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.