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Fourth Week after Easter

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE Easter mysteries are superseded to-day by a special subject, which is offered for our consideration. The holy Church invites us to spend this day in honouring the Spouse of Mary, the Foster-Father of the Son of God. And yet, as we offered him the yearly tribute of our devotion on March 19, it is not, properly speaking, his feast that we are to celebrate to-day. It is a solemn expression of gratitude offered to Joseph, the Protector of the Faithful, the refuge and support of all that invoke him with confidence. The innumerable favours he has bestowed upon the world entitle him to this additional homage. With a view to her children's interests, the Church would, on this day, excite their confidence in this powerful and everready helper.

Devotion to St Joseph was reserved for these latter times. Though based on the Gospel, it was not to be developed in the early ages of the Church. It is not that the faithful were in any way checked from showing honour to him who had been called to take so important a part in the mystery of the Incarnation; but divine Providence had its hidden reasons for retarding the liturgical homage to be paid, each year, to the Spouse of Mary. As on other occasions, so here also; the East preceded the West in the special cultusof St Joseph: but in the fifteenth century the whole Latin Church adopted it, and since that time it has gradually gained the affections of the faithful. We have treated of the glories of St Joseph on March 19; the present feast has its own special object, which we will at once proceed to explain.

The goodness of God and our Redeemer's fidelity to his promises have ever kept pace with the necessities of the world; so that in every age appropriate and special aid has been given to the world for its maintaining the supernatural life. An uninterrupted succession of seasonable grace has been the result of this merciful dispensation, and each generation has had given to it a special motive for confidence in its Redeemer. Dating from the thirteenth century, when, as the Church herself assures us, the world began to grow cold,[1] each epoch has had thrown open to it a new source of graces. First of all came the feast of the most Blessed Sacrament, with its successive developments of Processions, Expositions, Benedictions and the Forty Hours. After this followed the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus (of which St Bernardine of Siena was the chief propagator) and that of Via Crucis or Stations of the Cross. with its wonderful fruit of compunction. The practice of frequent Communion was revived in the sixteenth century, owing principally to the influence of St Ignatius and the Society founded by him. In the seventeenth was promulgated the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was firmly established in the following century. In the nineteenth, devotion to the Holy Mother of God made such progress as to form one of the leading supernatural characteristics of the period. The Rosary and Scapular, which had been handed down to us in previous ages, regained their place in the affections of the people; pilgrimages to the sanctuaries of the Mother of God, which had been interrupted by the influence of Jansenism and rationalism, were renewed; the Archconfraternity of the Sacred Heart of Mary spread throughout the whole world; numerous miracles were wrought in reward for the fervent faith of individuals; in a word, the nineteenth century witnessed the triumph of the Immaculate Conception—a triumph which had been looked forward to for many previous ages.

Now devotion to Mary could never go on increasing as it has done, without bringing with it a fervent devotion to St Joseph. We cannot separate Mary and Joseph, were it only for their having such close connection with the mystery of the Incarnation—Mary, as being the Mother of the Son of God; and Joseph, as being guardian of the Virgin’s spotless honour, and Foster-Father of the divine Babe. A special veneration for St Joseph was the result of increased devotion to Mary. Nor is this reverence for Mary's Spouse to be considered only as a just homage paid to his admirable prerogatives: it is, moreover, a fresh and exhaustless source of help to the world, for Joseph has been made our protector by the Son of God himself. Hearken to the inspired words of the Church’s Liturgy: ‘Thou, O Joseph! art the delight of the blessed, the sure hope of our life, and the pillar of the world.’[2]Extraordinary as is this power, need we be surprised at its being given to a man like Joseph, whose connections with the Son of God on earth were so far above those of all other men? Jesus deigned to be subject to Joseph here below; now that he is in heaven, he would glorify the creature to whom he consigned the guardianship of his own childhood and the honour of his Mother. He has given him a power which is above our calculations. Hence it is, that the Church invites us on this day to have recourse, with unreserved confidence, to this all-powerful protector. The world we live in is filled with miseries which would make stronger hearts than ours quake with fear; but let us invoke St Joseph with faith, and we shall be protected. In all our necessities, whether of soul or body—in all the trials and anxieties we may have to go through—let us have recourse to St Joseph, and we shall not be disappointed. The king of Egypt said to his people when they were suffering from famine: Go to Joseph![3] the King of Heaven says the same to us: the faithful guardian of Mary has greater influence with God than Jacob's son had with Pharaoh.

As usual, God revealed this new spiritual aid to a privileged soul, that she might be the instrument of its propagation. It was thus that were instituted several feasts, such as those of Corpus Christi, and of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the sixteenth century St Teresa (whose writings were to have a world-wide circulation) was instructed by heaven as to the efficacy of devotion to St Joseph: she has spoken of it in the Life (written by herself) of Teresa of Jesus. When we remember that it was by the Carmelite Order (brought into the Western Church in the thirteenth century) that this devotion was established among us, we cannot be surprised that God should have chosen St Teresa, who was the reformer of that Order, to propagate the same devotion in this part of the world. The holy solitaries of Mount Carmel—devoted as they had been, for so many centuries, to the love of Mary—were not slow in feeling the connection that exists between the honour paid to the Mother of God and that which is due to her virginal Spouse. The more we understand St Joseph’s office, the clearer will be our knowledge of the divine mystery of the Incarnation. As when the Son of God assumed our human nature, he would have a Mother; so also would he give to his Mother a protector. Jesus, Mary and Joseph—these are the three whom the ineffable mystery is continually bringing before our minds.

The words of St Teresa are as follows: 'I took for my patron and lord the glorious St Joseph, and recommended myself earnestly to him. I saw clearly . . . that he rendered me greater services than I knew how to ask for. I cannot call to mind that I have ever asked him at any time for anything which he has not granted: and I am filled with amazement, when I consider the great favours which God hath given me through this blessed Saint, the dangers from which he hath delivered me, both of body and soul. To other Saints, our Lord seems to have given grace to succour men in some special necessity; but to this glorious Saint, I know by experience, to help us in all: and our Lord would have us understand that, as he was himself subject to him upon earth—for St Joseph having the title of father, and being his guardian, could command him—so now in heaven he performs all his petitions. I have asked others to recommend themselves to St Joseph, and they too know this by experience; and there are many who are now of late devout to him, having had experience of this truth.'[4]

We might quote several other equally clear and fervent words from the writings of this seraphic virgin. The faithful could not remain indifferent to such teaching as this. The seed thus sown produced its fruit; slowly, it is true, but surely. Even in the first half of the seventeenth century, there prevailed amidst the devout clients of St Joseph a presentiment that the day would come when the Church, through her Liturgy, would urge the faithful to have recourse to him as their powerful Protector. In a book published in the year 1645, we find these almost prophetic words: ‘O thou bright sun, thou father of our days! speed thy onward course, and give us that happy day, whereon are to be fulfilled the prophecies of the saints. They have said, that in the latter ages of the world, the glories of St Joseph will be brought to light; that God will draw aside the veil, which has hitherto prevented us from seeing the wondrous sanctuary of Joseph's soul; that the Holy Ghost will inspire the faithful to proclaim the praises of this admirable Saint, and to build monasteries, churches and altars in his honour; that, throughout the entire kingdom of the Church militant, he shall be considered as the special protector, for he was the protector of the very Founder of that kingdom, namely, our Lord Jesus Christ; that the Sovereign Pontiffs will, by a secret impulse from heaven, ordain that the feast of this great Patriarch be solemnly celebrated through the length and breadth of the spiritual domain of St Peter; that the most learned men of the world will use their talents in studying the divine gifts hidden in St Joseph, and that they will find in him treasures of grace incomparably more precious and plentiful than were possessed by even the choicest of the elect of the Old Testament, during the whole four thousand years of its duration.'[5]

These ardent wishes have been fulfilled. It is now more than a century ago that the Carmelites sought and obtained the approbation of the Holy See for an Office in honour of the Patronage of St Joseph. A great number of dioceses obtained permission to use it. A Sunday was selected for the celebration of this new feast, in order that the faithful might be, in a way, compelled to keep it; for the Feast of St Joseph in March is not a day of obligation in all lands, and, as it always falls during Lent, it cannot be kept on a Sunday, since the Sundays of Lent exclude a feast of that rite. That the new feast might not be attended with the same risk of being unnoticed, it was put upon a Sunday —the third Sunday after Easter, that thus the consolations of such a solemnity might be blended with the Paschal joys. The new feast went on gradually spreading from one diocese to another; till at last, there was unexpectedly issued an Apostolic Decree, dated September 10, 1847, which ordered it to be kept throughout Christendom. The Church was on the eve of severe trials; and her glorious Pontiff, Pius IX, by a sacred instinct, was prompted to draw down on the flock entrusted to him the powerful protection of St Joseph, who assuredly has never had greater miseries and dangers to avert from the world, than those which threaten the present age.

Let us, then, henceforth have confidence in the patronage of St Joseph. He is the father of the faithful, and it is God's will that he, more than any other saint, should have power to apply to us the blessings of the mystery of the Incarnation—the great mystery whereof he, after Mary, was the chief earthly minister.

In the Greek Liturgy this third Sunday after Easter is called the Sunday of the Paralytic, because a special commemoration is made of the miracle wrought by our Saviour at the Probatica.

The Roman Church begins to-day, in her Office of Matins, the Book of St John's Apocalypse.

 

MASS

 

On this feast, dedicated to St Joseph as Protector of the Faithful, the Church, in the Introit of the Mass, speaks to us of the confidence we should have in the protection of God; she uses the words of the royal Prophet, and would have us make them our own. Now Si Joseph is the minister of this divine protection, and God promises it to us, if we address ourselves to this his incomparable servant.

Introit

Adjutor et protector noster est Dominus: in eo laetabitur cor nostrum: et in nomine sancto ejus speravimus. Alleluia, alleluia.
Ps. Qui regis Israel, intende: qui deducis velut ovem Joseph, ℣. Gloria Patri.
Adjutor.
The Lord is our helper and protector: in him shall our heart rejoice: and in his holy name we have trusted. Alleluia, alleluia.
Ps. Give ear, O thou that rulest Israel: thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep. ℣. Glory, etc.
The Lord, etc.

In the Collect, the Church lays stress upon God's choosing St Joseph as Mary's Spouse, and teaches us that one of the consequences of this choice was our having a protector who will be ready to assist us by his all-powerful intercession, as often as we pray to him.

Collect

Deus, qui ineffabili providentia beatum Joseph sanctissimæ Genitricis tuae sponsum eligere dignatus es: praesta, quæsumus, ut, quem Protectorem veneramur in terris, intercessorem habere mereamur in cœlis. Qui vivis.
O God, who by thy unspeakable providence didst vouchsafe to choose blessed Joseph to be the Spouse of thy most holy Mother: grant that as we venerate him for our Protector on earth, we may deserve to be aided by his intercession in heaven. Who livest, etc.

If this feast be kept on the Sunday, a commemoration of the third Sunday after Easter is then made, by this Collect:

Deus, qui errantibus, ut in viam possint redire justitiae, veritatis tuae lumen ostendis: da cunctis, qui Christiana professione censentur, et illa respuere quæ huic inimica sunt nomini; et ea quæ sunt apta sectari. Per Dominum.
O God, who showest the light of thy truth to such as go astray, that they may return to the way of righteousness: grant that all, who profess the Christian name, may forsake whatever is contrary to that profession, and closely pursue what is agreeable to it. Through, etc.

Epistle

Lectio libri Genesis.

Cap. xlix.

Filius accrescens Joseph, filius accrescens et decorus aspectu: filiae discurrerunt super murum. Sed exasperaverunt eum, et jurgati sunt, invideruntque illi habentes jacula. Sedit in forti arcus ejus, et dissoluta sunt vincula brachiorum et manuum illius per manus potentis Jacob: inde pastor egressus est lapis Israel. Deus patris tui erit adjutor tuus, et omnipotens benedicet tibi benedictionibus cœli desuper. Benedictionibus abyssi jacentis deorsum, benedictionibus uberum et vulvae. Benedictiones patris tui confortatae sunt benedictionibus patrum ejus: donec veniret desiderium collium aeternorum: fiant in capite Joseph, et in vertice Nazaræi inter fratres suos.
Lesson from the book of Genesis.

Ch. xlix.

Joseph is a growing son, a growing son and comely to behold: the daughters run to and fro upon the wall. But they that held darts, provoked him, and quarrelled with him, and envied him. His bow rested upon the strong, and the bands of his arms and his hands were loosed, by the hands of the mighty one of Jacob: thence he came forth a Shepherd, the stone of Israel. The God of thy father shall be thy helper, and the Almighty shall bless thee with the blessings of heaven above, with the blessings of the deep that lieth beneath, with the blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of thy father are strengthened with the blessings of his fathers: until the Desire of the everlasting hills shall come: may they be upon the head of Joseph, and upon the crown of the Nazarite among his brethren.

This magnificent prophecy of the dying Jacob, wherein he makes known to his son Joseph the glorious destiny which awaits himself and his children, is most appropriate to this feast; it reminds us of the beautiful comparison drawn by St Bernard between the two Josephs. We refer our readers to March 19, where they will find the passage to which we allude, and in which we are told that the first Joseph was a type of the second. After prophesying what was to happen to his ten eldest sons, the Patriarch Jacob speaks, with marked partiality, concerning the son of Rachel. After speaking of his comeliness, he alludes to the persecution he received from his brothers, and to the wondrous ways whereby God delivered him out of their hands, and exalted him to glory and power. The words he uses may well be applied to the second Joseph, the Spouse of Mary, and the Protector of the Faithful; for who better deserves the title of Shepherd and Stone (i.e., strength) of Israel? We are all of us his family: he affectionately watches over us: and in our troubles we may rely upon him with all confidence, as our staunch unfailing defender. St Joseph's inheritance is the Church, sanctified and made fruitful by the ceaseless blessing of the Waters of Baptism; it is in the Church that he exercises his beneficent power upon all who confide in him. Jacob promised the most lavish blessings upon the first Joseph; and these blessings were to last till the Saviour, thedesire of the everlasting hills should come, when the second Joseph would begin his ministry—a ministry of help and protection, which would continue till the second coming of the Son of God. Finally, if the first Joseph be spoken of, in this prophecy, as a Nazarite (that is, one consecrated to God) and as a Saint among his Brethren, the second Joseph is to fulfil the prediction still more literally; for not only will his sanctity surpass that of Jacob’s son, but his very home will be Nazareth. In that city he will dwell with Mary; to that city he will return after the exile in Egypt; in that city he will terminate his holy career; in a word, Jesus, the Eternal Word, shall be called a Nazarite,[6] because he is to live in that city with his Foster-Father.

In the first Alleluia-Versicle, we have St Joseph speaking to us; he encourages us to have recourse to him, and promises us untiring protection. In the second the Church prays for her children, that they may have the grace to imitate the purity of Mary’s Spouse: her prayer is addressed to him.

Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. De quacumque tribulatione clamaverint ad me, exaudiam eos; et ero protector eorum semper.
Alleluia. ℣. Fac nos innocuam, Joseph, decurrere vitam, sitque tuo semper tuta patrocinio. Alleluia.
Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. In whatever tribulation they shall cry to me, I will hear them; and I will be their protector for ever.
Alleluia. ℣. Obtain for us, O Joseph, to lead an innocent life; and may it ever be safe through thy Patronage. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Capiii.

In illo tempore: Factum est autem cum baptizaretur omnis populus, et Jesu baptizato et orante, apertum est cœlum: et descendit Spiritus Sanctus corporali specie sicut columba in ipsum: et vox de coelo facta est: Tu es Filius meus dilectus, in te complacui mihi. Et ipse Jesus erat incipiens quasi annorum triginta, ut putabatur, filius Joseph.
Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. iii.

At that time: It came to pass, when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, heaven was opened: and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, as a dove, upon him: and a voice came from heaven: Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. And Jesus himself was beginning about the age of thirty years: being, as it was supposed, the son of Joseph.

Beingas it was supposedthe Son of Joseph! Jesus’ filial affection for his Mother, his jealousy for the honour of the purest of Virgins, led him to treat Joseph as his father, and to allow himself to be called the Son of Joseph! Joseph heard the Son of God call him ‘father.’ He had charge of, he laboured for the maintenance of the Son of the Eternal Father. He was the head of the Holy Family at Nazareth, and Jesus recognized his authority. The plan of the Mystery of the Incarnation required that these relations should exist between the Creator and the Creature. As the Son of God, now that he is seated at the right hand of the Eternal Father, has kept our human nature indissolubly united with his divine Person; so likewise has he retained the feelings he had, when here on earth, for Mary and Joseph. With regard to Mary, his love for her, as his Mother, has but increased; and as to Joseph, it is impossible to suppose that the affection and respect he had for him have now ceased to exist in the Heart of the Man-God. No mortal was ever on such terms of intimacy and familiarity with Jesus as Joseph was. Jesus was grateful to Joseph for the paternal care he received from him; what more natural than to believe that Jesus now repays him with special honours and power in heaven? It is the belief of the Church; it is the conviction of the faithful; it is the motive which suggested the present feast.

The words of the Offertory are taken from Psalm 147. Jerusalem, that is, the Church, is bidden to rejoice, because of the means of defence which God has given her against her enemies. One of the greatest of the blessings thus conferred upon her is St Joseph's Protection.

Offertory

Lauda Jerusalem Dominum, quoniam confortavit seras portarum tuarum: benedixit filiis tuis in te. Alleluia, alleluia.
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem because he hath strengthened the bolts of thy gates: he hath blessed thy children within thee. Alleluia, alleluia.

In the Secret, the Church prays that we may imitate the Carpenter of Nazareth in his detachment from earthly things.

Secret

Sanctissimæ Genitricis tuæ Sponsi patrocinio suffulti, rogamus, Domine, clementiam tuam, ut corda nostra facias terrena cuncta despicere: ac te verum Deum perfecta charitate diligere: Qui vivis.
Supported by the Patronage of the Spouse of thy most holy Mother, we beseech thy clemency, O Lord, that thou wouldst make our hearts despise all earthly things, and love thee, the true God, with perfect charity. Who livest, etc.

Then a commemoration of the Third Sunday after Easter is made, if required, by the following Secret: 

Secret

His nobis, Domine, mysteriis conferatur, quo terrena desideria mitigantes, discamus amare coelestia. Per Dominum.
By these mysteries, O Lord, may we be enabled to moderate our earthly desires, and learn to love those that are heavenly. Through, etc.

The proper Preface that follows has recently been granted by the Holy See for use in all Masses of St Joseph:

Preface

Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper, et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus. Et te in Festivitate beati Joseph debitis magnificare praeconiis, benedicere et praedicare. Qui et vir justus, a te Deiparae Virgini sponsus est datus: et fidelis. servus ac prudens, super Familiam tuam est, constitutus; ut Unigenitum tuum, Sancti Spiritus obumbratione conceptum, paterna vice custodiret, Jesum Christum, Dominum nostrum. Per quem, etc.
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, Father almighty, eternal God. And to magnify thee with meet acclamation, to bless and praise thee on the Feast of blessed Joseph. Who, being a just man, was given by thee to the Virgin Mother of God for her spouse; and, as a faithful and wise servant, was set over thy family; that he might guard in a father’s place thine only-begotten Son, conceived by the over-shadowing of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ our Lord. By whom, etc.

The Communion-Anthem is a sentence taken from St Matthew’s Gospel, wherein we find the glorious title of our holy Protector: Josephthe husband of Mary; and the still more glorious one of Mary: Of whom was bom Jesus. 

Communion

Jacob autem genuit Joseph virum Mariae, de qua natus est Jesus, qui vocatur Christus, alleluia.
But Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was bom Jesus, who is called Christ, alleluia.

Holy Church prays, in the Post communion, that St Joseph, who is our Protector during this present life, may intercede for us in what concerns our eternal welfare. 

Postcommunion

Divini muneris fonte refecti, quæsumus, Domine Deus noster; ut, sicut nos facis beati Joseph protectione gaudere, ita ejus meritis et intercessione, coelestis gloriae facias esse participes. Per Dominum.
Refreshed at the fountain of divine blessings, we beseech thee, O Lord, our God; that, as thou makest us rejoice in the Protection of blessed Joseph, so by his merits and intercession, thou wouldst make us partakers of celestial glory. Through, etc.

The priest then adds, if need be, this commemoration of the Third Sunday after Easter:

Postcommunion

Sacramenta, quæ sumpsimus, quæsumus, Domine, et spiritualibus nos instaurent alimentis, et corporalibus tueantur auxiliis. Per Dominum.
May the Sacrament we have received, O Lord, both revive us with spiritual nourishment, and defend us by bodily succour. Through, etc.

The following Gospel of the Third Sunday after Easter is read at the end of Mass.

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.

Cap. xvi.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Modicum, et jam non videbitis me, et iterum modicum, et videbitis me: quia vado ad Patrem. Dixerunt ergo ex discipulis ejus ad invicem: Quid est hoc, quod dicit nobis: Modicum, et non videbitis me, et iterum modicum, et videbitis me, et quia vado ad Patrem? Dicebant ergo: Quid est hoc, quod dicit, Modicum? nescimus quid loquitur. Cognovit autem Jesus, quia volebant eum interrogare, et dixit eis: De hoc quæritis inter vos, quia dixi, Modicum, et non videbitis me: et iterum modicum, et videbitis me? Amen, amen dico vobis: quia plorabitis, et flebitis vos, mundus autem gaudebit: vos vero contristabimini, sed tristitia vestra vertetur in gaudium. Mulier cum parit, tristitiam habet, quia venit hora ejus: cum autem pepererit puerum, jam non meminit pressurae propter gaudium: quia natus est homo in mundum. Et vos igitur nunc quidem tristitiam habetis; iterum autem videbo vos, et gaudebit cor vestrum: et gaudium vestrum nemo tollet a vobis.

℟. Deo gratias.
Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to John.

Ch. xvi.

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: A little while, and now you shall not see me: and again a little while, and you shall see me; because I go to the Father. Then some of his disciples said one to another: What is this he saith to us: A little while, and you shall not see me: and again a little while, and you shall see me, and because I go to the Father? They said therefore: What is this that he saith: A little while? we know not what he speaketh. And Jesus knew that they had a mind to ask him; and he said to them: Of this do you inquire among yourselves, because I said: a little while, and you shall not see me; and again, a little while, and you shall see me? Amen, amen, I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice: and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in labour, hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but when she hath brought forth the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is bom into the world. So also you now indeed have sorrow but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from you.

℟. Thanks be to God.

 

VESPERS

 

Ant. Jacob autem genuit Joseph virum Mariae, de qua natus est Jesus, qui vocatur Christus, alleluia.
Ant. But Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ, alleluia.

 Psalm, Dixit Dominus, page 82


Ant. Missus est Angelus Gabriel a Deo in civitatem Galilææ cui nomen Nazareth, ad virginem desponsatam viro cui nomen erat Joseph, alleluia.
Ant. The Angel Gabriel was sent from God, into a city of Galilee called Nazareth, to a Virgin, espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, alleluia.

PsalmConfitebor, page 83


Ant. Ascendit autem Joseph a Galilæa, de civitate Nazareth, in Judaeam, in civitatem David, quæ vocatur Bethlehem, alleluia.
Ant. But Joseph went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, alleluia.

PsalmBeatus vir, page 84


Ant. Et venerunt festinantes, et invenerunt Mariam et Joseph et infantem positum in præsepio. Alleluia, alleluia.
Ant. And they came with haste, and they found Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying in the manger. Alleluia, alleluia.

PsalmLaudate pueri, page 85


Ant. Et ipse Jesus erat incipiens quasi annorum triginta, ut putabatur, filius Joseph, alleluia.
Ant. And Jesus himself was beginning about the age of thirty years, being, as it was supposed, the son of Joseph, alleluia.

Psalm 116

Laudate Dominum omnes gentes: * laudate eum omnes populi.
Quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia ejus: * et veritas Domini manet in æternum.
O 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.

Capitulum
(Gen. xlix)

Benedictiones patris tui confortatae sunt benedictionibus patrum ejus, donec veniret desiderium collium aeternorum; fiant in capite Joseph et in vertice Nazaræi inter fratres suos.
The blessings of thy father are strengthened with the blessings of his fathers, until the Desire of the everlasting hills shall come; may they be upon the head of Joseph, and upon the crown of the Nazarite among his brethren.

Hymn[7]

Te, Joseph, celebrent agmina cœlitum;
Te cuncti resonent christiadum chori,
Qui clarus meritis junctus es inclytæ
Casto fœdere Virgini.

Almo cum tumidam germine Conjugem.
Admirans, dubio tangeris anxius,
Afflatu superi Flaminis Angelus
Conceptum puerum docet.

Tu natum Dominum stringis; ad exteras
Ægypti profugum tu sequeris plagas:
Amissum Solymis quæris, et invenis,
Miscens gaudia fletibus.

Post mortem reliquos mors pia consecrat,
Palmamque emeritos gloria suscipit;
Tu vivens, Superis par, frueris Deo,
Mira sorte beatior.

Nobis, summa Trias, parce precantibus,
Da Joseph meritis sidera scandere:
Ut tandem liceat nos tibi perpetim
Gratum promere canticum.

Amen.

℣. Sub umbra illius quem desideraveram sedi, alleluia.
℟. Et fructus ejus dulcis gutturi meo, alleluia.
May the heavenly host praise thee, O Joseph!
May the choirs of Christendom resound with thy name,
for great are thy merits,
who wast united by a chaste alliance to the holy Virgin.

Seeing that thy Spouse was soon to be a Mother,
a cruel doubt afflicts thy heart;
but an Angel visits thee, telling thee that she had conceived
of the Holy Ghost the Child she bore in her womb.

Where Jesus was born, thou hadst to take him in thine arms,
and go with the little fugitive to Egypt’s distant land.
When he was lost in Jerusalem, thou didst seek after him;
and having found him, thy tears were mingled with joy.

Other saints receive their beatitude after death, when a holy death
has crowned their life; they receive their glory when they have won the palm:
but thou, by a strangely happy lot, hadst, even during life, what the blessed have
in heaven —thou hadst the sweet society of thy God.

O Sovereign Trinity! have mercy on us thy suppliants,
and may the intercession of Joseph aid us to reach heaven;
that there we may sing to thee
our eternal hymn of grateful love.

Amen.

℣. I sat down under his shadow, whom I desired, alleluia.
℟. And his fruit was sweet to my palate, alleluia.

Antiphon of the Magnificat

Ant. Fili, quid fecisti nobis sic? Ecce pater tuus et ego dolentes quærebamus te, alleluia.

Oremus.

Deus, qui ineffabili providentia beatum Joseph sanctissimae Genitricis tuæ sponsum eligere dignatus es, præsta quæsumus; ut, quem protectorem veneramur in terris, intercessorem habere mereamur in cœlis. Qui vivis.



Ant. Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing, alleluia.

Let us Pray.

O God, who by thy unspeakable providence didst vouchsafe to choose blessed Joseph to be the Spouse of thy most holy Mother; grant that, as we venerate him for our Protector on earth, we may deserve to be aided by his intercession in heaven. Who livest, etc.

A commemoration is then made of the Third Sunday after Easter, if necessary, by the following Antiphon, Versicle, and Prayer:

Ant. Amen dico vobis; quia plorabitis et flebitis vos: mundus autem gaudebit, vos vero contristabimini; sed tristitia vestra vertetur in gaudium, alleluia.

℣. Mane nobiscum, Domine, alleluia.
℟. Quoniam advesperascit, alleluia.

Oremus.

Deus, qui errantibus, ut in viam possint redire justitiae, veritatis tuæ lumen ostendis; da cunctis qui Christiana professione censentur, et illa respuere quæ huic inimica sunt nomini, et ea quæ sunt apta sectari. Per Dominum.
Ant. Amen, I say to you: that ye shall lament and weep: but the world shall rejoice, and ye shall be made sorrowful; but your sorrow shall be turned into joy, alleluia.

℣. Stay with us, O Lord, alleluia.
℟. For the evening cometh on, alleluia.

Let us Pray.

O God, who showest the light of thy truth to such as go astray, that they may return to the way of righteousness: grant, that all, who profess the Christian name, may forsake whatever is contrary to that profession, and closely pursue what is agreeable to it. Through, etc.

Many ages passed away, and thy glories had not been made known to the world; but even then, thou wast one of mankind's most powerful intercessors. Most affectionately didst thou fulfil thy office as head of the great human family, whereof the Incarnate Word was a member. Nations and individuals experienced the benefit of thy prayers; but there was not the public acknowledgement of thy favours—there was not the homage of gratitude, which is now offered to thee. The more perfect knowledge of thy glories, and the honour paid to thee as the Protector of mankind—these were reserved for our own unhappy times, when the state of the world is such as to require help beyond that which was granted to former ages. We come before thee, O Joseph! to honour the unlimited power of thine intercession, and the love thou bearest for all the children of the Church, the Brethren of Jesus.

Thou, O Mary! art pleased at seeing us honour him, whom thou didst so tenderly love. Never are our prayers so welcome to thee as when they are presented to thee by his hands. The union formed by heaven between thyself and Joseph will last for all eternity; and the unbounded love thou hast for Jesus is an additional motive for thee to love him who was the FosterFather of thy Child, and the guardian of thy Virginity. O Joseph! we also are the children of Mary, thy Spouse; treat us as such, bless us, watch over us, and receive the prayers which, now more than ever, the Church encourages us to present to thee.

Thou art ‘the pillar of the world'—columen mundi; thou art one of the foundations whereon it rests; because of thy merits and prayers, our Lord has patience with it, in spite of the iniquities which defile it. How truly may we say of these our times: There is now no saint; truths arc decayed from among the children of men![8] How powerful then must not thine intercession be, to avert the indignation of God, and induce him to show us his mercy! Grow not weary of thy labour, O thou universal Protector! The Church of thy Jesus comes before thee on this day, beseeching thee to persevere in thy task of love. See this world of ours, now it is become one great volcano of danger by the boasted liberty granted to sin and heresy! Delay not thine aid, but quickly procure for us what will give us security and peace.

Whatever may be our necessities, thou art willing and able to assist us. We may be the poorest and last among the children of the Church; it matters not: thou lovest us with all the affectionate compassion of a Father. What a joy is not this to our hearts, O Joseph! We will therefore turn to thee in our spiritual wants. We will beg thee to assist us in gaining the virtues whereof we stand in need, in the battles we have to fight against the enemies of our souls, and in the sacrifices which duty asks at our hands. Make us worthy to be called thy children, O thou Father of the Faithful! Nor is thy power limited to what regards our eternal welfare; daily experience shows us how readily thou canst procure for us the blessing of God upon our temporal interests, provided they are in accordance with his divine will. Hence it is that we hope for thy protection and aid in what concerns our worldly prospects. The house of Nazareth was confided to thy care; deign to give counsel and help to all them that make thee the patron of all that regards their earthly well-being.

Glorious Guardian of the Holy Family! the family of Christendom is placed under thy special patronage; watch over it in these troubled times. Hear the prayers of them that seek thine aid, when about to choose the partner who is to share with them the joys and the sorrows of this world, and help them to prepare for their passage to eternity. Maintain between husbands and wives that mutual respect which is the safeguard of their fidelity to each other. Obtain for them the pledge of heaven’s blessings. Fill them with such reverence for the holy state to which they have been called, that they may never deserve the reproach given by St Paul to certain married people of that day, whom he compares to heathens, who know not God.[9]

Grant us, also, O Joseph, another favour. There is one moment of our lives which is the most important of all, since eternity depends upon it: it is the moment of our death. And yet we feel our fear abated by the thought that God’s mercy has made thee the special patron of the dying. Thou hast been entrusted with the office of making death happy and holy to those who invoke thee. To whom could such a prerogative have been given more appropriately than to thee, O Joseph! whose admirable death was one of the sublimest spectacles ever witnessed by angels or by men, for Jesus and Mary were by thy side as thou didst breathe forth thy soul. Be, then, our helper at that awful hour of our death. We hope to have Mary’s protection, for we daily pray to her that she would aid us at the hour of our death; but we know that Mary is pleased at our having confidence in thee, and that where thou art, she also is sure to be. Encouraged by thy fatherly love, O Joseph! we will calmly await the coming of our last hour; for if we are careful in recommending it to thee, thou wilt not fail to take it under thy protection.

The gladness of to-day’s feast has been united with the Paschal joy: still, it is but just that the latter should have its own expression apart. We will therefore end the day by offering to our Risen Lord the following Preface: it is taken from the ancient Gothic Missal, published by Dom Mabillon.

Contestatio
(Indie Sabbatooctava Paschœ)

Dignum et justum est; necessarium et salutare est: ut te Dominum ac Deum totis visceribus humana conditio veneretur, Rex mirabilis Christe. Cujus condemnatione, tartareis vinculis absoluta credentium turba, libertatis insignia gratulatur. Qui vere ut Leo de tribu Juda mundo ostensus, animarum devoratorem exstinctum leonem diabolum omnis terra laetatur. Permittit se clavorum nexibus alligatum ad stipitem crucis teneri: ut non sit parva, quam impius quondam expavescat, potentia. Ad cujus vocem, emittens spiritum, terra tremuit, coelum expavit, dies fugit, sol obscuratus est, astra abscondentia radios suos, simul omnia migraverunt. Cujus descensu, confractis portis, luget infernum. Quo resurgente, laetantur angeli; exsultat terra cum habitatoribus suis. In quo triumpho, conspicitur comitatio illa prophetico ore promissa: Ero mors tua, o inferne. Ubi est ergo victoria tua? Nec enim ab alio poterat, nisi a vita mors devorari. Qui descensu suo eos qui tenebantur a morte, superis reddidit resurgendo: ut ejus resurrectio vivorum vel mortuorum testimonio firmaretur.
It is right and just, needful, and available to salvation, that mankind should, with all devotion, venerate thee, O Christ! admirable King! as its God and Lord. This is he, whose condemnation broke the chains that held countless believers in the prison of Limbo, and enrolled them under the Standard of Liberty. This is he, who was shown to the world as the Lion of the Tribe of Juda; and all the earth celebrates with joy the defeat of Satan, the lion that destroyed souls. This is he who permitted his Body to be fastened with nails to the wood of the Cross, that the wicked spirit might know how great is the power he has to fear. When he cried out with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost, the earth shook, heaven trembled, day took flight, the sun was darkened, the stars hid their rays and disappeared. He descended into hell, broke its gates, and filled it with terror. He rose again, and the angels rejoiced; let the earth, and they that dwell therein, be glad. It was in this his triumph that was seen what the Prophet had foretold, when he said: I will be thy death, O hell! Where, then, is thy victory? For death could not be destroyed save by Life. Christ having descended to them that were captives of death, he restored them to life by his Resurrection, which was thus attested by both the living and the dead.

[1] Frigescente mundo. Collect for the Feast of the Stigmata of St Francis.
[2] Cœlitum, Joseph, decus atque nostræ Certa spes vitæ, columenque mundi. (Hymn for Lauds of the Feast of the Solemnity of St Joseph.)
[3] Gen. xli 55.
[4] The Life of St Teresa (translated by David Lewis, 1870), p. 34.
[5] La gioire de Saint-Joseph, par le P. Jean Jacquinot, de la Compagnie de Jesus. Dijon, 1645.
[6] St Matt ii 23.
[7] In the Monastic Rite, it is preceded by this Responsory: ℟. breve. Constituit eum dominum domus suae, * Alleluia, alleluia. Constituit ℣. Et principem omnis possessionis suæ. * Alleluia. Gloria Patri. Constituit.
[8] Ps. xi 2.
[9] 1 Thess. iv 5.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

℣. In resurrectione tua, Christe, alleluia.
℟. Cœli et terra laetentur, alleluia.
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

OUR Risen Jesus is not satisfied with establishing his Church and constituting the hierarchy which is to govern it in his name to the end of time; he also confides in his disciples his divine word, that is, the truths he is come to reveal to mankind, into which truths he has given them an insight during the three years preceding his Passion. The word of God, which is also called revelation, is, together with grace, the most precious gift that heaven could bestow upon us. It is by the word of God that we know the mysteries of his divine essence, the plan according to which he framed the creation, the supernatural end he destined for such of his creatures as he endowed with understanding and free-will, the sublime work of redemption by the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity—in a word, the means whereby we are to honour and serve him, and attain the end for which we were made.

From the very commencement of the world, God revealed his word to man; later on, he spoke by the prophets; but when the fulness of time came, he sent upon the earth his Only Begotten Son, that he might complete this first revelation. We have seen how, for three years, Jesus has been teaching men, and how, in order that he might make them the more easily understand his words, he has stooped to their littleness. Though his teaching was of the sublimest possible character, yet did he make it so intelligible that no instruction could be compared to his in clearness. It was for this reason that he made use of simple parables, whereby he conveyed his divine truths to the mind of his hearers. His Apostles and disciples, who were afterwards to preach his Gospel to the world, received from him frequent special instructions; although, until the accomplishment of the mysteries of his Death and Resurrection, they were slow in understanding his teaching. Since his Resurrection, they are better able to appreciate his instructions, for not only are his words more telling now that he is in the glory of his triumph over death, but the minds of his hearers have become more enlightened by the extraordinary events that have occurred. If he could say to them at the Last Supper: I will not now call you servants; but I have called you my friends: because all things whatsoever I have heard from my FatherI have made known unto you;[1] how must he not treat them now that he has repeated to them the whole of his teaching, given them the whole word of God, and is on the eve of sending the Holy Spirit upon them, in order to perfect their understanding, and give them power to preach the Gospel to the entire world?

O holy word of God! O holy revelation! through thee are we admitted into divine mysteries, which human reason could never reach. We love thee, and are resolved to be submissive to thee. It is thou that givest rise to the grand virtue, without which it is impossible to please God;[2] the virtue which commences the work of man's salvation, and without which this work could neither be continued nor finished. This virtue is faith. It makes our reason bow down to the word of God. There comes from its divine obscurity a light far more glorious than are all the conclusions of reason, how great soever may be their evidence. This virtue is to be the bond of union in the new society which our Lord is now organizing. To become a member of this society, man must begin by believing; that he may continue to be a member, he must never, not even for one moment, waver in his faith. We shall soon be hearing our Lord saying these words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned.[3] The more clearly to express the necessity of faith, the members of the Church are to be called by the beautiful name of the faithful: they who do not believe are to be called infidels.

Faith, then, being the first link of the supernatural union between man and God, it follows that this union ceases when faith is broken, that is, denied; and that he who, after having once been thus united to God, breaks the link by rejecting the word of God, and substituting error in its place, commits one of the greatest of crimes. Such a one will be called a heretic, that is, one who separates himself; and the faithful will tremble at his apostasy. Even were his rebellion to the revealed word to fall upon only one article, still he commits enormous blasphemy; for he either separates himself from God as being a deceiver, or he implies that his own created, weak, and limited reason is superior to eternal and infinite Truth.

As time goes on, heresies will rise up, each attacking some dogma or other; so that scarcely one truth will be left unassailed; but all this will serve for little else than to bring out the revelation purer and brighter than before. There will, however, come a time, and that time is our own, when heresy will not confine itself to some one particular article of faith; but will proclaim the total independence of reason, and declare revelation to be a forgery. This impious system will give itself the high-sounding name of rationalism, and these are to be its leading doctrines: Christ's mission a failure and his teaching false; his Church an insult to man's dignity; the eighteen centuries of Christian civilization a popular illusion! The followers of this school, the so-called philosophers of modem times, would have subverted all society, had not God come to its assistance, and fulfilled the promise he made, of never allowing his revealed word to be taken away from mankind, nor the Church, to whom he confided his word, to be destroyed.

Others go not so far as this. They do not pretend to deny the benefits conferred on the world by the Christian religion; the facts of history are too evident to be contested: still, as they will not submit their reason to the mysteries revealed by God, they have a way peculiar to themselves for eliminating the clement of faith from this world. As every revealed truth, and every miracle confirmatory of divine interposition, is disagreeable to them, they attribute to natural causes every fact which bears testimony to the Son of God being present among us. They do not insult religion, they simply pass it by; they hold that the supernatural serves no purpose; people, they say, have taken appearances for realities. The laws of history and common sense count for nothing. Agreeably to their system, which they call naturalism, they deny what they cannot explain; they maintain that the people of the past eighteen centuries have been deceived, and that the Creator cannot suspend the laws of nature, just as the rationalists teach that there is nothing above reason.

Are reason and nature, then, to be obstacles to our Redeemer’s love for mankind? Thanks be to his infinite power, he would not have it so! As to reason, he repairs and perfects her by faith; and he suspends the laws of nature, that we may cheerfully believe the word whose truth is guaranteed by the testimony of miracles. Jesus is truly risen; let reason and nature rejoice; for he has ennobled and sanctified them by the glad mystery.

Let us proclaim the triumph of the Redeemer whom we adore. Let us make our own this sequence of the Cluny Missal of 1523.

Sequence

Ecce vicit radix David,
Leo de tribu Juda.

Mors vicit mortem,
Et mors nostra est vita.

Mira bella, et stupenda satis
Inter oves victoria.

Ut moriens superaret fortem
Cum callida versutia.

Domum ejus ingressus
Est Rex aeternus,
Et averni confregit vasa.

Drachmam secum quæ perierat
Asportavit, et patefecit regni claustra.

Paradisi porta
Quæ clausa fuerat
Per lignum vetitum
Et lethale in primaevo.

Quam clauserat Eva conditori,
Clauseratque cunctis
Postmodum natis
De stirpe sua.

Quæ commisit protoplastus,
Reseravit dextra per stirpis materiam.

Susceperat mors indemnem,
Quem tenere numquam potuerat propter culpam.

Dum ambiit illicita.
Quæ tenebat juste
Perdidit acquisita.

Ampliare voluerat in secessu,
Et remansit evacuata.

Hic verus est agnus legalis
Qui multis se manifestavit figuris,
Tandem se hostiam pro mundo
Dedit Patri ut redimeret membra sua.

Hic lapis est angularis,
Quem reprobaverunt aedificantes.

Jam factus est in caput anguli
Super omnes in excelso.

Regnum ejus magnum
Et potestas ejus prima per sæcula.

Amen.
Lo! the Root of David,
the Lion of the Tribe of Juda, hath conquered.

Death hath conquered death;
and that Death is our Life.

Strange was the war, and stupendous the victory
that was seen by the flock of Christ.

When he, by his Death,
vanquished the strong and crafty enemy.

The Eternal King
forced the enemy’s house,
and broke the armour of hell.

He brought back the groat that was lost,
and opened the gates of heaven.

Heaven’s gate,
that had been shut, at the beginning of the world,
by the forbidden fruit,
which brought death;

The gate, which Eve had closed
against him from whom she had been formed
and against all the children
that were to be born of her race;

Yea, what our first parent thus sinfully closed,
was thrown open by the right hand of the God that assumed our flesh.

Death laid hands on him
on whom it had no claim because he was free from sin;

And by thus coveting
what was not its own,
it lost what it hitherto had justly held.

By wishing to add to its prey,
it was made to yield up what it had devoured.

Christ is the true Lamb,
that was foretold in the Law under manifold figures,
and who, at length, offered himself to the Father
as a Victim for the world's redemption.

This is the Corner-Stone,
rejected by the builders.

He is now the Head of the Corner,
set high above all the rest.

His kingdom is great, and his power supreme:
they are for ever and ever.

Amen.

[1] St John xv 15.
[2] Heb. xi 6.
[3] St Mark xvi 16.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

℣. In resurrectione tua, Christe, alleluia. ℟. Cœli et terra laetentur, alleluia.
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia. ℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

WE are bound to believe the word of God: but this word is accompanied with every proof of its really coming from God. When Jesus told men that he was the Son of God, he gave ample proof of his being such: in the same manner, he insists on our believing what he reveals, but he gives us a guarantee of its being the truth. What is this guarantee? Miracles. Miracles are the testimony which God bears to himself. A miracle rouses man’s attention, for he knows that it is by God’s will alone that the laws of nature can be suspended. If God employ a miracle to make his will known, he has a right to find man obedient. The Israelites were convinced that it was God who was leading them, for the sea opened a passage to them, immediately that Moses stretched forth his hand over its waters.

Now Jesus, the author and finisher of faith  did not demand our belief in the truths he revealed to us until he had proved the divinity of his mission by miracles. The works which I do, said he, give testimony of me.  And again: If you will not believe me, believe my works.  And what are these works? When St John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to Jesus, that they might ask him if he were the promised Messias, Jesus gave them this answer: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the Gospel preached unto them. 

Such is the motive of our faith. Jesus requires of us that we receive his word, as being that of the Son of God—for he has proved himself to be so by the works he has wrought. Truly may we exclaim with the Psalmist: Thy testimonies, O Lord, are become exceedingly credible!  Whom shall we believe, if we refuse to believe him? And what must be the guilt of them who refuse to believe! Let us hearken to our Jesus speaking of those proud men who, though they had witnessed his miracles, rejected his teaching: If, says he, I had not done among them the works that no other man hath done, they would not have sin.  It is their incredulity that led them astray; but their incredulity showed itself when, after witnessing such miracles as the raising Lazarus to life, they refused to acknowledge the divinity of him who bore testimony to himself by such works as these.

But our Risen Jesus is soon to ascend into Heaven; the miracles he wrought will be things of long past; are we, henceforth, to have no testimony for his word, which is the object of our Faith? Let us not fear. Do we forget that historical documents, when genuine, bring the same conviction to our minds, with regard to past events, as though we ourselves had been witnesses of those events? Is it not a law of the human mind—is it not a basis of certainty—that we yield assent to the testimony of our fellow-men, as often as we have evidence that they are neither deceived themselves, nor wish to deceive us? The miracles wrought by Jesus will be handed down to the end of time, supported by guarantees of authenticity which no facts of history could possibly have. If the authority of history is what all acknowledge it to be, then is he a fool who doubts the miracles which we are told were worked by our Saviour. Though we have not been eye-witnesses of them, yet such is our certainty of their having been done, that our faith is as strong and as docile as though we had assisted at the admirable scenes described in the Gospel.

Our Lord had sufficiently provided for our yielding our Faith to his word, by letting us know that he had confirmed his teaching by his miracles. But he would do more. He gives his disciples the power to do what he himself had done, and this in order that our faith might be strengthened by these supernatural evidences. It was on one of the forty days spent with his Apostles before his Ascension, that he spoke these words to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned.  We have already stated the basis on which this faith was to rest—the miracles of the God-Man who demands our faith. But there were to be other miracles superadded to his own. Let us continue the text just quoted: And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover.  Here, then, we find the power of working miracles given to Jesus’ disciples. He bids them go and preach his word to men, and men must yield their faith; he therefore gives his disciples a power over nature which will prove them to be the ambassadors of the Most High. Their word is not their own; it is that of God. They are the ministers of the Incarnate God, and we must believe their teaching. By believing them, we are, in reality, believing him who sends them, and who, to make us sure of their rightful authority, gives them the credentials which he himself deigned to show to men, when he spoke with his own lips.

Neither is this all. If we carefully weigh his words, we shall see that he does not intend the gift of miracles to cease with his first disciples. It is true that history proves how faithfully Jesus fulfilled his promise, and that, when the Apostles went forth commanding the world to believe what they preached, they gave testimony of their divine mission by countless miracles; but our Risen Lord promised more than this. He said not:’These are the signs which shall follow my Apostles;' but: These are the signs which shall follow them that believe. By these words he perpetuated in his Church the gift of miracles; he made it one of her chief characteristics, and one of the grounds of our faith. Before his Passion, he had gone so far as to say: He that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do, and greater than these shall he do.  It is now that he graces her with this prerogative: so that, dating from that hour, we must not be surprised at finding that his saints perform miracles greater even, at times, than his own. He promised that it should be so, and he has kept his word; thus showing us how desirous he is that faith (which is one of the main objects of a miracle) should be fostered and made vigorous in his Church. Far, then, be from every loyal child of the Church that fear, that uneasy feeling, yea, that indifference which some people evince when they hear or read of a miracle. The only thing we should ask is—are the witnesses trustworthy? If so, a true Catholic should receive the account with joy and gratitude; he should give thanks to our Jesus who thus mercifully fulfils his promise, and keeps such a watchful eye over the preservation of faith.

Let us adore him in that miracle of miracles, his Resurrection. Let us enter into the sentiments of the following fine sequence; it dates from the ninth century, and is from the rich treasury of Saint Gall.

Sequence

Laudes Salvatoris
Voce modulemur supplici,
Et devotis melodiis
Coelesti Domino
Jubilemus Messiæ:
Qui seipsum exinanivit,
Ut nos perditos
Liberaret homines.

Carne gloriam Deitatis occulens
Pannis tegitur in præsepi,
Miserans praecepti transgressorem,
Pulsum patria
Paradisi nudulum.

Joseph, Mariae, Simeoni, subditur, circumciditur,
Et legali hostia mundatur, ut peccator,
Nostra qui solet relaxare crimina.

Servi subit manus baptizandus,
Et perfert fraudes tentatoris,
Fugit persequentum lapides.

Famem patitur,
Dormit et tristatur,
Ac lavat discipulis pedes Deus homo, summus humilis.

Sed tamen
Inter haec objecta corporis ejus Deitas
Nequaquam quivit latere, signis variis,
Et doctrinis prodita.

Aquam nuptiis
Dat saporis vinei.

Caecos oculos
Claro lumine vestivit.

Lepram luridam
Tactu fugat placido.

Patres suscitat mortuos,
Membraque curat debilia.

Fluxum sanguinis constrinxit,
Et saturavit quinque de panibus quina millia.

Stagnum peragrat fluctuans,
Ceu siccum littus, ventos sedat.

Linguam reserat constrictam,
Reclusit aures privatas vocibus; febres depulit.

Post haec mira miracula taliaque,
Sponte sua comprehenditur,
Et damnatur, et se crucifigi non despexit,
Sed sol ejus mortem non aspexit.

Illuxit dies,
Quam fecit Dominus,
Mortem devastans,

Et victor suis apparens dilectoribus vivens,
Primo Mariae, 
Dehinc Apostolis;

Docens Scripturas,
Cor aperiens,
Ut clausa de ipso reserarent.

Favent igitur resurgenti Christo cuncta gaudiis.
Flores, segetes redivivo fructu vernant,
Et volucres gelu tristi terso dulce jubilant.

Lucent clarius sol, et luna
Morte Christi turbida.

Tellus herbida
Resurgenti plaudit Christo,
Quæ tremula ejus morte se casuram minitat.

Ergo die ista exsultemus
Qua nobis viam vitæ
Resurgens patefecit Jesus.

Astra, solum, mare jocundentur,
Et cuncti gratulentur in cœlis
Spiritales chori Trinitati.

Amen.
Let us with humility
sing the praises of our Saviour;
let us joyously offer our devout melodies
to the God of heaven,
our Messias;
who emptied himself,
that he might deliver us men
from the perdition whereinto we had fallen.

He hides under a human body the glory of his Divinity;
he is wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger;
for he has pity on man who transgressed the commandment
and was driven naked
from the land of Paradise.

He is subject to Joseph, Mary, and Simeon; he is circumcized;
and he that is wont to forgive us our sins, deigns to be ransomed,
as a sinner, by the offering prescribed in the Law.

He bows down beneath the hand of his servant, and is baptized by him;
he permits the tempter to lay snares for him;
he has to fly from his enemies, who seek to stone him.

He suffers hunger,
sleep, and sadness:
he, God and yet Man, most High and yet humble, washes his disciples’ feet.

But notwithstanding
these outward humiliations, his divinity could not be hid;
it was made evident
by his miracles and teaching.

He gives water the savour of wine
at the marriage feast.

He gives to the blind
the light of day.

He drives hideous leprosy away
by his gentle touch:

He raises the dead to life;
he cures them that are maimed.

He stays a flux of blood;
and with five loaves feeds five thousand men.

He walks upon the waters
as though they were dry land; he calms the winds.

He makes the dumb to speak,
and the deaf to hear; he drives fever away.

After these and other such wonderful miracles,
he allows himself to be taken by his enemies,
and condemned; he refuses not to suffer crucifixion;
but the sun refuses to witness his Death.

Then comes the day
which the Lord hath made:
it destroys death.

Jesus triumphs; he returns to life; he appears to them that love him,
to Mary first,
and then to the Apostles.

He explains the Scriptures to his disciples,
opening their hearts
that they might understand what was there written concerning him.

All creatures keep a feast of joy at the Resurrection of Jesus.
Flowers spring up, meadows are again clothed in their rich verdure,
and birds, now that gloomy winter is past, carol in sweet jubilation.

The sun and moon,
which mourned at Jesus’ death, are brighter now than ever.

The earth, that shook at his death,
and seemed ready to fall to ruin,
now puts on her richest green to greet her Risen God.

Let us, therefore, be glad on this day,
whereon our Jesus, by his Resurrection,
opened to us the way of Life.

Let stars, and earth, and sea rejoice:
let all the choirs of the blessed in heaven
give praise to the Trinity.

Amen.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

℣. In resurrectione tua, Christe, alleluia.
℟. Cœli et terra laetentur, alleluia.
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

THE Son of God is soon to ascend to his Father. He has said to his Apostles: Going, teach all nations: preach the Gospel to every creature. Thus, then, the nations are not to receive the word from the lips of Jesus, but through his ministers. The glory and happiness of being instructed directly by the Man-God were for none but the Israelites, and even for them for only three short years.

The impious may murmur at this, and say, in their pride:’Why should there be men between God and us?' God might justly answer:’And what right have you to expect me to speak to you myself, seeing that you can otherwise be as certain of my word as though you heard it from myself V Was the Son of God to lose his claim to our faith unless he remained on this earth to the end of time? If we reflect on the infinite distance there is between the Creator and creature, we shall detest such a blasphemy. If we receive the testimony of menthe testimony of God is greater:[1] and how can we reject it? Can we call that testimony human, which was given by the Apostles, when, in proof of their being sent by God, they showed the power, conferred on them by their divine Master, of working miracles? Of course the pride of reason may rebel; it may protest, and refuse to believe men who speak in God’s name. Did not the very Son of God meet with more unbelievers than believers? And why? Because he affirmed himself to be God, yet showed nothing exteriorly but his human nature. So that there was an act of faith to be made, even when Jesus himself spoke; and pride might rebel, and say:’I will not believe just as it will do when the Apostles speak in his name. The two cases are alike. God demands of us, as long as we are in this world, that we give him our faith; and faith is not possible without humility. God confirms his word by miracles; but man has always the power to resist, and for that very reason faith is a virtue.

If it be asked—why, when God took his Son from this earth, he did not commission his angels to teach us in his name, instead of giving such a sublime office to men, frail and mortal as we ourselves are who receive their teaching—the reason is, that man could not be raised up from the state of degradation into which he had fallen by pride, except by submission and humility; and consequently, it was fitting that the ministry of the divine word should not be entrusted to angels, inasmuch as our pride might have been flattered by our having for our teachers beings so noble and exalted. We believed the serpent when he spoke to us, and we had the pride to think that we might one day become gods: our merciful Creator, in order to save us, has imposed it as a law upon us, that we should yield submission to men, when they speak in his name.

These men, therefore, are to preach the Gospel to every creature; and he that believeth notshall be condemned. O word of God! thou heavenly seed planted in the field of the Church, how fruitful hast thou not been! Yet one little while, and the harvest will be ripe. Faith will have spread throughout the world; the faithful shall be found in every land. And how came they by the faith? By hearing, answers the great Apostle of the Gentiles.[2] They heard the word, and they believed. How honoured above the rest of our senses is our hearing, at least in this present life! Let us listen to St Bernard, speaking on this subject.’One would have thought that the Truth would have entered into our souls by that noblest of our senses, the eye: but no, my soul! that is reserved for the future life, when we shall see face to face. For the present, let the remedy come in by the same door through which crept the malady; let life, and light, and the antidote of truth, come to us in the track previously taken by death and darkness, and the serpent’s poison. Thus the troubled eye will be cured by the ear, and will see, when calm, what she cannot when troubled. The ear was the first door of death; let it be the first to be opened to life. The ear took away our Light; let it now restore our Light; for unless we believe, we shall not understand.[3] Hearing, therefore, is the instrument of our merit; sight is to be our reward. . . . Observe, too, how the Holy Ghost follows this order in the spiritual education of the soul: he forms the ear, before he gladdens the eye. He says to her: HearkenO daughterand see![4] Forget thine eye for the present: it is thine ear I now ask for. Dost thou wish to see Christ? First hear him; hear what is said of him: that so, when thou dost see him, thou mayest say: As we have heardso have we seen![5] The brightness is immense; thine eye is weak; and thou canst not bear the splendour. But what thine eye cannot do, thine ear can; . . . only let this ear of thine be fervent, and watchful, and faithful. Faith will give to thine eye the clearness it lost by sin; disobedience shut it, but obedience will open it.”[6]

To the glory of him who has sent us his word by his ambassadors, and whom we have received as himself, let us recite this ancient sequence of Saint Gall: it expresses the faith of our fathers, and this faith is ours also.

Sequence

Grates Salvatori,
Ac Regi Christo Deo
Solvant omnes insularum incolæ,

Quem exspectatum dies jam tenent, et leges ejus
Mentibus captent promptulis.

Quos derelicto populo
Delegit Judæo,
De Abrahæ carne genito,

Et per fidem
Quos Abrahæ natos fecit, et cognatos
Suum sanctum per sanguinem.

O Christe,
Consanguinee naturae nostrae, nos fove,

Atque per divinam potentiam
Tuere ab omni incursu inimici, et insidiis.

Quem per carnis edulium
Delusisti hamo tuae majestatis, Fili Dei.

Tu resurgens imperitas,
Non moriturus amplius.

Tu mortalem nostram
Et terream naturam
Resurgens incorruptivam fecisti,
Atque cœlis invexisti.

Amen.
Let the inhabitants of all islands
render thanks to Christ,
our Saviour, King and God,

The Expected One, who is at length come,
and whose Law is now devoutly obeyed by mankind.

He cast off the Jewish people,
who were born
of Abraham according to the flesh;

And he chose, for his own,
them that he made children of Abraham by faith,
them that he had made his brethren by his precious Blood.

O Jesus
who art united to us by the bond of consanguinity! protect us,

And, by thy divine power,
defend us from every attack and snare of the enemy.

Thou, O Son of God! didst show him the Flesh thou hadst assumed,
and he, taking it, was taken by the hook of thy divinity.

Rising again, thou triumphest,
for death shall never more triumph over thee.

By thy Resurrection,
thou gavest incorruptibility
to our mortal and earthly nature,
and didst raise it to heaven.

Amen.

[1] 1 St John v 9.
[2] Rom. x 17.
[3] The Saint seems to be here quoting the celebrated Septuagint version of Isaias (vii 9). See the 3rd vol. of Paschal Time, Friday in Whitsun Week, last page.—Tr.
[4] Ps. xliv 11.
[5] Ps. xlvii 9.
[6] In Cantica, Serm. xxviii.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

℣. In resurrectione tua, Christe, alleluia.
℟. Cœli et terra lætentur, alleluia.
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

THE Apostles have received their mission. The Sovereign Master has bade them divide among themselves the nations of the earth, and preach everywhere the Gospel—that is, the Good Tidings—the tidings of man's Redemption wrought by the Son of God, who was made flesh, was crucified, and arose again from the dead. But what is to be the grand support of these humble Jews, who have been suddenly transformed into conquerors, and have to win the whole world to Christ? Their support is the solemn promise made to them by Jesus, when, after saying: Go, teach all nations! he adds: Lo! I am with you all dayseven to the consummation of the world! Hereby he promises never to leave them, and ever to direct and guide them. They shall see him no more in this life; and yet he assures them that he will be ever in their midst.

But these men, with whom Christ thus promises that he will abide for ever, and preserve them from every fall and from every error in the teaching of his doctrine—these Apostles are not immortal. We shall find them, one after the other, laying down their lives for the faith and so leaving this world. Are we, then, condemned to uncertainty and darkness, like men who have been abandoned by the light? Is it possible, that the appearance of our Emmanuel upon the earth has been but like that of a meteor, which we sometimes behold in the night, emitting a lurid light, and then suddenly disappearing, leaving us in greater darkness than before? No: the words of our Risen Jesus forbid us to fear such a calamity. He did not say to his Apostles:’Lo! I am with you even to the end of your lives;' but Lo! I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. So that those to whom he addressed himself were to live to the end of the world! What means this, but that the Apostles were to have successors, in whom their rights were to be perpetuated? successors whom Jesus would ever assist by his presence and uphold by his power. The work founded by a God, out of his love for man, and at the price of his own precious Blood, must surely be imperishable! Jesus, by his presence amidst his Apostles, preserved their teaching from all error; by his presence he will also, and for ever, guide the teaching of their successors.

O precious and necessary gift of Infallibility in the Church! Gift, without which the mission of the Son of God would have been a failure! Gift whereby faith, that essential element of man’s salvation, is preserved upon the earth! Yes, we have the promise; and the effects of this promise are evident even to them that are not of the Church. Where is there an unprejudiced man, who would not recognize the hand of God in the perpetuity of the Catholic Symbol of Faith, whereas everything else on earth is for ever changing? Can we attribute to natural causes such a result as this—that a society, whose link is unity of belief, should live through so many ages, and yet lose nothing of the truth it possessed at its commencement, nor imbibe anything of the falseness of the world around it; that it should have been attacked by thousands of sects, and yet have triumphed over them all, survived them all, and be as pure in the faith now at this present day, as it was on the day when first formed by its divine Founder? Is it not an unheard-of prodigy, that hundreds of millions of men, differing from each other in country, character, and customs, yea, and frequently enemies to each other, should be united in one like submission to one same authority, which, with a single word, governs their reason in matters of faith?

How great is thy fidelity to thy promises, O Jesus! Who could help feeling that thou art in the midst of thy Church, mastering by thy presence the warring elements, and by irresistible yet sweet power, subjecting our pride and fickleness to thy dear yoke? And they are men, men like ourselves who rule and guide our faith! It is the Pope, the successor of St Peter, whose faith cannot fail,[1] and whose sovereign word is carried through the whole world, producing unity of mind and heart, dispelling doubt, and putting an end to disputation. It is the venerable body of the bishops united with their Head, and deriving from this union an invincible strength in the proclamation of the one same truth in the several countries of the universe. Oh yes; men are made infallible because Jesus is with and in them! In everything else they are men like ourselves; but the Chair on which they are throned is supported by the arm of God; it is the Chair of Truth upon the earth.

How grand is our faith! Miracles gave it birth; and this continued miracle, of which we have been speaking, and which disconcerts all the calculations of human wisdom, directs it, enlightens it, and upholds it. How stupendous are the wondrous works done by our Risen Jesus during these forty days! So far, he had been preparing his work; now he carries it into effect. May the divine Shepherd be ever praised for the care he takes of his Sheep! If he exacts their faith as the first pledge of their service, we must own that he has made the sacrifice not only meritorious by the submission of our reason, but most attractive to our heart.

Let us honour his glorious Resurrection by a new canticle—one from the ancient Missals of Germany. 

Sequence

Laudes Christo redempti,
Voce modulemur supplici.

Omnis in hac die
Rerum natura jubilans,

Personet immensas
Filio Dei gratias.

Jam nostri concives,
Coelestis sanctuarii milites,

Ordines noveni,
In vestra nos adunate gaudia.

Hymnite nunc superi,
Pariter resonate inferi,

Et omnis in Domino
Spiritus gratuletur ænesi;

Qui hominis causa,
Deus homo nascitur;

Et fragili carne,
Se deitas occulens,
Probra sustinuit patiens:

Virtutibus, signis ut
Deus emicuit;

Et corporis nostri necessitate fruens,
Verus terrigena claruit.

Ab hoste tentatus,
Non est agnitus neque divinitas patuit:

Ars artem delusit,
Donec veteris nodum piaculi secuit.

In ara crucis hostiam
Se pro nobis Christus obtulit Deo Patri,
Morte sua nostra mortificans crimina.

Jam victor Christus,
Barathro populato,
Mortis principe vinculato,
Ab inferis pompa regreditur nobili.

Hæc est dies quæ illuxit, post turbida
Regni Æthiopum tempora;

Christus in qua resurrexit
Ultra victurus,
Cum carne quam sumpsit de Maria virgine.

Qui ovem
Cum gaudio Patri quam perdiderat,
Humero revexit suo.

Amen.
Let us, the redeemed,
sing with suppliant voice our praise to Christ.

On this day let all nature,
in a transport of joy,

Sound forth one universal hymn of thanks
to the Son of God.

And you,
our fellow-citizens,

the nine-choired hosts of heaven,
permit us to share in your joys.

Sing a hymn, ye that are highest!
Intone a loud canticle, ye that are lowest!

Yea, let every spirit be glad in the Lord,
and praise him!

For he, God,
became Man for man's salvation.

Hiding his divinity
with the veil of our frail flesh,
he patiently endured every insult;

But his power and miracles
revealed him as our God.

He subjected himself to all our human wants,
and was verily a wayfarer on our earth.

He was tempted by the enemy;
but he made not known his divinity.

Craft by craft was foiled,
till the hour came for him to cut the knot of Adam's sin.

For our sake, he offered himself to his Father
a victim upon the altar of the Cross: and by his Death,
he put our sins to death.

And now hell is ravaged
and the prince of death enchained,
and Christ returns from Limbo,
in all the pageant of his victory.

This is the day which has shone upon the world,
after the stormy times of the Ethiopian sway.

It is the day whereon,
with the flesh he assumed from the Virgin Mary,
Christ rose again, to live for evermore.

With joy, he carried on his shoulders,
to his Father,
the sheep that had been lost.

Amen.

[1] St Luke xxii 32.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

℣. In resurrectione tua, Christe, alleluia.
℟. Cœli et terra laetentur, alleluia.
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

PRAISE be to our Risen Jesus, for his having said to us: He that believeth and is baptizedshall be saved![1] Thanks to his infinite mercy, we believe and have been baptized; we are, therefore, in the path of salvation. It is true that faith will not save us without good works; but, on the other hand, good works without faith cannot merit eternal salvation. With what transport of joy ought we not to give thanks to God, for his having produced in us, by his grace, this unspeakable gift,[2] this first pledge of our everlasting happiness! How carefully ought we not to strive to keep it pure, yea and increase it by our fidelity! Faith, like other virtues, has its degrees: we should, therefore, frequently use the prayer addressed to Jesus by his Apostles: Lord! increase our faith![3]

We are living in an age when faith is weak amongst the majority even of them that believe; and it is one of the greatest dangers that could befall us in this world. When faith is weak, charity must needs grow cold. Our Saviour one day asked his disciples if they thought that he would find faith upon the earth when he should come to judge mankind.[4] Have we not reason to fear that we are fast approaching that awful time, when the want of faith will paralyze men's hearts?

Faith proceeds from our will moved by the Holy Ghost. We believe because we wish to believe; and for this reason it is a happiness to believe. The blind man to whom Jesus restored his sight said to him, when he bade him believe in the Son of God: Who is he, Lord? that I may believe in him.[5] These same dispositions ought to animate us, when there is question of our making an act of faith—we should believe, in order that we may know that which, without faith, we could not know: then will God manifest himself to both our mind and heart.

You will meet with Christians who seem to make it their business to keep down the faith of their friends as much as possible. They seem to be jealous of faith getting too much; are ever talking about the rights of reason; and will have it that they who are so ready to believe are guilty of underrating the dignity, range, and divine origin of reason. Let them that are thus accused, answer: ‘We are far from denying the existence of that natural light within us, which is called reason. The teaching of the Church is too express on this point to admit of any doubt; but she also teaches us that this light—even had it retained its primal power, and had not been obscured by original sin—is incapable of discovering, by itself alone, the end for which man was created, and the means whereby that end is to be gained. Faith alone can enable man to attain to such sublime knowledge as this.’

Others, again, maintain that as soon as a Christian comes to the full age of reason, he has a right to suspend the exercise of his faith, in order that he may examine for himself whether it be reasonable or not to continue believing. Such an opinion is most false and has made many an apostate. The Church has ever taught from the days of the Apostles down to our own times, and will so teach to the end of the world, that the child who has received holy baptism has also, and at that same instant, received the gift of infused faith; that he thereby became a member of Christ, and child of his Church; and that if, when he comes to the age of reason, he should be tempted with doubts regarding matters of faith, he receives grace to resist those doubts by faith, and that he would be risking his salvation were he to suspend his faith. This does not imply that the Church forbids him to confirm his faith by study and science; far from it. This is a totally different thing from suspension of one’s faith; it is, according to the admirable saying of the great St Anselm,’faith seeking understanding,’ and, we may add, finding it, for God gives this recompense to faith.

You may probably meet with persons who think it right that there should be found among us a class of men, called free-thinking philosophers, that is to say, men without faith, who hold, with regard to God and creatures, doctrines which are wholly independent of revelation, and who teach a morality that entirely ignores the supernatural element. Is it possible that Catholics can not only countenance and praise such men as these, but even defend them, and be partial towards them?

And what must we say of the sad effects resulting from living with heretics? Most of us could give instances of the dangerous compromises and deplorable concessions made in consequence of much intercourse with those who are not of the faith. The terrible line of demarcation specified by St John, in his second Epistle,[6] is being forgotten; the very mention of it is offensive to modern ears. A strong indication of this is to be found in the frequency of mixed marriages, which in a number of cases, though often by imperceptible degrees, result in leading the Catholic party to religious indifference. Let us listen to the energetic language of that illustrious ascetical writer, Father Faber:’The old-fashioned hatred of heresy is becoming scarce. God is not habitually looked at as the sole Truth; and so the existence of heresies no longer appals the mind. It is assumed that God must do nothing painful, and his dominion must not allow itself to take the shape of an inconvenience or a trammel to the liberty of his creatures. If the world has outgrown the idea of exclusiveness, God must follow our lead, and lay it aside as a principle in his dealings with us. What the many want they must have at last. This is the rule and the experience of a constitutional country. Thus discord in religion, and untruth in religion, have come to be less odious and less alarming to men, simply because they are accustomed to them. It requires courage, both moral and mental, to believe the whole of a grand nation in the wrong, or to think that an entire country can go astray. But theology, with a brave simplicity, concludes a whole world under sin, and sees no difficulty in the true Church being able to claim only a moderate share of the population of the earth. The belief in the facility of salvation outside the Church is very agreeable to our domestic loves and to our private friendships. Moreover, if we will hold this, the world will pardon a whole host of other superstitions in us, and will do us the honour of complimenting the religion God gave, as if it were some literary or philosophical production of our own. Is this such a huge gain? Many seem amazingly pleased with it, and pay dear for it quite contentedly. Now it is plain that this belief must lower the value of the Church in our eyes. It must relax our efforts to convert others. It must relax our efforts to convert ourselves. Those who use the system of the Church least will of course esteem it least, and see least in it; and are therefore least fitted to be judges of it. Yet it is just these men who are the most forward and the most generous in surrendering the prerogatives of the Church to the exigencies of modern smoothness and universalism.'[7] Another sign of the decay of the spirit of faith, even among many of those who do not neglect their religion, is the disregard for, one might almost say the ignorance of, holy practices recommended by the Church. How many Catholic houses are there, where there is never a drop of Holy Water, or a blessed Candle, or a Palm to be seen? These sacred objects, given to us to be a protection, deserve from us that same reverence and love which our forefathers had when they defended them, even at the risk of their lives, against the Protestants of the sixteenth century. What a jeering look of incredulity is evinced by many amongst us, when mention is made of any miracle that is not found in the Bible! With what an air of contemptuous disbelief they hear or read of anything in connection with the mystic life, such as ecstasies, raptures, or revelations! How uneasy they seem, when the subject of the heroic acts of penance done by the Saints, or of the simplest practices of bodily mortification, happens to come across them! How loudly and pathetically do they not protest against the noble sacrifices which some favoured souls are inspired to make, whereby they break asunder the dearest ties, and shut themselves out of the world, behind the grille of a monastery or convent! The spirit of faith makes a true Catholic appreciate the beauty, the reasonableness, and the sublimity of all these practices and acts; whilst the want of this spirit makes them be condemned as extravagant, unmeaning, and folly.

Faith longs to believe; for believing is its life. It limits not itself to the strict Creed promulgated by the Church. It knows that the Spouse of Christ possesses all truths, though she does not solemnly declare them all, nor under the pain of anathema. Faith forestalls the declaration of a dogma; it believes piously, before believing under obligation. A secret instinct draws it towards this as yet veiled truth; and when the dogma is published by a definition of the supreme Pontiff, then does this same faith rejoice in the triumph of the truth which was revealed from the very commencement of the Church; and its joy is great in proportion to the fidelity wherewith it honoured the truth, when only generous and loyal hearts embraced it.

Glory, then, be to our Risen Jesus, who requited his Mother’s faith, who strengthened that of the disciples and the holy women, and who, as we humbly pray, will mercifully reward ours. Let us offer him our homage, in the words of a sequence from the ancient Missal of Saint Gall.

Sequence

Pangamus Creatoris
Atque Redemptoris gloriam.

Qui bene creatos, sed seductos
Astutia callidi serpentis,
Sua refecit gratia.

Praedicens,
Futurum ut germen
Sancta proferret fœmina;

Quod hostis antiqui
Nociva exsuperaret capita.

Quod primitus perdita, serius nostra
Cernunt saecula.

Quum splendida flosculo virgula.
Novo pollet Maria.

Qui editus
Mire edidit miracula.

Nec juvenis tantum,
Sed statim inter suæ nativitatis primordia.

Per sideris lumen,
Per Simeonis verba
Judaica ad se vel corda, vel munera
Attrahens nutu gentilia.

Quem Pater in voce,
Atque Spiritus Sanctus specie, glorificat.

Visentes doctorem, ve larchiatrum,
Docent auctoritate sua.

Qui postquam salutis
Dona dedit multa,
Doctrinaeque perplura verba
Ore suo promulgavit saluberrima;

Ad probra, sputa,
Colaphos, et flagella,
Vestem quoque ludo quæsitam,
Et spineum venit sertum
Ad crucis brachia.

Qui hodie triumphali
A mortuis resurgens,
Sprevit victoria, ducens secum primitiva
Ad coelos membra,
Et nuper dispersa
Revocans ovilia.

Quæ et nobis in fine speranda,
Licet ultima membra simus, spondet dona.

Amen.
Let us proclaim the glory
of our Creator and Redeemer!

By his grace, he gave a new existence
to them whom he had created aright,
yet who were seduced by the cunning of the crafty serpent.

He foretold
that a holy Woman would,
one day, bring forth a Fruit,

That should crush
the baneful head of the old enemy.

Our times have seen fulfilled
these promises that were long forgotten.

Mary, the lovely Branch,
put forth a new Flower.

His birth was a prodigy,
and miracles marked his life,

Not only when he had grown to manhood,
but immediately after his birth.

By the light of the star,
and by Simeon’s words,
he drew to himself the heart of the Jew
and the gift of the Gentile.

He was glorified by the Father’s words,
and by the visible form under which the Holy Ghost appeared.

They that saw this Teacher, this Physician of men,
were appointed to teach others in his name.

After bestowing on men
abundant gifts of salvation,
and promulgating, with his own lips,
the doctrine of eternal life,

He came to his Passion,
in which he was insulted, spit upon,
buffeted, scourged, vested as a mock-king,
crowned with thorns,
and nailed to a Cross.

But to-day, by a glorious victory,
he rises triumphant from the grave;
he takes them that belonged to the generations of old,
and leads them with himself to heaven;
he forms into one fold
the scattered sheep.

Yea, and to us, though the last of his children,
he promises future gifts, and bids us hope.

Amen.

[1] St Mark xvi 16.
[2] 2 Cor. ix 15.
[3] St Luke xvii 5.
[4] Ibid. xviii 8.
[5] St John ix 36.
[6] 2 St John 10.
[7] Spiritual Conferences: Hcaven and Hell.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

℣. In resurrectione tua, Christe, alleluia.
℟. Cœli et terra laetentur, alleluia.
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

SATURDAY brings us once more to the dear Mother of our Jesus. Last Saturday, when closing our week’s considerations upon the establishment of the Church, we reverently drew a parallel between these two Mothers—Mary and the Church. During the present week, we have been considering how our Saviour confided his doctrine—that is, the object of our faith—to his Apostles; let us devote this last day to a loving remembrance of the dogmas which Jesus revealed to them regarding the dignity and office of her whom he chose for his own and our Mother.

Holy Church teaches us several truths concerning Mary; and these truths are the object of our faith, on the same ground as the other articles contained in the Catholic Creed. Now they could not be the object of our faith, except inasmuch as they were revealed by the lips of our divine Lord himself. The Church of our days has received them from the Church of past ages, just as this last named received them from the Apostles, to whom Jesus first confided them. There has been no new revelation since our Saviour’s Ascension; consequently, the manifestation of all the dogmas transmitted to the Church, and promulgated by her to the world, dates from the teaching given by Jesus to his Apostles. It is on this account that we believe them with theological faith—a faith which can only be given to truths directly revealed by God to man.

How beautiful is the affection here shown by the Son of God to his Mother! He revealed to his Apostles the impenetrable secrets of the divine Essence, the Trinity in Unity, the eternal generation of the Word in the Father's bosom, the eternal procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son, the union of the two Natures in one Person in the Incarnate Word, the Redemption of the world by the Blood of the Man-God, the restoration of fallen man and his elevation to a supernatural state by grace. But this same Jesus also reveals the prerogatives of his dearest Mother; and we are to believe them with the same faith as we do the dogmas which relate to God himself! Jesus, the Wisdom of the Father, the Conqueror of death, has revealed to us Mary's dignity with the same lips that taught us what he himself is: we believe the two revelations with equal faith because both come from him.

Jesus said to his Apostles, and they, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, communicated his teaching to the Church:’Mary, my Mother, is a daughter of Adam and Eve; but the stain of original sin was not upon her. The decree that every human being should be conceived in sin was suspended in her regard. She was full of grace from the first moment of her Conception. Jeremiasand John the Baptist were sanctified in their mother’s womb; Mary was Immaculate from the first moment of her existence.’

Jesus also said to his Apostles, and commanded them to repeat his words to the Church:’ Mary is truly Mother of God, and must be honoured as such by all creatures; for she truly conceived me and gave me birth, according to my human nature, which forms but one Person with my divine nature.’

Jesus also said to his Apostles, and commanded them to repeat his words to the Church:’ Mary, my Mother, conceived me in her chaste womb without ceasing to be a Virgin, and she gave me birth without her Virginity suffering any injury.’

Thus, Mary’s Immaculate Conception which prepared her for her sublime office, her divine Maternity and her perpetualVirginity, are three dogmas of our faith, which were revealed to the Apostles directly by our Lord. Holy Church merely repeats them after the Apostles, just as the Apostles repeated them after hearing them from their divine Master.

But did not Jesus reveal other prerogatives of his august Mother—prerogatives which are consequences of the three magnificent gifts just mentioned? Let us ask the Church what she believes on this subject, and what she teaches, both by her doctrinal utterance, and by her equally infallible practice. Every development, which is produced in her by the action of the Holy Ghost, is based upon the word of God, which was spoken at the beginning. Thus it is impossible to doubt but that our Saviour made known to his Apostles his intention of raising his blessed Mother to the dignity of Queen of the universe, of Mediatrix of men, of Mother of grace, of Co-operatrix of our Redemption. Had she not, by the three unparalleled gifts just mentioned, already been raised above all other creatures? Yes, we cannot doubt it; these glories of the Mother of God were known, revered, and loved by the Apostles; and we, who have received from the Church these same sublime and consoling truths, we too prize and love our knowledge. Should we not be offering violence to every noble feeling of our nature, were we to believe that Jesus ascended into heaven, without having made known to the world the glories of his Mother, whom he loved both as her Son and her God!

What must have been thy sentiments, O Mary, thou most humble of creatures, when Jesus unveiled thy glories to the disciples? They already reverenced thee, but they could never have known the grand gifts bestowed on thee by God, unless that God himself had revealed them. What glorious things were said of theeO City of God![1] If thy humility was troubled when the archangel called thee full of graceand blessed among women; how must thou not have shrunk from the homage paid thee by the Apostles, when they were first told that thou wast the Mother of God, the ever spotless Virgin, Immaculate from thy very conception! But no, blessed Mother! thou canst not shun the honours that are richly thy due. The prophecy spoken by thyself, in Zachary’s house, must be fulfilled: All generations shall call thee Blessed![2] The time is at hand; a few days hence, the preaching of the Gospel will have commenced. Thy name, thy ministry, thy glories are an essential part of the Creed which is to be carried throughout the world. Up to this time, thou hast been shrouded in a veil of mystery; that veil must now be drawn aside —Jesus will have it so—and thou must be known as Mother of the God, who, when he came to save us, disdained not to assume our human nature in thy chaste womb. Dearest Mother! Queen of angels and men! suffer us to unite our fervent homage with that which the Apostolic College gave thee, when Jesus first revealed to them thy glories!

Let us, in honour of the blessed Mother, recite this sequence of the Cluny Missal of 1523. It is a graceful imitation of the Victimœ Paschali.

Sequence

Virgini Mariæ laudes
Intonent Christiani.

O beata domina,
Tua per suffragia
Reconcilientur peccatores.

Fiant per te liberi
A fermento veteri,
Victimae paschalis perceptores.

Da nobis, Maria,
Virgo clemens et pia,

Aspectu Christi viventis,
Et gloria frui resurgentis.

Tu prece nos pia,
Christo reconcilia,

Quæ sola Mater intacta,
Es Genitrix Verbi Dei facta.

Credendum est ex te Deum
Et hominem natum, resurrexisse glorificatum.

Scimus Christum surrexisse
A mortuis vere;
Conserva Mater nos et tuere.

Amen.
Let Christians offer to the Virgin Mary
their hymns of praise.

O Lady ever blessed!
let sinners be reconciled to God
by thy prayers.

May they that receive the Paschal Lamb be,
by thy intercession,
cleansed from the old leaven.

Give us, O Mary,
thou merciful and loving Virgin!

To enjoy the sight of the living
and Risen Christ.

Reconcile us with Jesus
by thy holy prayers,

O thou the spotless
Mother of the Word of God!

We believe that the God-Man
who was born of thee hath risen again in glory.

We know that Christ hath truly risen from the dead.
Do thou, O Mother!
preserve and defend us.

Amen.

[1] Ps. lxxxvi 3.
[2] St Luke i 48.

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