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From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Including descriptions of the following:

A night has passed over the tomb, wherein lies buried the Body of the Man-God. Death is triumphant in that silent cave, and holds captive Him that gives life to every creature: but his triumph will soon be at an end. The soldiers may watch, as best they will, over that grave: they cannot hold Jesus prisoner, as soon as the moment fixed for His Resurrection comes. The holy angels are there, profoundly adoring the lifeless Body of Him, whose Blood is to reconcile all things, both on earth and in heaven.[1] This Body, though for a brief interval separated from the Soul, is still united to the Person of the Son of God; so likewise the Soul, during its separation from the Body, has not for an instant lost its union with the Word. The Divinity remains also united with the Blood which lies sprinkled on Calvary, and which, at the moment of the Resurrection of the Man-God, is to enter once more into His sacred veins.

Let us also return to the sepulchre, and adore the Body of our buried Jesus. Now, at last, we understand what sin has done: by sin, death entered into the world; and it passed upon all men.[2] Though Jesus knew no sin,[3] yet has He permitted death to have dominion over Him, in order that He might make it less bitter to us, and by His Resurrection restore unto us that eternal life, of which we had been deprived by sin. How gratefully we should appreciate this death of our Jesus! By becoming Incarnate, He became a servant;[4] His death was a still deeper humiliation. The sight of this tomb, wherein His Body lies lifeless and cold, teaches us something far more important than the power of death: it reveals to us the immense, the incomprehensible love of God for man. He knew that wo were to gain by His humiliations; the greater His humiliations, the greater our exaltation: this was His principle, and it led Him to what seems like an excess! Let us, then, love this sacred sepulchre, which is to give us life. We have thanked Him for having died for us upon the cross; let us thank Him, but most feelingly, for having humbled Himself, for our sake, even to the tomb!

And now let us visit the holy Mother, who has passed the night in Jerusalem, going over, in saddest memory, the scenes she has witnessed. Her Jesus has been a victim to every possible insult and cruelty; He has been crucified; His precious Blood has flowed in torrents from those five Wounds; He is dead, and now lies buried in yonder tomb, as though He were but a mere man, yea the most abject of men. How many tears have fallen, during these long hours, from the eyes of the daughter of David! And yet, her Son has not come back to her! Near her is Magdalene; heart-broken by yesterday’s events, she has no words to tell her grief, for Jesus is gone, and, as she thinks, for ever. The other women, less loved by Jesus than Magdalene, yet most dear to Him, stand around the disconsolate Mother. They have braved every insult and danger in order to remain on Calvary till all was over, and they intend returning thither with Magdalene, as soon as the Sabbath is over, to honour the tomb and the Body of Jesus.

John, the adopted son of Mary, and the beloved disciple of Jesus, is oppressed with sorrow. Others, also, of the apostles and disciples visit the house of mourning. Peter, penitent and humble, fears not to appear before the Mother of mercy. Among the disciples are Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. We may easily imagine the conversation—it is on the sufferings and death of Jesus, and on the ingratitude of the Jews. The Church, in the seventh responsory of to-day’s Tenebrœ, represents these men as saying: ‘Behold! how the Just One dieth, and there is none that taketh it to heart. Iniquity has had its way. He was silent as a lamb under his shearer, and He opened not His mouth. He was taken away from distress and judgment: but His memory shall be in peace.’

Thus speak the men; the women are thinking of their morrow’s visit to the sepulchre. The saintliness of Jesus, His goodness, His power, His sufferings, His death—everything is remembered, except His Resurrection, which they had often heard Him say should certainly and speedily take place. Mary alone lives in expectation of His triumph. In her was verified that expression of the Holy Ghost, where, speaking of the valiant woman, He says: ‘Her lamp shall not be put out in the night.’[5] Her courage fails not, because she knows that the sepulchre must yield up its Dead, and her Jesus will rise again to life. St. Paul tells us that our religion is vain, unless we have faith in the mystery of our Lord’s Resurrection: where was this faith on the day after our Lord’s death? In one heart only—and that was Mary’s. As it was her chaste womb that had held within it Him whom heaven and earth cannot contain, so, on this day, by her firm and unwavering faith, she resumes within her single self the whole Church. How sacred is this Saturday, which, notwithstanding all its sadness, is such a day of glory to the Mother of Jesus! It is on this account that the Church has consecrated to Mary the Saturday of every week.

But it is time to repair to the house of God. The bells are still silent: our faith must speak to us, and make us eager to assist at the grand mysteries which the liturgy is about to celebrate. Surely the Christian sentiment must be dead in those who can be willingly absent from the church on such a morning as this. No, it cannot be that we, who have followed the celebration of the mysteries of our religion thus far, can flag now, and lose the graces of this morning’s magnificent service.




It was the practice of the Church, and one that had been handed down from the earliest ages, that the Sacrifice of the Mass should not be offered up either yesterday or to-day. Yesterday, the anniversary of Jesus’ death, was exclusively devoted to the remembrance of the mystery of Calvary, and a holy fear kept the Church from renewing that Sacrifice upon her altars. For the same reason she abstained to-day, also, from its celebration. The burial of Christ is a sequel of His Passion: and during these hours when His Body lay lifeless in the tomb, it was fitting that the Sacrifice, wherein He is offered as the glorious and risen Jesus, should be suspended. Even the Greek Church, which never fasts on the Saturdays of Lent, follows the practice of the Latin Church for this Saturday: she not only fasts, but she even omits the celebration of the Mass of the Presanctified.

Such was the discipline of the Latin Church for nearly a thousand years: but about the eleventh century, an important change began to be introduced with regard to the celebration of Mass on Holy Saturday. The Mass which, hitherto, had been celebrated during the night preceding Easter Sunday, then began to be anticipated on the Saturday; but it was always considered as the Mass for the hour of our Lord’s Resurrection, and not as the Mass of Holy Saturday. The relaxations that had been introduced with regard to fasting were the occasion of this change in the liturgy. In the first ages, the faithful watched the whole night in the church, awaiting the hour when our Lord rose triumphant from the tomb. They also assisted at the solemn administration of Baptism to the catechumens, which so sublimely expressed the passing from spiritual death to the life of grace. There was no other Vigil of the whole year so solemnly observed as this: but it lost a great portion of its interest, when the necessity of baptizing adults was removed by Christianity having triumphed wheresoever it had been preached. The Orientals have kept up the ancient tradition to this day: but in the west, dating from the eleventh century, the Mass of the Resurrection hour has been gradually anticipated, until it has been brought even to the morning of Holy Saturday. Durandus of Menda, who wrote his Rational of the Divine Offices towards the close of the thirteenth century, tells us that, in his time, there were very few Churches which observed the primitive custom; and even these soon conformed to the general practice of the Latin Church.

As a result of this change, there is an apparent contradiction between the mystery of Holy Saturday and the Divine Service which is celebrated upon it; Christ is still in the tomb, and yet we are celebrating His Resurrection: the hours preceding Mass are mournful, and before midday the paschal joy will have filled our hearts. We will conform to the present order of the holy liturgy, thus entering into the spirit of the Church, who has thought proper to give her children a foretaste of the joys of Easter. We will give a general view of the solemn Service, at which we are going to assist; afterwards, we will explain each portion as it comes.

The great object of the whole of to-day’s Service, and the centre to which every one of the ceremonies converges, is the Baptism of the catechumens. The faithful must keep this incessantly before them, or they will be at a loss how to understand or profit by the liturgy of to-day. First of all, there is the blessing of the new fire, and incense. This is followed by the blessing of the Paschal candle. Immediately after this are read the twelve prophecies, which have reference to the mysteries of to-day’s Service. As soon as the prophecies are finished a procession is formed to the baptistery, and the water is blessed. The matter of Baptism thus prepared, the catechumens receive the Sacrament of regeneration. Confirmation is then administered to them by the bishop. Immediately after this, the holy Sacrifice is celebrated in honour of our Lord’s Resurrection, and the neophytes partake of the divine mysteries. Finally the joyous Vesper-Office comes in, and brings to a termination the longest and most fatiguing Service of the Latin liturgy. In order to assist our readers to enter fully into its spirit, we will go back a thousand years, and imagine ourselves to be celebrating this solemn eve of Easter in one of the ancient cathedrals of Italy, or of our own dear land.

At Rome, the Station is at St. John Lateran, the mother and mistress of all Churches. The Sacrament of regeneration is administered in the baptistery of Constantine. The sight of these venerable sanctuaries carries us back in thought to the fourth century; there, each year, holy Baptism is conferred upon some adult; and a numerous Ordination adds its own splendour to the sacred pomp of this day, whose liturgy, as we have just said, is the richest of the whole year.




Last Wednesday the catechumens were told to present themselves at the church, for the hour of to-day’s Terce (that is, nine o’clock in the morning).

It is the final scrutiny. The priests are there to receive them; those who have not previously been examined upon the Symbol, are now questioned. The Lord’s Prayer and the biblical attributes of the four evangelists having been explained, one of the priests dismisses the candidates for Baptism, bidding them spend the interval in recollection and prayer.

At the hour of None (our three o’clock in the afternoon), the bishop and all the clergy repair to the Church, and Holy Saturday vigil begins from this moment. The first ceremony consists in the blessing of the new fire, which is to furnish light for the whole Service. It was the daily custom, in the first ages of the Church, to strike a light from a flint before Vespers: from this the lamps and candles were lighted for the celebration of that Hour, and the light thus procured was kept up in the church till the Vespers of the following day. The Church of Rome observed this custom with great solemnity on Maundy Thursday morning, and the new fire received a special blessing. We learn, from a letter written in the eighth century by Pope St. Zachary to St. Boniface archbishop of Mayence, that three lamps were lighted from this fire, which were then removed to some safe place, and care taken that their light was kept in. It was from these lamps that the light for Holy Saturday night was taken. In the following century, under St. Leo IV, whose pontificate lasted from 847 to 855, the custom of every day procuring new fire from a flint was extended also to Holy Saturday.

It is not difficult to understand the meaning of this ceremony, which is no longer observed by the Latin Church save on this day. Our Lord said of Himself: ‘I am the light of the world.’[6] Light, then, is an image of the Son of God. Stone, also, is one of the types under which the Scriptures speak to us of the Messias. St. Peter,[7] and St. Paul,[8] quoting the words of the prophet Isaias,[9] speak of Jesus as the Corner-Stone. The spark which is struck from the flint represents our Lord rising from His rock-hewn sepulchre, through the stone that had been rolled against it.

It is fitting, therefore, that this fire which is to provide light for the Paschal candle, as well as for those that are upon the altar, should receive a special blessing, and be triumphantly shown to the faithful. All the lamps in the church have been extinguished. Formerly, the faithful used to put out the fires in their houses, before going to the church: they lighted them, on their return, with light taken from the blessed fire, which they received as a symbol of our Lord’s Resurrection. Let us not here omit to notice, that the putting out of all the lights in the church is a symbol of the abrogation of the old Law, which ended with the rending of the veil of the temple; and that the new fire represents the preaching of the new Law, whereby our Lord Jesus Christ, the light of the world, fulfilled all the figures of the ancient Covenant.

In order to help our readers to enter more fully into the mystery of the ceremony we are describing, we will here mention a miracle which was witnessed for many centuries. The clergy and people of Jerusalem assembled for the service of Easter eve in the church of holy sepulchre. After waiting for some time in silence, one of the lamps suspended over our Lord’s tomb was miraculously lighted. The other lamps and torches throughout the church were lighted from this, and the faithful took its holy flame with them to their homes. It would seem that this annual miracle first began after the Saracens had taken possession of Jerusalem: God so ordaining, that it might be a proof to these infidels of the divinity of the Christian religion. The historians of those times, who have written upon the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, all speak of this miracle as of an incontestable fact; and when Pope Urban II went to France, there to preach the first Crusade, he brought forward this miracle as one of the motives which should inspire the faithful with zeal for the defence of the sepulchre of Christ. When our Lord, in the unsearchable ways of His justice, permitted Jerusalem to be reconquered by the infidels, the miracle ceased, nor has it ever been witnessed from that time. Our readers have no doubt heard of the scandalous scene, which is now repeated every Holy Saturday in the church of holy sepulchre in Jerusalem: we allude to the deception practised by the schismatic Greek priests, whereby they persuade their deluded people that their ingenious trick for lighting a lamp is the continuation of the miracle.

The Church also blesses the five grains of incense, which are to be used in this morning’s Service. They represent the perfumes prepared by Magdalene and her holy companions for embalming the Body of Jesus. The prayer said by the bishop, when blessing the incense, not only shows us the connection there is between it and the light, but it also teaches us what is the power these several sacred objects have against the wicked spirits.

The bishop, with his attendants, goes in procession from the church to the place where he is to bless the fire and incense. The fire, as we have already said, is the symbol of our Lord Jesus Christ; and the sepulchre, whence He is to rise to life, is outside the walls of Jerusalem. The holy women and the apostles, when they go to the sepulchre, will have to go forth from the city.

The bishop, having come to the appointed place, blesses the fire by the following prayers.

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.


Deus, qui per Filium tuum, angularem scilicet lapidem, claritatis tuæ ignem fidelibus contulisti, productum e silice, nostris profuturum usibus. novum hunc ignem sanctifica: et concede nobis, ita per hæc festa Paschalia cœlestibus desideriis inflammari; ut ad perpetuai claritatis. puris mentibus, valeamus festa pertingere. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum.
℟. Amen.


Domine Deus. Pater omnipotens, lumen indeficiens, qui es conditor omnium luminum: benedic hoc lumen, quod a te sanctificatum atque benedictum est, qui illuminasti omnem mundum: ut ab eo Inmine accendamur, atque illuminemur igne claritatis tuæ; et sicut illuminasti Moysen exeuntem de Ægypto, ita illumines corda et sensus nostros; ut ad vitam et lucem æternam pervenire mereamur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
℟. Amen.


Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus, benedicentibus nobis hunc ignem in nomine tuo, et unigeniti Filii tui Dei ac Domini nostri Jesu Christi, et Spiritus sancti, cooperare digneris, et adjuva nos contra ignita tela inimici, et illustra gratia cœlesti. Qui vivis et regnas cum eodem Unigenito tuo et Spiritu sancto, Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.
℟. Amen.
℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

Let us Pray.

O God, who by thy Son the corner-stone, hast bestowed on the faithful the fire of thy brightness; sanctify this new fire produced from a flint for our use: and grant that, during this Paschal festival, we may be so inflamed with heavenly desires, that with pure minds we may come to the solemnity of eternal splendour. Through the same Christ our Lord.
℟. Amen.

Let us Pray.

O Lord God, almighty Father, never failing light, who art the author of all light’ bless this light, that is blessed and sanctified by thee, who hast enlightened the whole world: that we may be enlightened by that light, and inflamed with the fire of thy brightness: and as thou didst give light to Moses, when he went out of Egypt, so illumine our hearts and senses, that we may obtain light and life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord,
℟. Amen.

Let us Pray.

O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God: vouchsafe to co-operate with us, who bless this fire in thy name, and in that of thy only Son Christ Jesus, our Lord and God: and of the Holy Ghost: assist us against the fiery darts of the enemy, and illumine us with thy heavenly grace. Who livest and reignest with the same only Son and Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever.
℟. Amen.

The bishop then blesses the incense, thus addressing himself in prayer to God:

Veniat, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, super hoc incensum larga tuæ benedictionis infusio: et hunc nocturnum splendorem invisibilis regenerator accende: ut non solum sacrificium quod hac nocte litatum est, arcana luminis tui admixtione refulgeat: sed in quocumque loco ex hujus sanctificationis mysterio aliquid fuerit deportatum, expulsa diabolicæ fraudis nequitia, virtus tuæ majestatis assistat. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

℟. Amen.
Pour forth, we beseech thee, O almighty God, thy abundant blessing on this incense: and kindle, O invisible regenerator, the brightness of this night: that not only the sacrifice that is offered this night may shine by the secret mixture of thy light; but also into whatever place anything of this mysterious sanctification shall be brought, there, by the power of thy majesty, all the malicious artifices of the devil may be defeated. Through Christ our Lord.

℟. Amen.

After these prayers, an acolyte puts some of the blessed fire into the thurible. The bishop then censes the fire and the incense, after having first sprinkled them with holy water. Another acolyte lights a candle from the blessed fire, that the new light may be brought into the church. The deacon then vests in a white dalmatic. This festive colour, which contrasts so strongly with the purple cope worn by the bishop, is used on acoount of the joyful ministry which the deacon is about to fulfil. He takes into his right hand a reed, on the top of which is placed a triple-branched candle. The reed is in memory of our Lord’s Passion: it also expresses the weakness of the human Nature which He assumed to Himself by the Incarnation. The three-branched candle signifies the blessed Trinity, of which the Incarnate Word is the Second Person.

The procession returns. Having entered the church, the deacon, after advancing a few steps, lowers the reed, and the acolyte who carries the new light, lights one of the three branches of the candle. The deacon then kneels, as do also all the clergy and people. Raising the light on high, he sings these words:

Lumen Christi.
The light of Christ!

All answer:

Deo gratias.
Thanks be to God!

This first showing of the light expresses the revelation made to us, by Jesus, of the Divinity of the Father. ‘No one,’ says He, ‘knoweth the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal Him.’[10]

After this, all rise, and the procession advances as far as mid-way up the church. Here the deacon again lowers the reed, and a second branch of the candle is lighted by the acolyte. The same ceremonies are observed as before, and the deacon sings on a higher note:

Lumen Christi.
The light of Christ!

The whole assembly answers:

Deo gratias.
Thanks be to God!

This second showing of the light signifies the world’s receiving the knowledge of the Divinity of the Son; He appeared and dwelt among us, and, with His own sacred lips, taught us that He was God, equal to the Father in all things

The procession continues as far as the altar-steps. The third branch of the candle on the reed is lighted, and the deacon once more sings, but on a still higher and gladder note:

Lumen Christi.
The light of Christ!

Again, the response is made:

Deo gratias.
Thanks be to God!

This third showing of the light signifies the revelation of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, which was made to us by our Saviour when He commanded His apostles to do what the Church is to do this very night: ‘Teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’[11] It is, then, by Jesus, who is the Light of the world, that mankind has been taught to know the blessed Trinity. The bishop, before administering Baptism to the catechumens, will ask them if they believe in this great mystery. During the whole of this night’s Service, they will have before their eyes the expressive symbol of the Trinity, the three-branched candle.

This, then, is the first use to which the new fire is put: to proclaim the holy Trinity. It is next to publish the glory of the Incarnate Word, by lighting up the glorious symbol which is now to be brought before us. The bishop is seated on his throne. The deacon kneels before him, and asks a blessing, before beginning the great work entrusted to him. The pontiff thus blesses him:

Dominus sit in corde tuo, et in labiis tuis: ut digne et competenter annunties suum Paschale præconium. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus sancti. Amen.
The Lord be in thy heart and on thy lips, that thou mayst worthily and fitly proclaim his Paschal praise. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Thus prepared, the deacon rises and goes to the ambo. The acolytes, holding the triple candle and the five grains of incense, are standing at his side. Near the ambo is a marble pillar, on which is fixed the Paschal candle.




The sun is setting, and our earth will soon be mantled in darkness. The Church has provided a torch, which is to spread its light upon us during the whole of this long vigil. It is of an unusual size. It stands alone, and is of a pillar-like form. It is the symbol of Christ. Before being lighted, its scriptural type is the pillar of a cloud, which hid the Israelites when they went out from Egypt; under this form, it is the figure of our Lord, when lying lifeless in the tomb. When lighted, we must see in it both the pillar of fire which guided the people of God, and the glory of our Jesus risen from His grave. Our holy mother the Church would have us enthusiastically love this glorious symbol, and speaks its praise to us in all the magnificence of her inspired eloquence. As early as the beginning of the fifth century, Pope St. Zozimus extended to all the churches of the city of Rome, the privilege of blessing the Paschal candle, although Baptism was administered no where but in the baptistery of St. John Lateran. The object of this grant was, that all the faithful might share in the holy impressions which so solemn a rite is intended to produce. It was for the same intention that, later, every church, even though it had no baptismal font, was permitted to have the blessing of the Paschal candle.

The deacon proclaims the Easter solemnity to the people, while chanting the praises of this sacred object: and whilst celebrating the glories of Him, whose emblem it is, he becomes the herald of the Resurrection. The altar, the sanctuary, the bishop, all are in the sombre colour of the lenten rite; the deacon alone is vested in white. At other times, he would not presume to raise his voice as he is now going to do, in the solemn tone of a Preface: but this is the eve of the Resurrection; and the deacon, as the interpreters of the liturgy tell us, represents Magdalene and the holy women, on whom our Lord conferred the honour of being the first to know His Resurrection, and to whom He gave the mission of preaching to the very apostles that He had risen from the dead, and would meet them in Galilee.

But let us listen to the thrilling Exsultet of our deacon, and learn from him the joys that await us on this wonderful night.

Exsultet jam angelica turba cœlorum; exsultent divina mysteria: et pro tanti Regis victoria, tuba insonet salutaris. Gaudeat et tellus tantis irradiata fulgoribus: et æterni Regis splendore illustrata, totius orbis se sentiat amisisse caliginem. Lætetur et mater Ecclesia, tanti luminis adornata fulgoribus: et magnis populorum vocibus hæc aula resultet. Quapropter adstantes vos, fratres charissimi, ad tam miram hujus sancti luminis claritatem, una mecum, quæso, Dei omnipotentis misericordiam invocate. Ut qui me non meis meritis intra levitarum numerura dignatus est aggregare: luminis sui claritatem infundens, cerei hujus laudem implere perficiat. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium suum: qui cum eo vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.
℟. Amen.

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

℣. Sursum corda.
℟. Habemus ad Dominum.

℣. Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.
℟. Dignum et justum est.

Vere dignum et justum est invisibilem Deum Patrem omnipotentem, Filiumque ejus unigenitum, Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, toto cordis ac mentis affectu, et vocis ministerio personare. Qui pro nobis æterno Patri Adæ debitum solvit: et veteris piaculi cautionem pio cruore detersit. Hæc sunt enim festa Paschalia, in quibus venis ille Agnus occiditur, cujus sanguine postes fidelium consecrantur.

Hæc nox est, in qua primum patres nostros filios Israël eductos de Ægypto, mare Rubrum sicco vestigio transire fecisti. Hæc igitur nox est quæ peccatorum tenebras columnæ illuminatione purgavit. Hæc nox est quæ hodie per universum mundum, in Christo credentes, a vitiis sæculi, et caligine peccatorum segregatos reddit gratiæ, sociat sanctitati. Hæc nox est in qua destructis vinculis mortis, Christus ab inferis victor ascendit. Nihil enim nobis nasci profuit, nisi redimi profuisset.

O mira circa nos tuæ pietatis dignatio! O inestimabilis dilectio charitatis! ut servum redimeres, filium tradidisti. O certe necessarium Adæ peccatum, quod Christi morte deletum est! O felix culpa, quæ talem ac tantum meruit habere Redemptorem!

O vere beata nox, quæ sola meruit scire tempus et horam, in qua Christus ab inferis resurrexit. Hæc nox est, de qua scriptum est: Et nox sicut dies illuminabitur; et: Nox illuminatio mea in deliciis meis. Hujus igitur sanctificatio noctis, fugat scelera, Culpas lavat: et reddit innocentiam lapsis, et mæstis lætitiam. Fugat odia, concordiam parat, et curvat imperia.
Let now the heavenly troops of angels rejoice: let the divine mysteries be joyfully celebrated: and let a sacred trumpet proclaim the victory of so great a King. Let the earth also be filled with joy, being illuminated with such resplendent rays: and let it be sensible that the darkness, which overspread the whole world, is chased away by the splendour of our eternal King. Let our mother, the Church, be also glad, finding herself adorned with the rays of so great a light: and let this temple resound with the joyful acclamations of the people. Wherefore, beloved brethren, you who are now present at the admirable brightness of this holy light, I beseech you to invoke with me the mercy of almighty God. That he who has been pleased, above my desert, to admit me into the number of his levites, will, by an infusion of his light upon me, enable me to celebrate the praises of this candle. Through our Lord Jesus Christ his Son, who, with him and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth one God for ever and ever.
℟. Amen.

℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

℣. Lift up your hearts.
℟. We have them fixed on God.

℣. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
℟. It is meet and just.

It is truly meet and just to proclaim with all the affection of our heart and soul, and with the sound of our voice, the invisible God the Father almighty, and his only Son our Lord Jesus Christ. Who paid for us, to his eternal Father, the debt of Adam: and by his sacred Blood cancelled the guilt contracted by original sin. For this is the Paschal solemnity, in which the true Lamb was slain, by whose Blood the doors of the faithful are consecrated.

This is the night in which thou formerly broughtest forth our forefathers the children of Israel out of Egypt, leading them dry-foot through the Red Sea. This, then, is the night which dissipated the darkness of sin, by the light of the pillar. This is the night which now delivers, all over the world, those that believe in Christ, from the vices of the world, and darkness of sin, restores them to grace, and clothes them with sanctity. This is the night in which Christ broke the chains of death, and ascended conqueror from hell. For it availed us nothing to be born, unless it had availed to be redeemed.

O how admirable is thy goodness towards us! O how inestimable is thy love! Thou hast delivered up thy Son to redeem a slave. O truly necessary sin of Adam, which the death of Christ has blotted out! O happy fault, that merited such and so great a Redeemer!

O truly blessed night, which alone deserved to know the time and hour when Christ rose again from hell. This is the night of which it is written: And the night shall be as light as the day, and the night is my illumination in my delights. Therefore the sanctification of this night blots out crimes, washes away sins, and restores innocence to sinners, and joy to the sorrowful. It banishes enmities, produces concord, and humbles empires.

Here the deacon pauses, and taking the five grains of incense, he fixes them in the candle in the form of a cross. They represent the five Wounds received by our Lord upon the cross; as also the perfumes which Magdalene and her companions had prepared for embalming His Body in the tomb. Thus far, as we have already explained, the Paschal candle is the figure of the Man-God not yet glorified by the Resurrection.

In hujus igitur noctis gratia, suscipe, sancte Pater, incensi hujus sacrificium vespertinum quod tibi in hac cerei oblatione solemni, per ministrorum manus de operibus apum, sacrosancta reddit Ecclesia. Sed jam columnæ hujus præconia novimus, quam in honorem Dei rutilans ignis accendit.
Therefore, on this sacred night, receive, O holy Father, the evening sacrifice of this incense, which thy holy Church, by the hands of her ministers, presents to thee in the solemn oblation of this wax candle made out of the labour of bees. And now we know the excellence of this pillar, which the sparkling fire lights for the honour of God.

After these words, the deacon again pauses, and taking the reed which holds the triple candle, he lights the Paschal candle with one of its branches. This signifies the instant of our Lord’s Resurrection, when the divine power restored His Body to life, by uniting with it the Soul which death had separated. The glorious symbol of Christ, our Light, is now perfect; and holy Church exults in the thought of soon beholding her heavenly Spouse triumph over death.

Qui licet sit divisus in partes, mutuati tamen luminis detrimenta non novit. Alitur enim liquantibus ce ris, quas in substantiam pretiosæ hujus lampadis, apis mater eduxit.
Which fire, though now divided, suffers no loss from the communication of its light. Because it is fed by the melt ed wax, which its mother the bee made for the composition of the precious torch.

Here are lighted, from the new fire, the lamps of the church. They are lighted after the Paschal candle, to signify that Jesus’ Resurrection was made known gradually. It also tells us that our resurrection is to be a consequence and a likeness of that of our Saviour, who opens to us the way, whereby, after having like Him passed through the tomb, we shall enter into life everlasting.

O vere beata nox quæ exspoliavit Ægyptios, ditavit Hebræos. Nox, in qua terrenis cœlestia, humanis divina junguntur. Oramus ergo te Domine: ut cereus iste in honorem tui nominis consecratus, ad noctis hujus caliginem destruendam, indeficiens perseveret. Et in odorem suavitatis acceptus, supernis luminaribus misceatur. Flammas ejus lucifer matutinus inveniat. Ille, inquam, Lucifer, qui nescit occasum. Ille, qui regressus ab inferis, humano generi serenus illuxit.

Precamur ergo te Domine: ut nos famulos tuos omnemque clerum, et devotissimum populum: una cum beatissimo Papa nostro N. et antistite nostro N. quiete temporum concessa, in his Paschalibus gaudiis, assidua protectione regere, gubernare et conservare digneris. (Respice etiam ad devotissimum imperatorem nostrum N., cujus tu, Deus, desiderii vota prænoscens, ineffabili pietatis et misericordiæ tuæ munere, tranquillum perpetuæ pacis accommoda: et coelestem victoriam cum omni populo suo.) Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

℟. Amen.
O truly blessed night! which plundered the Egyptians, and enriched the Hebrews. Anight, in which things heavenly are united with those of earth, and divine with human. We beseech thee therefore, O Lord, that this candle, consecrated to the honour of thy name, may continue burning to dissipate the darkness of this night. And being accepted as a sweetsmelling savour, may be united with the celestial lights. Let the morning-star find it burning. I mean that Star which never sets. Who being returned from hell shone with brightness on mankind.

We beseech thee therefore, O Lord, to grant us peaceable times during these Paschal solemnities, and with thy constant protection to rule, govern and preserve us thy servants, and all the clergy, and the devout people, together with our holy Father Pope N., and our bishop N. [1] (Regard also our most devout emperor: and since thou knowest, O God, the desires of his heart, grant by the ineffable grace of thy goodness and mercy, that he may enjoy with all his people the tranquillity of perpetual peace and heavenly victory.) Through the same Lord Jesus Christ thy Son: who, with thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth one God for ever and ever.

℟. Amen.




The torch of the resurrection now sheds its light from the ambo throughout the holy place, and gladdens the hearts of the faithful. How solemn a preparation for what is now to engage our attention, viz. the Baptism of the catechumens, whose instruction and progress in good works we have followed with such interest during the past forty days! They are assembled together under the outward porch of the Church. The priests are performing over them the preparatory rites, which embody such profound teaching, and which were instituted by the apostles. First of all, the sign of the cross was made upon their foreheads; and then the priest, imposing his hand upon the head of each catechumen, adjures satan to depart from this soul and body, and give place to Christ. Imitating thus our Redeemer, the priest then touches the ears with his spittle, saying: ‘Be ye opened!’ He does the same to the nostrils, and says: ‘Breathe ye in the sweetness of fragrance! ‘The neophyte is next anointed, on the breast and between the shoulders with the oil of catechumens: but, as this ceremony expresses his having to fight the spiritual combat, the priest first receives from him the promise to renounce satan, with his works and pomps.

These rites are performed first over the men, and then over the women. The children of Christian parents are also admitted to take their place among the catechumens. If any of these latter be labouring under any sickness, and have notwithstanding come to the church in order to receive to-night the grace of regeneration, the priest says over them a prayer, in which he fervently begs of God to heal them, and confound the malice of satan.

These ceremonies, which are called the Catechization, occupy a considerable portion of time, on account of the great number of the aspirants to Baptism. It is for this reason that the bishop came to the church at the hour of None (three o’clock in the afternoon), and that the great vigil began so early. Whilst these rites are being administered to the catechumens, the rest of the faithful are listening to appropriate passages from the Scripture, which are being read from the ambo, and which are the complement to the lenten instructions.

These lessons are twelve in number: but in the venerable basilica, where we are now supposing ourselves to be, we may say there are twenty-four, since each of the twelve is read in Latin first, and then in Greek. In order to fix the attention, and excite the devotion of her children to what she reads to them, the Church, after each lesson, recites a prayer, which sums up the doctrine expressed in the preceding prophecy. To some of them is added an appropriate canticle from the old Testament, and it is sung, by the whole assembly, to the well known melody of the Tract. The aspirants to Baptism, as soon as they have received the ceremonies of catechization, are allowed to enter the church, where, in the place assigned to them, they listen to the lessons, and join in the prayers. How could they better continue their preparation for the great Sacrament? And yet, there is an aspect of mournfulness about this portion of the Service, which tells us that the longed-for hour has not yet come. Frequent genuflexions, and the sombre-coloured vestments, strongly contrast with the beautiful flame of the Paschal torch, which sheds its silent beams of light upon the faithful. Their hearts are still throbbing with the emotions excited within them by the Exsultet: they are impatient to see their Jesus’ Resurrection fulfilled in the Baptism of the catechumens.

First Prophecy
(Genesis, Chap, i.)

In principio creavit Deus cœlum et terrain. Terra autem erat inanis, et vacua: et tenebræ erant super faciem abyssi: et Spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas. Dixitque Deus: Fiat lux. Et facta est lux. Et vidit Deus lucem quod esset bona; et divisit lucem a tenebris. Appellavitque lucem, Diem: et tenebras, Noctem. Factumque est vespere et mane, dies unus.

Dixit quoque Deus: Fiat firmamentum in medio aquarum, et dividat aquas ab aquis. Et fecit Deus firmamentum: divisitque aquas, quæ erant sub firmamento ab his quæ erant super firmamentum. Et faotum est ita. Vocavitque Deus firmamentum, Cœlum. Et factum est vespere et mane, dies secundus.

Dixit vero Deus: Congregentur aquæ, quæ sub cœlo sunt, in locum unum et appareat arida. Factumque est ita. Et vocavit Deus aridam, Terram: congregationesque aquarum appellavit, Maria. Et vidit Deus quod esset bonum, et ait: Germinet terra herbam virentem, et facientem semen: et lignum pomiferum faciens fructum juxta genus suum, cujus semen in semetipso sit super terram. Et factum est ita. Et protulit terra herbam virentem, et facientem semen juxta genus suum, lignumque faciens fructum: et babens unumquodque semen tem secundum speciem suam. Et vidit Deus quod esset bonum: et factum est vespere et mane, dies tertius.

Dixit autem Deus: Fiant luminaria in firmamento coeli, et dividant diem ac noctem: et sint in signa et tempora, et dies, et annos: et luceant in firmamento cœli, et illuminent terram. Et factum est ita. Fecitque Deus duo luminaria magna, luminare majus, ut præesset diei: et luminare minus, ut præesset nocti: et stellas. Et posuit eas in firmamento coeli, ut lucerent super terrain: et præessent diei ac nocti, et dividerent lucem ac tenebras. Et vidit Deus quod esset bonum. Et factum est vespere et mane, dies quartus.

Dixit etiam Deus: Producant aquæ reptile animæ viventis, et volatile super terram, sub firmamento coeli. Creavitque Deus cete grandia, et omnem animam viventem atque motabilem, quam produxerant aquæ in species suas: et omne volatile, secundum genus suum. Et vidit Deus quod esset bonum: benedixitque eis, dicens: Crescite, et multiplicamini, et replete aquas maria: avesque multiplicentur super terram. Et factum est vespere et mane, dies quintus.

Dixit quoque Deus: Producat terra animam viventem in genere suo: jumenta, et reptilia, et bestias terrae, secundum species suas. Factumque est ita. Et fecit Deus bestias terræ juxta species suas: et jumenta, et omne reptile terræ in genere suo. Et vidit Deus quod esset bonum: et ait: Faciamus hominem ad imaginem et similitudinem nostram: et præsit piscibus maris, et volatilibus cœli, et bestiis, universæque terrae omnique reptili quod movetur in terra.

Et creavit Deus hominem ad imaginem suam: ad imaginem Dei creavit illum: masculum et feminam creavit eos. Benedixitque illis Deus, et ait: Crescite, et multiplicamini, et replete terrain, et subjicite eam: et dominamini piscibus maris, et volatilibus cœli, et universis animantibus, quæ moventur super terram. Dixitque Deus: Ecce dedi vobis omnem herbam afferentem semen super terram: et universa ligna, quæ habent in semetipsis sementem generis sui: ut sint vobis in escam, et cunctis animantibus terræ, omnique volucri cœli, et universis quæ moventur in terra, et in quibus est anima vivens, ut habeant ad vescendum. Et factum est ita. Viditque Deus cuncta quæ fecerat: et erant valde bona. Et factum est vespere et mane, dies sextus.

Igitur perfecti sunt cœli et terra, et omnis ornatus eorum. Complevitque Deus die septimo opus suum, quod fecerat: et requievit die septimo ab universo opere quod patrarat.
In the beginning God created heaven and earth. And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved over the waters. And God said: Be light made. And light was made. And God saw the light that it was good: and he divided the light from the darkness. And he called the light day, and the darkness night; and there was evening and morning one day.

And God said: Let there be a firmament made amidst the waters: and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made a firmament, and divided the waters that were under the firmament from those that were above the firmament. And it was so. Aud God called the firmament, Heaven: and the evening and morning were the second day.

God also said: Let the waters that are under the heaven be gathered together into one place: and let the dry land appear. And it was so done. And God called the dry land Earth: and the gathering together of the waters he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And he said: Let the earth bring forth the green herb, and such as may seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, which may have seed in itself upon the earth. And it was so done. And the earth brought forth the green herb, and such as yieldeth seed according to its kind, and the tree that beareth fruit, having seed each one according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Ana the evening and the morning were the third day.

And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years; to shine in the firmament of heaven, and to give light upon the earth. And it was so done. And God made two great lights; a greater light to rule the day, and a lesser light to rule the night; and the stars. And he set them in the firmament of heaven, to shine upon the earth. And to rule the day and the night, and to divide the light and the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And the evening and morning were the fourth day.

God also said: let the waters bring forth the creeping creature having life, and the fowl that may fly over the earth under the firmament of heaven. And God created the great whales, and every living and moving creature, which the waters brought forth, according to their kinds, and every winged fowl according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And he blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the waters of the sea; and let the birds be multiplied upon the earth. And the evening and morning were the fifth day.

And God said: Let the earth bring forth the living creature in its kind, cattle, and creeping things, the beasts of the earth according to their kinds; and it was so done. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds, and cattle, and everything that creepeth on the earth after its kind. And God saw that it was good. And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness, and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.

And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. And God blessed them, saying: Increase and. multiply, and till the earth. And subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth. And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat: and to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was so done. And God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good. And the evening and morning were the sixth day.

So the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the furniture of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made: and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done.

After the lesson, the bishop says:

Let us pray.

The deacon, addressing the faithful:

Flectamus genua.
Let us kneel down.

The subdeacon:

Stand up again.

The bishop then says this prayer:

Deus, qui mirabiliter creasti hominem, et mirabilius redemisti: da nobis, quæsumus, contra oblectamenta peccati, mentis ratione persistere: ut mereamur ad æterna gaudia pervenire. Per Dominum.

℟. Amen.
O God, who didst wonderfully create man, and redeem him by a still greater wonder: grant us, we beseech thee, such strength of mind and reason against ail the allurements of sin, that we may deserve to obtain eternal joys. Through, &c.

℟. Amen.

Second Prophecy
(Genesis, Chap. v.)

The second lesson gives us the history of the Deluge. God makes the waters serve as the minister of His justice, those very waters which were afterwards, by Jesus, to become the instrument of His mercy; the ark, which is a type of the Church, is the shelter for those who would be saved from the flood; the human race is preserved by one family, which represents the disciples of Christ, who at first were few in number, but afterwards peopled the whole earth.

Noe vero cum quingentorum esset annorum, genuit Sem, Cham et Japhet. Cumque cœpissent homines multiplican super terram, et filias procreassent: videntes filii Dei filias hominum quod essent pulchræ, acceperunt sibi uxores ex omnibus quas elegerant. Dixitque Deus: Non permanebit spiritus meus in homine in æternum, quia caro est: eruntque dies illius centum vigniti annorum.

Gigantes autem erant super terram in diebus illis. Postquam enim ingressi sunt filii Dei ad filias hominum, illæque genuerunt: isti sunt potentes a sæculo viri famosi. Videns autem Deus, quod multa malitia hominum esset in terra, et cuncta cogitatio cordis intenta esset ad malum omni tempore, pœnituit eum, quod hominem fecisset in terra. Et tactus dolore cordis intrinsecus: Delebo, inquit, hominem quem creavi, a facie terræ, ab homine usque ad animantia, a reptili usque ad volucres cœli: pœnitet enim me fecisse eos.

Noe vero invenit gratiam coram Domino. Hæ sunt generationes Noe. Noe vir justus atque perfectus fuit in generationibus suis, cum Deo ambulavit; et genuit tres filios, Sem, Cham, et Japhet. Corrupta est autem terra coram Deo, et repleta est iniquitate. Cumque vidisset Deus terram esse corruptam (omnis quippe caro corruperat viam suam super terram) dixit ad Noe: Finis universæ carnis venit coram me: repleta est terra iuiquitate a facie eorum: et ego disperdam eos cum terra. Fac tibi arcana de lignis lævigatis. Manaiunculas in arca facies: et bitumine linies intrinsecus et extrinsecus. Et sic facies eam. Trecentorum cubitorum erit longitudo arcæ: quinquaginta cubitorum latitudo: et triginta cubitorum altitudo illius. Fenestram in arca facies: et in cubito consummabis summitatem ejus. Ostium autem arcæ pones ex latere; deorsum, cœnacula, et tristega facies in ea. Ecce ego adducam aquas diluvii super terram: ut interficiam omnem carnem, in qua spiritus vitæ est subter cœlum. Universa quæ in terra sunt, consumentur. Ponamque fœdus meum tecum: et ingredieris arcam tu, et filii tui, uxor tua, et uxores filiorum tuorum tecum. Et ex cunctis animantibus universæ carnis bina induces in arcam, ut vivant tecum, masculini sexus et feminini. De volucribus juxta genus suum, et de jumentis in genere suo, et ex omni reptili terræ secundum genus suum: bina de omnibus ingredientur tecum, ut possint vivere. Tolies igitur tecum ex omnibus escis, quæ mandi possunt, et comportabis apud te: et erunt tam tibi, quam illis in cibum. Fecit igitur Noe omnia quæ præceperat illi Deus.

Eratque sexcentoriim annorum, quando diiuvii aquæ inundaverunt super terram. Rupti sunt omnes fontes abyssi magnæ, et cataractæ cœli apertæ sunt: et facta est pluvia super terram quadraginta diebus et quadraginta noctibus. In articulo diei illius ingressus est Noe, et Sem, et Cham, et Japhet, filii ejus, uxor illius, et tres uxores filiorum ejus, cum eis in arcam: ipsi et omne animal, secundum genus suum, universaque jumenta in genere suo, et omne quod movetur super terram in genere suo, cunctumque volatile secundum genus suum. Porro arca ferebatur super aquas. Et aquæ prævaluerunt nimis super terram: opertique sunt omnes montes excelsi sub universo cœlo. Quindecim cubitis altior fuit aqua super montes quos operuerat. Consumptaque est omnis caro, quæ movebatur super terram, volucrum, animantium, bestiarum, omniumque reptilium quæ reptant super terram. Remansit autem solus Noe, et qui cum eo erant, in arca. Obtinueruntque aquæ terram centum quinquaginta diebus.

Recordatus autem Deus Noe, cunctorumque animantium, et omnium jumentorum quæ erant cum eo in arca: adduxit spintum super terram, et imminutæ sunt aquæ. Et clausi sunt fontes abyssi, et cataractæ cœli: et prohibitæ aunt pluviæ de cœlo. Reversæque sunt aquæ de terra euntes et redeuntes: et cœperunt minui post centum quinquaginta dies. Cumque transissent quadraginta dies, aperiens Noe fenestram arcæ quam fecerat, dimisit corvum. Qui egrediebatur, et non revertebatur, donec siccarentur aquæ super terram. Emisit quoque columbam post eum, ut videret si jam cessassent aquæ super faciem terræ. Quæ cum non invenisset ubi requiesceret pes ejus, reversa est ad eum in arcam. Aquæ enim erant super universam terram. Extenditque manum, et apprehensam intulit in arcam. Exspectatis autem ultra septem diebus aliis, rursum dimisit columbam ex arca. At illa venit ad eum ad vesperam, portans ramum olivæ virentibus foliis in ore suo. Intellexit ergo Noe, quod cessassent aquæ super terram. Exspectavitque nihilominus septem alios dies; et emisit columbam, quæ non est reversa ultra ad eum. Locutus est autem Deus ad Noe, dicens: Egredere de arca tu, et uxor tua: filii tui, et uxores filiorum tuorum tecum. Cuncta animantia, quæ sunt apud te, ex omni carne, tam in volatilibus quam in bestiis, et universis reptilibus quæ reptant super terram, educ tecum, et ingredimini super terram. Crescite, et multiplicamini super eam.

Egressus est ergo Noe et filii ejus, uxor illius, et uxores filiorum ejus cum eo. Sed et omnia animantia, jumenta, et reptilia quæ reptant super terram, secundum genus suum, egressa sunt de arca. Ædificavit autem Noe altare Domino: et tollens de cunctis pecoribus et volucribus mundis, obtulit holocausta super altare. Odoratusque est Dominus odorem suavitatis.
And Noe, when he was five hundred years old, begot Sem, Cham, and Japheth. And after that men began to be multiplied upon the earth, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God seeing the daughters of men, that they were fair, took to themselves wives of all which they chose. And God said: My spirit shall not remain in man for ever, because he is flesh: and his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.

Now giants were upon the earth in those days. For after the sons of God went in to the daughters of men, and they brought forth children, these are the mighty men of old, men of renown. And God seeing that the wickedness of men was great on the earth, and that the thought of their heart was bent upon evil at all times, it repented him that he had made man on the earth. And being touched inwardly with sorrow of heart, he said: I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth, from mau even to beasts, from the creeping thing even to the fowls of the air, for it repenteth me that I have made them.

But Noe found grace before the Lord. These are the generations of Noe: Noe was a just and perfect man in his generations, he walked with God. And he begot three sons, Sem, Cham, and Japheth. And the earth was corrupted before God, and was filled with iniquity. And when God had seen that the earth was corrupted (for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth), he said to Noe: The end of all flesh is come before me, and the earth is filled with iniquity through them, and I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of timber planks: thou shalt make little rooms in the ark, and thou shalt pitch it within and without. And thus shalt thou make it. The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits: the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. Thou shalt make a window in the ark. and in a cubit shalt thou finish the top of it: and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side: with lower, middle chambers, and third stories shalt thou make it. Behold I will bring the waters of a great Hood upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, under heaven. All things that are in the earth shall be consumed. And I will establish my covenant with thee: and thou shalt enter into the ark, thou and thy sons, and thy wife, and the wives of thy sons with thee. And of every living creature of all flesh, thou shalt bring two of a sort into the ark, that they may live with thee; of the male sex, and the female. Of fowls according to their kind, and of beasts in their kind, and of everything that creepeth on the earth according to its kind: two of every sort shall go in with thee, that they may live. Thou shalt take unto thee of all food that may be eaten, and thou shalt lay it up with thee: and it shall be food for thee and them. And Noe did all things which God commanded him.

And he was six hundred years old, when the waters of the flood overflowed the earth. All the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the flood-gates of heaven were opened. And the rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. In the self-same day Noe, and Sem, and Cham, and Japheth, his sons: his wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, went into the ark: they and every beast according to its kind, and all the cattle in their kind, and every thing that moveth upon the earth according to its kind, and every fowl according to its kind, all birds, and all that fly. And the ark was carried upon the waters. And the waters prevailed beyond measure upon the earth: and all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The water was fifteen cubits higher than the mountains, which it covered. And all flesh was destroyed that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beasts, and of all creeping things that creep upon the earth: and Noe only remained, and they that were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days.

And God remembered Noe, and all the living creatures, and all the cattle which were with him in the ark, and brought a wind upon the earth, and the waters were abated. The fountains also of the deep, and the floodgates of heaven were shut up, and the rain from heaven was restrained. And the waters returned from off the earth, going and coming: and they began to be abated after a hundred and fifty days. And after that forty days were passed, Noe opening the window of the ark which he had made, sent forth a raven: which went forth and did not return till the waters were dried up upon the earth. He sent forth also a dove after him, to see if the waters had now ceased upon the face of the earth. But she not finding where her foot might rest, returned to him into the ark: for the waters were upon the whole earth: and he put forth his hand, and caught her, and brought her into the ark. And having waited yet seven other days, he again sent forth the dove out of the ark. And she came to him in the evening, carrying a bough of an olive-tree, with green leaves, in her mouth. Noe therefore understood that the waters were ceased upon the earth. And he stayed yet other seven days; and he sent forth the dove, which returned not any more unto him. And God spoke to Noe, saying: Go out of the ark, thou and thy wife, thy sons, and the wives of thy sons with thee. All living things that are with thee of all flesh, as well in fowls, as in beasts, and all creeping things, that creep upon the earth, bring out with thee, and go ye upon the earth: increase and multiply upon it.

So Noe went out, he and his sons, his wife, and the wives of his sons with him: and all living things, and cattle, and creeping things that creep upon the earth, according to their kinds, went out of the ark. And Noe built an altar unto the Lord: and taking of all cattle and fowls that were clean, offered holocausts upon the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour.

The bishop:

Let us pray.

The deacon:

Flectamus genua.
Let us kneel down.

The subdeacon:

Stand up again.

Deus incommutabilis virtus, et lumen æternum, respice propitius ad totius Ecclesiæ tuæ mirabile sacramentum, et opus salutis humanæperpetuæ dispositionis effectu tranquillius operare: totusque mundus experiatur et videat, dejecta erigi, inveterata renovari, et per ipsum redire omnia in integrum, a quo sumpsere principium: Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum. Qui tecum.

℟. Amen.
O God, whose power is unchangeable, and whose light never faileth, mercifully regard the wonderful sacrament of thy whole church, and by an effect of thy perpetual providence, accomplish in peace the work of human salvation: and let the whole world experience and see, that what was fallen, is raised up again: what was old, is become new; and that all things are again settled by him who gave them their first being, our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son. Who liveth, &c.

℟. Amen.

Third Prophecy
(Genesis, Chap. xxii.)

Abraham, the father of believers, is here offered to our catechumens as a model of faith. They are taught how man should ever depend upon his God, and faithfully serve Him. The obedience shown by Isaac to his father’s orders is a figure of that which our Saviour has shown on Calvary. The wood for the holocaust, carried up the mountain by Abraham’s son, brings to our minds the Son of God carrying His cross.

In diebus illis: Tentavit Deus Abraham, et dixit ad eum: Abraham, Abraham. At ille respondit: Adsum. Ait illi: Tolle filium tuum unigenitum, quem diligis Isaac, et vade in terram visionis: atque ibi offeres eum in holocaustum super unum montium, quem monstravero tibi. Igitur Abraham de nocte consurgens, stravit asinum suum, ducens secum duos juvenes, et Isaac filium suum. Cumque concidisset ligna in holocaustum, abiit ad locum quem præceperat ei Deus. Die autem tertio elevatis oculis, vidit locum procul: dixitque ad pueros suos: Exspectate hic cum asino: ego et puer illuc usque properantes, postquam adoraverimus, revertemur ad vos. Tulit quoque ligna holocausti et imposuit super Isaac filium suum: ipse vero portabat in manibus ignem et gladium. Cumque duo pergerent simul, dixit Isaac patri suo: Pater mi. At ille respondit: Quid vis, fili? Ecce, inquit, ignis et ligna, ubi est victima holocausti? Dixit autem Abraham: Deus providebit sibi victimam holocausti, fili mi.

Pergebant ergo pariter: et venerunt ad locum, quem ostenderat ei Deus: in quo ædificavit altare, et desuper ligna composuit. Cumque alligasset Isaac filium suum, posuit eum in altare super struem lignorum. Extenditque manum, et arripuit gladium, ut immolaret filium suum. Et ecce angelus Domini de cœlo clamavit, dicens: Abraham, Abraham. Qui respondit: Adsum. Dixitque ei: Non extendas manum tuam super puerum: neque facias illi quidquam. Nunc cognovi, quod times Deum: et non pepercisti unigenito filio tuo propter me. Levavit Abraham oculos suos, viditque post tergum arietem inter vepres hærentem cornibus: quem assumens, obtulit holocaustum pro filio. Appellavitque nomen loci illius: Dominus videt. Unde usque hodie dicitur: In monte Dominus videbit.

Vocavit autem angelus Domini Abraham secundo de cœlo, dicens: Per memetipsum juravi, dicit Dominus: quia fecisti hanc rem, et non pepercisti filio tuo unigenito propter me: benedicam tibi, et multiplicabo semen tuum sicut stellas cœli, et velut arenam, quæ est in littore maria. Possidebit semen tuum portas inimicorum suorum: et benedicentur in semine tuo omnes gentes terræ, quia obedisti voci meæ. Reversus est Abraham ad pueros suos: abieruntque Bersabee simul, et habitavit ibi.
In those days: God tempted Abraham, and said to him: Abraham, Abraham. And he answered: Here I am. He said to him: Take thy only-begotten son Isaac whom thou lovest, and go into the land of vision: and there thou shalt offer him for a holocaust upon one of the mountains which I will shew thee. So Abraham rising up in the night, saddled his ass; and took with him two young men, and Isaac his son; and when he had cut wood for the holocaust, he went his way to the place which God had commanded him And on the third day, lifting up his eyes, he saw the place afar off. And he said to his young men: Stay you here with the ass: I and the boy will go with speed as far as yonder, and after we have worshipped, will return to you. And he took the wood for the holocaust, and laid it upon Isaac his son: and he himself carried in his hands fire and a sword. And as they two went on together, Isaac said to his father: My father. And he answered: What wilt thou, son? Behold, saith he, fire and wood: where is the victim for the holocaust? And Abraham said: God will provide himself a victim for a holocaust, my son.

So they went on together: and they came to the place which God had shewn him, where he built an altar, and laid the wood in order upon it: and when he had bound Isaac his son, he laid him on the altar, upon the pile of wood. And he put forth his hand, and took the sword to sacrifice his son. And behold an angel of the Lord from heaven called to him saying: Abraham, Abraham. And he answered: Here I am. And he said to him: Lay not thy hand upon the boy, neither do thou anything to him: now I know that thou fearest God, and hast not spared thy only-begotten son for my sake. Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw behind his back a ram amongst the briers, sticking fast by the horns, which he took and offered for a holocaust instead of his son. And he called the name of that place, The Lord seeth. Whereupon, even to this day, it is said: In the mountain the Lord will see.

And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, saying: By my own self have I sworn, saith the Lord; because thou hast done this thing, and hast not spared thy only-begotten son for my sake: I will bless thee, and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is by the sea shore: thy seed shall possess the gates of their enemies. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice. Abraham returned to his young men, and they went to Bersabee together, and he dwelt there.

The bishop:

Let us pray.

The deacon:

Flectamus genua.
Let us kneel down.

The subdeacon:

Stand up again.

Deus, fidelium Pater summe, qui in toto orbe terrarum, promissionis tuæ filios diffusa adoptionis gratia multiplicas: et per Paschale sacramentum, Abraham puerum tuum universarum, sicut jurasti, gentium efficis patrem: da populis tuis digne ad gratiam tuæ vocationis introire. Per Dominum.

℟. Amen.
O God, the sovereign Father of the faithful, who throughout the whole world multipliest the children of the promise by the grace of thy adoption, and makest thy servant Abraham, according to thy oath, the father of all nations by this Paschal Sacrament; grant that thy people may worthily receive the grace of thy vocation. Through, &c.

℟. Amen.

Fourth Prophecy

Here we have the great type of Baptism. The people of God, delivered from Pharao’s tyranny, are saved by the very water that destroys the Egyptian. The catechumens will come forth from the baptismal font freed from satan’s sway; their sins will perish for ever in its saving waters.

In diebus illis: Factum est in vigilia matutina, et ecce respiciens Dominus super castra Egyptiorum per columnam ignis et nubis, interfecit exercitum eorum: et subvertit rotas curruum, ferebanturque in profundum. Dixerunt ergo Ægyptii: Fugiamus Israelem: Dominus enim pugnat pro eis contra nos. Et ait Dominus ad Moysen: Extende manum tuam super mare: ut revertantur aquæ ad Ægyptios super currus et equites eorum. Cumque extendisset Moyses manum contra mare, reversum est primo diluculo ad priorem locum; fugientibusque Ægyptiis occurrerunt aquæ: et involvit eos Dominus in mediis fluctibus. Reversæque sunt aquæ, et operuerunt currus et equites cuncti exercitus Pharaonis, qui sequentes ingressi fuerant mare; nec unus quidem superfuit ex eis. Filii autem Israel perrexerunt per medium sicci maris: et aquæ eis erant quasi pro muro a dextris et a sinistris. Liberavitque Dominus in die illa Israel de manu Ægyptiorum. Et viderunt Ægyptios mortuos super littus maris: et manum magnam, quam exercuerat Dominus contra eos. Timuitque populus Dominum: et crediderunt Domino, et Moysi servo ejus. Tunc cecinit Moyses, et filii Israël, carmen hoc Domino, et dixerunt:
In those days: It came to pass in the morning watch, and behold the Lord looking upon the Egyptian army through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, slew their host: and overthrew the wheels of the chariots, and they were carried into the deep. And the Egyptians said: Let us flee from Israel: for the Lord fighteth for them against us. And the Lord said to Moses: Stretch forth thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and horsemen. And when Moses had stretched forth his hand towards the sea, it returned at the first break of day to the former place; and as the Egyptians were fleeing away, the waters came upon them, and the Lord shut them up in the middle of the waves. And the waters returned, and covered the chariots and the horsemen of all the army of Pharao, who had come into the sea after them, neither did there so much as one of them remain. But the children of Israel marched through the midst of the sea upon dry land, and the waters were to them as a wall on the right hand and on the left: and the Lord delivered Israel on that day out of the hands of the Egyptians. And they saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore, and the mighty hand that the Lord had used against them: and the people feared the Lord, and they believed the Lord, and Moses his servant. Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this canticle to the Lord, and said:

Here the Church sings the canticle of Moses. His sister Mary and the daughters of Israel sang it on the shore of the Red Sea, as they looked upon the dead bodies of the Egyptians.


Cantemus Domino: gloriose enim honorificatus est: equum et ascensorem projecit in mare: adjutor et protector factus est mihi in salutem.

℣. Hic Deus meus, et honorificabo eum: Deus patris mei, et exaltabo eum.
℣. Dominus conterens bella: Dominus nomen est illi.
Let us sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously magnified: the horse and the rider he hath thrown into the sea: he is become my helper and protector unto salvation.

℣. He is my God, and I will glorify him: the God of my father, and I will exalt him.
℣. The Lord is he that destroyeth war; Almighty is his name.

The bishop:

Let us pray.

The deacon:

Flectamus genua.
Let us kneel down.

The subdeacon:

Stand up again.

Deus, cujus antiqua miracula etiam nostris sæculis coruscare sentimus: dum quod uni populo a persecutione Ægyptiaca liberando, dexteræ tuæ potentia contulisti, id in salutem gentium per aquam regenerationis operaria: præta, ut in Abrahæ filios, et in Israeliticam dignitatem totius mundi transeat plenitudo. Per Dominum.

℟. Amen.
O God, whose ancient miracles we see renewed in our days: whilst, by the water of regeneration thou performest, for the salvation of the Gentiles, that which by the power of thy right hand thou didst for the deliverance of one people from the Egyptian persecution; grant that all the nations of the world may become the children of Abraham, and partake of the dignity of the people of Isræl. Through &c.

℟. Amen.

Fifth Prophecy
(Isaias, Chap. lv)

Isaias, the most sublime of the prophets, here invites our catechumens to come to the waters, that their thirst may be quenched: he bids them satiate their hunger with the sweetest food: he tells them of the inheritance which God has in store for them: they need not fear their poverty, for the infinitely rich God will overwhelm them with good things.

Hæc est hæreditas servorum Domini, et justitia eorum apud me, dicit Dominus. Omnes sitientes venite ad aquas: et qui non habetis argentum, properate, emite, et comedite. Venite, emite absque argento, et absque ulla commutatione vinum et lac. Quare appenditis argentum non in panibus, et laborem vestrum non in saturitate? Audite audientes me, et comedite bonum: et delectabitur in crassitudine anima vestra. Inclinate aurem vestram, et venite ad me: audite, et vivet anima vestra: et feriam vobiscum pactum sempiternum, misericordias David fideles. Ecce testem populis dedi eum, ducem ac præceptorem gentibus. Ecce gentem quam nesciebas, vocabis; et gentes, quæ te non cognoverunt, ad te current, propter Dominum Deum tuum, et sanctum Israël, quia glorificavit te. Quærite Dominum, dum inveniri potest, invocate eum, dum prope est. Derelinquat impius viam suam, et vir iniquus cogitationes suas: et revertatur ad Dominum, et miserebitur ejus: et ad Deum nostrum, quoniam multus est ad ignoscendum. Non enim cogitationes meæ, cogitationes vestræ, neque viæ vestræ, viæ meæ, dicit Dominus. Quia sicut exaltantur cœli a terra: sic exaltatæ sunt viæmeæ a viis vestris, et cogitationes meæ a cogitationibus vestris. Et quomodo descendit imber, et nix de cœlo, et illuc ultra non revertitur, sed inebriat terram, et infundit eam, et germinare eam facit, et datsemen serenti, et panem comedenti: sic erit verbum meum quod egredietur de ore meo. Non revertetur ad me vacuum, sed faciet quæcumque volui, et prosperabitur in his, ad quæ misi illud: dicit Dominus omnipotens.
This is the inheritance of the servants of the Lord, and their justice with me, saith the Lord. All you that thirst, come to the waters: and you that have no money, make haste, buy, and eat: come ye, buy wine and milk without money, and without any price. Why do you spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which doth not satisfy you? Hearken diligently to me, and eat that which is good, and your soul shall be delighted in fatness. Incline your ear and come to me: hear, and your soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the faithful mercies of David. Behold I have given him for a witness to the people, for a leader and a master to the Gentiles. Behold thou shalt call a nation which thou knewest not: and the nations that knew not thee shall run to thee, because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel, for he hath glorified thee. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found: call upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unjust man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he is bountiful to forgive. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts. And as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and return no more thither, but soak the earth and water it, and make it to spring and give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be, which shall go forth from my mouth: it shall not return to me void. but it shall do whatever I please, and shall prosper in the things for which I sent it, saith the Lord almighty.

The bishop:

Let us pray.

The deacon:

Flectamus genua.
Let us kneel down.

The subdeacon:

Stand up again.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, multiplica in honorem nominis tui quod patrum fidei spopondisti: et promissionis filios sacra adoptione dilata: ut quod priores sancti non dubitaverunt futurum, Ecclesia tua magna jam ex parte cognoscat impletum. Per Dominum.

℟. Amen.
O almighty and eternal God, multiply for the honour of thy name, what thou didst promise to the faith of our forefathers: and increase, by thy sacred adoption, the children of that promise: that what the ancient saints doubted not would come to pass, thy Church may now find in great part accomplished. Through, &c.

℟. Amen.



Sixth Prophecy
(BaruchChap. iii.)

In this admirable passage from the prophet Baruch, God reminds the catechumens, who are about to receive holy Baptism, of their past sins, which made them unworthy of pardon: but by His gratuitous mercy, He has vouchsafed to pour out His Wisdom upon them, and they came unto Him. He then speaks to them of those men of the Gentile world, who were wealthy, and powerful, and enterprising, and have left a name behind them. But they perished, and their earthly wisdom with them. The new people, whom the Lord this day forms to Himself, shall not go astray: Wisdom is to be their portion. Heretofore, God spoke His mysteries to Jacob; but this His word did not reach all men: now, He has come in person upon earth; He conversed with men, and dwelt among them; therefore, the people He now raises up for Himself shall be for ever faithful.

Audi Israel mandata vitæ: auribus percipe, ut scias prudentiam. Quid est Israel quod in terra inimicorum es? Inveterasti in terra aliena, coinquinatus es cum mortuis: deputatus es cum descendentibus in infernum? Dereliquisti fontem sapientiæ. Nam si in via Dei ambulasses, habitasses utique in pace sempiterna. Disce ubi sit prudentia, ubi sit virtus, ubi sit intellectus: ut scias simul ubi sit longiturnitas vitæ et victus, ubi sit lumen oculorum et pax.

Quis invenit locum ejus? Et quis introivit in thesauros ejus? Ubi sunt principes gentium, et qui dominantur super bestias, quæ sunt super terram? Qui in avibus cœli ludunt, qui argentum thesaurizant, et aurum, in quo confidunt homines: et non est finis acquisitionis eorum: qui argentum fabricant, et solliciti sunt: nec est inventio operum illorum? Exterminati sunt, et ad inferos descenderunt: et alii loco eo rum surrexerunt. Juvenes viderunt lumen: et habita verunt super terram. Viam autem disciplinæ ignoraverunt, neque intellexerunt semitas ejus, neque filii eorum susceperunt eam. A facie ipsorum longe facta est. Non est audita in terra Chanaan: neque visa est in Theman. Filii quoque Agar, qui exquirunt prudentiam quæ de terra est, negotiatores Merrhæ et Theman, et fabulatores, et exquisitoresprudentiæ et intelligentiæ; viam autem sapientiæ nescierunt, neque commemorati sunt semitas ejus.

O Israël, quam magna est domus Dei, et ingens locus possessionis ejus! Magnus est, et non habet finem, excelsus et immensus. Ibi fuerunt gigantes nominati illi, qui ab initio fuerunt, statura magna, scientes bellum. Non hos elegit Dominus: neque viam disciplinæ invenerunt: propterea perierunt. Et quoniam non habuerunt sapientiam, interierunt propter suam insipientiam. Quis ascendit in cœlum, et accepit eam, et eduxit eam de nubibus? Quis transfretavit mare, et invenit illam, et attulit illam super aurum electum? Non est qui possit scire vias ejus: neque qui exquirat semitas ejus. Sed qui scit universa, novit eam: et adinvenit eam prudentia sua. Qui præparavit terrain in æterno tempore: et replevit eam pecudibus et quadrupedibus. Qui emittit lumen, et vadit: et vocavit illud, et obedit illi in tremore.Stellæ autem dederunt lumen in custodiis suis, et lætatæ sunt. Vocatæ sunt et dixerunt: Adsumus. Et luxerunt ei cum jucunditate qui fecit illas. Hic est Deus noster et non æstimabitur alius adversus eum. Hic adinvenit omnem viam disciplinæ, et tradidit illam Jacob puero suo, et Israel dilecto suo. Post hæc in terris visus est, et cum hominibus conversatus est.
Hear, O Israel, the commandments of life: give ear, that thou mayst learn wisdom. How happeneth it, O Israel, that thou art in thy enemies’ land? Thou art grown old in a strange country, thou art defiled with the dead: thou art counted with them that go down into hell. Thou hast forsaken the fountain of wisdom; for if thou hadst walked in the way of God, thou hadst surely dwelt in peace for ever. Learn where is wisdom, where is strength, where is understanding: that thou mayst know also where is length of days and fife, where is the fight of the eyes, and peace.

Who hath found out her place? and who hath gone in to her treasures? Where are the princes of the nations, and they that rule over the beasts that are upon the earth? That take their diversion with the birds of the air, that hoard up silver and gold, wherein men trust, and there is no end of their getting? who work in silver and are solicitous, and their works are unsearchable? They are cut off, and are gone down to hell, and others are risen up in their place. Young men have seen the light, and dwelt upon the earth: but the way of knowledge they have not known, nor have they understood the paths thereof, neither have their children received it: it is far from their face. It hath not been heard of in the land of Chanaan, neither hath it been seen in Theman. The children of Agar also, that search after wisdom that is of the earth, the merchants of Merrha, and of Theman, and the tellers of fables, and searchers of prudence and understanding: but the way of wisdom they have not known, neither have they remembered her paths.

O Israel, how great is the house of God, and how vast is the place of his possession! It is great and hath no end: it is high and immense. There were the giants, those renowned men that were from the beginning, of great stature, expert in war. The Lord chose not them, neither did they find the way of knowledge: therefore did they perish. And because they had not wisdom, they perished through their folly. Who hath gone up into heaven, and taken her, and brought her down from the clouds? Who hath passed over the sea, and found her, and brought her preferably to chosen gold? There is none that is able to know her ways, nor that can search out her paths. But he that knoweth all things, knoweth her, and hath found her out with his understanding: he that prepared the earth for evermore, and filled it with cattle, and four-footed beasts: he that sendeth forth light, and it goeth; and hath called it, and it obeyeth him with trembling. And the stars have given light in their watches and rejoiced: they were called, and they said: Here we are. And with cheerfulness they have shined forth to him that made them. This is our God, and there shall no other be accounted of in comparison of him. He found out all the way of knowledge, and gave it to Jacob his servant, and to Israel his beloved. Afterwards he was seen upon earth, and conversed with men.

The bishop:

Let us pray.

The deacon:

Flectamus genua.
Let us kneel down.

The subdeacon:

Stand up again.

Deus, qui Ecclesiam tuam semper gentium vocatione multiplicas: concede propitius: ut quos aqua baptismatis abluis, continua protectione tuearis. Per Dominum.

℟. Amen.
O God, who continually multipliest thy Church, by the vocation of the Gentiles: mercifully grant thy perpetual protection to those whom thou washest with the water of Baptism. Through, &c.

℟. Amen.


Seventh Prophecy.
(EzechielChap. xxxvii.)

This lesson brings before our catechumens the resurrection of the body: a dogma which met with great opposition from the proud and sensual Gentiles. What a fitting occasion is this for remembering the promised resurrection, which God has mercifully made to us! For lo! Christ is about to rise from His grave, showing us hereby what our resurrection is to be, and giving us a pledge of its certainty. Our catechumens, also, are signified by these dry bones, which are to return to life, by the Spirit of God coming upon them: they are to form a numerous people to God.

In diebus illis: Facta est super me manus Domini; et eduxit me in Spiritu Domini, et dimisit me in medio campi, qui erat plenus ossibus: et circumduxit me per ea in gyro. Erant autem multa valde super faciem campi, siccaque vehementer. Et dixit ad me: Fili hominis, putasne vivent ossa ista? Et dixi: Domine Deus, tu nosti. Et dixit ad me: Vaticinare de ossibus istis: et dices eis: Ossa arida, audite verbum Domini. Hæc dicit Dominus Deus ossibus his: Ecce ego intromittam in vos spiritum, et vivetis: et dabo super vos nervos, et succrescere faciam super vos carnes, et superextendam in vobis cutem: et dabo vobis spiritum, et vivetis: et scietis, quia ego Dominns. Et prophetavi sicut præceperat mihi. Factus est autem sonitus, prophetante me, et ecce commotio. Et accesserunt ossa ad ossa: unumquodque ad juncturam su-am. Et vidi: et ecce super ea nervi et carnes ascenderunt, et extenta est in eis cutis desuper: et spiritum non habebant. Et dixit ad me: Vaticinare ad spiritum, vaticinare, fili hominis, et dices ad spiritum: Hæc dicit Dominus Deus: A quatuor ventis veni, spiritus; et insuffla super interfectos istos, et reviviscant. Et prophetavi sicut præceperat mihi. Et ingressus est in ea spiritus, et vixerunt; steteruntque super pedes suos, exercitus grandis nimis valde. Et dixit ad me: Fili hominis, ossa hæc universa domus Israel est. Ipsi dicunt: Aruerunt ossa nostra, et periit spes nostra, et abscissi sumus. Propterea vaticinare, et dices ad eos: Hæc dicit Dominus Deus: Ecce, ego aperiam tumulos vestros, et educam vos de sepulchris vestris, populus meus, et inducam vos in terrain Israel. Et scietis quia ego Dominus, cum aperuero sepulchra vestra, et eduxero vos de tumulis vestris, popule meus: et dedero Spiritum meum in vobis, et vixeritis: et requiescere vos faciam super humum vestram: dicit Dominus omnipotens.
In those days: The hand of the Lord was upon me, and brought me forth in the spirit of the Lord: and set me down in the midst of a plain that was full of bones. And he led me about through them on every side: now they were very many upon the face of the plain, and they were exceeding dry. And he said to me: Son of man, dost tbou think these bones shall live? And I answered: O Lord God, thou knowest. And he said to me: Prophesy concerning these bones: and say to them: Ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will send spirit into you, and you shall live; and I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to grow over you, and will cover you with skin: and I will give you spirit, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord. And I prophesied as he had commanded me: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a commotion: and the bones came together, each one to its joint. And I saw, and behold the sinews and the flesh came up upon them: and the skin was stretched out over them, but there was no spirit in them. And he said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, O son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus saith the Lord God: Come spirit, from the four winds, and blow upon these slain, and let them live again. And I prophesied as he had commanded me: and the spirit came into them,and they lived: and they stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. And he said to me: Son of man, all these bones are the house of Israel. They say: Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost, and we are cut off. Therefore prophesy, and say to them: Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves, and will bring you out of your sepulchres, O my people: and will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall have opened your sepulchres, and shall have brought you out of your graves, O my people, and shall have put my spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall make you rest upon your own land, saith the Lord almighty.

The bishop:

Let us pray.

The deacon:

Flectamus genua.
Let us kneel down.

The subdeacon:

Stand up again.

Deus, qui nos ad celebrandum Paschale Sacraraentum, utriusque Testamenti paginis instruis: da nobis intelligere misericordiam tuam: ut ex perceptione præsentium munerum, firma sit exspectatio futurorum. Per Dominum.

℟. Amen.
O God, who by the Scriptures of both testaments teachest us to celebrate the Paschal sacrament: give us such a sense of thy mercy, that, by receiving thy present favours, we may have a firm hope of thy future blessings. Through, &c.

℟. Amen.


Eighth Prophecy
(IsaiasChap. iv.)

The seven women here mentioned, as having been set free from ignominy and cleansed from defilement, represent the souls of our catechumens, on whom God is about to pour His mercy. They desire to be called after the name of their Deliverer: their desire shall be granted, for, as they come from the font, they will be called Christians, that is, children of Christ. Henceforth, they will abide on Mount Sion, sheltered from whirlwind and rain. The abode of light and rest, here promised them, is the Church; there will they dwell in company with her divine Spouse.

Apprehendent septem mulieres virum unum in die illa, dicentes: Panem nostrum comedemus, et vestimentis nostris operiemur: tantummodo invocetur nomen tuum super nos: aufer opprobrium nostrum. In die illa erit germen Domini in magnificentia, et gloria: et fructus terræ sublimis: et exsultatio his qui sal vat i fuerint de Israel. Et erit: omnis qui relictus fuerit in Sion, et residuus in Jerusalem, sanctus vocabitur: omnis qui scriptus est in vita in Jerusalem. Si abluent Dominus sordes filiarum Sion: et sanguinem Jerusalem la verit de medio ej us, in spiritu judicii, et spiritu ardoris. Et creabit Dominus super omnem locum montis Sion, et ubi invocatus est, nubem per diem, et fumum et splendorem ignis flammantis in nocte: super omnem enim gloriam protec tio. Et tabernaculum erit in umbraculum diei ab æstu, et in securitatem et absconsionem a turbine et a pluvia.
In that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying: We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, take away our reproach. In that day the bud of the Lord shall be in magnificence and glory, and the fruit of the earth shall be high, and a great joy to them that shall have escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that every one that shall be left in Sion, and that shall remain in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, every one that is written in life in Jerusalem. If the Lord shall wash away the filth of the daughters of Sion, and shall wash away the blood of Jerusalem out of the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the Lord will create upon every place of mount Sion, and where he is called upon, a cloud by day,and a smoke and the brightness of a flaming fire in the night: for over all the glory shall be a protection. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shade in the day time from the heat, and for a security and covert from the whirlwind, and from rain.

This lesson is followed by a Tract, taken from the same prophet Isaias, wherein he foretells the favours to be lavished by Christ on His Church, His vineyard, the object of His loving and ceaseless care.


Vinea facta est dilecto in cornu, in loco uberi.
℣. Et maceriam circumdedit, et circumfodit: et plantavit vineam Sorec, et ædificavit turrim in medio ejus.
℣. Et torcular fodit in ea: vinea enim Domini Sabaoth, domus Israël est.
My Beloved had a vineyard on a hill, in a fruitful place.
℣. He fenced it in, and digged it about: and planted it with Sorec, the choicest of vines, and built a tower in the midst thereof.
℣. And he set up a winepress therein: for the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel.

The bishop:

Let us pray.

The deacon:

Flectamus genua.
Let us kneel down.

The subdeacon:

Stand up again.

Deus, qui in omnibus Ecclesiæ tuæ filiis, sanctorum prophetarum voce man if estasti, in omni loco dominationis tuæ satorem te bonorum seminum, et electorum palmitum esse cultorem: tribue populis tuis, qui et vinearum apud te nomine censentur et segetum: ut, spinarum et tribulorum squalore resecato, digna efficiantur fruge fœcundi. Per Dominum.

℟. Amen.
O God, who by the mouth of the holy prophets hast declared that through the whole extent of thy empire it is thou that sowest the good seed, and improvest the choicest branches that are found in all the children of thy Church: grant to thy people, who are called by the names of vineyards and corn, that they may root out all thorns and briers, and bring forth good fruit in plenty. Through, &c.

℟. Amen.


Ninth Prophecy

It was by the blood of the figurative lamb, that Israel was protected against the sword of the destroying angel, was delivered from Egypt, and began his journey towards the promised land: it is by the Blood of the true Lamb, wherewith they are to be marked, that our catechumens will be delivered from eternal death and from the slavery in which satan has heretofore held them. They shall be guests at that banquet where the Flesh of this divine Lamb is eaten, for the Pasch is close upon us, and they are to join us in its celebration.

In diebus illis: Dixit Dominus ad Moysen et Aaron in terra Ægypti: Mensis iste vobis principium mensium: primus erit in raensibus anni. Loquimini ad universum c œ tum filiorum Israel, et dicite eis: Decima diemensis hujus tollat unusquisque agnum per familias et domos suas. Sin autem minor est numerus, ut sufficere possit ad veecendum agnum, assumet vicinum suum, qui junctus est domui suae: juxta numerum animarum, quae sufficere possunt ad esum agni. Erit autem agnus absque macula, masculus, anniculus: juxta quem ritum tolletis et hœdum. Et servabitis eum usque ad quartam decimam diem mensis hujus. Immolabitque eum universa multitudo filiorum Israel ad vesperam. Et sument de sanguine ejus: ac ponent super utrumque postem, et in superliminaribue domorum, in quibus comedent illum. Et edent carnes nocte illa assas igni et azymos panes, cum lactucis agrestibus. Non comedetis ex eo crudum quid, nec coctum aqua: sed tantum assum igni. Caput cum pedibus ejus et intestinis vorabitis: nec remanebit quidquam ex eo usque mane. Si quid residuum fuerit, igne comburetis. Sic autem comedetis illum. Renes vestros accingetis: et calceamenta habebitis in pedibus, tenontes baculos in manibus: et comedetis festinanter. Est enim Phase, id est transitus, Domini.
In those days: the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall be to you the beginningof months: it shall be the first in the months of the year. Speak ye to the whole assembly of the children of Israel, and say to them: On the tenth day of this month, let every man take a iamb, by their families and houses. But if the number be less than may suffice to eat the lamb, he shall take unto him his neighbour that joineth to his house, according to the number of souls which may be enough to eat the lamb. And it shall be a lamb without blemish, a male of one year; according to which rite also you shall take a kid. And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month: and the whole multitude of the children of Israel shall sacrifice it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood thereof, and put it upon both the sideposts, and on the upper door posts of the houses wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh that night roasted at the fire, and unleavened bread, with wild lettuce. You shall not eat thereof anything raw, nor boiled in water, but only roasted at the fire: you shall eat the head with the feet and entrails thereof: neither shall there remain any thing of it until morning. If there be any thing left, you shall burn it with fire. And thus you shall eat it: you shall gird your reins, and you shall have shoes on your feet, holding staves in your hands, and you shall eat in haste: for it is the Phase (that is, the passage) of the Lord.

The bishop:

Let us pray.

The deacon:

Flectamus genua.
Let us kneel down.

The subdeacon:

Stand up again.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui in omnium operum tuorum dispensatione mirabilis es: intelligant redempti tui non fuisse excellentiue quod initio factus est mundus, quam quod in fine sæculorum Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christ us. Qui tecum.

℟. Amen.
O almighty and eternal God, who art wonderful in the performance of all thy works: let thy servants whom thou hast redeemed understand that the creation of the world, in the beginning, was not a more excellent work than the sacrificing of Christ, our Passover, at the end of the world. Who liveth, &c.

℟. Amen.


Tenth Prophecy
(Jonas, Chap. iii.)

Ninive is the Gentile world, debased by every crime, and a prey to false doctrines. God took compassion upon her and sent her His apostles, in the name of His own Son. She heard their preaching, abjured her errors and vices, and did Penance: and God made her the city of His elect. Our cateohumens were once children of Ninive: they are soon to be numbered among the children of Jerusalem. The grace of God, and their works of penance, have Drought about this wondrous adoption.

In diebus illis: Factum est verbum Domini ad Jonam prophetam secundo, dicens: Surge et vade in Niniven civitatem magnam, et prædica in ea prædicationem quam ego loquor ad te. Et surrexit Jonas, et abiit in Niniven, juxta verbum Domini. Et Ninive erat civitas magna, itinere trium dierum. Et cœpit Jonas introire in civitatem, itinere diei unius: et clamavit, et dixit: Adhuc quadraginta dies, et Ninive subvertetur. Et erediderunt viri Ninivitæ in Deum, et praedicaverunt jejunium, et vestiti sunt saccis a majore usque ad minorem. Et pervenit verbum ad regem Ninive. Et surrexit de solio suo, et abjecit vestimen tum suum a se: et indutus est sacco, et sedit in cinere. Et clamavit, et dixit in Ninive ex ore regis, et principum ejus, dicens: Homines, et jumenta, et boves, et pecora non gustent quidquam: nec pascantur, et aquam non bibant. Et operiantur saccis homines, et jumenta: et clament ad Dominum in fortitudine. Et convertatur vir a via sua mala, et ab iniquitate, quæ est in manibus eorum. Quis scit, si convertatur, et ignoecat Deus: et revertatur a furore iræ suæ, et non peribimus? Et vidit Deus opera eorum, quia conversi sunt de via sua mala: et misertus est populo suo Dominus Deus noster.
In those days: The word of the Lord came to Jonas the second time, saying: Arise and go to Ninive the great city: and preach in it the preaching that I bid thee. And Jonas arose, and went to Ninive according to the word of the Lord: now Ninive was a great city of three days’ journey. And Jonas began to enter into the city one day’s journey: and he cried and said: Yet forty days and Ninive shall be destroyed. And the men of Ninive believed in God: and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least. And the word came to the king of Ninive: and he rose up out of his throne, and cast away his robe from him, and was clothed with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published in Ninive, from the mouth of the king and of his princes, saying: Let neither men nor beasts, oxen nor sheep, taste anything: let them not feed nor drink water. And 'et men and beasts be covered with sackcloth, and cry to the Lord with all their strength, and let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the iniquity that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and forgive: and will turn away from his fierce anger, and we shall not perish? And God saw their works, that they were turned from their evil way: and the Lord our God had mercy on his people.

The bishop:

Let us pray.

The deacon:

Flectamus genua.
Let us kneel down.

The subdeacon:

Stand up again.

Deus, qui diversitatem gentium in confessione tui nominis adunasti: da nobis et velle et posse quæ præcipis: ut populo ad æternitatem vocato una sit fides mentium, et pietas actionum. Per Dominum.

℟. Amen.
O God, who hast united the several nations of the Gentiles in the profession of thy name; give us both a will and a power to obey thy commands: that all thy people, who are called to eternity, may have the same faith in their minds, and piety in their actions. Through, &c.

℟. Amen.


Eleventh Prophecy
(DeuteronomyChap. xxxi.)

The holy Church instructs the catechumens, by this lesson, upon the obligation they are about to contract with God. The grace of regeneration is not to be conferred upon them, until they have made a solemn promise that they renounce satan, the enemy of their God. Let them be faithful to their promise, and remember that God is the avenger of every infringement of so solemn a vow.

In diebus illis: Scripsit Moyses canticum et docuit filios Israël, Præcepitque Dominus Josue filio Nun, et ait: Confortare, et esto robustus. Tu enim introduces filios Israel in terram, quam pollicitus sum, et ego ero tecum. Postquam ergo scripsit Moyses verba legis hujus in volumine, atque complevit; præcepit levitis, qui portabant arcam fœderis Domini, dicens: Tollite librum istum, et ponite eum in latere arcæ fœderis Domini Dei vestri: ut sit ibi contra te in testimonium. Ego enim scio contentionem tuam, et cervicem tuam durissimam. Adhuc vivente me, et ingrediente vobiscum, semper contentiose egietis contra Dominum: quanto magis cum mortuus fuero? Congregate ad me omnes majores natu per tribus vestras, atque doctores: et loquar audientibus eis sermones istos, et invocabo contra eos cœlum et terram. Novi enim quod post mortem meam inique agetis: et declinabitis cito de via, quam præcepi vobis. Et occurrent vobis mala in extremo tempore, quando feceritis malum in conspectu Domini: ut irritetis eum per opera manuum vestrarum. Locutus est ergo Moyses, audiente universa cœtu Israel, verba carminis hujus: et ad finem usque complevit.
In those days: Moses wrote a canticle, and taught it to the children of Israel. And the Lord commanded Josue, the son of Nun and said: Take courage and be valiant: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I have promised, and I will be with thee. Therefore after Moses had wrote the words of this law in a volume, and finished it, he commanded the levites, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying: Take this book and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God: that it may be there for a testimony against thee. For I know thy obstinacy, and thy most stiff neck. While I am yet living, and going in with you, you have always been rebellious against the Lord: how much more when I shall be dead? Gather unto me all the ancients of your tribes, and your doctors, and I will speak these words in their hearing, and will call heaven and earth to witness against them. For I know that, after my death, you will do wickedly, and will quickly turn aside from the way that I have commanded you: and evils shall come upon you in the latter times, when you shall do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him by the works of your hands. Moses therefore spoke, in the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel, the words of this canticle, and finished it even to the end.

This lesson is followed by a Tract, which is taken from the sublime canticle sung by Moses, before quitting this earth. The whole assembly of Israel was present, and he put before them, in words of earnest zeal, the chastisements which God exercises against them that break the Covenant He vouchsafes to make with them,


Attende coelum, et loquar: et audiat terra verba ex ore meo.
℣.Exspectetur sicut pluvia eloquium meum: et descendant sicut ros verba mea.
℣.Sicut imber super gramen, et sicut nix super fœnum: quia nomen Domini invocabo.
℣.Date magnitudinem Deo nostro; Deus, vera opera ejus, et omnes viæ ejus judicia.
℣.Deus fidelis, in quo non est iniquitas: justus et sanctus Dominus.
Hear, O ye heavens, and I will speak: and let the earth give ear to the words of my mouth.
℣.Let what I say be looked for like rain: and let my words drop down like dew.
℣.Like the shower upon the grass, and the snow upon the dry herb: for I will call upon the name of the Lord.
℣.Publish the greatness of our God; he is God; his works are true and all his ways are justice.
℣.God is faithful, in whom there is no iniquity: the Lord is just and holy.

The bishop:

Let us pray.

The deacon:

Flectamus genua.
Let us kneel down.

The subdeacon:

Stand up again.

Deus celsitudo humilium et fortitudo rectorum: qui per sanctum Moysen puerum tuum, ita erudire populum tuum sacri carminis tui decantatione voluisti, ut illa legis iteratio fieret etiam nostra directio: excita in omnem justificatarum gentium plenitudinem potentiam tuam, et da læætitiam, mitigando terrorem: ut omnium peccatis tua remissione deletis, quod denuntiatum est in ultionem, transeat in salutem. Per Dominum.

℟. Amen.
O God, who raisest the humble, and givest strength to the righteous: and who, by thy holy servant Moses, wast pleased so to instruct thy people by the singing of the sacred canticle, that the repetition of the law might be also our direction: show thy power to all the multitude of Gentiles justified by thee, and by mitigating thy terrors, grant them joy: that all their sins being pardoned by thee, the threatened vengeance may contribute to their salvation. Through, &c.

℟. Amen.


Twelfth Prophecy
(Daniel, Chap. iii.)

Here is the last instruction given to our oatechumens, before they descend into the font of salvation. It is requisite that they should have a clear knowledge of what the Christian warfare will demand of them. Perhaps they will one day have to confess their God before the potentates of earth. Are they resolved to suffer every torture, even death itself, rather than deny His holy name? Have there not been apostates among those whose Baptism was once a source of joy to the Church? It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that they should know the trials that await them. Our holy mother the Church tells them .the history of the three young Jews, who refused to adore the statue of the king of Babylon, though their refusal was to be punished by their being cast into a fiery furnace. Since the promulgation of the Christian law, millions of martyrs have followed their example. The representation of these three heroes of the true God is a favourite subject among the paintings of of the catacombs. It is true, peace has been given to the Church; but the world is ever the enemy of Christ, and who knows but that Julian the apostate may succeed Constantine?

In diebus illis: Nabuchodonosor rex fecit statuam auream, altitudine cubitorum sexaginta, latitudine cubitorum sex: et statuit eam in campo Dura prov inciæ Babylonis. Itaque Nabuchodonosor rex misit ad congregandos satrapas, magistratus et judices, duces et tyrannos, et præfectos omnesque principes regionum: ut convenirent ad dedicationem statuæ, quam erexerat Nabuchodonosor rex. Tunc congregati sunt satrapæ, magistratus, et judices, duces et tyranni, et optimates, qui erant in potestatibus constituti, et universi principes regionum: ut convenirent ad dedicationem statuæ, quam erexerat Nabuchodonosor rex. Stabant autem in conspectu statuæ, quam posuerat Nabuchodonosor rex, et præco clamabat valenter: Yobis dicitur populis, tribubus et linguis: In hora qua audieritis sonitum tubæ et fistulæ, et citharae, sambucæ et psalterii, et symphoniæ, et universi generis musicorum, cadentes adorate statuam auream, quam constituit Nabuchodonosor rex. Si quis autem non prostratus adora ver i t, eadem hora mittetur in fornacem ignis ardentis.

Post hæc igitur statim ut audierunt omnes populi sonitum tubæ, fistulæ et citharæ, sambucæ, et psalterii, et symphoniæ, et omnis generis musicorum, cadentes omnes populi, tribus, et linguae, adoraverunt statuam auream, quam constituerat Nabuchodonosor rex. Statimque in ipso tempore accedentes viri Chaldæi accusaverunt Judæos, dixeruntque Nabuchodonosor regi: Rex in æternum vive. Tu rex posuisti decretum: ut omnis homo, qui audierit sonitum tubæ, fistulæ, et citharæ, sambucæ, et psalterii, et symphoniæ, et universi generis musicorum, prosternat se, et adoret statuam auream. Si quis autem non procidens adoraverit, mittatur in fornacem ignis ardentis. Sunt ergo viri Judæi, quos constituisti super opera regionis Babylonis, Sidrach, Misach, et Abdenago: viri isti contempserunt, rex, decretum tuum: deos tuos non colunt, et statuam auream quam erexisti non adorant.

Tunc Nabuchodonosor in furore et in ira, præcepit ut adducerentur Sidrach, Misach, et Abdenago. Qui confestim adducti sunt in conspectu regis. Pronuntiansque Nabuchodonosorrex, ait eis: Verene, Sidrach, Mieach, et Abdenago, deos meos non colitis, et statuam auream quam constitui, non adoratis? Nunc ergo, si estisparati, quacumque hora audieritis sonitum tubæ, fistulæ, citharæ, sambucæ, et psalterii, et symphoniæ, omnisque generis musicorum, prosternite vos, et adorate statuam quam feci. Quod si non adoraveritis, eadem hora mittemini in fornacem ignis ardentis: et quis est Deus, qui eripiet vos de manu mea?

Respondentes Sidrach, Misach, et Abdenago, dixerunt regi Nabuchodonosor: Non oportet nos de hac re respondere tibi. Ecce enim Deu3 noster quem colimus, potest eripere nos de camino ignis ardentis, et de manibus tuis, o rex, liberare. Quod si noluerit, notum sit tibi rex: quia deos tuos non colimus, et statuam auream quam erexisti, non adoramus. Tunc Nabuchodonosor repletus est furore; et aspectus faciei illius immutatus est super Sidrach, Misach, et Abdenago. Et præcepit, ut succenderetur fornax septuplum, quam succendi consueverat. Et viris fortissimis de exercitu suo jussit, ut ligatis pedibus Sidrach, Misach, et Abdenago, mitterent eos in fornacem ignis ardentis. Et confestim viri illi vincti, cum braccis suis, et tiaris, et calceamentis, et vestibus, missi sunt in medium fornacis ignis ardentis; nam jussio regis urgebat. Fornax autem succensa erat nimis. Porro viros illos, qui miserant Sidrach, Misach, et Abdenago, interfecit flamma ignis. Viri autem hi tres, id est Sidrach, Misach, et Abdenago, ceciderunt in medio camino ignis ardentis, colligati. Et ambulabant in medio flammæ laudantes Deum, et benedicentes Domino.
In those days: King Nabuchodonosor made a statue of gold, of sixty cubits high, and six cubits broad, and he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then Nabuchodonosor the king sent to call together the nobles, the magistrates, and the judges, the captains, the rulers, and governors, and all the chief men of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the statue which king Nabuchodonosor had set up. Then the nobles, the magistrates, and the judges, the captains and rulers, and the great men that were placed in authority, and all the princes of the provinces were gathered together to come to the dedication of the statue which king Nabuchodonosor had set up. And they stood before the statue which king Nabuchodonosor had set up. Then a herald cried with a strong voice: To you it is commanded, O nations, tribes, and languages: that in the hour that you shall hear the sound of the trumpet, and of the flute, and of the harp, of the sackbut, and of the psaltery, and of the symphony, and of all kind of music; ye fall down and adore the golden statue which king Nabuchodonosor hath set up. But if any man should not fall down and adore, he shall the same hour be cast into a furnace of burning fire.

Upon this, therefore, at the time when all the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the flute, and the harp, of the sackbut, and the psaltery, of the symphony, and of all kind of music; all the nations, tribes and languages, fell down and adored the golden statue which king Nabuchodonosor had set up. And presently, at that very time, some Chaldeans came and accused the Jews: and said to king Nabuchodonosor: O king, live for ever! Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the trumpet, the flute, and the harp, of the sackbut. and the psaltery, of the symphony, and of all kind of music, shall prostrate himself, and adore the golden statue: and that if any man shall not fall down and adore, he should be cast into a furnace of burning fire. Now there are certain Jews, whom thou hast set over the works of the province of Babylon, Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago: these men, O king, have slighted thy decree: they worship not thy gods, nor do they adore the golden statue which thou hast set up.

Then Nabuchodonosor, in fury and in wrath, commanded that Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago should be brought: who immediately were brought before the king. And Nabuchodonosor the king spoke to them and said: Is it true, O Sidrach, Mieach, and Abdenago, that you do not worship my gods, nor adore the golden statue that I have set up? Now therefore if you be ready, at what hour soever you shall hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, harp, sackbut, and psaltery, and symphony, and of all kind of music, prostrate yourselves, and adore the statue which I have made: but if you do not adore, you shall be cast the same hour into the furnace of burning fire: and who is the God that shall deliver you out of my hand?

Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, answered and said to king Nabuchodonosor: We have no occasion to answer thee concerning this matter. Forbehold our God, whom we worship, is able to save us from the furnace of burning tire, and to deliver us out of thy hands, O king. But if he will not, be it known to thee, O king, that we will not worship thy gods, nor adore the golden statue which thou hast set up. Then was Nabuchodonosor filled with fury: and the countenance of his face was changed against Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, and he commanded that the furnace should be heated seven times more than it had been accustomed to be heated. And he commanded the strongest men that were in his army, to bind the feet of Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, and to cast them into the furnace of burning fire. And immediately these men were bound, and were cast into the furnace of burning fire, with their coats and their caps, and their shoes, and their garments. For the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace was heated exceedingly. And the flame of the fire slew those men that had cast in Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago. But these three men, that is, Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, fell down bound in the midst of the furnace of burning fire. And they walked in the midst of the flame, praising God and blessing the Lord.

The bishop says a prayer after this, as well as after the other prophecies: but the deacon gives not his invitation to kneel. The Church omits the genuflexion, in order to inspire the catechumens with a horror for the idolatry of the Babylonians, who bend their knee before the statue of Nabuchodonosor.


 Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, spes unica mundi, qui prophetarum tuorum præconio, præsentium temporum declarasti mysteria: auge populi tui vota placatus: quia in nullo fidelium, nisi ex tua inspiratione, proveniunt quarumlibet incrementa virtutum. Per Dominum.

℟. Amen.
Let us Pray.

O almighty and eternal God, the only hope of the world, who by the voice of thy prophets, hast manifested the mysteries of this present time: graciously increase the desires of thy people: since none of the faithful can advance in any virtue, without thy inspiration. Through, &c.

℟. Amen.




These lessons, and prayers, and chants, have taken up a considerable portion of time: the sun has long since set, and the night is far advanced. All the preparatory exercises are over, and it is time to repair to the baptistery. During the prophecies, seven subdeacons went thither, and there they have thrice recited the litany; in the first recitation, they repeated each invocation seven times; in the second, five times; and in the third, three times. A procession is formed towards this building, which is detached from the church, and is either circular, or octagonal, in form. In the centre is a large font, with several steps leading down to it. A stream of clear water flows into it from the mouth of a metal stag. Over the font is suspended a canopy or cupola, in the centre of which is a dove with extended wings, which represents the Holy Ghost giving virtue to the water beneath. Round the font is a railing, within which none may enter but those who are to be baptized, the sponsors, the bishop, and the priests. Two pavilions—one for the men, the other for the women—have been put up; they are for the baptized, wherein, after they come from the font, they may change their garments.

The procession moves from the church to the baptistery in the following order. The Paschal candle (which represents the pillar of fire that guided the Israelites, by night, to the Red Sea, in whose waters they found salvation) goes first, leading on the catechumens. These follow, having their sponsors on their right hand, for each candidate for Baptism is to be presented by a Christian. Then come two acolytes; one carries the holy chrism, the other the oil of catechumens. Next, the clergy; and lastly, the bishop and his assistant ministers. The procession is by torch-light. The stars are brightly shining in the canopy of heaven, and the air resounds with the melodious chanting. They are singing those verses of the psalm, in which David compares his soul’s pining after her God to the panting of a stag that thirsts for a fount of water. The stag, an image of which is in the font, is a figure of the catechumen who longs for Baptism.


Sicut cervus desiderat ad fontes aquarum: ita desiderat anima mea ad te Deus.
℣.Sitivit anima mea ad Deum vivum: quando veniam, et apparebo ante faciem Dei?
℣.Fuerunt mihi lacrymæ meæ panes die ac nocte, dum dicitur mihi per singulos dies: Ubi est Deus tuus?
As the stag panteth after the fountains of water, so my soul panteth after thee, O God.
℣.My soul hath thirsted after the living God: when shall I come and appear before the face of God?
℣.My tears have been my bread day and night, while it is said to me daily: Where is thy God?

They soon reach the baptistery. The bishop, having come within sight of the font, prefaces his blessing by a prayer, in which he again uses the comparison of a panting stag, to express to God the longing of this people after the new life of which Christ is the source.

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.


Omnipotens sempiterno Deus, respice propitius ad devotionem populirenascentis, qui, sicut cervus, aquarum tuarum expetit fontem: et concede propitius ut fidei ipsius sitis, baptismatis mysterio, animam corpusque sanctificet. Per Dominum.
℟. Amen.
℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

Let us Pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, look mercifully on the devotion of the people desiring a new birth, who pant, as the hart, after the fountain of thy waters: and mercifully grant that the thirst of their faith may, by the sacrament of Baptism, sanctify their souls and bodies. Through, etc.
℟. Amen.

The blessing of water for Baptism is of apostolic institution, as we learn from many of the holy fathers, among whom we may mention St. Cyprian, St. Ambrose, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, and St. Basil. It is just, that the instrument of so divine a work should receive every mark of honour, that could secure to it the respeot of mankind: and, after all, does not this honour and respect redound to God, who chose this creature to be, as it were, the co-operator of His mercies to us? It is from water that we came forth Christians. The early fathers allude to this, when they call Christians the fish of Christ. We cannot be surprised, after this, that the sight of the element that gave us our spiritual life should excite us to joy, or that we should pay to this element an honour, which is referred to the Author of all the graces about to be bestowed.

The prayer used by the bishop for blessing the water, is so full of elevation of thought, energy of diction, and authority of doctrine, that we may, without hesitation, attribute it to the earliest ages of the Church. The ceremonies which accompany it bespeak its venerable antiquity. It is sung to the solemn tone of the Preface, which imparts such a lyric effect. The pontiff first recites a preliminary prayer, and then begins his magnificent blessing. He is filled with the holy enthusiasm of the Church. He turns to the faithful, and they respond. He is going to lead them to such grand mysteries: Sursum corda!

℣.Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.


Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, adesto magnæ pie ta tis tuæ mysteriie, adesto sacramentis; et ad recreandos novos populos, quos tibi fons Baptismatis parturit, Spiritum adoptionis emitte: ut quod nostræ humilitatis gerendum est ministerio, virtutie tuæ impleatur effectu. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate ejusdem Spiritus sancti Deus,
Per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

℟. Amen.

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

℣. Sursum corda.
℟. Habemus ad Domi num

℣. Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.
℟. Dignum et justum est.

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare; nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine sanete, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus, qui invisibili potentia, sacramentorum tuorum mirabiliter operaris effectum; et licet nos tantis mysteriis exsequendis simus indigni: tu tamen gratiæ tuæ dona non deserens, etiam ad nostras preces, aures tuæ pietatis inclinas. Deus, cujus Spiritus super aquas, inter ipsa mundi primordia, ferebatur: ut jam tunc virtutem sanctificationis aquarum natura conciperet. Deus, qui nocentis mundi crimina per aquas abluens, regenerationis speciem in ipsa diluvii effusione signasti; ut unius ejusdemque elementi mysterio, et finis esset vitiis, et origo virtutibus; respice, Domine, in faciem Ecclesiæ tuæ; et multiplica in ea regenerationes tuas, qui gratiæ tuæ affluentis impetu lætificas civitatem tuam, fontemque Baptismatis aperis toto orbe terrarum gentibus innovandis: ut tuæ majestatie imperio, sumat Unigeniti tui gratiam de Spiritu sancto.
℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

Let us Pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, be present at these mysteries, be present at these sacraments of thy great goodness: and send forth the Spirit of adoption to regenerate the new people, whom the font of Baptism brings forth: that what is to be done by our weak ministry, may be accomplished by the effect of thy power. Through our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son, who liveth and reign eth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, God,
For ever and ever.

℟. Amen.

℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

℣. Lift up your hearts.
℟. We have them fixed on God.

℣. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
℟. It is meet and just.

It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, who by thy invisible power dost wonderfully produce the effect of thy sacraments: and though we are unworthy to administer so great mysteries: yet as thou dost not forsake the gifts of thy grace, so thou inclinest the ears of thy goodness, even to our prayers. O God, whose Spirit, in the very beginning of the world, moved over the waters, that even then the nature of water might receive the virtue of sanctification. O God, who by water didst wash away the crimes of the guilty world, and by the overflowing of the deluge didst give a figure of regeneration, that one and the same element might, in a mystery, be the end of vice and the origin of virtue. Look, O Lord, on the face of thy Church, and multiply in her thy regenerations, who by the streams of thy abundant grace fillest thy city with joy: and openest the font of baptism all over the world, for the renovation of the Gentiles: that by the command of thy Majesty she may receive the grace of thy only Son from the Holy Ghost.

Here the pontiff pauses a moment, and putting his hand into the water divides it in the form of a cross, to signify that it is by the cross that this element receives the power of regenerating the souls of men. This wonderful power had been promised to water; but the promise was not fulfilled until Christ had shed His Blood upon the cross. It is this Blood which operates by the water on the souls of men; and with the action of this precious Blood is joined that of the Holy Ghost, as the pontiff tells us in his prayer, which he thus continues.

Qui hanc aquam regenerandis hominibus præparatam, arcana sui numinis admixtione fœcundet: ut sanctificati one concepta, ab immaculato divini fontis utero, in novam renata creaturam, progenies cœlestis emergat: et quos aut sexus in corpore, aut ætas discernit in tempore, omnes in unam pariat gratia mater infantiam. Procul ergo hinc, jubente te Domine, omnis spiritus immundus abscedat: procul tota nequitia diaboliæ fraudis absistat. Nihil hic loci habeat contrariæ virtu tis admixtio: non insidiando circumvolet, non latendo subrepat, non inficiendo corrumpat.
Who, by a secret mixture of his divine virtue, may render this water fruitful for the regeneration of men, to the end that those who have been sanctified in the immaculate womb of this divine font, being born again a new creature, may come forth a heavenly offspring: and that all that are distinguished either by sex in body, or by age in time, may be brought forth to the same infancy by grace, their spiritual mother. Therefore may all unclean spirits, by thy command, O Lord, depart far from hence: may the whole malice of diabolical deceit be entirely banished: may no power of the enemy prevail here: may he not fly about to lay his snares: may he not creep in by his secret artifice: may he not corrupt with his infection.

After having thus besought God to protect the water of the font from the influence which satan seeks to exercise over every creature, the bishop puts his hand upon it. The august character of a pontiff or priest is a source of sanctification: the mere contaot of his consecrated hand produces a salutary effect, as often as he acts in virtue of the priesthood of Christ, which dwells within him.

Sit hæc sancta et innocens creatura libera ab omni impugnatoris incursu, et totius nequitiæ purgata discessu. Sit fons vivus, aqua regenerans, unda purificans: ut omnes hoc lavacro salutifero diluendi, operante in eis Spiritu sancto, perfectæ purgationis indulgentiam con-sequantur.
May this holy and innocent creature be free from all the assaults of the enemy, and purified by the destruction of all his malice. May it be a living fountain, a regenerating water, a purifying stream: that all those that are to be washed in this saving bath, may obtain, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, the grace of a perfect purification.

While pronouncing the following words, the bishop blesses the water, thrice making over it the sign of the cross.

Unde benedico te, crea tura aquae, per Deum vivum, per Deum verum, per Deum sanctum: per Deum qui te, in principio, verbo separavit ab arida: cu jus Spiritus super te ferebatur.
Therefore I bless thee, O creature of water, by the living God, by the true God, by the holy God: by that God who in the beginning separated thee by his word from the dry land, whose Spirit moved over thee.

The bishop next makes an allusion to the four rivers which watered the earthly paradise. He again divides the water with his hand, and sprinkles it towards the north, south, east and west, for the four parts of the world received the preaching of Baptism. While performing this expressive ceremony, he continues his prayer as follows:

Qui te de paradisi fonte manare fecit, et in quatuor fluminibus totam terram rigare præcepit; qui te in deserto amaram, suavitate indita fecit esse potabilem, et sitienti populo de petra produxit. Benedico te, et per Jesum Christum Filium ejus unicum Dominum nostrum: qui te in Cana Galilææ, signo admirabili, sua potentia convertit in vinum. Qui pedibus super te ambulavit: et a Joanne in Jordane in te baptizatus est. Qui te una cum sanguine de latere suo produxit: et discipulis suis jussit, ut credentes baptizaren tur in te, dicens: Ite, docete omnes gentes, baptizantes eos in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus sancti.
Who made thee flow from the fountain of paradise, and commanded thee to water the whole earth with thy four rivers. Who, changing thy bitterness in the desert into sweetness, made thee fit to drink, and produced thee out of a rock to quench the thirst of the people. I bless thee also by our Lord Jesus Christ, his only Son, who in Cana of Galilee changed thee into wine, by a wonderful miracle of his power. Who walked upon thee dry-foot, and was baptized in thee by John in the Jordan. Who made thee flow out of his side together with his Blood, and commanded his disciples, that such as believed should be baptized in thee, saying: Go, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Here the bishop interrupts the solemn and triumphant tone of the Preface, and simply reads the following words. He has signed the water with the sign of the cross; he now invokes upon it the vivifying action of the Holy Ghost.

Hæc nobis præcepta servantibus, tu, Deus omnipotens, demens adesto: tu benignus adspira.
Do thou, almighty God, mercifully assist us who observe this command: do thou graciously inspire us.

The Holy Ghost is called Spirit, which means a breath: He is the divine Breathing, that mighty Wind, which was heard in the cenacle. The pontiff to express this character of the Third Person of the blessed Trinity, thrice breathes, in the form of a cross, over the water of the font, and then continues in the same reading tone:

Tu has simplices aquas tuo ore benedicito: ut præter naturalem emundationem, quam lavandis possunt adhibere corporibus, sint etiam purificandis mentibus eficaces.
Do thou with thy mouth bless these clear waters: that besides their natural virtue of cleansing the body, they may also be effectual for the purifying of the soul.

Then taking the Paschal candle, he dips the lower end of it into the font. This rite signifies the mystery of Christ’s baptism in the Jordan, whereby the element of water received the pledge of its future sanctifying power. The Son of God went down into the stream, and the Holy Ghost came upon Him in the form of a Dove. But now, it is something more than a promise: the water receives the reality, the virtue; and it receives it by the action of these two divine Persons. The bishop, therefore resuming the tone of the Preface, chants these words, while plunging into the font the Paschal candle, the symbol of Christ, over whom hovers the celestial Dove:

Descendat in hanc plenitudinem fontis virtus Spiritus sancti.
May the virtue of the Holy Ghost descend into all the water of this font.

After these words, the pontiff takes the candle out of the water, and then plunges it in again still deeper, singing the same words, but on a higher note:

Descendat in hanc plenitudinem fontis virtus Spiritus sancti.
May the virtue of the Holy Ghost descend into all the water of this font.

Having again withdrawn the candle, he plunges it a third time into the water, even to the bottom of the font: he sings the same words to a still higher note:

Descendat in hanc plenitud inem fontis virtus Spiritus sancti.
May the virtue of the Holy Ghost descend into all the water of this font.

Before taking the candle from the water the third time, the bishop leans forward over the font: and that he may signify the union of the power of the Holy Ghost with that of Christ, he breathes again upon the water, not, this time, in the form of a cross, but in that of the Greek letter ψ, which is the initial of the Greek word for Spirit. This done, he resumes his prayer by the following words:

Totamque hujue aquæ substantiam, regenerandi fœcundet effectu.
And make the whole substance of this water fruitful and capable of regenerating.

The Paschal candle is then raised out of the font, and the bishop thus continues:

Hic omnium peccatorum maculæ deleantur: hic natura ad imaginem tuam condita, et ad honorem sui reformata principii, cunctis vetustatis squaloribus emundetur: ut omnis homo sacramentum hoe regenerationisingressus, in veræ innocentiæ novam infantiam renascatur.
Here may the stains of all sins be washed out: here may human nature, created to thy image, and reformed to the honour of its author, be cleansed from all the filth of the old man: that all who receive this sacrament of regeneration, may be born again new children of true innocence.

The bishop recites the rest in the simple reading tone:

Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum: qui venturus est judieare vivos et mortuos, et sæculum per ignem.

℟. Amen.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son: who shall come to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire.

℟. Amen.

As soon as the people have answered Amen, one of the priests sprinkles them with the water, that has thus been blessed; and an acolyte fills a large vessel with it, that it may be used in the service of the Church, and in sprinkling the houses of the faithful.

But the Church is not satisfied with having given her blessing to the water. On Thursday, she was put in possession of the graces of the Holy Ghost by receiving the holy oils: with these she would now honour the font, mingling a portion of them with the water. The faithful—seeing how every symbol expressive of divine adoption is made to bear upon the water, whence men receive salvation—will learn what is the reverence they should have for the font. The bishop, taking the oil of catechumens, pours it into the water, saying:

Sanctificetur et foecundetur fons iste oleo salutis renascentibus ex eo, in vitam ætemam.

℟. Amen.
May this font be sanctified and made fruitful by the oil of salvation, for such as are regenerated therein unto life everlasting.

℟. Amen.

Then, taking the holy chrism, he pours it into the font, saying:

Infusio chrismatis Domini nostri Jesu Christi, et Spiritus sancti Paracliti, fiat in nomine sanctæ Trinitatis.

℟. Amen.
May this infusion of the chrism of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost the Comforter, be made in the name of the holy Trinity.

℟. Amen.

Finally, taking the chrism in his right hand, and the oil of catechumens in his left, he pours from the two phials at once. This sacred rite signifies the superabundant grace of Baptism. While pouring in the two oils together, the bishop says:

Commixtio chrismatis sanctificationis, et olei unctionis, et aquæ baptismatis, pariter fiat, in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus sancti.

℟. Amen.
May this mixture of the chrism of sanctification, and of the oil of unction, and of the water of Baptism, be made in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

℟. Amen.

After these words, the bishop puts his hand into the font, and mixes the holy oils with the water, that thus every portion of it may come into contact with this additional source of sanctification. Having wiped his hand, he takes off such of his vestments as would inconvenienoe him in the administration of Baptism.




The pontiff returns to the font, and the catechumens are called in turns. They come one by one, led by their sponsors. The bishop stands upon a platform, that reaches over the font. The catechumen dentes baptizaren tur in te, dicens: Ite, docete omnes gentes, baptizantes eos in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus sancti.off all garments as far as the waist, descends the stepsand goes into the water, within reach of the bishop’s hand. The bishop then asks the catechumen: ‘Dost thou believe in God the Father almighty. Creator of heaven and earth?’ The catechumen answers: ‘I do believe.’— Dost thou believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was born and suffered for us?’—‘I do believe.’—‘Dost thou believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?’—‘I do believe.’ And having thus received the oonfession of the catechumen’s faith, the bishop asks him or her: ‘Wilt thou be baptized?’—‘I will,’ answers the catechumen. Then the bishop places his hand upon the catechumen’s head, and thrice immerges him, or her, under the water, saying: ‘I baptize thee, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’

Thrice, then, has the catechumen entirely disappeared under the water: it has closed over and shrouded him. We have the explanation of this given us by the great apostle: the water of Baptism is the tomb, in which we are buried together with Christ; and, together with Him, we rise again to life: the death we had suffered, was the death of sin; the life we are henceforth to live, is the life of grace.[13] Thus is the mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection repeated, with all its fulness, in them that are baptized. But before the baptized comes from the font, a sacred rite is performed over him, which completes his resemblance with Christ. While Jesus was yet standing in the waters of the Jordan, the Holy Ghost descended upon Him in the form of a Dove: and before the neophyte comes forth from the font, a priest anoints his head with the chrism, which is a gift received from the holy Spirit. This anointing expresses the kingly and priestly character that resides in the Christian, for by his union with Jesus Christ, his Head, he partakes, in some degree, of the royalty and the priesthood of this divine Mediator. Thus loaded with honours by the divine Word and the Holy Ghost, and adopted by the eternal Father, who sees in him a member of His own Son, the neophyte comes up from the font by the steps of the side opposite to that by which he descended, beautiful in grace and spotless as the flocks of which the Canticle speaks such praises.[14] The sponsor is ready to receive him from the font: he stretches out his hand to help him to mount the steps, and covers his shoulders with a cloth.

Thus goes on the divine work of the holy font: each Baptism is a resurrection from sin to justification. But the pontiff has to administer to the neophytes another sacrament, which is to confirm them by the gift of the Holy Ghost, and which he alone can confer. Were he to wait till all are baptized, Easterday would dawn upon them, before the whole of tonight’s service is over. He therefore baptizes a few himself—men, women, and children—and leaves his priests to administer Baptism to all the rest. In the baptistery, there is a part which is called the chrismarium, because the Sacrament of chrism, or Confirmation, is given there. Thither the pontiff now repairs, and sits upon the throne prepared for him. He resumes the vestments he had laid aside when descending to the font; and immediately they bring to him the neophytes he has baptized, and after them, those baptized by the priests. He gives to each a white robe, which they must wear till the following Saturday; and as he gives it, he says: ‘Receive this white garment, which is holy and unspotted: and see thou carry it before the judgment-seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thou mayst have eternal life!’ As soon as the neophytes have received it, they retire to the pavilions prepared in the baptistery. There they change their wet clothes for others, and, aided by their sponsors, they vest themselves with the white robes. They then repair to the chrismarium, where they are to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.




On Thursday last, when consecrating the chrism, the pontiff told us how, when the waters of the deluge had fulfilled their office of purifying the earth, the dove appeared, bearing an olive-branch in her beak; it was a symbol of peace, and of the reign of Him, whose sacred name signifies the Anointed: His name is Christ. Our neophytes have been purified from their sins by the water of Baptism: they are now kneeling before the pontiff, awaiting the gift of the Dove, and longing for the pledge of peace whereof the olive is the symbol. The holy chrism has been already marked upon their heads; but then it was only a sign of the dignity to which they had been raised. Now, it does more than signify grace, it works it in the soul. Neither is it in the power of a priest to give this anointing, which confirms the Christian; it requires the hand of a bishop, for he alone can consecrate the chrism.

The neophytes are arranged before him; on one side the men, on the other the women; the infants are in their sponsors’ arms. The adults place their right foot on the right foot of their godfather or godmother, showing, by this sign of union, their spiritual filiation in the Church.

The sight of this innocent flock gladdens the heart of the pontiff. He rises from his throne, and thus addresses them: ‘May the Holy Ghost come down upon you, and may the power of the Most High kecp you from sin!' Then stretching forth his hands, he invokes upon them the seven gifts of the holy Spirit, whose action is to confirm, in our neophytes, the graces they have reoeived in the font of baptism.

Led by their sponsors, they come, one by one, before the bishop. Their faces express the eagerness, wherewith they long to receive what will make them perfect Christians. The pontiff signs the forehead of each of them with the holy chrism; and by this he imprints an indelible character on the soul. The words he uses are these: ‘I sign thee with the sign of the cross, and I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ Then giving a slight blow on the cheek (which, with the ancients, was the sign of emancipating a slave), he signifies that the neophyte is admitted into the liberty of the children of God; and he says: ‘Peace be with thee!’ The assistant ministers tie a bandlet round the forehead, so that nothing may touch the part which has been anointed with holy chrism. The neophytes have to wear this bandlet until the Saturday following, when they will lay aside the white garments received at their Baptism.

The night has passed away during the solemnization of these sublime mysteries: the hour has come for the glad celebration of the holy Sacrifice in honour of our Lord’s Resurrection from the tomb. It is time for the pastor to lead back to the temple his happy flock, which has received such a glorious addition. It is time for him to give to his dear sheep the divine nourishment, to which they have henceforth a claim. The gates of the baptistery are thrown open, and all return in procession to the church. The Paschal candle, the pillar of fire, goes before the troop of neophytes, whose white robes glitter in the daydawn of Easter. The faithful people follow after the bishop and clergy, and all enter, with an air of triumph, into the church. During the procession, they again chant the canticle that was sung by Moses and the children of Israel after the passage through the Red Sea. The bishop repairs to the secretariurm, where he is robed in the richest vestments of the treasury. During this interval, the cantors recommence the litany, repeating each invocation thrice over. According to the present arrangement of the liturgy, it is sung but once during the whole of to-day’s Service—that is, as soon as the clergy return to the choir after the blessing of the font—and each invocation is sung twice. In churches where there is no font, the litany is sung after the prayer which follows the twelfth prophecy; and as far as the words, Peccatores, te rogamus audi nos, the celebrant and ministers lie prostrate on the altar steps, praying for the neophytes who are this day added to the Church, throughout the world. We here give the litany as it is now sung, with the additions that have been made to it at various times.




Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, eleïson.
Kyrie, eleïson.
Christe, audi nos.
Christe, exaudi nos.
Pater de cœlis, Deus, miserere nobis.
Fili,Redemptor mundi Deus, miserere nobis.
Spiritus sancte, Deus, miserere nobis.
Sancta Trinitas, unus Deus, miserere nobis.
Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis.
Sancta Dei Genitrix, ora pro nobis.
Sancta Virgo virginum, ora pro nobis.
Sancte Michael, ora pro nobis.
Sancte Gabriel,
Sancte Raphael,
Omnes sancti Angeli et Archangeli, orate pro nobis.
Omnes sancti beatorum spirituum ordines, orate pro nobis.
Sancte Joannes Baptista, ora pro nobis.
Sancte Joseph,
Omnes sancti patriarchæ et prophetæ, orate pro nobis
Sancte Petre, ora pro nobis.
Sancte Paule,
Sancte Andrea,
Sancte Joannes,
Omnes sancti apostoli et evangelistæ, orate pro nobis.
Omnes sancti discipuli Domini, orate pro nobis
Sancte Stephane, ora pro nobis.
Sancte Laurenti,
Sancte Vincenti,
Omnes sancti martyres, orate pro nobis.
Sancte Sylvester, ora pro nobis.
Sancte Gregori,
Sancte Augustine,
Omnes sancti pontifices et confessores, orate.
Omnes sancti doctores, orate pro nobis.
Sancte Antoni, ora pro nobis.
Sancte Benedicte,
Sancte Dominice,
Sancte Francisce,
Omnes sancti sacerdotes et levitæ, orate pro nobis.
Omnes sancti monachi et eremitae.
Sancta Maria Magdalena, ora pro nobis.
Sancta Agnes,
Sancta Cæcilia,
Sancta Catharina,
Sancta Agatha,
Sancta Anastasia,
Omnes sanctae virgines et viduæ, orate pro nobis.
Omnes sancti et sanctæ Dei, intercedite pro nobis.
Propitius esto, parce nobis Domine.
Propitius esto, exaudi nos Domine.
Ab omni malo, libera nos Domine.
Ab omni peccato, libera nos Domine.
A morte perpetua, libera nos Domine.
Per mysterium sanctæ Incarnationis tuæ, libera nos Domine.
Per adventum tuum, libera nos Domine.
Per nativitatem tuam, libera nos Domine.
Per baptismum et sanctum jejunium tuum, libera nos Domine.
Per crucem et Passionem tuam, libera nos Domine.
Per mortem et sepulturam tuam, libera nos Domine.
Per sanctam Resurrectionem tuam, libera nos Domine.
Per admirabilem Ascensionem tuam, libera nos Domine.
Per adventum Spiritus Sancti Paracliti, libera nos Domine.
In die judicii, libera nos Domine.
Peccatores, te rogamus audi nos.
Ut nobis parcas, te rogamus audi nos.
Ut Ecclesiam tuam sanctam regere et conservare digneris, te rogamus audi nös.
Ut domnum apostolicum, et omnes ecclesiasticos Ordines, in sancta religione conservare digneris, te rogamus audi nos.
Ut inimicos sanctæ Ecclesiæ humillare digneris, te rogamus audi nos.
Ut regibus et principibus Christiania pacem et veram concordiam donare digneris, te rogamus audi nos.
Ut nosmetipaos in tuo sancto servitio confortare et conservare digneris, te rogamus audi nos.
Ut omnibus benefactoribus nostris sempiterna bona retribuas, te rogamus audi nos.
Ut frac tus terræ dare et conservare digneris, te rogamus audi nos.
Ut omnibus fidelibus defunctis requiem æternam do nare digneris, te rogamus audi nos.
Ut nos exaudire digneris, terogamus audi nos.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, parce nobis Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, exaudi nos Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Christe, audi nos.
Christe, exaudi nos.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father, of heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
Saint Michael, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel,
Saint Raphael,
All ye holy Angels and Archangels,
All ye holy orders of blessed spirits,
Saint John Baptist,
Saint Joseph,
All ye holy patriarchs and prophets,
Saint Peter,
Saint Paul,
Saint Andrew,
Saint John,
All ye holy apostles and evangelists,
All ye holy disciples of our Lord,
Saint Stephen,
Saint Lawrence,
Saint Vincent,
All ye holy martyrs,
Saint Sylvester,
Saint Gregory,
Saint Augustine,
All ye holy bishops and confessors,
All ye holy doctors,
Saint Antony,
Saint Benedict,
Saint Dominic,
Saint Francis,
All ye holy priests and levites,
All ye holy monks and hermits,
Saint Mary Magdalene,
Saint Agnes,
Saint Cecily,
Saint Catharine,
Saint Agatha,
Saint Anastasia,
All ye holy virgins and widows.
All ye saints of God, make intercession for us.
Be merciful to us, spare us, O Lord.
Be merciful to us, graciously hear us, O Lord.
From all evil, deliver us, O Lord.
From all sin, deliver us, O Lord.
From everlasting death,
Through the mystery of thy holy Incarnation,
Through thy coming,
Through thy nativity,
Through thy baptism and holy fasting,
Through thy cross and Passion,
Through thy death and burial,
Through thy holy Resurrection,
Through thy admirable Ascension,
Through the coming of the Holy Ghost the Comforter,
In the day of judgment,
We sinners, beseech thee, hear us.
That thou spare us, we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou vouchsafe to govern and preserve thy holy Church,
That thou vouchsafe to preserve our apostolic Prelate, and ail ecclesiastical Orders, in holy religion,
That thou vouchsafe to humble the enemies of thy holy Church,
That thou vouchsafe to give peace and true concord to Christian kings and princes.
That thou vouchsafe to strengthen and preserve us in thy holy service,
That thou render eternal good things to all our benefactors,
That thou vouchsafe to give and preserve the fruits of the earth,
That thou vouchsafe to give eternal rest to ail the faithful departed,
That thou vouchsafe graciously to hear us,
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.




The solemn litany is drawing to its end, and the choir has already begun its closing invocation, the Kyrie eleison! The pontiff comes forth from the secretarium, with all the pomp that marks the principal feasts of the Church. The chant becomes more majestic, and lingers on the brief words of supplication. Kyrie eleison! thrice to the Father: Christe eleison! thrice to the Son: Kyrie eleison! thrice to the Holy Ghost. During this time, the bishop is reciting, at the foot of the altar, the usual psalm and prayers; and then, ascending to the altar, he offers the homage of incense to the Most High. Hence, an Introit, which on other occasions, is sung by the choir during the procession from the secretarium to the altar, is not needed.

The morning-star has blended its rays with those of our Paschal candle, as the deacon prayed might be; but now, the morning-star itself begins to pale, for the star of day—the figure of our Jesus, the Sun of justice—is soon to rise. The assembly of the faithful people—the men on the right, the women on the left—is now greater than it was at first. The space near the doors, for catechumens, is vacant. In a prominent part of the aisles, we see the neo-phytes, in their white robes and bandlets, and with lighted tapers in their hands.

The censing of the altar is finished: and then— Oh glorious triumph of our risen Jesus!—the pontiff sings forth, in a transport of joy: Gloria in excelsis Deo! The hitherto silent bells peal to the glad angelic hymn. The enthusiasm of our holy faith has mastered every heart, making it beat with emotion. The people take up the heavenly canticle, and continue it to the end; and then the bishop sings the following prayer for the newly baptized:


Deus, qui hanc sacratiseimam noctem gloria Dominicæ Resurrectionis illustras: conserva in nova familiæ tuæ progenie adoptionis Spiriitum quem dedisti: ut corpore et mente renovad, puram tibi exhibeant servitutem. Per eumdem Dominum.
O God, who enlightenest this most sacred night, by the glory of the Resurrection of the Lord; preserve in the new offspring of thy family the spirit of adoption thou hast given them: that being renewed in body and soul, they may serve thee with purity of heart. Through the same, &c.

After the Collect, the subdeacon ascends the Epistle ambo, and chants these impressive words addressed by the great apostle to the neophytes who have just risen, by Baptism, with Christ.


Lectio Epistolæ bead Pauli A postoli ad Colossenses.

Cap. iii.

Fratres: si consurrexistis cum Christo, quæ sursum sunt quærite, ubi Christus est in dextera Dei sedens; quæ sursum sunt sapite, non quæ super terrain. Mortui enim estis: et vita vestra est abscondita cum Christo in Deo. Cum autem Christus apparuerit vita vestra: tunc et vos apparebitis cum ipso in gloria.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Colossians.

Ch. iii.

Brethren: if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life; then you also shall appear with him in glory.

Having chanted these few, but telling, words, the subdeacon comes down from the ambo, and goes to the bishop’s throne. He bows before the pontiff, and thus addresses him; and as’ he speaks, the souls of the faithful, yea, the very walls of the church echo with the joyful tidings: ‘Venerable Father! I bring you tidings of great joy: it is the Alleluia!' The bishop rises and, filled with holy ardour, intones the Alleluia to the well known melody. The choir repeats it after him. Thrice (and each time with an increase of joy) is the heavenly word interchanged between the pontiff and the choir. At this moment all mournfulness is at an end. One feels that God has accepted the expiatory works of our Lent; and that, by the merits of His Son now risen from the grave, He pardons our earth, since He permits us to hear once more the song of heaven. The choir subjoins this verse of the psalm, which celebrates the mercy of Jehovah.

Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus: quoniam in saeculum misericordia ejus.
Praise the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

But something is still wanting to the joy of our Easter. Jesue has risen from the tomb; but, so far, He has not shown Himself to all. His blessed Mother, Magdalene, and the other holy women, are the only ones who have as yet seen Him: it is not till the evening, that He will appear to His apostles. We have but just begun the day. Therefore it is that the Church once more offers her praise to her God, under the lenten formula of the Tract.


Laudate Dominum omnes gentes: et collaudate eum omnes populi.

℣. Quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia ejus: et veritas Domini manet in æternum.
Praise the Lord all ye nations; join in his praise, all ye people.

℣. For his mercy is confirmed upon us; and the truth of the Lord remaineth for ever.

While the choir is singing this psalm to a melody which has something of mournfulness about it, the deacon goes to the ambo, from which he is to chant the Gospel. The acolytes do not accompany him with their torches, but the thurifer goes with him, as usual, with the incense. Here again we have an allusion to the events which took place on this great morning: the women went to the sepulchre, carrying sweet spices with them, but the light of faith in the Resurrection was not as yet in their hearts. The incense signifies their spices, the absence of light signifies their want of faith.


Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xxvii.

Vespere autem Sabbati quae lucescit in prima Sabbati: venit Maria Magdalene, et altera Maria videre sepulchrum. Et ecce terræ mo tus factus est magnus. Angelus enim Domini descendit de cœlo, et accedens revolvit lapidem, et sedebat super eum. Erat autem aspectus ejus, sicut fulgur: et vestimentum ejus, sicut nix. Præ timore autem ejus, exterriti sunt custodes: et facti sunt velut mortui. Respondens autem angelus, dixit mulieribus: Nolite timere vos. Scio enim quod Jesum, qui crucifixus est, quæritis. Non est hic: surrexit enim, sicut dixit. Venite, etvidete locum, ubi positus erat Dominus. Et cito euntes, dicite discipulis ejus, quia surrexit. Etecce præcedit vos in Galilæam; ibi eum videbitis: ecce prædixi vobis.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xxviii.

In the end of the Sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to the sepulchre. And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven: and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it; and his countenance was as lightning, and his raiment as snow. And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror, and became as dead men. And the angel answering, said to the women: Fear not you; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen, as he said. Come and see the place where the Lord was laid. And going quickly, tell ye his disciples that he is risen: and behold he will go before you into Galilee: there you shall see him. Lo, I have foretold it to you.

The bishop does not intone the glorious Symbol of faith: it is reserved for the second Mass, which is to be sung at a later hour in the morning. By this omission of the Creed, the Church would remind us of the hours which elapsed before the apostles, who were to preach to the world the mystery of the Resurrection, had themselves honoured it by their faith.

After having saluted the people with the usual Dominus vobiscum, the pontiff at once proceeds to offer to the divine Majesty the bread and wine, which are to be used in the Sacrifice; and the choir omits the antiphon, called the Offertory, which is sung or recited in every other Mass. The Offertory is intended as a chant to be sung while the people go up to the sanotuary to offer the bread and wine for the holy Sacrifice, which they are to receive, at the Communion, changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. But the Service of Holy Saturday is so long that this ceremony of the offering is omitted. The spirit is as prompt and fervent as ever, but the body begins to feel exhausted; and the little children, who are kept fasting, on account of having to go to holy Communion, show by their cries that they, too, are suffering from want of food. To save time, therefore, the bread and wine, the matter of the Sacrifice, are provided this morning by the Church. The neophytes will, nevertheless, approach to holy Communion, although they themselves have not brought bread and wine to the sanctuary.

After having made an offering, and censed, first the bread and the wine, then the altar, the pontiff recites the Secret, which is followed by the Easter Preface.


Suscipe quæsumus. Domine, preces populi tui cum oblationibus hostiarum: ut Paschalibus initiata mysteriis, ad æternitatis nobis medelam, te operante, proficiant. Per Dominum.
Per omnia sæcula sæculorum.
℟. Amen.

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

℣. Sursum corda.
℟. Habemus ad Dominum.

℣. Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.
℟. Dignum et justum est.
Receive, O Lord, we beseech thee, the prayers of thy people, together with the offering of these hosts, that what is consecrated by these Paschal mysteries, may, by the help of thy grace, avail us to eternal life. Through, &c.
For ever and ever.
℟. Amen.

℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

℣. Lift up your hearts!
℟. We have them fixed on God.

℣. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
℟. It is meet and just.


Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, te quidem Domine, omni tempore, sed in hac potissimum nocte gloriosius prædicare, cum Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus. Ipse euim verus est Agnus, qui abstulit peccata mundi: qui mortem nostram moriendo destruxit, et vitam resurgendo reparavit. Et ideo cum Angelis et Archangelis, cum Thronis et Dominationibus, cumque omni militia cœlestis exercitus, hymnum gloriæ tuæcanimus, sine fine dicentes: Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus.
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, to publish thy praise, O Lord, at all times; but chiefly and more gloriously on this night, when Christ our Pasch is sacrificed. For he is the true Lamb, that has taken away the sins of the world. Who, by dying, destroyed our death, and by rising again, restored us to life. And therefore with the Angels and Archangels, with the Thrones and Dominations, and with all the heavenly host, we sing a hymn to thy glory, saying unceasingly: Holy, holy, holy!

The Canon commences, and the divine mystery is effected. Nothing in the sacred rites is changed, until close upon the Communion. It is a custom, which has come down from the times of the apostles, that, before receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord in Communion, the faithful should give to each other the kiss of peace, saying: ‘Peace be with thee!’ This ceremony is omitted in this first Mass. It was not till the evening of the day of His Resurrection, that Jesus spoke these words to His disciples. Holy Church, reverencing as she does every detail of her Jesus’ life, loves to imitate them in her own practice. For the same reason, she omits the Agnus Dei,[15] which, in its third repetition, has these words: ‘Give us peace.’

And now the moment has come, when our neophytes are to receive, for the first time, the Bread of life and the heavenly Chalice, which were instituted by Jesus at the last Supper. Baptized in water and the Holy Ghost, they have a right to approach the holy Table; and their white robes are the outward expression of their souls’ possessing the wedding garment, which all must have on, who would partake of the Banquet of the Lamb. They go up to the altar with joy and reverence. The deacon gives them the Body of our Lord, and then the Chalice of His precious Blood. The infants are also admitted to Communion: the deacon dips his finger into the Chalice, and then puts it into their innocent mouths. Lastly, to signify that all are now, by their Baptism, those new-born babes of whom St. Peter speaks,[16] they receive after holy Communion a little milk and honey; it is a symbol of infancy, and at the same time, an allusion to the promised land.

The Communion over, the bishop ends the holy Sacrifice with a prayer, in which he beseeches God to unite us all to each other in a spirit of fraternal charity, seeing that we all participate in the celebration of the Pasch. We have all the same mother, the Church; the same font of Baptism has given to us all the same life of grace; we are all members of Jesus, our Head; the same holy Spirit has signed us all with His seal, and the Father has made us all one family by adopting us as His children. The signal for departure being given by the deacon, in the bishop’s name, the faithful leave the church, and return to their homes, there to remain till they reassemble for the holy Sacrifice, which is again to be offered up in a still more solemn celebration of this the Feast of feasts, the Pasch of the Resurrection.




During the centuries, when the Church celebrated the vigil of Easter in the manner we have been describing, Holy Saturday had no Vespers. The vigil began towards the hour of None, and continued, as we have seen, till the early morning of the Sunday. It was not till later—when custom had authorized the anticipation of the Easter mid-night Mass on the morning of Holy Saturday—that this last day of Holy Week was provided with the Office of Vespers. In consequence of the service being so long, the Church made these Vespers as short as possible, and gave them a joyous character, in keeping with the return of the Alleluia. They are drawn up so as to form part of the Mass. They begin immediately aftethe Communion, and the Postcommunion serves as a conclusion both to them and to the Mass itself· This Postcommunion prayer is the one of which we have just been speaking, as terminating the ancient celebration of the Easter vigil.

After the Communion, then, the choir sings the following antiphon and psalm:

Ant. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Ant. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Psalm 116

Laudate Dominum omnes gentes: laudate eum omnes populi.
Quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia ejus: et veritas Domini manet in æternum.
Gloria Patri, &c.

Ant. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him all ye people.
For his mercy is confirmed upon us: and the truth of the Lord remaineth for ever.
Glory, &c.

Ant. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Antiphon of the Magnificat

Vespere autem Sabbati quæ lucescit in prima Sabbati, venit Maria Magdalene, et altera Maria videre sepulchrum, alleluia.
In the evening of the Sabbath which dawns on the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre, alleluia.

During the Magnificat (see page 90), the celebrant censes the altar; and as soon as the antiphon has been repeated, he sings, at the altar, the following prayer:


Spiritum nobis, Domine, tuas chari tat is infunde: ut quos sacramentis Paschalibue satiasti, tua facias pietate concordes. Per Dominum.
Pour forth on us, O Lord, the spirit of thy love; that those whom thou hast filled with the Paschal sacrament, may, by thy goodness, live in perfect concord. Through, &c.

When the deacon turns to the people, to give them the signal for departure, he adds two Allelus to the usual formula. The same is observed in every Mass till the following Saturday inclusively.

℣. Ite missa est, alleluia, alleluia.
℟. Deo gratias, alleluia, alleluia.
℣. Go, the Mass is finished, alleluia, alleluia.
℟. Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia.

The Mass concludes, as usual, with the blessing of the celebrant, and the Gospel of St. John.

Such is the Service of this great Saturday. The prayers and ceremonies are precisely the same as in former times: but its being celebrated so early in the day, and the Baptism of catechumens having ceased to be a part of the function, rendered it almost a necessity that we should have embodied in our explanation the ancient ceremonial, otherwise the faithful would lose much of the meaning and grandeur of to-day’s Service.

During the day, the priest visits the houses of his parishioners, and sprinkles them with the baptismal water, taken from the font before the holy oils were put into it. This pious practice is an allusion to the command given by God to His people, on occasion of the first Passover, that they should mark their houses with the blood of the lamb, as a protection against the destroying angel. In a country like our own, it may be difficult to observe this holy custom; but where it can be done, the faithful should eagerly avail themselves of it, as it brings a special blessing upon our houses.




The description we have been giving of the magnificent ceremonies of Baptism, has made us forget the sepulchre wherein reposes the Body of our crucified Jesus. Let us return thither in thought, for the hour of His Resurrection has not yet come. Let us devote a few moments to meditating on the mystery of the three days, during which the Soul of our Redeemer was separated from His Body. We went, this morning, to visit the tomb, where lies our buried Jesus; we adored that sacred Body, which Magdalene and her companions are preparing to honour, by anointing it early on the morrow. Now let us offer the tribute of our profound adoration to the Soul of our divine Master. It is not in the tomb, where His Body is: let us follow it to the place where it lives during these hours of separation.

In the centre of the earth there are four immense regions, into which no one living can ever enter: it it is only by divine revelation that we know of their existence. The farthest from us is the hell of the damned, the frightful abode where satan and his angels and the reprobate are suffering eternal torments. It is here that the prince of darkness is ever forming his plots against God and His creatures. Nearer to us, is the limbo wherein are detained the souls of children, who departed this world before being regenerated. The opinion which has met most favour from the Church is that these souls suffer no torment; and that, although they can never enjoy the beatific vision, yet are they enjoying a natural happiness, and one that is proportionate to their desires. Above the abode of these children, is the place of expiation, where souls that have departed this life in the state of grace cleanse themselves from any stains of lesser sins, or satisfy for the debt of temporal punishment still due to divine justice. And lastly, still nearer to us, is the limbo where are kept from heaven the saints who died under the old Law. Here are our first parents, Abel, Noe, Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets; the just Gentiles, such as that great saint of Arabia, Job; and those holy personages who were closely connected with our Lord, such as Joachim and Anne, the parents of His blessed Mother, Joseph her spouse and His own foster-father, and John His precursor, together with his holy parents Zachary and Elizabeth.

Until such time as the gate of heaven shall have been opened by the Blood of the Redeemer, none of the just can ascend thither. How holy soever they might have been during this life, they must descend into limbo after death. We meet with innumerable passages of the old Testament, where mention is made of hell (that is, that portion of the regions in the centre of the earth which we call limbo) as being the abode of even the holiest of God’s servants: it is only in the new Testament that heaven is spoken of as being the abode of men. The limbo of the just is not one of torment, beyond that of expectation and captivity. The souls that dwell there are confirmed in grace, and are sure of enjoying, at some future period, an infinite happiness; they resignedly bear this long banishment, which is a consequence of Adam’s sin; and, as they see the time drawing nigh for their deliverance, their joy is beyond all we can imagine.

The Son of God has subjected Himself to every thing, save sin, that our human nature has to suffer or undergo: it is by His Resurrection that He is to triumph, it is by His Ascension alone that He is to open the gates of heaven: hence, His Soul, having been separated from His Body by death, was to descend into the depths of the earth, and become a companion with the holy exiles there. He had said of Himself: ‘The Son of Man shall be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.'[17] What must have been the joy of these countless saints! And how majestic must have been the entrance of our Emmanuel into their abode! No sooner did our Jesus breathe His last upon the cross, than the limbo of the saints was illumined with heavenly splendour. The Soul of the Redeemer, united to the Divinity of the Word, descended thither, and changed it from a place of banishment into a very paradise. Thus did He fulfil the promise He had made to the good thief: ‘This day shalt thou be with Me in paradise'

The happy hour, so long expected by these saints, has come! What tongue could tell their joy, their admiration, and their love, as they behold the Soul of Jesus, who thus comes among them to share and close their exile! He looks complacently on this countless number of His elect, this fruit of four thousand years of His grace, this portion of His Church purchased by His Blood, and to which the merits of His Blood were applied by the mercy of His eternal Father even before it was shed on Calvary! Let us who hope, on our departure from this world, to ascend to Him, who has gone to prepare a place for us in heaven,[18] joyfully congratulate these our holy ancestors. Let us also adore the condescension of our Emmanuel, who deigns to spend these three days in the heart of the earth, that so He might sanctify every condition of our nature, and take upon Himself even what was but a transient state of our existence.

But the Son of God would have this His visit to the regions beneath our earth to be a manifestation of His sovereign power. His soul does not, it is true, descend into the hell of satan, but He makes His power felt there. The prince of this world is now forced to bend his knee and humble himself.[19] In this Jesus, whom he has instigated the Jews to crucify, he now recognizes the Son of God. Man is saved, death is conquered, sin is effaced. Henceforth, it is not to the ‘bosom of Abraham', but to heaven itself, that the souls of the just made perfect shall ascend, there to reign, together with the faithful angels, with Christ their divine Head. The reign of idolatry is to be at an end: the altars, whereon men have offered incense to satan, are to be destroyed. The house of the strong one is to be entered by his divine Adversary, and his goods are to be rifled.[20] The hand-writing of our condemnation is snatched from the serpent.[21] The cross, which he had so exultingly prepared for the Just One, has been his overthrow; or, as St. Anthony so forcibly expresses it, it is the bait thrown out to the leviathan, which he took, and taking it, was conquered.

The Soul of our Jesus makes its presence felt also by the just who dwell in the abode of expiation. It mercifully alleviates their sufferings, and shortens their purgatory. Many of them are delivered altogether, and numbered with the saints in limbo, where they spend the forty days, between this and the Ascension, in the happy expectation of ascending to heaven with their Deliverer. It is not contrary to the principles of faith to suppose, as several learned theologians have taught, that the visit of the Man-God to limbo was a source of blessing and consolation to the abode of unregenerated children, and that they then received a promise that the time would come, when they should be reunited to their bodies, and, after the day of judgment, be placed in a happier land than that in which divine justice now holds them captives.

We adore Thee, O holy Soul of our Redeemer, for having deigned to pass these hours with Thy saints, our fathers, in the heart of the earth. We extol Thy goodness and love shown towards these Thy elect, whom Thou hast made to be Thine own brethren. We give Thee thanks for that Thou didst humble our enemy: oh, give us grace to conquer him! But now, dearest Jesus, it is time for Thee to rise from Thy tomb, and reunite Thy Soul to Thy Body. Heaven and earth await Thy Resurrection; the Church, Thy bride, has already sung the Alleluia of her glad expectation: rise, then, from Thy grave, O Jesus, our Life! Triumph over death, and reign our King for ever!

Let us close our day and our volume with the following Preface, taken from the Ambrosian missal. It is one of the finest pieces of this venerable liturgy, and is the blessing of the Paschal candle. The mystery of this great night is here treated with an eloquenoe and poetry worthy of the subject.


Vere quia dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare nos tibi semper hic et ubique gratias agere, Domine sanete, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus. Qui populorum Pascha cunctorum, non pecudum cruore, nec adipe, sed Unigeniti tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi sanguine, corporeque dedicasti; ut supploso ritu gentis ingratæ legi gratia succederet, et una victima, per semetipsam tuæ Majestati semel oblata, mundi totius expiaret offensam.

Hic est Agnus lapideis præfiguratus in tabulis: non abductus e gregibus, sed evectus e cœlo: non pastore indigene, sed Pastor bonus ipse tantummodo: qui animam suam pro suis posuit ovibus, et rursus assumpsit; ut nobis et humilitatem divina dignatio, et spem resurrectio corporalis ostenderet. Qui coram tondente se non vocem queruli balatus emisit, sed evangelico proclamavit oraculo, dicens: Amodo videbitis Filium hominie sedentem ad dexteram Majestatis. Ipse nobis et te reconciliet, Pater omnipotens, et pari tecum maj estate fultus indulgeat.

Nam quæ patribus in figura contingebant, nobis in veritate proveniunt. Ecce jam ignis columna resplendet, quæ plebem Domini beatæ noctis tempore ad salutaria fluenta præibat: in quibus persecutor mergitur, et Christi populus liberatus emergit. Nam sancti Spiritus unda conceptus, per Adam natus ad mortem, per Christum regignitur ad vitam. Solvamus igitur voluntarle celebrata jejunia, quia Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus: nec solum corpore epulemur Agni, sed etiam inebriemur et sanguine. Hujus enim tantummodo cruor non creat piaculum bibentibue, sed salutem. Ipso quoque vescamur et Azymo, quoniam non de solo pane vivit homo, sed de omni verbo Dei.Siquidem hic est Panis, qui descendit e cœlo, longe præstantior illo quondam mannæ imbre frugifluo, quo tunc Israël epulatus interiit. Hoc vero qui vescitur corpore, vitæ perennis possessor existit.

Ecce vetera transierunt: facta sunt omnia nova. Nam circumcisionis Mosaicæ muero jam scabruit, et Jesu Nave acuta lapidum obsolevit asperitas: Christi vero populus insignitur in fronte, non inguine: lavacro, non vulnere: chrismate, non cruore.

Decet ergo in hoc Domini Salvatoris nostri vespertinæResurrectionis adventu ceream nos adolere pinguedinem, cui suppetit candor in specie, suavitas in odore, splendor in lumine: quæ nec marcescenti liquore defluit, nec offensam tetri nidoris exhalat. Quid enim magis accomodum, magis festivum, quam ut Jesseico flori floreis excubemus et tædie? Præsertim cum et Sapientia de semetipsa cecinerit: Ego sum flos agri, et lilium convallium. Ceras igitur nec pinus exusta desudat, nec crebris sauciata bipennibus cedrus illacrymat; sed est illis arcana de virginitate creatio; et ipsæ transfiguratione nivei candoris albescunt. Eamdem vero papyrum liquida fontis unda producit: quæ instar insontis animæ nullis articulatur sinuata compagibus; sed virginali circumsepta materie fit hospitalis ignibus alumna rivorum.

Decet ergo adventum Sponsi dulcatis Ecclesiam luminaribus opperiri: et largitatem sanctitatis acceptam quanta valet devotionis dote, pensare: nec sanctas interpolare tenebris excubiae; sed tædam sapienter perpetuis præparare luminibus: ne, dum oleum candelis adjungitur, adventum Domini tardo prosequamur obsequio: qui certe in ictu oculi, ut coruscus, adveniet.

Igitur in hujus diei veepere cuneta venerabilis sacramenti plenitudo colligitur: et, quæ diversis sunt præfigurata, vel gesta temporibus, hujus noctis curriculo devoluta supplentur. Nam primum hoc vespertinum lumen, sicut ilia dux Magorum stella, præcedit. Deinde mysticæ regenerationis unda subeequitur, velut, dignante Domino, fluenta Jordanis. Tertio resurrectionem Christi vox apostolica sacerdotis annuntiat. Tum ad totius myeterii supplementum, Christo vescitur turba fidelium. Quæ summi sacerdotis, et antistitis tui Ambrosii oratione sanctificata et meritis, resurrectionis Dominicæ diem, Christo in omnibus prosperante, suscipiat.
Truly it is meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should here and in all places give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God! Thou hast consecrated the Pasch, unto which thou invitest all mankind, not by the gore and fat of sheep, but by the Blood and Flesh of thine only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord: that thus the rite of an ungrateful people being abolished, grace should succeed the law, and the sins of the whole world be expiated by one Victim, offered up once, and by himself, to thy Majesty.

This is the Lamb that was prefigured on tablets of stone. He was not taken from the flock, but was brought from heaven. He needed not a shepherd, but was himself the one Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, and again assumed it, that his divine condescension might show us how to be humble, and his body’s Resurrection teach us to hope. No plaintive voice came from him when under his shearer, but thus spake he the prophecy of his Gospel: 'Hereafter, ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of Majesty.’ May he, O almighty Father! reconcile us with thee, and, by the majesty wherewith he is coequal with thee, may he be merciful unto us.

For those things which happened in figure to our fathers, have become realities to us. Lo! now shineth that pillar of fire, which on that blessed night, went before the people of God, leading to waters that saved them: for in them was the persecutor drowned, and from the same came liberated the people of Christ. Conceived in the stream made fruitful by the Holy Ghost, man, that was born of Adam unto death, is regenerated by Christ unto life. Let us, therefore, bid farewell to the fast we have been voluntarily keeping, for Christ, our Pasch, is slain. Let us not only feast on the Flesh of the Lamb, but let us also be enebriated with his Blood. Yes, let us also eat the Unleavened, for not by bread alone doth man live, but by every word of God. For Christ is the Bread that came down from heaven, more excellent far than that manna of old which fell in abundant showers and of which the Israelites, who then were, ate, yet died. Whereas he that eats of this Body, is made a possessor of everlasting life.

Lo! the old things have passed away: all things are made new. The knife of the Mosaic circumcision has become blunted, and the cruel sharp stone of Josue has gone out of use: but the people of Christ is signed on the forehead, and not secretly; by a Baptism, not by a wound; by chrism, not by blood.

Rightly, therefore, during this night—when we are awaiting the Resurrection of the Lord our Saviour—do we burn a rich waxen torch, whose properties are fair whiteness, sweet fragrance and bright light: which flows not down as it melts, nor sends forth an offensive smell as it burns. For what could be more appropriate, what more festive, than that we should keep watch for the Flower of Jesse with torches that are the juice of flowers? The more so as Wisdom thus sang in her own praise: I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valley.’ Wax is not the sweat that oozes from a burnt pine, nor the tear that trickles from the cedar when wounded with many blows of the axe: it is a mysterious virginal production; and one that is transfigured into the whiteness of snow. Its fount-like melted stream feeds the (wick of) papyrus, which, as a guileless soul, stands, with its unbent, unjointed oneness, surrounded by the virginal substance, and becomes, by the flame, the stream’s much cherished guest.

Therefore doth it behove the Church to await, with sweet lights, the coming of the Spouse, and with all possible devotion, to weigh the holy gift she has received. Holy vigils, such as this, should have no fellowship with darkness. We should be wise, and make the light of our lamp be unceasing; lest, while we are preparing to trim it with oil, our Lord should come, and we be too late to do him homage, for we are assured that he will come in the twinkling of the eye, as a flash of light.

Therefore, this day's evening is rich in the fulness of the most august mysteries, which, though prefigured or accomplished at various times, are all brought before us during the course of this night. For firstly, we have this evening torch, which leads the way, as did the star that guided the Magi. Then follows the font of spiritual regeneration, as it were the river of Jordan, in which our Lord vouchsafed to be baptized. Thirdly, we have the priest’s apostolic words announcing the Resurrection of Christ. Then, to complete the mysteries, the faithful flock feeds on the flesh of Christ. Being sanctified by the prayer and merits of thy high priest and pontiff Ambrose, and being prospered in all things by Christ, may this flock enjoy the day of our Lord’s Resurrection.


End of Passiontide and Holy Week

[1] Col. i. 20.
[2] Rom. v. 12.
[3] 2 Cor. v. 21.
[4] Phil. ii. 7.
[5] Prov. xxxi. 18.
[6] St. John viii. 12.
[7] 1 St. Peter ii. 6.
[8] Eph. ii. 20.
[9] Is. xxviii. 16.
[10] St. Matt. xi. 27.
[11] St. Matt. xi. 27.
[12] The words here put in parentheses are said only in those countries, which are subject to the emperor of Austria. See above, page 482.
[13] Rom. vi. 4.
[14] Cant. iv. 2.
[15] This formula does not date beyond the seventh century.
[16] 1 St. Peter ii. 2.
[17] St. Matt. xii. 40.
[18] St. John xiv. 2.
[19] Phil. ii. 10.
[20] St. Matt. xii. 29.
[21] Col. ii. 14.