the favoured sheep of His pasture.


Tu es Deus qui facis mirabilia solus: notam fecisti in gentibus virtutem tuam. V. Liberasti in brachio tuo populum tuum, filios Israel et Joseph.
Thou art God, who alone dost wonders: thou hast made thy power known among the nations. V. Thou hast delivered thy people, the children of Israel and Joseph, by the strength of thine arm.


Jubilate Deo omnis terra: servite Domino in lætitia.

V. Intrate in conspectu ejus, in exsultatione; scitote quoniam Dominus ipse est Deus.

V. Ipse fecit nos, et non ipsi nos: nos autem populus ejus et oves pascuæ ejus.
Sing joyfully to God, all the earth: serve ye the Lord with gladness.

V. Come in before his presence with joy; know ye that the Lord he is God.

V. He made us, and not we ourselves: and we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.


Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam. Cap. xviii. In illo tempore, assumpsit Jesus duodecim, et ait illis: Ecce ascendimus Jerosolymam, et consummabuntur omnia quæ scripta Bunt per prophetas de Filio hominis. Tradetur enim gentibus, et illudetur, et fiagellabitur, et conspuetur, et postquam flagellaverint, Occident eum,et tertia die resurget. Et ipsi nihil horum intellexerunt, et erat verbum istud absconditum ab eis, et non intelligebant quæ dicebantur. Factum est autum, cum appropinquaret Jericho, cæcus quidam sedebat secus viam, mendicans. Et cum audiret turbam prætereuntem, interrogabat quid hoc esset. Dixerunt autem ei, quod Jesus Nazarenus transiret. Et clamavit dicens: Jesu, fili David, miserere mei. Et qui præibant, increpabant eum ut taceret. Ipse vero multo magis clamabat: Fili David, miserere mei. Stans autem Jesus, jussit ilium adduci ad se. Et cum appropinquasset, interrogavit ilium dicens: Quid tibi vis faciam? At ille dixit: Domine, ut videam. Et Jesus dixit illi: Respiee, fides tua te salvum fecit. Et confestim vidit, et sequebatur ilium, magnificans Deum. Et omnis plebs ut vidit, dedit laudem Deo.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke. Ch. xviii. At that time, Jesus took unto him the twelve, and said to them: Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and all things shall be accomplished which were written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man. For he shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and scourged, and spit upon; and after they have scourged him, they will put him to death, and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things. And this word was hid from them, and they understood not the things that were said. Now it came to pass, when he drew nigh to Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the wayside, begging. And when he heard the multitude passing by, he asked what this meant. And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. And they that went before, rebuked him, that he should hold his peace. But he cried out much more: Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus standing, commanded him to be brought unto him. And when he was come near, he asked him, saying: What wilt thou that I do to thee? But he said: Lord, that I may see. And Jesus said to him: Receive thy sight: thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he saw, and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people when they saw it gave praise to God.

Jesus tells His apostles, that His bitter Passion is at hand; it is a mark of His confidence in them; but they understand not what He says. They are as yet too carnal-minded to appreciate our Saviour's mission; still, they do not abandon Him; they love Him too much to think of separating from Him. Greater by far than this is the blindness of those false Christians, who, during these three days, not only do not think of the God who shed His Blood and died for them, but are striving to efface from their souls every trace of the divine image! Let us adore that sweet mercy, which has drawn us, as it did Abraham, from the midst of a sinful people; and let us, like the blind man of our Gospel, cry out to our Lord, beseeching Him to grant us an increase of His holy light.This was his prayer: Lord! that I may see! God has given us His light; but He gave it us in order to excite within us the desire of seeing more and more clearly. He promised Abraham, that He would show him the place He had destined for him; may He grant us, also, to see the land of the living! But our first prayer must be, that He show us Himself, as St. Augustine has so beautifully expressed it, that we may love Him, and show us ourselves that we may cease to love ourselves.

In the Offertory, the Church prays that her children may have the light of life, which consists in knowing the Law of God. She would have our lips pronounce His doctrine and the divine commandments, which He has brought us from heaven.


Benedictus es, Domine, doce me justificationes tuas: in labiis meis pronuntiavi omnia judicia oris tui.
Blessed art thou, O Lord teach me thy justifications: with my lips I have pronounced all the judgments of thy mouth.


Hæc hostia, Domine, quæsumus, emundet nostra delicta; et ad sacrificium celebrandum, subditorura tibi corpora, mentesque sanctifi cet. Per Dominum.
May this offering, we beseech thee, O Lord, cleanse away our sins; and sanctify the bodies and souls of thy servants, to prepare them for worthily celebrating this sacrifice. Through, &c.

Then are added two other Secrets, as given in the Mass of Septuagesima Sunday, page 127.

The Communion antiphon commemorates the miracle of the manna, which fed in the desert the descendants of Abraham; and yet this food, though it came from heaven, did not preserve them from death. The living Bread, which we have had given to us from heaven, gives eternal life to the soul: and he who eats it worthily shall never die.


Manducaverunt et saturati sunt nimis, et desiderium eorum attulit eis Dominus: non sunt fraudati a desiderio suo.
They did eat and were filled exceedingly, and the Lord gave them their desire: they were not defrauded of that which they craved.


Quæsumus, omnipotens Deus; ut qui cœlestia alimenta percepimus, per hæc contra omnia adversa muniamur. Per Dominum.
We beseech thee, O almighty God, that we who have taken this heavenly food, may be defended by it from all adversity. Through, etc.

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


The psalms and antiphons as on page 72.

(1 Cor. xiii.)

Fratres, si linguis hominum loquar et angelorum, charitatem autem non habeam, factus sum velut æs sonans, aut cymbalum tinniens.
Brethren, if I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

The hymn and versicle, page 79.

Antiphon of the Magnificat

Stans autem Jesus, jussit cæcum adduci ad se, et ait illi: Quid vis ut faciam tibi? Domine, ut videam. Et Jesus ait illi: Respice, fides tua te salvum fecit. Et confestim vidit, et sequebatur illum, magnificans Deum.


Proces nostras, quæsumus, Domine, dementer exaudi: atque a peccatorum vinculis absolutos, ab omni nos adversitate custodi. Per Dominum.
But Jesus standing, ordered the blind man to be brought, and said to him: What wilt thou, that I do for thee? Lord, that I may see. And Jesus saith to him: See: thy faith hath made thee whole. And he immediately saw, and followed him, praising God.

Let us Pray

Mercifully hear our prayers, we beseech thee, O Lord, and delivering us from the bonds of sin, preserve us from all adversity. Through, etc.

Before the day is over, we may recite the following stanzas of the hymn, in which the Greek Church proclaims the annual fast of Lent.


(Feria II. Tyrophagi)

Advenit nunc, ver designans, præpurgatrix hebdomas hæc sacrorum jejuniorum, omnino veneranda, corporibus et animabus omnium lucem ministrans.

En reserata est pœnitentiæ janua, Dei amatores; adeste igitur, alacriter ipsam ingrediamur, priusquam a Christo nobis velut indignis claudatur.

Puritatem, abstinentiam, et modestiam, et fortitudinem, ac prudentiam, orationes et lacrymas comparemus, fratres, per quæ patet nobis justitiæ semita.

Ne corpori saginando, neque ciborum deliciis incumbamus, mortales, imo vero parcimonia ipsum pinguefaciamus, quo semper in pugnis cum adversario, animæjunctum prævaleat.

Primum jejunium præviæ expiationis animarum et corporum nostrorum ortum est hodie, spargens in cordibus nostris, Dei amatores, sacræ et venerandæ Christi Passionis, luminis instar, largum splendorem.

Læto animo amplectamur jejunium, o populi: advenit siquidem spiritualium certaminum exordium: abjiciamus carnis mollitudinem, animæ charismata augeamus, compatiamur, ut servi Christi, quo tanquam filii Dei conglorificemur, animasque nostras Spiritus sanctus in nobis inhabitans illuminabit.

Alacriter excipiamus, fideles, divinitus inspiratum jejunii nuntium, ut olim Ninivitæ, itemque meretrices, et publicani ab Joanne pœnitentia pradicationem acceperunt. Præparemur per abstinentiam ad participationem Dominici in Sion sacrificii; prius lacrymis quam divina ejus lotione purgemur, petamus typici ibi Paschatis consummationem, et veri demonstrationem intueri; parati simus ad crucis et Resurrectionis Christi Dei adorationem, clamantes ad ipsum: Ne confundas nos ab exspectatione nostra, o philanthrope.
The week, the harbinger of spring, is come; the week that cleanses away sin by the sacred and ever venerable fast, which enlightens the body and soul of every man.

Lo! the gate of penance is thrown open, O ye that love God! Come, then, let us joyously go in, before Christ shut it against us as being unworthy to enter.

Brethren, let us prepare, and bring with us purity, abstinence, and modesty, and fortitude, and prudence, and prayers, and tears; for it is by these we enter on the path of justice.

Be not solicitous, O mortals! about the body, how you may pamper it, nor seek delicacies in what you give it to eat; give it, rather, fullness of vigour by abstinence; that so it may aid the soul to conquer in the battle with the enemy.

This day, O ye that love God! begins the fast, which is to prepare our souls and bodies by expiation, and infuse into our hearts the generous light of the sacred and venerable Passion of Christ.

Let us, O ye people! enter on our fast with a glad heart; for lo! the spiritual combat begins. Let us throw off the effeminacy of the flesh, redouble the gifts of the spirit, and suffer with Christ, as it behoves them that are his servants; that thus, we may rejoice together with him, and our souls be enlightened by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost within us.

Let us, O ye faithful! cheerfully receive the divinely inspired messenger of our fast, as did the Ninivites; and as the harlots and the publicans did, of old, receive John, when he preached penance unto them. Let us prepare, by abstinence, for a participation in the Sacrifice of our Lord on Sion. Let his divine laver be preceded by that of our tears. Let us beseech him to show unto us, when the time is come, the consummation of both Paschs, the figurative, and the true. Let us put ourselves in readiness to adore the cross and Resurrection of Christ; saying unto him: Let me not be confounded in my expectation, O thou Lover of mankind.

[1] St. Luke xvi. 22.
[2] St. Matt. iii. 9.
[3] Heb. xi. 8-10.
[4] 1 Cor. vii. 31.
[5] Heb. xiii. 14.
[6] Rom. viii. 21.
[7] ‘Introduction to a Devout Life,’ part iii., chapter xxxiii.
[8] The Litanies for the Forty Hours are given at the end of this volume.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The life of a faithful Christian, like that of the patriarch Abraham, is neither more nor less than a courageous journeying onwards to the place destined for him by his Creator. He must put aside everything that could impede his progress, nor must he look back. This is, undoubtedly, hard doctrine; but if we reflect, for a moment, on the dangers which surround fallen man during his earthly pilgrimage, and on what our own sad experience has taught us, we shall not think it hard or strange, that our Saviour has made the renouncing and denying of ourselves an essential condition of our salvation. But, independently of this, is it not far better to put our life under God’s guidance, than to keep it in our own? Are we so wise or so strong, as to be able to guide ourselves? We may resist as we please, but God is our sovereign Lord and Master; and by giving us free-will, whereby we may either resist His will or follow it, He has not abdicated His own infinite rights to His creatures’ obedience. Our refusal to obey would not make Him less our Master.

Had Abraham, after receiving the divine call, chosen to remain in Chaldea, and refused to break up the home which God had bade him leave, God would then have selected some other man to be the patriarch of His chosen people, and father of that very family, which was to have the Messias as one of its children. This substitution of one for another in the order of grace is frequently forced upon divine justice; but what a terrible punishment it is for him that caused the substitution! When a soul refuses salvation, heaven does not therefore lose one of its elect: God, finding that He is despised by the one He called, offers the grace to another, until His call is followed.

The Christian life consists in this untiring, unreserved obedience to God. The first effect of this spirit of submission is, that it takes the soul from the region of sin and death, wherein she was wasting away her existence; it takes her from the dark Chaldea, and places her in the promised land of light. Lest she should faint on her way. along the narrow path, and fall a victim to the dangers which never leave her because they are within herself, God asks her for sacrifices, and these brace her. Here, again, we have Abraham for our model. God loves him, and promises him the richest of blessings; He gives him a son, as pledge of the promise; and then, shortly after, tests the holy patriarch's devotedness, by commanding him to slay with his own hand this dear child, on whom he has been told to build his hopes!

Man’s path on earth is sacrifice. We cannot go out from evil except by the way of self-resistance, nor keep our footing on good ground but by constant combating. Let us imitate Abraham: fix our eyes steadfastly on the eternal hills, and consider this world as a mere passing dwelling, a tent, put up for a few days. Our Jesus has said to us: ‘I came not to send peace, but the sword; for I came to separate.'[1] Separation, then, and trials are sure to be sent us; but we are equally sure that they are for our good, since they are sent us by Him who so loved us, that He became one of ourselves. But this same Jesus has also said: ‘Where thy treasure is, there too is thy heart.’[2] Christians! can our treasure be in this wretched world? No it must be in that fair land above. There, then, must we be, in desire and affection.

These are the thoughts the Church would have us meditate upon during these days, which immediately precede the forty of Lent. They will help to purify our hearts and make them long to be with their God. The noise of the world’s sins and scandals reaches our ears: let us pray, that the kingdom of God may come to us and to those poor sinners; for God’s infinite mercy can change them, if He will, into children of Abraham. Not a day passes but He so changes many a sinner. He has, perhaps, shown that miracle of His mercy to us, and those words of the apostle may be applied to us: 'You, who some time were afar off, are now made nigh (to God) by the Blood of Christ.'[3]

Let us pray for ourselves and for all sinners, in these beautiful words of the Mozarabic breviary.


Dum te, omnipotens Deus, nostræ delinquentiæ reddunt adversum, tua inspiratione, quæsumus, nostra te invocatio propitium et confessio faciat esse placatum: ut, te miserante, nec tribulatio sæcularis nostram mentem dejiciat, neo persuasio nociva possidcat, nec infidelitas tenebrosa concludat; sed vultus tui super nos signato lumine fulgeamus, semperque in eodem splendore stabilitate veræ fidei gradiamur. Amen.
We beseech thee, O almighty God! that whereas our sins have angered thee against us, our prayers and praise, which thou inspirest, may propitiate and please thee: that thus, by thy mercy, the vexations of this world may not cast down our soul, nor hurtful delusion possess her, nor the darkness of unbelief surround her; but may we gleam with the light of thy countenance, wherewith thou hast signed us, and ever, by firmness in the true faith, walk in the brightness of the same. Amen.

[1] St. Matt. x. 34, 35.
[2] Ibid., vi 21.
[3] Eph. ii. 13.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The fundamental rule of Christian life is, as almost every page of the Gospel tells us, that we should live out of the world, separate ourselves from the world, hate the world. The world is that ungodly land which Abraham, our sublime model, is commanded by God to quit. It is that Babylon of our exile and captivity, where we are beset with dangers. The beloved disciple cries out to us: 'Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him.’[1] Our most merciful Jesus, at the very time when He was about to offer Himself as a sacrifice for all men, spoke these awful words: 'I pray not for the world.'[2] When we were baptized, and were signed with the glorious and indelible character of Christians, the condition required of us, and accepted, was that we should renounce the works and pomps of the world (which we expressed under the name of Satan); and this solemn baptismal promise we have often renewed.

But what is the meaning of our promise to renounce the world? Is it that we cannot be Christians, unless we flee into the desert and separate ourselves from our fellow-creatures? Such cannot be God’s will for all, since, in that same Scripture, wherein He commands us to flee from the world, He also tells us what are our duties to each other, and sanctions and blesses those ties which He Himself has willed should exist among us. His apostle, also, tells us to use this world as though we did not use it.[3] It is not, therefore, forbidden us to live in, and to use, the world. Then, what means this renouncing of the world? Can there be contradiction in God’s commandments? Is it possible that we are condemned to wander blindly on the brink of a precipice, into which we must at last inevitably fall?

There is neither contradiction nor snare. If by the world, we mean these visible things around us which God created in His power and goodness; if we mean this outward world, which He made for His own glory and our benefit; it is worthy of its divine Author, and to us, if we but use it aright, is a ladder whereby our souls may ascend to their God. Let us gratefully use this world; go through it, without making it the object of our hope; not waste upon it that love, which God alone deserves; and ever be mindful, that we are not made for this, but for another and a happier, world.

But the majority of men are not thus prudent in their use of the world. Their hearts are fixed upon it, and not upon heaven. Hence it was, that when the Creator deigned to come into this world, in order that He might save it, the world knew Him not.[4] Men were called after the name of the object of their love. They shut their eyes to the light; they became darkness; God calls them 'the world.’

In this sense, then, the world is everything that is opposed to our Lord Jesus Christ, that refuses to recognize Him, and that resists His divine guidance. Those false maxims which tend to weaken the love of God in our souls; which recommend the vanities that fasten our hearts to this present life; which cry down everything that can raise us above our weaknesses or vices; which decoy and gratify our corrupt nature by dangerous pleasures, which, far from helping us to the attainment of our last end, only mislead us—all these are ‘the world.’

This world is everywhere, and holds a secret league within our very hearts. Sin has brought it into this exterior world created by God for Himself, and has given it prominence. Now, we must conquer it, and trample upon it, or we shall perish with it. There is no being neutral; we must be its enemies, or its slaves. During these three days, its triumphs are fearful; and thousands of those who, at their Baptism, swore eternal enmity to it, are enrolling themselves its votaries. Let us pray for them; but let us also tremble for ourselves; and that our courage may not fail us, let us ponder those consoling words, which our Saviour, at His last Supper, addressed to His eternal Father. He is speaking of His disciples, and He says: 'Father! I have given them Thy word, and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, as I also am not of the world. I pray not, that Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldst keep them from evil.'[5]

As an appropriate conclusion of this day, we may use this formula of the Ambrosian liturgy. It puts two truths in contrast: the spiritual indifference of worldlings, and the dread severity of God’s future judgment.

(Dominica in Quinquagesima)

Jucunda est præsens vita, et transit: terribile est, Christe, judicium tuum, et permanet. Quapropter incertum amorem relinquamus, et de infinito timore cogitemus, clamantes: Christe, miserere nobis.
Sweet is this present life, but it passes away; terrible, O Christ, is thy judgment, and it endures for ever. Let us, therefore, cease to love what is unstable, and fix our thoughts on the fear of what is eternal; saying; Christ, have mercy upon us!

[1] St. John ii. 15.
[2] Ibid., xvii. 9.
[3] 1 Cor. vii. 31.
[4] St. John i. 10.
[5] St. John xvii. 14, 15.