Fourth Week of Lent
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
This Sunday, called, from the first word of the Introit, Lætare Sunday, is one of the most solemn of the year. The Church interrupts her lenten mournfulness; the chants of the Mass speak of nothing but joy and consolation; the organ, which has been silent during the preceding three Sundays, now gives forth its melodious voice; the deacon resumes his dalmatic, and the subdeacon his tunic; and instead of purple, rose-coloured vestments are allowed to be used. These same rites were practised in Advent, on the third Sunday, called Gaudete. The Church’s motive for introducing this expression of joy into to-day’s liturgy is to encourage her children to persevere fervently to the end of this holy season. The real mid-Lent was last Thursday, as we have already observed; but the Church, fearing lest the joy might lead to some infringement on the spirit of penance, has deferred her own notice of it to this Sunday, when she not only permits, but even bids, her children to rejoice!
The Station at Rome is in the basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem, one of the seven principal churches of the holy city. It was built in the fourth century, by the emperor Constantine, in one of his villas called Sessorius, on which account it goes also under the name of the Sessorian basilica. The emperor’s mother, St. Helen, enriched it with most precious relics, and wished to make it the Jerusalem of Rome. With this intention she ordered a great quantity of earth taken from Mount Calvary to be put on the site. Among the other relics of the instruments of the Passion which she gave to this church was the inscription which was fastened to the cross; it is still there, and is called the Tide of the Cross. The name of Jerusalem, which has been given to this basilica, and which recalls to our minds the heavenly Jerusalem towards which we are tending, suggested the choice of it as to-day’s Station. Up to the fourteenth century, when Avignon became for a time the city of the Popes, the ceremony of the golden rose took place in this church; at present, it is blessed in the palace where the sovereign Pontiff happens to be residing at this season.
The blessing of the golden rose is one of the ceremonies peculiar to the fourth Sunday of Lent, which is called on this account Rose Sunday. The thoughts suggested by this flower harmonize with the sentiments wherewith the Church would now inspire her children. The joyous time of Easter is soon to give them a spiritual spring, of which that of nature is but a feeble image. Hence, we cannot be surprised that the institution of this ceremony is of a very ancient date. We find it observed under the pontificate of St. Leo IX. (eleventh century); and we have a sermon on the golden rose preached by the glorious Pope Innocent III., on this Sunday, and in the basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem. In the middle ages, when the Pope resided in the Lateran palace, having first blessed the rose, he went on horseback to the church of the Station. He wore the mitre, was accompanied by all the Cardinals, and held the blessed flower in his hand. Having reached the basilica, he made a discourse on the mysteries symbolized by the beauty, the colour, and the fragrance of the rose. Mass was then celebrated. After the Mass, the Pope returned to the Lateran palace. Surrounded by the sacred college, he rode across the immense plain which separates the two basificas, with the mystic flower still in his hand. We may imagine the joy of the people as they gazed upon the holy symbol. When the procession had reached the palace gates, if there were a prince present, it was his privilege to hold the stirrup, and assist the Pontiff to dismount; for which filial courtesy he received the rose, which had received so much honour and caused such joy.
At present, the ceremony is not quite so solemn; still the principal rites are observed. The Pope blesses the golden rose in the vestiary; he anoints it with holy chrism, over which he sprinkles a scented powder, as formerly; and when the hour for Mass has come, he goes to the palace chapel, holding the flower in his hand. During the holy Sacrifice, it is fastened to a golden rose-branch prepared for it on the altar. After the Mass, it is brought to the Pontiff, who holds it in his hand as he returns from the chapel to the vestiary. It is usual for the Pope to send the rose to some prince or princess, as a mark of honour; sometimes, it is a city or a Church that receives the flower.
We subjoin a free translation of the beautiful prayer used by the sovereign Pontiff when blessing the golden rose. It will give our readers a clearer appreciation of this ceremony, which adds so much solemnity to the fourth Sunday of Lent. ‘O God! by whose word and power all things were created, and by whose will they are all governed! O Thou that art the joy and gladness of all Thy faithful people! we beseech Thy divine Majesty, that Thou vouchsafe to bless and sanctify this rose, so lovely in its beauty and fragrance. We are to bear it, this day, in our hands, as a symbol of spiritual joy; that thus the people that is devoted to Thy service, being set free from the captivity of Babylon by the grace of Thine only-begotten Son who is the glory and the joy of Israel, may show forth, with a sincere heart, the joys of that Jerusalem, which is above, and is our mother. And whereas Thy Church, seeing this symbol, exults with joy for the glory of Thy Name; do Thou, O Lord! give her true and perfect happiness. Accept her devotion, forgive us our sins, increase our faith; heal us by Thy word, protect us by Thy mercy; remove all obstacles; grant us all blessings; that thus this Same Thy Church may offer unto Thee the fruit of good works; and walking in the odour of the fragrance of that Flower, which sprang from the root of Jesse, and is called the Flower of the field, and the Lily of the valley, may she deserve to enjoy an endless joy in the bosom of heavenly glory, in the society of all the saints, together with that divine Flower, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.’
We now come to the explanation of another name given to the fourth Sunday of Lent, which was suggested by the Gospel of the day. We find this Sunday called in several ancient documents, the Sunday of the five loaves. The miracle alluded to in this title not only forms an essential portion of the Church’s instructions during Lent, but it is also an additional element of to-day’s joy. We forget for an instant the coming Passion of the Son of God, to give our attention to the greatest of the benefits He has bestowed on us; for under the figure of these loaves multiplied by the power of Jesus, our faith sees that Bread which came down from heaven, and giveth life to the world. ‘The Pasch,’ says our Evangelist, ‘was near at hand’; and, in a few days, our Lord will say to us: ‘With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you.’ Before leaving this world to go to His Father, Jesus desires to feed the multitude that follows Him; and in order to this, He displays His omnipotence. Well may we admire that creative power, which feeds five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, and in such wise that even after all have partaken of the feast as much as they would, there remain fragments enough to fill twelve baskets. Such a miracle is, indeed, an evident proof of Jesus’ mission; but He intends it as a preparation for something far more wonderful; He intends it as a figure and a pledge of what He is soon to do, not merely once or twice, but every day, even to the end of time; not only for five thousand men, but for the countless multitude of believers. Think of the millions, who, this very year, are to partake of the banquet of the Pasch; and yet, He whom we have seen born in Bethlehem (the house of bread) is to be the nourishment of all these guests; neither will the divine Bread fail. We are to feast as did our fathers before us; and the generations that are to follow us, shall be invited as we now are, to come and taste how sweet is the Lord.
But observe, it is in a desert place, as we leam from St. Matthew, that Jesus feeds these men, who represent us Christians. They have quitted the bustle and noise of cities in order to follow Him. So anxious are they to hear His words, that they fear neither hunger nor fatigue; and their courage is rewarded. A like recompense will crown our labours, our fasting and abstinence, which are now more than half over. Let us, then, rejoice, and spend this day with the light-heartedness of pilgrims who are near the end of their journey. The happy moment is advancing, when our soul, united and filled with her God, will look back with pleasure on the fatigues of the body, which, together with our heart’s compunction, have merited for her a place at the divine banquet.
The primitive Church proposed this miracle of the multiplication of the loaves as a symbol of the Eucharist, the Bread that never fails. We find it frequently represented in the paintings of the catacombs and on the bas-reliefs of the ancient Christian tombs. The fishes, too, that were given together with the loaves, are represented on these venerable monuments of our faith; for the early Christians considered the fish to be the symbol of Christ, because the word ‘fish’ in Greek is made up of five letters, which are the initials of these words: Jesus Christ Son (of) Gody Saviour.
In the Greek Church this is the last day of the week called, as we have already noticed, Mesonestios. Breaking through her rule of never admitting a saint’s feast during Lent, she keeps this mid-Lent Sunday in honour of the celebrated abbot of the monastery of Mount Sinai, St. John Climacus, who lived in the sixth century.
The seventy years’ captivity will soon be over. Yet a little while, and the captives shall return to Jerusalem. This is the idea expressed by the Church in all the chants of to-day’s Mass. She ventures not to pronounce the heavenly Alleluia; but all her canticles bespeak jubilation; for, in a few days hence, the house of the Lord will lay aside her mourning, and will be keeping the gladdest of her feasts.
Lætare, Jerusalem; et conventum facite omnes, qui diligitis eam: gaudete eum lætitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestræ.
Ps. Lætatus sum in his quæ dicta sunt mihi: In domum Domini ibimus. V. Gloria Patri. Lætare.
Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and meet together all you who love her; rejoice exceedingly, you who have been in sorrow, that you may leap for joy, and be satiated with comfort from her breasts.
Ps. I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord. V. Glory. Rejoice.
In the Collect, the Church acknowledges that her children deserve the penance they are going through; but she begs that, to-day, the hope of the coming divine consolations may refresh their spirits. The full force of the closing word of her prayer, is that they may breathe awhile.
Concede, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus; ut qui ex merito nostræ actionis affligimur, tuæ gratiæ consolations respiremus. Per Dominum.
Grant, we beseech thee,O almighty God, that we, who are justly afflicted according to our demerits, may be relieved by thy comforting grace. Through, &c.
The second and third Collects are given on the first Sunday of Lent, page 129.
Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Galatas.
Fratres, scriptum est: Quoniam Abraham duos filios habuit: unum de ancilia, et unum de libera. Sed qui de ancilla, secundum carnem natus est: qui autem de libera, per repromissionem: quæ sunt per allegoriam dicta. Hæc enim sunt duo testamenta. Unum quidem in monte Sina, in servitutem generans: quæ est Agar: Sina enim mons est in Arabia, qui conjunctus est ei quæ nunc est Jerusalem, et servit cum filiis suis. Ilia autem, quæ sursum est Jerusalem, libera est, quæ est mater nostra. Scriptum est enim: Lætare, sterilis, quæ non paris: erumpe et clama, quæ non parturis: quia multi filii desertæ, magis quam ejus quæ habet virum. Nos autem, fratres, secundum Isaac, promissionis filii sumus. Sed quomodo tunc is, qui secundum camem natus fuerat, persequebatur eum, qui secundum spiritum: ita et nunc. Sed quid dicit Scriptura? Ejice ancillam et filium ejus: non enim hæres erit filius ancillæ cum filio liberæ. Itaque, fratres, non sumus ancillæ filii, sed liberæ: qua libertate Christus nos liberavit.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Galatians.
Brethren: It is written that Abraham had two sons; the one by a bond-woman, and the other by a free-woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh; but he by the free-woman, was by promise. Which things are said by an allegory. For these are the two testaments. The one from Mount Sina, engendering unto bondage, which is Agar; for Sina is a mountain in Arabia, which hath affinity to that Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But that Jerusalem, which is above, is free; which is our mother. For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not: break forth and cry, thou that travailest not; for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he, that was born according to the flesh, persecuted him that was after the spirit, so also is it now. But what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bond-woman and her son; for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond-woman, but of the free; by the freedom wherewith Christ hath made us free.
Let us, then, rejoice! We are children, not of Sina, but of Jerusalem. Our mother, the holy Church, is not a bond-woman, but free; and it is unto freedom that she has brought us up. Israel served God in fear; his heart was ever tending to idolatry, and could be kept to duty only by the heavy yoke of chastisement. More happy than he, we serve God through love; our yoke is sweet, and our burden is light! We are not citizens of the earth; we are but pilgrims passing through it to our true country, the Jerusalem which is above. We leave the earthly Jerusalem to the Jew, who minds only terrestrial things, is disappointed with Jesus, and is plotting how to crucify Him. We also have too long been grovelling in the goods of this world; we have been slaves to sin; and the more the chains of our bondage weighed upon us, the more we talked of our being free. Now is the favourable time; now are the days of salvation: we have obeyed the Church’s call, and have entered into the practice and spirit of Lent. Sin seems to us, now, to be the heaviest of yokes; the flesh, a dangerous burden; the world, a merciless tyrant. We begin to breathe the fresh air of holy liberty, and the hope of our speedy deliverance fills us with transports of joy. Let us, with all possible affection, thank our divine Liberator, who delivers us from the bondage of Agar, emancipates us from the law of fear, and making us His new people, opens to us the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem, at the price of His Blood.
The Gradual expresses the joy felt by the Gentiles, when invited to enter the house of the Lord, which has now become their own. The Tract shows God protecting His Church, the new Jerusalem, which is not to be conquered and destroyed as was that first one. This holy city communicates her own stability and security to them that are in her, for the Lord watches over both the mother and her children.
Lætatus sum in his quæ dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus. V. Fiat pax in virtute tua: et abundantia in turribus tuis.
I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord. V. Let peace be in thy strength, and abundance in thy towers.
Qui confidunt in Domino, sicut mons Sion: non cornmovebitur in æternum, qui habitat in Jerusalem. V. Montes in circuitu ejus: et Dominus in circuitu populi sui, ex hoc, nunc, et usque in sæculum.
They that trust in the Lord, shall be as Mount Sion; he shall not be moved for ever that dwelleth in Jerusalem. V. Mountains are round about it; so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth now and for ever.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
In illo tempore: Abiit Jesus trans mare Galilææ, quod est Tiberiadis: et sequebatur cum multitudo magna, quia videbant signa quæ faciebat super his qui infirmabantur. Subiit ergo in montem Jesus: et ibi sedebat cum discipulis suis. Erat autem proximum Pascha, dies festus Judæorum. Cum sublevasset ergo oculos Jesus, et vidisset quia multitudo maxima venit ad eum, dixit ad Philippum: Unde ememus panes, ut manducent hi? Hoc autem dicebat tentans eum: ipse enim soiebat quid esset facturus. Respondit ei Philippus: Ducentorum denariorum panes non sufficiunt eis, ut unusquisque modicum quid accipiat. Dicit ei unus ex discipulis ejus, Andreas, frater Simonis Petri: Est puer unus hie, qui habet quinque panes hordeaceos, et duos pieces: sed hæc quid sunt inter tantos? Dixit ergo Jesus: Facite homines discumbere. Erat autem feenum multum in loco. Discubuerunt ergo viri, numero quasi quinque millia. Accepit ergo Jesus panes: et cum gratias egisset, distribuit discumbentibus: similiter et ex piscibus quantum vole bant. Ut autem impleti sunt, dixit discipulis suls: Colligite quæ superaverunt fragmenta, ne pereant. Collegerunt ergo, et impleverunt duodecim cophinos fragmentorum ex quinque panibus hordeaceis, quæ superfuerunt his qui manducaverant. Illi ergo homines cum vidissent quod Jesus fecerat signum, dicebant: Quia hic est vere propheta, qui venturus est in mundum. Jesus ergo cum cognovisset quia venturi essent ut raperent eum, et facerent cum regem, fugit iterum in monternipse solus.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.
At that time: Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias; and a great multitude followed him, because they saw the miracles which he did on them that were diseased. Jesus therefore went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. Now the Pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus therefore had lifted up his eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? And this he said to try him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him: Two hundred penny-worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to him: There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves, and two fishes; but what are these among so many? Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them that were sat down. In Like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would; and when they were filled, he said to his disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost. They gathered up therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten. Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet that is to come into the world. Jesus therefore, when he knew that they would come to take him by force and make him king, fled again into the mountain himself alone.
These men, whom Jesus has been feeding by a miracle of love and power,are resolved to make Him their King. They have no hesitation in proclaiming Him worthy to reign over them; for where can they find one worthier? What, then, shall we Christians do, who know the goodness and the power of Jesus incomparably better than these poor Jews? We must beseech Him to reign over us, from this day forward. We have just been reading in the Epistle, that it is He who has made us free, by delivering us from our enemies.Oglorious liberty! But the only way to maintain it, is to live under His Law. Jesus is not a tyrant, as are the world and the flesh; His rule is sweet and peaceful, and we are His children rather than His servants. In the court of such a King ‘to serve is to reign.’ What, then, have we to do with our old slavery? If some of its chains be still upon us, let us lose no time, let us break them, for the Pasch is near at hand; the great feastday begins to dawn. Onwards, then, courageously to the end of our journey! Jesus will refresh us; He will make us sit down as He did the men of the Gospel; and the Bread He has in store for us will make us forget all our past fatigues.
In the Offertory, the Church again borrows the words of David, wherewith to praise the Lord; but, to-day, it is mainly His goodness and power that she celebrates.
Laudate Dominum, quia benignus est; psallite nomini ejus, quoniam suavis est: omnia quæcumque voluit, fecit in cœlo et in terra.
Praise ye the Lord, for he is good, sing ye to his name, for he is sweet: what he pleased he hath done, in heaven and on earth.
The Secret is a prayer for the increase of devotion. We ask it by the merits of the Sacrifice at which we are assisting, for it is the source of our salvation.
Sacrificiis præsentibus, Domine, quæeumus, intende placatas: ut et devotioni nostræ proficiant et saluti. Per Dominum.
We beseech thee, O Lord, mercifully regard this present Sacrifice, that it may both increase our devotion, and advance our salvation. Through, &c.
The second and third Secrets are given on the first Sunday of Lent, page 136.
In the Communion anthem, the Church sings the praise of the heavenly Jerusalem, which is figured by the basilica of Holy Cross, as we have already explained. She speaks of the joy of the tribes of the Lord, who are assembled in this venerable temple, and are contemplating, under the graceful symbol of the rose, the divine Spouse, Jesus. The fragrance of His perfections draws our hearts after Him.
Jerusalem quæ ædificatur ut civitas, cujus participatio ejus in idipsum: illuc enim ascenderunt tribus, tribus Domini, ad confitendum nomini tuo, Domine.
Jerusalem, which is built as a city, which is compact together; for thither did the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to praise thy name, O Lord.
The divine mystery of the Bread of life has been brought before us, that we might believe and love it. The Church, therefore, in the Postcommunion, prays that we may have the grace to receive this august mystery with becoming respect and careful preparation.
Da nobis, quæsumus, misericors Deus: ut sancta tua, quibus incessanter explemur, sinceria tractemus obsequiis, et fideli semper mente sumamus. Per Dominum.
Grant, we beseech thee, O merciful God, that we may sincerely respect, and receive with faith thy holy mysteries, with which thou daily feedest us. 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: Scriptum est, quoniam Abraham duos filios habuit: unum de ancilla, et unum de libera. Sed qui de ancilla, secundum carnem natus est; qui autem de libera, per repromissionem: quæ sunt per allegoriam dicta.
Brethren: it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bond-woman, and the other by a free-woman. But he who was of the bondwoman, was born according to the flesh: but he of the free-woman, was by promise: which things are said by an allegory.
For hymn and versicle, see page 106.
Antiphon of the Magnificat
Subiit ergo in monte m Jesus, et ibi sedebat cum discipulis suis.
Concede, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, ut qui ex merito nostræ actionis affligimur, tuæ gratiæ consolatione respiremus. Per Dominum.
Jesus therefore went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.
Let us Pray
Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that we, who are justly afflicted according to our demerits, may be relieved by thy comforting grace. Through, &c.
We borrow the following stanzas from the Triodion of the Greek Church. They are in keeping with to-day’s Office, and with the sentiments we should have on mid-Lent Sunday.
(Dominica IV. Jejuniorum.)
Sacro jejunii stadio jam dimidio superemenso, ad futurum in lætitia recte curramus, bonorum operum oleo animos ungentes, ut Christi Dei nostri divinaspassiones adorare, et ad ejus venerandam et sanctam resurrectionem pervenire mereamur.
Qui vitem plantavit et operarios vocavit, prope adest Salvator; venite, jejunii athletæ, mercedem capiamus, quia dives est dispensator et misericors; parum laborantes, animæ misericordiam recipiemus.
O Deus qui das vitam, aperi mihi portas pænitentiæ; vigilat enim ad templum sanctum tuum spiritus meus, templum corporis ferens penitus maculatum: sed tu miserans, purifica me propitiabili misericordia tua.
Venite, faciamus in mystica vite fructus pœnitentiæ: in illa laborantes, non epulemur in escis et potibus, sed in precibus et jejuniis, actionea virtutis operantes: his complacens Dominua operia denarium præbet, per quod ab iniquitatia debito animas liberat solus multum Deus misericors.
We have passed one half of our journey through the holy fast; let us, then, as it behoves us, joyfully complete what remains. Let us anoint our souls with the oil of good works, that we may be made worthy to celebrate the divine sufferings of Christ our Lord, and to be brought to his venerable and holy Resurrection.
Jesus, he that planted the vine and hired the labourers, is near at hand. Come, ye brave fasters! let us receive the reward; for he that pays us is rich and merciful. After our short labours, he will requite our souls with his mercy.
O God! thou Giver of life! open to me the gate of penance. My spirit keepeth watch in thy holy temple; but the temple of the flesh, which I have to carry with me, is defiled with many sins. Have pity on me, notwithstanding; and in thy tender mercy, cleanse me.
Come, let us, who are in the mystic Vine, produce fruits of penance. Here labouring, let our feasting be, not in meat and drink, but in prayer and fasting and good works. Our Lord, being pleased with our labour, will pay us with that, whereby he, the one God, rich in mercy, will forgive us the debt of our sins.
 St. John vi. 33.
 St. Luke xxii. 15.
 Ps. xxxiii. 9.
 St. Matt. xiv. 13.
 St. Matt. xi. 30.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
The Station is in the venerable church of the Four Crowned (brothers); their names are, Severus, Severianus, Carpophorus, and Victorious; they suffered martyrdom under the persecution of Diocletian. Their bodies, as also the head of the great martyr St. Sebastian, are among the relics of this church.
Præsta, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut observations sacras annua devotione recolentes, et corpore tibi placeamua et mente. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that we, who annually celebrate this holy fast, may be well pleasing to thee, both in body and mind. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lectio libri Regum.
3. Cap. iii.
In diebus illis: Venerunt duæ mulieres meretrices ad regem Salomonem, steteruntque coram eo, quarum una ait: O bsecro, mi Domine: ego et mulier hæc habitabamus in domo una, et peperi apud eam in cubiculo. Tertia autem die postquam ego peperi, peperi t et hæc: et eramus simul, nullusque alius nobiscum in domo, exceptis nobis duabus. Mortuus est autem filius mu· lieris hujus nocte; dormiens quippe oppressit eum. Et consurgens intempestæ noctis eilentio, tulit filium meum de latere meo ancillæ tuæ dormientis; et collocavit in sinu suo: suum autem filium, qui erat mortuus, posuit in sinu meo. Cumque surrexissem mane ut darem lac filio meo, apparuit mortuus: quem diligentius intuens clara luce, deprehendi non esse meum, quem genueram. Respondit altera mulier: Non est ita ut dicis, sed filius tuus mortuus est, meus autem vivit. E contrario illa dicebat: Mentiris: filius quippe meus vivit, et filius tuus mortuus est. Atque in hunc modum contendebant coram rege. Tunc rex ait: Hæc dicit: Filius meus vivit et filius tuus mortuus est. Et ista respondit: Non, sed filius tuus mortuus est, meus autem vivit. Dixit ergo rex: Afferte mihi gladium. Cumque attulissent gladium coram rege: Dividite, inquit, infantem vivum in duas partes, et date dimidiam partem uni, et dimidiam partem alteri. Dixit autem mulier, cujus filius erat vivus, ad regem (commota sunt quippe viscera ejus super filio suo): Obsecro, Domine, date illi infantem vivum, et nolite interficere eum. E contrario illa diccbat: Nec mihi, nec tibi sit, eed dividatur. Responds rex et ait: Date huic infantem vivum, et non occidatur: hæc est enim mater ejus. Audivit itaque omnis Israël judicium quod judicasset rex, et timuerunt regem, videntes sapientiam Dei esse in eo ad faciendum judicium.
Lesson from the Book of Kings.
3. Ch. iii.
In those days: Two women that were harlots, came to king Solomon, and stood before him; and one of them said: I beseech thee, my lord, I and this woman dwelt in one house, and I was delivered of a child with her in the chamber. And the third day after that I was delivered she also was delivered; and we were together, and no other person with us in the house, only we two. And this woman’s child died in the night, for in her sleep she, overlaid him; and rising in the dead time of the night she took my child from my side, while I thy handmaid was asleep, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold it was dead; but considering him more diligently when it was clear day, I found that it was not mine which I bore. And the other woman answered: It is not so as thou sayest, but thy child is dead, and mine is alive. On the contrary she said: Thou best, for my child liveth, and thy child is dead. And in this manner they strove before the king. Then said the king: The one saith my child is alive, and thy child is dead; and the other answereth: Nay, but thy child is dead, and mine liveth. The king therefore said: Bring me a sword. And when they had brought a sword before the king, Divide, said he, the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. But the woman, whose child was alive, said to the king (for her bowels were moved upon her child), I beseech thee, my lord, give her the child alive, and do not kill it. But the other said: Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. The king answered and said: Give the living child to this woman and let it not be killed, for she is the mother thereof. And all Israël heard the judgment which the king had judged, and they feared the king, seeing that the wisdom of God was in him to do judgment.
St. Paul explained to us, in yesterday’s Epistle, the antagonism that there is between the Synagogue and the Church; he showed us how Sara’s son, who was the father’s favourite, was persecuted by the son of Agar. The two women, who appear before Solomon, are another figure of the same truth. The child whom they both claim is the Gentile people, which has been brought to the knowledge of the true God. The Synagogue, typified by the woman who has caused death to her child, has misled the people confided to her care; and now unjustly claims one that does not belong to her. And whereas it is not from any motherly affection, but only from pride, that she puts forward such a claim, it matters little to her what becomes of the child, provided only he be not given to the true mother, the Church. Solomon, the king of peace, who is one of the Scriptural types of Christ, adjudges the child to her that has given him birth, and nourished him; and the pretensions of the false mother are rejected. Let us, then, love our mother, the holy Church, the bride of Jesus. It is she that has made us children of God by Baptism. She has fed us with the Bread of life; she has given us the holy Spirit; and, when we had the misfortune to relapse into death by sin, she, by the divine power given to her, has restored us to life. A filial love for the Church is the sign of the elect; obedience to her commandments is the mark of a soul in which God has set His kingdom.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
In illo tempore: Prope erat Pascha Judaeorum, et ascendit Jesus Jerosolymam: et invenit in templo vendentes boves, et oves, et columbas, et nummularios sedentes. Et cum fecisset quasi flagellum de funiculis, omnes ejecit de templo, oves quoque, et boves, et nummulariorum effudit aes, et mensas subvertit. Et his, qui columbas vendebant, dixit: Auferte ista hine, et nolite facere domum Patris mei, domum negotiationis. Recordati sunt vero discipuli ejus quia scriptum est: Zelus domus tuae comedit me. Responderunt ergo Judæi, et dixerunt ei: Quod signum ostendis nobis quia hæc facis? Respondit Jesus, et dixit eis: Solvite templum hoc, et in tribus diebus excitabo illud. Dixerunt ergo Judæi: Quadraginta et sex annis ædificatum est templum hoc, et tu in tribus diebus excitabis illud? Ille autem dicebat de templo corporis sui. Cum ergo resurrexisset a mortuis, recordati sunt discipuli ejus, quia hoc dicebat, et crediderunt Scripturæ, et sermoni quem dixit Jesus. Cum autem esset Jerosolymis in Pascha in die festo, multi crediderunt in nomine ejus, videntes signa ejus, quæ faciebat. Ipse autem Jesus non credebat semetipsum eis, eo quod ipse nosset omnes, et quia opus ei non erat ut quis testimonium perhiberet de homine, ipse enim sciebat quid esset in homine.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.
At that time the Pasch of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem And he found in the temple them that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting. And when he had made as it were a scourge of little cords, he drove them all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen; and the money of the changers he poured out, and the tables he overthrew. And to them that sold doves he said: Take these things hence, and make not the house of my Father a house of traffic. And his disciples remembered that it was written: The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up. The Jews therefore answered, and said to him: What sign dost thou shew unto us, seeing thou dost these things? Jesus answered and said to them: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. The Jews then said: Six and forty years was this temple in building, and wilt thou raise it up in three days? But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen again fromthe dead, hic disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture, and the word that Jesus had said. Now when he was at Jerusalem, at the Pasch, upon the festival day, many believed in his name, seeing his signs which he did. But Jesus did not trust himself to them, for that he knew all men, and because he needed not that any should give testimony of man, for he knew what was in man.
We read in the Gospel of the first Tuesday of Lent, that Jesus drove from the temple them that were making it a place of traffic. He twice showed this zeal for His Father’s house. The passage we have just read from St. John refers to the first time. Both occasions are brought before us during this season of Lent, because this conduct of our Saviour shows us with what severity He will treat a soul that harbours sin within her. Our souls are the temple of God, created and sanctified by God to the end that He might dwell there. He would have nothing to be in them, which is unworthy of their destination. This is the season for self-examination; and if we have found that any passions are profaning the sanctuary of out souls, let us dismiss them; let us beseech our Lord to drive them out by the scourge of His justice, for we, perhaps, might be too lenient with these sacrilegious intruders. The day of pardon is close at hand; let us make ourselves worthy to receive it. There is an expression in our Gospel which deserves a special notice. The evangelist is speaking of those Jews who were more sincere than the rest, and believed in Jesus, because of the miracles He wrought; he says: Jesus did not trust Himself to them, because He knew all men. So that there may be persons who believe in and acknowledge Jesus, yet whose hearts are not changed! Oh the hardness of man’s heart! Oh cruel anxiety for God’s priests! Sinners and worldlings are now crowding round the confessional; they have faith, and they confess their sins: and the Church has no confidence in their repentance! She knows that, a very short time after the feast of Easter, they will have relapsed into the same state in which they were on the day when she marked their foreheads with ashes. These souls are divided between God and the world; and she trembles as she thinks on the danger they are about to incur by receiving holy Communion without the preparation of a true conversion. Yet, on the other hand, she remembers how it is written that the bruised reed is not to be broken, nor the smoking flax to be extinguished. Let us pray for these souls, whose state is so full of doubt and danger. Let us, also, pray for the priests of the Church, that they may receive from God abundant rays of that light, whereby Jesus knew what was in man.
Humiliate capita vestra Deo.
Deprecationem nostram, quæsumus, Domine, benignus exaudi: et quibus supplicandi præstas affectum, tribue defeneionis auxilium. Per Cnrietum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.
We beseech thee, O Lord, hear our prayer, and grant us thy protection, as it is thou who inspirest us to ask it. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us pray for the conversion of sinners, using the beautiful Preface given us by the Roman pontifical, and formerly recited during the reconciliation of the public penitents.
Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper, et ubique gratias agere, Domine sanete, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus, per Christum Dominum nostrum: Quem, omnipotens Genitor, ineffabiliter naeci voluisti, ut debitum Adæ tibi persolveret ætemo Patri, mortemque noetram sua interficeret, et vulnera nostra in suo corpora ferret, nostrasque maculas sanguine suo dilueret; ut qui antiqui hostia corrueramue invidia, et ipsius reeurgeremus clementia. Te per eum, Domine, supplices rogamue ac petimus, ut pro aliorum excessibus nos digneris exaudire, qui pro noetris non sufficimus exorare. Tu igitur, clementissime Domine, hos famulos tuos, quos a te separaverunt flagitia, ad te revoca pietate solita. Tu namque nec Achab scelestiesimi humiliationem despexisti, sed vindictam debitamprotelasti. Petrum quo que lacrymantem exaudisti, clavesque postmodum cœlestis regni ipsi tradidisti; et confitenti latroni ejusdem regni præmia promisisti. Ergo, clementissime Domine, hos, pro quibus preces tibi fundimus, demens recollige, et tuæ Ecclesiæ gremio redde, ut nequaquamde eis valeat triumphare hostis, sed tibi reconciliet Filius tibi coæqualifl, emundetque eos ab omni facinore, et ad tuæ sacratissimæ Cœnæ dapes dignetur admittere. Sicque ευ a came, et sanguine reficiat ut post huj us vitæ cursum ad cælestia regna perducat.
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to thee,Oholy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, through Christ our Lord: Whom thou,Oalmighty Father, didst will to be bom among us by an ineffable Birth, that so he might pay to thee, his eternal Father, the debt contracted by Adam, and put our death to death by his own, and bear our wounds in his own Flesh, and cleanse away our stains by his Blood; hereby enabling us, who had fallen by the envy of the old enemy, to rise again by his mercy. Through him, O Lord, we suppliantly beseech and pray thee that thou graciously hear us making intercession for the sins of others, who are not worthy to plead for our own. Do thou, O most merciful Lord, recall to thyself, with thy wonted goodness, these thy servants, who have separated themselves from thee by their sins. For neither didst thou reject the most wicked Achab when he humbled himself before thee, but didst avert from him the punishment he had deserved. So, likewise, didst thou graciously hear Peter, when he wept, and didst afterwards give to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and thou didst promise the reward of that same kingdom to the thief when he trusted in thee. Therefore, O most merciful Lord! mercifully welcome back these for whom we offer to thee our prayers, and restore them to the bosom of thy Church, that the enemy may not triumph over them, but that they may be reconciled unto thee by thy coequal Son, and by him be cleansed from their guilt, and graciously admitted by him to the banquet of thy most holy Supper. May he in such wise refresh them by his Flesh and Blood, as to lead them, after this life’s course is run, to the kingdom of heaven.
 Is. xlii. 3.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
The Station is in the church of Saint Laurence in Damaso; so called, because it was built, in the fourth century, in honour of the glorious archdeacon of Rome, by Pope St. Damasus, whose body rests here.
Sacræ nobis, quæsumus, Domine, observationis jejunia, et piæ conversationis augmentum, et tuæ propitiationis continuum præstent auxilium. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
We beseech thee, O Lord, that the holy fast we observe may be to our improvement in holy conversation, and draw down upon us the constant succours of thy mercy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lectio libri Exodi.
In diebus illis, locutus est Dominus ad Moysen, dicens: Descende de monte: peccavit populus tuus, quem eduxisti de terra Ægypti. Recesserunt cito de via, quam ostendisti eis: feceruntque sibi vitulum conflatilem, et adoraverunt, atque immolantes ei hostias, dixerunt: Isti sunt dii tui, Israël, qui te eduxerunt de terra Ægypti. Rursumque ait Dominus ad Moysen: Cemo quod populus iste duræ cervicis sit: dimitte me, ut irascatur furor meus contra eos, et deleam eos, faciamque te in gentem magnam. Moyses autem orabat Dominum Deum suum, dicens: Cur, Domine, irascitur furor tuus contra populum tuum, quem eduxisti de terra Ægypti in fortitudine magna, et in manu robusta? Ne, quæso, dicant Ægyptii: Callide eduxit eos, ut interficeret in montibus, et deleret e terra: quiescat ira tua, et esto placabilis super nequitia populi tui. Recordare Abraham, Isaac, et Israël, servorum tuorum, quibus jurasti per temetipsum, dicens: Multiplicabo semen vestrum sicut Stellas cceli; et universam terram hanc, de qua locutus sum, dabo semini vestro, et possidebitis eam semper. Placatusque est Dominus ne faceret malum, quod locutus fuerat adversus populum suum,
Lesson from the Book of Exodus.
In those days, the Lord spoke to Moses saying: Go, get thee down from the mountain: thy people, which thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt, hath sinned. They have quickly strayed from the way which thou didst show them; and they have made to themselves a molten calf, and have adored it, and sacrificing victims to it, have said: These are thy gods, O Israel, that have brought thee out of the land of Egypt. And again the Lord said to Moses: I see that this people is stiff-necked: let me alone that my wrath may be kindled against them, and that I may destroy them, and I will make of thee a great nation. But Moses besought the Lord his God, saying: Why, O Lord, is thy indignation enkindled against thy people, whom thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt, with great power, and with a mighty hand? Let not the Egyptians say, I beseech thee: He craftily brought them out, that he might kill them in the mountains, and destroy them from the earth; let thy anger cease and be appeased upon the wickedness of thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israël thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thy own self, saying: I will multiply your seed as the stars ofheaven; and this whole land that I have spoken of, I will give to your seed, and you shall possess it for ever. And the Lord was appeased from doing the evil which he had spoken against his people.
When the world first received the preaching of the Gospel, idolatry was the prevailing crime. For many centuries after, all the catechumens, who were instructed in the true faith, were tainted with it. It was in order to inspire them with a horror of their past lives, that the Church read to them, on this day, the terrible words of God, who, had not Moses interceded, was about to exterminate His people, because they had relapsed into idolatry; and this, after He had worked in their favour the most unheard-of miracles, and had come in person to give them His Law. The worship of false gods is no longer to be found amongst us; but it exists in all those countries, where the Gospel has been preached and rejected. Strange as it may sound, yet it is most true: Europe, with all its civilization, would return to idolatry, were it to lose the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not much more than a centqry ago, an idol was erected to reason; it had its altar, its decorations and its incense; and they who paid homage to it were Europeans! Individuals or peoples, once slaves to Satan, are not their own masters to say, ‘We will go thus far in sin, and no farther’The descendants of Noe, notwithstanding the terrible lesson given to them by the deluge, fell into idolatry; nay, Abraham was called by God from the rest of men, lest he should be led away by the almost universal corruption. Let us be grateful to the Church, who, by her teachings of faith and morals, preserves us from this degrading abomination; and let us resist our passions, which, if the light of faith were taken from us, would lead us to idolatry.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
In illo tempore: Jam die festo mediante, ascendit Jesus in templum, et docebat. Et mirabantur Judæi, dicentes: Quomodo hic litteras scit, cum non didicerit? Responds eis Jesus, et dixit: Mea doctrina non est mea, sed ejus qui misit me. Si quis voluerit voluntatem ejus facere, cognoscet de doctrina, utrum ex Deo sit an ego a meipso loquar. Qui a semetipso loquitur, gloriam propriam quærit: qui autem quærit gloriam ejus qui misit eum, hic verax est, et injustitia in illo non est. Nonne Moyses dedit vobis legem? et nemo ex vobis facit legem. Quid me quæritis interficere? Respondit turba, et dixit: Dæmonium habes: quis te quærit interficere? Respondit Jesus, et dixit eis: Unum opus feci, et omnes miramini. Propterea Moyses dedit vobis circumcisionem (non quia ex Moyse est, sed ex patribus): et in Sabbato circumciditis hominem. Si circumcisionem accipit homo in Sabbato, ut non solvatur lex Moysi: mihi indignamini quia totum hominem sanum feci in Sabbato? Nolite judicare secundum faciem, sed justum judicium judicate. Dicebant ergo quidam ex Jerosolymis:Nonne hic est quem quærunt interficere? Et ecce palam loquitur, et nihil ei dicunt. Numquid vere cognoverunt principes quia hic est Christus? Sed hunc scimus unde sit: Christus autem cum venerit, nemo scit unde sit. Clamabat ergo Jesus in templo docens, et dicens: Et me scitis, et unde sim scitis: et a meipso non veni, sed est verus qui misit me, quem vos nescitis. Ego scio eum: quia ab ipso sum, et ipse me misit. Quærebant ergo cum apprehendere: et nemo misit in ilium manus, quia nondum venerat hora ej us. De turba autem multi crediderunt in eum.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.
At that time: About the midst of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews wondered, saying: How doth this man know letters, having never leamed? Jesus answered them, and said: My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do the will of him, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself, seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh the glory of him that sent him, he is true, and there is no injustice in him. Did not Moses give you the law? And yet none of you keepeth the law. Why seek you to kill me? The multitude answered and said: Thou hast a devil: who seeketh to kill thee? Jesus answered, and said to them: One work I have done, and you all wonder. Therefore Moses gave you circumcision (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers); and on the Sabbath-day you circumcise a man. If a man receive circumcision on the Sabbath-day that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry at me, because I have healed the whole man on the Sabbath-day? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge just judgment. Some therefore of Jerusalem said: Is not this he whom they seek to kill? And behold he speaketh openly, and they say nothing to him. Have the rulers known for a truth that this is the Christ? But we know this man whence he is. But when the Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is. Jesus therefore cried out in the temple, teaching and saying: You both know me, and you know whence I am; and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom you know not; I know him because I am from him, and he hath sent me. They sought therefore to apprehend him; and no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come. But of the people many believed in him.
This Gospel carries our thoughts to the sacrifice of ihe divine Lamb, which is to be offered up in Jerusalem. The hour has not yet come, but it is fast approaching. His enemies are already seeking how they may put Him to death. So blinded are they by their passions, that they accuse Him of being a violater of the Sabbath, because He healed the sick, by the simple act of His will, on the Lord’s day! In vain does Jesus refute their prejudices, by reminding them that they themselves have no scruple in fulfilling the law of circumcision on this day, or (as He said to them, on another occasion) in drawing out of the pit an ass or an ox that may have fallen in. They are deaf to all He says; they are men of one idea, and it is, that their victim shall not escape death. His miracles are incontestable, and all are wrought out of a motive of mercy and love. The only time He refuses to work one, is when His enemies ask Him to satisfy their curiosity and pride by letting them see a sign. This exercise of His power of working miracles, far from exciting them to admiration and gratitude, only incites them to envy, and in their envy, they declare, not only that He acts by Beelzebub, but that He has a devil within Him. We shudder at such a blasphemy. Yet, such is the pride of these Jewish doctors that they care neither for common sense nor for religion, and their hearts thirst more and more for the Blood of Jesus. Whilst some of the people allow themselves to be seduced by their leaders into the same feelings against Jesus, others, who affect to be indifferent, reason about Him, and then declare it to be their opinion that this Jesus does not realize in Himself the character of the promised Messias! They argue that, when the Christ cometh no one will know whence He is. But have not the prophets declared that He is to be of the family of David? Now every Jew knows well enough that Jesus is of that royal race. Besides, they own that there is to be something mysterious about the Messias, and that He is to come from God. Had they listened with docile attention to the teachings of Jesus—teachings which He had confirmed by numerous miracles—they would have been enlightened both as to His temporal birth, and to His being the Son of God. But indifference and the perversity of the human heart keep them in culpable ignorance; and, perhaps, on the day of His death, they will join in the cry: ‘Let His Blood be upon us and upon our children!’
Humiliate capita vestra Deo.
Miserere, Domine, populo tuo: et continuis tribulationibus laborantem, propitius respirare concede. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.
Take compassion, O Lord, on thy people, and mercifully refresh them labouring under continual tribulations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Greek liturgy supplies us with the following humble act of contrition. We take it from the hymn composed by St. Andrew of Crete.
(Feria V. Hebdomadæ V. Jejuniorum)
Peccavimus, inique egimus, injuste fecimus coram te, nec servivimus, autve fecimus quemadmodum nobis mandasti: verum ne nos, tu Deus patrum, tradideris in finem.
Peccavi, inique egi, ac mandatum tuum violavi: quippe natus sum in peccatis, addidique vulnus livoribus meis: verum tu velut misericors, qui patrum es Deus, miserere.
Occulta cordis mei tibi meo judici annuntiavi: vide humilitatem meam; vide et meam afflictionem, ac intende judicio meo; meique ipse ut misericors, qui es Deus patrum, miserere.
Obrui tuam imaginem, tuumque mandatum violavi: tota species obscurata est, exstinctaque est lampas, O Salvator! vitiis: sed misertus ipse redde mihi lætitiam, ut canit David.
Convertere; pcenitere; revela occulta; die Deo qui novit omnia: Tu solus Salvator, seis occulta, tu mei, ut psallit David, secundum misericordiam tuam miserere.
Defecerunt dies mei, sicuti somnium ejus qui suscitatur; quare velut Ezechias in lecto meo lacrymor, ut annos mihi vitæ adjicias. Cæterum quis tibi, o anima, Isaias affuerit, præter Deum ilium universorum?
We have sinned, we have done wickedly, we have acted unjustly against thee, neither have we served thee, nor have done what thou commandest: but abandon us not for ever, O thou the God of our fathers!
I have sinned, I have done wickedly, I have broken thy commandment; for I was bom in sins, and have added wound to wound: but thou art merciful, and the God of our fathers; have mercy on me!
To thee, O my Judge, have I made known the hidden things of my heart: see me now humbled before thee; see, too, my affliction, and be attentive to my judgment. O thou that art merciful, and the God of our fathers, have mercy on me!
I have disfigured thine image, and have broken thy commandment: all my beauty is obscured, O my Saviour, and my lamp is put out, by my sins. But have mercy on me, and restore joy unto me, as David sings.
Be converted, my soul! Do penance; reveal thy hidden sins; say to thy God, who knoweth all things: thou, my only Saviour, knowest all things; do thou, as David sings, have mercy on me according to thy great mercy.
My days have vanished as the dream of one that wakeneth; wherefore like Ezechias, I weep on my couch and beseech thee to add to the years of my life. But who, O my soul, can be thine Isaias and help thee, but he that is the God of all?
 St. Luke xiv. 5.
 St. Luke xi. 15.
 St. Matt, xxvii. 25.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
This day is called the ‘Feria of the great scrutiny,’ because in the Church of Rome, after the necessary inquiries and examinations, the list of the catechumens, who were to receive Baptism, was closed. The Station was held in the basilica of St. Paul outside the walls, both because of the size of the building, and also in order to honour the apostle of the Gentiles by offering him these new recruits, which the Church was about to make from paganism. The reader will be interested and edified by a description of this ceremony.
The faithful and the aspirants to Baptism being assembled in the basilica, about the hour of noon, the names of these latter were written down, and an acolyte arranged them in order before the people, placing the men on the right, and the women on the left. A priest then recited over each of them the prayer which made them catechumens, for it is by anticipation that we have hitherto given them this name. He signed their foreheads with the sign of the cross and imposed his hand upon their heads. He then blessed the salt, which signifies wisdom, and each of them tasted it.
After these preliminary ceremonies, they were made to go out of the church, and remained under the exterior portico, until such time as they were called back. As soon as they had left (the assembly of the faithful remaining in the church) the Introit was begun. It is taken from the words of the Prophet Ezechiel, wherein God tells us that He will gather His elect from all nations, and pour upon them a clean water, that shall cleanse them from their sins. The acolyte then read out the names of the catechumens, and they were brought into the church by the porter. They were arranged as before, and the sponsors stood near them. The pontiff then sang the Collect; after which, at the intimation given by the deacon, each sponsor made the sign of the cross on the forehead of the catechumen, for whom he or she was responsible. Acolytes followed, and pronounced the exorcisms over each of the elect, beginning with the men.
A lector next read the lesson from the Prophet Ezechiel, which we give in its proper place. It was followed by a Gradual, composed of these words of David:
Come, children, hearken to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Come ye to Him, and be enlightened; and your faces shall not be confounded.
In the Collect, which followed this lesson, the Church prayed that the faithful might receive the fruits of their lenten fast; and immediately a second lesson was read, from the Prophet Isaias, in which is foretold the remission of sins to be granted to those who shall be cleansed in the mysterious laver of Baptism.
A second Gradual gave these words from the royal psalmist:
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; the people whom He hath chosen for His inheritance.
During the reading of these two lessons, and the chanting of the two Graduals, the mysterious ceremony of opening the ears was being gone through. A priest went to each catechumen, and touching his ears, said: Ephpheta, that is, be thou opened. This rite (which was an imitation of what our Saviour did to the deaf and dumb man mentioned in the Gospel) was intended to prepare the catechumens to receive the revelation of the mysteries, which, up to that time, had been shown them only under the veil of allegory. The first initiation made to them was regarding the holy Gospels.
Reading of the Holy Gospels
As soon as the second Gradual was finished, there were seen coming from the secretarium, preceded by lights and incense, four deacons, each of them carrying one of the four Gospels. They advanced towards the sanctuary, and placed the sacred volumes on the altar, one on each corner. The bishop, or, if he wished it, a priest, addressed to the catechumens the following allocution, which we find still in the Gelasian sacramentary:
Being about to open to you the Gospels, that is, the history of the acts of God, it firstly behoves us, dearly beloved children, to tell you what the Gospels are, whence they come, whose words they contain, why they are four in number, and who wrote them; in fine, who are the four men who were announced by the holy Spirit, and foretold by the prophet. Unless we were to explain to you these several particulars, we should leave your minds confused; and whereas you have come to-day that your ears may be opened, it would be unseemly in us to begin by bewildering your minds. Gospel literally means good tidings, because it tells us of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Gospel came from him, in order to proclaim and show that he, who spoke by the prophets, has now come in the flesh, as it is written: ‘I myself that spoke, lo, I am here.’ Having briefly to explain to you what the Gospel is, and who are the four men foretold by the prophet, we now give you their names, following the order of the figures under which they are designated. The Prophet Ezechiel says: ‘And as for the likenese of their faces, there was the face of a man and the face of a lion on the right side of ail the four: and the face of an ox on the left side of all the four: and the face of an eagle over all the four.’ These four figures are, as we know, those of tho evangelists, whose names are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
After this discourse, a deacon, ascending the ambo, thus addressed the catechumens:
Be silent: hear attentively!
Then, opening the Gospel of St. Matthew, which he had previously taken from the altar, he read the beginning, as far as the twenty-first verse.
These verses having been read, a priest spoke as follows:
Dearly beloved children, we wish to hold you no longer in suspense: therefore, we expound to you the figure of each evangelist. Matthew has the figure of a man, because, at the commencement of his book, he gives the genealogy of the Saviour; for he begins with these words: The book of the generation of Jesus Christy the son of David, the son of Abraham. You see, then, that it is not without reason, that to Matthew has been assigned the figure of the man, since he begins with the human birth of the Saviour.
Again the deacon from the ambo:
Be silent: hear attentively!
He then read the beginning of St. Mark’s Gospel, as far as the eighth verse. After which, the priest spoke as follows:
The evangelist Mark has the figure of the lion, because he begins with the desert, saying: A voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord; or again, because the Saviour now reigns, and is invincible. This type of the lion is frequently mentioned in the Scriptures, and is the application of those words; ‘Juda is a lion’s whelp: to the prey, my son, thou art gone up: resting, thou hast couched as a lion, and as a lioness: who shall rouse him?’
The deacon, having repeated his injunction, next read the beginning of the Gospel according to St. Luke, as far as the seventeenth verse; after which the priest said:
The evangelist Luke has the figure of the ox, which reminds us that the Saviour was offered in sacrifice. This evangelist begins by speaking of Zachary and Elizabeth, from whom, in their old age, was born John the Baptist.
The deacon having announced, in the same solemn manner, the Gospel of St. John, of which he read the first fourteen verses, the priest thus continued his instruction:
John has the figure of the eagle, because he soars aloft in the high places. It is he that says: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Ood, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. David also, speaking of the person of Christ, thus expresses himself: ‘Thy youth shall be renewed like the eagle’s’; because our Lord Jesus Christ, having risen from the dead, ascended into heaven. Thus, dearly beloved children, the Church that has begotten you, and still bears you in her womb, exults at the thought of the new increase to be given to the Christian law, when, on the venerable day of Easter, you are to be born again in the waters of Baptism, and to receive, as all the saints, from Christ our Lord, the gift of the childhood of faith.
The manifestation of the four evangelists was followed by the ceremony called the giving of the Symbol (Traditio Symboli). It consisted in giving to the catechumens the Apostles’ Creed (or Symbol), and in subsequent ages, that of Nicæa, or, as we call it, the Nicene Creed. The following allocution was first made by a priest:
Being now admitted to receive the Sacrament of Baptism, and become new creatures in the Holy Ghost, it behoves you, dearly beloved children, to conceive at once in your hearts the faith whereby you are to be justified: it behoves you, having your minds henceforth changed by the habit of truth, to draw nigh to God, who is the light of your souls. Receive, therefore, the secret of the evangelical Symbol, which was inspired by the Lord, and drawn up by the apostles. Its words are few, but great are the mysteries it contains: for the Holy Ghost, who dictated this formula to the first masters of the Church, has here expressed the faith that saves us, with great precision of words, in order that the truths you have to believe and unceasingly meditate on might neither surpass your understanding, nor escape your memory. Be, then, attentive, that you may learn this Symbol; and what, having ourselves received, we hand down to you, that same write, not on corruptible things, but on the tablets of your heart. Now, the confession of faith, which you have received, begins thus.
One of the catechumens was then told to come forward, and the priest addressed the following question to the acolyte who accompanied him:
In what language do these confess our Lord Jesus Christ?
The acolyte answered:
It should be remembered, that under the emperors, the use of the Greek language was almost as general in Rome as that of the Latin. The priest then said to the acolyte:
Make known to them the faith they believe.
Here the acolyte, holding his hand over the catechumen’s head, pronounced the Creed in Greek, in a solemn tone. One of the female catechumens, whose language was the Greek, was then brought forward, and the acolyte repeated the Creed in the same manner. The priest then said:
Dearly beloved children, you have heard the Symbol in Greek; hear it now in Latin.
Accordingly, two catechumens, who spoke the Latin language, were brought forward, first a man, and then a woman. The acolyte recited the Creed in Latin before each of them, and loud enough for all the others to hear. The giving of the Symbol thus completed, the priest made the following allocution:
This is the compendium of our faith, dearly beloved children, and these are the words of the Symbol, drawn up, not according to the conceits of human wisdom, but according to the thoughts of God. There is no one but can understand and remember them. There it is, that is expressed the one and coequal power of God the Father and the Son; there, that is shown to us the only-begotten Son of God, born, according to the flesh, of the Virgin Mary, by the operation of the Holy Ghost; there, that are related his crucifixion, his burial, and his resurrection on the third day; there, that is proclaimed his ascension above the heavens, his sitting at the right hand of the majesty of the Father, and his future coming to judge the living and the dead; there, that is announced the Holy Ghost, who has the same divinity as the Father and the Son; there, in fine, that are taught the vocation of the Church, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection of the flesh. You, therefore, put off the old man, my learly beloved children, that you may be reformed according to the new; once carnal, you begin now to be spiritual; once of earth, now of heaven. Believe, with firm and unshaken faith, that the Resurrection which was accomplished in Christ will likewise be accomplished in you; and that this miracle, which has been achieved in him who is our Head, will be repeated in all them that are members of his body. The Sacrament of Baptism, which you are soon to receive, is the visible expression of this hope; for in it is represented both a death and a resurrection; there the old man is left, there the new man is assumed. The sinner descends into the water, and comes out justified. He, that had dragged us into death, is cast off; and he is received who restored us to life, and who, by the grace that he will give you, will make you children of God, not by the flesh, but by the virtue of the Holy Ghost. It is your duty, therefore, to keep this short formula in your hearts, so as to make use of the confession it contains, as a help to you on all occasions. The power of this armour is invincible against all the attacks of the enemy; it should be worn by the true soldiera of Christ. Let the devil, who tempts mail without ceasing, find you ever armed with this Symbol. Triumph over the adversary, whom you have just renounced. By God’s grace, preserve incorruptible and unsullied, even to the end, the grace he is about to give you; that thus, he in whom you are soon to receive the forgiveness of your sins, may bring you to the glory of the Resurrection. Thus, then, dearly beloved children, you know the Symbol of the Catholic faith; carefully learn it, not changing one word. God’s mercy is powerful; may it bring you to the faith of the Baptism to which you aspire; and may it lead us, who this day reveal to you the mysteries, to the heavenly kingdom together with you; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Lord's Prayer
The giving of the Symbol was followed by another gift: the Lord’s Prayer. The deacon first made the announcement; he urged the catechumens to silence and attention; and then a priest delivered the following allocution:
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, among his other saving precepts, gave to his disciples, on that day when they asked him how they ought to pray, this form of prayer, which we are about to repeat to you, and explain in all its fulness. Let your charity, therefore, now hear how the Saviour taught his disciples to pray to God the Father almighty. ‘When thou shalt pray,’ said he, ‘enter into thy chamber; and having shut the door, pray to thy Father.’ Here, by chamber, he means not a room, but the interior of the heart, which is known to God alone. By saying that we ought to adore God after having shut the door, he signifies that we ought to shut out, with a spiritual key, all bad thoughts from our heart, and speak to God, though our lips may be closed, in purity of soul. What our God hears, is not the sound of our words, but our faith. Let our heart, then, be shut, with the key of faith, against the craft of the enemy; let it not be opened save to that God, whose temple we know it is; and the Lord, dwelling thus in our heart, will be propitious and grant our prayers. The prayer taught us by the Word, the Wisdom of God, Christ our Lord, is this:
OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN
Observe these words, how full they are of holy liberty and confidence. Live, therefore, in such manner, that you may be children of God, and brethren of Christ. Of what rashness would he be guilty who dared to call God his Father, yet proved himself to be degenerate by opposing God’s will! Dearly beloved children, show yourselves to be worthy of the divine adoption; for it is written; ‘To them that believe in his name, he gave power to be made the eons of God.’
HALLOWED BE THY NAME
It is not that God, who is ever holy, needs to be hallowed by us; but what we here ask, is that his name be sanctified in us: so that we, who have been made holy by the Baptism he has given us, may persevere in the new being we have received from him.
THY KINGDOM COME
Our God whose kingdom is for ever, does he not always reign? Yes, undoubtedly: but what we ask for, when we say, Thy kingdom come, is the coming of that kingdom which he has promised us, and which Christ has merited for us by his Blood and Passion.
THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
That is to say: May thy will be in such manner fulfilled, that what thou wiliest in heaven, may be faithfully accomplished by us who are on earth.
GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD
We mean, by this, our spiritual food; for Christ is our bread, as he said; ‘I am the living Bread that came down from heaven.’ We say our daily bread, because we ought unceasingly to ask to be made free from sin, in order that we may be made worthy of the heavenly nourishment.
AND FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES, AS WE FORGIVE THEM THAT TRESPASS AGAINST US
These words signify that we cannot merit the forgiveness of our sins, unless we first forgive what others do against us. Thus it is that our Lord says in the Gospel: ‘If you will not forgive men their offences, neither will your Father forgive you your offences.’
AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION
That is: suffer us not to be led into it by the tempter, by the author of evil. For the Scripture says: ‘God is not the tempter of evil things.’ It is the devil that tempts us; and that we may overcome him, the Lord says to us: ‘Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.’
BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL
These words refer to that which is said by the apostle: ‘We know not what we should pray for.’ We should beseech the one only and omnipotent God, that the evils which we cannot avoid because of human weakness, we may avoid in virtue of that help which will mercifully be granted us by our Lord Jesus Christ, who, being God, liveth and reignoth in the unity of the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever.
After this allocution, the deacon said:
Observe order and silence, and lend an attentive ear!
The priest then continued, in these words:
You have just heard, dearly beloved children, the mysteries of the Lord’s Prayer: see, therefore, that you fix them in your hearts, both coming in and going out, that you may become perfect, asking and receiving the mercy of God. The Lord our God is mighty, and will lead you, who are on the way to faith, to the laver of the water of regeneration. May he mercifully grant that we, who have delivered unto you the mysteries of the Catholic faith, may be brought, together with you, to the kingdom of heaven: who liveth and reigneth with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever.
After the Gospel, in which was related the cure of the man that was born blind, the deacon, as usual, commanded all the catechumens to leave the church. They were taken out by their sponsors; but these returned, in order to assist at Mass with the rest of the faithful. At the Offertory, they came up to the altar, and gave the names of their spiritual children; which names, as also those of the sponsors themselves, were read by the bishop in the Canon. Towards the end of Mass, the catechumens were brought back into the church, and were told on what day they were to present themselves for examination on the Symbol and the other instructions they had that day received.
The imposing ceremony, which we have thus briefly described, was not confined to this day: it was repeated as often as needed; that is, according to the number of the catechumens, and the time required for gaining information regarding their conduct and the preparation they were making for Baptism. In the Church of Rome, these scrutinies were held seven times, as we have already remarked; but the one of to-day was the most numerous and solemn; each of the seven terminated with the ceremony we have been describing.
Deus, qui et just is præmia raeritorum, et peccatoribus per jejunium veniam præbes: miserere supplicibus tuis; ut reatus nostri confessio indulgentiam valeat percipere delictorum. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
O God, who givest to the righteous the reward of their good works, and by fasting, pardon to sinners; have mercy on thy suppliants, that the acknowledgment of our guilt may procure us the remission of our sins. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lectio Ezechielis Prophetæ.
Hæc dicit Dominus Deus: Sanctificabo nomen meum magnum, quod pollutum est inter gentes, quod polluistis in medio earum: ut sciant gentes quia ego Dominus, cum sanctificatus fuero in vobis coram eis. Tollam quipped vos de gentibus, et congregabo vos de universis terris, et adducam vos in terrain vestram. Et effundam super vos aquam mundam, et mundabimini ab omnibus inquinamentis vestris, et ab universis idolis vestris mundabo vos. Et dabo vobis cor novum, et spiritum novum ponam in medio vestri: et auferam cor lapideum de carne vestra, et dabo vobis cor carneum. Et Spiritum meum ponam in medio vestri: et faciam ut in præceptis meis ambuletis, et judicia mea custodiatis, et operemini. Et habitabitis in terra quam dedi patribus vestris: et eritis mihi in populum, et ego ero vobis in Deum: dicit Dominus omnipotens.
Lesson from the Prophet Ezechiel.
Thus saith the Lord God: I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the Gentiles, which you have profaned in the midst of them; that the Gentiles may know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord of hosts, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the Gentiles, and will gather you together out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. And I will pour upon you clean water, and you shall be cleansed from all your filthiness, and I will cleanse you from all your idols. And I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in the midst of you, and I will cause you to walk in my commandments, and to keep my judgments, and do them. And you shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God, saith the Lord almighty.
These magnificent promises, which are to be fulfilled in favour of the Jewish people, as soon as God’s justice shall have been satisfied, are to be realized firstly, in our catechumens. These are they that have been gathered together from all the countries of the Gentile world, in order that they may be brought into their own land, the Church. A few days hence there will be poured upon them that clean water, which shall cleanse them from all the defilements of their past idolatry; they shall receive a new heart, and a new spirit; they shall be God’s people for ever.
Lectio Isaiæ Prophetæ.
Hæc dicit Dominus Deus: Lavamini, mundi estote, auferte malum cogitationum vestrarum ab oculis meis: quiescite agere perverse, discite benefacere: quærite judicium, subvenite oppresso, judicate pupillo, defendite viduam. Et venite, et arguite me, dicit Dominus. Si fuerint peccata vestra ut coccinum, quasi nix dealbabuntur: et si fuerint rubra quasi vermiculus, velut lana alba erunt. Si volueritis, et audieritis me, bona terræ comedetis: dicit Dominus omnipotens.
Lesson from the Prophet Isaias.
Thus saith the Lord God: Wash yourselves, be clean, take away the evil of your devices from my eyes: cease to do perversely, learn to do well: seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge for the fatherless, defend the widow. And then come and accuse me, saith the Lord: if your sins be as the scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow: and if they be red as crimson, they shall be white as wool. If you be willing, and will hearken to me, you shall eat the good things of the land, saith the Lord almighty.
It is to her penitents that the Church addresses these grand words of Isaias. There is a baptism also prepared for them; a laborious baptism indeed, but still, one that has power to cleanse their souls from all their defilements, if only they receive it with sincere contrition, and be resolved to make atonement for the evil they have committed. What could be stronger than the language used by God, in making His promise of forgiveness? He compares the change He will make, in the soul of a repentant sinner, to that of scarlet and crimson become white as snow. The unjust is to be made just; darkness is to be turned into light; the slave of satan is to become the child of God. Let us rejoice with our glad mother, the holy Church; and redoubling the fervour of our prayer and penance, let us induce our Lord to grant that, on the great Easter feast, the number of conversions may surpass our hopes.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
In illo tempore: Præteriens Jesus vidit hominem cæcum a nativitate: et interrogaverunt eum discipuli ejus: Rabbi, quis peccavit, hie, aut parentes ejus, ut cæcus nasceretur? Responds Jesus: Neque hic peccavit, neque parentes ejus: sed ut manifestentur opera Dei in illo. Me oportet operari opera ejus, qui misit me, donee dies est: venit nox, quando nemo potest operari. Quamdiu sum in mundo, lux sum mundi. Hæc cum dixisset, exspuit in terram, et fecit lutum ex sputo, et linivit lutum super oculos ejus, et dixit ei: Vade, lava in natatoria Siloe (quod interpretatur Missus). Abiit ergo, et lavit, et venit videns. Itaque vicini, et qui viderant cum prius, quia mendicus erat, dicebant: Nonne hic est, qui sedebat, et mendicabat? Alii dicebant: Quia hic est; alii autem: Nequaquam, sed similis est ei. Ule vero dicebat: Quia ego sum. Dicebant ergo ei: Quomodo aperti sunt tibi oculi? Respondit: Illo homo qui dicitur Jesus, lutum fecit et unxit oculos meoe, et dixit mihi: Vade ad natatoria Siloe, et lava. Et abii, lavi, et video. Et dixerunt ei: Ubi est ille? Ait: Nescio. Adducunt eum ad pharisæos, qui cæcus fuerat. Erat autem Sabbatum quando lutum fecit Jesus, et aperuit oculos ejus. Iterum ergo interrogabant eum pharisæi quomodo vidisset. Ille autem dixit eis: Lutum mihi posuit super oculos, et lavi, et video. Dicebant ergo ex pharisæis quidam: Non est hic homo a Deo, qui sabbatum non custodit. Alii autem dicebant: Quomodo potest homo peccator hæc signa facere? Et schisma erat inter eos. Dicunt ergo caeco iterum: Tu quid dicis de illo, qui aperuit oculos tuos? Ille autem dixit: Quia propheta est. Non crediderunt ergo Judæi de illo, quia cæcus fuisset et vidisset, donee vocaverunt parentes ejus, qui viderat: et interrogaverunt eos, dicentes: Hic est filius vester, quem vos dicitis quia cæcus natus est? Quomodo ergo nunc videt? Responderunt eis parentes ejus, et dixerunt: Scimus quia hic est filius noster, et quia cæcus natus est: quomodo autem mine videat, nescimus: aut quis ejus aperuit oculos, nos nescimus, ipsum interrógate: ætatem håbet; ipse de se loquatur. Hæc dixerunt parentes ejus, quoniam timebant Judæo: jam enim conspira ve rant Judæi, ut si qui eum confiteretur esse Christum, extra synagogam fieret: propterea parentes ejus dixerunt: Quia ætatem håbet, ipsum interrogate. Vocaverunt ergo rursum hominem, qui fuerat cæcus, et dixerunt ei: Da gloriam Deo. Nos scimus quia hio homo peccator est. Dixit ergo eis ille: Si peccator est, nescio: unum scio, quia cæcus cum essem, modo video. Dixerunt ergo illi: Quid fecit tibi? quomodo aperuit tibi oculos? Respondit eis: Dixi vobis jam, et audistis: quid iterum vultis audire? numquid et vos vultis discipuli ejus fieri? Maledixerunt ergo ei, et dixenint: Tu discipulus illius sis: nos autem Moysi, discipuli sumue. Nos scimus quia Moysi locutus est Deus: hunc autem nescimus unde sit. Respondit ille homo, et dixit eis: In hoc enim mirabile est, quia vos nescitis unde sit, et aperuit meos oculos: scimus autem quia peccatores Deus non audit: sed si quis Dei cultor est, et voluntatem ejus facit, hunc exaudit. A sæculo non est auditum, quia quis aperuit oculos cæci nati. Nisi esset hio a Deo, non poterat facere quidquam. Responderunt et dixerunt ei: In peccatis natus es totus, et tu doces nos? Et ejecerunt eum foras. Audivit Jesus quia ejecerunt eum foras; et cum invenisset eum, dixit ei: Tu credis in Filium Dei T Respondit ille, et dixit: Quis est, Domine, ut credam in eum? Et dixit ei Jesus: Et vidisti eum: et qui loquitur tecum, ipse est. At ille ait: Credo, Domine. (Here all kneel.) Et procidens. adoravit eum.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.
At that time: Jesus passing by, saw a man who was blind from his birth; and his disciples asked him: Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered: Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, whilst it is day: . the night cometh when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had said these things, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and spread the clay upon his eyes, and said to him: Go, wash in the pool of Siloe, which is interpreted, Sent. He went therefore, and washed, and he came seeing. The neighbours, therefore, and they who had seen him before, that he was a beggar, said: Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said: This is he; but others said: No, but he is like him. But he said: I am he. They said therefore to him: How were thine eyes opened? He answered: That man that is called Jesus, made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said to me: Go to the pool of Siloe, and wash. And I went, I washed, and I see. And they said to him: Where is he? He saith: I know not. They bring him that had been blind to the pharisees. Now it was the Sabbath, when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Again therefore the pharisees asked him, how he had received his sight. But he said to them: He put clay upon my eyes, and I washed, and I see. Some therefore of the pharisees said: This man is not of God, who keepeth not the Sabbath. But others said: How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. They say therefore to the blind man again: What sayest thou of him that hath opened thy eyes? And he said: He is a prophet. The Jews then did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and had received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight, and asked them, saying: Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then doth he now see? His parents answered them, and said: We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind, but how he now seeth we know not, or who hath opened his eyes we know not; ask himself; he is of age, let him speak for himself. These Things his parents said, because they feared the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed among themselves, that if any man should confess him to be Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. Therefore did his parents say: He is of age, ask him. They therefore called the man again that had been blind, and said to him: Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner. He said therefore to them: If he be a sinner, I know not; one thing I know, that whereas I was blind now I see. They said then to him: What did he to thee? How did he open thy eyes? He answered them: I have told you already, and you have heard, why would you hear it again? will you also become his disciples? They reviled him, therefore, and said: Be thou his disciple: but we are the disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses; but as to this man, we know not from whence he is. The man answered and said to them j Why, herein is a wonderful thing, that you know not from whence he is, and he hath opened my eyes. Now we know that God doth not hear sinners: but if a man be a server of God, and doth his will, him he heareth. From the beginning of the world it hath not been heard, that any man hath opened the eyes of one born blind. Unless this man were of God, he could not do anything. They answered and said to him: Thou wast wholly born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said to him: Dost thou believe in the Son of God? He answered, and said: Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him? And Jesus said to him: Thou hast both seen him and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said: I believe, Lord. (Here all kneel.) And falling down, he adored him.
In the early ages of the Church, Baptism was frequently called illumination, because this Sacrament confers supernatural faith, whereby man is enlightened with the divine light. It is on this account, that the history of the cure of the man born blind was read on this day, for it is the figure of man’s being enlightened by Christ. This subject is frequently met with in the paintings in the catacombs, and on the bas-reliefs of the ancient Christian monuments.
We are all born blind; Jesus, by the mystery of His Incarnation, figured by this clay which represents our flesh, has merited for us the gift of sight; but in order that we may receive it, we must go to the pool of Him that is divinely Sent, and we must be washed in the water of Baptism. Then shall we be enlightened with the very light of God, and the darkness of reason will disappear. The humble obedience of the blind man, who executes, with the utmost simplicity, all that our Saviour commands him, is an image of our catechumens, who listen with all docility to the teachings of the Church, for they, too, wish to receive their sight. The blind man of the Gospel is, by the cure of his eyes, a type of what the grace of Christ works in us by Baptism. Let us listen to the conclusion of our Gospel, and we shall find that he is, also, a model for those who are spiritually blind, yet would wish to be healed.
Our Saviour asks him, as the Church asked us on the day of our Baptism: Dost thou believe in the Son of God? The blind man, ardently desiring to believe, answers eagerly: Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him? Faith brings the weak reason of man into union with the sovereign wisdom of God, and puts us in possession of His eternal truth. No sooner has Jesus declared Himself to be God, than this simplehearted man falls down and adores Him: he that from being blind is blessed with bodily sight is now a Christian! What a lesson was here for our catechumens! At the same time, this history showed them, and reminds us, of the frightful perversity of Jesus’ enemies. He, the pre-eminently Just Man, is shortly to be put to death, and it is by the shedding of His Blood that He is to merit for us, and for all mankind, the cure of that blindness in which we were all born, and which our own personal sins have tended to increase. Glory, then, love, and gratitude be to our divine Physician, who, by uniting Himself to our human nature, has prepared the ointment, whereby our eyes are cured of their infirmity, and strengthened to gaze, for all eternity, on the brightness of the Godhead!
Humiliate capita vestra Deo.
Pateant aures mieericordiæ tuæ, Domine, precibus supplicantium; et ut petentibus desiderata concedas, fae eos quæ tibi sunt placita postulare. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.
May the ears of thy mercy, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy servants; and in order to obtain the effect of our petitions, grant we may ask what is pleasing to thee. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Mozarabic liturgy offers us this fine Preface, or Illation, which is suggested by to-day’s Gospel.
(Dominica II. Quadragesimæ)
Dignum et jus turn est nos tibi grati&s agere: Domine sanete, Pater æterne, omnipotens Deus, per Jesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum. Qui illuminatione suæ fidei tenebras mundi expulit: et fecit filios esse gratiæ, qui tenebantur sub legis justa damnations: qui ita in judicium in hoc mundo venit: ut non videntes viderent: et videntes cæci essent: qualiter et hi qui se in tenebris confiterentur errorum, perciperent lumen ætemum, per quod carerent tenebris delictorum. Et hi qui de meritis suis arrogantes lumen in semetipsos habere justitiæ existimabant, in semetipeis merito tenebrescerent; qui elevati superbia sua et de justitia confisi propria, ad sanandum medieum non quærebant. Per Jesum enim, qui ostium esse dixit ad Patrem, poterant introire. Sed quia de mertis elevati sunt improbe, in sua remansemnt nihilominus cæcitate. Pro· inde humilee nos venientes, nee de mentis nostris præsuraentee, ape rim us ante altare tuum, sanctissime Pater, vulnus proprium: tenebras nostrorum fatemur errorum: conscientiæ nostræ aperimus arcanum. Invenianme, quæsumus, in vulnere medicinarn, in tenebris lucem æternam: ipnocentiæ puritatem in conscientia. Cernere etenim totis nisibuS volumus faciem tuam: sed impedimur cæcati tenebra consueta. Cœlos aspicere cupimus, nec valemus: dum cæcati tenebris peccatorum, nec hos pro sancta vita attendimus, qui propter excellent iam vitae cceli nomine nuncupati sunt. Occurre igitur, Jesu, nobis in templo tuo orantibue: et cura omnes in hac dic, qui in virtutibus facientes noluisti Sabbatum custodire. Ecce ante gloriam nominis tui aperimus vulnera nostra: tu appone nostris infirmitatibus medicinam. Succurre nobis ut promisisti precantibas: qui ex nihilo fecisti quod sumus. Fac collyrium et tange oculos nostri cordis et corporis: ne cæcique labamur in tenebrarum erroribus consuetis. Ecce pedes tuos rigamus fletibus: non nos abjicias humiliatos. O Jesu bone! a vestigiis tuis non recedamus: qui humilis venieti in terris. Audi jam nostrorum omnium precem: et evellens nostrorum criminum cæcitatem, videamus gloriam faciei tuæ in pacis ætemæ beatitudine.
It is meet and just that we should give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, eternal Father, almighty God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son: who by the light of his faith dispelled the darkness of the world. He made them, that were held captives under the just condemnation of the law, become children of grace. He came into the world that he might exercise this judgment: that they who saw not, might see: and they who saw, might become blind. Thue, they that confessed themselves to be in the darkness of error, were to receive the eternal light, whereby they would be delivered from the darkness of their sins: and they that prided themselves on their merits, and seemed to themselves to have the light of justice, were by a just judgment to be shrouded in their own darkness; they were exalted in their pride, they confided in their own justice: they sought not the physician that could heal them, for they might have entered by Jesus, who calls himself the door whereby we go to the Father. These men, therefore, by a wicked highmindedness in their own merits, were left in their blindness. We, therefore, humbly come before thee; we presume not on ourmerits; but here before thy altar, O most holy Father, we confess our wounds, and the darkness of our errors, and the hidden things of our conscience. Grant, we beseech thee, that we may find cure for our wounds, light eternal for our darkness, spotless innocence for our conscience. With all our hearts do we desire to see thy face; but we are prevented by our usual darkness which blinds us. We would look up to heaven, yet cannot, for we are blinded by the darkness of our sins; neither do we, by holiness of life, come nigh to those, who, by reason of their sublime virtues, are called the heavens. Come, then, O Jesus, to us that are praying in thy temple. Heal us all upon this day, O thou that wouldst not have us so keep the Sabbath as to rest from good works. Lo! in thy divine presence, we confess our wounds; do thou heal our infirmities. Help us who pray to thee, for thou hast so promised; help us, thou that, out of nothing, didst create us. Make an ointment for us, and touch with it the eyes of our soul and body; lest, left in our blindness, we fall into our old darkness of error. We throw ourselves at thy feet, and water them with our tears; cast us not away from thee, humbled thus before thee. O good Jesus! thou that didst humbly come upon our earth, suffer us to remain hear thee and tread in thy footsteps. Hear this our united prayer; take from us the blindness of our sins; and grant us to see the glory of thy face in the blessedness of eternal peace.
 St. Mark vii. 32-34.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
The Station is at the church of Saints Sylvester and Martin, which is one of the most venerable in Rome. It was originally built by Pope St. Sylvester, and still bears his name: but in the sixth century, it was consecrated to St. Martin of Tours. In the seventh century, it was enriched with the relics of Pope Saint Martin, which were brought from Chersonesus, where he had died a martyr a few years before. This church was the first Title of St. Charles Borromeo. It was also that of the learned liturgiologist, the Blessed Joseph-Mary Tommasi, whose body is now venerated in this church, and has been miraculously preserved, even to this day, in a state of incorruption.
Præsta quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, ut quos je junia votiva castigant, ipsa quoque devotio sancta lætificet: ut, terrenie affectibus mitigatis, facilius cœlestia capiamus. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that the devotion which makes us punish ourselves by this yearly fast, may also make us rejoice; to the end that, suppressing in ourselves all earthly affections, we may more easily receive thy heavenly inspirations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lectio libri Regum.
4. Cap. iv.
In diebus illis: Venit mulier Sunamitis ad Eliscum in montem Carmeli: cum· que vidisset eam vir Dei e contra, ait ad Giezi puerum suum: Ecce Sunamitis ilia. Vade ergo in occursum ejus, et die ei: Rectene agitur circa te, et circa virum tuum, et circa filium tuum? Quæ responds: Recte. Cumque venisset ad virum Dei in montem, apprehendit pedes ejus: et accessit Giezi ut amoveret eam. Et ait homo Dei: Dimitte illam, anima enim ejus in amaritudine est, et Dominus celavit a me, et non indicavit mihi. Quæ dixit illi: Numquid petivi filium a domino meo? Numquid non dixi tibi: Ne illudas me? Et ille ait ad Giezi: Accinge lumbos tuos, et tolle baculum me·um in manu tua, et vade. Si occurrerit tibi homo, non salutes eum: et si salutaverit te quispiam, non respondeae illi: et pones baculum meum super faciem pueri. Porro mater pueri ait: Vivit Dominus, et vivit anima tua, non dimittam te. Surrexit ergo, et secutue est eam. Giezi autem præcesserat ante eos, et posuerat baculum super faciem pueri, et non erat vox, neque sensus: reversusque est in occursum ejus, et nuntiavit ei dicens: Non surrexit puer. Ingressus est ergo Eliseus domum, et ecce puer mortuus j ace bat in lectulo ejus: ingressusque clausit ostium super se, et super puerum: et oravit ad Dominant!. Et ascendit, et incubuit super puerum: posuitque os suum super os ejus, et oculos suos super oculos ejus, et manus suas super manus ejus: et incurvavit se super eum, et calefacta est caro pueri. At ille reversus, deambulavit in domo, semel hue atque illue: et ascendit, et inoubuit super eum: et oscitavit puer septies, aperuitque oculos. At ille vocavit Giezi, et dixit ei: Voca Sunamitidem hane. Quæ vocata, ingressa est ad eum. Qui ait: Tolle filium tuum. Venit illa, et corruit ad pedes ejus, et adoravit super terram: tulitque filium suum, et egressa est, et Eliseus reversus est iu Galgala.
Lesson from the Book of Kings.
4. Ch. iv.
In those days: A Sunamitess came to Eliseus on Mount Carmel: and when the man of God saw her coming towards him, he said to Giezi his servant: Behold that Sunamitess. Go therefore to meet her, and say to her: Is all well with thee, and with thy husband, and with thy son? And she answered: Well. And when she came to the man of God to the mount, she caught hold on his feet; and Giezi came to remove her. And the man of God said: Let her alone, for her soul is in anguish, and the Lord hath hid it from me, and hath not told me. And she said to him: Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say to thee: Do not deceive me? Then he said to Giezi: Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thy hand and go. If any man meet thee, salute him not; and if any man salute thee, answer him not; and lav my staff upon the face of the child. But the mother of the child said: As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. He arose, therefore, and followed her. But Giezi was gone before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child, and there was no voice nor sense; and he returned to meet him, and told him, saying: The child is not risen. Eliseus therefore went into the house, and behold the child lay dead on his bed. And going in, he shut the door upon him, and upon the child, and prayed to the Lord. And he went up, and lay upon the child; and he put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands, and he bowed himself upon him, and the child’s flesh grew warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house, once to and fro; and he went up, and lay upon him, and the child gaped seven times, and opened his eyes. And he called Giezi, and said to him: Call this Sunamitess. And she being called, went in to him. And he said: Take up thy son. She came and fell at his feet, and worshipped upon the ground, ana took up her son, and went out. And Eliseus returned to Galgal.
In this mysterious event are clustered together all the wonders of the plan laid down by God for the salvation of man. If the catechumens were instructed in these sublime truths, it would be a disgrace in us to be ignorant of them; therefore, let us be attentive to the teachings of this Epistle. This dead child is the human race; sin has caused its death, but God has resolved to restore it to life. First of all, a servant is sent to the corpse; this servant is Moses. His mission is from God; but, of itself, the Law he brings gives not life. This Law is figured by the staff which Giezi holds in his hand, and which he lays upon the child’s face; but to no purpose. The Law is severe; its rule is one of fear, on account of the hardness of Israel’s heart; yet is it with difficulty that it triumphs over his stubbornness; and they of Israel who would be just must aspire to something more perfect and more filial than the Law of Sinai. The Mediator who is to bring down from heaven the sweet element of charity, has not yet come; He is promised, He is prefigured; but He is not made flesh, He has not yet dwelt among us. The dead child is not risen. The Son of God must Himself come down.
Eliseus is the type of this divine Redeemer. See how he takes on himself the littleness of the child’s body, and bows himself down into closest contact with its members, and this in the silence of a closed chamber. It was thus that the Word of the Father, shrouding His brightness in the womb of a Virgin, united Himself to our nature, and, as the apostle expresses it, emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly than when it was given to them at the beginning Take notice, too, of what happens to the child, and what are the signs of the resurrection wrought in him. He breathes seven times: the Holy Ghost with His seven gifts, is to take possession of man’s soul and make it His temple. The child opens his eyes: the blindness of death is at an end. Neither must we forget the Sunamitess, the mother of the child: she is the type of the Church, who is praying her divine Elieeus to give her the resurrection of her dear catechumens, and of all unbelievers who are dwelling in the region of the shadow of death. Let us join our prayers with hers, and beg that the light of the Gospel may be spread more and more, and that the obstacles, opposed by satan and the malice of men to its propagation, may be for ever removed.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.
In illo tempore: I bat Jesus in civitatem quæ vocatur Naim: et ibant cum eo discipuli ejus, et turba copiosa. Cum autem appropinquaret portae civitatis, ecce defunctus efferebatur, filius unicus matris suae: et hæc vidua erat: etturba civitatis multa cum ilia. Quam cum vidisset Dominus, misericordiamotus super eam, dixit illi: Noli flere. Et accessit, et tetigit loculum (hi autem qui portabant steterunt). Et ait: Adolescens, tibi dico, surge. Et resedit qui erat mortuus, et cœpit loqui. Et dedit ilium matri suæ. Accepit autem omnes timor: et magnificabant Deum, dioentes: Quia Propheta magnus surrexit in nobis: et quia Deus visitavit plebem suam.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.
At that time: Jesus went into a city that is called Naim; and there went with him his disciples, and a grea£ multitude. And when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold a dead man was carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a great multitude of the city was with her. Whom when the Lord had seen, being moved with mercy towards her, he said to her: Weep not. And he came near, and touched the bier. And they that carried it, stood still. And he said: Young man, I say to thee, arise. And he that was dead, sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. And there came a fear on them all, and they glorified God, saying: A great prophet is risen up among us, and God hath visited his people.
The Church, both to-day and to-morrow, gives us types of the Resurrection; it is an announcement of the coming Pasch, and an encouragement for sinners to hope that their spiritual death will soon be changed into life. Before entering on the two weeks which are to be devoted to the commemoration of our Saviour’s Passion, the Church shows ter children the tender mercies of Him whose Blood is to purchase our reconciliation with divine Justice. She would have us argue, for our own consolation, that from such a Saviour we may well hope for pardon. Being thus rid of our fears, we shall be the more at liberty to contemplate the Sacrifice of our august Victim, and compassionate His sufferings. Let us attentively consider the Gospel just read to us. A heart-broken mother is following to the grave the corpse of an only son. Jesus has compassion upon her; He stays the bearers; He puts His divine hand on the bier; He commands the young man to arise; and then, as the Evangelist adds, Jesus gave him to his mother.This mother is the Church, who mourns over the death of so many of her children. Jesus is about to comfort her. He, by the ministry of His priests, will stretch forth His hand over these dead children; He will pronounce over them the great word that gives resurrection; and the Church will receive back into her arms these children she had lost, and they will be full of life and gladness.
Let us consider the mystery of the three resurrections wrought by our Saviour: that of the ruler’s daughter, that of the young man of to-day’s Gospel, and that of Lazarus, at which we are to assist tomorrow. The daughter of Jaims (for such was the ruler’s name) had been dead only a few hours: she represents the sinner who has but recently fallen, and has not yet contracted the habit of sin, nor grown insensible to the qualms of conscience. The young man of Naim is the figure of a sinner, who makes no effort to return to God, and whose will has lost its energy: he is being carried to the grave; and but for Jesus’ passing that way, he would soon have been of the number of them that are for ever dead. Lazarus is an image of a worse class of sinners. He is already a prey to corruption. The stone that closes his grave seals his doom. Can such a corpse as this ever come back to life? Yes, if Jesus mercifully deign to exercise His power. Now, it is during this holy season of Lent that the Church is praying and fasting, and we with her, to the end that these three classes of sinners may hear the voice of the Son of God, and hearing, rise and live. The mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection is to produce this wonderful effect in them all. Let us take our humble share in these merciful designs of God; let us, day and night, offer our supplications to our Redeemer, that, in a few days hence, seeing how He has raised the dead to life, we may cry out, with the people of Naim: A great Prophet is risen up among us, and God hath visited His people!
Humiliate capita vestra Deo.
Populi tui, Deus, institutor, et rector, peccata quibus impugnatur expelle: ut sem per tibi placitus, et tuo münimine sit securas. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen
Bow down your heads to God.
O God, the creator and governor of thy people, deliver them from the sins by which they are assaulted; that they may be always well pleasing in thy sight, and safe under thy protection. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
We offer to our readers this admirable canticle of the Gothic Church of Spain, It is addressed to the catechumens, who are admitted to Baptism; but, here and there, it is applicable to the penitents, who are soon to be reconciled.
(Sabbato Hebdomadæ V. in Quadragesima)
Vocaris ad vitam, sacrum Dei genus;
Creator adsciscens, amat quæ condidit;
Redemptor attrahit benigno spiritu;
Venite, dicit, ves ter unus sum Deus.
Prorsus relicto claritatis lumine,
Ingens chaos vos pessime concluserat:
Locus beatitudinis jam non erat;
Cruenta terra qua re mors intraverat.
En, mitis adveni, creans; et recreans Deus;
Potens, infirmitatis particeps vestræ
Valenter vos feram, concurrite;
Ut jam receptet vos ovile gaudii.
Signo crucis frons prænotetur indito:
Aures, et os perfusa signet unctio:
Præbete dictis cordis aurem: vividum
Confessionis personate canticum.
Omnes novo estote læti nomine:
Omnea novæ sortie lovet hæreditas:
Nullus manebit servus hosti subditus:
Eritis unius Dei regnum manens.
Honor sit ætemo Deo, sit gloria
Uni Patri, ejusque soli Filio,
Cum Spiritu; quæ Trinitas perenniter
Vivit potens in sæculorum sæcula.
O holy people of God! you are called unto life.
The Creator, loving the works of his hands, invites you:
the Redeemer lovingly draws you,
saying: Come, I am your only God.
You had departed from the bright light;
you had wretchedly fallen into the great abyss;
there was no longer a heaven for you;
cruel death had come upon the earth.
Lo! I, your Creator and your Re-Creator, your God,
have come to you in love. I, though a sharer of your weakness,
am the mighty God; I will carry you in my strength;
come unto me, and the fold of joy shall welcome you back.
Your foreheads shall be marked with the sign of the cross;
and your ears and mouth anointed with oil.
Lend the ear of your heart to what you are taught;
and sing the Symbol as a canticle of fervent praise.
Rejoice in the new name that is given you.
You are all made heirs to a new inheritance.
Not one of you shall remain a slave to the enemy.
You shall be the permanent kingdom of the one God.
Honour be to the eternal God!
Glory be to the one Father, and to his only Son,
together with the Holy Ghost: the almighty Trinity,
that liveth unceasingly for ever and ever.
 Phil. ii. 7.
 St. John x. 10.
 Is. ix. 2.
 It is given in the Gospel for the twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost.
 St. John v. 23.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
The Station is in the church of Saint Eusebius, priest of Rome, who suffered for the faith, in the Arian persecution, under the emperor Constantius.
Deus, qui ineffabilibus mundum renovas sacramentis: præsta quæsumus, ut Ecclesia tua et æternis proficiat institutis, et temporalibus non destituatur auxiliis. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
O God, who by thy ineffable mysteries givest new life to the world; grant, we beseech thee, that thy Church may advance in the observance of thy eternal precepts, and never be destitute of thy temporal assistance. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lectio libri Regum.
3. Cap. xvii.
In diebus illis: Ægrotavit filius mulieris matrisfamilias, et erat languor fortissimus, ita ut non remaneret in eo halitus. Dixit ergo ad Eliam: Quid mihi et tibi vir Dei? Ingressus es ad me, ut rememorarentur iniquitates meæ, et interficeres filium meum? Et ait ad eam Elias: Da mihi filium tuum. Tulitque eum de sinu ejus, et portavit in cænaculum ubi ipse manebat, et posuit super lectulum suum. Et clamavit ad Dominum et dixit: Domine Deus meus, etiamne viduam, apud quam ego utcumque sustentor, afflixisti ut interficeres filium ejus? Et expandit se, atque mensus est super puerum tribus vicibue, et clamavit ad Dominum, et ait: Domine Deus meus, revertatur, obsecro, anima pueri hujus in viscera ejus. Et exaudivit Dominus vocem Eliæ: et reversa est anima pueri intra eum, et revixit. Tulitque Elias puerum, et deposuit eum de coenaculo in inferiorem domum, et tradidit matri suæ, et ait illi: En vivit filius tuus. Dixitque mulier ad Eliam: Nunc in isto cognovi, quoniam vir Dei es tu, et verbum Domini in ore tuo verum est.
Lesson from the Book of Kings.
3. Ch. xvii.
In those days: The son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick, and the sickness was very grievous, so that there was no breath left in him. And she said to Elias: What have I to do with thee, thou man of God T Art thou come to me, that my iniquities should be remembered, and that thou shouldst kill my son? And Elias said to her: Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him into the upper chamber where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried to the Lord, and said: O Lord, my God, hast thou afflicted also the widow, with whom I am after a sort maintained, so as to kill her son? And he stretched, and measured himself upon the child three times, and cried to the Lord, and said: O Lord, my God, let the soul of this child, I beseech thee, return into his body. And the Lord heard the voice of Elias; and the soul of the child returned into him, and he revived. And Elias took the child, and brought him down from the upper chamber to the house below, and delivered him to his mother, and said to her: Behold thy son liveth. And the woman said to Elias: Now, by this, I know that thou art a man of God, and the word of the Lord in thy mouth is true.
Again it is a mother that comes, with tears in her eyes, praying for the resurrection of her child. This mother is the widow of Sarephta, whom we have already had as the type of the Gentile Church. She was once a sinner, and an idolatress, and the remembrance of the past afflicts her soul; but the God that has cleansed her from her sins, and called her to be His bride, comforts her by restoring her child to life. The charity of Elias is a figure of that of the Son of God. Observe how this great prophet stretches himself upon the body of the boy, fitting himself to his littleness, as did also Eliseus. Here again, we recognize the divine mystery of the Incarnation. Elias thrice touches the corpse; thrice, also, will our catechumens be immersed in the baptismal font, whilst the minister of God invokes the three Persons of the adorable Trinity. On the solemn night of Easter, Jesus, too, will say to the Church, His bride: Behold, thy son liveth; and she, transported with joy, will acknowledge the truth of God’s promises. Nay, the very pagans bore witness to this truth; for when they saw the virtuous lives of this new people, which came forth regenerated from the waters of Baptism, they acknowledged that God alone could produce such virtue in man. There suddenly arose from the midst of the Roman empire, demoralized as it was and corrupt beyond imagination, a race of men of angelic purity; and these very men had, but a short time before their Baptism, wallowed in all the abominations of paganism. Whence had they derived this sublime virtue? From the Christian teaching, and from the supernatural remedies it provides for man’s spiritual miseries. Then it was that unbelievers sought for the true faith, though they knew it was at the risk of martyrdom; they ran to the Church, asking her to become their mother, and saying to her: We know that thou art of God, and the word of the Lord in thy mouth is true.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
In illo tempore: Erat quidam languens Lazarus a Bethania, de castello Mariae et Marthae eororis ejus. (Maria autem erat, quæ unxit Dominum ungüento, et extersit pedes ejus capillis suis: cujus frater Lazarus infirmabatur.) Miserunt ergo sor ores ejus ad eum, dicentes: Domine, ecce quern amas, infirmatur. Audiens autem Jesus, dixit eis: Infirmitas hæc non est ad mortem, sed pro gloria Dei, ut glorificetur Filius Dei per eam. Diligebat autem Jesus Martham, et sororem ejus Mariam, et Lazarum. Ut ergo audivit quia infirmabatur, tunc quidem mansit in eodem loco duobus diebus. Deinde post hæc dixit discipulie suis: Eamus in Judæam iterum. Dicunt ei discipuli: Rabbi, nunc quærebant te Judæi lapidare, et iterum vadis illuc? Respondit Jesus: Nonne duodecim sunt horæ diei? Si quis ambulaverit in die, non offendit, quia lucem hujus mundi videt: si autem ambulaverit in nocte, offendit, quia lux non est in eo. Hæc ait, et post hæc dixit eis: Lazarus amicus noster dormit: sed vado ut a somno excitem eum. Dixerunt ergo discipuli ejus: Domine, si dormit salvus erit. Dixerat autem Jesus de morteejus: illi autem putaverunt quia de dormitione somni diceret. Tunc ergo Jesus dixit eis manifeste: Lazarus mortuus est; et gaudeo propter vos, ut credatis, quoniam non eram ibi. Sed eamus ad eum. Dixit ergo Thomas, qui dicitur Didymus, ad condiscipulos: Eamus et nos, ut moriamur cum eo. Venit itaque Jesus; et invenit eum quatuor dies jam in monumento habentem. (Erat autem Bethania juxta Jerosolymam quasi stadiis quindecim.) Multi autem ex Judæis vener ant ad Martham et Mariam, ut consolarentur eas de fratre suo. Martha ergo ut audivit quia Jesus venit, occurrit illi: Maria autem domi sedebat. Dixit ergo Martha ad Jesum: Domine, si fuisses hie, frater meus non fuisset mortuus. Sed et nunc scio quia quæcumque poposceris a Deo, dabit tibi Deus. Dicit illi Jesus: Resurget frater tuus. Dicit ei Martha: Scio quia resurget in resurrections in novissimo die. Dixit ei Jesus:’ Ego sum resurrectio et vita: qui credit in me, etiamsi mortuus fuerit, vivet: et omnis qui vivit et credit in me, non morietur in æternum. Credis hoc? Ait illi: Utique, Domine, ego credidi, quia tu es Christus Filius Dei vivi, qui in huno mundum venisti. Et cum hæc dixisset, abiit, et vocavit Mariam sororem suam silentio, dicens: Magister adest, et vocat te. Hla, ut audivit, surgit cito, et venit ad eum; nondum enim venerat Jesus in castellum, sed erat adhuc in illo loco, ubi occurrerat ei Martha. Judaei ergo, qui erant cum ea in domo, et consolabantur eam, cum vidissent Mariam, quia cito surrexit et exiit, Becuti sunt eam, dicentes: Quia vadit ad monumentum, ut ploret ibi. Maria ergo, cum venisset ubi erat Jesus, videns eum, cecidit ad pedes ejus, et dicit ei: Domine, si fuisses hie, non esset mortuus frater meus. Jesus ergo, ut vidit eam ploran tern, et Judaeos qui venerant cum ea plorantes, infremuit spiritu, et turbavit seipsum, et dixit: Ubi posuistis eum? Dicunt ei: Domine, veni et vide. Et lacrymatue est Jesus. Dixerunt ergo Judaei: Ecce quomodo amabat eum! Quidam autem ex ipsis dixerunt: Non poterat hie, qui aperuit oculos cæci nati, facere ut hic non moreretur? Jesus ergo rursum fremens in semetipso, venit ad monumentum. Erat autem spelunca: et lapis superpositus erat ei. Ait Jesus: Tollite lapidem. Dicit ei Martha, soror ejus qui mortuus fuerat: Domine, jam foetet, quatriduanus est enim. Dicit ei Jesus: Nonne dixi tibi, quoniam si credideris, vide bis gloriam Dei? Tulerunt ergo lapidem: Jesus autem, elevatis sursum oculis, dixit: Pater, gratias ago tibi, quoniam audisti me. Ego autem sciebam quia semper me audis, sed propter populum qui circumstat, dixi: ut credant quia tu me misisti. Hæc cum dixisset, voce magna clama vit: Lazare, veni foras. Et statim prodiit, qui fuerat mortuus, ligatus pedes et manus institis, et facies illius sudario erat ligata. Dixit eis Jesus: Solvite eum, et sinite abire. Multi ergo ex Judæis, qui venerant ad Mariam et Martham, et viderant quæ fecit Jesus, crediderunt in eum.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.
At that time: There was a certain man sick named Lazarus, of Bethania, of the town of Mary, and of Martha her sister. And Mary was she that anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. His sisters therefore sent to him, saying: Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. And Jesus hearing it said to them: This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he still remained in the same place two days. Then after that, he said to his disciples: Let us go into Judea again. The disciples say to him: Rabbi, the Jews but now sought to stone thee, and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered: Are there not twelve hours of the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world; but if he walk in the night he stumbleth, because the light is not in him. These things he said, and after that he said to them: Lafcarus our friend sleepeth: but I go that I may awake him out of sleep. His disciples therefore said: Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. But Jesus spoke of his death; and they thought that he spoke of the repose of sleep. Then therefore Jesus said to them plainly: Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes, that I was not there, that you may believe; but let us go to him. Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples: Let us also go, that we may die with him. Jesus therefore came, and found that he had been four days already in the grave. (Now Bethania was near Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off.) And many of the Jews were come to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Martha, therefore, as soon as she heard that Jesus was come, went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha therefore said to Jesus: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died; but now also I know, that whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith to her: Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith to him: I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live; and every one that liveth, and believeth in me, shall not die for ever. Believest thou this? She saith to him: Yea, Lord, I have believed that thou art Christ, the Son of the living God, who art come into this world. And when she had said these things, she went, and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The Master is come, and calleth for thee. She, as soon as she heard this, riseth quickly, and cometh to him; for Jesus was not yet come into the town, but he was still in that place where Martha had met him. The Jews therefore, who were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary that she rose up speedily, and went out, followed her saying: She goeth to the grave, to weep there. When Mary therefore was come where Jesus was, seeing him, she fell down at his feet, and saith to him: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. Jesus therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews, that were come with her, weeping, groaned in the spirit, and troubled himself, and said: Where have you laid him? They say to him: Lord, come and see. And Jesus wept. The Jews therefore said: Behold how he loved him l But some of them said: Could not he, that opened the eyes of the man bom blind, have caused that this man should not die? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself, cometh to the sepulchre: now it was a cave and a stone was laid over it. Jesus saith: Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith to him: Lord, by this time he etinketh, for he is now of four days. Jesus saith to her: Did I not say to thee that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? They took therefore the stone away; and Jesus, lifting up his eyes, said: Father, I give thee thanks that thou hast heard me; and I knew that thou hearest me always, but because of the people who stand about have I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. When he had said these things, he cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth! And presently he that had been dead came forth, bound feet and hands with winding bands, and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them: Loose him, and let him go. Many therefore of the Jews, who were come to Mary and Martha, and had seen the things that Jesus did, believed in him.
Let us meditate upon this admirable history; and as we meditate, let us hope; for it not only shows us what Jesus does for the souls of others, but what He has done for ours. Let us, also, renew our prayers for the penitents, who now, throughout the world, are preparing for the great reconciliation. It is not a mother that is here represented as praying for the resurrection of her child; it is two sisters asking this grace for a brother. The example must not be lost on us: we must pray for one another. But let us take our Gospel in the order of its truths.
First, Lazarus was sick; and then, he died. The sinner begins by being tepid and careless; and then he receives the mortal wound. Jesus could have cured Lazarus of his sickness; but He permitted it to be fatal. He intends to work such a miracle, and that within sight of Jerusalem, that His enemies shall have no excuse for refusing to receive Him as the Messias. He would also prove that He is the sovereign Master of life, in order that He might hereby teach His apostles and disciples not to be scandalized at the death He Himself was soon to suffer. In the moral sense, God, in His wisdom, sometimes leaves an ungrateful soul to itself, although He foresees that it will fall into sin. It will rise again; and the confusion it will feel for having sinned will lead it to that great preservative against a future fall—humility.
The two sisters, Martha and Mary, are full of grief, yet full of confidence in Jesus. Let us observe how their two distinct characters are shown on this occasion. Jesus tells Martha that He is the resurrection and the life, and that they who believe in Him shall not die—that is, shall not die the death of sin. But when Mary came to Him, and He saw her weeping, He groaned in the spirit, and troubled Himself, because He knew the greatness of her love. His divine Heart was touched with compassion as He beheld these, who were so dear to Him, smarting under that chastisement of death which sin had brought into the world. Having reached the sepulchre where Lazarus was buried, He wept, for He loved Lazarus. Thus did our Redeemer, by His own weeping, sanctify the tears which Christian affection sheds over the grave of a relative or friend. Lazarus has been in the sepulchre four days; it is the image of the sinner buried in his sins. To see him now makes even his sister shudder: but Jesus rebukes her, and bids them take away the stone. Then with that voice which commands all nature and makes hell tremble, He cries out: Lazarus, come forth! He that had been dead rises up in the sepulchre; but his feet and hands are tied, his face is covered with a napkin; he lives, but he can neither walk nor see. Jesus orders him to be set free; and then, by the hands of the men that are present, he recovers the use of his limbs and eyes. So is it with the sinner that receives pardon. There is no voice but that of Jesus which can call him to conversion, and touch his heart, and bring him to confess his sins; but Jesus has put into the hands of priests the power to loose, enlighten, and give movement. This miracle, which was wrought by our Saviour at this very season of the year, filled up the measure of His enemies’ rage, and set them thinking how they could soonest put Him to death. The few days He has still to live, are all to be spent at Bethania, where the miracle has taken place, and which is but a short distance from Jerusalem. In nine days from this, He will make His triumphant entry into the faithless city, after which He will return to Bethania, and after three or four days, will once more enter Jerusalem, there to consummate the Sacrifice, whose infinite merits are to purchase resurrection for sinners.
The early Christians loved to see this history of our Lord’s raising Lazarus to life painted on the walls of the catacombs. We also find it carved on the sarcophagi of the fourth and fifth centuries; and later on, it was not unfrequently chosen as a subject for the painted windows of our cathedrals. This symbol of spiritual resurrection was formerly honoured by a most solemn ceremony, in the great monastery of holy Trinity, at Vendóme, in France. Every year, on this day, a criminal who had been sentenced to death, was led to the church of the monastery. He had a rope round his neck, and held in his hand a torch weighing thirty-three pounds, in memory of the years spent on earth by our Saviour. The monks made a procession, in which the criminal joined; after which, a sermon was preached, at which he also assisted. He was then taken to the foot of the altar, where the abbot, after exhorting him to repentance, imposed on him, as a penance, the pilgrimage to St. Martin’s church at Tours. The abbot loosened the rope from his neck, and declared him to be free. The origin of this ceremony was, that when Louis of Bourbon, Count of Vendóme, was prisoner in England, in the year 1426, he made a vow that, if God restored him to liberty, he would establish this custom in the church of holy Trinity, as a return of gratitude, and as a homage to Christ, who raised up Lazarus from the tomb. God accepted the vow, and the prince soon recovered his freedom.
Humiliate capita vestra Deo.
Da nobis, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, ut qui infirmitatis nostræ conscii, de tua virtute confidimus, de tua semper pietate gaudeamus. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.
Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that we, who are sensible of our own weakness, and confide in thy power, may always rejoice in the effects of thy goodness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us pray to-day for the conversion of sinners, using this devout formula given by the Roman pontifical in the reconciliation of penitents:
Deus, humani generis benignissime conditor, et misericordissimereformator, qui hominem invidia diaboli ab aeternitate dojectum unici Filii tui sanguine redemisti, vivifica hos famulos tuos, quos tibi nullatenus mori desideras; et qui non derelinquis devios, assume correctos; moveant pietatem tuam, quæsumus, Domine, horum famulorum tuorum lacrymosa suspiria; tu eorum medere vulneribus; tu jacentibus manum porrige salutarem; ne Ecclesia tua aliqua sui corporis portione vastetur; ne grex tuus detrimentum sustineat: ne de familiæ tuæ damno inimicus exsultet; ne renatos lavacro salutari mors secunda possideat. Tibi ergo, Domine, supplices fundimus preces, tibi fletum cordis effundimus; tu parce confitentibus, ut imminentibus pænis sententiam futuri judicii, te miserante, non incidant; nesciant quod terret in tenebris, quod stridet in flammis, atque ab erroris via ad iter reversi justitiæ, nequaquam ultra novis vulneribus saucientur; sed integrum sit eis, ac perpetuum, et quod gratia tua contulit, et quod misericordia reformavit. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum. Amen.
O God, the most loving Creator, and most merciful Redeemer of mankind! who, when man, through the devil's malice, forfeited eternal life,didst redeem him by the Blood of thine only Son; restore to life these thy servants, who thou wiliest not should be dead to thee. Thou abandonest not them that go astray; receive these that have returned to the right path. We beseech thee, O Lord, let thy mercy be moved by the tears and sighs of these thy servants; heal their wounds; stretch forth thy saving hand, and raise them up: lest thy Church be robbed of a part of her body; lest thy flock should suffer loss; lest the enemy should rejoice in the perdition of them that are of thy family; lest the second death should seize them that were regenerated in the waters of salvation. To thee, therefore, O Lord, do we thy suppliants pour forth our prayers, to thee the weeping of our heart. Spare them that trust in thee, and, in thy mercy, suffer them not to fall under the sentence of thy judgment to come, whereby they would be condemned to punishment. Let not the horrors of darkness, or the scorching of flames come nigh to them. They have returned from the way of error to the path of justice; let them not be again wounded. What thy grace hath conferred, and thy mercy hath reformed, let it remain in them whole and for ever. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
This Saturday, in the early ages of Christianity, was called Sitientes, from the first word of the Introit of the Mass, in which the Church addresses her catechumens in the words of Isaias, and invites them that thirst after grace, to come and receive it in the holy Sacrament of Baptism. At Rome, the Station was originally in the basilica of Saint Laurence outside the walls; but it was found inconvenient, on account of its great distance from the city; and the church of Saint Nicholas in carcere, which is within the walls, was selected for to-day’s Station.
Fiat, Domine, quæsumus, per gratiam tuam, fructuosus nostrae devotionis affectus: quia tunc nobis proderunt euecepta jejunia, si tuæ sint placita pietati. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Grant us, O Lord, we beseech thee, an increase of devotion: for then only will our fasts avail us, when they are well pleasing to thy goodness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lectio Isaiæ Prophetæ.
Hæc dicit Dominus: In tempore placito exaudivi te, et in die salutis auxiliatus sum tui: et servavi te, et dedi te in fædus populi, ut susci tares terrain, et possideres hæreditates dissipatas; ut diceres his qui vincti sunt: Exite: et his qui in tenebris: Revelamini. Super vias pascentur, et in omnibus planis pascua eorum. Non esurient, neque sitient, et non percutiet eos æstus et sol: quia miserator eorum reget eos, et ad fontes aquarum potabit eos. Et ponam omnes montes meos in viam, et semitae mese exaltabuntur. Ecce isti de longe venient, et ecce illi ab aquilone et mari, et isti de terra australi. Laudate, cceli, et exsulta, terra; jubilate, montes, laudem: quia consolatus est Dominus populum suum, et pauperum suorum miserebitur. Et dixit Sion: Dereliquit me Dominus, et Dominus oblitus est mei. Numquid oblivisci potest mulier infantem suum, ut non misereatur filio uteri sui? Et si illa oblita fuerit, ego tamen non obliviscar tui, dicit Dominus omnipotens.
Lesson from the Prophet Isaias.
Thus saith the Lord: In an acceptable time I have heard thee, and in the day of salvation I have helped thee; and I have preserved thee, and given thee to be a covenant of the people, that thou mightiest raise up the earth and possess the inheritances that were destroyed; that thou mightest say to them that are bound: Come forth; and to them that are in darkness: Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures-shall be in every plain. They shall not hunger nor thirst, neither shall the heat nor the sun strike them: for he that is merciful to them shall be their shepherd, and at the fountains of waters he shall give them drink. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my paths shall be exalted. Behold these shall come from afar, and behold these from the north and from the sea, and these from the south country. Give praise, O ye heavens, and rejoice, O earth; ye mountains, give praise with jubilation; because the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy on his poor ones. And Sion said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and the Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should forget, yet will I not forget thee, saith the Lord almighty.
How these words of love must have consoled the hearts of our catechumens! Never did our heavenly Father express His tender mercy towards us in more glowing terms; and He bade His prophet deliver them to us. He gives the whole earth to His Son, Jesus Christ, our Incarnate Lord, not that He may judge and condemn it, as it deserves, but that He may save it. This divine Ambassador, having come on the earth, tells all that are galled by fetters, or that sit in the gloomy shadow of death, to come to Him, promising them liberty and light. Their hunger shall be appeased, and their thirst quenched. They shall no longer pant under the scorching rays of the sun, but shall be led by their merciful Shepherd to the cool shades on the banks of the water of life. They came from every nation under heaven: the fountain, the font, shall be the centre where all the human race is to meet. The Gentile world is to be henceforth called Sion, and the Lord loveth the gates of this new Sion above all the tabernacles of Jacob. God had not forgotten her during the long ages of her idol worship; His love is tender as that of the fondest mother; yea, and though a mother’s heart may forget her child, God never will forget His Sion. You, then, who received Baptism at your very entrance into the world, but have, since then, served another master besides Him to whom you swore perpetual allegiance at the font, be of good heart! If the grace of God has found you submissive, if the holy exercises of Lent and the prayers offered for you by the C hurch have had their effect, and you are now preparing to make your peace with God, read these words of your heavenly Father, and fear not! How can you fear? He has given you to His own Son; He has told Him to save, heal, and comfort you. Are you in the bonds of sin? Jesus can break them. Are you in spiritual darkness? He is the light of the world, and can dispel the thickest gloom. Are you hungry? He is the Bread of life. Are you thirsty? He is the fountain of living water. Are you scorched, are you burnt to the very core, by the heat of concupiscence? Ewen so, poor sufferers! you must not lose courage; there is a cool fountain ready to refresh you, and heal all your wounds; not indeed the first font, which gave you. the life you have lost; but the second Baptism, the divine Sacrament of Penance, which can restore you to grace and purity!
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
In illo tempore: Locutus est Jesus turbis Judæorum, dicens: Ego sum lux mundi: qui sequitur me, non ambulat in tenebris, sed habebit lumen vitae. Dixerunt ergo ei pharisæi: Tu de teipso testimonium perhibes: testimonium tuum non est verum. Respondit Jesus, et dixit eis: Et si ego testimonium perhibeo de meipso, verum est testimonium meum: quia scio unde veni, et quo vado: vos ftutem nescitis unde venio, aut quo vado. Vos secundum carnem judicatis: ego non judico quemquam: et si judico ego, judicium meum verum est: quia solus non sum, sed ego, et qui misit me, Pater. Et in lege vestra scriptum est, quia duorum hominum testimonium verum est. Ego sum qui testimonium perhibeo de meipso: et testimonium perhibet de me, qui misit me, Pater. Dicebant ergo ei: Ubi est Pater tuus? Respondit Jesus: Neque me scitis, neque Patrem meum: si me sciretis, forsitan et Patrem meum sciretis. Hæc verba locutus est Jesus in gazophylacio, docena in templo: et nemo apprehendit eum, quia necdum venerat hora ejus.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.
At that time: Jesus spoke to the multitude of the Jews, saying: I am the light of the world; he that followeth me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life. The pharisees therefore said to him: Thou givest testimony of thyself; thy testimony is not true. Jesus answered and said to them: Although I give testimony of myself, my testimony is true: for I know whence I came and whither I go, but you know not whence I come, or whither I go. You judge according to the flesh, I judge not any man. And if I do judge, my judgment is true; because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. And in your law it is written, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one, that give testimony of myself; and the Father that sent me, giveth testimony of me. They said therefore to him: Where is thy Father? Jesus answered: Neither me do you know, nor my Father; if you did know me, perhaps you would know my Father also. These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, teaching in the temple: and no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.
What a contrast between the tender mercy of God, who invites all men to receive His Son as their Redeemer, and the obduracy of heart wherewith the Jews receive the heavenly Ambassador! Jesus has proclaimed Himself to be the Son of God, and, in proof of His divine origin, has, for three long years, wrought the most astounding miracles. Many of the Jews have believed in Him, because they argued that God could never have authorized falsity by miracles; and they therefore accepted the doctrine of Jesus as coming from heaven. The pharisees hate the light, and love darkness; their pride will not yield even to the evidence of facts. At one time they denied the genuineness of Jesus’ miracles; at another, they pretended to explain them by the agency of the devil. Then, too, they put questions to Him of such a captious nature, that, in what way soever Jesus answered, they might accuse Him of blasphemy, or contempt for the Law. To-day, they have the audacity to make this objection to Jesus’ being the Messias: that He gives testimony in His own favour! Our blessed Lord, who knows the malice of their hearts, deigns to refute their impious sarcasm; but He avoids giving them an explicit answer. It is evident that the light is passing from Jerusalem, and is to bless other lands. How terrible is this punishment of a soul that abuses the truth, and rejects it by an instinctive hatred! Her crime is that sin against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. Happy he that loves the truth, though it condemns his evil passions, and troubles his conscience! Such an one proves that he reveres the wisdom of God; and if it do not altogether rule his conduct it does not abandon him. But happier far he that yields himself wholly to the truth, and, as a humble disciple, follows Jesus. He walketh not in darkness; he shall have the light of life. Let us, then, lose no time, but take at once that happy path marked out for us by Him who is our light and our life. Keeping close to His footsteps, we went up the rugged hill of Quarantana, and there we witnessed His rigid fast; but now that the time of His Passion is at hand, He invites us to follow Him up another mount, that of Calvary, there to contemplate His sufferings and death. Let us not hesitate; we shall be repaid: we shall have the light of life.
Humiliate capita vestra Deo.
Deus, qui sperantibus in te misereri potius eligis quam irasci: da nobis digne flere mala quæ fecimus, ut tuæ consolationis gratiam invenire mereamur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.
O God, who choosest rather to show mercy, than to be angry with those that hope in thee, grant we may worthily lament the evil we have committed, that so we may find the favour of thy consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us end these first four weeks of Lent with a hymn to our blessed Lady, the Mother of mercy. Saturday is always sacred to her. The hymn we give is taken from the ancient Roman-French missals.
Et angelis gloriam.
Fructus ventris tui,
Ut essemus sui,
Nos fecit per gratiam.
Per hoc autem Ave,
Mundo tam suave,
Contra carnis jura
Novum Stella solem,
Tu parvi et magni,
Leonis et Agni,
Sed virgo intacta.
Tu Solis et Roris,
Panis et Pastoris,
Rosa sine spina,
Genitrix es facta.
Tu civitas Regis justitiæ,
Tu mater es misericordiæ,
De lacu fæcis et miseriæ
Theophilum reformans gratiæ.
Te collaudat cælestis curia
Tu Mater es Regis et filia,
Per te reis donatur venia,
Per te justis confertur gratia.
Ergo maris stella,
Verbi Dei celia,
Et solis aurora,
Per quam lux est orta,
Natum tuum ora,
Ut nos solvat a peccatis,
Et in regno claritatis,
Quo lux lucet sedula,
Collocet per sæcula.
full of grace!
The Lord is with thee,
O gentle Virgin!
Blessed art thou
for thou didst bring forth
peace to men
and glory to the angels.
is the fruit of thy womb Jesus,
who, by his grace,
made us to be
By this Ave,
which sounded so sweetly to the world,
thou didst conceive,
and not by nature’s laws.
Thou wast the new star
that wast to bring forth a new Sun.
Thou, though ever the purest of virgins,
wast the temple
of our Saviour Jesus Christ
(who united in his person the little and the great),
the Lion and the Lamb.
O Queen of virgins!
O rose without thorns!
Thou wast made Mother of him
who is our Sun, our Dew,
our Bread, and our Shepherd.
Thou art the city of the just King;
thou art the Mother of mercy,
bringing grace to Theophilus,
by drawing him out of the den of filth and misery.
The heavenly court praises thee,
for thou art both Mother and Daughter of its King.
By thee, the guilty obtain pardon;
by thy prayers, the just receive grace.
Therefore, O star of the sea,
O tabernacle of the Word,
O aurora of the divine Sun,
O gate of heaven,
by whom Light arose to the world!
pray for us to thy Son,
That he loose us from sin,
and introduce us
into the kingdom of. brightness,
where perpetual light shines for ever.
 St. John iii. 17.
 Ps. lxxzvi. 2.
 St. Matt. xii. 32.