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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.

Yesterday, the world was busy in its pleasures, and the very children of God were taking a joyous farewell to mirth: but this morning, all is changed. The solemn announcement, spoken of by the prophet, has been proclaimed in Sion:[1] the solemn fast of Lent, the season of expiation, the approach of the great anniversaries of our Redemption. Let us, then, rouse ourselves, and prepare for the spiritual combat.

But in this battling of the spirit against the flesh we need good armour. Our holy mother the Church knows how much we need it; and therefore does she summon us to enter into the house of God, that she may arm us for the holy contest. What this armour is we know from St. Paul, who thus describes it: ‘Have your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice. And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. In all things, taking the shield of faith. Take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’[2] The very prince of the apostles, too, addresses these solemn words to us: ‘Christ having suffered in the flesh, be ye also armed with the same thought.’[3] We are entering, to-day, upon a long campaign of the warfare spoken of by the apostles: forty days of battle, forty days of penance. We shall not turn cowards, if our souls can but be impressed with the conviction, that the battle and the penance must be gone through. Let us listen to the eloquence of the solemn rite which opens our Lent. Let us go whither our mother leads us, that is, to the scene of the fall.

The enemies we have to fight with, are of two kinds: internal, and external. The first are our passions; the second are the devils. Both were brought on us by pride, and man’s pride began when he refused to obey his God. God forgave him his sin, but He punished him. The punishment was death, and this was the form of the divine sentence: ‘Thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return.’[4] Oh that we had remembered this! The recollection of what we are and what we are to be, would have checked that haughty rebellion, which has so often led us to break the law of God. And if, for the time to come, we would persevere in loyalty to Him, we must humble ourselves, accept the sentence, and look on this present life as a path to the grave. The path may be long or short; but to the tomb it must lead us. Remembering this, we shall see all things in their true light. We shall love that God, who has deigned to set His heart on us notwithstanding our being creatures of death: we shall hate, with deepest contrition, the insolence and ingratitude, wherewith we have spent so many of our few days of life, that is, in sinning against our heavenly Father: and we shall be not only willing, but eager, to go through these days of penance, which He so mercifully gives us for making reparation to His offended justice.

This was the motive the Church had in enriching her liturgy with the solemn rite, at which we are to assist this morning. When, upwards of a thousand years ago, she decreed the anticipation of the lenten fast by the last four days of Quinquagesima week, she instituted this impressive ceremony of signing the forehead of her children with ashes, while saying to them those awful words, wherewith God sentenced us to death: ‘Remember, O man, that thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return!’ But the making use of aBhes as a symbol of humiliation and penance, is of a much earlier date than the institution to which we allude. We find frequent mention of it in the Old Testament. Job, though a Gentile, sprinkled his flesh with ashes, that, thus humbled, he might propitiate the divine mercy:[5] and this was two thousand years before the coming of our Saviour. The royal prophet tells us of himself, that he mingled ashes with his bread, because of the divine anger and indignation.[6] Many such examples are to be met with in the sacred Scriptures; but so obvious is the analogy between the sinner who thus signifies his grief, and the object whereby he signifies it, that we read such instances without surprise. When fallen man would humble himself before the divine justice, which has sentenced his body to return to dust, how could he more aptly express his contrite acceptance of the sentence, than by sprinkling himself, or his food, with ashes, which is the dust of wood consumed by fire? This earnest acknowledgment of his being himself but dust and ashes, is an act of humility, and humility ever gives him confidence in that God, who resists the proud and pardons the humble.

It is probable that, when this ceremony of the Wednesday in Quinquagesima week was first instituted, it was not intended for all the faithful, but only for such as had committed any of those crimes for which the Church inflicted a public penance. Before the Mass of the day began, they presented themselves at the church, where the people were all assembled. The priests received the confession of their sins, and then clothed them in sackcloth, and sprinkled ashes on their heads. After this ceremony, the clergy and the faithful prostrated, and recited aloud the seven Penitential Psalms. A procession, in which the penitents walked bare-footed, then followed; and on its return, the bishop addressed these words to the penitents: ‘Behold, we drive you from the doors of the church by reason of your sins and crimes, as Adam, the first man, was driven out of paradise because of his transgression.’ The clergy then sang several responsories, taken from the Book of Genesis, in which mention was made of the sentence pronounced by God when He condemned man to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow, for that the earth was cursed on account of sin. The doors were then shut, and the penitents were not to pass the threshold until Maundy Thursday, when they were to come and receive absolution.

Dating from the eleventh century, the discipline of public penance began to fall into disuse, and the holy rite of putting ashes on the heads of all the faithful indiscriminately became so general that, at length, it was considered as forming an essential part of the Roman liturgy. Formerly, it was the practice to approach bare-footed to receive this solemn memento of our nothingness; and in the twelfth century, even the Pope himself, when passing from the church of St. Anastasia to that of St. Sabina, at which the station was held, went the whole distance bare-footed, as also did the Cardinals who accompanied him. The Church no longer requires this exterior penance; but she is as anxious as ever that the holy ceremony, at which we are about to assist, should produce in us the sentiments she intended to convey by it, when she first instituted it.

As we have just mentioned, the station in Rome is at St. Sabina, on the Aventine Hill. It is under the patronage of this holy martyr that we open the penitential season of Lent.


The function begins with the blessing of the ashes, which are to be put on our foreheads. These ashes are made from the palms, which were blessed the previous Palm Sunday. The blessing they are now to receive in this their new form, is given in order that they may be made more worthy of that mystery of contrition and humility which they are intended to symbolize.

The choir begins by chanting this antiphon, which is a prayer for mercy.


Exaudi nos, Domine, quoniam benigna est misericordia tua: secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum, respice nos, Domine.

Ps. Salvum me fac, Deus: quoniam intraverunt aquæ usque ad animam meam. V. Gloria Patri. Exaudi nos.
Hear us, O Lord, for thy mercy is kind: look on us, O Lord, according to the multitude of thy mercies.

Ps. Save me, O God: for the waters have reached my soul. V. Glory, etc. Hear us, etc.

The priest, standing at the altar, and having the ashes near him, begs of God, by the following prayers, that He would make them an instrument of our sanctification.

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


Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, parce pœnitentibus; propitiare supplicantibus: et mittere digneris sanctum angelum tuum de cœlis, qui benedicat, et sanctificet hos cinerea, ut sint remedium salubre omnibus nomen sanctum tuum humiliter implorantibua, ac semetipsos pro conscientia delictorum suorum accusantibus, ante conspectum divinæ clementiæ tuæ facinora sua deplorantibus, vel serenissimam pietatem tuam suppliciter obnixeque flagitantibus: et præsta, per invocationem sanctissimi nominis tui: ut quicumque per eos aspersi fuerint, pro redemptione peccatorum suorum, corporis sanitatem et animæ tutelam percipiant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.


Deus, qui non mortem sed pœnitentiam desideras peccatorum: fragilitatem conditionis humanæ benignissime respice: et hos cineres, quos causa proferendæhumilitatis, atque promerendæ veniæ, capitibus nostris imponi decernimus, benedicere prò tua pietate dignare: ut, qui nos cinerem esse, et ob pravitatis nostrædemeritum in pulverem reversuros cognoscimus, peccatorum omnium veniam, et præmia pœnitentibus repromissa, misericorditer consequi mereamur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.


Deus qui humiliatione flecteris et satisfactione placaris: aurem tuæ pietatis inclina precibua nostris: et capitibus servorum tuorum, horum cinerum aspersione contactis, effunde propitius gratiam tuæ benedictionis: ut eos et spiritu compunctionis repleas, et quæ juste postulaverint, efficaciter tribuas; et concessa perpetuo stabilita et intacta manere decernas. Per Christum Dominum nostrum, R. Amen.


Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui Ninivitis in cinere et cilicio pœnitentibus indulgentiæ tuæ remedia pr©stitisti: concede propitius, ut sic eos imitemur habitu, quatenus veniæ prosequamur obtentu. Per Dominum. R. Amen.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us Pray

O almighty and eternal God, spare those that repent, show mercy to those that humbly entreat thee; and vouchsafe to send from heaven thy holy angel, to bless, and sanctify these ashes, that they may be a wholesome remedy to all who humbly call upon thy holy name, and conscious of their sins, accuse themselves, and deplore their crimes in sight of thy divine Majesty, or humbly and earnestly have recourse to thy sovereign bounty; and grant, by our calling on thy most holy name, that whoever shall be touched by these ashes for the remission of their sins, may receive health of body and defence of soul. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Let us Pray

O God, who desirest the conversion, and not the death of sinners, graciously consider the weakness of human nature, and mercifully vouchsafe to bless these ashes, which we design to receive on our heads, in token of our humiliation, and to obtain forgiveness; that we, who know that we are but ashes, and must return to dust because of our wickedness, may obtain through thy mercy, pardon of all our sins, and the recompense promised to penitents. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Let us Pray

O God, who art appeased by humiliation, and pacified by satisfaction, incline to our prayers the ears of thy mercy; and pour upon the heads of thy servants, covered with these ashes, the grace of thy blessing, so as both to fill them with the spirit of compunction, and to grant them the effects of their just desires; and, when granted, to remain stable and untouched for ever. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Let us Pray

O almighty and eternal God, who forgavest the Ninivites, when they did penance in sackcloth and ashes; mercifully grant us so to imitate their penance, that we may obtain pardon of our sins. Through, etc. R. Amen.

Having said the last of these prayers, the priest sprinkles the ashes with holy water, and censes them. The first in order of the priests who are present, marks the celebrant’s forehead with them. Then the ministers at the altar and the clergy receive them from the celebrant, who finally gives them to the faithful, saying:

Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.
Remember man, that thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return.

When the priest puts the holy emblem of penance upon you, accept in a spirit of submission, the sentence of death, which God Himself pronounces against you: ‘Remember, O man, that thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return!’ Humble yourself, and remember what it was that brought the punishment of death upon us: man wished to be as a god, and preferred his own will to that of his sovereign Master. Reflect, too, on that long list of sins, which you have added to the sin of your first parents, and adore the mercy of your God, who asks only one death for all these your transgressions.

During the time the priest is giving the ashes, the choir sings the following antiphons and responsory.


Immutemur habitu, in cinere et cilicio: jejunemus et ploremus ante Dominum, quia multum miscricors est dimittere peccata nostra Deus noster.
Let us change our dress for ashes and sackcloth; let us fast and weep in the presence of the Lord; for our God is very merciful to forgive us our sins.


Inter vestibulum et altare plorabunt sacerdotes ministri Domini, et dicent: Parco, Domine, parce populo tuo: et ne claudas ora canentium te, Domine.
The priests, the ministers of the Lord, shall weep between the porch and the altar, and say; Spare, O Lord, spare thy people, and shut not the mouths of those who praise thee, O Lord.


Emendemus in melius quæ ignoranter peccavimus: ne subito præoccupati die mortis, quæramus spatium pœnitentiæ, et invenire non possimus. * Attende, Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi.

Ps. Adjuva nos Deus salutaris noster: et propter honorem nominis tui Domine, libera nos. * Attende. V. Gloria Patri. * Attende.
Let us amend the sins we have committed through ignorance: lest suddenly overtaken by the day of our death, we seek for time to do penance, and be not able to find it. * Look down on us, O Lord, and take pity; for we have sinned against thee.

Ps. Help us, O God our Saviour: and deliver us for the glory of thy name, O Lord. * Look down, etc. V. Glory, etc. Look down, etc.

As soon as all the faithful have received the ashes, the priest sings the following prayer:

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


Concede nobis, Domine, præsidia militiæ Christianæ sanctis inchoare jejuniis: nt contra spirituales nequitias pugnaturi,continentiæ muniamur auxiliis. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us Pray

Grant us, O Lord, to begin with holy fasting our Christian warfare; that being to fight against spiritual wickedness, we may be aided therein by temperance. Through Christ our Lord. JR. Amen.


The soul has regained her confidence by the act of humility she has performed. She approaches the God of mercy, and reminds Him of the tender love He bears to His creature man, and of the patience wherewith He waits for his repentance. These are the sentiments expressed in the Introit, which is taken from the Book of Wisdom.


Misereris omnium, Domine, et nihil odisti eorum quæ fecisti, dissimulans peccata hominum propter pœnitentiam, et parcens illis: quia tu es Dominus Deus noster.

Ps. Miserere mei Deus, miserere mei; quoniam in te confidit anima mea. V. Gloria Patri. Misereris.
Thou, O Lord, hast mercy on all, and hatest none of those things which thou hast created; thou overlookest the sins of men, to draw them to repentance, and thou pardonest them; because thou art the Lord our God.

Ps. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me; for my soul trusteth in thee. V. Glory, etc. Thou, O Lord, etc.

In the Collect, the Church prays that her children may have the two-fold grace of a fervent commencement and steady perseverance in the salutary fast of Lent.


Præsta, Domine, fidelibus tuis, ut jejuniorum veneranda solemnia, et congrua pietate suscipiant, et secura devotione percurrant. Per Dominum.
Grant, O Lord, that thy faithful may enter on this solemn and venerable fast with suitable piety, and go through it with unmolested devotion. Through, etc.

Second Collect

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

Third Collect

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui vivorum dominaris simul et mortuorum, omniumque misereris, quos tuoa fide et opere futuros esse prænoscis: te supplices exoramus; ut pro quibus effundere preces decrevimus quosque vel præsens sæculum adhuc in carne retinet, vel futurum jam exutos corpore suscepit, intercedentibus omnibus sanctis tuis, pietatis tuæ clementia, omnium delictorum suorum veniam consequantur. Per Dominum.
O almighty and eternal God, who hast dominion over the living and the dead, and art merciful to all whom thou knowest will be thine by faith and good works: we humbly beseech thee, that they, for whom we have proposed to offer our prayers, whether this world still retains them in the flesh, or the next world hath already received them divested of their bodies, may, by the clemency of thine own goodness, and the intercession of thy saints, obtain pardon and full remission of their sins. Through, etc.

Lectio Joelis Prophetæ.

Cap. ii.

Hæc dicit Dominus: Convertimini ad me in toto corde vestro, in jojunio, et in fletu, et in planctu. Et scindite corda vestra, et non vestimentavestra, et convcrtimini ad Dominum Deum vcstrum: quia benignus et misericors est, patiens et multæ misericordiæ, et præstabilis super malitia. Quis seit si convertatur et ignoscat, et relinquat post se benedictionem, sacrificium et libamen Domino Deo vestro? Canito tuba in Sion, santificate jejunium, vocate cœtum, congregate populum, santificate Ecclesiam, coadunate senes, congregate parvulos et sugentes ubera: egrediatur sponsus de cubili suo, et sponsa de thalamo suo. Inter vestibulum et altare plorabunt sacerdotes ministri Domini, et dicent: Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo: et ne des hæreditatem tuam in opprobrium, ut dominentur eis nationes. Quare dicunt in populis: Ubi est Deus eorum? Zelatus est Dominus terram suam, et pepercit populo suo. Et respond it Dominus, et dixit populo suo: Ecce ego mittam vobis frumentum, et vinum, et oleum, et replebimini eis: et non dabo vos ultra opprobrium in gentibus: dicit Dominus omnipotens.
Lesson from the Prophet Joel.

Ch. ii.

Thus saith the Lord: Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning. And rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. Who knoweth but he will return, and forgive, and leave a blessing behind him; sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather together the people, sanctify the Church, assemble the ancients, gather together the little ones, and them that suck at the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth from his bed, and the bride out of the bridechamber. Between the porch and the altar the priests, the Lord’s ministers, shall weep, and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare thy people; and give not thine inheritance to reproach, that the heathens should rule over them. Why should they say among the nations: Where is their God? The Lord hath been zealous for his land, and hath spared his people. And the Lord answered, and said to his people: Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil; you shall be filled with them, and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations, saith the Lord almighty.

We learn from this magnificent passage of the prophet Joel how acceptable to God is the expiation of fasting. When the penitent sinner inflicts corporal penance upon himself, God’s justice is appeased. We have a proof of it in the Ninivites. If the Almighty pardoned an infidel city, as Ninive was, solely because its inhabitants sought for mercy under the garb of penance; what will He not do in favour of His own people, who offer Him the twofold sacrifice, exterior works of mortification, and true contrition of heart? Let us, then, courageously enter on the path of penance. We are living in an age when, through want of faith and of fear of God, those practices which are as ancient as Christianity itself, and on which we might almost say it was founded, are falling into disuse; it behoves us to be on our guard, lest we, too, should imbibe the false principles, which have so fearfully weakened the Christian spirit. Let us never forget our own personal debt to the divine justice, which will remit neither our sins nor the punishment due to them, except inasmuch as we are ready to make satisfaction. We have just been told that these bodies, which we are so inclined to pamper, are but dust; and as to our souls, which we are so often tempted to sacrifice by indulging the flesh, they have claims upon the body, claims of both restitution and obedience.

In the Gradual, the Church again pours forth the expressions of her confidence in the God of all goodness, for she counts upon her children being faithful to the means she gives them of propitiating His justice.

The Tract is that beautiful prayer of the psalmist, which she repeats thrice during each week of Lent, and which she always uses in times of public calamity, in order to appease the anger of God.


Miserere mei Deus, miserere mei: quoniam in te confidit anima mea.

V. Misit de cœlo, et liberavit me: dedit in opprobrium conculcantes me.
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me; for my soul hath trusted in thee.

V. He hath sent from heaven, and delivered me; he hath made them a reproach that trod upon me.


V. Domine non secundum peccata nostra, quæ fecimus nos, neque secundum iniquitates nostras retribuas nobis.

V. Domine, ne memineris iniquitatum nostrarum antiquarum: cito anticipent nos misericordiæ tuæ, quia pauperes facti sumus nimis.
V. Deal not with us, O Lord, according to our sins, which we have committed nor punish us according to our iniquities.

V. Remember not, O Lord, our former iniquities; let thy mercies speedily prevent us, for we are become exceeding poor.


Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. vi.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Cum jejunatis, nolite fieri sicut hypocritæ tristes. Exterminant enim facies suas, ut appareant hominibus jejunantes. Amen dico vobis, quia receperunt mercedem suam. Tu autem cum jejunas, unge caput tuum, et faciem tuam lava, ne videaris hominibus jejunans, sed Patri tuo, qui est in abscondito: et Pater tuus qui videt in abscondito, reddet tibi. Nolite thesaurizare vobis thesauros in terra, ubi ærugo et tinea demolitur, et ubi fures effodiunt, et furantur. Thesaurizate autem vobis thesauros in cœlo: ubi neque ærugo, neque tinea demolitur; et ubi fures non effodiunt, nec furantur. Ubi enim est thesaurus tuus, ibi est et cor tuum.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. vi.

At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: When you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father, who is in secret: and thy Father, who seeth in secret, will repay thee. Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth, where the rust and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.

Our Redeemer would not have us receive the announcement of the great fast as one of sadness and melancholy. The Christian who understands what a dangerous thing it is to be behindhand with divine justice, welcomes the season of Lent with joy; it consoles him. He knows that if he be faithful in observing what the Church prescribes, his debt will be less heavy upon him. These penances, these satisfactions (which the indulgence of the Church has rendered so easy), being offered to God unitedly with those of our Saviour Himself, and being rendered fruitful by that holy fellowship which blends into one common propitiatory sacrifice the good works of all the members of the Church militant, will purify our souls, and make them worthy to partake in the grand Easter joy. Let us not, then, be sad because we are to fast; let us be sad only because we have sinned and made fasting a necessity. In this same Gospel, our Redeemer gives us a second counsel, which the Church will often bring before us during the whole course of Lent: it is that of joining almsdeeds with our fasting. He bids us to lay up treasures in heaven. For this, we need intercessors; let us seek them amidst the poor.

In the Offertory, the Church rejoices in her children being set free; she foresees that the wounds of our souls will be healed, for she has confidence in us that we shall persevere, and this fills her with gladness.


Exaltabo te, Domine quoniam suscepisti me, nec delectasti inimicos meos super me; Domine, clamavi ad te, et sanasti me.
I will extol thee, O Lord, for thou hast upholden me, and hast not made my enemies to rejoice over me. O Lord, I have cried to thee, and thou hast healed me.


Fac nos, quæsumus, Domine, his muneribus offerendis convenienter aptari; quibus ipsius venerabilis sacramenti celebramus. exordium. Per Dominum.
Grant, O Lord, that we may be duly prepared to present these our offerings, by which we celebrate the institution of this venerable mystery. Through, etc.

Second Secret

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

Third Secret

Deus, cui soli cognitus est numerus electorum in superna felicitate locandus; tribue quæsumus, ut intercedentibus omnibus sanctis tuis, universorum, quos in oratione commendatos suscepimus, et omnium fidelium nomina, beatæ prædestinationis liber adscripta retineat. Per Dominum.
O God, to whom alone is known the number of thine elect to be placed in eternal bliss: grant, we beseech thee, by the intercession of all thy saints, that the book of predestination may contain the names of all those for whom we have undertaken to pray, as well as those of all the faithful. Through, etc.

The Preface

Vere dignum et justum est, æequum et salutare, nos tibi semper, et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus. Qui corporali jejunio vitia comprimis, mentem elevas, virtutem largiris et præmia, per Christum Dominum nostrum. Per quem majestatem tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates: Cœli, cœlorumque Virtutes, ac beata Seraphim, socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admitti jubeas deprecamur, supplici confessione, dicentes: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus.
It is truly meet and just right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God. Who by this bodily fast extinguishest our vices, elevatest our understanding, bestowest on us virtue and its rewards, through Christ our Lord. By whom the Angels praise thy majesty, the Dominations adore it, the Powers tremble before it; the Heavens and the heavenly Virtues, and the blessed Seraphim, with common jubilee, glorify it. Together with whom, we beseech thee that we may be admitted to join our humble voices, saying: Holy! Holy! Holy!

The words of the Church in the Communion antiphon contain an instruction of great importance to us. During this long career of penance, we shall stand in need of something to keep up our courage: let us meditate on the law and the mysteries of our Lord.If we relish the word of God as it is offered us by the Church on each day of this holy season, our hearts will receive an increase of light and love, and when our Lord shall rise from His tomb, the brightness of His Resurrection will shine upon us.


Qui meditabitur in lege Domini die ac nocte, dabit fructum suumin tempore suo.
He that meditateth day and night on the law of the Lord, shall yield his fruit in due season.


Percepta nobis, Domine præbeant Sacramenta subsidium: ut tibi grata sint nostra jejunia, et nobis proficiant ad medelam. Per Dominum.
May the mysteries we have received, O Lord, afford us help, that our fasting may be acceptable to thee, and become a remedy to us. Through, etc.

Second Postcommunion

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

Third Postcommunion

Purificent nos, quæsumus; omnipotens et misericors Deus, Sacramenta quæ sumpsimus: et intercedentibus omnibus sanctis tuis, præsta ut hoc tuum Sacramentum non sit nobis reatus ad pœnam, sed intercessio salutaris ad veniam: sit ablutio scelerum, sit fortitude fragilium, sit contra omnia mundi pericula firmamentum: sit vivorum atque mortuorum fidelium remissio omnium delictorum. Per Dominum.
May the mysteries we have received, purify us, we beseech thee, O almighty and merciful God; and grant by the intercession of all thy saints, that this thy Sacrament may not increase our guilt to punishment, but be a means of obtaining pardon in order to salvation. May it wash away sin, strengthen our frailty, secure us against the dangers of the world; and procure forgiveness for all the faithful, both living and dead. Through, etc.

Every day during Lent, Sundays excepted, the priest, before dismissing the faithful, here adds a special prayer, which is preceded by these words of admonition:



Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Inclinantes se, Domine, majestati tuæ, propitiatus intende: ut qui divino munere sunt refecti, cœlestibus semper nutriantur auxiliis. Per Dominum.
Let us Pray

Bow down your heads to God.

Mercifully look down upon us, O Lord, bowing down before thy divine Majesty, that they who have been refreshed with thy divine mysteries, may always be supported by thy heavenly aid. Through, etc.

[1] See the Epistle of to-day’s Mass.
[2] Eph. vi. 14-17.
[3] 1 St. Pet. iv. 1.
[4] Gen. iii. 19.
[5] Job xvi. 16.
[6] Ps. ci. 10, 11.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Although the law of fasting began yesterday, yet Lent, properly so called, does not begin till the Vespers of Saturday next. In order to distinguish the rest of Lent from these four days which have been added to it, the Church continues to chant Vespers at the usual hour, and allows her ministers to break their fast before having said that Office. But, beginning with Saturday, the Vespers will be anticipated; every day (Sundays excepted, which always exclude fasting), they will be said at such an early hour, that when the faithful take their full meal, the evening Office will be over. It is a remnant of the discipline of the primitive Church, which forbade the faithful to break their fast before sunset, in other words, before Vespers or Evensong.

The Church has given to these three days after Ash Wednesday a resemblance to the other ferias of her lenten season, by assigning to each of them a lesson from the Old Testament, and a Gospel, for Mass. We, of course, insert them, adding a few reflections to each. We also give the Collects of these three days.

The station, in Rome, for the Thursday after Ash Wednesday, is in the church of St. George in Velabro (the veil of gold).


Deus, qui culpa offenderis, pœnitentia placaris; preces populi tui supplicantis propitius respice: et flagella tuæ iracundiæ, quæ pro peccatis nostris meremur, averte. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
O God, who by sin art offended, and by penance pacified, mercifully regard the prayers of thy suppliant people: and turn away the scourges of thy wrath, which we deserve for our sins. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Lectio Isaiæ Prophetæ.

Cap. xxxviii.

In diebus illis, ægrotavit Ezechias usque ad mortem: et introivit ad eum Isaias filius Araos propheta, et dixit ei: Hæc dicit Dominus: Dispone domui tuæ, quia morieris tu, et non vives. Et convertit Ezechias faciem suam ad parietem, et oravit ad Dominum, et dixit: Obsecro, Domine, memento, quæso, quomodo ambulaverim coram te in veritate, et in corde perfecto, et quod bonum est in oculis tuis fecerim. Et flevit Ezechias fletu magno. Et factum est verbum Domini ad Isaiam dicens: Vade, et dic Ezechiæ: Hæc dicit Dominus Deus David patris tui: Audivi orationem tuam, et vidi lacrymas tuas: ecce ego adjiciam super dies tuos quindecim annos: et de manu regis Assyriorum eruam te, et civitatem istam, et protegam eam, ait Dominus omnipotens.
Lesson from Isaias the Prophet.

Ch. xxxviii.

In those days, Ezechias was sick even to death, and Isaias the son of Amos the prophet came unto him, and said to him: Thus saith the Lord: Take order with thy house, for thou shalt die, and not live. And Ezechias turned his face towards the wall, and prayed to the Lord, and said: I beseech thee, O Lord, remember how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Ezechias wept with great weeping. And the word of the Lord came to Isaias, saying: Go and say to Ezechias: Thus saith the Lord the God of David thy father: I have heard thy prayer, and I have seen thy tears: behold I will add to thy days fifteen years: and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hands of the king of the Assyrians, and I will protect it, saith the Lord almighty.

Yesterday, the Church spoke to us upon the certainty of death. Die we must: we have not only God’s infallible word for it, but no reasonable man could ever entertain the thought that he was to be an exception to the rule. But if the fact of our death be certain, the day on which we are to die is also fixed. God, in His wisdom, has concealed the day from us; it becomes our duty not to be taken by surprise. This very night, it might be said to us, as it was to Ezechias: Take order with thy house, for thou shalt die. We ought to spend each day, as though it were to be our last. Were God even to grant us, as He did to the holy king of Juda, a prolongation of life, we must come, sooner or later, to that last hour, beyond which there is no time, and eternity begins. The Church’s intention in thus reminding us of our mortality, is to put us on our guard against the allurements of this short life, and urge us to earnestness in the great work of regeneration, for which she has been preparing us during these last three weeks. How many there are of those who yesterday received the ashes, who will never see the joys of Easter, at least in this world! To them, the ceremony has been a prediction of what is to happen to them, perhaps before the month is out. And yet the very same words that were pronounced over them, were said to us. May not we ourselves be of the number of those who are thus soon to be victims of death? In this uncertainty, let us gratefully accept the warning, which our Jesus came down from heaven to give us: ‘Do penance; for the kingdom of God is at hand.’[1]


Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. viii.

In illo tempore: Cum introisset Jesus Capharnaum, accessit ad eum centurio, rogans eum et dicens: Domine, puer meus jacet in domo paralyticus, et male torquetur. Et ait illi Jesus: Ego veniam, et curabo eum. Et respondens centuno, ait: Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum; sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur puer meus. Nam et ego homo sum sub potestate constitutus, habens sub mo milites, et dico huic: Vado, et vadit; et alii: Veni, et venit; et servo meo: Fac hoc, et facit. Audiens autcm Jesus miratus est, et sequentibus se dixit: Amen dico vobis, non inveni tantam fidem in Israel: Dico autem vobis, quod multi ab oriente et occidente venient, et recumbent cum Abraham, et Isaac, et Jacob in regno cœlorum; filii autem regni ejicientur in tenebras exteriores: ibi erit fletus et stridor dentium. Et dixit Jesus centurioni: Vade, et sicut credidisti, fiat tibi. Et sanatus est puer in illa hora.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. viii.

At that time: When Jesus had entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying: Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion making answer said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doth it. And Jesus hearing this, marvelled, and said to them that followed him: Amen, I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. And I say to you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion; Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour.

The sacred Scriptures, the fathers, and theologians, tell us that there are three eminent good works which are, at the same time, works of penance: prayer, fasting, and almsdeeds. In the lessons she gives us on these three days, which form as it were the threshold of Lent, the Church instructs us upon these works. To-day it is prayer she recommends to us. Look at this centurion, who comes to our Saviour, beseeching Him to heal his servant. His prayer is humble; in all the sincerity of his heart, he deems himself unworthy to receive Jesus under his roof. His prayer is full of faith; he doubts not for an instant that Jesus is able to grant him what he asks. And with what ardour he prays! The faith of this Gentile is greater than that of the children of Israel, and elicits praise from the Son of God. Such ought to be our prayer, when we solicit the cure of our souls. Let us acknowledge that we are not worthy to speak to God, and yet, let us have an unshaken confidence in the power and goodness of Him, who only commands us to pray that He may pour out His mercies upon us. The season we are now in is one of prayer; the Church redoubles her supplications; it is for us that she makes them; we must take our share in them. Let us, during this season of grace, cast off that languor which fastens on the soul at other times; let us remember that it is prayer which repairs the faults we have already committed, and preserves us from sin for the future.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo. Parce Domine, parce populo tuo, ut dignis flagellationibus castigatus, in tua miseratione respiret. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God. Spare, O Lord, spare thy people; that having been justly chastised, they may find comfort in thy mercy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen,

[1] St. Matt. iv. 17.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The station for to-day is in the church of the holy martyrs, St. John and St. Paul.


Inchoata jejunia, quæsumus Domine, benigno favore prosequere: ut observantiam, quam corporaliter exhibemus, mentibus etiam sinceris exercere valeamus. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Graciously favour us, O Lord, we beseech thee, in the fast we have undertaken: that what we observe outwardly, we may perform with sincere minds. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Lectio Isaiæ Prophetæ.

Cap. lviii.

Hæc dicit Dominus Deus: Clama, ne cesses; quasi tuba exalta vocem tuam, et annuntia populo meo scelera eorum, et domui Jacob peccata eorum. Me etenim de die in diem quærunt, et scire vias meas volunt: quasi gens quæ justitiam fecerit, et judicium Dei sui non dereliquerit: rogant me judicia justitiæ: appropinquare Deo volunt. Quare jejunavimus et non aspexisti: humiliavimus animas nostras et nescisti? Ecce in die jejunii vestri invenitur voluntas vestra, et omnes debitores vestros repetitis. Ecce ad lites et contentiones jejunatis, et percutitis pugno impie. Nolite jejunare sicut usque ad hanc diem, ut audiatur in excelso clamor vester. Numquid tale est jejunium, quod elegi, per diem affligere hominem animam suam? numquid contorquere quasi circulum caput suum, et saccum et cinerem sternere? numquid istum vocabis jejunium, et diem acceptabilem Domino? Nonne hoc eat magis jejunium, quod elegi? dissolve colligationes impietatis, solve fasciculos deprimentes, dimitte eos qui confracti sunt liberos, et omne onus disrumpe. Frange esurienti panem tuum, et egenos vagosque induc in domum tuam: cum videris nudum, operi eum, et carnem tuam ne despoxeris. Tunc erumpet quasi mane lumen tuum, et sanitas tua citius orietur, et anteibit faciem tuam justitia tua, et gloria Domini colliget te. Tunc invocabis, et Dominus exaudiet: clamabis, et dicet: Ecce adsum. Quia misericors sum, Dominus Deus tuus.
Lesson from Isaias the Prophet.

Ch. lviii.

Thus saith the Lord God: Cry, cease not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their wicked doings, and the house of Jacob their sins. For they seek me from day to day, and desire to know my ways, as a nation that hath done justice, and hath not forsaken the judgment of their God; they ask of me the judgments of justice: they are willing to approach to God. Why have we fasted, and thou hast not regarded: why have we humbled our souls, and thou hast not taken notice? Behold, in the day of your fast, your own will is found, and you exact of all your debtors. Behold you fast for debates and strife, and strike with the fist wickedly. Do not fast as you have done until this day, to make your cry to be heard on high. Is this such a fast as I have chosen: for a man to afflict his soul for a day? is this it, to wind his head about like a circle, and to spread sackcloth and ashes? wilt thou call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this rather the fast that I have chosen? loose the bands of wickedness, undo the bundles that oppress, let them that are broken go free, and break asunder every burden. Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house; when thou shalt see one naked, cover him, and despise not thy own flesh. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall speedily arise, and thy justice shall go before thy face, and the glory of the Lord shall gather thee up. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry, and he shall say: Here I am; for I the Lord thy God am merciful.

We are told, in this lesson from the prophet Isaias, what are the dispositions which should accompany our fast. It is God Himself who here speaks to us—that God who had Himself commanded His people to fast. He tells us that the fasting from material food is a mere nothing in His eyes, unless they who practise it abstain also from sin. He demands the sacrifice of the body; but it is not acceptable to Him, unless that of the soul goes along with it. The living God can never consent to be treated as were the senseless gods of wood and stone, which the Gentiles adored, and which were incapable of receiving any other than a mere external homage. Let, then, the heretic cease to find fault with the Church for her observance of practices, which he pretends to scorn as being material; it is he that grows material by his system of letting the body have every indulgence. The children of the Church fast, because fasting is recommended in almost every page of both the old and the new Testament, and because Jesus Christ Himself fasted for forty days; but they are fully aware that this practice, which is thus recommended and urged, is then alone meritorious, when it is ennobled and completed by the homage of a heart that is resolved to reform its vicious inclinations. And after all, it would be an injustice, if the body, which has been led into guilt solely through the malice of the soul, were to be made to suffer, and the soul herself be allowed to continue in her sinful course. Hence it is that they whose ill-health prevents them from observing the bodily austerities of Lent, are equally bound to impose on their soul that spiritual fast, which consists in the amendment of their life, in avoiding everything that is sinful, and in the zealous performance of every good work in their power.


Sequentia saneti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. v., vi.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Audistis quia dictum est Diliges proximum tuum, et odio habebis inimicum tuum. Ego autem dico vobis: Diligite inimicos vestros, benefacite his qui oderunt vos: et orate pro persequentibus et calumniantibus vos: ut sitis filii Patris vestri, qui in cœlis est, qui solem suum oriri facit super bonos et malos, et pluit super justos et injustos. Si enim diligitis eos qui vos diligunt, quam mercedem habebitis? Nonne et publicani hoc faciunt? Et si salutaveritis fratres vestros tantum: quid amplius facitis? Nonne et ethnici hoc faciunt? Estote ergo vos perfecti, sicut et Pater vester cœlestis perfectus est. Attendite ne justitiam vestram faciatis coram hominibus, ut videamini ab eis: alioquin mercedem non habebitis apud Patrem vestrum qui in cœlis est. Cum ergo facis eleemosynam, noli tuba canere ante te, sicut hypocritæ faciunt in synagogis, et in vicis, ut honorificentur ab hominibus. Amen dico vobis, receperunt mercedem suam. Te autem faciente eleemosynam, nesciat sinistra tua, quid faciat dextera tua: ut sit eleemosyna tua in abscondito, et Pater tuus qui videt in abecondito, reddet tibi.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. v., vi.

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: You have heard that it hath been said: Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy. But I say to you: love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you; that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust. For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you do more? do not also the heathens this? Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect. Take heed that you do not your justice before men to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven. Therefore, when thou dost an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honoured by men. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth; that thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father, who seeth in secret, will repay thee.

Almsdeeds is the third of the great penitential works: it is the sister virtue of prayer and fasting. For this reason, the Church puts before us, to-day, the instructions given by our Saviour on the manner in which we ought to do works of mercy. He puts upon us the duty of loving our fellow-men, without distinction of friends or enemies. God, who has created them all, loves them Himself; this is motive enough to make us show mercy to all. If He bears with them even when they are His enemies by sin, and patiently waits for their conversion even to the end of their lives, so that they who are lost are lost through their own fault, what ought not we to do, we who are sinners as they are, and their brethren, and created like them out of nothing? When, therefore, we do an act of kindness or mercy towards those who have God for their Father, we offer Him a most acceptable homage. Charity, the queen of virtues, absolutely requires of us the love of our neighbour, as being part of our love of God; and this charity, at the same time that it is a sacred obligation incumbent upon each member of the family of mankind, is, in the acts it inspires us to do towards each other, a work of penance, because it imposes upon us certain privations, and requires us to overcome every repugnance which nature stirs up within us, when we have to show this charity to certain individuals. And finally, we must in our almsdeeds follow the counsel our blessed Saviour gives us; it is the one He recommended to us, when He bade us fast: we must do it in secret, and shun ostentation. Penance loves humility and silence; it has a dread of being noticed by men; the only one whose applause it seeks, is He who seeth in secret.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo. Tuere, Domine, populum tuum, et ab omnibus peccatis dementer emunda: quia nulla ei nocebit adversitas, si nulla ei dominetur iniquitas. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God. Defend, O Lord, thy people, and mercifully cleanse them from all their sins: for no misfortune can hurt them, if no wickedness rule over them. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The station for to-day is, as noted in the missal, in the church of St. Trypho, martyr; but this church having been destroyed many centuries ago, the station is now in that of St. Augustine, which is built on the same site.


Adesto, Domino, supplicationibus nostris, et concede ut hoc solemne jejunium, quod animabus corporibusque curandis salubriter institutum est, devoto servitio celebremus. Per Christum Dominimi nostrum. Amen.
Give ear, O Lord, to our prayers, and grant that we may, with true devotion, observe this solemn fast which was wholesomely instituted for the healing of both our soul and body. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Lectio Isaiæ Prophetæ. Cap. lviii. Hæc dicit Dominus Deus: Si abstuleris de medio tui catenam, et desieris extendere digitum et loqui quod non prodest; cum effuderis esurienti animam tuam, et animam afflictam repleveris, orietur in tenebris lux tua, et tenebrætuæ erunt sicut meridies. Et requiem tibi dabit Dominus semper, et implebit splendoribus animam tuam, et ossa tua liberabit, et eris quasi hortus irriguus et sicut fons aquarum, cujus non deficient aquæ. Et ædificabuntur in te deserta sæculorum: fundamenta generationis et generationis suscitabis: et vocaberis ædificator sepium, avertens semitas in quietem. Si averteris a Sabbato pedem tuum, facere voluntatem tuam in die sancto meo, et vocaveris Sabbatum delicatum, et sanctum Domini gloriosum, et glorificaveris eum dum non facis vias tuas, et non invenitur voluntas tua, ut loquaris sermonem: tunc delectaberis super Domino; et sustollam te super altitudines terræ, et cibabo te hereditate Jacob patris tui: os enim Domini locutum est.
Lesson from Isaias the Prophet. Ch. lviii. Thus saith the Lord God: If thou wilt take away the chain out of the midst of thee, and cease to stretch out the finger, and to speak that which profiteth not; when thou shalt pour out thy soul to the hungry, and shalt satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise up in darkness, and thy darkness shall be as the noon-day. And the Lord will give thee rest continually, and will fill thy soul with brightness, and deliver thy bones, and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a fountain of water, whose waters shall not fail. And the places that have been desolate for ages, shall be built in thee; thou shalt raise up the foundations of generation and generation: and thou shalt be called the repairer of the fences, turning the paths into rest. If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy own will in my holy day, and call the Sabbath delightful, and the holy of the Lord glorious, and glorify him, while thou dost not thy own ways, and thy own will is not found, to speak a word: then shalt thou be delighted in the Lord, and I will lift thee up above the high places of the earth, and will feed thee with the inheritance of Jacob thy father. For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

Saturday is a day replete with mystery. It is the day of God’s rest; it is a figure of the eternal peace, which awaits us in heaven after the toils of this life are over. The object of the Church in giving us, to-day, this lesson from Isaias, is to teach us how we are to merit our eternal Sabbath. We have scarcely entered on our campaign of penance, when this affectionate mother of ours comes to console us. If we abound in good works during this holy season, in which we have taken leave of the distracting vanities of the world the light of grace shall rise up even in the darkness which now clouds our soul. This soul which has been so long obscured by sin and by the love of the world and self, shall become bright as the noon-day; the glory of Jesus’ Resurrection shall be ours too; and, if we are faithful to grace, the Easter of time will lead us to the Easter of eternity. Let us, therefore, build up the places that have been so long desolate; let us raise up the foundations, repair the fences, turn away our feet from the violation of holy observances; do not our own ways and our own will in opposition to those of our divine Master; and then He will give us everlasting rest, and fill our soul with His own brightness.


Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Marcum.

Cap. vi.

In illo tempore: Cum sero esset, erat navis in medio mari, et Jesus solus in terra. Et videns discipulos suos laborantes in remigando (erat enim ventus contrarius eis), et circa quartam vigiliam noctis, venit ad eos ambulans supra mare: et volebat præterire eos. At illi, ut viderunt eum ambulantem supra mare, putaverunt phantasma esse, et exclamaverunt. Omnes enim viderunt eum, et conturbati sunt. Et statim locutus est cum eis, et dixit eis: Confidite, ego sum, nolite timere. Et ascendit ad illos in navim, ct cessavit ventus. Et plus magis intra se stupebant: non enim intellexorunt de panibus: erat enim cor eorum obcæcatum. Et cum transfretassent, venerunt in terram Genesareth, et applicuerunt. Cumque egressi essent de navi, continuo cognoverunt eum: et percurrentesuniversam regionem illam, cœperunt in grabatis eos qui se male habebant circumferre, ubi audiebant eum esse. Et quocumque introibat, in vicos, vel in villas, aut civitates, in plateis ponebant infirmos, et deprecabantur eum, ut vel fimbriam vestimenti ejus tangerent: et quotquot tangebant eum, salvi fiebant.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Mark.

Ch. vi.

At that time: When it was late, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and Jesus alone on the land. And seeing them labouring in rowing (for the wind was against them), and about the fourth watch of the night, he cometh to them, walking upon the sea, and he would have passed by them. But they seeing him walking upon the sea, thought it was an apparition, and they cried out. For they all saw him and were troubled. And immediately he spoke with them, and said to them: Have a good heart, it is I, fear ye not. And he went up to them into the ship, and the wind ceased. And they were far more astonished within themselves: for they understood not concerning the loaves: for their heart was blinded. And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Genesareth, and set to the shore. And when they were gone out of the ship immediately they knew him; and running through that whole country, they began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. And whithersoever he entered, into towns, or into villages, or cities, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch but the hem of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.

The ship, the Church, has set sail; the voyage is to last forty days. The disciples labour in rowing, for the wind is against them; they begin to fear lest they may not be able to gain the port. But Jesus comes to them on the sea; He goes up to them in the ship; the rest of the voyage is most prosperous. The ancient liturgists thus explain the Church’s intention in her choice of to-day’s Gospel. Forty days of penance are, it is true, little enough for a long life that has been spent in everything save God’s service; and yet our cowardice would sink under these forty days, unless we had Jesus with us. Let us not fear; it is He; He prays with us, fasts with us, and does all our works of mercy with us. Was it not He that first began these forty days of expiation? Let us keep our eyes fixed on Him, and be of good heart. If we grow tired, let us go to Him, as did the poor sick ones of whom our Gospel speaks. The very touch of His garments sufficed to restore health to such as had lost it; let us go to Him in His adorable Sacrament; and the divine life, whose germ is already within us, will develop itself, and the energy, which was beginning to droop in our hearts, will regain all its vigour.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Fideles tui, Dens, per tua dona firmentur: ut eadem et percipiendo requirant, et quærendo sine fine percipiant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down you heads to God.

May thy faithful, O God, be strengthened by thy gifts; that, by receiving them, they may ever hunger after them, and hungering after them, they may have their desires satisfied in the everlasting possession of them. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us close our Saturday with a prayer to Mary, the refuge of sinners. Let us express the confidence we have in her, by the following devout sequence. It is taken from the German missals of the fourteenth century.


Tibi cordis in altari
Decet preces immolari,
Virgo sacratissima.

Nam cum in se sit inepta,
Tuo Nato sit accepta
Per te precum victima.

Pro peccatis immolato
Peccatorum præsentato
Precum sacrificia.

Per te Deum adit reus,
Ad quem per te venit Deus:
Amborum tu media.

Nec abhorre peccatores
Sine quibus nunquam fores
Tanto digna Filio.

Si non essent redimendi,
Nulla tibi pariendi
Redemptorem ratio.

Sed nec Patris ad consesBum
Habuisses huc accessum,
Si non ex te genitum
Esset ibi positum.

Virgo, Virgo sic promota
Causa nostri, nostra vota
Promovenda suscipe
Coram summo Principe.

It behoves us, O most holy Virgin,
to offer thee, on the altar of our hearts,
the offering of our prayers.

For whereas the sacrifice of our prayers has no merit of its own,
it may be made acceptable,
through thee, to thy Son.

Present to him,
who was sacrificed for sin,
the sacrifice of sinners’ prayers.

It is through thee the sinner comes to God,
for this God came to the sinner through thee,
O thou the mediatrix between God and man!

It was for the sake of sinners
that thou wast made worthy of such a Son:
canst thou, then, despise them?

It was because there were sinners to be redeemed,
that thou wast made
Mother of the Redeemer.

Neither wouldst thou be seated
nigh the Father’s throne,
hadst thou not been Mother of him
who shares his Father’s throne.

Take, then, O holy Virgin,
who for our sake hast been thus exalted,
take thou our prayers,
and present them to our sovereign Lord.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

This Sunday, the first of the six which come during Lent, is one of the most solemn throughout the year. In common with the other Sundays of Lent, it has the privilege of taking precedence of all feasts, even that of the patron, titular saint, or dedication of the Church. In the ancient calendars, it is called Invocabit, from the first word of the Introit of the Mass. In the middle ages,[1] it was called Brand Sunday, because the young people, who had misconducted themselves during the carnival, were obliged to show themselves to-day at the church with a torch in their hands, as a kind of public satisfaction for their riot and excess.

Lent solemnly opens to-day. We have already noticed that the four preceding days were added since the time of St. Gregory the Great, in order to make up forty days of fasting. Neither can we look upon Ash Wednesday as the solemn opening of the season; for the faithful are not bound to hear Mass on that day. The holy Church, seeing her children now assembled together, speaks to them, in her Office of Matins, these eloquent and noble words of St. Leo the Great:

Having to announce to you, dearly beloved, the most sacred and chief fast, how can I more appropriately begin, than with the words of the apostle, in whom Christ Himself spoke, and by saying to you what has just been read: Behold! now is the acceptable time; behold! now is the day of salvation. For although there be no time which is not replete with divine gifts, and we may always, by God’s grace, have access to His mercy, yet ought we all to redouble our efforts to make spiritual progress and be animated with unusual confidence, now that the anniversary of the day of our redemption is approaching, inviting us to devote ourselves to every good work, that so we may celebrate, with purity of body and mind, the incomparable mystery of our Lord’s Passion.

It is true that our devotion and reverence towards so great a mystery should be kept up during the whole year, and we ourselves should be at all times, in the eyes of God, the same as we are bound to be at the Easter solemnity. But this is an effort which only few among us have the courage to sustain. The weakness of the flesh induces us to relax our austerities; the various occupations of every-day life take up our thoughts; and thus even the virtuous find their hearts clogged by this world’s dust. Hence it is that our Lord has most providentially given us these forty days, whose holy exercises should be to us a remedy, whereby to regain our purity of soul. The good works and the holy fastings of this season were instituted as an atonement for, and an obliteration of, the sins we commit during the rest of the year.

Now, therefore, that we are about to enter upon these days, which are so full of mystery, and which were instituted for the holy purpose of purifying both soul and body, let us; dearly beloved, be careful to do as the apostle bids us, and cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit: that thus the combat between the two substances being made less fierce, the soul, which, when she herself is subject to God, ought to be the ruler of the body, will recover her own dignity and position. Let us also avoid giving offence to any man, so that there be none to blame or speak evil things of us. For we deserve the harsh remarks of infidels, and we provoke the tongues of the wicked to blaspheme religion, when we who fast lead unholy lives. For our fast does not consist in the mere abstinence from food; nor is it of much use to deny food to our body, unless we restrain the soul from sin.[2]

Each Sunday of Lent offers to our consideration a passage from the Gospel, which is in keeping with the sentiments wherewith the Church would have us be filled. To-day she brings before us the temptation of our Lord in the desert. What light and encouragement there is for us in this instruction!

We acknowledge ourselves to be sinners; we are engaged, at this very time, in doing penance for the sins we have committed—but how was it that we fell into sin? The devil tempted us; we did not reject the temptation; then we yielded to the suggestion, and the sin was committed. This is the history of our past; and such it would, also, be for the future, were we not to profit by the lesson given us to-day by our Redeemer.

When the apostle speaks of the wonderful mercy shown us by our divine Saviour, who vouchsafed to make Himself like to us in all things save sin, he justly lays stress on His temptations.[3] He, who is very God, humbled Himself even so low as this, to prove how tenderly He compassionated us. Here, then, we have the Saint of saints allowing the wicked spirit to approach Him, in order that we might learn, from His example, how we are to gain victory under temptation.

Satan has had his eye upon Jesus; he is troubled at beholding such matchless virtue. The wonderful circumstances of His birth; the shepherds called by angels to His crib, and the Magi guided by the star; the Infant’s escape from Herod’s plot; the testimony rendered to this new Prophet by John the Baptist: all these things, which seem so out of keeping with the thirty years spent in obscurity at Nazareth, are a mystery to the infernal serpent, and fill him with apprehension. The ineffable mystery of the Incarnation has been accomplished unknown to him; he never once suspects that the humble Virgin, Mary, is she who was foretold by the prophet Isaias, as having to bring forth the Emmanuel;[4] but he is aware that the time has come, that the last week spoken of to Daniel has begun its course, and that the very pagans are looking towards Judea for a deliverer. He is afraid of this Jesus; he resolves to speak with Him, and elicit from Him some expression which will show him whether He be or not the Son of God; he will tempt Him to some imperfection, or sin, which, should he commit it, will prove that the object of so much fear is, after all, but a mortal Man.

The enemy of God and men is, of course, disappointed. He approaches Jesus; but all his efforts turn only to his own confusion. Our Redeemer, with all the self-possession and easy majesty of a God-Man, repels the attacks of satan; but He reveals not His heavenly origin. The wicked spirit retires without having made any discovery beyond this—that Jesus is a prophet, faithful to God. Later on, when he sees the Son of God treated with contempt, calumniated and persecuted; when he finds that his own attempts to have Him put to death are so successful: his pride and his blindness will be at their height; and not till Jesus expires on the cross, will he learn that his victim was not merely Man, but Man and God. Then will he discover how all his plots against Jesus have but served to manifest, in all their beauty, the mercy and justice of God: His mercy, because He saved mankind; and His justice, because He broke the power of hell for ever.

These were the designs of divine Providence in permitting the wicked spirit to defile, by his presence, the retreat of Jesus, to speak to Him, and to lay his hands upon Him. But let us attentively consider the triple temptation in all its circumstances; for our Redeemer suffered it only in order that He might instruct and encourage us.

We have three enemies to fight against; our soul has three dangers; for, as the beloved disciple says, all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life![5] By the concupiscence of the flesh, is meant the love of sensual things, which covets whatever is agreeable to the flesh, and, when not curbed, draws the soul into unlawful pleasures. Concupiscence of the eyes expresses the love of the goods of this world, such as riches, and possessions; these dazzle the eye, and then seduce the heart. Pride of life is that confidence in ourselves, which leads us to be vain and presumptuous, and makes us forget that all we have, our life and every good gift, we have from God.

Every one of our sins comes from one of these three sources; every one of our temptations aims at making us accept the concupiscence of the flesh, or the concupiscence of the eyes, or the pride of life. Our Saviour, then, who would be our model in all things, deigned to subject Himself to these three temptations.

First of all satan tempts Him in what regards the flesh: he suggests to Him to satisfy the cravings of hunger, by working a miracle, and changing the stones into bread. If Jesus consent, and show an eagerness in giving this indulgence to His body, the tempter will conclude that He is but a frail mortal, subject to concupiscence like other men. When he tempts us, who have inherited evil concupiscence from Adam, his suggestions go further than this: he endeavours to defile the soul by the body. But the sovereign holiness of the Incarnate Word could never permit satan to use upon Him the power which he has received of tempting man in his outward senses. The lesson, therefore, which the Son of God here gives us, is one of temperance: but we know that, for us, temperance is the mother of purity, and that intemperance excites our senses to rebel.

The second temptation is to pride; ‘Cast Thyself down; the angels shall bear Thee up in their hands.’The enemy is anxious to see if the favours of heaven have produced in Jesus’soul that haughtiness, that ungrateful self-confidence, which makes the creature arrogate God’s gifts to itself, and forget its benefactor. Here, also, he is foiled; our Redeemer’s humility confounds the pride of the rebel angel.

He then makes a last effort: he hopes to gain over by ambition Him who has given such proofs of temperance and humility. He shows Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and says to Him: ‘All these will I give Thee, if falling down, Thou wilt adore me.’Jesus rejects the wretched offer, and drives from Him the seducer, the prince of this world;[6] hereby teaching us that we must despise the riches of this world, as often as our keeping or getting them is to be on the condition of our violating the law of God and paying homage to satan.

But let us observe how it is that our divine Model, our Redeemer, overcomes the tempter. Does He hearken to His words? Does He allow the temptation time, and give it strength by delay? We did so, when we were tempted; and we fell. But our Lord immediately meets each temptation with the shield of God’s word. He says: ‘It is written: Not on bread alone doth man live. It is written: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. It is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve.’ This, then, must be our practice for the time to come. Eve brought perdition on herself, and on the whole human race, because she listened to the serpent. He that dallies with temptation is sure to fall. We are now in a season of extraordinary grace; our hearts are on the watch, dangerous occasions are removed, everything that savours of worldliness is laid aside; our souls, purified by prayer, fasting, and almsdeeds, are to rise with Christ, to a new life; but, shall we persevere? All depends upon how we behave under temptation. Here, at the very opening of Lent, the Church gives us this passage of the holy Gospel, that we may have not only precept but example. If we be attentive and faithful, the lesson she gives us will produce its fruit; and when we come to the Easter solemnity, we shall have those sure pledges of perseverance: vigilance, self-diffidence, prayer, and the never-failing help of divine grace.

The Greek Church, in spite of her principle of never admitting a feast during Lent, celebrates to-day one of her greatest solemnities. It is called Orthodoxia, and was instituted in memory of the restoration of sacred images in Constantinople and the eastern empire, in the year 842, when the empress Theodora, aided by the holy patriarch Methodius, put a stop to the Iconoclast persecution, and restored to the churches the holy images which the fury of the heretics had taken away.




The Station, at Rome, is in the patriarchal basilica of Saint John Lateran. It was but right, that a Sunday of such solemnity as this should be celebrated in the church which is the mother and mistress of all churches, not only of the holy city itself, but of the whole world. It is here that the public penitents were reconciled on Maundy Thursday; it is here, also, in the baptistery of Constantine, that the catechumens received Baptism on the night preceding Easter Sunday. No other basilica could have had such a claim for the Station of a day like this; for it is there that the Lenten Fast had been so often proclaimed by Leo and Gregory.

The Introit, as likewise the Gradual, Tract, Offertory, and Communion, are all taken from Psalm XC. We have elsewhere spoken of the appropriateness of this beautiful psalm to the spirit of the Church during the season of Lent. It bids the Christian soul confide in the divine aid. She is now devoting her whole energies to prayer; she is engaged in battle with her own and God’s enemies. She has need of support. Let her not be afraid: God tells her, in these words of the Introit, that her confidence in Him shall not be in vain.


Invocabit me, et ego exaudiam eum: eripiam eum et glorificabo eum: longitudine dierum adimplebo eum.

Ps. Qui habitat in adjutorio Altissimi: in protection Dei cœli commorabitur. V. Gloria Patri. Invocabit me.
He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: I will deliver him, and I will glorify him: I will fill him with length of days.

Ps. He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven. V. Glory, &c. He shall cry.

In the Collect, the Church prays for her children, that their fast may not only purify them, but also obtain for them that divine assistance, which will secure their salvation by enabling them to abound in good works.


Deus, qui Ecclesiam tuam annua quadragesimali observations purificas: præsta familiæ tuæ, ut quod a te obtinere abstinendo nititur, hoc bonis operibus exsequatur. Per Dominum.
O God, who purifiest thy Church by the yearly observance of Lent: grant that what thy children endeavour to obtain of thee by abstinence, they may put in execution by good works. Through, &c.

The two following Collects, for the general wants of the Church, are then added.

Second Collect

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

Third Collect

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui vivorum dominanris simul et mortuorum, omniumque misereris quos tuos fide et opere futuros esse prænoscis: te supplices exoramus, ut pro quibus effundere preces decrevimus, quosque vel præsens sæculum adhuc in carne retinet, vel futurum jam exutos corpore suscepit, intercedentibus omnibus sanctis tuis, pietatis tuæ clementia, omnium delictorum suorum veniam consequantur. Per Dominum.
O almighty and eternal God, who hast dominion over the living and the dead, and art merciful to all who thou knowest will be thine by faith and good works: we humbly beseech thee, that those for whom we have proposed to offer our prayers, whether this world still retains them in the flesh, or the next world hath already received them divested of their bodies, may, by the clemency of thine own goodness, and the intercession of thy saints, obtain pardon and full remission of their sins. Through, &c.


Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios.

Cap. vi.

Fratres, exhortamur vos, ne in vacuum gratiam Dei recipiatis. Ait enim: Tempore accepto exaudivi te, et in die salutis adjuvi te. Ecce nunc tempus acceptable, ecce nunc dies salutis. Nemini dantee ullam offensionem, ut non vituperetur ministerium nostrum: sed in omnibus exhibeamus nosmetipsos sicut Dei ministros, in multa patientia, in tribulationibus, in necessitatibus, in angustiis, in plagis, in carceribus, in seditionibus, in laboribus, in vigiliis, in jejuniis, in castitate, in scientia, in longanimitate, in suavitate, in Spiritu sancto, in charitate non ficta, in verbo veritatis, in virtute Dei, per arma justitiæ a dextris et a sinistris, per gloriam et ignobilitatem, per infamiam et bonam famam; ut seductores, et veraces; sicut qui ignoti, et cogniti; quasi morientes, et ecce vivimus: ut castigati, et non mortificati: quasi tristes, semper autem gaudentes: sicut egentes, multos autem locupletantes: tamquam nihil habentes, et omnia possidentes.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.

Ch. vi.

Brethren, we exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time: behold, now is the day of salvation. Giving no offence to any man, that our ministry be not blamed: but in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labours, in watchings, in fastings, in chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armour of justice on the right hand, and on the left: by honour and dishonour: by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true: as unknown, and yet known: as dying, and behold we live: as chastised, and not killed: as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing: as needy, yet enrichingmany: as having nothing, and possessing all things.

These words of the apostle give us a very different idea of the Christian life from that which our own tepidity suggests. We dare not say that he is wrong, and we are right; but we put a strange interpretation upon his words, and we tell both ourselves and those around us that the advice he here gives is not to be taken literally nowadays, and that it was written for those special difficulties of the first age of the Church, when the faithful stood in need of unusual detachment and almost heroism, because they were always in danger of persecution and death. The interpretation is full of that discretion which meets with the applause of our cowardice, and it easily persuades us to be at rest, just as though we had no dangers to fear, and no battle to fight; whereas, we have both: for there is the devil, the world, flesh and blood. The Church never forgets it; and hence, at the opening of this great season, she sends us into the desert, that there we may learn from our Jesus how we are to fight. Let us go; let us learn, from the temptations of our divine Master, that the life of man upon earth is a warfare,[7] and that, unless our fighting be truceless and brave, our life, which we would fain pass in peace, will witness our defeat. That such a misfortune may not befall us, the Church cries out to us, in the words of St. Paul: Behold! now is the acceptable time. Behold! now is the day of salvation. Let us, in all things, comport ourselves as the servants of God, and keep our ground unflinchingly to the end of our holy campaign. God is watching over us, as He did over His beloved Son in the desert.

The Gradual tells us that we are under the protection of the angels, and that these blessed spirits leave us not, either day or night. During Lent they redouble their efforts against our enemies, and rejoice at seeing us sinners accept the penance which is to bring us to salvation.

The Tract, too, inspires us with confidence: it speaks to us of the goodness of God, and of His fatherly watchfulness over us His ungrateful children, whom He wishes to make His faithful friends and coheirs of His kingdom.


Angelis suis Deus mandavit de te, ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis. V. In manibus portabunt te, ne unquam offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum.
God hath given his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. V. In their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.


V. Qui habitat in adjutorio altissimi: in protections Dei cœli commorabitur.
V. Dicet Domino: Susceptor meus es tu, et refugium meum: Deus meus, sperabo in eum.
V. Quoniam ipse liberavit me de laqueo venantium: et a verbo aspero.
V. Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi: et sub pennis ejus sperabis.
V. Scuto circumdabit te veritas ejus: non timebis a timore nocturno.
V. A sagitta volante per diem, a negotio perambulante in tenebris: a ruina et dæmonia meridiano.
V. Cadent a latere tuo mille, et decem millia a dextris tuis: tibi autem non appropinquabit.
V. Quoniam angelis suis mandavit de te: ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis.
V. In manibus portabunt te: ne unquam offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum.
V. Super aspidem et basiliscum ambulabis: et conculcabis leonem et draconem.
V. Quoniam in me speravit, liberabo eum: protegam eum, quoniam cognovit nornen meum.
V. Invocabit me, et ego exaudiam eum: cum ipso sum in tribulatione.
V. Eripiam eum et glorificabo eum: longitudine dierum ad imple bo eum, et ostendam illi salutare meum.
V. He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven.
V. He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust.
V. For he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters: and from the sharp word.
V. He will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust.
V. His truth shall compass thee with a shield: thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.
V. Of the arrow that flieth in the day: of the business that walketh in the dark: of ruin, or of the noonday devil.
V. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh thee.
V. For he hath given his angels charge over thee: to keep thee in all thy ways.
V. In their hands they shall bear thee up: lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
V. Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk: and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon.
V. Because he hoped in me, I will deliver him: I will protect him, because he hath known my name.
V. He will cry to me, and I will hear him: I am with him in trouble.
V. I will deliver him and I will glorify him: I will fill him with length of days, and I will show him my salvation.


Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. iv.

In illo tempore, Ductus est Jesus in desertum a Spiritu, ut tentaretur a diabolo. Et, cum jejunasset quadraginta diebus et quadraginta noctibus, postea esuriit. Et accedens tentator, dixit ei: Si Filius Dei os, dic ut lapides isti panes fiant. Qui respondens, dixit: Scriptum est: Non in solo pane vivit homo, sed in omni verbo quod procedit de ore Dei. Tunc assumpsit cum diabolus in sanctam civitatem, et statuit eum super pinnaculum templi, et dixit ei: Si Filius Dei es, mitte te deorsum. Scriptum est enim: Quia angelis suis mandavit de te, et in manibus tollent te, ne forte offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum. Ait illi Jesus: Rursum scriptum est: Non tentabis Dominum Deum tuum. Iterum assumpsit eum diabolus in montem excelsum valde: et ostendit ei omnia regna mundi, et gloriam eorum, et dixit ei: Hæc omnia tibi dabo, si cadens adoraveris me. Tune dicit ei Jesus: Vade satana: scriptum est enim: Dominum Deum tuum adorabis, et illi soli servies. Tunc reliquit eum diabolus: et ecce angeli accesserunt, et ministrabant ei.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. iv.

At that time, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming, said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written: Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceeded from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, that he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, satan, for it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left him; and behold angels came and ministered to him.

Let us admire the exceeding goodness of the Son of God, who, not satisfied with atoning for all our sins by dying on the cross, deigns to suffer a fast of forty days and forty nights, in order to encourage us to do penance. He would not that the justice of His heavenly Father should exact any punishment from us, unless He Himself first suffered it, and that, too, a thousand times more severely than we could. What are all our penances, even were they done thoroughly, when we compare them with the severity of this fast of Jesus in the desert? Can we have the face to be ever seeking for dispensations from the little which our Lord asks of us in atonement for our sins—sins, alas! which deserve such rigorous penance? Instead of complaining at our feeling a slight inconvenience of a few days’duration, let us compassionate our innocent Jesus, who subjects Himself to forty days of most rigorous privation of food and drink.

What was it that supported Him? Prayer, devotedness to us, and the knowledge of the exigencies of His Father’s justice. And when the forty days were over, and His human Nature was faint from exhaustion, He is assailed by temptation; but here again He thinks upon us, and sets us an example: He triumphs over the temptation, calmly and resolutely, and thereby teaches us how to conquer. How blasphemous the boldness of satan, who dares to tempt the Just by excellence! But, how divine is the patience of Jesus, who permits the hellish monster to lay his hand upon Him, and carry Him from place to place! The Christian soul is oftentimes exposed to the vilest insults from this same enemy; nay, at times, she is on the point of complaining to her God, for permitting her to have such humiliations. Let her, on these occasions, think upon Jesus, the Saint of saints, who was given over, so to speak, to the wicked spirit; and yet, He is not the less the Son of God, the Conqueror of hell; and all that satan gains by his attack is utter defeat. In the same way, if the soul, when under the violence of temptation, resist with all her energy, she is not one jot less dear to God, and satan retires with one more eternal shame and chastisement upon him. Let us take part with the holy angels, who, as soon as the tempter is gone, come to our Redeemer, and respectfully administer food to Him. How affectionately do they compassionate His hunger and thirst! How zealously they make amends, by their adorations, for the frightful outrage offered to their King! How fervently they extol the charity of their God, who, out of His love for man, seems to have been forgetting His own dignity, in order to provide for the wants of the children of Adam.

At the Offertory, the Church borrows, once more, the words of David, and shows us our Lord overshadowing His faithful people with the wings of His tenderest care, and shielding us, with the truth of holy faith, from every attack.[8]


Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi Dominus, et sub pennis ejus sperabis: scuto circumdabit te ventas ejus.
The Lord will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust: his truth shall compass thee with a shield.

Lent consists in something more than mere fasting. Fasting will not produce our conversion, unless we join with it the avoiding of dangerous occasions; for these would lead us into sin, and rob us at once of God’s grace. Hence it is that the Church, in her Secret, beseeches our Lord to bless us with the special grace of keeping from noxious pleasures.


Sacrificium quadragesimalis initii solemniter immolamus, te, Domine, deprecantes: ut cum epularum restrictione carnalium, a noxiis quoque voluptatibus temperemus. Per Dominum.
We offer thee, O Lord, in the most solemn manner, this sacrifice at the beginning of Lent, humbly beseeching thee, that as we retrench from the food of our bodies, we may also refrain from all noxious pleasures. Through, &c.

Second Secret

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

Third Secret

Deus, cui soli cognitus est numerus electorum in superna felicitate locandus: tribue quæsumus, ut intercedentibus omnibus sanctis tuis, universorum quos in oratione commendatos suscepimus, et omnium fidelium nomina, beatæ prædestinationis liber adscripta retineat. Per Dominum.
O God, to whom alone is known the number of thine elect to be placed in eternal bliss: grant, we beseech thee, by the intercession of all thy saints, that the book of predestination may contain the names of all those whom we have undertaken to pray for, as well as those of all the faithful. Through, &c.

In order to impress our minds with more and more confidence, the Church repeats, in her Communion-antiphon, the encouraging words already spoken to us in the Offertory. The sacrifice which has just been offered for us is a fresh earnest of how much God loves us.


Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi Dominus, et sub pennis ej us sperabis: sputo circumdabit te ventas ejus.
The Lord will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust: his truth shall compass thee with a shield.

In the Postcommunion, the Church reminds us that the holy Eucharist is our richest source of strength, because it purifies us. Let the sinner, therefore, lose no time in making his peace with his God; let him not wait for Easter, but receive, as soon as may be, that heavenly food, which saves us from the anger of God, because it makes us one with the very author of salvation.


Tui nos, Domine, Sacramenti libatio sancta restauret: et a vetustate purgatos, in mysterii salutaris faciat transire consortium. Per Dominum.
May the holy oblation, O Lord, of thy Sacrament, give us a new life, that, by laying aside the old man, it may bring us to the participation of this saving mystery. Through. &c.

Second Postcommunion

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

Third Postcommunion

Purificent nos, quæsumus omnipotens et misericors Deus, Sacramenta quæ sumpsimus: et intercedentibus omnibus sanctis tuis, præsta ut hoc tuum Sacramentum non sit nobis reatus ad pœnam, sed intercessio salutaris ad veniam: sit ablutio scelerum, sit fortitudo fragilium, sit contra omnia mundi pericula firmamentum: sit vivorum atque mortuorum fidelium remissio omnium delictorum. Per Dominum.
May the mysteries we have received purify us, we beseech thee, O almighty and merciful God: and grant by the intercession of all thy saints, that this thy Sacrament may not increase our guilt to punishment, but be a means of obtaining pardon in order to salvation: may it wash away sin, strengthen our frailty, secure us against the dangers of the world: and procure forgiveness for all the faithful, both living and dead. Through, &c.




The psalms and antiphons are given on page 99.

(2 Cor. vi.)

Fratres, hortamur vos ne in vacuum gratiam Dei recipiatis. Ait enim: Tempore accepto exaudivi te, et in die salutis adjuvi te.
Brethren, we exhort you, that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee.

For the hymn and versicle, see page 106.

Antiphon Of The Magnificat

Ecce nunc tempus acceptabile, ecce nunc dies salutis: in his ergo diebus exhibeamus nosmetipsos sicut Dei ministros, in multa patientia, in jejuniis, in vigiliis, et in charitate non ficta.


Deus, qui Ecclesiam tuam annua quadragesimali observatione purificas: præsta familiæ tuæ, ut quod a te obtinere abstinendo nititur, hoc bonis operibus exsequatur. Per Dominum.
Behold now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation: in these days, therefore, let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in fastings, in watchings, and in charity unfeigned.

Let us Pray.

O God, who purifiest thy Church by the yearly observance of Lent: grant, that what thy children endeavour to obtain of thee by abstinence, they may put in execution by good works. Through, &c.

It sometimes happens, during Lent, that a double feast of the first or second class is kept on the Monday; in which case the Sunday Vespers are of the following feast, and only a commemoration is made of the Sunday.

We will finish our Sunday with the following two fine Prefaces; the first is from the Mozarabic, the second from the Ambrosian, missal. The truths proposed to-day by the Church for our instruction are here expressed with much unction and eloquence.

Prayer From The Mozarabic Missal
(Illatio. Feria VI. Hebdom. IV. Quadragesimæ.)

Dignum et justum est: nos tibi gratias agere, æterne omnipotens Deus, per Jesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum. Qui gloriosum de diabolo triumphum jejunus obtinuit: et certandi formulam militibus propriis suo exemplo monstravit. Quadraginta igitur diebus et quadraginta noctibus Deus et Dominus omnium jejunavit: ut et verum Deum et hominem suscepisse monstraret: et quod Adam per escam perdiderat, suo jejunio repararet. Aggreditur itaque diabolus Virgin is Filium: Dei quoque nesciens unigenitum. Et licet veternosa calliditate eisdem machinis quibus Adam primum dejecerat, etiam secundum seducere obtineret: tamen hoc non valuit, nec fortissimum bellatorem in ulla potuit omnino fraude subripere. Ille etenim quadraginta diebus vel noctibus jejunavit: et postea esuriit: qui quadraginta dudum annorum temporibus, innumeras pane cœlesti multitudines saginavit. Hic est qui virtute propria fretus, cum diabolo tenebrarum principe dimicavit: et eo prostrato victoriæ trophæum ad cœlos magnifice portavit.
It is meet and just, that we give thanks to thee, O eternal and almighty God, through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord: who, by fasting, obtained a glorious victory over the devil, and by his own example, taught his soldiers how to fight. For forty days and forty nights did the God and Lord of all fast, that he might both show that he, the true God, had assumed human nature, and make good, by his fast, that which Adam had forfeited by intemperance, The devil attacked the Virgin’s Son, not knowing that he was, moreover, the only-begotten Son of God. And although, with his ancient craft, he used the same artifice to seduce the second Adam, wherewith he had vanquished the first; yet did all his cunning fail with the most brave combatant. He who fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards was hungry, is the same that, of old, for the space of forty years, fed countless multitudes with bread from heaven. This is he that, by his own power, entered into battle with the devil, the prince of darkness; and having cast him down, gloriously bore up to heaven the trophy of his victory.

Prayer from the Ambrosian Missal
(Præfatio. Dom. I. in Quadrag.)

Vere quia dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus, per Christum Dominum nostrum, in quo jejunantium fides alitur, spes provehitur, charitas roboratur. Ipse enim est panis verus et vivus, qui est substantia stantia ætemitatis, et esca virtutis. verbum enim tuum, per quod facta sunt omnia, non solum humanarum mentium, sed ipsorum quoque panis est angelorum. Hujus panis alimento moyses famulus tuus quadraginta diebus, et noctibus, legem suscipiens, jejunavit: et a carnalibus cibis, ut tuæ suavitatis capacior esset, abstinuit. unde nec famem corporis sensit, et terrenarum est oblitus escarum: quia ilium et gloriæ tuæ clarificabat aspectus, et, influente spiritu, dei sermo pascebat. Hunc panem etiam nobis ministrare non desinas, quem ut indesinenter esuriamus hortaris.
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, through Christ our Lord, in whom they that fast find the nourishment of their faith, the advancement of their hope, the strengthening of their charity. for he is the true and living bread, who is the nourishment of eternity, and the food of virtue. for thy word, whereby all things were made, is the bread, not only of the souls of men, but likewise of the very angela with this bread was thy servant moses fed, when receiving thy law, he fasted forty days and forty nights, and abstained from bodily food, that he might be the better able to partake of thy sweetness. hence, he felt not corporal hunger; and forgot all earthly food; for the sight of thy glory shone upon him, and, through the infusion of thy spirit, his meat was the word of god. to us likewise cease not to administer this bread, since thou biddest us unceasingly hunger after it.


[1] More especially in France. [Tr.]
[2] Fourth Sermon for Lent.
[3] Heb. iv. 15.
[4] Is vii 14
[5] St. John ii. 16.
[6] St. John xiv. 30.
[7] Job vii. 1.
[8] Eph. vi. 16.



From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Each feria of Lent has a proper Mass; whereas, in Advent, the Mass of the preceding Sunday is repeated during the week. This richness of the lenten liturgy is a powerful means for our entering into the Church’s spirit, since she hereby brings before us, under so many forms, the sentiments suited to this holy time. From these ferial Masses we intend giving, for the respective days, the Collect, which is always the principal prayer, the Epistle, the Gospel, and the Prayer which is said’over the peopleat the end of the Mass. All this will provide us with most solid instruction; and as the selections from the Bible, which are each day brought before us, are not only some of the finest of the sacred volume, but are, moreover, singularly appropriate to Lent, their attentive perusal will be productive of a twofold advantage.

At Rome, to-day’s Station is in the church of St. Peter ad Vincula. It was built in the fifth century, by the empress Eudoxia, wife of Valentinian III., and possesses the venerable relic of St. Peter’s chains. We shall speak more fully of this basilica when we keep the feast of the apostle’s deliverance from prison, on August 1.


Converte nos, Deus, salutaris noster: et ut nobis jejunium quadragesimale proficiat, mentes nostras cœlestibus instrue disciplinis. Per Dominum nostrum Jeeum Christum. Amen.
Convert us, O God our Saviour: and instruct our minds with thy heavenly doctrine, that this fast of Lent may be beneficial to us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Lectio Ezechielis Prophetæ

Cap. xxxiv.

Hæc dicit Dominus Deus: Ecce ego ipse requiram oves meas, et visitabo eas. Sicut visitat pastor gregem suum in die quando fuerit in medio ovium suarum dissipatarum: sic visitabo oves meas, et liberabo eas de omnibus locis, in quibus dispersae fuerant in die nubis et caliginis. Et educam eas de populis, et congregabo eas de tenis, et inducam eas in terram suam, et pascam eas in montibus Israël, in rivis, et in cunctis sedibus terræ. In pascuis uberrimis pascam eas, et in montibus excelsis Israël erant pascua earum: ibi requiescent in herhis virentibus, et in pascuis pinguibus pascentur super montes Israël. Ego pascam oves meas: et ego eas accubare faciam, dicit Dominus Deus. Quod perierat requiram, et quod abjectum erat reducam, et quod confractum fuerat alligabo, et quod infirmum fuerat consolidabo, et quod pingue et forte custodiam: et pascam illas in judicio, dicit Dominus omnipotens.
Lesson from the Prophet Ezechiel.

Ch. xxxiv.

Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I myself will seek my sheep, and will visit them. As the shepherd visiteth his flock in the day when he shall be in the midst of his sheep that were scattered; so will I visit my sheep, and will deliver them out of all the places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples, and will gather them out of the countries, and will bring them to their own land; and I will feed them in the mountains of Israel, by the rivers and in all the habitations of the land. I will feed them in the most fruitful pastures, and their pastures shall be in the high mountains of Israel: there shall they rest on the green grass and be fed in fat pastures upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my sheep; and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and that which was driven away I will bring again; and I will bind up that which was broken, and I will strengthen that which was weak, and that which was fat and strong I will preserve; and I will feed them in judgment, saith the Lord almighty.

Our Lord here shows Himself to us as a Shepherd full of love for His sheep. Such, indeed, He truly is to men, during this season of mercy. A portion of His flock had gone astray, and was wandering to and fro amidst the darkness of this world; but Jesus did not forget them. He went in search of them, that He might gather them together. He sought them through lonely deserts, and rocky places, and brambles. He now speaks to them through His Church, and invites them to return. He sweetly encourages them, for perhaps they might fear and be ashamed to appear before Him, after so any sins. He promises them that, if they will but return to Him, they shall be fed on the richest pastures, near the river bank, and on the mountains of Israel. They are covered with wounds, but He will bind them up; they are weak, but He will strengthen them. He will once more give them fellowship with the faithful ones who never left Him, and He Himself will dwell with them for ever. Let the sinner, then, yield to this tender love; let him not refuse to make the efforts required for his conversion. If these efforts of penance seem painful to nature, let him recall to mind those happy days, when he was in grace, and in the fold of his good Shepherd. He may be so again. The gate of the fold is open; and thousands who like himself had gone astray are going in with joy and confidence. Let him follow them, and remember how Jesus has said: ‘There shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine who need not penance.’[1]


Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xxv.

In illo tempore: dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Cum venerit Filius hominis in majestate sua, et omnes angeli cum eo, tunc sedebit super sedem majestatis suæ: et congregabuntur ante eum omnes gentes, et separabit eos ab invicem, sicut pastor segregat oves ab hædis: et statuet oves quidem a dextris suis, hædos autem a sinistris. Tunc dicet Rex his qui a dextris ejus erunt: Venite, benedicti Patris mei, possidete paratum vobis regnum a constitutione mundi. Esurivi enim, et dedistis mihi manducare: sitivi, et dedistis mihi bibere: hospes eram, et collegistis me: nudus, et cooperuistis me: infirmus, et visitastis me: in carcere eram, et venistis ad me. Tunc respondebunt ei justi, dicentes: Domine, quando te vidimus esurientem, et pavimus te? sitientem, et dedimus tibi potum? Quando autem te vidimus hospitem, et collegimus te? aut nudum, et cooperuimus te? aut quando te vidimus infirmum, aut in carcere, et venimus ad te? Et respondens Rex, dicet illis: Amen dico vobis, quamdiu feeistis uni ex his fratribus meis minimis, mihi feeistis. Tunc dicet et his, qui a sinistris erunt: Discedite a me, maledicti, in ignem æternum, qui paratus est diabolo et angelis ejus. Esurivi enim, et non dedistis mihi manducare: sitivi, et non dedistis mihi potum: hospes eram, et non collegistis me: nudus, et non cooperuistis me: infirmus, et in carcere, et non visitastis me. Tunc respondebunt ei et ipsi, dicentes: Domine, quando te vidimus esurientem, aut sitientem, aut hospitem, aut nudum, aut infirmum, aut in carcere, et non ministravimus tibi? Tunc respondebit illis, dicens: Amen dico vobis, quamdiu non fecistis uni de minoribus his, nec mihi fecistis. Et ibunt hi in supplicium æternum: justi autem in vitam æternam.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xxv.

At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: When the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the King say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you covered me; sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee? thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the King answering, shall say to them: Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. Then shall he say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me not in; naked, and you covered me not; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me. And these shall go into everlasting punishment, but the just into life everlasting.

We have just been listening to a prophet of the old Testament, inviting us to return to the good Shepherd; our Lord there put forth every argument which love could devise, to persuade His lost sheep to return to Him: and here, on the very same day that the Church speaks to us of our God as being a gentle and compassionate Shepherd, she describes Him as an inflexible Judge. This loving Jesus, this charitable Physician of our souls, is seated on His dread tribunal, and cries out in His anger: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire! And where has the Church found this awful description? In the Gospel, that is, in the very Law of love. But if we read our passage attentively, we shall find that He who pronounces this terrible anathema is the same God, whom the prophet has been just portraying as a Shepherd full of mercy, patience, and zeal for His sheep. Observe how He is still a Shepherd, even on His judgment seat: He separates the sheep from the goats; He sets the sheep on His right hand, and the goats on His left; the comparison of a flock is still kept up. The Son of God will exercise His office of Shepherd even to the last day: only then, time will be at an end, and eternity will have begun; the reign of justice, too, will have succeeded the reign of mercy, for it is justice that will reward the good with the promised recompense, and that will punish impenitent sinners with eternal torments. How can the Christian, who believes that we are all to stand before this tribunal, refuse the invitation of the Church, who now presses him to make satisfaction for his sins? How can he hesitate to go through those easy penances, with which the divine mercy now deigns to be satisfied? Truly, man is his own worst enemy, if he can disregard these words of Jesus, who now is his Saviour, and then will be his Judge: ‘Unless ye do penance, ye shall all perish.’[2]

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Absolve, quæsumus, Domine, nostrorum vincula peccatorum: et quidquid pro eis meremur, propitiatus averte. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Bow down your heads to God.

Loosen, O Lord, we beseech thee, the bonds of our sins; and mercifully turn away from us whatever we deserve for them. Through Christ our Lord.


Let us close the day by reciting the following hymn, which was composed by St. Gregory the Great, and is used by the Church in her Matins during Lent.


Ex more docti mystico,
Servemus hoc jejunium,
Deno dierum cirqulo
Ducto quater notissimo.

Lex et prophetæ primitus
Hoc prætulerunt, postmodum
Christus sacravit, omnium
Rex atque factor temporum.

Utamur ergo parcius
Verbis, cibis et potibus,
Somno, jocis, et arctius
Perstemus in custodia.

Vitemus autem noxia,
Quæ subruunt mentes vagas:
Nullumque demus callidi
Hostis locum tyrannidi.

Flectamus iram vindicem;
Ploremus ante judicem;
Clamemus ore supplici,
Dicamus omnes cernui:

Nostris malis offendimus
Tuam, Deus, clementiam;
Effunde nobis desuper
Remissor indulgentiam.

Memento quod sumus tui,
Licet caduci, plasmatis:
Ne des honorem nominis
Tui, precamur, alteri.

Laxa malum quod fecimus;
Auge bonum quod poscimus:
Placere quo tandem tibi
Possimus hic et perpetim.

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

Let us observe this most solemn
fast of forty days,
which has been handed down to us
by sacred tradition.

The Law and the Prophets first
introduced it; and afterwards, Christ,
the Master and Maker of all seasons,
consecrated it by himself observing it.

Let us, therefore, be more sparing in our words;
let us retrench somewhat of our food,
and drink, and sleep, and merriment,
and redouble our watchfulness.

Let us show those noxious things,
which play such havoc with unguarded souls:
and let us avoid whatsoever
could strengthen the tyranny of our crafty enemy.

Let us appease the anger of our Judge,
and pour out our tears before him;
let us prostrate ourselves,
and thus cry to him in suppliant prayer:

We have offended thy goodness,
O God, by our sins:
forgive us, and pour out
thy mercy upon us.

Remember that we are the work of thy hands,
frail though we be:
we beseech thee, suffer not another
to usurp the honour of thy name.

Pardon us the evil we have done,
and grant us good things, even beyond our prayer:
that thus we may be well pleasing to thee,
now and for ever.

O blessed Trinity,
O undivided Unity, grant us,
thy servants, to reap fruit
from the fast thou hast given us.



[1] St. Luke xv. 7.
[2] St. Luke xiii. 3.



From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

At Rome, the Station is in the church of St. Anastasia, where, formerly, the Mass of the Aurora on Christmas Day was celebrated. It is under the protection of this holy martyr, who suffered death for Christ on the day of His birth, that we offer our prayers to-day to the Father of mercy.


Respice, Domine, familiam tuam, et præsta, ut apud te mens nostra tuo desiderio fulgeat, quæ se carnis maceratione castigat. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum. Amen.
Look down, O Lord, O thy children, and grant that while we chastise ourselves by mortifying the flesh, our minds may be inflamed with the love and desire of thee. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Lectio Isaiæ Prophetæ.

Cap. lv.

In diebus illis, locutus est Isaias propheta dicens: Quærite Dominum, dum inveniri potest: invocate eum dum prope est. Derelinquat impius viam suam et vir iniquus cogitationes suas: et revertatur ad Dominum, et miserebitur ejus, et ad Deum nostrum, quoniam multus est ad ignoscendum. Non enim cogitationes meæ, cogitationes vestræ; neque viæ vestræ viæ meæ, dicit Dominus. Quia sicut exaltantur cœli a terra, sic exalatæ sunt viæ meæ a viis yestris, et cogitationes mese a cogitationibus vestris. Et quomodo descendit imber, et nix de cœlo, et illuc ultra non revertitur, sed inebriat terram, et infundit eam, et germinare eam facit, et dat semen serenti, et panem comedenti: sic erit verbum meum quod egredietur de ore meo: non revertetur ad me vacuum; sed faciet quæcumque volui, et prosperabitur in his ad quæ misi illud, ait Dominus omnipotens.
Lesson from the Prophet Isaias.

Ch. lv.

In those days, Isaias the prophet spake, saying: Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unjust man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he is bountiful to forgive. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts. And as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return no more thither, but soak the earth, and water it, and make it to spring, and give seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be which shall go forth from my mouth. It shall not return to me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please and shall prosper in the things for which I sent it, saith the Lord almighty.

The prophet, speaking to us in God’s name, assures us that, if we sincerely desire our conversion, we shall find mercy. The infinite distance which lies between the sovereign holiness of God and the soul that is defiled by sin is no obstacle to the reconciliation between the creature and the Creator. The goodness of God is omnipotent; it can create a clean heart[1] in him that repents, and where sin abounded it can make grace abound more than ever sin abounded.[2] The word of pardon will come down from heaven, like plentiful rain upon parched land, and that land will yield a rich harvest. But let the sinner give ear to the rest of the prophecy. Is man at liberty to accept or refuse this word that comes from heaven? May he, for the present, neglect it, in the hope that he will give it a welcome later on, when his life is at its close? No; God says to us by fche prophet: Seek ye the Lordwhile He may be found; call ye upon Himwhile He is near. We cannot, therefore, find the Lord just when it suits our fickle humour; His nearness to us is not always the same. Let us take heed; God has His times; the time for mercy may be followed by the time for justice. Jonas went through the streets of the proud city, and cried out:’Yet forty days, and Ninive shall be destroyed.’[3] Ninive did not allow the forty days to pass without returning to the Lord: she put on sackcloth and ashes, she fasted, and she was spared. Let us imitate the earnest repentance of this guilty city; let us not set divine justice at defiance by refusing to do penance, or by doing it negligently. This Lent is, perhaps, the last God’s mercy will grant us. If we put off our conversion, God may refuse us another such opportunity. Let us meditate upon these words of the apostle, which repeat the truth told us in to-day’s Epistle:’The earth that drinketh in the rain which cometh often upon it, and bringeth forth herbs, meet for them by whom it is tilled, receiveth blessing from God; but that which bringeth forth thorns and briars is reprobate, and very near unto a curse, whose end is to be burnt.’[4]


Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum. Cap. xxi. In illo tempore: Cum intrasset Jesus Jerosolymam, commota est universa civitas, dicens: Quis est hic? Populi autem dicebant: Hic est Jesus Propheta a Nazareth Galilææ. Et intravit Jesus in templum Dei, et ejiciebat omnes vendentes et ementes in templo, et mensas nummulariorum, et cathedrae vendentium columbas evertit: et dicit eis: Scriptum est: Domus mea domus orationis vocabitur: vos autem fecistis illam speluncam latronum. Et accesserunt ad eum cæci et claudi in templo: et sanavit eos. Videntes autem principes sacerdotum et scribæ mirabilia quæ fecit, et pueros clamantes in templo et dicentes: Hosanna filio David; indignati sunt et dixerunt ei: Audis quid isti dicunt? Jesus autem dixit eis: Utique; nunquam legistis: Quia ex ore infantium et lactentium perfecisti laudem? Et relictis illis, abiit foras extra civitatem in Bethaniam, ibique mansit.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew. Ch. xxi. At that time: When he was come into Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, saying: Who is this? And the people said: This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the chairs oi them that sold doves. And he saith to them: It is written: My house shall be called the house of prayer: but you have made it a den of thieves. And there came to him the blind and the lame in the temple: and he healed them. And the chief priests and scribes seeing the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying: Hosanna to the son of Dayia; were moved with indignation, and said to him: Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus said to them: Yea, have you never read: Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise? And leaving them, he went out of the city into Bethania, and remained there.

Our forty days have scarcely begun, and we find the implacable enemies of Jesus showing their hatred against Him: that hatred will soon work His death. But how is this? Have they not been witnesses of His wonderful works? True; but pride and jealousy have made them lose their senses. These faithless guardians of God’s temple saw Jesus exercise His authority in the holy place, and they opened not their lips; they were astonished at what He did, and they feared Him. They did not even protest when He called the temple His house, for they were awed by His great virtue and superhuman power. But these first impressions having subsided, their bold impiety returns. They hear the little children greeting our Saviour with Hosanna, and they are indignant. They affect to be shocked at this honour which is paid to the Son of David, who went about everywhere doing good. These doctors of the Law are blinded by passion, and can neither understand the prophecies, nor their fulfilment. It is the verification of the words of Isaias, which we have just been reading in the Epistle: they would not seek the Lord, while He was near them; and now that they are even speaking with Him, they do not recognize Him for their Messias. Little children know Him and bless Him; the sages of Israel see in Him but an enemy of God, and a blasphemer! Let us, at least, profit by the visit He is now granting us; lest He should treat us, as He did the chief priests and scribes, and leave us. He withdrew His presence from them, He went out of the city, and returned to Bethania, which was near Jerusalem. It is there that Lazarus was living with his two sisters, Martha and Mary Magdalene. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, had also retired thither, awaiting the terrible event. St. Jerome observes here, that the word Bethania signifies the’house of obedience’: this, says the holy Doctor, should remind us, that our Saviour withdraws from those who are rebels to His grace, and that He loves to be with them that are obedient.[5] Let us learn the lesson well; and during these days of salvation let us show by our obedience to the Church and our submission to the guide of our conscience, that we are thoroughly convinced of this truth: that there is no salvation for us, except in humility and simplicity of heart.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo. Ascendant ad te, Domine, preces nostræ: et ab Ecclesia tua cunctam repelle nequitiam. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God. May our prayers, O Lord, ascend to thee; and deliver thy Church from all wickedness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Gothic Church of Spain, in her Mozarabic missal, offers us this formula, which our readers will justly appreciate.

(Dominica II. in Quadragesima)

V. Miserere et parce, clementissime Domine, populo tuo:
R. Quia peccavimus tibi.

. Prostrati omnes lacrymas producimus: pandentes tibi occulta quæ admisimus, a te Deus veniam deposcimus.
R. Quia peccavimus tibi.

. Orationes sacerdotum accipe, et quæque postulant affluenter tribue: ac tuæ plebi miserere, Domine.
R. Quia peccavimus tibi.

. Furorem tuum adduxisti super nos: nostra delicta dira curvaverunt nos: et absque ulla spe defecimus.
R. Quia peccavimus tibi.

. Traditi sumus malis quæ nescimus, et omne malum irruit super nos: et invocavimus: et non audivimus.
R. Quia peccavimus tibi.

. Omnes clamamus: omnes te requirimus: te poenitentes lacrymis prosequimur: cujusque iram ipsi provocavimus.
R. Quia peccavimus tibi.

. Te deprecantes, te gementes poscimus: te, Jesu Christe, prostemati petimus: tua potestae jam sublevet miseros.
R. Quia peccavimus tibi.

V. Confessionem tuæ plebis accipe: quam lamentantes coram te effundimus: et pro admissis corde ingemiscimus.
R. Quia peccavimus tibi.

V. Pacem rogamus, pacem nobis tribue: amove bella et nos omnes erue: humili prece postulamus, Domine.
R. Quia peccavimus tibi.

V. Inclina aurem, Deus clementissime: jam abluentur delictorum maculæ: et a periculis tu benignus exime.
R. Miserere et parce.
V. Have pity on us, O most merciful Lord, and spare thy people;
R. For we have sinned against thee.

V. We all prostrate before thee, and pour out our tears: we confess unto thee our hidden sins, and beseech thee, O God, to pardon us.
R. For we have sinned against thee.

. Receive the prayers of thy priests, and abundantly grant what they ask: and have mercy on thy people, O Lord.
R. For we have sinned against thee.

. Thou art angry against us: our heinous crimes have bowed us down to the earth: and we have grown faint, because there is no hope within us.
R. For we have sinned against thee.

. We have been made a prey to evils that we know not, and every evil has come upon us: we have called upon thee, and we have heard no reply.
R. For we have sinned against thee.

. We all cry unto thee: we all seek thee: we are repentant, and weeping follow thee, for we have provoked thy anger.
R. For we have sinned against thee.

. We beseech thee, we sigh out our prayers to thee: O Jesus, we prostrate before thee, and petition thee: let thy power raise us from our misery.
R. For we have sinned against thee.

V. Receive thy people's confession: full of sorrow, we pour it out before thee: and our hearts are sad for the sins we have committed.
R. For we have sinned against thee.

V. We sue for peace; grant us peace! Avert the scourge of war, and deliver us, we humbly beseech thee, O Lord!
R. For we have sinned against thee.

V. Bow down thine ear, O most merciful God! Cleanse us from the stains of our sins, and, in thy pity, deliver us from all dangers.
R. Have mercy on us and spare us.


[1] Ps.l. 12.
[2] Rom. v. 20.
[3] Jonas iii. 4.
[4] Heb. vi. 7, 8.
[5] In Matthæum, Cap. xxi.