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.
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.
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.
Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Ephesios.
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.
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—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, heretofore, were 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 goodness, justice, and 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.
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.
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.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The psalms and antiphons are given on page 99.
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.
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.
(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.
 St. Matt. v. 48.