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Season of Lent

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.

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.

 

MASS

 

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.

Introit

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.

Collect

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.

Epistle

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.

Gradual

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.

Tract

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.

Gospel

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]

Offertory

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.

Secret

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.

Communion

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.

Postcommunion

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.

 

VESPERS

 


The psalms and antiphons are given on page 99.


Capitulum
(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.

Oremus.

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.

Collect

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.

Epistle

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]

Gospel

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.

Amen.
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.

Amen.

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.

Hymn

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.

Amen.
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.

Amen.

 


[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.

Collect

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.

Epistle

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]

Gospel

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.

Supplication
(Dominica II. in Quadragesima)

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

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

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

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

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

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

V
. 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.

V
. 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.

V
. 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.

V
. 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.

V
. 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.

V
. 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.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The fast of to-day is prescribed by a double lawit is Lent, and it is Ember Wednesday. It is the same with the Friday and Saturday of this week. There are two principal objects for the Ember days of this period of the year: the first is to offer up to God the season of spring, and, by fasting and prayer, to draw down His blessing upon it; the second is, to ask Him to enrich with His choicest graces the priests and sacred ministers who are to receive their Ordination on Saturday. Let us, therefore, have a great respect for these three days; and let those who violate, upon them, the laws of fasting or abstinence, know that they commit a twofold sin.

Up to the eleventh century the Ember days of spring were kept in the first week of March; and those of summer, in the second week of June. It was St. Gregory VII. who fixed them as we now have them; that is, the Ember days of spring in the first week of Lent, and those of summer in Whitsunweek.

The Station for to-day is in the basilica of Saint Mary Major. Let us honour the Mother of God, the refuge of sinners; and let us ask her to present to our divine Judge the humble tribute of our penance.

Collect

Devotionem populi tui quæsumus Domine, benignus intende: ut qui per abstinentiam macerantur in corpore, per fructum boni operis reficiantur in mente. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum. Amen.
We beseech thee, O Lord, mercifully to regard the devotion of thy people; that mortifying their bodies by fasting, their minds may be refreshed by good works. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

On all the Ember Wednesdays are read, in place of the Epistle at Mass, two lessons from sacred Scripture. To-day the Church brings before us the two great types of Lent, Moses and Elias, in order to impress us with an idea of the importance of this forty days’fast, which Christ Himself solemnly consecrated when He observed it, thus fulfilling, in His own Person, what the Law and the Prophets had but prefigured.

First Lesson

Lectio libri Exodi.

Cap. xxiv.

In diebus illis: dixit Dominus ad Moysen: Ascende ad me in montem et esto ibi, dab oque tibi tabulas lapideas, et legem ac mandata, quæ scripsi, ut doceas filios Israël. Surrexerunt Moyses, et Josue minister ejus. Ascendensque Moyses in montem Dei, senioribus ait: Exspectate hic donec revertamur ad vos. Habetis Aaron et Hur vobiseum. Si quid natum fuerit quæstionis, referetis ad eos. Cumque ascendisset Moyses, operuit nubes montem, et habitavit gloria Domini super Sinai, tegens ilium nube sex diebus: septimo autem die vocavit eum de medio caliginis. Erat autem species gloriæ Domini, quasi ignis ardens super verticem montis in conspectu filiorum Ieraël. Ingressusque Moyses medium nebulæ, ascendit in montem: et fuit ibi quadraginta diebus et quadraginta noctibus.
Lesson from the Book of Exodus.

Ch. xxiv.

In those days: the Lord said to Moses: Come up to me into the mount, and be there; and I will give thee tables of stone, and the law, and the commandments which I have written, that thou mayst teach them. Moses rose up, and his minister Josue; and Moses going up into the mount of God, said to the ancients: Wait ye here till we return to you. You have Aaron and Hur with you: if any question shall arise, you shall refer it to them. And when Moses was gone up, a cloud covered the mount. And the glory of the Lord dwelt upon Sinai, covering it with a cloud six days; and the seventh day he called him out of the midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like a burning fire upon the top of the mount, in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses entering into the midst of the cloud, went up into the mountain; and he was there forty days and forty nights.

Second Lesson

Lectio libri Regum.

3. Cap. xix.

In diebus illis: venit Elias in Bersabee-Juda, et dimisit ibi puerum suum. et perrexit in desertum, viam unius diei. Cumque venisset, et sederet subter unam janiperum, petivit animæ suæ ut moreretur, et ait: Sufficit mihi, Domine: tolle animam meam: neque enim melior sum quam patres mei. Projecitque se et obdormivit in umbra juniperi: et ecce angelus Domini tetigit eum, et dixit illi: Surge, et comede. Respexit, et ecce ad caput suum subcinericius panis, et vas aquæ: comedit ergo et bibit, et rursum obdormivit. Reversusque est angelus Domini secundo, et tetigit eum, dixitque illi: Surge, comede: grandis enim tibi restat via. Qui cum surrexisset, comedit et bibit, et ambulavit in fortitudine cibi illius quadraginta diebus et quadraginta noctibus usque ad montem Dei Horeb.
Lesson from the Book of Kings.

3. Ch. xix.

In those days: Elias came into Bersabee of Juda, and left his servant there. And ho went forward one day’s journey into the desert. And when he was there, and sat under a juniper tree; he requested for his soul that he might die, and said: It is enough for me, Lord: take away my soul, for I am no better than my fathers. And he cast himself down, and slept in the shadow of the juniper tree; and behold an angel of the Lord touched him, and said to him: Arise and eat. He looked, and behold there was at his head a hearth-cake and a vessel of water; and he ate and drank, and he fell asleep again. Ai d the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said to him: Arise, eat, for thou hast yet a great way to go. And he arose, and ate, and drank, and walked in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights, unto the mount of God, Horeb.

Moses and Elias fast for forty days and forty nights, because God bids them come near to Him. Man must purify himself, he must unburden himself, in some measure at least, of the body which weighs him down, if he would enter into communication with Him who is the Spirit. And yet the vision of God granted to these two holy personages was very imperfect: they felt that God was near them, but they beheld not His glory. But when the fulness of time came,[1] God manifested Himself in the flesh: and man saw, and heard, and touched Him.[2] We, indeed, are not of the number of those favoured ones who lived with Jesus, the Word of life: but in the holy Eucharist He allows us to do more than see Him: He enters into our breasts, He is our food. The humblest member of the Church possesses God more fully than either Moses on Sinai, or Elias on Horeb. We cannot, therefore, be surprised that the Church, in order to fit us for this favour at the Easter solemnity, bids us go through a preparation of forty days, though its severity is not to be compared with the rigid fast which Moses and Elias had to observe as the condition of receiving what God promised them.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xii.

In illo tempore: Responderunt Jesu quidam de scribis et pharisæis, dicentes: Magister, volumus a te signum videre. Qui respondens, ait illis: Generatio mala et adultera signum quærit: et signum non dabitur ei, nisi signum Jonæ prophetæ. Sicut enim fuit Jonas in ventre ceti tribus diebus et tribus noctibus, sic erit Filius hominis in corde terræ tribus diebus et tribus noctibus. Viri Ninivitæ surgent in judicio cum generations ista, et condemnabunt eam: quia pœnitentiam egerunt in prædicatione Jonæ; et ecce plus quam Jonas hie. Regina Austri surget in judicio cum generations ista, et condemnabit eam: quia venit a finibus terræ audire sapientiam Salomonis; et ecce plus quam Salomon hic. Cum autem immundus spiritus exierit ab homine, ambulat per loca arida, quærens requiem, et non invenit. Tunc dicit: Revertar in domum meam, unde exivi. Et veniens invenit eam vacantem, scopis mundatam, et ornatam. Tunc vadit, et assumit septem alios spiritus secum nequiores se, et intran tes habitant ibi: et hunt novissima hominis illius pejora prioribus. Sic erit et generationi huic pessimæ. Adhuc eo loquente ad turbas, ecce mater ejus et fratres stabant foris quærentes loqui ei. Dixit autem ei quidam: Ecce mater tua, et fratres tui foris stant, quærentes te. At ipse respondens dicenti sibi, ait: Quæ est mater mea, et qui sunt fratres mei? Et extenderia manum in discipulos suos, dixit: Ecce mater mea, et fratres mei: quicumque enim fecerit voluntatem Patris mei, qui in cœlis est, ipse meus frater, et so ror, et mater est.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xii.

At that time: Some of the scribes and pharisees answered him, saying: Master we would see a sign from thee. Who answering said to them: An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign; and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was in the whale’s belly three days and three nights, so shall the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. The men of Ninive shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it, because they did penance at the preaching of Jonas; and behold a greater than Jonas here. The queen of the south shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold a greater than Solomon here. When an unclean spirit ie gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest and findeth none. Then he saith: I will return into my house, from whence I came out. And coming, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then he goeth, and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is made worse than the first. So shall it be also to this wicked generation. As he was yet speaking to the multitudes, behold his Mother and his brethren stood without, seeking to speak to him. And one said unto him: Behold thy Mother and thy brethren stand without, seeking thee. But he answering him that told him said: Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? And stretching forth his hand towards his disciples, he said: Behold my mother and my brethren; for whosoever shall do the will of my Father that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Our Lord forewarns Israel of the chastisements which its voluntary blindness and hardness of heart will bring upon it. The men of Israel refuse to believe, unless they see signs and prodigies; they have them in abundance, but will not see them. Such are the unbelievers of the present day. They say they want proofs of the divine origin of the Catholic religion. What is history but a tissue of proofs; what are the events of the present age, but testimony of the truth? And yet they remain incredulous. They have their own views and prejudices, and they intend to keep to them; how, then, can it be wondered at that they never embrace the true faith? Infidels, who have not had the like opportunities, will rise in judgment with such a generation and condemn it for its resistance to grace. Let us Catholics remember that amidst the great religious movement which is now going on, it is our duty to be not only most firm in our faith, but also most zealous in the observance of the laws of the Church, such, for example, as Lent. The apostolate of example will produce its fruits; and if a mere handful of Christians was to the Roman empire like that leaven of which our Saviour speaks,[3] and which leavened the whole mass, what results might we not expect in a country like our own, which has retained so much Catholic practice and doctrine, if the Catholics themselves were but zealous in the exercise of their duties?

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Mentes nostras, quæsumus, Domine, lumine tuæ claritatis illustra: ut videre possimus quæ agenda sunt, et quæ recta sunt, agere valeamus. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Enlighten, we beseech thee, O Lord, our minds with the light of thy brightness, that we may discern what is to be done, and be able to do it. Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

We take the following devout stanzas on fasting from the Triodion of the Greek Church

Hymn

Mirabilia arma oratio, et jejunium; hoc Moysen legislatorem effecit, et Heliam inter sacrificia zelatorem: huic firmiter insistentes, fideles, ad Salvatorem clamenme: Peccavimus tibi soli, miserere nostri.

Spirituale jejunium jejunemus, tortuosos laqueos omnes abrumpamus, declinemus pariter malorum exemplorum nequitiam, dimittamusque fratribus debita, ut nobis quoque delicta nostra dimittantur; ita enim clamare poterimus: Dirigatur, Domine, oratio nostra, sicut incensum, in conspectu tuo.

Solus bonus, fons misericordiæ, Agnus Dei, qui, utpote Deus, tollis peccata mundi, serva me criminum procellis agitatum, et ad pænitentiæ semitas dirige.

Purum jejunium, fuga peccati, pravorum affectuum abscessus, charitas erga Deum, orationis studium, lacryma cum compunctione, et pauperum cura, quemadmodum Christus in Scripturis præcepit.

Animam peccati gladio transfossam, multisque criminibus lanoinatam sana, o animarum nostrarum medico, utpote benefactor, adhibens mihi sapientium mandatorum tuorum remedia, o clemens.

Compunction! idoneum nacti præsens jejunii tempus, magnopere lugeamus atque ingemamus, manusque ad solum Redemptorem, ut animas nostras solvat, expendamus.

Utinam mihi quoque detur pravos affectus omnes exstinguere, et tui amorem, Christe, concipere, divinis ditescere, mi bone Jesu, tibique famulatum impendere.

Vide, attende, anima, ne forte dum je junas, crapulæ loco tibi sint injuriæ, inimicitiæ, contentiones adversus proximum, atque a Deo propter tuam negligentiam excidas.

Qua ratione, Christe meus, iram tuam sustinebo, dum ad judicandum veneris? quidve illic respondebo, cum jussa tua neque fecerim, neque peregerim, Christe? quare mihi ante exitum ignosce.

Ecupiditatum tyrannide vindica, Domine, animam meam, ut libere voluntatem tuam implens, gaudeam, atque glorificem potentiam tuam in sæcula.

Oderis, anima mea, Esaü in temperan tiam, et Jacobi bona aemuleris, Belial abetinentia supplantes, divina thesaurizes, et laudes Deum in sæcula.

Tranquillum jejunii mare nobis nulla actis tempestate prætergredi tribue, donee kd portum Resurrectionis tuæ perveniamus, misericors, te in sæcula celebrantes.
Wonderful is the armour of prayer and fasting! With it, Moses became a legislator, and Elias a zealous priest. Let us, O ye faithful, resolutely take it unto ourselves, and cry out to our Saviour: To thee alone have we sinned; have mercy on us.

Let us fast a spiritual fast, break all the snares of the serpent, shun the wickedness of evil example, and forgive our brethren their offences against us, that our own sins may be forgiven; for thus shall we be able to say: May our prayer, O Lord, be directed as incense in thy sight!

O thou that alone art Good! O fount of mercy! O Lamb of God, who, being thyself God, takest away the sins of the world! I am tossed by the storms of sin; save me, and lead me to the paths of penance.

The true fast is fleeing from sin, turning away from evil affections, love of God, earnest prayer, tears of compunction, and charity towards the poor, as Christ teaches us in the Scripture.

My soul is pierced with the sword of sin, and is mangled by manifold crimes: heal it, O thou kind physician of souls! Apply unto me, O merciful Jesus, the remedy of thy all-wise commandments.

Now is the time for compunction, for it is the time of the fast; let us earnestly give ourselves to tears and sighs, and stretch forth our hands to our only Redeemer, beseeching him to unfetter our souls.

Give me the grace, O my good Jesus! to stifle all my wicked affections, to be filled with the love of thee, to be rich in divine gifts, and to serve thee with all devotedness.

Take heed, my soul, lest, whilst fasting, thou be guilty of the gluttony of injuring and hating thy neighbour, and quarrelling with him; and thus lose thy God, by thy negligence.

How shall I be able, O my Jesus, to endure thy wrath, when thou comest to judge me? What answer shall I then make unto thee, if now I refuse to fulfil thy just commands? O pardon me, before my departure hence.

Liberate my soul, O Lord, from the tyranny of my passions, that I may enjoy the freedom of doing thy will, and give glory to thy power, for eternity.

Hate, O my soul, the intemperance of Esau, and imitate the holy Jacob; destroy Belial by abstinence, make treasure to thyself of divine riches, and let the praise of God be for ever on thy lips.

Grant unto us, O merciful Saviour, that we may traverse the sea of our fast unmolested by storms: and that we, who are ever celebrating thy praise, may be brought to the haven of thy Resurrection.

 

[1] Gal. iv. 4.
[2] 1 St. John i. 1.
[3] See the Gospel for the sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, in our Septuagesima.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

To-day’s Station is in the church of St. Laurence in Paneperna, one of those which the piety of the faithful of Rome has built in honour of this the most celebrated of the martyrs of the holy city

Collect

Devotionem populi tui, quæsumus, Domine, benignus intende, ut qui per abstinentiam macerantur in corpore, per fructum boni operis reficiantur in mente. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
We beseech thee, O Lord, mercifully to regard the devotion of thy people; that mortifying their bodies by fasting, their minds may be refreshed by good works. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio Ezechielis Prophetæ.

Cap. xviii.

In diebus illis: Factus est eermo Domini ad me, dicens: Quid est quod inter os parabolam vertitis in proverbium istud in terra Israël, dicentes: Patres comederunt uvam acerbam, et dentes filiorum obstupescunt? Vivo ego, dicit Dominus Deus, si erit ultra vobis parabola hæc in proverbium in Israël. Ecce omnes animæ mese sunt; ut anima patris, ita et anima filii mea est: anima quæ peccaverit, ipsa morietur. Et vir, si fuerit justus, et fecerit judicium et justitiam, in montibus non comederit, et oculos suos non leva verit ad idola domus Israël: et uxorem proximi sui non violaverit, et ad mulierem menstruatam non accesserit: et hominem non contrista verit: pignus debitori reddiderit: per vim nihil rapuerit: panem suum esurienti dederit, et nudum operuerit vestimento: ad usuram non commodaverit, et amplius non acceperit: ab iniquitate averterit ma· num suam, et judicium verum fecerit inter virum et virum: in præceptis meis ambulaverit, et judicia mea custodierit, ut faciat veritatem: hic justus est, vita vivet, ait Dominus omnipotens.
Lesson from the Prophet Ezechiel.

Ch. xviii.

In those days: The word of the Lord came to me, saying: What is the meaning that you use among you this parable as a proverb in the land of Israel, saying: The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the teeth of the children are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord God, this parable shall be no more to you a proverb in Israel. Behold all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine; the soul that sinneth, the same shall die. And if a man be just, and do judgment and justice, and hath not eaten upon the mountains, nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, and hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife, nor come near to a men etruous woman; and hath not wronged any man, but hath restored the pledge to the debtor, hath taken nothing away by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment, hath not lent upon usury, nor taken any increase, hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, and hath executed true judgment between man and man, hath walked in my commandments, and kept my judgments, to do truth; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God.

These words of the prophet declare to us the wonderful mercy of God towards the Gentiles, who are preparing to pass from darkness to light by the grace of holy Baptism. The Jews had a favourite proverb: The fathers have eaten sour grapesand the teeth of the children are set on edge: but God assures us, even in the old Testament, that sins are personal, that is, they belong to him who commits them, and to no one else; so that the son of a wicked father, if he walk in the path of righteousness, shall find mercy and salvation. The apostles and their disciples preached the Gospel to the Gentiles, and the Gentiles were obedient to the call; they were the children of idolaters, and yet they were seen flocking to the font of regeneration, abjuring the evil ways of their fathers, and becoming the objects of God’s love. The same happened in the conversion of the barbarians of the west; it is happening now in our own times among infidel nations; and many will be the catechumens who, at the coming Easter, will receive the sacrament of Baptism.

God frequently visits children with temporal punishments, because of the sins of their parents; it is a providence, which acts as a check upon men, deterring them from evil out of fear of bringing misery upon their families. But in the moral order, each individual is treated according to his own merits or demerits; and as God does not impute to a virtuous son the iniquities of the father, so neither do the virtues of the father cover the son’s iniquity. Philip the Fair was the grandson of St. Louis; and Wulfere, the wicked king of Mercia, was father of the two saints, Wulfhad and Ruffin. Similar contrasts are often found in families, for, as the Scripture says,’God hath left man in the hand of his own counsel…. Before man is life and death, good and evil; that which he shall choose, shall be given unto him.’[1] And yet, such is the mercy of the Lord our God, that, if a man have made a bad choice, but afterwards cast away from himself the evil, and turn to what is good, he shall surely live, and his repentance shall restore to him what he had forfeited.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. XV.

In illo tempore: egressus Jesus, secessit in partes Tyri et Sidonis. Et ecce mulier Chananæa a finibus illis egressa clamavit, dicens ei: Miserere mei, Domine, fill David: filia mea male a dæmonio vexatur. Qui non respondit ei verbum. Et accedentes discipuli ejus rogabant eum, dicentes: Dimitte eam, quia clamat post nos. Ipse autem responded, ait: Non sum missus nisi ad oves quæ perierunt domus Israël. At ilia venit, et adoravit eum, dicens: Domine, adjuva me. Qui responded, ait: Non est bonum sumere panem filiorum et mittere canibus. At ilia dixit: Etiam, Domine; nam et catelli edunt de micis quæ cadunt de mensa dominorum suorum. Tunc respondens Jesus, ait illi: O mulier, magna est tides tua: fiat tibi sicut vis. Et sanata est filia ejus ex illa hora.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.

Ch. XV.

At that time: Jesus went from thence, and retired into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And behold a woman of Canaan who came out of those coasts, crying out, said to him: Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David: my daughter is grievously troubled by a devil. Who answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying: Send her away, for she crieth after us. And he answering, said: I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel. But she came, and adored him, saying: Lord, help me. Who answering said: It is not good to take the bread of the children, and to cast it to the dogs. But she said: Yea, Lord; for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters. Then Jesus answering, said to her: O woman, great is thy faith: be it done to thee as thou wilt. And her daughter was cured from that hour.

Jesus is in admiration at the woman’s faith: He praises her for it; He would have us imitate her. And yet she was a Gentile; probably, she had been an idolatress; but maternal love induces her to come to Jesus, and throw herself at His feet. She obtains from Him her daughter’s cure, and, undoubtedly, her own conversion. It is an illustration of the consoling promise we have just been hearing from the prophet Ezechiel: there are chosen souls in every race, even in that cursed one of Canaan. Our Lord treats this woman with apparent harshness, although He intends to grant her what she asks: He would have her faith gain strength by being tried, and thus deserve to be rewarded. Let us pray, during these days of mercy, with persevering confidence. The daughter of this Canaanite woman was troubled by a devil, that is, her body was possessed by an evil spirit. How many are there, everywhere in the Church, whose souls are a prey to satan, by being in the state of mortal sin! Are they conscious of their misery? Do they beg of our Lord to have mercy on them, and deliver them? And if, at first, He defer their pardon, do they humble themselves like this woman of our Gospel, who confesses that she quite deserves this contempt wherewith Jesus seems to treat her? Lost sheep of the house of Israel! make good use of this holy season, when your good Shepherd is so nigh unto you. Before forty days have elapsed, He will be put to death, and the people that shall deny Him shall not be His.[2] Before forty days are over, we shall be celebrating the anniversary of this great sacrifice; and the sinner that shall not be converted from the error of his ways, and shall not have come to Jesus, as did this humble woman of Canaan, will deserve to be for ever rejected. Let us, then, be earnest in the great work of our conversion, and fit ourselves for pardon. Such is the generosity of our heavenly Father, that if we desire, with all the sincerity of our soul, to be once more His faithful children, He will give us more than the crumbs which fall from His table; He will give us Jesus, the Bread of life; and oh, what a pledge of reconciliation is that!

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Da quæeumus, Domine, populis Christiania, et quæ profitentur agnoscere: et cœleste munus diligere, quod frequentant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that all Christian people may acknowledge what they profess, and love the heavenly mystery they so often approach. Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Let us read this admirable preface, taken from the Mozarabic missal. It shows us how Jesus is the Bread of life, which supports us during our fast. It will not be the less acceptable, because it is almost word for word a repetition of one already given from the Ambrosian rite.

Preface
(Illatio. Dominica III. Quadragesimæ)

Dignum et jus turn est, æquum vere et salutare est: nos tibi gratias agere, omnipotens Pater, et Jesu Christo Filio tuo Domino nostro; in quo jejunantium fides alitur: spes provehitur, charitas roboratur. Ipse est enim panis vivus et venis qui est et substantia ætemitatis, et esca virtutis. Verbum enim tuum est, per quod facta sunt omnia: quia 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 camalibus cibis, ut tuae suavitatis capacior esset, abstinuit; de Verbo tuo vivens et valens: cujus et dulcedinem bibebat in spiritu et lucem accipiebat in vultu. Inde nec famem sensit, et terrenarum est oblitus escarum: quia ilium et gloriæ tuæ glorificabat aspectus: et influente Spiritu sancto sermo pascebat interius. Hunc panem etiam nobis ministrare non desinis: sed ut eum indeficienter esuriamus hortaris. Cujus carne dum pascimur, roboramur: et sanguinem dum potamus, abluimur.
It is meet and just, yea truly right and available to salvation, that we should give thanks, O almighty Father, to thee, and to our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son: 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 he is thy Word, by whom all things were made; the Bread, not only of the souls of men, but likewise of the very angels. 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. He lived and crew strong on thy Word, of whose sweetness his spirit drank, and with whose light his face did beam. Hence, he felt not hunger, and forgot all earthly food, for the sight of thy glory shone upon him, and, through the infusion of the holy Spirit, he ate interiorly of the word. To us likewise, thou ceasest not to administer this Bread; yea, thou biddest us unceasingly hunger after it. When we feed on this Flesh, we are strengthened; when we drink of this Blood, we are cleansed.

 

[1] Ecclus. xv. 14, 18.
[2] Dan. ix. 26·

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Station is in the basilica of the twelve apostles; it is one of the grandest of the churches of Rome, and is enriched by the bodies of the two apostles, St. Philip and St. James the less.

Collect

Esto, Domine, propitius plebi tuæ: et quam tibi facis esse devotam, benigno refove miseratus auxilio. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum. Amen.
Be propitious, O Lord, to thy people and mercifully strengthen those by thy aid, whom thou fillest with devotion to thee. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio Ezechielis Prophetæ.

Cap. xviii.

Hæc dicit Dominus Deus: Anima quæ peccaverit, ipsa morietur: filius non portabit iniquitatem patris, et pater non portabit iniquitatem filii: justitia justi super eum erit, et impietas impii erit super eum. Si autem impius egerit pœnitentiam ab omnibus peocatis suis, quæ operatus est, et custodierit omnia præcepta mea, et fecerifc judicium et justitiam: vita vivet, et non morietur. Omnium iniquitatum ejus, quas operatus est, non recordabor: in justitia sua, quam operatus est, vivet. Numquid voluntatis meæ est mors impii, dicit Dominus Deus, et non ut convertatur a viis suis, et vivat? Si autem averterit se justus a justitia sua, et fecerit iniquitatem secundum omnes abominationes quas operari solet impius, numquid vivet? Omnes justitiæ ejus, quas fecerat, non recordabuntur: in prævaricatione qua prævaricatus est, et in peccato suo quod peccavit, in ipsis morietur. Et dixistis: Non est æqua via Domini. Audite ergo, domus Israël: Numquid via mea non est æqua, et non magis vise vestræ pravse sunt? Cum enim averterit se justus a justitia sua, et fecerit iniquitatem, morietur in eis: in in justitia, quam operatus est, morietur. Et cum averterit se impius ab impietate sua, quam operatus est, et fecerit judicium et justitiam: ipse animam suam vivificabit. Considerans enim, et avertens se ab omnibus iniquitatibus suis, quas operatus est, vita vivet, et non morietur, ait Dominus omnipotens.
Lesson from the Prophet Ezechiel.

Ch. xviii.

Thus saith the Lord God: The soul that sinneth, the same shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, and the father shall not bear the iniquity of the son: the justice of the just shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked do penance for all his sins, which he hath committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment and justice; living he shall live, and shall not die. I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done; in his justice, which he hath wrought, he shall live. Is it my will that a sinner should die, saith the Lord God, and not that he should be converted from his ways and live? But if the just man turn himself away from his justice, and do iniquity according to all the abominations which the wicked man useth to work, shall he live? All his justices which he hath done, shall not be remembered; in the prevarication, by which he hath prevaricated, and in his sin, which he hath committed, in them he shall die. And you have said: The way of the Lord is not right. Hear ye, therefore, O house of Israel: Is it my way that is not right, and are not rather your ways perverse? For when the just turneth himself away from his justice, and committeth iniquity, he shall die therein; in the injustice that he hath wrought, he shall die. And when the wicked turneth himself away from his wickedness, which he hath wrought, and doeth judgment and justice, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth and tumeth away himself from all his iniquities, which he hath wrought, he shall surely live, and not die, saith the Lord almighty.

Let us not forget the ancient discipline of the Church, during Lent. We should frequently be at a loss to understand her liturgy of this season, unless we picture her to ourselves as preparing the public penitents for a renewed participation in the mysteries. But first they must be reconciled with God, whom they have offended. Their soul is dead by sin; can it be restored to life? Yes; we have God’s word for it. The lesson from the prophet Ezechiel, which the Church began yesterday for the catechumens, is continued to-day for the benefit of the public penitents. If the wicked do penance for all his sins, which he hath committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment and justice; living he shall live, and shall not die. But his iniquities are upon him, and rise up against him, crying to heaven for eternal vengeance! And yet God, who knows all things, and forgets nothing, assures us that He will not remember iniquities which have been redeemed by penance. Such is the affection of His fatherly Heart, that He will forget the outrage offered Him by His son, if this son will but return to his duty. Thus, then, our penitents are to be reconciled; and on the feast of the Resurrection they will be associated with the just, because God will have forgotten their iniquities; they themselves will be just men. Thus it is that the liturgy, which never changes, brings frequently before us the ancient discipline of pubhc penance. Nowadays, sinners are not visibly separated from the faithful; the Church doors are not closed against them; they frequently stand near the holy altar, in the company of the just; and when God’s pardon descends upon them, the faithful are not made cognizant of the grace by any special and solemn rite. Let us here admire the wonderful mercy of our heavenly Father, and profit by the indulgent discipline of our holy mother the Church. The lost sheep may enter the fold at any hour and without any display; let him take advantage of the condescension thus shown him, and never more wander from the Shepherd, who thus mercifully receives him. Neither let the just man be puffed up with self-complacency, by preferring himself to the lost sheep; let him rather reflect on those words of to-day’s lesson: If the just man turn himself away from his justice, and do iniquity ... the justices which he hath done shall not he remembered. Let us, therefore, tremble for ourselves, and have compassion on sinners. One of the great means on which the Church rests her hopes for the reconciliation of sinners is the fervent prayers offered up for them by the faithful during Lent.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.

Cap. v.

In illo tempore: Erat dies festus Judæorum, et aseen dit Jesus Jerosolymam. Est autem Jerosolymis Probatica piscina, quæ cognominatur hebraice Bethsaida, quinque porticus habens. In his jacebat multitudo magna languentium, cæcorum, claudorum, aridorum, exspectantium aquæ motum. Angelus autem Domini descendebat secundum tempus in piscinam: et movebatur aqua. Et qui prior descendisset in piscinam post motionem aquæ, sanus fiebat a quacumque detinebatur infirmitate. Erat autem quidam homo ibi, triginta et octo annos habens in infirmitate sua. Hunc cum vidisset Jesus jacentem, et cognovisset quia jam multum tempus haberet, dicit ei: Vis sanus fieri? Respondit ei languidus: Domine, hominem non habeo, ut cum turbata fuerit aqua, mittat me in piscinam: dum venio enim ego, alius ante me descendit. Dicit ei Jesus: Surge, tolle grabatum tuum, et ambula. Et statim sanus factus est homo ille: et sustulit grabatum suum, et ambulabat. Erat autem sabbatum in die illo. Dicebant ergo Judæi illi qui sanatus fuerat: Sabbatum est, non licet tibi tollere grabatum tuum. Respondit eis: Qui me sanum fecit, ille mihi dixit: Tolle grabatum tuum et ambula. Interrogaverunt ergo eum: Quis est ille homo qui dixit tibi: Tolle grabatum tuum, et ambula? Is autem qui sanus fuerat effectus, nesciebat quis esset. Jesus enim declinavit a turba constituta in loco. Postea invenit eum Jesus in templo, et dixit illi: Ecce sanus factus es: jam noli pec care, ne de terms tibi aliquid contingat. Abiit ille homo, et nuntiavit Judaeis quia Jesus esset, qui fecit eum sanum.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.

Ch. v.

At that time: There was a festival day of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem a pond, called Probatica, which in Hebrew is named Bethsaida, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick, of blind, of lame, of withered, waiting for the moving of the water. And an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water, was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under. And there was a certain man there, that had been eight-and-thirty years under his infirmity. Him, when Jesus had seen lying, and knew that he had been now a long time, he saith to him: Wilt thou be made whole? The infirm man answered him: Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pond; for whilst I am coming, another goeth down before me. Jesus saith to him: Arise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole; and he took up his bed and walked. And it was the Sabbath that day. The Jews therefore said to him that was healed: It is the Sabbath, it is not lawful for thee to take up thy bed. He answered them: He that made me whole, he said to me: Take up thy bed and walk. They asked him, therefore: Who is that man who said to thee: Take up thy bed, and walk? But he who was healed, knew not who it was: for Jesus went aside from the multitude standing in the place. Afterwards Jesus findeth him in the temple, and saith to him: Behold thou art made whole: sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee. The man went his way, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him whole.

Let us return to our penitents of the ancient discipline of the Church; those of the present day, and we ourselves, can easily make a practical application of the reflections suggested by the Gospel. We have just been told by the prophet that God is ever ready to pardon a penitent sinner. But how is this pardon to be administered? Who is to pronounce the sentence of absolution? The answer is given in our Gospel. He that had been eight-and-thirty years under his infirmity, is a figure of the inveterate sinner: and yet he is made whole, and recovers the use of his limbs. How has the cure been wrought? First of all, the infirm man says to Jesus: I have no manwhen the water is troubledto put me into the pond. The water would have cured him; but observe, he has need of some man to lead him to the water. This Man is the Son of God, and He became Man in order to heal us. As Man, He has received power to forgive sins; and, before leaving this earth, He gives that same power to other men, and says to them: ‘Whose sins ye shall forgive, they are forgiven them.’[1] Our penitents, then, are to be reconciled with God by virtue of this supernatural power; and the infirm man, who takes up his bed and walks, is a figure of the sinner, whose sins have been forgiven him by the Church, by the divine power of the keys.

In the third century, a heretic, named Novatian, taught that the Church has not the power to forgive sins committed after Baptism. This doctrine was condemned by the Councils and the holy doctors of the Church; and in order to offer to the faithful some outward expression of the power given to the Son of Man of forgiving sins to such as repent, there was painted on the walls of the places where the Christians used to assemble, the infirm man of our Gospel, walking with his bed upon his shoulders. This consoling symbol is frequently met with in the frescoes which were painted, even in the age of the martyrs, in the Roman catacombs. They show us how the early Christians were taught to understand this passage of the Gospel, which the Church, so many centuries ago, assigned to this day.

The water of the Probatica was also a symbol; and here our Gospel conveyed a special instruction to the catechumens. By water they were to be made whole, and by water endowed with a supernatural virtue. The miraculous pond of Jerusalem could cure only the body, and that at rare intervals, and the favour could be conferred only upon a single individual; but now that the angel of the Great Counsel has come down from heaven, and sanctified the waters of the Jordan, the Probatica is everywhere; it is giving health to the souls of men, without any limitation either of time or of number. Man is the minister of this grace; but it is the Son of God, become the Son of Man, that works by the human minister.

Let us also consider the multitude of sick, who, as the Gospel tells us, were waiting for the moving of the water. They represent the various classes of sinners, who are seeking, during this holy time, to be converted to their God. There are the sick, or, as the Latin word has it, the languid; these are the tepid, who never thoroughly give up their evil habits; there are the blind; these are they whose spiritual eye is dead; there are the lame, who limp and falter in the path of salvation; and, lastly, there are the withered, who seem incapable of doing a single good action. All are waiting for the favourable moment. Jesus will soon be with them, and will say to each of them: Wilt thou be made whole? Let them answer this question with love and confidence, and they will be healed.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Exaudi nos, misericors Deus, et mentibus nostris gratiæ tuæ lumen ostende. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Graciously hear us, O merciful God, and manifest the light of thy grace to our souls. Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Let us address ourselves to the heavenly Physician of our souls, in these words of the Triodion of the Greek Church.

HYMN

(Feria VI. Hebdomadæ I. Jejuniorum.)

Qui passionibus tuis tradidisti omnibus vacuitatem a passionibus, effice, Domine, ut divina cruce camis meæ affectionibus exstinctis, sanctam pariter Resurrectionem tuam conspiciam.
Puritatis fons, conserva nos, misericors, jejunii ope, respice ad nos ante te procidentes, attende elevationi manuum nostrarum, qui manus tuas in ligno pro mortalibus omnibus crucifixus expandisti, angelorum unus Dominus.

Inimici fraudibus obtenebratum me illumina, Christe meus, qui cruci suspensus solem quondam obscurasti, et vero re missionis lumine fideles palam irradias ti, quo in mandatorum tuoruin luce ambulans, purus ad salutiferæ resurrectionis tuæ splendorem perveniam.

Salvator, vitis instar e ligno pendens, incorruptionis mero fines terræ irrigasti, gas ti, O Christe. Unde exclamo: Mihi tremulentia pecca torum miserum in modum semper obcæcato dulcem veræ compunctionis succum largitus, præbe nunc vires ut jejunare a voluptatibus valeam, utpote bonus, atque misericors.

O crucis tuæ potentiam! hoc abstinentiæ germen in Ecclesia efflorescere fecit, prisca in Eden Adami intemperantia radicitus evulsa; ex hac siquidem mors in homines derivavit, ex ilia vero incorruptus immortalitatis latex mundo effluit, veluti ex alio paradisi fonte, vivifico sanguine tuo, atque aqua simul effusis, unde universa vitam receperunt; indeque dulces nobis effice jejunii delicias, Deus Israël, qui magnam habes misericordiam.
Do thou, O Lord, whose Passion has merited for us the deliverance from our passions, grant that my carnal affections may be quenched by the virtue of thy divine cross, and that I may contemplate thy holy Resurrection.

O Fount of purity, most merciful Saviour, preserve us by the merits of this our fast. Behold us here prostrate before thee. Disdain not our uplifted hands, O thou the sovereign Lord of the angels, that didst stretch forth thy hands on thy cross for all mankind.
The snares of the enemy have involved me in darkness: enlighten me, O Christ, who, when hanging on the cross, didst obscure the sun, and bring to thy faithful the rays of pardon. May I walk in the light of thy commandments and, being purified, come to the brightness of thy saving Resurrection.

Thou, O my Saviour, and Christ! hanging like a vine on the wood of the cross, didst enrich the whole earth with the wine of immortality. Therefore do I cry out unto thee: I was miserably blinded by the intoxication of sin, but thou didst bestow upon me the sweet refreshment of true compunction; grant me, now, the strength that I may fast from sinful pleasures, for thou art a good and merciful God.

O wonderful power of thy cross! It was thy cross that made the plant of abstinence to bloom in the Church, after having uprooted the old intemperance of Adam in Eden. From the intemperance came death upon mankind; but from the other, the ever pure stream of immortality flowed upon the world, for from thy side, as from a fount of paradise, streamed thy life-giving Blood, mingled with water, and from these have all creatures received life. Therefore do we beseech thee, O God of Israel, to grant us, in thy great mercy, that we may experience the sweet delights of fasting.

[1] St. John xx. 23.

 

The Station is in the basilica of Saint Peter on the Vatican, where the people were wont to assemble towards evening, that they might be present at the Ordination of the priests and sacred ministers. This day was called Twelve-Lesson-Saturday, because, formerly, twelve passages from the holy Scriptures were read, as upon Holy Saturday. The Mass, during which the Ordinations were given, was celebrated during the night; so that by the time it was over, the Sunday had begun. Later on, the Ordination Mass was said early on the Saturday, as we now have it; but in memory of the ancient practice, the Gospel for Saturday is repeated on the Sunday. The same is observed on the Saturday in the Advent Ember week; because the Ordination Mass of that season was also anticipated.

Collect

Populum tuum, quæsumus, Domine, propitius respice: atque ab eo flagella tuæ iracundiæ elementer averte. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Mercifully, O Lord, look down on thy people, and in thy clemency turn away from them the scourges of thy wrath. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lesson

Lectio libri Deuteronomii.

Cap. xxvi.

In diebus illis: Locutus est Moyses ad populum dicens: Quando compleveris decimam cunctarum frugum tuarum, loqueria in conspectu Domini Dei tui: Abstuli quod sanctificatum eat de domo mea, et dedi illud levitæ et advenæ, et pupillo ao viduæ, sicut jussisti mihi: non præterivi mandata tua, neo sum oblitua imperii tui. O bedi vi voci Domini Dei mei, et feci omnia eicut præcepisti mihi. Respice de sanctuario tuo, et de excelso cœlorum habitaculo, et benedio populo tuo Israël, et terræ quam dedisti nobis, eicut jurasti patribus nostris, terræ lacte et melle manan ti. Hodie Dominus Deus tuus præcepit tibi ut facias mandata hæc atque judicia; et custodias et impleas ex toto corde tuo, et ex tota anima tua. Dominum elegisti hodie, ut sit tibi Deus, et ambules in viis ejus, et custodias cæremonias illius, et mandata atque judicia, et obedias ejus imperio. Et Dominus elegit te hodie, ut sis ei populus peculiaris, sicut locutus est tibi, et custodias omnia præcepta illius: et faciat te excelsiorem cunctis gentibus quas cbeavit, in laudem, et nornen, et gloriam suam: ut sis populus sanctus Domini Dei tui, si cut locutus est.
Lesson from the Book of Deuteronomy.

Ch. xxvi.

In those days: Moses spoke to the people, saying: When thou hast made an end of tithing all thy fruits thou shalt speak thus in the sight of the Lord thy God: I have taken that which was sanctified out of my house, and I have given it to the levite and to the stranger, and to the fatherless and to the widow, as thou hast commanded me; I have not transgressed thy commandments, nor forgotten thy precepts. I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, and have done all things as thou hast commanded me. Look from thy sanctuary, and thy high habitation of heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou didst swear to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey. This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these commandments and judgments, and to keep and fulfil them with all thy heart, and with all thy soul. Thou hast chosen the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways and keep his ceremonies and precepts, and judgments, and obey his command. And the Lord hath chosen thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath spoken to thee, and to keep all his commandments; and to make thee higher than all nations, which he hath created, to his own praise, and name, and glory; that thou mayst be a holy people of the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken.

God here assures us that a nation, which is faithful in observing the laws regarding the divine service, shall be blessed above other nations. History is one long illustration of the truth of this promise. Of all the nations which have fallen, there is not one that has not brought the chastisement upon itself by its neglect of the Law of God. At times, the Almighty delays to strike; but it is only that the chastisement may be the more evident and produce a more salutary effect upon mankind. When we would know the future of a country, we need only observe how it comports itself with regard to the laws of the Church. If its own laws are based on the principles and practices of Christianity, that country is sound, in spite of certain weaknesses here and there: revolutions may disturb its peace, but it will triumph over all. If the bulk of its people is faithful in the observance of external practices prescribed by the Church: for example, if they observe the Lord’s day and the holy fast of Lent; there is a fund of morality in that country, which is sure to draw down upon it the blessings of heaven. Irreligious men will scoff at all this, and call it superstition, prejudice of weak minds, and out of date for an age of progress like ours, but if their theories were to rule, and a country, which up to this time had been practically Catholic, were to seek progress by infringing the law of Christian ritual, it would, in less than a hundred years, find that public and private morality had lost ground, and its own security would be menaced. Man may talk and write as he likes: God wishes to be served and honoured by His people, and it is for Him to prescribe what are to be the forms of this service and adoration. Every injury offered to external worship, which is the great social link, is an injury to the interests of mankind. Even were there not the word of God for it, it is but just that such a consequence should follow.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xvii.

In illo tempore: Assumpsit Jesus Petrum, et Jacobum, et Joannem fratrem ejus, et duxit illos in montem excelsum seorsum: et transfiguratus est ante eos. Et resplenduit facies ejus sicut sol, vestimenta autem ejus facta sunt alba sicut nix. Et ecce apparuerunt illis Moyses et Elias cum eo loquentes. Respondens autem Petrus dixit ad Jesum: Domine, bonum est nos hic esse: si vis, faciamus hic tria tabernacula, tibi unum, Moysi unum, et Eliæ unum. Adnuc eo loquente, ecce nubes lucida obumbravit eos. Et ecce vox de nube, dicens: Hic est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi bene complacui: ipsum audite. Et audientes discipuli, ceciderunt in faciem suam, et timuerunt valde. Et accessit Jesus, et tetigit eos, dixitque eis: Surgite et nolite timere. Levantes autem oculos suos, neminem viderunt nisi solum Jesum. Et descendentibus illis de monte, præcepit eis Jesus, dicens: Nemini dixeritis visionem, donee Filius hominis a mortuis resurgat.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xvii.

At that time: Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: and he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here; if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshaded them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said to them: Arise and fear not. And they, lifting up their eyes, saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of Man be risen from the dead.

This Gospel, which, as we have already explained, is to be repeated to-morrow, is the one that is read in the Mass of to-day’s Ordinations. The following is the interpretation given by the ancient liturgists, among whom we may especially mention the learned abbot Rupert. The Church would have us think upon the sublime dignity which has been conferred upon the newly ordained priests. They are represented by the three apostles, who were taken by Jesus to the high mountain, and favoured with the sight of His glory. The rest of the disciples were left below; Peter, James, and John were the only ones permitted to ascend to Thabor, and they, when the time should come, were to tell their fellow-apostles, and the whole world, how they had seen the glory of their Master, and heard the words of the Father declaring the Divinity of the Son of Man. ‘This voice,’ says St.Peter, ‘coming down to Him from the excellent glory: This is My beloved Son, in whom I have pleased Myself; hear ye Him. And this voice we heard, brought from heaven, when we were with Him in the holy mount.’[1] In like manner, these priests who have just been ordained, and for whom you have been offering up your prayers and fast, will enter into the cloud with the Lord. They will offer up the Sacrifice of your salvation in the silence of the sacred Canon. God will descend into their hands, for your sake; and though they are mortal and sinners, yet will they, each day, be in closest communication with the Divinity. The forgiveness of your sins, which you are now preparing to receive from your heavenly Father, is to come to you through their hands; their superhuman power will bring it down from heaven upon your souls. It is thus that God has cured our pride. The serpent said to us, through our first parents: ‘Eat of this fruit, and you shall be as gods.’We unfortunately believed the tempter, and the fruit of our transgression was death. God took pity on us, and resolved to save us; but it is by the hands of men that He would save us, and this in order to humble our haughtiness. His own eternal Son became Man, and He left other men after Him, to whom He said: ‘As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you.’[2] Let us, then, show honour to these men, who have, this very day, been raised to so high a dignity. One of the duties imposed on us by our holy religion is respect to the priesthood.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Fideles tuos, Deus, benedictio desiderata confirmet: quæ eos et a tua voluntate nunquam faciat discrepare, et tuis semper indulgeat beneficiis gratulan. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

May thy much desired blessing, O God, give strength to thy faithful people: may it hinder them from ever swerving from thy will, and make them always enjoy thy favours. Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

This is Saturday; let us have recourse to Mary, the refuge of sinners. Let us put under her maternal protection the humble penances we are now going through; for this end we may make use of the following sequence, taken from the Cluny missal:

Sequence

Salvatoris Mater pia,
Mundi hujus spes Maria,
Ave plena gratia.

Porta cœli, Templum Dei,
Maris portus ad quem rei
Currunt cum fiducia.

Summi Regis sponsa digna,
Cunctis demens et benigna,
Operum suffragio.

Cæcis lumen, Claudis via,
Nudis Martha et Maria,
Mentis desiderio.

Inter spinas flos fuisti;
Sic flos flori patuisti,
Pietatis gratia.

Verbum verbo concepisti,
Regem regum peperisti,
Virgo viri nescia.

Regi nato adhæsisti,
Quem lactasti et pavisti,
More matris debito.

Quæ conjuncta nunc eidem,
Et Regina facta pridem,
Operum pro merito.

Reis ergo fac, Regina,
Apud Regem ut ruina
Relaxentur debita.

Et regnare fac renatos,
A reatu expurgatos,
Pietate solita.

Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace!
dear Mother of Jesus,
and hope of the world!

O gate of heaven! O temple of God!
O haven of the sea, where sinners
confidently seek shelter and repose.

Thou art the worthy bride of the great King,
and, by thy powerful prayers,
thou art kind and loving to all.

Thou art light to the blind, and a sure path to such as are lame.
Thou art, by thy loving affection,
both Martha and Mary to the needy.

Thou wast the flower among the thorns;
the flower that, by its rich graces,
bloomed to the divine Flower, thy Jesus.

Thou didst speak thy word, and then conceivedst the Word;
thou didst give birth to the King of kings,
thou that wast a pure Virgin.

Thou wast ever faithful to this King, thy Child;
and, using a mother’s privilege,
thou didst feed him at thy breast.

Now, thou art united with him,
and in reward for thy merits,
thou art made the Queen of heaven and earth.

Then pray for us, O Queen,
to him that is our King,
beseeching him to pardon us poor fallen sinners.

Show us thy wonted clemency,
and, having obtained us the new life of remission of our sins,
bring us to the kingdom, there to reign for ever.

Amen.

 

[1] 2 St. Peter i. 17, 18.
[2] St. John xx. 21.

 

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