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Season of Septuagesima

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.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Suspension of the Alleluia

The calendar of the liturgical year will soon bring us to the commemoration of the Passion and Resurrection of our Redeemer; we are but nine weeks from these great solemnities. It is time for the Christian to be preparing his soul for a fresh visit from his Saviour; a visit even more sacred and more important than that He so mercifully paid us at His Birth.

Our holy mother the Church knows how necessary it is for her to rouse our hearts from their lethargy, and give them an active tendency towards the things of God. On this day, the eve of Septuagesima, she uses a powerful means for infusing her own spirit into the minds of her children. She takes the song of heaven away from us: she forbids our further uttering that Alleluia, which is so dear to us, as giving us a fellowship with the choirs of angels, who are for ever repeating it. How is it that we poor mortals, sinners, and exiles on earth, have dared to become so familiar with this hymn of a better land? It is true, our Emmanuel, who established peace between God and men, brought it us from heaven on the glad night of His Birth; and we have had the courage to repeat it after the angels, and shall chant it with renewed enthusiasm when we reach our Easter. But to sing the Alleluia worthily, we must have our hearts set on the country whence it came. It is not a mere word, nor a profane unmeaning melody; it is the song that recalls the land we are banished from, it is the sweet sigh of the soul longing to be at home.

The word Alleluia signifies praise God: but it says much more than this, and says it as no other word or words could. The Church is not going to interrupt her giving praise to God during these nine weeks. She will replace this heaven-lent word by a formula also expressive of praise: Laus tibi, Domine, Rex æternæ gloriæ! Praise be to Thee, O Lord, King of eternal glory! But this is the language of earth; whereas Alleluia was sent us from heaven. Alleluia,’ says the devout Abbot Rupert, ‘is like a stranger amidst our other words. Its mysterious beauty is as though a drop of heaven’s overflowing joy had fallen down on our earth. The patriarchs and prophets relished it, and then the Holy Ghost put it on the lips of the apostles, from whom it flowed even to us. It signifies the eternal feast of the angels and saints, which consists in their endless praise of God, and in ceaselessly singing their ever new admiration of the beauty of the God on whose Face they are to gaze for everlasting ages. This mortal life of ours can in no wise attain such bliss as this. But, to know where it is to be found, and to have a foretaste of it by the happiness of hope, and to hunger and thirst for what we thus taste, this is the perfection of saints here below. For this reason, the word Alleluia has not been translated; it has been left in its original Hebrew, as a stranger to tell us that there is a joy in his native land, which could not dwell in ours: he has come among us to signify, rather than to express that joy.'[1]

During this season of Septuagesima, we have to gain a clear knowledge of the miseries of our banishment, under pain of being left for ever in this tyrant Babylon. It was, therefore, necessary that we should be put on our guard against the allurements of our place of exile. It is with this view that the Church, taking pity on our blindness and our dangers, gives us this solemn warning. By taking from us our Alleluia, she virtually tells us that our lips must first be cleansed, before they again be permitted to utter this word of angels and saints; and that our hearts, defiled as they are by sin and attachment to earthly things, must be purified by repentance. She is going to put before our eyes the sad spectacle of the fall of our first parents, that dire event whence came all our woes, and our need of Redemption. This tender mother weeps over us, and would have us weep with her.

Let us, then, comply with the law she thus imposes upon us. If spiritual joy is thus taken away from us, what are we to think of the frivolous amusements of the world? And if vanities and follies are insults to the spirit of Septuagesima, would not sin be an intolerable outrage on that same spirit? We have been too long the slaves of this tyrant. Our Saviour is soon to appear, bearing His cross; and His sacrifice is to restore fallen man to all his rights. Surely, we can never allow that precious Blood to fall uselessly on our souls, as the morning dew that rains on the parched sands of a desert! Let us with humble hearts confess that we are sinners, and, like the publican of the Gospel, who dared not so much as to raise up his eyes, let us acknowledge that it is only right that we should be forbidden, at least for a few weeks, those divine songs of joy, with which our guilty lips had become too familiar; and that we should interrupt those sentiments of presumptuous confidence which prevented our hearts from having the holy fear of God.

That indifference for the liturgy of the Church, which is the strongest indication of a weak faith, and which now reigns so universally in the world, is the reason why so many, even practical Catholics, can witness this yearly suspension of the Alleluia, without profiting by the lesson it conveys. A passing remark, or a chance thought, is the most they give to it, for they care for no other devotions but such as are private; the spirit of the Church, in her various seasons, is quite beneath their notice. If these lines should meet their eye, we would beg of them to reflect for a moment that the Church is their mother; that her authority is the highest on earth; that her wisdom enables her to know what is best for her children. Why, then, keep aloof from her spirit, as though there were some other to be found, that could better lead them to their God? Why be indifferent in this present instance? Why deem of no interest to piety this suspension of the Alleluia, which she, the Church, considers as one of the principal and most solemn incidents in her liturgical year? Perhaps we shall be doing them a service, by showing them how keenly this interruption of the word of heavenly joy was felt by the Christians of those ages, when faith was the grand ruling principle, not only with society at large, but with each individual.

The farewell to Alleluia, in the Middle Ages, varied in the different Churches. Here, it was an affectionate enthusiasm, speaking the beauty of the celestial word; there, it was a heart-felt regret at the departure of the much-loved companion of all their prayers.

We begin with two antiphons, which would seem to be of Roman origin. We find them in the Antiphonarium of Saint Cornelius of Compiègne, published by Dom Denys de Sainte Marthe. They are a farewell to Alleluia made by our Catholic forefathers in the ninth century; they express, too, the hope of its coming back, as soon as the Resurrection of Jesus shall have brightened up the firmament of the Church.

Ant. Angelus Domini bonus comitetur tecum, Alleluia, et bene disponat itineri tuo, ut iterum cum gaudio revertaris ad nos, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Ant. Alleluia, mane apud nos hodie, et crastina proficisceris, Alleluia; et dum ortus fuerit dies, ambulabis vias tuas, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
Ant. May the good angel of the Lord accompany thee, Alleluia, and give thee a good journey, that thou mayst come back to us in joy, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Ant. Alleluia, abide with us to-day, and to-morrow thou shalt set forth, Alleluia; and when the day shall have risen, thou shalt proceed on thy way, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

The Gothic Church of Spain thus saluted the Alleluia, on the eve of its interruption. We merely make a selection from what is almost a complete Office.

Hymn

Alleluia piis edite laudibus,
Cives ætherei, psallite unanimiter
Alleluia perenne.

Hinc vos perpetui luminis accolæ,
Ad summum resonate hymniferis choris
Alleluia perenne.

Vos urbs eximia suscipiet Dei,
Quæ lætis resonans cantibus, excitat
Alleluia perenne.

Almum sideræ jam patriæ decus
Victores capite, quo canere possitis
Alleluia perenne.

Illic Regis honor vocibus inclytis
Jocundum reboat carmine perpetim
Alleluia perenne.

Hoc fessis requies, hoc cibus, hoc potus
Oblectans reduces, haustibus affluens
Alleluia perenne.

Te suavisonis Conditor affatim
Rerum carminibus, laudeque pangimus
Alleluia perenne.

Te Christe celebrat gloria vocibus
Nostris, omnipotens, ac tibi dicimus
Alleluia perenne: Alleluia perenne.

Amen.

Felici reditu gaudi a surnite,
Reddentes Domino gloriticum melos,
Alleluia perenne.
Citizens of heaven!
give forth Alleluia in your holy canticles;
sing with one voice your eternal Alleluia.

Inhabitants of light everlasting! make heaven resound,
as ye sing to the great God, in your hymning choirs,
the eternal Alleluia,

The glorious city of God will receive you,
the city which echoes with songs of joy,
and awakens the eternal Alleluia.

Ye have conquered; go, take the fair beauty of the starry land,
wherein ye may chant
the eternal Alleluia.

’Tis there the glory of the King is proclaimed
with sweetest voices singing ever their joyous,
their eternal Alleluia.

This is the rest to the wearied; this is the food and drink giving delight
to exiles reaching home; and this is their cup of overflowing nectar:
the eternal Alleluia.

We, too, O God, Creator of all things!
in sweetest hymns we praise thee, singing
our eternal Alleluia.

To thee, Jesus almighty! our voices give glory:
to thee we say:
Eternal Alleluia! Eternal Alleluia!

Amen.

Be glad on the day of its happy return;
and return to your Lord with your melody of glory,
the eternal Alleluia.

Capitulum

Alleluia in cœlo, et in terra: in cœlo perpetuatur, et in terra cantatur. Ibi sonat jugiter; hic fideliter. Illic perenniter, hic suaviter. Illic feliciter, hic concorditer: illic ineffabiliter, hic instanter. Illic sine syllabis: hic modulis. Illic ab angelis, hic a populis, quam Christo Domino nascente in laude et confessione nimis ejus, non solum in cœlo, sed et in terra cœlicolæcecinerunt: dum gloriam in excelsis Deo, et pacem in terra bonæ voluntatis hominibus nuntiaverunt. Quæsumus ergo, Domine, ut quorum ministeria nitimur imitari laudando, eorum mereamur consortium beatæ vitæ vivendo.
Alleluia is in heaven and on earth: it is eternal in heaven, and is even sung on earth. There, unceasingly; here, faithfully. There, everlastingly; here, sweetly. There, happily; here, concordantly. There, ineffably; here, heartily. There, it needs no syllables; here, it needs our melodies. There, it has angels for its chanters; here, it has men. When Christ our Lord was born, the heavenly host gave him exceeding praise and honour, singing Alleluia both in heaven and on earth, and proclaiming glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will. Therefore do we beseech thee, O Lord, that as we strive to imitate the angels in their ministry of praise, we may live in such manner as to deserve to be their companions in eternal life.

Anthem

Ibis, Alleluia. Prosperimi iter habebis Alleluia; et Herum cum gaudio revertaris ad nos, Alleluia. In manibus enim suis portabunt te; ne unquam offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum. Et Herum cum gaudio revertaris ad nos, Alleluia.
Thou shalt go, Alleluia; thy journey shall be prosperous, Alleluia; and again come back to us with joy, Alleluia. For they shall bear thee up in their hands, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And again come back to us with joy, Alleluia.

Benediction

Alleluia, nomen pium, atque jocundum, dilatetur ad laudem Dei in ora omnium populorum.
R. Amen.

Sit in vocibus credentium clara, quæ in angelorum ostenditur concentibus gloriosa.
R. Amen.

Et, quæ in æternis civibus sine sonorum strepitii enitet, in vestris cordibus effectu planiore fructificet.
R. Amen.

Angelus Domini bonus comitetur tecum, Alleluia; et omnia bona præparet itineri tuo. Et iterum cum gaudio revertaris ad nos. Alleluia.
May Alleluia, that sacred and joyful word, resound to God's praise from the lips of all people.
R. Amen.

May this word, which expresses glory as chanted by the choirs of angels, be sweet as Sung by the voices of believers.
R. Amen.

And may that which noiselessly gleams in the citizens of heaven, yield fruit in your hearts by ever growing love.
R. Amen.

May the Lord’s good angel go with thee, Alleluia; and prepare all good things for thy journey. And again come back to us with joy. Alleluia.

The Churches of Germany, in the Middle Ages, expressed their farewell to the Alleluia in the following fine sequence, which is to be found in all their missals up to the fifteenth century.

Sequence

 

Cantemus cuncti melodum nunc Alleluia.
In laudibus æterni regis, hæc plebs resultet Alleluia.
Hoc denique cœlestos chori cantent in altum Alleluia.
Hoc beatorum per prata Paradisiaca psallat concentus Alleluia.
Quin et astrorum micantia luminaria jubilent altum Alleluia.
Nubium cursus, ventorum volatus, fulgurum coruscatio et tonitruum sonitus, dulce consonent simul Alleluia.
Fluctus et undæ, imber et procellæ, tempestas et serenitas, cauma, gelu, nix, pruinæ, saltus, nemora, pangant Alleluia.
Hinc variæ volucres Creatorem laudibus concinite cum Alleluia.
Ast illic respondeant voces altæ diversarum bestiarum Alleluia.
Istinc montium celsi vertices sonent Alleluia.
Hinc vallium profunditates saltent Alleluia.
Tu quoque maris jubilans abysse, dic Alleluia.
Necnon terrarum molis immensitates: Alleluia.
Nunc omne genus humanum laudans exsultet Alleluia.
Et Creatori grates frequentans consonet Alleluia.
Hoc deniqua nomen audire jugiter delecfcatur Alleluia.
Hoc etiam carmen cœleste comprobat ipse Christus Alleluia.
Nunc vos socii cantate lætantes: Alleluia.
Et vos pueruli respóndete semper: Alleluia.
Nunc omnes canite simul, Alleluia Domino, Alleluia Christo, Pneumatique Alleluia.
Laus Trinitati æternæ. in baptismo Domini quæ clarificatur: hinc canamus Alleluia.
Let us all now sing the melodious Alleluia.
In praise of the eternal King, let this assembly give forth Alleluia.
And let the heavenly choirs loudly chant Alleluia.
Let the choir of the blessed sing in the land of paradise, Alleluia.
Nay, let the bright stars hymn one loud Alleluia.
Fleet clouds, swift winds, flashing lightning, and pealing thunder, let all unite in a sweet Alleluia.
Waves and billows, showers and storms, tempest and calm, heat, cold, snow, frost, woods and groves, let them tell their Alleluia.
And ye countless birds, sing the praises of your Maker with an Alleluia.
To which let the loud-voiced beasts respond another Alleluia.
Let the high mountain-tops ring with Alleluia.
And the deep valleys echo Alleluia.
Thou, too, deep jubilant sea, say Alleluia;
And thou, boundless earth, Alleluia!
Now let the whole race of men say its praiseful Alleluia,
And oft to its Creator give this canticle of thanks, Alleluia!
He loves to hear this word eternally repeated, Alleluia;
And Jesus too applauds the song, the heavenly Alleluia.
Do you, then, brethren, be glad, and sing: Alleluia!
And you, little children, never fail to respond: Alleluia!
Let all, then, sing together: Alleluia to the Lord; Alleluia to Christ; and to the Holy Ghost, Alleluia!
Praise be to the eternal Trinity, whose glory was declared at the baptism of our Lord! Sing we, then, Alleluia!

The Churches of France, in the thirteenth century, and long even after that, used to sing at Vespers of the Saturday before Septuagesima the following beautiful hymn:

Hymn

Alleluia dulce carmen, Vox perennis gaudii,
Alleluia laus suavis Est choris cœlestibus,
Quam canunt Dei manentes In domo per sæcula.

Alleluia læta mater Concivis Jerusalem:
Alleluia vox tuorum Civium gaudentium:
Exsules nos flere cogunt Babylonis flumina.

Alleluia non meremur In perenne psallere;
Alleluia vox reatus Cogit intermittere;
Tempus instat quo peracta Lugeamus crimina.

Unde laudando precamur Te beata Trinitas,
Ut tuum nobis videre Pascha des in æthere,
Quo tibi læti canamus Alleluia perpetim.

Amen.
The sweet Alleluia-song, the word of endless joy,
is the melody of heaven’s choir,
chanted by them that dwell for ever in the house of God.

O joyful mother, O Jerusalem our city,
Alleluia is the language of thy happy citizens.
The rivers of Babylon, where we poor exiles live, force us to weep.

We are unworthy to sing a ceaseless Alleluia.
Our sins bid us interrupt our Alleluia.
The time is at hand when it behoves us to bewail our crimes.

We, therefore, beseech thee whilst we praise thee, O blessed Trinity!
that thou grant us to come to that Easter of heaven,
where we shall sing to thee our joyful everlasting Alleluia.

Amen.

In the present form of the liturgy, the farewell to Alleluia is more simple. The Church, at the conclusion of to-day’s Vespers, repeats the mysterious word four times:

Benedicamus Domino, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Deo gratias, Alleluia, Alleluia
Let us bless the Lord, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Thanks be to God, Alleluia, Alleluia.

This song of heaven, then, is taken from us. It will return, when the triumph of Jesus’ Resurrection is proclaimed upon our earth.


 

[1] De divinis Officiis, lib. i., cap. xxxv.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The holy Church calls us together to-day in order that we may hear from her lips the sad history of the fall of our first parents. This awful event implies the Passion and cruel Death of the Son of God made Man, who has mercifully taken upon Himself to expiate this and every subsequent sin committed by Adam and us his children. It is of the utmost importance that we should understand the greatness of the remedy; we must, therefore, consider the grievousness of the wound inflicted. For this purpose, we will spend the present week in meditating on the nature and consequences of the sin of our first parents.

Formerly, the Church used to read in her Matins of to-day that passage of the Book of Genesis, where Moses relates to all future generations, but in words of most impressive and sublime simplicity, how the first sin was brought into the world. In the present form of the liturgy, the reading of this history of the fall is deferred till Wednesday, and the preceding days give us the account of the six days of creation. We will anticipate the great instruction, and begin it at once, inasmuch as it forms the basis of the whole week’s teaching.

De Libro Genesis.

Cap. iii.

Sed et serpens erat callidior cunctis animantibus terræ, quæ fecerat Dominus Deus. Qui dixit ad mulierem: Cur præcepit vobis Deus ut non comederetis de omni ligno paradisi? Cui respondit mulier: De fructu lignorum quæ sunt in paradiso vescimur: de fructu vero ligni, quod est in medio paradisi, præcepit nobis Deus ne comederemus, et ne tangeremus illud, ne forte moriamur. Dixit autem serpens ad mulierem: Nequaquam morte moriemini; seit enim Deus quod in quocumque die comederitis ex eo, aperientur oculi vestri, et critis sicut dii, scientes bonum et malum. Vidit igitur mulier, quod bonum esset lignum ad vescendum, et pulchrum oculis, aspectuque delectabile: et tulit de fructu illius, et comedit: deditque viro suo, qui comedit. Et aperti sunt oculi amborum.

Cumque cognovissent se esse nudos, consuerunt folia ficus, et fecerunt sibi perizomata. Et cum audissent vocem Domini Dei deambulantis in paradiso, ad auram post meridiem, abscondit se Adam et uxor ejus a facie Domini Dei, in medio ligni paradisi. Vocavitque Dominus Deus Adam, et dixit ei: Ubi es? Qui ait: Vocem tuam audivi in paradiso, et timui, eo quod nudus essem et abscondi me. Cui dixit: Quis enim indicavit tibi quod nudus esses, nisi quod ex ligno de quo præceperam tibi ne comederes, comedisti? Dixitque Adam: Mulier, quam dedisti mihi sociam dedit mihi de ligno, et comedi. Et dixit Dominus Deus ad mulierem: Quare hoc feristi? Quæ respondit: Serpens decepit me, et comedi.

Et ait Dominus Deus ad serpentem: Quia fecisti hoc, maiedictus es inter omnia animantia, et bestias terrae: super pectus tuum gradieris, et terram comedes cunctis diebus vitæ tuæ. Inimicitias ponam inter te et mulierem, et semen tuum et semen illius; ipsa conteret caput tuum, et tu insidiaberis calcaneo ejus. Mulieri quoque dixit: Multiplicabo ærumnas tuas, et conceptus tuos: in dolore paries filios, et sub viri potestate eris, et ipse dominabitur tui. Adæ vero dixit: Quia audisti vocem uxoris tuæ, et comedisti de ligno, ex quo præceperam tibi ne comederes, maledicta terra in opere tuo: in laboribus comedes ex ea cunctis diebus vitæ tuæ. Spinas et tribulos germinabit tibi, et comedes herbam terræ. In sudore vultus tui vesceris pane, donec revertaris in terram, de qua sumptus es: quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.
From the Book of Genesis.

Ch. iii.

Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth, which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman: Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise? And the woman answered him, saying: Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat, and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die. And the serpent said to the woman: No, you shall not die the death; for God doth know, that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat: and gave to her husband, who did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened.

And when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig-leaves, and made themselves aprons. And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise, at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise. And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: Where art thou? And he said: I heard thy voice in paradise, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. And he said to him: And who hath told thee that thou wast naked, but that thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat? And Adam said: The woman, whom thou gavest me, to be my companion, gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said to the woman: Why hast thou done this? And she answered: The serpent deceived me, and I did eat.

And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed; she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel. To the woman, also, he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work: with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the earth, out of which thou was taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.

Oh! terrible page of man’s history! It alone explains to us our present position on the earth. It tells us what we are in the eyes of God, and how humbly we should comport ourselves before His divine Majesty. We will make it the subject of this week’s meditation. And now, let us prepare to profit by the liturgy of this Sunday, which we call Septuagesima.

In the Greek Church, it is called Prophoné (Proclamation), because on this day they announce to the people the coming fast of Lent, and the precise day of Easter. It is also called the Sunday of the prodigal son, because that parable is read in their liturgy for this Sunday, as an invitation to sinners to draw nigh to the God of mercy. But it is the last day of the week Prophoné, which, by a strange custom, begins with the preceding Monday, as do also the two following weeks.

MASS

The Station, at Rome, is in the church of Saint Lawrence outside the walls. The ancient liturgists observe the relation between the just Abel (whose being murdered by Cain is the subject of one of the responsories of to-day’s Matins), and the courageous martyr, over whose tomb the Church of Rome commences her Septuagesima.

The Introit describes the fears of death, wherewith Adam and his whole posterity are tormented, in consequence of sin. But in the midst of all this misery there is heard a cry of hope, for man is still permitted to ask mercy from his God. God gave man a promise, on the very day of his condemnation: the sinner needs but to confess his miseries, and the very Lord against whom he sinned will become his deliverer.

Introit

Circumdederunt me gemitus mortis, dolores inferni circumdederunt me: et in tribulatione mea invocavi Dominum, et exaudivit de templo sancto suo vocem meam.

Ps. Diligara te, Domine, fortitudo mea: Dominus firmamentum meum, et refugium meum, et liberator meus. V. Gloria Patri. Circumdederunt.
The groans of death surrounded me, and the sorrows of hell encompassed me; and in my affliction I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice from his holy temple.

Ps. I will love thee, O Lord, my strength: the Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer. V. Glory. The groans.

In the Collect, the Church acknowledges that her children justly suffer the chastisements which are the consequences of sin; but she beseeches her divine Lord to send them that mercy which will deliver them.

Collect

Preces populi tui, quæsumus, Domine, dementer exaudi: ut qui juste pro peccatis nostris affligimur, pro tui nominis gloria misericorditer liberemur. Per Dominum.
Mercifully hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayers of thy people; that we who are justly afflicted for our sins, may be mercifully delivered for the glory of thy name. 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.

The priest adds a third Collect, which is left to his own choice.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios.

Cap. ix., x.

Fratres, nescitis quod ii qui in stadio currunt, omnes quidem currunt, sed unus accipit bravium? Sic currite, ut comprehendatis. Omnis autem, qui in agone contendit, ab omnibus se abstinet: et illi quidem ut corruptibilem coronam accipiant, nos autem incorruptam. Ego igitur sic curro, non quasi in incertum: sic pugno, non quasi aerem verberans: sed castigo corpus meum et in servitutem redigo: ne forte cum aliis prædicaverim, ipse reprobus efficiar. Nolo enim vos ignorare, fratres, quoniam patres nostri omnes sub nube fuerunt, et omnes mare transierunt, et omnes in Moyse baptizati sunt, in nube et in mari; et omnes eamdem escam spiritalem manducaverunt, et omnes eumdem potum spiritalem biberunt (bibebant autem de spiritali, consequenteeos petra; petra autem erat Christus). Sed non in pluribus eorum beneplacitum est Deo.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.

Ch. ix., x.

Brethren, know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery, refraineth himself from all things; and they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible one. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air: but I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest, perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all in Moses were baptized in the cloud, and in the sea: and did all eat the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink (and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ). But with the most of them God was not well pleased.

These stirring words of the apostle deepen the sentiments already produced in us by the sad recollections of which we are this day reminded. He tells us that this world is a race, wherein all must run; but that they alone win the prize, who run well. Let us, therefore, rid ourselves of everything that could impede us, and make us lose our crown. Let us not deceive ourselves: we are never sure, until we reach the goal. Is our conversion more solid than was St. Paul's? Are our good works better done, or more meritorious, than were his? Yet he assures us that he was not without the fear that he might perhaps be lost; for which cause he chastised his body, and kept it in subjection to the spirit. Man, in his present state, has not the same will for all that is right and just, which Adam had before he sinned, and which, notwithstanding, he abused to his own ruin. We have a bias which inclines us to evil; so that our only means of keeping our ground is to sacrifice the flesh to the spirit. To many this is very harsh doctrine; hence, they are sure to fail; they never can win the prize. Like the Israelites spoken of by our apostle, they will be left behind to die in the desert, and so lose the promised land. Yet they saw the same miracles that Josue and Caleb saw! So true is it that nothing can make a salutary impression on a heart which is obstinately bent on fixing all its happiness in the things of this present life; and though it is forced, each day, to own that they are vain, yet each day it returns to them, vainly but determinedly loving them.

The heart, on the contrary, that puts its trust in God, and mans itself to energy by the thought of the divine assistance being abundantly given to him that asks it, will not flag or faint in the race, and will win the heavenly prize. God’s eye is unceasingly on all them that toil and suffer. These are the truths expressed in the Gradual.

Gradual

Adjutor in opportunitatibus, in tribulatione: sperent in te qui noverunt te, quoniam non derclinquis quærentes te, Domine.

V. Quoniam non in finem oblivio erit pauperis; patientia paupcrum non peribit in æternum: exsurge, Domine, non prævaleat homo.
A helper in due time, in tribulation: let them trust in thee, who know thee, for thou dost not forsake them that seek thee, O Lord.

V. For the poor man shall not be forgotten to the end; the patience of the poor man shall not perish for ever: arise, O Lord, let not man prevail.

The Tract sends forth our cry to God, and the cry is from the very depths of our misery. Man is humbled exceedingly by the fall; but he knows that God is full of mercy, and that, in His goodness, He punishes our iniquities less than they deserve: were it not so, none of us could hope for pardon.

Tract

De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine: Domine, exaudi vocem meam.
V. Fiant aures tuæ intendentes in orationem servi tui.
V. Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine: Domine, quia sustinebit?
V. Quia apud te propitiatio est, et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine.
From the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice.
V. Let thine ears be attentive to the prayer of thy servant.
V. If thou shalt observe iniquities, O Lord, Lord, who shall endure it?
V. For with thee is propitiation, and by reason of thy law I have expected thee, O Lord.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xx.

In illo tempore, dixit Jesus discipulis suis parabolani hanc: Simile est regnum cælorum homini patrifamilias, qui exiit primo mane Conducere operarios in vineam suam. Conventione autcm facta cum operariis ex denario diurno, misit eos in vineam suam. Et egressus circa horam tertiam, vidit aliosstantes in foro otiosos, et dixit illis: Ite et vos in vineam meam, et quod justum fuerit, dabo vobis. Illi autem abierunt. Iterum autem exiit circa sextam et nonam horam, et fecit similiter. Circa undecimam vero exiit; et invenit alios stantes, et dicit illis: Quid hic statis tota die otiosi? Dicunt ei: Quia nemo nos conduxit. Dicit illis: Ite et vos in vineam meam. Cum sero autem factum esset, dicit dominus vineæ procuratori suo: Voca operarios, et redde illis mercedem, incipiens a novissimis usque ad primos. Cum venissent ergo qui circa undecimam horam venerant, acceperunt singulos denarios. Venientes autem et primi, arbitrati sunt quod plus essent accepturi: acceperunt autem et ipsi singulos denarios. Et accipientes murmurabant adversus patremfamilias, dicentes: Hi novissimi una hora fecerunt, et pares illos nobis fecisti qui portavimus pondus diei et æstus? At ille respondens uni eorum, dixit: Amice, non facio tibi injuriam; nonne ex denario convenisti mecum? Tolle quod tuum est, et vade: volo autem et huic novissimo dare sicut et tibi. Aut non licet mihi quod volo facere? An oculus tuus nequam est, quia ego bonus sum? Sic erunt novissimi primi, et primi novissimi. Multi enim sunt vocati, pauci vero electi.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xx.

At that time, Jesus spoke to his disciples this parable; The kingdom of heaven is like to a householder who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the market place idle. And he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just. And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle? They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vineyard. And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first. When, therefore, they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: and they also received every man a penny. And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us that have borne the burden of the day, and the heats. But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong: Didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good? So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.

It is of importance that we should well understand this parable of the Gospel, and why the Church inserts it in to-day’s liturgy. Firstly, then, let us recall to mind on what occasion our Saviour spoke this parable, and what instruction He intended to convey by it to the Jews. He wishes to warn them of the fast approach of the day when their Law is to give way to the Christian Law; and He would prepare their minds against the jealousy and prejudice which might arise in them, at the thought that God was about to form a Covenant with the Gentiles. The vineyard is the Church in its several periods, from the beginning of the world to the time when God Himself dwelt among men, and formed all true believers into one visible and permanent society. The morning is the time from Adam to Noah; the third hour begins with Noah and ends with Abraham; the sixth hour includes the period which elapsed between Abraham and Moses; and lastly, the ninth hour opens with the age of the prophets, and closes with the birth of the Saviour. The Messias came at the eleventh hour, when the world seemed to be at the decline of its day. Mercies unprecedented were reserved for this last period, during which salvation was to be given to the Gentiles by the preaching of the apostles. It is by this mystery of mercy that our Saviour rebukes the Jewish pride. By the selfish murmurings made against the master of the house by the early labourers, our Lord signifies the indignation which the scribes and pharisees would show at the Gentiles being adopted as God’s children. Then He shows them how their jealousy would be chastised: Israel, that had laboured before us, shall be rejected for their obduracy of heart, and we Gentiles, the last comers, shall be made for we shall be made members of that Catholic Church, which is the bride of the Son of God.

This is the interpretation of our parable given by St. Augustine and St. Gregory the Great, and by the generality of the holy fathers. But it conveys a second instruction, as we are assured by the two holy doctors just named. It signifies the calling given by God to each of us individually, pressing us to labour, during this life, for the kingdom prepared for us. The morning is our childhood. The third hour, according to the division used by the ancients in counting their day, is sunrise; it is our youth. The sixth hour, by which name they called our midday, is manhood. The eleventh hour, which immediately preceded sunset, is old age. The Master of the house calls His labourers at all these various hours. They must go that very hour. They that are called in the morning may not put off their starting for the vineyard, under pretext of going afterwards, when the Master shall call them later on. Who has told them that they shall live to the eleventh hour? They that are called at the third hour may be dead at the sixth. God will call to the labours of the last hour such as shall be living when that hour comes; but, if we should die at midday, that last call will not avail us. Besides, God has not promised us a second call, if we excuse ourselves from the first.

At the Offertory, the Church invites us to celebrate the praises of God. God has mercifully granted us, that the hymns we sing to the glory of His name should be our consolation in this vale of tears.

Offertory

Bonum est confiteli Domino, et psallere nomini tuo, Altissime.
It is good to give praise to the Lord, and to sing to thy name, O Most High.

Secret

Muneribus nostris, quæsumus, Domine, precibusque susceptis: et cœlestibus nos munda mysteriis, et dementer exaudi. Per Dominum.
Having received, O Lord, our offerings and prayers, cleanse us, we beseech thee, by these heavenly mysteries, and mercifully hear us. 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.

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


In the Communion antiphon, the Church prays that man, having now been regenerated by the Bread of heaven, may regain that likeness to his God which Adam received at his creation. The greater our misery, the stronger should be our hope in Him, who descended to us that we might ascend to Him.

Communion

Illumina faciem tuam super servum tuum, et salvum me fac in tua misericordia: Domine, non confundar, quoniam invocavi te.
Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; save me in thy mercy. Let me not be confounded, O Lord, for I have called upon thee.

Postcommunion

Fideles tui, Deus, per tua dona firmentur: ut eadem et perciplendo requirant, et quærendo sine fine percipiant. Per Dominum.
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, etc.

Second Postcommunion

Mundet et muniat nos, quæsumus Domine, divini Sacramenti munus oblatum, et intercedente beata Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beato Joseph, beatis apostolis 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 the blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, of blessed N., and of all the saints, free us from all sin, and deliver us from all adversity.

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


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms and antiphons as on page 72.


Capitulum
(1 Cor. ix.)

Fratres, nescitis quod ii, qui in stadio currunt, omnes quidem currunt, sed unus accipit bravium? Sic currite, ut comprehendatis.
Brethren, know you not, that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that you may obtain.

The hymn and versicle, page 79.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Dixit paterfamilias operariis suis; Quid hic statis tota die otiosi? At illi respondentes, dixerunt: Quia nemo nos conduxit. Ite et vos in vineam meam: et quod justum fuerit, dabo vobis.

Oremus

Preces populi tui, quæsumus Domine, dementer exaudi, ut qui juste pro peccatis nostris affligimur, pro tui nominis gloria misericorditer liberemur. Per Dominum.
The householder said to the labourers: Why stand you here all the day idle? But they answering said to him: Because no man hath hired us. Go ye, also, into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.

Let us Pray

Mercifully hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayers of thy people; that we who are justly afflicted for our sins, may be mercifully delivered for the glory of thy name. Through, etc.

For each day of this week we select a few stanzas from the hymn, which the Greek liturgy uses in the Office for the Sunday preceding the fast of Lent. It is a lamentation over Adam's fall.

In Dominica Tyrophagi

Excidit e paradiso voluptatis Adamus, Domini prseceptum, amaro cibo intemperanter degustato, transgressus, damnatusque fuit terræ unde desumptus fuerat colendæ, suoque pani per sudorem multum comedendo; nos igitur temperantiam appetamus, ne velut ille extra paradisum ploremus, sed intus admittamur.

Conditor meus Dominus, pulvere e terra accepto, me vivifico spiritu animavit, atque visibilium omnium super terram dominatione, angelorumque consortio dignatus est; dolosus autem Satan, serpentis instrumento usua, esca decepit, et a Dei gloria procul amandavit, mortique in infimis terræ addixit: tu vero, utpote Dominus, atque benignus, ab exilio me revoca,

Stola divinitus texta spoliatus fui miser ego, divino præcepto tuo, Domine, ex inimici fraude violato, foliisque ficulneis et pelliceis tunicis modo circumdor; panem laboris in sudore manducandi sententiam excepi, utque spinas et tribuios tellus mihi ferat, diris devota est; sed qui postremis temporibus e Virgine incarnatus es, revocatum me in paradisum restitue.

Paradise, omni honore dignissime, pulcherrima species, tabernaculum divinitus structum, perenne gaudium et oblectamentum, gloria justorum, prophetarum lætitia, sanctorumque domicilium, foliorumtuorum sonitu Conditorem universorum deprecare, ut fores, quas prævaricatone clausi, mihi adaperiat, utque dignusefficiar ligni vitæ participatione, eoque gaudio quod dulcissime prius in temetipso degustavi.
Because he broke the commandment of his Lord, and was led by intemperance to taste a food which was to be one of bitterness to him, Adam was banished from the paradise of delight, and condemned to till the earth whence he himself was taken, and to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow. Let us, therefore, covet temperance, lest, like him, we may have to weep out of paradise; let us be temperate and enter heaven.

God, my Creator, took dust from the earth, quickened me with a living soul, graciously made me the king of all visible things on earth, and gave me fellowship with the angels; but crafty Satan, making the serpent his instrument, allured me with food, banished me far from the glory of God, and made me a slave to death in the bowels of the earth: but thou, O God, art my Lord, and full of mercy: recall me from exile.

Being deceived by the craft of the enemy, I, miserable man, violated thy commandment, O Lord; and being stripped of the garment which thy divine hand had woven for me, I am now clad with leaves of the fig-tree, and with a skin garment; I am condemned to eat a bread for which I must toil with the sweat of my brow, and the earth is cursed, so that it may yield me thorns and thistles: but do thou, that in after times tookest flesh from the Virgin, recall and restore me to paradise.

O paradise! most worthy of all our reverence, beautiful beyond measure, tabernacle built by God, joy and delight without end, glory of the just, joy of the prophets, and dwelling of the saints; may thy prayers, the sound of thy leaves, obtain for me from the Creator of all things, that thy gates, which my sin hath shut against me, may be thrown open to me, and that I may be made worthy to partake of the tree of life, and of that joy which I once so sweetly tasted in thy bosom.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The serpent said to the woman: 'Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?'[1] Thus opened the conversation, which our mother Eve so rashly consents to hold with God’s enemy. She ought to refuse all intercourse with Satan; she does not; and thereby she imperils the salvation of the whole human race.

Let us recall to mind the events that have happened up to this fatal hour. God, in His omnipotence and love, has created two beings, upon whom He has lavished all the riches of His goodness. He has destined them for immortality; and this undying life is to have everything that can make it perfectly happy. The whole of nature is made subject to them. A countless posterity is to come from them, and love them with all the tenderness of grateful children. Nay, this God of goodness who has created them, deigns to be on terms of intimacy with them; and such is their simple innocence, that this adorable condescension does not seem strange to them. But there is something far beyond all this. He, whom they have hitherto known by favours of an inferior order, prepares for them a happiness which surpasses all they could picture with every effort of thought. They must first go through a trial; and if faithful, they will receive the great gift as a recompense they have merited. And this is the gift: God will give them to know Him in Himself, make them partakers of His own glory, and make their happiness infinite and eternal. Yes, this is what God has done, and is preparing to do for these two beings, who but a while ago were nothing.

In return for all these gratuitous and magnificent gifts, God asks of them but one thing: that they acknowledge His dominion over them. Nothing, surely, can be sweeter to them than to make such a return; nothing could be more just All they are, and all they have, and all the lovely creation around them, has been produced out of nothing by the lavish munificence of this God; they must, then, live for Him, faithful, loving, and grateful. He asks them to give Him one only proof of this fidelity, love, and gratitude: He bids them not to eat of the fruit of one single tree. The only return He asks for all the favours He has bestowed upon them, is the observance of this easy commandment. His sovereign justice will be satisfied by this act of obedience. They ought to accept such terms with hearty readiness, and comply with them with a holy pride, as being not only the tie which will unite them with their God, but the sole means in their power of paying Him what He asks of them.

But there comes another voice, the voice of a creature, and it speaks to the woman: 'Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree?’ And Eve dares, and has the heart, to listen to him that asks why her divine Benefactor has put a command upon her! She can bear to hear the justice of God’s will called in question! Instead of protesting against the sacrilegious words, she tamely answers them! Her God is blasphemed, and she is not indignant! How dearly we shall have to pay for this ungrateful indifference, this indiscretion! 'And the woman answered him, saying: Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat, and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die.’[2] Thus Eve not only listens to the serpent’s question, she answers him; she converses with the wicked spirit that tempts her. She exposes herself to danger; her fidelity to her Maker is compromised. True, the words she uses show that she has not forgotten His command; but they imply a certain hesitation, which savours of pride and ingratitude.

The spirit of evil finds that he has excited, in this heart, a love of independence; and that, if he can but persuade her that she will not suffer from her disobedience, she is his victim. He, therefore, further addresses her with these blasphemous and lying words: 'No, you shall not die the death; for God knoweth, that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.'[3] What he proposes to Eve is open rebellion. He has enkindled within her that perfidious love of self which is man’s worst evil, and which, if it be indulged, breaks the tie between him and his Creator. Thus the blessings God has bestowed, the obligation of gratitude, personal interest, all are to be disregarded and forgotten. Ungrateful man would become a god; he would imitate the rebel angels: he shall fall as they did.

In Dominica Tyrophagi

Adesdum anima mea infelix, actus tuos hodie defle, memoria recolens priorem in Eden nuditatem, propter quam deliciis et perenni gaudio excidisti.


Pro multa pietate atque miserationibus, Conditor creaturæ et factor universorum, me pulvere prius animatum una cum angelis tuis te collaudare præcepisti.

Propter bonitatis divitias, plantas tu, Condi tor et Domine, paradisi delicias in Eden, jubens me speciosis jucundisque minimeque caducis fructibus oblectari.

Hei mihi! anima mea misera, fruendarum Eden voluptatum facultatem a Deo acceperas, vetitumque tibi ne scientise lignum manducares: qua de causa Dei legem violasti?

(Virgo Dei Genitrix, utpote Adami ex genere filia, per gratiam vero Christi Dei Mater, nunc me revoca ex Eden ejectum.)

Serpens dolosus honorem meum quondam mihi invidens, in Evæ auribus dolum insusurravit, unde ego deceptus, hei mihi! e vitæ sede exsulavi.

Manu temere extensa, scientiæ lignum degustavi, quod ne contingerem mihi Deus omnino præscripserat, et cum acerbo doloris sensu divinam gloriam exsul amisi.

Hei mihi! misera anima mea, quomodo dolum non nosti? Quomodo fraudem et inimici invidiam minime sensisti? Sed mente obtonebrata Conditoris tui mandatum neglexisti.

(Spes et protectio mea, O veneranda, quæ sola olim lapsi Adami nuditatem cooperuisti puerperio tuo, rursus, O pura, me incorruptionis veste circumda.)

Come, my poor soul! bewail this day thy deeds. Think within thyself of that sin which made thee naked in Eden, and robbed thee of delight and joy eternal.

Creator of me and of all things! in thy great goodness and mercy, thou, having made me out of dust, and given me a soul, didst command me to unite with the angels in praising thee.

My Maker and Lord! in the riches of thy goodness, thou plantest a paradise of delights in Eden, and biddest me feast on its lovely, sweet, and incorruptible fruits.


Woe is me, O my wretched soul! Thy God permitted thee that thou shouldst enjoy the Eden of delights, if thou wouldst obey him and not eat of the tree of knowledge. Wherefore didst thou violate his law?

(O Virgin-Mother of God! Daughter of Adam by nature, but Mother of Christ by grace! recall me now the exile from Eden.)

The crafty serpent envying me such honour, whispered his guile into Eve’s ear; and I, alas! deceived by her, was banished from the land of life.

Rashly stretching forth my hand, I tasted of the tree of knowledge, which God forbade me even to touch: and then, with keen sense of grief, I, an exile, lost the glory of God.

Alas, miserable man! How came I not to know the snare? How was it that I suspected not the enemy’s craft and envy? My soul was darkened and I set at nought my Creator’s command.

(O most venerable one! my hope and refuge! who by giving birth to thy Jesus, didst cover the nakedness of fallen Adam, clothe me too, O Virgin, with this incorruptible garb!)


[1] Gen. iii. 1.
[2] Gen iii. 2, 3.
[3] Gen. iii. 4, 5.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The serpent’s promises had stifled, in Eve’s heart, every sentiment of love for the God that had created her and loaded her with blessings: she is ambitious to be God like Him! Her faith, too, is wavering; she is not sure that God may not have deceived her, by threatening her with death should she disobey His command. Flushed by pride, she looks up to the forbidden fruit; it seems good to eat, and it is fair to her eyes.[1] So that her senses too conspire against God, and against her own happiness. The sin is already committed in her heart; it needs but a formal act to make it complete. She cares for nothing but self; God is no more heeded than if He did not exist. She stretches forth her daring hand; she plucks the fruit; she puts it to her mouth, and eats!

God had said that if she broke His commandment she should die; she has eaten, she has sinned, and yet she lives as before! Her pride exults at this triumph, and, convinced that she is too strong for God’s anger to reach her, she resolves on making Adam a partner in her victory. Boldly she hands him the fruit, which she herself has eaten without any evil coming to her. Whether he was emboldened by the impunity of his wife’s sin, or, from a feeling of blind affection, wished to share the lot of her who was the 'flesh of his flesh and bone of his bones,’ our first father, also, forgets all he owes to his Creator, and, as though there had never been aught of love between him and his God, he basely does as Eve suggests: he eats of the fruit, and by that act ruins himself and all his posterity.

No sooner have they broken the tie which united them with God, than they sink into themselves. As long as God dwells in the creature, whom He has raised to the supernatural state, his being is complete; but, let that creature drive his God away from himself by sin, and he finds himself in a state worse than nothing—the state of evil. That soul which, a moment before, was so beautiful and pure, is a hideous wreck. Thus is it with our first parents: they stand alone; creatures without God; and an intolerable shame seizes them. They thought to become gods, they aspired at infinite being; see them now:—sinners, the prey of concupiscence. Hitherto, their innocence was their allsufficient garb; the world was obedient to them; they knew not how to blush, and there was nothing to make them fear; but now, they tremble at their nakedness, and must needs seek a place wherein to hide!

The same self-love that had worked their ruin, had made them forget the greatness and goodness of God, and despise His commandment. Now that they have committed the great sin, the same blindness prevents them from even thinking of confessing it, or asking the forgiveness of the Master they have offended. A sullen fear possesses them. They can think of nothing but how and where to hide!

In Dominica Tyrophagi

Miser ego, honore a te, Domine, in Eden affectus fui: hei mihi! quomodo in errorem inductus, et diabolica invidia appetitus, depulsus sum e facie tua?

Angelorum ordines, paradisi ornamenta, et plantarum quæ illic sunt decus, me fraude misera abductum et a Deo longius digressum lugete.

Pratum beatum, piantatæ a Deo arbores, paradisi deliciæ, e follis velut ex oculis lacrymas nunc effundite super me, nudum et a Dei gloria abdicatum.

(Domina sancta, quæ fidelibus omnibus paradisi januas ab Adam per inobedicntiam quondam clausas ape misti, misericordiæ mihi fores expande.)

Invidens mihi olim inimicus, hominum osor, beatum paradisi domicilium me specie serpentis supplantavit, atque ab æterna gloria submovit.

Lugeo et animo discrucior, oculisque lacrymarum multitudinem adjungere exopto, respiciens et intelligens partam mihi ex transgressione nuditatem.

Dei manus me e terra plasmavit; at in terrain rursus revertendi miser legem accepi; quisnam me ejectum a Deo, et inferos pro Eden assecutum, non defleat?

(Te, labis omnis expers Dei Genitrix, fideles universi mystieum gloriæ thalainum annunciamus, unde lapsum me, precor, o pura, aptum fac paradisi thalamum.)
Unhappy me! thou hadst laden me, O Lord, with honours in Eden. But, alas! I was led into sin; I became a victim to the envy of the devil; I have been driven from thy face.

O ye choirs of angels! ye that give paradise such beauty, and to its flowers their loveliness; weep over me the dupe of wretched craft, now far from your God.

O fair garden laud! O ye trees, charm of paradise, planted by God’s own hand, let your leaves be turned into eyes, and shed your tears over me, for I am a naked king, dethroned of God’s glory.

(O holy Mother! thou that didst throw open to the faithful those gates of heaven that had been shut by Adam’s disobedience, open now to me the gates of God’s mercy.)

The enemy, the hater of mankind, envied me my blissful home in Eden; under the form of a serpent he supplanted me, and robbed me of eternal glory.

My soul weeps and is racked, and I fain would give floods of tears to mine eyes, when I see and understand the nakedness that has come to me by my transgression.

The hand of God formed me out of the earth; but I have miserably brought on myself the sentence: I must return into the earth. Who is there that will not weep over me, that have lost my God, and have given up Eden for hell?

(Sinless Mother of God! the faithful throughout the world proclaim thee to be the mystic throne of glory. I, then, that am fallen, beseech thee, spotless Virgin! prepare me for a throne in heaven!)

 

[1] Gen. iii. 6.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

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

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

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

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

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

In Dominica Tyrophagi.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

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

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

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

In Dominica Tyrophagi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

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

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

In Dominica Tyrophagi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

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