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Third Week of Lent

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The catechumen who is now expecting the grace of Baptism, and the penitent who is looking forward to the day of his reconciliation, express, in the Introit, the ardour of their longings. They humbly confess their present misery; but they are full of hope in Him, who is soon to set them free from the snare.

Introit

Oculi mei semper ad Dominum, quia ipse evellet de laqueo pedes meos: respice in me, et miserere mei; quoniam unicue et pauper sum ego.

Ps. Ad te, Domine, levavi animam meam: Deus meus, in te confido, non erubescam. V. Gloria Patri. Oculi.
My eyes are ever towards the Lord, for he shall pluck my feet out of the snare: look thou upon me, and have mercy on me, for I am alone and poor.

Ps. To thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul; in thee, O my God, I put my trust, let me not be ashamed. V. Glory, &c. My eyes.

The great battle with the enemy of mankind is now fiercely raging: the Church beseeches her God to stretch forth His right hand in her defence. Such is the petition she makes in to-day’s Collect.

Collect

Quæeumus, omnipotens Deus, vota humilium respice: atque ad defensionem nostram, dexteram tuæ majestatie extende. Per Dominum.
Be attentive, we beseech thee, O almighty God, to the prayers of thy servants, and stretch forth the arm of thy divine Majesty in our defence. Through, &c.

The second and third Collects are given on the first Sunday of Lent, page 129.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Ephesios.

Cap. v.

Fratres: Estote imitatores Dei, sicut filii charissimi: et ambulate in dilectione, sicut et Christus dilexit nos, et tradidit semetipsum pro nobis oblationem et hostiam Deo in odorem suavitatis. Fornicatio autem, et omnis immunditia, aut avaritia, nec nominetur in vobis, sicut decet sanctos: aut turpitudo, aut etultiloquium, aut scurrilitas, quæ ad rem non pertinet; sed magis gratiarum actio. Hoc enim ecitote intelligentes, quod omnis fornicator, aut immundus, aut avarus, quod est idolorum servitus, non håbet haereditatem in regno Christi et Dei. Nemo vos seducat inanibus verbis; propter hæc enim venit ira Dei in filios difiidentiæ. Noiite ergo effici participes eorum. Eratis enim aliquando tenebræ; nunc autem lux in Domino. Ut filii lucis ambulate: fructus enim lucis est in omni bonitate. et justitia, et veritate.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians.

Ch. v.

Brethren: Be ye followers of God, as most dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God, for an odour of sweetness. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints; or obscenity, or foolish talking, or scurrility, which is to no purpose: but rather giving of thanks. For know ye this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean, or covetous person, which ia serving of idols, hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these tilings cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk then as children of the light: for the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth.

The apostle, speaking to the faithful of Ephesus, reminds them how they once were darkness; but now, he says, ye are light in the Lord. What joy for our catechumens to think that the same change is to be their happy lot! Up to this time they have spent their lives in all the abominations of paganism; and now they have the pledge of a holy life, for they have been received as candidates for Baptism. Hitherto they have been serving those false gods, whose worship was an encouragement to vice; and now they hear the Church exhorting her children to be followers of God, that is to say, to imitate infinite Holiness. Grace—that divine element which is to enable even them to be perfect as their heavenly Father is perfect[1]—is about to be bestowed upon them. But they will have to fight hard in order to maintain so elevated a position; and of their old enemies, two, in particular, will strive to re-enslave them: impurity and avarice. The apostle would not have these vices so much as named among them, from this time forward; for they, he says, that commit such sins are idolaters, and by your vocation to Baptism you have abandoned all your idols.

Such are the instructions given by the Church to her future children. Let us apply them to ourselves, for they are also intended for us. We were sanctified almost as soon as we came into the world; have we been faithful to our Baptism? We, heretoforewere light; how comes it that we are now darkness? The beautiful likeness to our heavenly Father, which was once upon us, is perhaps quite gone! But, thanks to divine mercy, we may recover it. Let us do so by again renouncing satan and his idols. Let our repentance and penance restore within us that light, whose fruit consists in all goodnessjusticeand truth.

The Gradual expresses the sentiments of a soul that sees herself surrounded by enemies, and begs her God to deliver her.

The Tract is taken from Psalm cxxii., which is a canticle of confidence and humility. The sincere avowal of our misery always draws down the mercy of God upon us.

Gradual

Exsurge, Domine, non prævaleat homo: judicentur gentes in conspectus tuo. V. In convertendo inimicum meum retrorsum, infirmabuntur, et peribunt a facie tua.
Arise, O Lord, let not man prevail: let the Gentiles be judged in thy sight. V. When my enemy shall be turned back, they shall be weakened and perish before thy face.

Tract

Ad te levavi oculos meos, qui habitas in ccelis.

V. Ecce sicut oculi servorum in manibus dominorum suorum:

V. Et sicut oculi ancillæ in manibus dominæ suæ: ita oculi noetri ad Dominum Deum nostrum, donec misereatur nostri.

V. Miserere nobis, Domine, miserere nobis.
To thee have I lifted up my eyes, who dwellest in heaven.

V. Behold as the eyes of servants are on the hands of their master:

V. And as the eyes of the handmaid are on the hands of her mistress, so are our eyes unto the Lord our God, until he have mercy on us.

V. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. xi.

In illo tempore: Erat Jesus ejiciens dæmonium, et illud erat mutum. Et cum ejecisset dæmonium, locutus est mu tus, et admiratæ sunt turbæ. Quidam autem ex eis dixerunt: In Beelzebub principe dæmoniorum ejicit dæmonia. Et alii tentantes, signum de cælo quærebant ab eo. Ipse autem ut vidit cogitationes eorum, dixit eis: Omne regnum in seipsum divisum desolabitur, et domus supra domum cadet. Si autem et satanas in seipsum divisus est, quomodo stabit regnum ejus? Quia dicitis in Beelzebub me ejicere dæmonia. Si autem ego in Beelzebub ejicio dæmonia, filii vestri in quo ejiciunt? Ideo ipsi judices vestri erunt. Porro si in digito Dei ejicio dæmonia, proiccto pervenit in vos regnum Dei. Cum fortis armatus custodit atrium suum, in pace sunt ea quæ possidet. Si autem fortior eo superveniens vicerit eum, universa arma ejus auferet, in quibus confidebat, et spolia ejus distribuet. Qui non est mecum, contra me est; et qui non colligit mecum, dispergit. Cum immundus spiritus exierit de homine, ambulat per loca inaquosa, quærens requiem: et non inveniens, dicit: Reyertar in domum meam unde exivi. Et cum venerit, invenit eam scopis mundatam et omatam. Tunc vadit et assumit septem alios spiritus secum, nequiores se, et ingressi habitant ibi. Et fiunt novissima hominis illius pejora prioribus. Factum est autem, cum hæc diceret, extollens vocem quædam mulier de turba, dixit illi: Beatus venter qui te portavit, et ubera quæ suxisti. At ille dixit: Quinimo beati qui audiunt verbum Dei, et custodiunt illud.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. xi.

At that time: Jesus was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb. And when he had cast out the devil, the dumb spoke, and the multitudes were in admiration at it. But some of them said: He casteth out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. And others tempting, asked of him a sign from heaven. But he, seeing their thoughts, said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself, shall be brought to desolation, and house upon house shall fall. And if satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because you say, that through Beelzebub I cast out devils. Now if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I by the finger of God cast out devils, doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his court, those things are in peace which he possesseth. But if a stronger than he come upon him and overcome him, he will take away all his armour wherein he trusted, and will distribute his spoils. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattered. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest; and not finding, he saith: I will return into my house whence I came out. And when he is come, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and entering in they dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. But he said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it.

As soon as Jesus had cast out the devil, the man recovered his speech, for the possession had made him dumb. It is an image of what happens to a sinner, who will not, or dare not, confess his sin. If he confessed it, and asked pardon, he would be delivered from the tyranny which now oppresses him. Alas! how many there are who are kept back, by a dumb devil from making the confession that would save them! The holy season of Lent is advancing; these days of grace are passing away; let us profit by them; and if we ourselves be in the state of grace, let us offer up our earnest prayers for sinners, that they may speak, that is, may accuse themselves in confession and obtain pardon.

Let us also listen, with holy fear, to what our Saviour tells us with regard to our invisible enemies. They are so powerful and crafty, that our resistance would be useless, unless we had God on our side, and His holy angels, who watch over us and join us in the great combat. It is to these unclean and hateful spirits of hell that we delivered ourselves when we sinned: we preferred their tyrannical sway to the sweet and light yoke of our compassionate Redeemer. Now we are set free, or are hoping to be so; let us thank our divine Liberator; but let us take care not to readmit our enemies. Our Saviour warns us of our danger. They will return to the attack; they will endeavour to force their entrance into our soul, after it has been sanctified by the Lamb of the Passover. If we be watchful and faithful, they will be confounded, and leave us: but if we be tepid and careless, if we lose our appreciation of the grace we have received, and forget our obligations to Him who has thus saved us, our defeat is inevitable; and as our Lord says, our last state will be worse than the first.

Would we avoid such a misfortune? Let us meditate upon those other words of our Lord, in to-day’s Gospel: He that is not with Me is against Me. What makes us fall back into the power of satan, and forget our duty to our God, is that we do not frankly declare ourselves for Jesus, when occasions require us to do so. We try to be on both sides, we have recourse to subterfuge, we temporize: this takes away our energy; God no longer gives us the abundant graces we received when we were loyal and generous; our relapse is all but certain. Therefore, let us be boldly and unmistakably with Christ. He that is a soldier of Jesus, should be proud of his title!

The Offertory describes the consolation that a soul, rescued from satan’s grasp, feels in doing the will of her divine Master.

Offertory

Justitiæ Domini rectæ, lætificantes corda, et judicia ejus dulciora super mel et favum; nam et servus tuus custodit ea.
The justices of the Lord aro right, rejoicing hearts; his ordinances are sweeter than honey and the honey-comb; therefore thy servant observeth them.

In the Secret, the Church expresses her confidence in the Sacrifice she is about to offer to God; it is the Sacrifice of Calvary, which redeemed the whole world.

Secret

Hæc hostia, Domine, quæsumufl, emundet nostra delicta: et ad sacrificium celebrandum, subditorum tibi corpora mentesque sanctificet. Per Dominum.
May this offering, O Lord, we beseech thee, cleanse us from our sins, and sanctify the bodies and souls of thy servants for the celebrating of this sacrifice. Through, &c.

The second and third Secrets are given on the first Sunday of Lent, page 136.


Borrowing the words of David, the Church, in her Communion-anthem, describes the happiness of a soul that is united to her God in the Sacrament of love. It is the lot reserved for the catechumens, who have just been received as candidates for Baptism; it is to be also that of the penitents, who shall have washed away their sins in the tears of repentance.

Communion

Passer invenit sibi domum, et turtur nidum, ubi reponat pullos suos: altaria tua, Domine virtutum, Rex meus et Deus meus: beati qui habitant in domo tua; in sæculum sæculi laudabunt te.
The sparrow hath found herself a house, and the turtle a nest, where she may lay her young ones; thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God: blessed are they that dwell in thy house, they shall praise thee for ever and ever.

In the Postcommunion, the Church beseeches her Lord to grant, through the merits of the mystery just partaken of by her children, that sinners may be loosed from the fetters of their sins, and delivered from the danger they have incurred—the danger of eternal perdition.

Postcommunion

A cunctis nos, quæsumus Domine, reatibus et periculis propitiatus absolve: quos tanti mysterii tribuis esse participes. Per Dominum.
Mercifully, O Lord, we beseech thee, deliver us from all guilt and from all danger, since thou admittest us to be partakers of this great mystery. Through, &c.

The second and third Postcommunions are given on the first Sunday of Lent, page 138.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms and antiphons are given on page 99.


Capitulum

Fratres: Estote imitatores Dei, sicut filii charissimi: et ambulate in dilectione, Micut et Christus dilexit nos, et tradidit semetipsum pro nobis, oblationem et hostiam Deo in odorem suavitatis.
Brethren: Be ye followers of God, as most dear children: and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to Gdd for an odour of sweetness.

For the hymn and versicle, see page 106.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Extollens vocem quædam mulier de turba, dixit: Beatus venter qui te portavit, et ubera quæ suxisti. At Jesus ait illi: Quinimo beati qui audiunt verbum Dei, et custodiunt illud.

Oremus

Quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, vota humilium respice: atque ad defensionem no stram, dexteram tuæ majestatis extende. Per Dominum.
A certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the pape that gave thee suck. But Jesus said to her: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.

Let us Pray

Be attentive, we beseech thee, O almighty God, to the prayers of thy servants, and stretch forth the arm of thy divine Majesty in our defence. Through, &c.

The Mozarabic breviary offers us this beautiful prayer for the commencement of the third week of Lent.

Prayer
(In Dominica III. Quadragesimæ)

Quarti nunc et decimi diei de nostrorum dierum decimis curriculo jam peracto, ad te levamus oculos nostros, Domine, qui habitas in cœlis; impende jam et misericordiam miseris, et medelam porrige vulneratis; tu nobis adgressum iter placidum effice: tu cor nostrum in mandatorum tuorum semitis dirige: per te lucis invenianme viam: per te luminosa amoris tui capiamue incendia; tu laboribus requiem, tu laborantibus tribue mansionem; ut horum dierum observatione tibi placentes, gloriæ tuæ mereamur esse participes.
Having now passed the fourteenth day of this season, which forms the tithe of our year, we lift up our eyes to thee, O Lord, who dwellest in heaven. Show mercy to the miserable, and heal them that are wounded. Grant that the journey we have begun may be prosperous. Direct our hearts in the way of thy commandments. Through thee may we find the way of light; through thee, may we be inflamed with the bright burning of thy love. Grant rest to our labours, and a home to us that labour; that having gained thy good-pleasure by our observance of these days, we may deserve to be partakers of thy glory.

 

[1] St. Matt. v. 48.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Station is in the church of Saint Mark, which was built in the fourth century in honour of the evangelist, by the holy Pope Mark, whose relics are kept there.

Collect

Cordibus nostris, quæsumus, Domine, gratiam tuam benignus infunde; ut sicut ab escis carnalibus abstinemus, ita sensus quoque nostros a noxiis retrahamus excessibus. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
We beseech thee, O Lord, mercifully to pour forth thy grace into our hearts; that, as we abstain from flesh, so we may keep our senses from all noxious excesses. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio libri Regum. IV.

Cap. v.

In diebus illis: Naaman princeps militiæ regis Syriæ, erat vir magnus apud dominum suum, et honoratus: per ilium enim dedit Dominus salutem Syriæ: erat autem vir fortis et dives, sed leprosus. Porro de Syria egressi fuerant latrunculi, et captivam duxerant de terra Israël puellam parvulam, quæerat in obsequio uxoria Naaman. Quæ ait ad dominam suam: Utinam fuisset do min us meus ad prophetam, qui est in Samaria: profecto curasset eum a lepra quam habet. Ingressus est itaque Naaman ad dominum suum, et nuntiavit ei, dicens: Sic et sic locuta est puella de terra Israël. Dixitque ei rex Syriæ: Vade, et mittam litteras ad regem Israël Qui cum profectus esset, et tulisset secum decem talenta argenti, et sex millia aureos, et decem mutatoria vestimentorum, detulit litteras ad regem Israël, in haec verba: Cum acceperis epistolam hane, scito quod miserim ad te Naaman servum meum, ut cures eum a lepra sua. Cumque legisset rex Israël litteras, scidit vestimenta sua, et ait: Numquid Deus ego sum, ut occidere possim et vivificare, quia iste misit ad me, ut curem hominem a lepra sua? Animadvertite et videte quod occasiones quærat adversum me. Quod cum audisset Elisæus vir Dei, scidisse videlicet regem Israel vestimenta sua, misit ad eum dicens: Quare scidisti vestimenta tua? Veniat ad me, et sciat esse prophetam in Israël. Venit ergo Naaman cum equis et curibus, et stetit ad ostium domus Elisæi: misitque ad eum Elisæus nuntium, dicens: Vade, et lavare septies in Jordane, et recipiet sanitatem caro tua, atque mundaberis. Iratus Naaman recedebat, dicens: Putabam quod egrederetur ad me, et stans invocaret nomen Domini Dei sui, et tangeret manu sua locum lepræ et curaret me. Numquid non meliores sunt Abana et Pharphar, fluvii Damasci, omnibus aquis Israel, ut laver in eis et munder? Cum ergo vertisset se, et abiret indignans, accesserunt ad eum servi sui, et locuti sunt ei: Pater, et si rem grandem dixisset tibi Propheta, certe facere debueras: quanto magis quia nunc dixit tibi: Lavare, et mundaberie? Descendit, et lavit in Jordane septies juxta sermonem viri Dei, et restitute est caro ejus, sicut caro pueri parvuli, et mundatus est. Reversusque ad virum Dei cum universo comitatu suo, venit, et stetit coram eo, et ait: Vere scio quod non sit alius Deus in universa terra, nisi tantum in Israël.
Lesson from the Book of Kings. IV.

Ch. v.

In those days: Naaman, general of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable: for by him the Lord gave deliverance to Syria; and he was a valiant man and rich, but a leper. Now there had gone out robbers from Syria, and had led away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid, and she waited upon Naaman’s wife. And she said to her mistress: I wish my master had been with the prophet that is in Samaria; he would certainly have healed him of the leprosy which he hath. Then Naaman went in to his lord, and told him, saying: Thus and thus said the girl from the land of Israel. And the king of Syria said to him: Go, and I wiU send a letter to the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment, and brought the letter to the king of Israel, in these words: When thou shalt receive this letter, know that I have sent to thee Naaman my servant, that thou mayest heal him of his leprosy. And when the king of Israel had read the letter, he rent his garments, and said: Am I God, to be able to kill and to give life, that this man hath sent to me, to heal a man of his leprosy? Mark, and see how he seeketh occasions against me. And when Eliseus the man of God had heard this, to wit, that the king of Israel had rent his garments, he sent to him, saying: W'hy hast thou rent thy garments? Let him come to me, and let him know that there is a prophet in Israel. So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and stood at the door of the house of Eliseus; and Eliseus sent a messenger to him, saying: Go, and wash seven times in the Jordan, and thy flesh shall recover health, and thou shalt be clean. Naaman was angry, and went away saying: I thought he would have come out to me, and standing, would have invoked the name of the Lord his God, and touched with his hand the place of the leprosy, and healed me. Are not the Abana, and the Pharphar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel, that I may wash in them, and be made clean? So as he turned, and was going away with indignation, his servants came to him, and said to him: Father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, surely thou shouldst have done it; how much rather what he now hath said to thee: Wash and thou shalt be clean? Then he went down, and washed in the Jordan seven times, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored, like the flesh of a little child, and he was made clean. And returning to the man of God with all his train, he came and stood before him, and said: In truth I know there is no other God in all the earth, but only in Israel.

Yesterday the Church made known to our catechumens that the day of their Baptism was at hand; to-day she reads them a passage from the old Testament, which relates a history that admirably symbolizes the saving font prepared for them by divine mercy. Naaman’s leprosy is a figure of sin. There is but one cure for the loathsome malady of the Syrian officer: he must go, and wash seven times in the Jordanand he shall he made dean. The Gentile, the infidel, the infant with its stain of original sin, all may be made just and holy; but this can be effected only by water and the invocation of the blessed Trinity. Naaman objects to the remedy, as being too simple; he cannot believe that one so insignificant can be efficacious: he refuses to try it; he expected something more in accordance with reason, for instance, a miracle that would have done honour both to himself and to the prophet. This was the reasoning of many a Gentile, when the apostles went about preaching the Gospel; but they that believed, with simple-hearted faith, in the power of water sanctified by Christ, received regeneration; and the baptismal font created a new people, composed of all nations of the earth. Naaman, who represents the Gentiles, was at length induced to believe; and his faith was rewarded by a complete cure. His flesh was restored like that of a little child, which has never suffered taint or disease. Let us give glory to God, who has endowed water with the heavenly power it now possesses; let us praise Him for the wonderful workings of His grace, which produce in docile hearts that faith whose recompense is so magnificent.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. iv.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus pharisæis: Utique dicetis mihi hanc similitudinem: Medice, cura teipsum: quanta audivimus facta in Caphamaum, fac et hic in patria tua. Ait autem: Amen dico vobis, quia nemo propheta acceptus est in patria sua. In veritate dico vobis, multæ vi du æ erant in diebus Eliæ in Israël, quando clausum est cœlum annis tribus et mensibus sex, cum facta esset fames magna in omni terra: et ad nullam illarum missus est Elias, nisi in Sarephta Sidoniæ ad mu· lierem viduam. Et multi leprosi erant in Israël sub Elisæo propheta: et nemo eorum mundatus est, nisi Naaman Syrus. Et repleti sunt omnes in synagoga ira, hæc audientes. Et surrexerunt et ejecerunt ilium extra civitatem: et duxerunt ilium usque ad supercilium montis, super quem civitas illorum erat ædificata, ut præcipitarent eum. Ipse autem transiens per medium illorum, ibat.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. iv.

At that time: Jesus said to the pharisees: Doubtless you will say to me this similitude: Physician, heal thyself; as great things as we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in thy own country. And he said: Amen, I say to you, that no prophet is accepted in his own country. In truth, I say to you, there were many widows in the days of Elias in Israel, when heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there was a great famine throughout all the earth: and to none of them was Elias sent, but to Sarephta of Sidon, to a widow woman. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed but Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, hearing these things, were filled with anger, and they rose up and thrust him out of the city; and they brought him to the brow of the hill, whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way.

Here, again, we find our Saviour proclaiming the mystery of the Gentiles being called to take the place of the incredulous Jews; and He mentions Naaman as an example of this merciful substitution. He also speaks, in the same sense, of the widow of Sarephta, whose history we had a few days ago. This terrible resolution of our Lord to transfer His light from one people to another, irritates the pharisees of Nazareth against the Messias. They know that Jesus, who has only just commenced His public life, has been working great miracles in Capharnaum: they would have Him honour their own little city in the same way; but Jesus knows that they would not be converted. Do these people of Nazareth so much as know Jesus? He has lived among them for eighteen years, during all which time He has been advancing in wisdom and age and grace before God and men;[1] but they despise Him, for He is a poor man, and the son of a carpenter. They do not even know that though He has passed so many years among them, He was not born in their city, but in Bethlehem. Not many days before this Jesus had gone into the synagogue of Nazareth,[2] and had explained, with marvellous eloquence and power, the Prophet Isaias; He told His audience that the time of mercy had come, and His discourse excited much surprise and admiration. But the pharisees of the city despised His words. They have heard that He has been working great things in the neighbourhood; they are curious to see one of His miracles; but Jesus refuses to satisfy their unworthy desire. Let them recall to mind the discourse made by Jesus in their synagogue, and tremble at the announcement He then made to them, that the Gentiles were to become God’s chosen people. But the divine Prophet is not accepted in His own country; and had He not withdrawn Himself from the anger of His compatriots of Nazareth, the Blood of the Just would have been shed that very day. But there is an unenviable privilege which belongs exclusively to Jerusalem: a prophet cannot perish out of Jerusalem![3]

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Subveniat nobis, Domine, misericordia tua: ut ab imminentibus peccatorum nostrorum periculis, te mereamur protegente, eripi, te liberante, salvari. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

May thy mercy, O Lord, assist us, that by thy protection we may be delivered from the dangers of sin that surround us, and so brought to eternal happiness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us, on this day, offer to God the following solemn supplication, taken from the Gothic missal.

Supplication
(In Dominica III. Quadragesimæ)

Rogamus te, Rex sæculorum, Deus sancte jam miserere; peccavimus tibi.
V. Audi clamantes, Pater altissime, et quæ precamur, demens attribue: exaudi nos Domine.
R. Jam miserere.

V
. Bone Redemptor, supplies quæsumus de toto corde flentes; requirimus, adsiste propitius.
R. Jam miserere.

V
. Emitte manum, Deus omnipotens, et invocantes potenter protege ex alto, piissime.
R. Jam miserere.

V
. Fertilitatem et pacem tribue: remove bella, et famem cohibe, Redemptor sanctissime.
R. Jam miserere.

V
. Indulge lapsis; indulge perditis; dimitte noxia: ablue crimina; acolines tu libera.
R. Jam miserere.

V
. Gemitus vide: fletus intellige: extende manum: peccantes redime.
R. Jam miserere.

V
. Hanc nostram, Deus, hane pacem suscipe: supplicum voces placatus suscipe: et parce, piissime.
R. Rogamus te, Rex sæculorum, Deus sancte jam miserere: peccavimus tibi.
We beseech thee, O King eternal! O holy God! have mercy now upon us, for we have sinned against thee.
V. Hear our cry, O Father, most high God I and mercifully grant us our requests. Graciously hear us, O Lord!
R. Have mercy now upon us.

V
. O good Redeemer! we suppliantly beseech thee, and with our whole heart we pour out our tears before thee. We seek after thee; be propitious, and show thyself unto us.
R. Have mercy now upon us.

V
. Stretch forth thy hand, O almighty God! and, in thy exceeding goodness, powerfully protect us from on high.
R. Have mercy now upon us.

V
. Grant us fertility and peace, O most holy Redeemer! Drive wars away from us, and deliver us from famine.
R. Have mercy now upon us.

V
. Grant pardon to the fallen: pardon them that have gone astray; forgive us our sins; cleanse us from our iniquities; deliver us who are here prostrate before thee.
R. Have mercy now upon us.

V
. See our sighing; hear our weeping; stretch forth thy hand: redeem us sinners.
R. Have mercy now upon us.

V
. Receive, O God, receive this our prayer for reconciliation; be appeased, and receive the petition of thy suppliants; and spare us, O most loving God!
R. We beseech thee, O King eternal! O holy God! have mercy now upon us, for we have sinned against thee.

 


[1] St. Luke ii. 52.
[2] St. Luke iv. 16-22.
[3] Ibid. xiii. 33.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Station is in the church of St. Pudentiana, daughter of Pudens the senator. This holy virgin of Rome lived in the second century. She was remarkable for her charity, and for the zeal wherewith she sought for and buried the bodies of the martyrs. Her church is built on the very spot where stood the house in which she lived with her father and her sister St. Praxedes. St. Peter the Apostle had honoured this house with his presence, during the lifetime of Pudentiana’s grandfather.

Collect

Exaudi nos, omnipotens et misericors Deus: et continentiæ salu taris propitius nobis dona concede. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Graciously hear us, O almighty and merciful God, and grant us the gift of salutary continence. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio libri Regum.

IV. Cap. iv.

In diebus illis: Mulier quædam clamabat ad Elieæum prophetam, dicens: Semis tuus vir meus mortuus est: efc tu nosti quia semis tuus fuit timens Dominum: et ecce creditor venit ut tollat duos filios meos ad serviendum sibi. Cui dixit Elisæus: Quid vis ut faciam tibi? Die mihi quid habes in domo tua? At ilia respondit: Non habeo ancilla tua quidquam in domo mea, nisi pa rum olei, quo ungar. Cui ait: Vade, pete mutuo ab omnibus vicinis tuis vasa vacua non pauca. Et ingredere, et claude ostium tuum, cum intrinsecus fueris tu et filii tui: et mitte inde in omnia vasa hæc: et cum plena fuerint, tolles. Ivit itaque mulier, et clausit ostium super se, et super filios suos: illi offerebant vasa, et ilia infundebat. Cumque plena fuissent vasa, dixit ad filium suum: Affer mihi adhuc vas. Et ille respondit: Non habeo. Stetitque oleum. Venit au tern illa, et indicavit homini Dei. Et ille: Vade, inquit, vende oleum, et redde creditori tuo: tu autem et filii tui vivite de reliquo.
Lesson from the Book of Kings.

IV. Ch. iv.

In those days: A certain woman cried to Eliseus, saying: Thy servant my husband is dead, and thou knowest that thy servant was one that feared God, and behold the creditor is come to take away my two sons to servo him. And Eliseus said to her: What wilt thou have me do for thee? Tell me, what hast thou in thy house? And she answered: I thy handmaid have nothing in my house but a little oil, to anoint me. And he said to her: Go, borrow of all thy neighbours empty vessels not a few. And go in, and shut thy door, when thou art within, with thy sons, and pour out thereof into all those vessels; and when they are full take them away. So the woman went, and shut the door upon her, and upon her sons; they brought her the vessels and she poured in. And when the vessels were full, she said to her son: Bring me yet a vessel. And he answered: I have no more. And the oil stood; and she came and told the man of God. And he said: Go, sell the oil, and pay thy creditor; and thou and thy sons live of the rest.

It is not difficult to unravel the mystery of this day’s lesson. Man’s creditor is satan; our sins have made him such. ‘Go,’says the prophet, ‘and pay the creditor’But how is this to be done? We shall obtain the pardon of our sins by works of mercy, of which oil is the symbol. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.[1] Let us, then, during these 1days of salvation, secure our reconciliation and forgiveness by doing all we can to assist our brethren who are in want; let us join almsdeeds to our fasting, and practise works of mercy. Thus shall we touch the Heart of our heavenly Father. Putting our debts into His hands, we shall take away from satan all the claims he had upon us. Let us learn a lesson from this woman. She lets no one see her as she fills the vessels with oil: let us, also, shut the door, when we do good, so that our left hand shall not know what our right hand doth.[2] Take notice, too, that the woman goes on pouring out the oil as long as she has vessels to hold it. So our mercy towards our neighbour must be proportionate to our means. The extent of these means is known to God, and He will not have us fall short of the power He has given us for doing good. Let us, then, be liberal in our alms during this holy season; let us make the resolution to be so at all times. When our material resources are exhausted, let us be merciful in desire, by interceding with those who are able to give, and by praying to God to help the suffering and the poor.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xviii.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Si peccaverit in te frater tuus, vade, et corripe eum inter te et ipsum solum. Si te audierit, lucratue eris fratrem tuum. Si autem te non audierit, adhibe tecum adhuc unum vel duos, ut in ore duorum vel trium testium etet omne verbum. Quod si non audierit eos, die Ecclesiae. Si autem Ecclesiam non audierit, sit tibi sicut ethnicus et publicanus. Amen dico vobis: quæcumque alligaveritis super terrain, erunt ligata et in cælo;et quæcumque solveritis super terram, erunt soluta, et in cælo. Iterum dico vobis, quia si duo ex vobis consenserint super terram, de omni re quamcumque petierint, fiet illis a Patre meo, qui in oælis est. Ubi enim sunt duo vel tres congregati in nomine meo, ibi sum in medio eorum. Tunc accedens Petrus ad eum, dixit: Domine, quoties peccabit in me frater meus, et dimittam ei? Usque septies? Dicit illi Jesus: Non dico tibi usque septies; sed usque septuagies septies.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xviii.

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: If thy brother shall offend against thee, go and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shallhear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more; that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them, tell the Church; and if he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. Again, I say to you, that if two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father, who is in heaven; for where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Then came Peter unto him, and said: Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith to him: I say not to thee, till seven times, but till seventy times seven times.

The mercy which God commands us to show to our fellow-creatures, does not consist only in corporal and spiritual almsdeeds to the poor and the suffering; it includes, moreover, the pardon and forgetfulness of injuries. This is the test whereby God proves the sincerity of our conversion. With the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.[3] If we, from our hearts, pardon our enemies, our heavenly Father will unreservedly pardon us. These are the days when we are hoping to be reconciled with our God; let us do all we can to gain our brother; and for this end, pardon him, if needs be, seventy times seven times. Surely, we are not going to allow the miserable quarrels of our earthly pilgrimage to make us lose heaven! Therefore, let us forgive insults and injuries, and thus imitate our God Himself, who is ever forgiving us.

But how grand are these other words of our Gospel: Whatsoever you shall loose upon earthshall be loosed, also in heaven!Oh, the hope and joy they bring to our hearts! How countless is the number of sinners, who are soon to feel the truth of this consoling promise! They will confess their sins, and offer to God the homage of a contrite and humble heart; and, at the very moment that the hand of the priest shall loose them upon earth, the hand of God will loose them from the bonds which held them as victims to eternal punishment.

And lastly, let us not pass by unnoticed this other sentence, which has a close relation with the one we have just alluded to: If a man hear not the Church, let him be to thee as a heathen and publican. What is this Church? Men, to whom Jesus Christ said: ‘He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me.’[4] Men, from whose lips comes to the world the truth, without which there is no salvation: men, who alone on earth have power to reconcile the sinner with his God, save him from the hell he has deserved, and open to him the gates of heaven. Can we be surprised, after this, that our Saviour—who would have these men to be His instruments, and as it were, the communication between Himself and mankind—should treat as a heathen, as one that has never received Baptism, him that refuses to acknowledge their authority? There is no revealed truth, except through their teaching; there is no salvation, except through the Sacraments which they administer; there is no hoping in Christ Jesus, except where there is submission to the spiritual laws which they promulgate.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Tua nos, Domine, protection defende: et ab omni semper iniquitate custodi. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Defend us, O Lord, by thy protection, and ever preserve us from all iniquity. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us address ourselves to God in these words of a hymn composed by St. Andrew of Crete. We take it from the Greek liturgy.

Hymn
(In V. Feria V. Hebdomadœ)

Audivit propheta adventum tuum, Domine, et timuit: quod esses nasciturus ex Virgine et mundo exhibendue; dixitque: Audi vi auditum tuum et timui. Sit gloria, Domine, tuæ potentiæ.

Ne despexeris tua opera, ac tuum figmentum, juste Judex, neglexeris: quamquam peccavi solus, tu o demens, qua Homo supra hominem omnem potestatem tamen dimittendi peccata, qua es Dominus universorum, habes.

Prope est finis, o anima, prope est, nec es sollicita? non te præparas? tempus urget, exsurge: prope est judex in januis: velut somaium, velut flos, vita decurrit; ut quid vero frustra conturbamur?

Resipisce, O anima mea! actus quos es operata, recogita, eosque ob oculos statue, atque ab oculis lacrymarum stillas funde. Dic palam Christo actiones tuas et cogitationes, et justificare.

Non fuerit in vita peccatum, actiove, aut malitia, quam ego, Salvator, intellectu et cogitatione atque proposito non peccaverim, affectu, mentis judicio, et aotione, et nemo unquam gravius peccaverit.

Inde etiam damnationis incurri reatum; inde, miser ego, conscientia propria judice, qua nihil .mundus violentius håbet, causa cecidi: tu judex et redemptor, cognitorque meus, parce et libera, salvumque fac servum tuum.

Tempus vitæ meæ exiguum est, laboribusque et molestia plenum: verum peenitentem suscipe et revoca agnoscentem Ne fiam aheni possessio et esca: tu ipse Salvator, mei miserere.

Jam grandiloquum ago, et corde temere audacem. Ne me condemnes cum pharisæo: imo publicani, qui solus misericors sis, humilitatem concede: tu me, justejudex, huic adcense.

Ipse mihi factus sum idolum, vitiie corrumpens animara: verum poenitentem suseipe, et revoca agnoscentem. No efficiar alieno in possessionem et escam: tu ipse Salvator, mei miserere.
The prophet trembled when he heard that thou, O Lord, wast to come: that thou wast to be bom of a Virgin, and be made visible to the world. He said: I heard thy hearing, and was afraid. Glory be to thy power, O Lord!

Despise not, O just Judge, thy works: turn not away from the creature thou hast formed. My sins are indeed all my own work; but thou, O merciful Jesus, as Man above all men, hast power to forgive sin, for thou art the Lord of the universe.

Thy end is near, O my soul! How comes it thou art heedless? How is it, that thou art making no preparation? Time presses; arise! The Judge is near, even at thevery gate. Life is passing away, as a dream, and as a flower. Why trouble we ourselves with vain things?

Recover thyself, O my soul! Recall to mind the acts of thy life; bring them before thee, and let thine eyes shed tears over them. Openly confess thy deeds and thoughts to Christ, and be justified.

There is no sin, or evil action, or wickedness which I, O Jesus! have not committed in mind and thought and intention. None ever sinned more grievously than I, in desire, in judgment, and in deed.

Therefore, have I incurred damnation; therefore is sentence given against me, a wretched sinner, whose own conscience is my judge, and whose crimes surpass all that this world has seen. Do thou, my Judge, my Redeemer, and my Witness, spare and deliver and save thy servant.

My life is short, and filled with labour and trouble: but do thou receive mo, for I repent; call me back unto thee, for I acknowledge thee to be my Lord. Let me not become the property and prey of any but thee. Thou art my Saviour; hav£ mercy on me.

My words are haughty, and my heart presumptuous. Condemn me not with the pharisee, but give me, O thou the one only merciful God, the humility of the publican, and number me with him, O my just Judge!

I have made myself my idol, and my sins have corrupted my soul: but do thou receive me, for I repent; call me back unto thee, for I acknowledge thee to be my Lord. Let me not become the property and prey of any but thee. Thou art my Saviour: have mercy on me.

 

[1] St. Matt. v. 7.
[2] Ibid. vi, 3.
[3] St. Luke vi. 38.
[4] St. Luke x. 16.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Station, at Rome, is in the church oi Saint Xystus on the Appian Road. It now goes under the name of Saint Xystus the Old, in order to distinguish it from another church that is dedicated to the same holy Pope and Martyr.

Collect

Præsta nobis, quæsumus, Domine, ut salutaribus jejuniis eruditi a noxiis quoque vitiis abstinentes, propitiationem tuam facilius impetremus. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that being taught by this wholesome fast, we may abstain from all pernicious vice, and by that means, more easily obtain thy mercy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio libri Exodi.

Cap. xx.

Hæc dicit Dominus Deus: Honora patrem tuum, et matrem tuam, ut sis longævus super terram, quam Dominus Deus tuus dabit tibi. Non occides. Non moechaberis. Non furtum facies. Non loqueris contra proximum tuum falsum testimonium. Non concupisces domum proximi tui, nec desiderable uxorem ejus, non servum, non ancillam, non bovem, non asinum, nec omnia quæ illius , sunt. Cunctus autem populus videbat veces, et lampades, et sonitum buccmæ, montem que fumantem et perterriti, ao pa vore concussi steterunt procul, dicentes Moysi: Loquere tu nobis, et audiemus: non loquatur nobis Dominus, ne forte moriamur. Et ait Moyses ad populum: Nolite timere: ut enim probaret vos venit Deus; et ut terror illius esset in vobis, et non peccaretis. Stetitque populus de longe. Moyses autem accessit ad caliginem, in qua erat Deus. Dixit præterea Dominus ad Moysen: Hæc dices filiia Israël: Vos vidistis quod de oælo locutus sim vobis. Non facietis deos argenteos, nec deos aureos facietis vobis. Altare de terra facietis mibi, et offeretis super eo holocausta et pacifica vestra, oves vestras, et boves, in omni loco in quo memoriam fuerit nominis men
Lesson from the Book of Exodus.

Ch. xx.

Thus saith the Lord God: Honour thy father and thy mother, that thou mayst be long-lived upon the land which the Lord thy God will give thee. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal.Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, neither shalt thou desire his wife, nor his servant, nor his handmaid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his. And all the people saw the voices and the flames, and the sound of the trumpet, and the mount smoking: and being terrified and struck with fear, they stood afar off, saying to Moses: Speak thou to us, and we will hear; let not the Lord speak to us, lest we die. And Moses said to the people: Fear not; for God is come to prove you, and that the dread of him might be in you, and you should not sin. And the people stood afar off. But Moses went to the dark cloud wherein God was. And the Lord said to Moses: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: You have seen that I have spoken to you from heaven. You shall not make gods of silver, nor shall you make to yourselves gods of gold. You shall make an altar of earth unto me, and you shall offer upon it your holocausts and peace-offerings, your sheep and oxen, in every place where the memory of my name shall be.

The Church reminds us to-day of the divine commandments which relate to our duties towards our neighbour, beginning with that which enjoins respect to parents. Now that the faithful are intent on the great work of the conversion and amendment of their lives, it is well that they should be reminded that their duties towards their fellow-men are prescribed by God Himself. Hence, it is God whom we offended, when we sinned against our neighbour. God first tells us what He Himself has a right to receive from our hands. He bids us adore and serve Him; He forbids the worship of idols; He enjoins the observance of the Sabbath, and prescribes sacrifices and ceremonies: but, at the same time, He commands us to love our neighbours as ourselves, and assures us that He will be their avenger when we have wronged them, unless we repair the injury. The voice of Jehovah on Sinai is not less commanding when it proclaims what our duties are to our neighbour, than when it tells us our obligations to our Creator. Thus enlightened as to the origin of our duties, we shall have a clearer view of the state of our conscience, and of the atonement required of us by divine justice. But if the old Law, that was written on tablets of stone, thus urges upon us the precept of the love of our neighbour; how much more will the new Law, that was signed with the Blood of Jesus when dying upon the cross for His ungrateful brethren, insist on our observance of fraternal charity! These are the two Laws, on which we shall be judged; let us, therefore, carefully observe what they command on this head, that thus we may prove ourselves to be Christians, according to those words of our Saviour: ‘By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.’[1]

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xv.

In illo tempore: Accesserunt ad Jesum ab Jerosolymis scribæ et pharisæi, dicentes: Quare discipuli tui transgrediuntur traditionem seniorum? non enim lavant manus su.as cum panem manducant. Ipse autem respondens, ait illis: Quare et vos transgredimini mandatum Dei propter traditionem vestram? Nam Deus dixit: Honora patrem et matrem. Et: Qui maledixerit patri vel matri, morte moriatur. Vos autem dicitis: Quicumque dixerit patri vel matri: Munus quodcumque est ex me tibi proderit: et non honorificabit patrem suum aut matrem suam: et irritum fecistis mandatum Dei, propter traditionem vestram. Hypocritæ, bene prophetavit de vobis Isaias, dicens: Populus hic labiis me honorat: cor autem eorum longe est a me. Sine causa autem colunt me, docentes doctrinas et mandata hominum. Et convocatis ad se turbis, dixit eis: Audite, et intelligite. Non quod iritrat in os, coinquinat hominem: sed quod procedit ex ore, hoc coinquinat hominem. Tune accedentes discipuli ejus, dixerunt ei: Seis quia pharisæi, audito verbo hoc, scandalizati sunt? At lile respondens, ait: Omnis plantatio quam non plantavit Pater meus cælestis, eradicabitur. Sinite illos: cæci sunt, et duces cæcorum. Cæcus autem si cæco ducatum præstet, ambo in foveam cadunt. Respondens autem Petrus, dixit ei: Edissere nobis parabola istam. At ille dixit: Adhuc et vos sine intellectu estis? Non intelligitis quia omne quod in os intrat, in ventrem vadit, et in secessum emittitur? Quæ autem procedunt de ore, de corde exeunt, et ea coinquinant hominem: de corde enim exeunt cogitationes malæ, homicidia, adulteria, fornicationes, furta, falsa testimonia, blasphemiæ. Hæc sunt quæ coinquinant hominem. Non lotis autem manibus manducare, non coinquinat hominem.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xv.

At that time: The scribes and pharisees came from Jerusalem to Jesus, saying: Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the ancients? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answering, said to them: Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for your tradition? For God said: Honour thy father and mother; and: He that shall curse father or mother, let him die the death. But you say: Whosoever shall say to father or mother, The gift whatsoever proceedeth from me, shall profit thee. And he shall not honour his father or his mother; and you have made void the commandment of God for your tradition. Hypocrites, well hath Isaias prophesied of you, saying: This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines and commandments of men. And having called together the multitudes unto him, he said to them: Hear ye and understand. Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but what cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said to him: Dost thou know that the pharisees, when they heard this word, were scandalized? But he answering, said: Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind, and leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit. And Peter answering, said to him: Expound to us this parable. But he said: Are you also yet without understanding? Do you not understand that whatsoever entereth into the mouth, goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the privy? But the things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and those things defile a man. For from the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man. But to eat with unwashed hands doth not defile a man.

The Law that was given by God to Moses enjoined a great number of exterior practices and ceremonies; and they that were faithful among the Jews, zealously and carefully fulfilled them. Jesus Himself, though He was the divine Law-Giver, most humbly complied with them. But the pharisees had added their own superstitious traditions to these divine laws and ordinances, and made religion consist in the observance of these fanciful inventions. Our Saviour here tells the people not to be imposed upon by such teaching, and instructs them as to what is the real meaning of the external practices of the Law. The pharisees prescribed a great many ablutions or washings to be observed during the course of the day. They would have it, that they who eat without having washed their hands (and indeed the whole body some time during the day), were defiled, and that the food they thus partook of was unclean, because, as they said, they themselves had become defiled by having come near or touched objects which were specified by their whims. According to the Law of God, these objects were perfectly innocent; but according to the law of the pharisees, almost everything was contagious, and the only escape was endless washings! Jesus would have the Jews throw off this humiliating and arbitrary yoke, and reproaches the pharisees for having corrupted and made void the Law of Moses.

He tells them that there is no creature which is intrinsically, and of its own nature, unclean; and that a man’s conscience cannot be defiled by the mere fact of his eating certain kinds of food. Evil thoughts, and evil deeds, these, says our Saviour, are the things that defile a man. Some heretics have interpreted these words as being an implicit condemnation of the exterior practices ordained by the Church, and more especially of abstinence. To such reasöners and teachers we may justly apply what our Saviour said to the pharisees: They are blind and leaders of the blind. From this, that the sins into which a man falls by his use of material things are sins only on account of the malice of the will, which is spiritual, it does not follow that therefore man may, without any sin, make use of material things, when God or His Church forbids their use. God forbade our first parents, under pain of death, to eat the fruit of a certain tree; they ate it, and sin was the result of their eating. Was the fruit unclean of its own nature? No; it was a creature of God as well as the other fruits of Eden; but our first parents sinned by eating it, because their doing so was an act of disobedience. Again, when God gave His Law on Mount Sinai, He forbade the Hebrews to eat the flesh of certain animals; if they ate it, they were guilty of sin, not because this sort of food was intrinsically evil or cursed, but because they that partook of it disobeyed the Lord. The commandments of the Church regarding fasting and abstinence are of a similar nature. It is that we may secure to ourselves the blessing of Christian penance— in other words, it is for our spiritual interest—that the Church bids us abstain and fast at certain times. If we violate her law, it is not the food we take that defiles us, but the resisting a sacred power, which our Saviour, in yesterday's Gospel, told us we are to obey under the heavy penalty which He expressed in those words: He that will not hear the Churchshall be counted as a heathen and publican.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Concede, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut qui protectionis tuæ gratiam quærimus, liberati a malis omnibus, secura tibi mente serviamus. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that we who beg the favour of thy protection, being delivered from all evils, may serve thee with a secure mind. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us take for to-day one of the solemn supplications offered to God by the Gothic Church of Spain during Lent.

Supplication
(BreviarMozarah. Ad Sextam in IV. fer. V. hebdomadœ)

V. Ad te, Redemptor omnium, rex summe, oculos nostros sublevamus flentes: exaudi, Christe, supplicantium preces.
R. Et miserere.

V. Dextra Patris, lapis angularis, via salutis, janua cœlestis, ablue nostri maculas delicti.
R. Et miserere.

V
. Rogamus, Deus, tuam majestatem; auribus sacris gemitus exaudi; crimina nostra placidus indulge.
R. Et miserere.

V
. Tibi fatemur crimina admissa, contrito corde pandimus occulta: tua, Redemptor, pietas ignoscat.
R. Et miserere.

V
. Innocens captus, nec repugnans ductus: testibus falsis pro impiis damnatus: quos redemisti, tu conserva, Christe.
R. Et miserere.
V. To thee, O Redeemer of all mankind! O sovereign King! we raise up our tearful eyes. Graciously hear, O Christ, the prayers of thy suppliants.
R. And have mercy.

V. O thou who art the right hand of the Father, the corner stone, the way of salvation, the gate of heaven, wash away the stains of our sin.
R. And have mercy.

V
. We beseech thy Majesty, O God! Bow down thy divine ear to our sighs, and mercifully pardon our crimes.
R. And have mercy.

V
. We confess unto thee the crimes we have committed; we make known to thee, with a contrite heart, what is hidden in our conscience. Do thou, O Redeemer, in thy clemency forgive.
R. And have mercy.

V
. Thou wast led captive though innocent; thou wast led, and didst not resist. Thou wast condemned by false witnesses for the wicked. O Jesus save us, whom thou hast redeemed.
R. And have mercy.

[1] St. John xiii. 35

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

This day brings us to the middle of Lent, and is called mid-Lent Thursday. It is the twentieth of the forty fasts imposed upon us, at this holy season, by the Church. The Greeks call the Wednesday of this week Mesonestios, that is, the mid-fast. They give this name to the entire week, which, in their liturgy, is the fourth of the seven that form their Lent. But the Wednesday is, with them, a solemn feast, and a day of rejoicing, whereby they animate themselves to courage during the rest of the season. The Catholic nations of the west, though they do not look on this day as a feast, have always kept it with some degree of festivity and joy. The Church of Rome has countenanced the custom by her own observance of it; but, in order not to give a pretext to dissipation, which might interfere with the spirit of fasting, she postpones to the following Sunday the formal expression of this innocent joy, as we shall see further on. Yet, it is not against the spirit of the Church that this mid-day of Lent should be marked by some demonstration of gladness; for example, by sending invitations to friends, as our Catholic forefathers used to do; and serving up to table choicer and more abundant food than on other days of Lent, taking care, however, that the laws of the Church are strictly observed. But alas! how many even of those calling themselves Catholics have been breaking, for the past twenty days, these laws of abstinence and fasting! Whether the dispensations they trust to be lawfully or unlawfully obtained, the joy of mid-Lent Thursday scarcely seems made for them. To experience this joy, one must have earned and merited it, by penance, by privations, by bodily mortifications; which is just what so many, nowadays, cannot think of doing. Let us pray for them, that God would enlighten them, and enable them to see what they are bound to do, consistently with the faith they profess.

At Rome, the Station is at the church of Saints Cosmas and Damian, in the forum. The Christians of the middle ages (as we learn from Durandus, in his Rational of the Divine Offices) were under the impression that this Station was chosen because these two saints were, by profession, physicians. The Church, according to this explanation, would not only offer up her prayers of this day for the souls, but also for the bodies of her children: she would draw down upon them—fatigued as she knew they must be by their observance of abstinence and fasting—the protection of these holy martyrs, who, whilst on earth, devoted their medical skill to relieving the corporal ailments of their brethren. The remarks made by the learned liturgiologist Gavantus, in reference to this interpretation, lead us to conclude that, although it may possibly not give us the real motive of the Church’s selecting this Station, yet it is not to be rejected. It will, at least, suggest to the faithful to recommend themselves to these saints, and to ask of God, through their intercession, that they may have the necessary courage and strength for persevering to the end of the holy season in what they have, so far, faithfully observed.

Collect

Magnificat te, Domine, sanctorum tuorum Cosrnæ et Damiani beata solemnitas: qua et illis gloriara sem pi temara, et opem nobis ineffabili providentia contulisti. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
May this sacred solemnity of thy servants, Cosmas and Damian, show thy greatness, O Lord; by which, in thy unspeakable providence, thou hast granted them eternal glory, and us the aid of their prayers. Through Christ our Lord Amen.

Epistle

Lectio Jeremiæ Prophetæ. 

Cap. vii.

In diebus illis: Factum est verbum Domini ad me dicens: Sta in porta domus Domini, et prædica ibi verbum istud, et die: Audite verbum Domini, omnis Juda, qui ingredimini per portas has, ut adoretis Dominum. Hæc dicit Dominus exercituum, Deus Israël: Bonas facite vias vestras, et studia vestra: et habitabo vobiseum in loco isto. Nolite confidere in verbis mendaeii, dicentes: Templum Domini, templum Domini, templum Dominiest. Quoniam si bene direxeritis vias vestras, et studia vestra: ei feceritis judicium inter virum et proximum ejus: ad venae et pupillo, et viduae non foceritis calumniam, nec sanguinem innoeentem effuderitis in loco hoc, et post deos alienos non ambulaveritis in malum vobismetipeis: habitabo vobiscum in loco isto, in terra quam dedi patribus vestris, a sæculo et usque in saeculum, ait Dominus omnipotens.
Lesson from the Prophet Jeremias.

Ch. vii

In those days: The word of the Lord came to me, saying: Stand in the gate of the house of the Lord, and proclaim there this word, and say: Hear ye the word of the Lord, all ye men of Juda, that enter in at these gates, to adore the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Make your ways and your doings good; and I will dwell with you in this place. Trust not in lying words, saying: The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, it is the temple of the Lord. For if you will order well your ways and your doings; if you will execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; if you oppress not the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, and walk not after strange gods to your own hurt; I will dwell with you in this place, in the land which I gave to your fathers from the beginning and for ever more, saith the Lord almighty.

There is not a single duty in which the Church does not instruct her children. If, on the one hand, she insists on their fulfilling certain exterior practices of penance, she, on the other, warns them against the false principle of supposing that exterior observances, however carefully complied with, can supply the want of interior virtues. God refuses to accept the homage of the spirit and the heart, if man, through pride or sensuality, refuse that other service which is equally due to his Creator, namely, his bodily service; but to make one’s religion consist of nothing but material works, is little better than mockery; for God bids us serve Him in spirit and in truth.[1] The Jews prided themselves on having the temple of Jerusalem, which was the dwelling-place of God’s glory; but this privilege, which exalted them above other nations, was not unfrequently turned against themselves, inasmuch as many of them were satisfied with a mere empty respect for the holy place; they never thought of that higher and better duty, of showing themselves grateful to their divine Benefactor, by observing His Law. Those Christians would be guilty of a like hypocrisy, who, though most scrupulously exact in the exterior duty of fasting and abstinence, were to take no pains to amend their lives, and to follow the rules of justice, charity, and humility. They would deserve that our Lord should say of them what He said of Israel: ‘This people glorify Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me.’[2] This Christian pharisaism is very rare now-a-days. What we have to fear is a disregard for the exterior practices of religion. Those of the faithful who are diligent in the fulfilment of the laws of the Church, are not, generally speaking, behindhand in the practice of other virtues. Still, this false conscience is sometimes to be met with, and is a scandal which does much spiritual injury. Let us, therefore, observe the whole law. Let us offer to God a spiritual service, which consists in the heart's obedience to all His commandments; and to this let us join the homage of our bodies, by practising those things which the Church has prescribed. The body is intended to be an aid to the soul, and is destined to share in her eternal happiness; it is but just that it should share in the service of God.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. iv.

In illo tempore: Surgens Jesus de synagoga, introivit in domum Simonis.Socrus autem Simonis tenebatur magnis febribus: et rogaverunt ilium pro ea. Et stans super illam, imperavit febri: et dimisit illam. Et continuo surgens, minist ra bat illis. Cum autem sol occidisset, omnes qui habebant infirmos variis languoribus, ducebant illos ad eum. At file singulis manus imponens, curabat eos. Exibant autem dæmonia a multis, clamantia et dicentia: Quia tu ee Filius Dei. Et increpans non sinebat ea loqui, quia sciebant ipsum esse Christum. Facta autem die egreseus ibat in desertum locum, et turbæ requirebant eum, et venerunt usque ad ipsum: et detinebant ilium ne discederet ab eis. Quibus file ait: Quia et aliis eivitatibus oportet me evangelizare regnum Dei, quia ideo missus sum; et erat prædicans in synagogis Galilææ.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. iv.

At that time: Jesus rising up out of the synagogue, went into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever, and they besought him for her. And standing over her, he commanded the fever, and it left her. And immediately rising, she ministered to them. And when, the sun was down, all they that had any sick with divers diseases, brought them to him. But he, laying his hands on every one of them, healed them. And devils went out from many, crying out and saying: Thou art the Son of God. And rebuking them, he suffered them not to speak, for they knew that he was Christ. And when it was day, going out, he went into a desert place, and the multitude sought him, and came unto him; and they stayed him that he should not depart from them. To whom he said: To other cities also I must preach the kingdom of God; for therefore am I sent. And he was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.

Let us here admire the goodness of our Redeemer, who deigns to exercise His power for the cure of bodily infirmities. How much more ready will He be to heal our spiritual ailments! Our fever is that of evil passions; Jesus alone can allay it. Let us imitate the eagerness of these people of Galilee, who brought all their sick to Jesus; let us beseech Him to heal us. See with what patience He welcomes each poor sufferer! Let us also go to Him. Let us implore of Him not to depart from us, but abide with us for ever; He will accept our petition, and remain. Let us pray for sinners: the days of the great fast are quickly passing away: we have reached the second half of Lent, and the Passover of our deliverance will soon be here. Look at the thousands that are unmoved, with their souls still blind to the light, and their hearts hardened against every appeal of God’s mercy and justice; they seem resolved on making their eternal perdition lees doubtful than ever, by neglecting both the Lent and the Easter of this year. Let us offer up our penances for them; and beg of Jesus by the merits of His sacred Passion, to redouble His mercies towards them, and to deliver from satan these souls, for whose sake He is about to shed His Blood.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Subjectum tibi populum, quæsumus Domine, propitiatio cœlestis amplificet: et tuis semper faciat servire mandatis. Per Christum Dominnm nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

May thy heavenly mercy, O Lord, always increase thy people, and make them ever obedient to thy commandments. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Mozarabic liturgy offers us this beautiful exhortation. It will inspire us to persevere in our lenten penances and duties.

Missa
(Missale Gothicum. Dominica IV. in Quadragesima)

Expectantes beatam illam spem passionis ac resurrectionis Filii Dei, fratres charisgimi: et manifestationem gloriæ beati et Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi, resumite virium fortitudinem: et non quasi futuro terreamini de labore: qui ad Paschalis Dominicæ eupitis anhelando pervenire celebritatem. Sacratæ etenim Quadragesimæ tempore mediante, arripite de futuro labore fiduciam: qui præteriti jejunii jam transegietis ærumnas. Dabit Jesus lassis fortitudinem: qui pro nobis dignatus est infirman. Tribuet perfectionem futuri: qui initia donavit præteriti. Aderit in auxilio, filii: qui suæ nos cupit præstolari gloriam Pasaionis. A men.
Looking forward, dearly beloved brethren, to the hope of the Passion and Resurrection of the Son of God, as also to the manifestation of the glory of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: resume your strength and courage. Be not daunted by the labour you have to go through, but remember the solemnity of the holy Pasch, for which you are so ardently longing. One half of holy Lent is over: you have gone through the difficulties of the past, why should you not be courageous about the future fast T Jesus, who deigned to suffer fatigue for our sake, will give strength to them that are fatigued. He that granted us to begin the past, will enable us to complete the future. Children! He will be with us to assist us, who wishes us to hope for the glory of his Passion. Amen.

[1] St. John iv. 24.
[2] Is. xxix. 13.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Station is at the church of Saint Laurence in Lucina. In this venerable and celebrated church is kept the gridiron, on which the holy archdeacon consummated his martyrdom.

Collect

Jejunia nostra, quæsumus, Domine, benigno favore prosequere: ut, sicut ab alimentis abstinemus in corpore, ita a vitiis jejunemus in mente. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Let thy kind favour, O Lord, accompany our fast, that as we abstain from corporal food, so we may likewise refrain from all vice. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio libri Numeri.

Cap. xx.

In diebus illis: Convenerunt filii Israël adversum Moysen et Aaron: et versi in seditionem, dixerunt: Date nobis aquam, ut bibamus. Ingressusque Moyses et Aaron, dimissa multitudine, tabernaculum fœderis, corruerunt proni in terram, clamaveruntque ad Dominura, atque dixerunt: Domine Deus, audi clamorem hujus populi, et aperi eis thesaurum tuum, fontem aquæ vivæ, ut satiati, cesset murmuratio eorum. Et apparuit gloria Domini super eos. Locutusque est Dominus ad Moysen, dicens: Tolle virgam, et congrega populum, tu et Aaron frater tuus, et loquimini ad petram coram eis, et ilia dabit aquas. Cumque eduxeris aquam de petra, bibet omnis multitudo, et jumenta ejus. Tulit igitur Moyses virgam, quæ erat in conspectus Domini, sicut præceperat ei, congregata multitudine ante petram, dixitque eis: Audite, rebelles et increduli: num de petra hac vobis aquam poterimus ejicere? Cumque elevasset Moyses manum, percutiens virga bis silicem, egressæ sunt aquæ largissimæ, ita ut populus biberet, et jumenta. Dixitque Dominus ad Moysen et Aaron: Quia non credidistis mihi, ut sanctificaretis me coram filiis Israël, non introducetis hos populos in terram quam dabo eis. Hæc est aqua contradictionis, ubi jurgati sunt filii Israël contra Dominum, et sanctificatus est in eis.
Lesson from the Book of Numbers.

Ch. xx.

In those days: The children of Israël came together against Moses and Aaron: and making a sedition they said: Give us water to drink. And Moses and Aaron leaving the multitude, went into the tabernacle of the oovenant, and fell flat upon the ground, and cried to the Lord and said: O Lord God, hear the cry of this people, and open to them thy treasure, a fountain of living water, that being satisfied, they may cease to murmur. And the glory of the Lord appeared over them. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Take the rod, and assemble the people together, thou and Aaron thy brother, and speak to the rock before them, and it shall yield waters. And when thou hast brought forth water out of the rock, all the multitude and their cattle shall drink. Moses therefore took the rod which was before the Lord, as he had commanded him, and having gathered together the multitude before the rock, he said to them: Hear, ye rebellious and incredulous; can we bring you forth water out of this rock? And when Moses had lifted up his hand, and struck the rock twice with the rod, there came forth water in great abundance, so that the people and their cattle drank. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron: Because you have not believed me, to sanctify me before the children of Israël, you shall not bring these people into the land which I will give them. This is the water of contradiction, where the children of Israël strove with words against the Lord, and he was sanctified in them.

Here we have one of the most expressive figures of the old Testament: it symbolizes the Sacrament of Baptism, for which our catechumens are now preparing. A whole people asks for water; if it be denied them, they must perish in the wilderness. St. Paul, the sublime interpreter of the types of the old Testament, tells us that the rock is Christ,[1] from whom came forth the fountain of living water, which quenches the thirst of our souls, and purifies them. The holy fathers observe that the rock yielded not its waters until it had been struck with the rod, which signifies the Passion of our Redeemer. The rod itself, as we are told by some of the earliest commentators of the Scriptures, is the symbol of the cross; and the two strokes, wherewith the rock was struck, represent the two parts of which the cross was formed. The paintings which the primitive Church has left us in the catacombs of Rome, frequently represent Moses in the act of striking the rock, from which flows a stream of water; and a glass, found in the same catacombs, bears an inscription, telling us that the first Christians considered Moses as the type of St. Peter, who, in the new Covenant, opened to God’s people the fountain of grace, when he preached to them on the day of Pentecost; and gave also to the Gentiles to drink of this same water when he received Cornelius, the centurion, into the Church. This symbol of Moses striking the rock, and the figures of the old Testament which we have already come across, or shall still meet with, in the lessons given by the Church to the catechumens, are not only found in the earliest frescoes of the Roman catacombs, but we have numerous proofs that they were represented in all the Churches both of the east and of the west. Up to the thirteenth century and even later, we find them in the windows of our cathedrals, and in the traditional form or type which was given to them in the early times. It is to be regretted that these Christian symbols, which were so dear to our Catholic forefathers, should now be so forgotten as to be almost treated with contempt. Let us love them, and, by the study of the holy liturgy, let us return to those sacred traditions, which inspired our ancestors with heroic faith, and made them undertake such grand things for God and for their fellow-men.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.

Cap. iv.

In illo tempore: Venit Jesus in civitatem Samariæ, quæ dicitur Sichar, juxta prædium quod dedit Jacob Joseph filio suo. Erat autem ibi fons Jacob. Jesus ergo fatigatus ex itinere, sedebat sic supra fontem. Hora erat quasi sexta. Venit mulier de Samaria haurire aquam. Dicit ei Jesus: Da mihi bibere. (Discipuli enim ejus abierant in civitatem ut cibos emerent.) Dicit ergo ei mulier illa Samaritana: Quomodo tu, Judaeus cum sis, bibere a me poscis, quæ sum mulier Samaritana? Non enim coutuntur Judæi Samaritanis. Respondit Jesus, et dixit ei: Si scires donum Dei, et quis est qui dicit tibi: Da mihi bibere: tu forsitan petisses ab eo, et dedisset tibi aquam vivam. Dicit ei mulier: Domine, neque in quo haurias, habes, et puteus altus est: unde ergo habes aquam vivam? Numquid tumajor es patre nostro Jacob, qui dedit nobis puteum, et ipse ex eo bibit, et filii ejus, et pecora ejus? Respondit Jesus, et dixit ei: Omnis qui bibit ex aqua hac, sitiet iterum: qui autem biberit ex aqua, quam ego dabo ei, non sitiet in æteraum; sed aqua, quam ego dabo ei, fiet in eo fons aquæ salientis in vitam ætemam.Dicit ad cum mulier: Domine, da mihi hanc aquam, ut non sitiam, neque veniam huc haurire. Dicit ei Jesus: Vade, voca virum tuum, et veni huc. Respondit mulier, et dixit: Non habeo virum. Dicit ei Jesus: Bene dixisti, quia non habeo virum: quinque enim viros habuisti, et nunc quem habes, non est tuus vir: hoc vere dixisti. Dicit ei mulier: Domine, video quia propheta es tu. Patres nostri in monte hoc adoraverunt, et vos dicitis, quia Jerosolymis est locus, ubi adorare oportet. Dicit ei Jesus: Mulier, crede mihi, quia venit hora, quando neque in monte hoc neque in Jerosolymis adorabitis Patrem. Vos adoratis quod nescitis: nos adoramus quod scimus, quia salus ex Judæis est. Sed venit hora, et nunc est, quando veri adoratores adorabunt Patrem in spiritu et veritate. Nam et Pater tales quærit, qui adorent eum. Spiritus est Deus: et eos qui adorant eum, in spiritu et veritate oportet adorare. Dicit ei mulier: Scio quia Messias venit (qui dicitur Christus). Cum ergo venerit ille, nobis anmmtiabit omnia. Dioit ei Jesus: Ego sum, qui loquor tecum. Et continuo venerunt discipuli ejus: et mirabantur quia cum muliere loquebatur. Nemo tamen dixit: Quid quæris, aut quid loqueris cum ea? Reliquit ergo hydriam suam mulier, et abiit in civitatem, et dicit illis hominibus: Venite, et videte hominem qui dixit mihi omnia quæcumque feci: numquid ipse est Christus? Exierunt ergo de civitate, et veniebant ad eum. Interea rogabant cum discipuli dicentes: Rabbi, manduca. Ille autem dicit eis: Ego cibum habeo manducare, quem vos nescitis. Dicebant ergo discipuli ad invicem: Numquid aliquis attulit ei manducare? Dicit eis Jesus: Meus cibus est ut faciam voluntatem ejus qui misit me, ut perficiam opus ejus. Nonne vos dicitis, quod adhuc quatuor menses sunt, et messis venit? Ecce dico vobis: Levate oculos vestros, et videte regiones, quia albæ sunt jam ad messem. Et qui metit, mercedem accipit, et congregat fructum in vitam æternam: ut et qui seminat, simul gaudeat, et qui metit. In hoc enim est verbum verum: quia alius est qui seminat, et alius est qui metit. Ego misi vos metere, quod vos non laborastis: alii laboraverunt, et vos in labores eorum introistis. Ex civitate autem ilia multi crediderunt in cum Samaritanorum, propter verbum mulieris testimonium perhibentis: Quia dixit mihi omnia quæcumque feci. Gum venissent ergo ad ilium Samaritani, rogaverunt cum ut ibi maneret. Et mansit ibi duos dies. Et multo plures crediderunt in cum propter sermonem ejus. Et mulieri dicebant: Quia jam non propter tuam loquelam credimus: ipsi enim audivimus, et scimus quia hic est vere Salvator mundi.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.

Ch. iv.

At that time: Jesus came to a city of Samaria which is called Sichar, near the land which Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well. It was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus saith to her: Give me to drink. For his disciples were gone into the city to buy meats. Then that Samaritan woman saith to him: How dost thou, being a Jew, ask of me to drink, who am a Samaritan woman? For the Jews do not communicate with the Samaritans. Jesus answered, and said to her: If thou didst know the Gift of God, and who he is that saith to thee, Give me to drink: thou perhaps wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith to him: Sir, thou hast nothing wherein to draw, and the well is deep; from whence then hast thou living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered, and said to her: Whosoever drinketh of this water, shall thirst again: but he that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst for ever. But the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water springing up into life everlasting. The woman saith to him: Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come hither to draw. Jesus saith to her: Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered, and said: I have no husband. Jesus said to her: Thou hast said well, I have no husband; for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast, is not thy husband. This thou hast said truly. The woman saith to him: Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers adored on this mountain, and you say that at Jerusalem is the place where men must adore. Jesus saith to her: Woman, believe me, that the hour cometh, when you shall neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, adore the Father. You adore that which you know not; we adore that which we know, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeketh such to adore him. God is a spirit; and they that adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith to him: I know that the Messias cometh, who is called Christ; therefore when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith to her: I am he, who am speaking with thee. And immediately his disciples came; and they wondered that he talked with the woman. Yet no man said: What seekeet thou, or why talkest thou with her? The woman therefore left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men there: Come, and see a man who has told me all things whatsoever I have done. Is not he the Christ? They went therefore out of the city, and came unto him. In the meantime the disciples prayed him, saying: Rabbi, eat. But he said to them: I have meat to eat which you know not. The disciples therefore said one to another: Hath any man brought him to eat? Jesus saith to them: My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, that I may perfect his work. Do not you say, there are yet four months and then the harvest cometh? Behold I say to you, lift up your eyes, and see the countries, for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life everlasting; that both he that soweth, and he that reapeth may rejoice together. For in this is the saying true: that it is one man that soweth, and it is another that reapeth. I have sent you to reap that in which you did not labour; others have laboured, and you have entered into their labours. Now of that city many of the Samaritans believed in him, for the word of the woman giving testimony: He told me all things whatsoever I had done. So when the Samaritans were come to him, they desired him that he would tarry there. And he abode there two days. And many more believed in him because of his own word. And they said to the woman: We now believe, not for thy `saying; for we ourselves have heard him, and know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.

Our Gospel shows us the Son of God continuing the ministry of Moses, by revealing to the Samaritan woman, who represents the Gentiles, the mystery of the water that gives life everlasting. We find this subject painted on the walls of the catacombs, and carved on the tombs of the Christians, as far back as the fifth, and even the fourth century. Let us, then, meditate upon this event of our Lord’s life, for it tells us of His wonderful mercy. Jesus is wearied with His journey; He, the Son of God, who had but to speak and the world was created, is fatigued seeking after His lost sheep. He is obliged to rest His wearied limbs; He sits; but it is near a well. He finds a Samaritan woman there; she is a Gentile, an idolatress; she comes to draw water from the well; she has no idea of a water of eternal life: Jesus intends to reveal the mystery to her. He begins by telling her that He is tired and thirsty. A few days hence, when expiring on His cross, He will say:’I thirst’: and so now, He says to this woman: Give me to drink. So true is it that, in order to appreciate the grace brought us by our Redeemer, we must first know this Redeemer in His weakness and sufferings.

But before the woman has time to give Jesus what He asks, He tells her of a water, of which he that drinks shall not thirst for ever: He invites her to draw from a fountainthat springeth up into life everlasting. The woman longs to drink of this water; she knows not who He is that is speaking with her, and yet she has faith in what He says. This idolatress evinces a docility of heart, which the Jews never showed to their Messias; and she is docile, notwithstanding that He who speaks to her belongs to a nation which despises all Samaritans. The confidence wherewith she listens to Jesus is rewarded by His offering still greater graces. He begins by putting her to the test. Go, He says, eall thy husbandand come hither. She was living in sin, and Jesus would have her confess it. She does so without the slightest hesitation; her humility is rewarded, for she at once recognizes Jesus to be a Prophet, and she begins to drink of the living water. Thus was it with the Gentiles. The apostles preached the Gospel to them; they reproached them with their crimes, and showed them the holiness of the God they had offended; but the Gentiles did not therefore reject their teaching; on the contrary, they were docile, and only wanted to know what they should do to render themselves pleasing to their Creator. The faith had need of martyrs; and they were found in abundance amidst these converts from paganism and its abominations.

Jesus seeing such simple-heartedness in the Samaritan, mercifully reveals to her who He is. He tells this poor sinner that the time has come when all men shall adore God; He tells her that the Messias has come upon the earth, and that He Himself is that Messias. It is thus that Christ treats a soul that is simple and obedient. He shows Himself to her without reserve. When the disciples arrived, they wondered; they had as yet too much of the Jew in them; they, therefore, could not understand how their Master could show anything like mercy to this Samaritan. But the time will soon come, when they will say with the great apostle St. Paul: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female; for all are one in Christ Jesus.’[2]

Meanwhile, the Samaritan becomes an apostle, for she is filled with heavenly ardour. She leaves her pitcher at the well: what cares she for its water, now that Jesus has given her to drink of the living water? She goes back to the city; but it is that she may preach Jesus there, and bring to Him, if she can, all the inhabitants of Samaria. In her humility, she gives this proof of His being a great Prophet: that He has told her all the sins of her life! These pagans, whom the Jews despised, hasten to the well, where Jesus has remained speaking to His disciples on the coming harvest. They acknowledge Him to be the Messias, the Saviour of the world; and Jesus condescends to abide two days in this city, where there was no other religion than that of idolatry, with a fragment here and there of some Jewish practice. Tradition tells us that the name of the Samaritan woman was Photina. She and the Magi were the first-fruits of the new people of God. She suffered martyrdom for Him who revealed Himself to her at Jacob’s well. The Church honours her memory each year, in the Roman martyrology, on March 20.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Præsta, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut qui in tua protectione confidimus, cuncta nobis adversantia, te adjuvante, vincamus. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that we who confide in thy protection, may, through thy grace, overcome all the enemies of our salvation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Mozarabic liturgy celebrates the vocation of the Samaritan woman in the following beautiful Preface:

Illatio
(In DominicaIQuadrajesimæ)

Dignum et justum est nos tibi semper gratias agere, Domine sanete, Pater æterne, omnipotens Deus, per Jesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum. Qui ad salvationem humani generis veniens e cœlo: sitiens atque fatigatus sedisse ad puteum dicitur. Ille etenim in quo omnis plenitudo divinitatis corporaliter permanebat: quia nostræ mortalitatis corpus assumpserat: veritatem assumptæ carnis quibusdam significationibus demonstrabat. Fatigatum enim cum non aliter credimus ab itinere, nisi infirmatum in carne. Exivit quippe ad currendam viam, per significationem carnis assumptæ; ideo igitur etsi fatigatus ille in carne, non tamen uos sinit infirmari in sua infirmitate. Nam quod infirmum est iliius, fortius est hominibus. Ideoque per humilitatem veniens eripere mundum a potestate tenebrarum: sedit et sitivit quando aquam mulieri petivit. Ille etenim humiliatus erat in carne: quando sedens ad puteum loquebatur cum muliere: sitivit aquam, et exegit fidem ab ea. In ea quippe muliere, fidem quam quæsivit, quamque petivit, exegit: atque venientibus dicit de ea discipulis: Ego cibum habeo manducare quem vos nescitis. Ille jam qui in ea creaverat fidei donum: ipse poscebat aquæ sibi ab ea porrigi potum. Quique eam dilectionis suæ flamma cremabat: ipse ab ea poculum quo refrigeraretur sitiens postulabat. Ob hoc nos ad ista tantarum virtutum miracula quid apponemus, sancte et immaculate et piisime Deus: nisi conscientiam mundam et voluntatem dilectioni tuæ omni modo præparatam? Tuo igitur nomini offerentes victimam mundam: rogamus atque exposcimus: ut opereris in nobis salutem: sicut in muliere illa operatus es fidem. Operare in nobis extirpationem carnalium vitiorum, qui in illa idololatriæ pertulisti figmentum. Sentiamus quoque te in ilia futura examinatione mitissimum: sicut ilia te promeruit invenire placatum. Opus enim tuum sumus: qui nisi per to salvari non possumus. Subveni nobis, vera redemptio: pietatis indeficiens plenitudo. Non perdas quod tuum est: quibus dedisti rationis naturam, da æternitatis gloriamindefessam. Ut qui te in hac vita laudamus, in æterna quoque beatitudine multo magis glorificemus. Tu es enim Deus noster: non nos abjicias a facie tua: sed jam respice quos creasti miseratione gratuita: ut cum abstuleris a nobis omne debitum culpæ: et placitos reddideris aspectibus gratiæ tuæ: eruti ab illa noxialis putei profunditate facinorum, hydriam nostrarum relinquentes cupiditatum, ad illam æternam civitatem Hierusalem post hujus vitæ transitum convolemus.
It is meet and just that we should always give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, eternal Father, almighty God, through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Who, having come from heaven for the salvation of mankind, sat near a well, thirsting and wearied. For this is he, in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead corporally. But whereas he had assumed the body of our mortality, he wished to show, by certain signs, the reality of the flesh thus assumed; for when we say that he was wearied with a journey, we believe that this weakness was only in the flesh. He went forth to run the way, that he might show that he had taken a truo body; hence, although he was wearied in the flesh, yet would he not that our faith should grow weak at the sight of this his weakness; for that which is weak in him, is stronger than men. Having, therefore, come in humility, that he might deliver the world from the power of darkness, he sat and thirsted, when he asked the woman to give him to drink. For he was humbled in the flesh, when, sitting at the well, he spoke with the woman, and thirsted after water, and required of her her faith. Yea, he required from her the faith, which he sought and asked for; and when his disciples came he said to them concerning it: I have meat to eat which you know not of. He that had already created in her the gift of faith, asked her to give him water to drink: and he that had enkindled within her the fire of his love, asked her to give him a cup, whereby to refresh his thirst. Seeing these miracles of divine power, what else shall we offer unto thee, O holy and immaculate and most merciful God, but a pure conscience and a heart that is well prepared to receive thy love? Now, therefore, whilst offering to thy name this clean oblation, we pray and beseech thee, that thou mayst work salvation in us, as thou didst work faith in that woman. Thou didst destroy in her the delusion of idolatry; produce in us the extirpation of our carnal vices. May we find thee full of most tender mercy when thou comest to judge us, as she deserved to find thee. We are the work of thy hands, neither can we be otherwise saved than by thee. Come to our assistance, O thou our true Redeemer, the fulness of whose mercy faileth not. Destroy not what is thine own. Thou hast given us a rational nature; bestow upon us exhaustless glory of eternity, that so we who praise thee in this life, may still more fervently glorify thee in a blessed eternity. Thou art our God; cast us not away from thy face, but look upon us, whom thou didst create out of thy pure mercy: that when thou hast taken from us the whole debt of out guilt, and rendered us worthy of thy gracious sight, we, being drawn out from the deep well of our sins, and leaving behind us the pitcher of our evil desires, may, after passing through this life, take our flight to Jerusalem, the eternal city.

[1] Cor. x. 4.
[2] Gal. iii.28

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Station is in the church of Saint Susanna, virgin and martyr of Rome. The reason of this church having been chosen is that the history of the chaste Susanna, the daughter of Helcias, is read to-day.

Collect

Præsta, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, ut qui se, affligendo carnem, ab alimentis abstinent, sectando justitiam, a culpa jejunent. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that they who mortify themselves by abstinence from food, may, by observing thy holy law, also fast from all sin. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio Danielis Prophetæ.

Cap. xiii.

In diebus illis: Erat vir habitans in Babylone, et nomen ejus Joachim: et accepit uxorem nomine Susannam, filiam Helciæ, pulchram nimis, et timentem Deum: parentes enim illius, cum essent justi, erudierunt filiam suam secundum legem Moysi. Erat autem Joachim dives valde, et erat illi pomarium vicinum domui sues: et ad ipsum confluebant Judæi, eo quod esset honorabilior omnium. Et constituti sunt de populo duo senes judices in illo anno; de quibus locutus est Dominus: Quia egreesa est iniquitas de Babylone a senioribus judicibus, qui videbantur regere populum. Isti frequentabant domum Joachim, et veniebant ad eos omnes qui habebant judicia. Cum autem populus revertisset per meridiem, ingrediebatur Susanna, et deambulabat in pomario viri sui. Et videbant eam senes quotidie ingredientem et deambulantem: et exarserurrt in concupiscentiam ejus: et everterunt sensum suum, et declinaverunt oculos suos ut non viderent cœlum, neque recordarentur judiciorum justorum. Factum est autem, cum observarent diem aptum, ingressa est aliquando sicut heri et nudius tertius, cum duabus solis puellis, voluitque lavari in pomario: æstusquippe erat: et non erat ibi quisquam, præter duos senes absconditos et contemplantes eam. Dixit ergo puellis: Afferte mihi oleum, et smigmata, et ostia pomarii claudite, ut laver. Cum autem egressæ essent puellæ, surrexerunt duo senes, et accurrerunt ad eam, et dixerunt: Ecce ostia pomarii clausa sunt, et nemo nos videt, et nos in concupiscentia tui sumus: quamobrem assentire nobis, et commiscere nobiscum. Quod si nolueris, dicemus contra te testimonium, quod fuerit tecum juvenis, et ob hanc causam emiseris puellas a te. Ingemuit Susanna, et ait: Augustiæ sunt mihi undique: si enim hoc egero, mors mihi est: si autem non egero, non effugiam manus vestras. Sed melius est mihi absque opere incidere in manus vestras, quam peccare in conspectu Domini. Et exclamavit voce magna Susanna; exclamaverunt autem et senes adversus eam. Et cucurrit unus ad ostia pomarii, et aperuit. Cum ergo audissent clamorem famuli domus in pomario, irruerunt per posticum, ut viderent quidnam esset. Postquam autem senes locuti sunt, erubuerunt servi vehementer: quia numquam dictus fuerat sermo hujuscemodi de Susanna. Et facta est dies crastina. Cumque venisset populus ad Joachim virum ejus, venerunt et duo seniores pleni iniqua cogitations adversus Susannam, ut interficerent eam. Et dixerunt coram populo: Mittite ad Susannam filiam Helciæ uxorem Joachim. Et statim miserunt. Et venit cum parentibus, et filiis, et universis cognatis suis. Flebant igitur sui, et omnes qui noverant eam. Consurgentes autem duo seniores in medio populi, posuerunt manus suas super caput ejus. Quæ flens suspexit ad cœlum: erat enim cor ejus fiduciam habens in Domino. Et dixerunt seniores: Cum deambularemus in pomario soli, ingressa est hæc cum duabus puellis: et clausit ostia pomarii, et dimisit a se puellas. Venitque ad eam adolescens, qui erat absconditus, et concubuit cum ea. Porro nos, cum essemus in angulo pomarii, videntes iniquitatem, cucurrimus ad eos, et vidimus eos pariter commisceri. Et ilium quidem non quivimus comprehendere, quia fortior nobis erat, et apertis ostiis exilivit: hanc autem cum apprehendissemus, interrogavimus, quisnam esset adolescens, et noluit indicare nobis: hujus rei testes sumus. Credidit eis multitudo quasi senibus et judicibus populi, et condemnaverunt eam ad mortern. Exclamavit autem voce magna Susanna, et dixit: Deus æterne, qui absconditorum es cognitor, qui nosti omnia antequam fiant, tu scis quoniam falsum testimonium tulerunt contra me: et ecce morior, cum nihil horum fecerim, quæ isti malitiose composuerunt adversum me. Exaudivit autem Dominus vocem ejus. Cumque duceretur ad mortern, suscitavit Dominus spiritum sanctum pueri junioris, cujus nornen Daniel. Et exclama vit voce magna: Mundus ego sum a sanguine hujus. Et conversus omnis populus ad eum, dixit: Quis est iste sermo, quem tu locutus es? Qui cum staret in medio eorum, ait: Sic fatui, filii Israël, non judicantes, neque quod verum est cognoscentes, condemnastis filiam Israël? Revertimini ad judicium, quia falsum testimonium locuti sunt adversus eam. Reversus est ergo populus cum festinatione. Et dixit ad eos Daniel: Separate illos ab invicem procul, et dijudicabo eos. Cum ergo divisi essent alter ab altero, vocavit unum de eis, et dixit ad eum: Inveterate dierum malorum, nunc venerunt peccata tua, quæ operabaris prius, judicans judicia injusta, innocentes opprimens, et dimittens noxios, dicente Domino: Innocentem et justum non interficies. Nunc ergo si vidisti eam, dic sub qua arbore videris eos colloquentes sibi. Qui ait: Sub schino. Dixit autem Daniel: Recte mentitus es in caput tuum. Ecce enim angelus Dei, accepta sententia ab eo, scindet te medium. Et, amoto eo, jussit venire alium, et dixit ei: Semen Chanaan, et non Juda, species decepit te, et concupiscentia subvertit cor tuum: sic faciebatis filiabus Israël, et illæ timentes loquebantur vobis; sed filia Juda non sustinuit iniquitatem vestram. Nunc ergo die mihi, sub qua arbore comprehenderis eos loquentes sibi. Qui ait: Sub prino. Dixit autem ei Daniel: Recte mentitus es et tu in caput tuum: manet enim angelus Domini, gladium habens, ut secet te medium, et interficiat vos. Exclamavit itaque omnis cœtus voce magna, et benedixerunt Deum, qui salvat sperantes in se. Et consurrexerunt adversus duos seniores(convicerat enim eos Daniel ex ore suo falsum dixisse testimonium), feceruntque eis sicut male egerant adversus proximum, et interfecerunt eos; et salvatus est sanguis innoxius in die ilia.
Lesson from the Prophet Daniel.

Ch. xiii.

In those days: There was a man that dwelt in Babylon, and his name was Joakim; and he took a wife whose name was Susanna, the daughter of Helcias, a very beautiful woman, and one that feared God. For her parents being just, had instructed their daughter according to the law of Moses. Now Joakim was very rich, and had an orchard near his house; and the Jews resorted to him, because he was the most honourable of them all. And there were two of the ancients of the people appointed judges that year, of whom the Lord said: Iniquity came out from Babylon from the ancient judges, that seemed to govern the people. These men frequented the house of Joakim, and all that had any matters of judgment came to them. And when the people departed away at noon, Susanna went in, and walked in her husband’s orchard. And the old men saw her going in every day, and walking; and they were inflamed with lust towards her; and they perverted their own mind, and turned away their eyes, that they might not look unto heaven, nor remember just judgments. And it fell out, as they watched a fit day, she went in on a time, as yesterday and the day before, with two maids only, and was desirous to wash herself in the orchard, for it was hot weather. And there was nobody there but the two old men, that had hid themselves and were beholding her. So she said to the maids: Bring me oil and washing balls, and shut the doors of the orchard, that I may wash me. Now when the maids were gone forth, the two elders arose, and ran to her, and said: Behold the doors of the orchard are shut, and nobody seeth us, and we are in love with thee; wherefore consent to us, and lie with us. But if thou wilt not, we will bear witness against thee, that a young man was with thee, and therefore thou didst send away thy maids from thee. Susanna sighed and said: I am straitened on every side; for if I do this thing, it is death to me, and if I do it not, I shall not escape your hands. But it is better for me to fall into your hands without doing it, than to sin in the sight of the Lord. With that Susanna cried out with a loud voice, and the elders also cried out against her; and one of them ran to the door of the orchard, and opened it. So when the servants of the house heard the cry in the orchard, they rushed in by the back door, to see what was the matter. But after the old men had spoken, the servants were greatly ashamed, for never had there been any such word said of Susanna. And on the next day, when the people were come to Joakim her husband, the two elders also came, full of their wicked device against Susanna, to put her to death. And they said before the people: Send to Susanna, daughter of Helcias, the wife of Joakim. And they presently sent; and she came with her parents, and children, and all her kindred. Therefore her friends and all her acquaintance wept. But the two elders, rising up in the midst of the people, laid their hands upon her head. And she weeping looked up to heaven, for her heart had confidence in the Lord. And the elders said: As we walked in the orchard alone, this woman came in with two maids, and shut the doors of the orchard, and sent away the maids from her. Then a young man that was there hid, came to her, and lay with her. But we that were in the corner of the orchard, seeing this wickedness, ran up to them, and we saw them lie together. And as for him we could not take him, because he was stronger than we, and opening the doors he leaped out; but having taken this woman, we asked who the young man was, but she would not tell us. Of this thing we are witnesses. The multitude believed them as being the elders and judges of the people, and they condemned her to death. Then Susanna cried out with a loud voice, and said: O eternal God, who knowest hidden things, who knowest all things before they come to pass, thou knowest that they have borne false witness against me; and behold I must die, whereas I have done none of these things, which these men have maliciously forged against me. And the Lord heard her voice. And when she was led to be put to death, the Lord raised up the holy spirit of a young boy, whose name was Daniel; and he cried out with a loud voice: I am clear from the blood of this woman. Then all the people turning towards him, said: What meaneth this word that thou hast spoken? But he standing in the midst of them, said: Are ye so foolish, ye children of Israel, that without examination or knowledge of the truth, ye have condemned a daughter of Israel? Return to judgment, for they have borne false witness against her. So all the people turned again in haste. And Daniel said to the people: Separate these two far from one another, and I will examine them. So when they were put asunder one from the other, he called one of them and said to him: O thou that art grown old in evil days, now are thy sins come out which thou hast committed before, in judging unjust judgments, oppressing the innocent, and letting the guilty go free, whereas the Lord saith: The innocent and the just thou shalt not kill. Now then, if thou sawest her, tell me under what tree thou sawest them conversing together. He said: Under a mastick tree. And Daniel said: Well hast thou lied against thy own head; for behold the angel of God, having received the sentence of him, shall cut thee in two. And having put him aside, he commanded that the other should come, and he said to him: O thou seed of Chanaan, and not of Juda, beauty hath deceived thee, and lust hath perverted thy heart; thus did you do to the daughters of Israel, and they for fear conversed with you; but a daughter of Juda would not abide yourwickedness. Now, therefore, tell me under what tree didst thou take them conversing together? And he answered: Under a holm tree. And Daniel said to him: Well hast thou also lied against thy own head; for the angel of the Lord waiteth with a sword to cut thee in two, and to destroy thee. With that all the assembly cried out with a loud voice, and they blessed God, who saveth them that trust in him. And they rose up against the two elders (for Daniel had convicted them of false witness by their own mouth), and they did to them as they had maliciously dealt against their neighbour, and they put them to death, and innocent blood was saved in that day.

Yesterday, we shared in the joy felt by our catechumens, as they listened to the Church describing that limpid and life-giving fountain, which flows from the Saviour; in these waters they were soon to receive a new life. To-day the instruction is for the penitents, whose reconciliation is drawing near. But how can they hope for pardon, who have sullied the white robe of their Baptism, and trampled on the precious Blood that redeemed them? And yet, they are really to be pardoned and saved. If you would understand the mystery, read and meditate upon the sacred Scriptures; for there you will leam that there is a salvation which comes from justice, and a salvation that proceeds from mercy. To-day we have an example of both. Susanna, who is unjustly accused of adultery, receives from God the recompense of her virtue; He avenges and saves her; another woman, who is really guilty of the crime, is saved from death by Jesus Christ Himself. Let the just, therefore, confidently and humbly await the reward they have merited; but let sinners also hope in the mercy of the Redeemer, who has come for them rather than for the just. Thus does the holy Church encourage her penitents, and call them to conversion, by showing them the riches of the Heart of Jesus, and the mercies of the new Covenant, which this same Saviour has signed with His Blood.

In this history of Susanna the early Christians saw a figure of the Church, which, in their time, was solicited by the pagans to evil, but remained faithful to her divine Spouse, even though death was the punishment of her resistance. A holy martyr of the third century, St. Hippolytus, mentions this interpretation.[1] The carvings on the ancient Christian tombs, and the frescoes of the Roman catacombs, represent this history of Susanna’s fidelity to God’s law in spite of the death that threatened her, as a type of the martyrs preferring death to apostasy; for apostasy, in the language of the sacred Scriptures, is called adultery, which the soul is guilty of by denying her God, to whom she espoused herself when she received Baptism.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.

Cap. viii.

In illo tempore: Perrexit Jesus in montem Oliveti: et diluculo iterum venit in templum, et omnis populus venit ad eum. Et sedens docebat eos. Adducunt autem scribæ et pharisæi mulierem in adulterio deprehensam: et statuerunt eam in medio, et dixerunt ei: Magister, hæo mulier modo deprehensa est in adulterio. In lege autem Moyses mandavit nobis hujusmodi lapidare. Tu ergo quid dicis? Hoc autem dicebant tentantes eum, ut possent accueare eum. Jesus autem inclinans se deorsum, digito scribebat in terra. Cum ergo perseverarent interrogantes eum, erexit se, et dixit eis: Qui sine peccato est vestrum, primus in illam lapidem mittat. Et iterum se inclinans, scribebat in terra. Audientes autem, unus post unum exibant, incipientes a senioribus: et remansit solus Jesus, et mulier in medio stans. Erigens autem se Jesus, dixit ei: Mulier, ubi sunt, qui te accusabant? Nemo te condemnavit? Quæ dixit: Nemo, Domine. Dixit autem Jesus: Nec ego te condemnabo. Vade, et jam amplius noli peccare.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.

Ch. viii.

At that time: Jesus went to Mount Olivet. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him, and sitting down he taught them. And the scribes and pharisees bring unto him a woman taken in adultery, and they set her in the midst, and said to him: Master, this woman was even now taken in adultery. Now, Moses in the law commanded us to stone such a one: but what sayest thou? And this they said tempting him, that they might accuse him. But Jesus, bowing himself down, wrote with his finger on the ground. When therefore they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said to them: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again stooping down, he wrote on the ground. But they hearing this, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest; and Jesus alone remained, and the woman standing in the midst. Then Jesus lifting up himself, said to her: Woman, where are they that accused thee? Hath no man condemned thee? Who said: No man, Lord. And Jesus said: Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more.

This is the salvation that proceeds from mercy. The woman is guilty; the Law condemns her to be put to death; her accusers are justified in insisting on her being punished: and yet, she shall not die. Jesus saves her; and all He asks of her is, that she sin no more. What must have been her gratitude! How must she have desired to obey, henceforward, that God, who would not condemnher, and to whom she owed her life! Let us enter into the like dispositions towards our Redeemer, for we, too, are sinners. Is it not He that has stayed the arm of divine justice, when it was raised to strike us? Has He not turned the blow upon Himself? Our salvation, then, has been one of mercy; let us imitate the penitents of the primitive Church, and, during these remaining days of Lent, consolidate the foundations of the new life we have begun.

The answer made by Jesus to the pharisees, who accused this woman, deserves our respectful attention. It not only shows His compassion for the humble sinner, who stood trembling before Him; it contains a practical instruction for us. He that is without sin among youlet him be the first to cast a stone at her. During these days of conversion and repentance, let us recall to mind the detractions we have been guilty of against our neighbour. Alas! these sins of the tongue are looked upon as mere trifles; we forget them almost as soon as we have committed them; nay, so deeply rooted in us is the habit of finding fault with everyone, that we scarcely know ourselves to be detractors. If this saying of our Redeemer had made the impression it ought to have made upon us; if we had thought of our own numberless defects and sins; how could we have dared to criticize our neighbour, publish his faults, and pass judgment upon his very thoughts and intentions? Jesus knew what sort of life these men had led, who accused the woman; He knows what ours has been! Woe to us if, henceforth, we are not indulgent with others!

And lastly, let us consider the malice of Jesus’enemies; what they said, they saidtempting Himthat they might accuse Him.If He pronounce in the woman’s favour, they will accuse Him of despising the Law of Moses, which condemns her to be stoned: if He answer in conformity with the Law, they will hold Him up to the people as a man without mercy or compassion. Jesus, by His divine prudence, eludes their stratagem; but we can foresee what He will have to suffer at their hands, when, having put Himself in their power, that they may do with Him what they please, He will make no other answer to their calumnies and insults than the silence and patience of an innocent Victim condemned to death.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Prætende, Domine, fidelibus tuis dexteram cœlestis auxilii: ut te toto corde perquirant; et quæ digne postulant, consequi mereantur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Stretch forth, O Lord, over thy people, the right hand of thy heavenly aid, that they may seek thee with their whole heart, and mercifully obtain what they ask for as they ought. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us offer to Mary, as we are accustomed to do on the last day of each week, some special expression of our love. Let us say, in her honour, the following sequence, which is taken from the ancient RomanFrench missals:

Sequence

Mariæ præconio
Serviat cum gaudio,
Fervens desiderio,
Verus amor.

Amoris suffragio
Præsentetur Filio,
Matris in obsequio,
Cordis clamor.

Ave salus hominum,
Virgo decus virginum,
Te decet post Dominum
Laus et honor.

Tu rosa, tu lilium,
Cujus Dei Filium
Carnis ad connubium
Traxit odor.

Ave manans satie
Fons misericordiæ,
Vera mentis sauciæ
Medicina.

Tu pincerna veniæ,
Tu lucerna gratiae,
Tu supemæ gloriæ
Es regina.

Ave carens carie
Speculum munditiæ,
Venuatans Ecclesiæ
Sacramentum.

Tu finis miseriæ,
Tu ver es lætitiæ,
Pacis et concordiæ
Condimentum.

O felix puerpera,
Nostra pians scelera,
Jure Matris impera
Redemptori.

Da fidei fædera,
Da salutis opera,
Da in vitæ vespera
Bene mori.

Amen.
Let this be our
joyous praise of Mary:
true and
fervent love.

Let the cry of our heart,
as it sings in the Mother's honour,
be presented to her Son
as a tribute of love.

Hail thou that broughtest salvation to men!
O Virgin, and Queen of virgins!
to thee, after God,
are due praise and honour.

Thou art the fair rose and lily,
whose fragrance drew
the Son of God to assume
our human nature.

Hail overflowing
fount of mercy!
Hail true balm
of the wounded heart!

Thou art the ministress of pardon,
the flame richly
fed with grace,
the Queen of matchless glory.

Hail spotless
mirror of purity,
that givest beauty
to the holy Church of God!

Where thou art,
there can be no sadness,
for thou art the spring-time of joy;
thou art the bond of peace and concord.

O happy Mother!
use a Mother’s right;
and bid thy Son, our Redeemer,
forgive us our sins.

These are the gifts we ask of thee:
firmness of faith,
works available to salvation,
and in the evening of life, a happy death.

Amen.

 

[1] In Danielem, page 27. Edit Fabricius.

 

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