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Sixth Week after Easter

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Yet four days, and our risen Jesus, whose company has been so dear and precious to us, will have disappeared from the earth. This fifth Sunday after Easter seems to prepare us for the separation. In a week’s time, we shall begin the long series of Sundays which are to pass before He returns to judge the world. This is a grief to the Christian; for he knows that he will not see his Saviour until after this life, and he feels something of the sorrow the apostles had at the last Supper, when Jesus said to them: ‘Yet a little while, and ye shall not see Me.’[1]

But, after His Resurrection, what must these privileged men have felt, when they perceived, as we do, that this beloved Master was soon to leave them! They had, so to speak, been living with Jesus glorified; they had experienced the effects of His divine condescension and intimacy; they had received from His lips every instruction they needed for the fulfilment of His will, that is, for founding on earth the Church He had chosen as His spouse. These happy forty days are fast drawing to a close. The apostles will then be deprived of Jesus’ visible presence, even to the end of their lives.

We, too, shall feel something of their sadness, if we have kept ourselves united to our holy mother the Church. From the very first day, when she recommenced, for our sakes, the ecclesiastical year, during which all the mysteries of our redemption, from the birth of our Emmanuel even to His triumphant Ascension into heaven, were to be celebrated,—have not we also been living in company with her Jesus, our Redeemer? And now that He is about to close the sweet intercourse which these seasons and feasts have kept up between Himself and us, are not our feelings very much like those of the apostles?

But there is one creature on earth, whom Jesus is leaving, and whose feelings at the approaching separation we cannot attempt to describe. Never had there been a heart so submissive to the will of her Creator; but, at the same time, there never was any creature so severely tried as she had been. Jesus would have His Mother’s love still increase; He therefore subjects her to the separation from Himself. Moreover, He wishes her to co-operate in the formation of the Church, for He has decreed that the great work shall not be achieved without her. In all this, Jesus shows how tenderly He loves His blessed Mother: He wishes her merit to be so great, that He may justly give her the brightest possible crown, when the day of her own ascension into heaven comes.

The heart of this incomparable Queen is not, indeed, to be again transfixed with a sword of sorrow: it is to be consumed by a love so intense that no language could describe it. Under the sweet, yet wearing, fire of this love, Mary is at length to give way, just as fruit falls from the tree, when its ripeness is complete, and the tree has nothing more to give it. But, during these last hours of Jesus’ presence, what must such a Mother have felt, who has had but forty days to enjoy the sight and the caresses of her glorified and divine Son? It is Mary’s last trial; and when her Jesus tells her of His wish that she should remain in exile, she is ready with her favourite answer: 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord! Be it done to me according to Thy word!’ Her whole life has been spent in doing God’s will; it was this that made her so great in His eyes, and so dear to His Heart. A holy servant of God, who lived in the seventeenth century, and was favoured with the most sublime revelations, tells us that it was left to Mary’s choice, either to accompany her divine Son to heaven, or to remain some years longer upon the earth to assist the infant Church; and that she chose to defer her entrance into eternal bliss, in order to labour, as long as it was God’s good pleasure, in the great work which was so closely connected with the glory of her Son, and so essential to the salvation of us her adopted children.

If this generous devotedness raised the co-operatrix of our salvation to the highest degree of sanctity, by giving completeness to her mission on earth, we may be sure that Jesus’ love for His Mother was increased by the new proof she thus gave Him of her uniformity with every wish of His sacred Heart. He repaid her, as He well knew how to do, for this heroic self-sacrifice, this prompt submission to His designs which destined her to be, here on earth, as the Church calls her, 'Queen of the apostles,’ and a sharer in their labours.

During these His last few hours on earth, our Lord’s affection for His apostles and disciples seemed to be redoubled. For several of them, the separation was to be a long one. The beloved disciple, John, was not to enjoy the company of his divine Master till more than fifty years had elapsed. It was to be thirty before the cross would carry Peter to Him who had entrusted to his keeping the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Magdalene, the fervent Magdalene, would have to wait the same length of time. But no one murmured at the divine appointment: they all felt how just it was, that Jesus, now that He had so fully established the faith of His Resurrection, should enter into His glory.[2]

On the very day of His Resurrection, our Saviour bade the disciples go into Galilee, for that there He would meet them. As we have already seen, they obeyed the order, and seven among them were favoured by Jesus’ appearing to them on the banks of Lake Genesareth: it is the eighth of the manifestations mentioned in the Gospel. The ninth also took place in Galilee. Our Lord loved Galilee: it gave Him the greater number of His disciples, it was Mary and Joseph’s country, and it was there that He Himself passed so many years of His hidden life. Its people were simpler and better than those of Judea; and this was another attraction. St. Matthew tells us, that the most public of all Jesus’ manifestations, after His Resurrection,—the tenth in reality, and the ninth mentioned by the evangelists,—took place on a hill in this same district.[3]

According to St. Bonaventure, and the learned and pious Denis the Carthusian, this hill was Mount Thabor, the same that was honoured by the mystery of the transfiguration. Upwards of five hundred of Jesus’ disciples were assembled there, as we learn from St. Paul:[4] they were mostly inhabitants of Galilee, had believed in our Lord during His three years of public life, and merited to be witnesses of this new triumph of the Nazarene. Jesus showed Himself to them, and gave them such certitude with regard to His resurrection, that the apostle appeals to their testimony in support of this fundamental mystery of our faith.

Further than this, we know of no other manifestations made by our Saviour after His resurrection. We know that He gave order to His disciples to repair to Jerusalem, where they were to see Him once more before His Ascension. Let us, during these few days, follow the disciples to Jerusalem. Faithless city! how often has Jesus sought to gather together her children, as the hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and she would not![5] He is about to re-enter her walls; but she is not to know it. He will not shew Himself to her, but only to those that love Him; and after this He will depart in silence, never to return until He comes to judge them that have not known the time of their visitation.

In the Greek Church, the fifth Sunday after Easter is called the Sunday of the man born blind, because her Gospel for the day contains the history of that miracle of our divine Lord. She also calls it Episozomene, which is one of the names given by the Greeks to the mystery of the Ascension, the feast of which is kept with them, as with us, during the course of this week.

 

MASS

 

The Introit is taken from Isaias, the sublimest of the prophets. It sweetly invites all the earth to celebrate the victory won by Jesus,—a victory which has purchased our deliverance.

Introit

Vocem jucunditatis annuntiate, et audiatur, alleluia: annuntiate usque ad extremum terræ: liberavit Dominus populum suum. Alleluia, alleluia.
Ps. Jubilate Deo omnis terra: psalmum dicite nomini ejus, date gloriam laudi ejus.
℣. Gloria Patri. Vocem jucunditatis.
With the voice of joy make this to be heard, alleluia: publish to the utmost bounds of the earth, that the Lord hath redeemed his people. Alleluia, alleluia.
Ps. Shout with joy to God, all the earth: sing a psalm to his name, give glory to his praise.
℣. Glory, &c. With the voice, &c.

In the Collect, holy Church teaches us that our thoughts and actions, to be made deserving of eternal life, stand in need of grace; the former that we may have the inspiration, the latter that we may have the will to do them.

Collect

Deus, a quo bona cuncta procedunt, largire supplicibus tuis: ut cogitemus, te inspirante, quæ recta sunt, et, te gubernante, eadem faciamus. Per Dominum.
O God, from whom all that is good proceeds: grant that thy people, by thy inspiration, may resolve on what is right, and by thy direction, put it in practice. Through, &c.

Of the Blessed Virgin

Concede nos famulostuos, quæsumus Domine Deus, perpetua mentis et corporis sanitate gaudere: et gloriosa beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis intercessione, a præsenti liberari tristitia, et æterna perfrui lætitia.
Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we thy servants may enjoy constant health of body and mind; and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, be delivered from all present sorrows, and come to that joy which is eternal.

Against the Persecutors of the Church

Ecclesiæ tuæ, quæsumus Domine, preces placatus admitte, ut, destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis, secura tibi serviat libertate. Per Dominum.
Mercifully hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayers of thy Church: that, all oppositions and errors being removed, she may serve thee with a secure liberty. Through, &c.

For the Pope

Deus omnium fidelium Pastor et rector, famulum tuum N. quem Pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quæsumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus præest proficere; ut ad vitam una cum grege sibi credito perveniat sempiternam. Per Dominum.
O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in thy mercy, on thy servant N., whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church; and grant we beseech thee, that both by word and example, he may edify all those that are under his charge; and, with the flock entrusted to him, arrive at length at eternal happiness. Through, &c.

Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Jacobi Apostoli.

Cap. i.

Charissimi, estote factores verbi, et non auditores tantum, fallentes vosmetipsos. Quia si quis auditor est verbi, et non factor, hic comparabitur viro consideranti vultum nativitatis suæ in speculo: consideravit enim se, et abiit, et statim oblitus est qualis fuerit. Qui autem perspexerit in legem perfectam libertatis, et permanserit in ea, non auditor obliviosus factus, sed factor operis: hic beatus in facto suo erit. Si quis autem putat se religiosum esse, non refrænans linguam suam, sed seducens cor su um, hujus vana est religio. Religio munda, et immaculata apud Deum et Patrem, hæc est: Visitare pupillos et viduas in tribulatione eorum, et immaculatum se custodire ab hoc sæculo.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint James the Apostle.

Ch. i.

Dearly beloved: Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if a man be a hearer of the word and not a doer; he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he beheld himself and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was. But he that hath looked into the perfect law of liberty, and hath continued therein, not becoming a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work: this man shall be blessed in his deed. And if any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation: and to keep one’s self unspotted from this world.

The holy apostle, whose instructions these are, had received them from our risen Jesus: hence the authoritative tone wherewith he speaks. Our Saviour, as we have already seen, honoured him with a special visit. This proves that he was particularly dear to his divine master, to whom he was related by the tie of consanguinity on his mother’s side, whose name was Mary. This holy woman went on Easter morning to the sepulchre, in company with her sister Salome, and Magdalene. St. James the Less is indeed the apostle of Paschal Time, wherein everything speaks to us of the new life we should lead with our risen Lord. He is the apostle of good works, for it is from him that we have received this fundamental maxim of Christianity, that though faith he the first essential of a Christian, yet without works it is a dead faith, and will not save us.

He also lays great stress on our being attentive to the truths we have been taught, and on our guarding against that culpable forgetfulness, which plays such havoc with thoughtless souls. Many of those who have this year received the grace of the Easter mystery, will not persevere; and the reason is, that they will allow the world to take up all their time and thoughts, whereas they should use the world as though they did not use it.[6] Let us never forget, that we must now walk in newness of life, in imitation of our risen Jesus, who dieth now no more.

The two Alleluia-versicles celebrate the glory of the Resurrection; but they also contain an allusion to the approaching Ascension. Jesus was bom eternally from the Father; He came down to us; but now, in a few days, He is to return to his Father.

Alleluia alleluia. ℣. Surrexit Christus, et illuxit nobis, quos redemit sanguine suo. Alleluia.
℣. Exivi a Patre, et veni in mundum; iterum relinquo mundum et vado ad Patrem, alleluia.
Alleluia alleluia. ℣. Christ is risen, and hath shone upon us, whom he redeemed with his blood. Alleluia.
℣. I came forth from the Father, and I came into the world: I leave the world again, and go to the Father, alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.

Cap. xvi.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Amen, amen dico vobis: si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine meo, dabit vobis. Usque modo non petistis quidquam in nomine meo: petite et accipietis, ut gaudium vestrum sit plenum. Hæc in proverbiislocutus sum vobis. Venit hora cum jam non in proverbiie loquar vobis, sed palam de Patre annuntiabo vobis. In illo die in nomine meo petetis: et non dico vobis quia ego rogabo Patrem de vobis: ipse enim Pater amat vos, quia vos me amastis, et credidistis quia ego a Deo exivi. Exivi a Patre, et veni in mundum: iterum relinquo mundum, et vado ad Patrem. Dicunt ei discipuli ejus: Ecce nunc palam loqueris, et proverbium nullum dicis: nunc scimus quia scis omnia, et non opus est tibi ut quis te interroget: in hoc credimus quia a Deo existi.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.

Ch. xvi.

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: Amen, amen, I say to you; if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto you have not asked anything in my name. Ask and you shall receive; that your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in proverbs. The hour cometh when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but will show you plainly of the Father. In that day you shall ask in my name: and I say not to you, that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loveth you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world and I go to the Father. His disciples say to him: Behold now thou speakest plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now we know that thou knowest all things, and thou needest not that any man should ask thee. By this we believe that thou camest forth from God.

When, at His last Supper, our Saviour thus warned His apostles of His having soon to leave them, they were far from knowing Him thoroughly. True, they knew that He came forth from God; but their faith was weak, and they soon lost it. Now that they are enjoying His company after His Resurrection, now that they have received such light from His instructions, they know Him better. He no longer speaks to them in proverbs; He teaches them everything they require to know in order to become the teachers of the whole world. It is now they might truly say to Him: We believe that thou camest forth from God! So much the more, then, do they understand what they are going to lose by His leaving them.

Our Lord begins now to reap the fruit of the word He has sown in their hearts: oh! how patiently has He waited for it! If He praised them for their faith, when they were with Him on the night of the last Supper, He may surely do so now that they have seen Him in the splendour of His Resurrection, and have been receiving such teaching from His lips. He said to them, at the last Supper: The Father loveth you, because ye have loved Me; how much more must the Father love them now, when their love for Jesus is so much increased! Let us be consoled by these words. Before Easter our love of Jesus was weak, and we were tepid in His service; but now that we have been enlightened and nourished by His mysteries, we may well hope that the Father loves us, for we love Jesus better than we did before. This dear Redeemer urges us to ask the Father, in His name, for everything we need. Our first want is perseverance in the spirit of Eastertide; let it be our most earnest prayer; let it be our intention now that we are assisting at the holy sacrifice, which is soon to bring Jesus upon our altar.

The Offertory is taken from the Psalms; it is an act of thanksgiving which the Christian, united with his risen Jesus, offers to God for having brought him to the new life, and made him the object of His choicest graces.

Offertory

Benedicite, gentes, Dominum Deum nostrum, et obaudite vocem laudis ejus: qui posuit animam meam ad vitam, et non dedit commoveri pedes meos. Benedictus Dominus, qui non amovit deprecationem meam, et misericordiam suam a me, alleluia.
Bless the Lord our God, ye Gentiles, and make the voice of his praise be heard, who hath set my soul to live, and hath not suffered my feet to be moved. Blessed be the Lord, who hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me, alleluia.

In the Secret, the Church prays that this our earthly Pasch may introduce us to the feast of heavenly glory. The end of all the mysteries achieved by God in this world is, that we may be sanctified by them, and fitted for the eternal vision and possession of our Creator: it is this that the Church, adopting the style of the sacred Scriptures, calls glory.

Secret

Suscipe, Domine, fidelium preces cum oblationibus hostiarum: ut per hæc piæ devotionis officia, ad cœlestem gloriam transeamus. Per Dominum.
Receive, O Lord, we beseech thee, the prayers of the faithful, together with these oblations; that by these devout celebrations we may be admitted into heavenly glory. Through, &c.

Of the Blessed Virgin

Tua, Domine, propitiatione, et beatæ Mariæ semper Virginia intercessione, ad perpetuam atque præsentem hæc oblatio nobis proficiat prosperitatem et pacem.
By thine own mercy, O Lord, and the intercession of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, may this oblation procure us peace and happiness, both in this life, and in that which is to come.

Against the Persecutors of the Church.

Protege nos, Domine, tuis mysteriis servientes: ut divinis rebus inhærentes, et corpore tibi famulemur et mente. Per Dominum.
Protect us, O Lord, while we assist at thy sacred mysteries: that being employed in acts of religion, we may serve thee, both in body and mind. Through. &c.

For the Pope

Oblatis, quæsumus Domine, placare muneribus: et famulum tuum N. quem pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, assidua protectione guberna. Per Dominum.
Be appeased, O Lord, with the offering we have made: and cease not to protect thy servant N., whom thou hast been pleased to appoint Pastor over thy Church. Through, &c.

The Communion-anthem, composed of the words of the royal prophet, is a canticle of gladness, expressive of the ceaseless joy of our Easter.

Communion

Cantate Domino, alleluia: cantate Domino, et benedicite nomen ejus: bene nuntiate de die in diem salutare ejus. Alleluia, alleluia.
Sing to the Lord, alleluia: sing to the Lord, and bless his name: publish aloud, from day to day, that he hath saved us. Alleluia, alleluia.

Holy Church teaches us, in her Postcommunion, how we should pray to God. We must desire the right thing; let us pray to have this desire, and then continue our prayer till the right thing is granted. Grace will then be given us: it will be our own fault if it be unproductive.

Postcommunion

Tribue nobis, Domine, cœlestis mensæ virtute satiatis, et desiderare quærecta sunt, et desiderata percipere. Per Dominum.
Grant, O Lord, by the power of the heavenly nourishment we have received, that we desire what is right, and obtain our desire. Through, &c.

Of the Blessed Virgin

Sumptis, Domine, salutis nostræ subsidiis: da, quæsumus, beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis patrociniis nos ubique protegi, in cujus veneratione hæc tuæ obtulimus majestati.
Having received, O Lord, what is to advance our salvation; grant we may always be protected by the patronage of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, in whose honour we have offered this sacrifice to thy Majesty.

Against the Persecutors of the Church

Quæsumus, Domine Deus noster, ut quos divina tribuis participatione gaudere, humanis non sinas subjacere periculis. Per Dominum.
We beseech thee, O Lord our God, not to leave exposed to the dangers of human life, those whom thou hast permitted to partake of these divine mysteries. Through, &c.

For the Pope

Hæc nos, quæsumus, Domine, divini sacramenti perceptio protegat: et famulum tuum N. quem Pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, una cum commisso sibi grege, salvet semper et muniat. Per Dominum.
May the participation of this divine Sacrament protect us, we beseech thee, O Lord; and always procure safety and defence to thy servant N., whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church, together with the flock committed to his charge. Through, &c.

 

VESPERS

 

Antiphon of the Magnificat

Ant. Petite et accipietis, ut gaudium vestrum sit plenum: ipse enim Pater amat vos, quia vos me amastis, et credidistis, alleluia.

Oremus.

Deus, a quo bona cuncta procedunt; largire supplicibus tuis: ut cogitemus, te inspirante, quæ recta sunt, et te gubernante, eadem faciamus. Per Dominum.
Ant. Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full: for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed, alleluia.

Let us Pray.

O God, from whom all that is good proceeds: grant that thy people, by thy inspiration, may resolve on what is right, and by thy direction, put it in practice. Through. &c.

We will close our Sunday with the admonition wherewith the Gothic Church of Spain warned the faithful during Paschal Time. It is a season of joy; and yet we need to be cautious, for our enemy is sure to lay snares for us in the new life we have received.

Missa
(Feria V. post Pascha.)

Habeant, dilectissimi fratres, vota cautelam, festa diligentiam, gaudia disciplinam. Exsultare decet quod resurrexerimus: sed timere convenit ne cadamus. Inter novam vitam veteremque mortem oportet scire quid evasimus, oportet eligere quid amemus. Non enim error, sed contemptus est peccare commonitum. Major post veniam pœna sequitur contumaces: gravius est captivos fieri jam redemptos. Habet ista pietas potestatem, habet potestas ista terrorem, habet terror iste vindictam. Non enim fuisset pius in homine, nisi prius iratus fuisset in dæmone. Confortamur gratia doni, si non corrumpamur lege pec- cati. Ratio parcendi est prævisio corrigendi. Non mutamur indulgentia, si non renovetur offensa. Qui nobis quod peccavimus indulsit, et ne ultra peccaremus admo- nuit. Profuit dementia, si profecit disciplina. Jam qui- dem hominem gratia adopta- vit, sed necdum dæmonem gehenna suscepit. Violentia peccatum perdidit, non naturam. Dimicandi est facultas, non securitas otiandi. Spo- liatus eat adversarius, non extinctus. Gravius necesse est ut frendeat in amissis, quibus præerat dominando subjectis. Accepimus castra per fidem, arma per crucem, signa per carnem, vexilla per sanguinem: restat causa cer- taminis. Qui enim afferre necesaitatem voluit pugnæ, spem voluit probare victoriæ. Præcessit quidem in adoptione donum, sed adhuc restat in conversatione judicium. Hic promissio eat de munere, illic vicissitudo futura est post laborem. Sit itaque ille ante oculos nostros Domini miserantis affec- tua, quod in taxatione nostra non argenti pondus, non auri talentum dedit, non gratiarum fudit ornatum, sed convitio subdidit se pati- buli, sepulchro sustinens carneam injuriam, sepultu- ram. Nihil majus potuit dare, nihil melius. Ut uti- que sit probandum quod diligentius nos sibi servire voluit, qui pretiosius nos redemit. Ergo ut in nobis redemptionis suae beneficia dignetur perficere, constan- ter nos convenit ac perseve- ranter orare.
Dearly beloved brethren: let there be caution in your devotion, watchfulness in your festivity, modesty in your gladness. We should rejoice in that we have risen: but we should fear lest we may fall. We have been rescued from the death of old, and it behoves us to know how evil it was; we have been gifted with the new life, and we must cling to it as worthy of our love. To commit the sin we have been admonished to shun is not an error but contempt. They that have been pardoned and relapsed, deserve the greater punishment; nor is there excuse for them that have been once ransomed if they again become slaves. The mercy of God implies power; and power, fear; and fear, chastisement. He would not have been merciful to man, unless he had first been angry with the devil. He strengthens us with his gratuitous gifts, that we may not be corrupted by our evil inclinations. No one spares another but with a hope of correction. Forgiveness can do no harm, when the offence is not repeated. He that pardoned us our sins, thereby admonished us to sin no more. Mercy has not been lost on us, if our conduct is what it should be. Grace has, indeed, made man the adopted child of God; but the devil is not yet shut up in hell. Sin, not nature, has been defeated. What we have gained is the power of fighting, not the privilege of inaction. Our enemy has been despoiled, not slain. His anger must be greatest against those who were once subject to his tyranny, but now are disenthralled. Faith has given us bulwarks; the cross, armour; the flesh (assumed by Christ) a standard: and his Blood, a banner: the battle then is to be fought. The God who willed us to have the battle, willed us to have the hope of victory. We have already received the gift of adoption; our conduct is to decide what sentence is to be passed upon us in judgment. In this world we have the promise of reward; in the next, our lot will be decided according to our works. Let us, therefore, be mindful of the tender mercy of our Lord, who, as the price of our ransom, gave not sums of silver or gold, nor granted princely favours, but subjected himself to the infamy of the cross, and suffered his Body to be humbled even to being buried in a tomb. He could give nothing greater or better. So that the more it cost him to redeem us, the more diligently should we serve him; and it is this he demands of us. Therefore, in order that the work of his Redemption be perfected in us, it behoves us to pray with constancy and perseverance.

[1] St. John, xvi. 16.
[2] St. Luke, xxiv. 26.
[3] St. Matth. xxviii. 16.
[4] 1 Cor. xv. 6.
[5] St. Matth. xxiii. 37.
[6] I Cor. vii. 31.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

It seems strange that there should be anything like mourning during Paschal Time: and yet these three days are days of penance. A moment’s reflection, however, will show us that the institution of the Rogation days is a most appropriate one. True, our Saviour told us, before His Passion, that ‘the children of the Bridegroom should not fast whilst the Bridegroom is with them’:[1] but is not sadness in keeping with these the last hours of Jesus’ presence on earth? Were not His Mother and disciples oppressed with grief at the thought of their having so soon to lose Him, whose company had been to them a foretaste of heaven?

Let us see how the liturgical year came to have inserted in its calendar these three days, during which holy Church, though radiant with the joy of Easter, seems to go back to her lenten observances. The Holy Ghost, who guides hex in all things, willed that this completion of her paschal liturgy should owe its origin to a devotion peculiar to one of the most illustrious and venerable Churches of southern Gaul, the Church of Vienne.

The second half of the fifth century had but just commenced, when the country round Vienne, which had been recently conquered by the Burgundians, was visited with calamities of every kind. The people were struck with fear at these indications of God’s anger. St. Mamertus, who, at the time, was bishop of Vienne, prescribed three days' public expiation, during which the faithful were to devote themselves to penance, and walk in procession chanting appropriate psalms. The three days preceding the Ascension were the ones chosen. Unknown to himself, the holy bishop was thus instituting a practice, which was afterwards to form part of the liturgy of the universal Church.

The Churches of Gaul, as might naturally be expected, were the first to adopt the devotion. St. Alcimus Avitus, who was one of the earliest successors of St. Mamertus in the See of Vienne, informs us that the custom of keeping the Rogation days was, at that time, firmly established in his diocese.[2] St. Cæsarius of Arles, who lived in the early part of the sixth century, speaks of them as being observed in countries afar off; by which he meant, at the very least, to designate all that portion of Gaul which was under the Visigoths.[3] That the whole of Gaul soon adopted the custom, is evident from the canons drawn up at the first Council of Orleans, held in 511, which represented all the provinces that were in allegiance to Clovis. The regulations, made by the council regarding the Rogations, give us a great idea of the importance attached to their observance. Not only abstinence from flesh-meat, but even fasting, is made of obligation. Masters are also required to dispense their servants from work, in order that they may assist at the long functions which fill up almost the whole of these three days.[4] In 567, the Council of Tours, likewise, imposed the precept of fasting during the Rogation days;[5] and as to the obligation of resting from servile work, we find it recognized in the Capitularia of Charlemagne and Charles the Bald.

The main part of the Rogation rite originally consisted, (at least in Gaul,) in singing canticles of supplication while passing from place to place; and hence the word Procession. We learn from St. Cæsarius of Arles, that each day’s procession lasted six hours; and that when the clergy became tired, the women took up the chanting.[6] The faithful of those days had not made the discovery, which was reserved for modem times, that one requisite for religious processions is that they be as short as possible.

The procession for the Rogation days was preceded by the faithful receiving the ashes upon their heads, as now at the beginning of Lent; they were then sprinkled with holy water, and the procession began. It was made up of the clergy and people of several of the smaller parishes, who were headed by the cross of the principal church, which conducted the whole ceremony. All walked bare-foot, singing the litany, psalms, and antiphons, until they reached the church appointed for the station, where the holy sacrifice was offered. They entered the churches that lay on their route, and sang an antiphon or responsory appropriate to each.

Such was the original ceremony of the Rogation days, and it was thus observed for a very long period. The monk of St. Gall’s who has left us so many interesting details regarding the life of Charlemagne, tells us that this holy emperor used to join the processions of these three days, and walk bare-footed from his palace to the stational church.[7] We find St. Elizabeth of Hungary, in the thirteenth century, setting the like example: during the Rogation days, she used to mingle with the poorest women of the place, and walk bare-footed, wearing a dress of coarse stuff.[8] St. Charles Borromeo, who restored in his diocese of Milan so many ancient practices of piety, was sure not to be indifferent about the Rogation days. He spared neither word nor example to reanimate this salutary devotion among his people. He ordered fasting to be observed during these three days; he fasted himself on bread and water. The procession, in which all the clergy of the city were obliged to join, and which began after the sprinkling of ashes, started from the cathedral at an early hour in the morning, and was not over till three or four o’clock in the afternoon. Thirteen churches were visited on the Monday; nine, on the Tuesday; and eleven, on the Wednesday. The saintly archbishop celebrated Mass and preached in one of these churches.[9]

If we compare the indifference shown by the Catholics of the present age for the Rogation days, with the devotion wherewith our ancestors kept them, we cannot but acknowledge that there is a great falling off in faith and piety. Knowing, as we do, the importance attached to these processions by the Church, we cannot help wondering how it is that there are so few among the faithful who assist at them. Our surprise increases when we find persons preferring their own private devotions to these public prayers of the Church, which, to say nothing of the result of good example, merit far greater graces than any exercises of our own fancying.

The whole western Church soon adopted the Rogation days. They were introduced into England at an early period; as likewise into Spain and Germany. Rome herself sanctioned them by herself observing them; this she did in the eighth century, during the pontificate of St. Leo III. She gave them the name of the Lesser Litanies, in contradistinction to the procession of April 25, which she calls the Greater Litanies. With regard to the fast which the Churches of Gaul observed during the Rogation days, Rome did not adopt that part of the institution. Fasting seemed to her to throw a gloom over the joyous forty days, which our risen Jesus grants to His disciples; she therefore enjoined only abstinence from flesh-meat during the Rogation days. The Church of Milan, which, as we have just seen, so strictly observes the Rogations, keeps them on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after the Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension, that is to say, after the forty days devoted to the celebration of the Resurrection.

If, then, we would have a correct idea of the Rogation days, we must consider them as Rome does,—that is, as a holy institution which, without interrupting our paschal joy, tempers it. The purple vestments used during the procession and Mass do not signify that our Jesus has fled from us,[10] but that the time for His departure is approaching. By prescribing abstinence for these three days, the Church would express how much she will feel the loss of her Spouse, who is so soon to be taken from her.

In England, as in many other countries, abstinence is no longer of obligation for the Rogation days. This should be an additional motive to induce the faithful to assist at the processions and litanies, and, by fervently uniting in the prayers of the Church, to make some compensation for the abolition of the law of abstinence. We need so much penance, and we do so little! If we are truly in earnest, we shall be most fervent in doing the little that is left us to do.

The object of the Rogation days is to appease the anger of God, and avert the chastisements which the sins of the world so justly deserve; moreover, to draw down the divine blessing on the fruits of the earth. The litany of the saints is sung during the procession, which is followed by a special Mass said in the stational church, or if there be no Station appointed, in the church whence the procession first started.

The litany of the saints is one of the most efficacious of prayers. The Church makes use of it on all solemn occasions, as a means of rendering God propitious through the intercession of the whole court of heaven. They who are prevented from assisting at the procession, should recite the litany in union with holy Church: they will thus share in the graces attached to the Rogation days; they will be joining in the supplications now being made throughout the entire world; they will be proving themselves to be Catholics.

We give the Mass of the Rogations, which is the same for all three days. It speaks to us, throughout, of the power and necessity of prayer. The Church uses the lenten colour, to express the expiatory character of the function she is celebrating: but she is evidently full of confidence; she trusts to the love of her risen Jesus, and that gives her hope of her prayers being granted.

For the convenience of the faithful we also insert the litany.

Litany of the Saints

Ant. Exsurge, Domine, adjuva nos: et libera nos, propter nomen tuum.
Ps.
Deus, auribus nostris audivimus: patres nostri annuntiaverunt nobis.
℣. Gloria Patri. Exsurge.

Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, eleison.
Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, audi nos.
Christe, exaudi nos.
Pater de cœlis, Deus, miserere nobis.
Fili, Redemptor mundi, Deus, miserere nobis.
Spiritus Sancte, Deus, miserere nobis.
Sancta Trinitas, unus Deus, miserere nobis.
Sancta Maria, Ora pro nobis.
Sancta Dei Genitrix, ora.
Sancta Virgo virginum, ora.
Sancte Michael, ora.
Sancte Gabriel, ora.
Sancte Raphael, ora.
Omnes sancti angeli et archangeli, orate.
Omnes sancti beatorum spirituum ordines, orate.
Sancte Joannes Baptista, ora.
Sancte Joseph, ora.
Omnes sancti patriarchæ et prophetæ, orate.
Sancte Petre, ora.
Sancte Paule, ora.
Sancte Andrea, ora.
Sancte Jacobe, ora.
Sancte Joannes, ora.
Sancte Thoma, ora.
Sancte Jacobe, ora.
Sancte Philippe, ora.
Sancte Bartholomæe, ora.
Sancte Matthæe, ora.
Sancte Simon, ora.
Sancte Thaddæe, ora.
Sancte Mathia, ora.
Sancte Barnaba, ora.
Sancte Luca, ora.
Sancte Maree, ora.
Omnes sancti apostoli et evangelistæ, orate.
Omnes sancti discipuli Domini, orate.
Omnes sancti Innocentes, orate.
Sancte Stephane, ora.
Sancte Laurenti, ora.
Sancte Vincenti, ora.
Sancti Fabiane et Sebastiane. orate.
Sancti Joannes et Paule, orate.
Sancti Cosma et Damiane, orate.
Sancti Gervasi et Protasi, orate.
Omnes sancti martyres, orate.
Sancte Sylvester, ora.
Sancte Gregori, ora.
Sancte Ambrosi, ora.
Sancte Augustine, ora.
Sancte Hieronyme, ora.
Sancte Martine, ora.
Sancte Nicolæ, ora.
Omnes sancti pontifices et confessores, orate.
Omnes sancti doctores, orate.
Sancte Antoni, ora.
Sancte Benedicte, ora.
Sancte Bernardo, ora.
Sancte Dominice, ora.
Sancte Francisce, ora.
Omnes sancti sacerdotes et levitæ, orate.
Omnes sancti monachi et eremitæ, orate,
Sancta Maria Magdalena, ora.
Sancta Agatha, ora.
Sancta Lucia, ora.
Sancta Agnes, ora.
Sancta Cæcilia, ora.
Sancta Catharina, ora.
Sancta Anastasia, ora.
Omnes sanctae virgines et viduae, orate.
Omnes sancti et sanctae Dei, Intercedite pro nobis.
Propitius esto, parce nobis, Domine.
Propitius esto, exaudi nos, Domine.
Ab omni malo, libera nos, Domine.
Ab omni peccato, libera nos, Domine.
Ab ira tua, libera.
A subitanea et improvisa morte, libera.
Ab insidiis diaboli, libera.
Ab ira, et odio, et omni mala voluntate, libera.
A spiritu fornicationis, libera.
A fulgure et tempestate, libera.
A flagello terræmotus, libera.
A peste, fame, et bello, libera.
A morte perpetua, libera.
Per mysterium sanctae Incarnationis tuæ, libera.
Per adventum tuum, libera.
Per nativitatem tuam, libera.
Per baptismum et sanctum jejunium tuum, libera.
Per crucem et passionem tuam, libera.
Per mortem et sepulturam tuam, libera.
Per sanctam Resurrectionem tuam, libera.
Per admirabilem Ascensionem tuam, libera.
Per adventum Spiritus sancti Paracliti, libera.
In die judicii, libera.
Peccatores, te rogamue, audi nos.
Ut nobis parcas, te rogamue, audi nos.
Ut nobis indulgeas, te rogamus.
Ut ad veram pœnitentiam nos perducere digneris, te rogamus.
Ut Ecclesiam tuam sanctam regere et conservare digneris, te rogamus.
Ut Domnum apostolicum, et omnes ecclesiasticos ordines, in sancta religione conservare digneris, te rogamus.
Ut inimicos sanctæ Ecclesiæ humillare digneris, te rogamus.
Ut regibue et principibus Christianis pacem et veram concordiam donare digneris, te rogamus.
Ut cuncto populo Christiano pacem et unitatem largiri digneris, te rogamus.
Ut nosmetipsos in tuo sancto servitio confortare et conservare digneris, te rogamus,
Ut mentes nostras ad cœlestia desideria erigas, te rogamus.
Ut omnibus benefactoribus nostris sempiterna bona retribuas, te rogamus.
Ut animas nostras, fratrum, propinquorum, et benefactorum nostrorum ab æterna damnatione eripias, te rogamus.
Ut fructus terræ dare et conservare digneris, te rogamus.
Ut omnibus fidelibus defunctis requiem æternam donare digneris, te rogamus.
Ut nos exaudire digneris, te rogamus.
Fili Dei, te rogamus.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, parce nobis, Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, exaudi nos, Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Christe, audi nos.
Christe, exaudi nos.
Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, eleison.
Kyrie, eleison.
Pater noster. (Secreto.)
℣. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
℟. Sed libera nos a malo.
Ant. Arise, O Lord, help us, and deliver us, for thy name.
Ps. We have heard, O God, with our ears: our fathers have told it unto us.
℣. Glory, &c. Arise, &c.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
Saint Michael, pray for us
Saint Gabriel,
Saint Raphael,
All ye holy angels and archangels,
All ye holy orders of blessed spirits,
Saint John Baptist,
Saint Joseph,
All ye holy patriarchs and prophets,
Saint Peter,
Saint Paul,
Saint Andrew,
Saint James,
Saint John,
Saint Thomas,
Saint James,
Saint Philip,
Saint Bartholomew,
Saint Matthew,
Saint Simon,
Saint Thaddeus,
Saint Mathias,
Saint Barnaby,
Saint Luke,
Saint Mark,
All ye holy apostles and evangelists,
All ye holy disciples of our Lord,
All ye holy Innocents,
Saint Stephen,
Saint Laurence,
Saint Vincent,
Saints Fabian and Sebastian,
Saints John and Paul,
Saints Cosmas and Damian,
Saints Gervasius and Protasius,
All ye holy martyrs,
Saint Sylvester,
Saint Gregory,
Saint Ambrose,
Saint Augustine,
Saint Jerome,
Saint Martin,
Saint Nicholas,
All ye holy bishops and confessors,
All ye holy doctors,
Saint Antony,
Saint Benedict,
Saint Bernard,
Saint Dominic,
Saint Francis,
All ye holy priests and levites,
All ye holy monks and hermits.
Saint Mary Magdalene,
Saint Agatha,
Saint Lucy,
Saint Agnes,
Saint Cecily,
Saint Catharine,
Saint Anastasia,
All ye holy virgins and widows,
All ye men and women, saints of God, make intercession for us.
Be merciful to us, spare us O Lord,
Be merciful to us, graciously hear us, O Lord.
From all evil, deliver us, O Lord.
From all sin, deliver us, O Lord.
From thy wrath,
From sudden and unprovided death,
From the snares of the devil,
From anger, hatred, and all ill-will,
From the spirit of fornication,
From lightning and tempest,
From the scourge of earthquakes,
From plague, famine, and war,
From everlasting death,
Through the mystery of thy holy Incarnation,
Through thy coming,
Through thy nativity,
Through thy baptism and holy fasting,
Through thy cross and Passion,
Through thy death and burial,
Through thy holy Resurrection,
Through thy admirable Ascension,
Through the coming of the Holy Ghost the Comforter,
In the day of Judgment,
We sinners, beseech thee, hear us.
That thou spare us, we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou pardon us,
That thou vouchsafe to bring us to true penance,
That thou vouchsafe to govern and preserve thy holy Church,
That thou vouchsafe to preserve our apostolic Prelate, and all ecclesiastical orders, in holy religion,
That thou vouchsafe to humble the enemies of thy holy Church,
That thou vouchsafe to give peace and true concord to Christian kings and princes,
That thou vouchsafe to grant peace and unity to all Christian people,
That thou vouchsafe to strengthen and preserve us in thy holy service,

That thou lift up our minds to heavenly desires,
That thou render eternal good things to all our benefactors,
That thou deliver our souls, and those of our brethren, kinsfolk, and benefactors, from eternal damnation,
That thou vouchsafe to give and preserve the fruits of the earth,
That thou vouchsafe to give eternal rest to all the faithful departed,
That thou vouchsafe graciously to hear us,
Son of God, we beseech thee, hear us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Our Father. (In secret.)
℣. And lead us not into temptation.
℟. But deliver us from evil.

Psalm 69

Deus, in adjutorium meum intende: Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.
Confundantur et revereantur: qui quærunt animam meam.
Avertantur retrorsum et erubescant: qui volunt mihi mala.
Avertantur statim erubescentes: qui dicunt mihi, Euge, euge.
Exsultent et lætentur in te omnes qui quærunt te: et dicant semper, Magnificetur Dominus, qui diligunt salutare tuum.
Ego vero egenus et pauper sum: Deus adjuva me.
Adjutor meus et liberator meus es tu: Domine, ne moreris.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper: et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

℣. Salvos fac servos tuos.
℟. Deus meus sperantes in te.
℣. Esto nobis, Domine, turris fortitudinis.
℟. A facie inimici.
℣. Nihil proficiat inimicus in nobis.
℟. Et filius iniquitatis non apponat nocere nobis.
℣. Domine, non secundum peccata nostra facias nobis.
℟. Neque secundum iniquitates nostras retribuas nobis.
℣. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro N.
℟. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum ejus.
℣. Oremus pro benefactoribus nostris.
℟. Retribuere dignare, Domine, omnibus nobis bona facientibus, propter nomen tuum, vitam æternam. Amen.
℣. Oremus pro fidelibus defunctis.
℟. Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.
℣. Requiescant in pace.
℟. Amen.
℣. Pro fratribus nostris absentibus.
℟. Salvos fac servos tuos, Deus meus, sperantes in te.
℣. Mitte eis, Domine, auxilium de sancto.
℟. Et de Sion tuere eos.
℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
℟. Et elamor meus ad te veniat.
℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

Oremus.

Deus, cui proprium est miseren semper et parcere: suscipe deprecationem nostram: ut nos, et omnes famulos tuos, quos delictorum catena constringit, miseratio tuæ pietatis elementer absolvat.

Exaudi, quæsumus, Domine, supplicum preces, et confitentium tibi parce peccatis: ut pariter nobis indulgentiam tribuas benignus et pacem.

Ineffabilem nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam elementer ostende: ut simul nos et a peccatis omnibus exuas, et a pænis, quas pro his meremur, eripias.

Deus, qui culpa offenderis, pœnitentia placaris: preces populi tui supplicantis propitius respice; et flagella tuæ iraeundiæ, quæ pro peccatis nostris meremur, averte.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, miserere famulo tuo Pontifici nostro N., et dirige eum, secundum tuam clementiam, in viam salutis æternæ; ut, te donante, tibi placita cupiat, et tota virtute perficiat.

Deus, a quo sancta desideria, recta consilia, et justa sunt opera: da servis tuis
illam, quam mundus dare non potest, pacem; ut et corda nostra mandatis tuis dedita, et hostium sublata formidine, tempora sint, tua protectione, tranquilla.

Ure igne sancti Spiritus renes nostros et cor nostrum Domine: ut tibi casto corpore serviamus, et mundo corde placeamus.

Fidelium, Deus, omnium Conditor et Redemptor, animabus famulorum famularumque tuarum remissionem cunctorum tribue peccatorum: ut indulgentiam, quam semper optaverunt, piis supplicationibus consequantur.

Actiones nostras, quæsumus, Domine, aspirando præveni, et adjuvando prosequere; ut cuncta nostra oratio et operatio a te semper incipiat, et per te cœpta finiatur.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui vivorum dominaris simul et mortuorum, omniumque misereris, quos tuos fide et opere futuros esse prænoscis; te supplices exoramus; ut pro quibus effundere preces decrevimus, quosque vel præsens sæculum adhuc in carne retinet, vel futurum jam exutos corpore suscepit, intercedentibus omnibus sanctis tuis, pietatis tuæ clementia, omni um delictorum suorum veniam consequantur. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, &c.
℟. Amen.

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

℣. Exaudiat nos omnipo tens et misericors Dominus.
℟. Amen.

℣. Et fidelium animæ, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace.
℟. Amen.
O God come to my assistance: O Lord make haste to help me.
Let them be confounded and ashamed that seek my soul.
Let them be turned backward, and blush for shame, that desire evils to me.
Let them be presently turned away blushing for shame, that say to me: ’Tis well, ’tis well.
Let all that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation, say always, The Lord be magnified.
But I am needy and poor: O God help me.
Thou art my helper and my deliverer: O Lord, make no delay.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
℣. Save thy servants.
℟. Trusting in thee, O my God.
℣. Be unto us, O Lord, a tower of strength.
℟. From the face of the enemy.
℣. Let not the enemy prevail against us.
℟. Nor the son of iniquity have any power to hurt us.
℣. O Lord, deal not with us according to our sins.
℟. Nor reward us according to our iniquities.
℣. Let us pray for our chief Bishop N.
℟. May our Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon earth, and deliver him not to the will of his enemies.
℣. Let us pray for our benefactors.
℟. Vouchsafe, O Lord, for thy name’s sake, to reward, with eternal life, all them that have done us good. Amen.
℣. Let us pray for the faithful departed.
℟. Eternal rest give to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
℣. May they rest in peace.
℟. Amen.
℣. For our absent brethren.
℟. O my God, save thy servants trusting in thee.
℣. Send them help, O Lord, from thy holy place.
℟. And from Sion protect them.
℣. O Lord hear my prayer.
℟. And let my cry come unto thee.
℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

Let us Pray.

O God, whose property it is always to have mercy and to spare: receive our petitions: that we, and all thy servants, who are bound by the chain of sin, may, by the compassion of thy goodness, mercifully be absolved.

Hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayers of thy suppliants, and pardon us our sins, who confess them to thee; that of thy bounty, thou mayst grant us pardon and peace.

Out of thy clemency, O Lord, show us thy unspeakable mercy; that so thou mayst both acquit us of our sins, and deliver us from the punishment we deserve for them.

O God, who by sin art offended, and by penance pacified, mercifully regard the prayers of thy people, who make supplications to thee; and turn away the scourges of thy anger, which we deserve for our sins.

O almighty and eternal God, have mercy on thy servant N., our chief Bishop, and direct him, according to thy clemency, in the way of everlasting salvation; that, by thy grace, he may desire those things that are agreeable to thee, and perform them with all his strength.

O God, from whom are all holy desires, righteous counsels, and just works, give to thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that our hearts being disposed to keep thy commandments, and the fear of enemies taken away, the times, by thy protection, may be peaceable.

Inflame, O Lord, our reins and hearts with the fire of thy holy Spirit; to the end we may serve thee with a chaste body, and please thee with a clean heart.

O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, give to the souls of thy servants departed the remission of all their sins; that, by pious supplications, they may obtain the pardon they have always desired.

Prevent, we beseech thee, O Lord, our actions by thy holy inspirations, and carry them on by thy gracious assistance; that every prayer and work of ours may always begin from thee, and by thee be happily ended.

O almighty and eternal God, who hast dominion over the living and the dead, and art merciful to all, who thou foreknowest shall be thine by faith and good works; we humbly beseech thee, that they, for whom we have determined to offer up our prayers, whether this present world still detain them in the flesh, or the world to come hath already received them out of their bodies, may, by the clemency of thy good ness, all thy saints interceding for them, obtain pardon and full remission of all their sins. Through, &c.
℟. Amen.

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

℣. May the almighty and most merciful Lord graciously hear us.
℟. Amen.

℣. And may the souls of the faithful, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
℟. Amen.


MASS OF THE ROGATION DAYS

 

The Introit, which is taken from the Psalms, tells us of the mercy of God, and how He graciously hears our prayer the moment we make it.

Introit

Exaudivit de templo sancto suo vocem meam, alleluia: et clamor meus in conspectu ejus introivit in aures ejus. Alleluia, alleluia.
Ps. Diligam te, Domine, virtus mea: Dominus firmamentum meum et refugium meum, et liberator meus.
℣. Gloria Patri. Exaudivit.
He hath graciously heard my voice from his holy temple, alleluia: and my cry before him came into his ears. Alleluia, alleluia.
Ps. I will love thee, O Lord, my strength! The Lord is my rock, my refuge, and my deliverer.
℣. Glory, &c. He hath, &c.

In the Collect, the Church represents the necessities of her children to almighty God. As a motive for His granting them His protection, she speaks of the confidence wherewith they ask it.

Collect

Præsta, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, ut, qui in afflictione nostra de tua pietate confidimus, contra adversa omnia, tua semper protectionemuniamur. Per Dominum.
Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that we, who in our afflictions rely on thy goodness, may, under thy protection, be defended against all adversities. Through, &c.

Then are added the other Collects, as in the Mass of the fifth Sunday after Easter, page 119.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Jacobi Apostoli.

Cap. v.

Charissimi, confitemini alterutrum peccata vestra, et orate pro invicem ut salvemini: multum enim valet deprecatio justi assidua. Elias homo erat similis nobis, passibilis: et oratione oravit ut non plueret super terram, et non pluit annos tres, et menses sex. Et rursum oravit: et cœlum dedit pluviam, et terra dedit fructum suum. Fratres mei, si quis ex vobis erraverit a veritate, et converterit quis eum: scire debet quoniam qui converti fecerit peccatorem ab errore viæ suæ, salvabit animam ejus a morte, et operiet multitudinem peccatorum.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint James the Apostle.

Ch. v.

Dearly beloved: Confess your sins one to another; and pray one for another, that you may be saved. For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much. Elias was a man passible like unto us: and with prayer he prayed that it might not rain upon the earth, and it rained not for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. My brethren, if any of you err from the truth, and one convert him; he must know, that he who caused a sinner to be converted from the error of his way, shall save his soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins.

Again it is the apostle St. James the Less, who speaks to us in to-day’s Epistle; and could any words be more appropriate? One of the motives for the institution of the Rogation days, is to obtain from God the blessing of weather favourable to the fruits of the earth; and St. James here adduces the example of Elias, to show us that prayer can stay or bring down the rain of heaven. Let us imitate the faith of this Prophet, and beg of our heavenly Father to give and preserve what we require for our nourishment. Another object of the Rogations, is to obtain the forgiveness of sin. If we pray with fervour for our brethren who are gone astray, we shall obtain for them the graces they stand in need of. We shall perhaps never know, during this life, those whom our prayer, united with the prayer of the Church, shall have converted from the error of their way; but the apostle assures us, that our charity will receive a rich reward,—the mercy of God upon ourselves.

In order the better to express mourning and communction in the Mass of the Rogation days, the Church not only uses purple vestments, she also retrenches somewhat of the joy of her canticles. She allows herself but one Alleluia-versicle; but it is full of hope in the goodness of her Lord.

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

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. xi.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Quis vestrum habebit amicum, et ibit ad ilium media nocte, et dicet illi: Amice, commoda mihi tres panes, quoniam amicus meus venit de via ad me, et non habeo quod ponam ante illum; et ille deintus respondensdicat; Noli mihi molestus esse, jam ostium clausum est, et pueri mei mecum sunt in cubili: non possum surgere, et dare tibi. Et si ille perseveraverit pulsans: dico vobis, et si non dabit illi surgens eo quod amicus ejus sit, propter improbitatem tamen ejus surget, et dabit illi quotquot habet necessarios. Et ego dico vobis: Petite, et dabitur vobis: quærite, et invenietis: pulsate, et aperietur vobis. Omnis enim qui petit, accipit: et qui quærit, invenit: et pulsanti aperietur. Quis autem ex vobis patrem petit panem, numquid lapidem dabit illi? Aut piscem: numquid pro pisce serpentem dabit illi? Aut si petierit ovum: numquid porriget illi scorpionem? Si ergo vos, cum sitis mali, nostis bona data dare filiis vestris: quanto magis Pater vester de cœlo dabit spiritum bonum petentibus se?
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. xi.

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and shall say to him: Friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine has come off his journey to me, and I have not what to set before him: and he from within should answer and say: Trouble me not, the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. Yet if he shall continue knocking, I say to you, although he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend; yet because of his importunity he will rise, and give him as many as he needeth. And I say to you: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion? If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him?

Could anything show us the all-powerfulness of prayer more clearly than do these words of our Gospel? By thus putting them before us, holy Church shows us the importance of the Rogation days, since it is during them that she shows us the efficacy of supplication, which triumphs over the refusal of God Himself. The reader, who has followed us thus far in our work, must have observed how the passages of holy Writ, selected by the liturgy, form a continued series of instruction, appropriate to each day. During these three days, we are labouring to appease the anger of heaven; could there be a more fitting occasion for our being told that God cannot resist persevering prayer? The Litanies we have been chanting in procession, are a model of this holy obstinacy, or, as our Gospel terms it, this importunity, of prayer. How often did we repeat the same words! Lord have mercy on ns!—Deliver us, O Lord!—We beseech thee, hear us! The divine Paschal Lamb, who is about to be offered on our altar, will mediate for us; a few moments hence He will unite His ever efficacious intercession with our poor prayers. With such a pledge as this, we shall leave the holy place, feeling sure that these prayers have not been made in vain. Let us, therefore, make a resolution to keep aloof no longer from the holy practices of the Church; let us always prefer praying with her, to praying by ourselves; she is the spouse of Jesus, she is our common mother, and she always wishes us to take part with her in the prayers she offers up. Besides, is it not for us that she makes these prayers?

The Offertory is taken from the Psalms. It gives praise to God, who, notwithstanding our being poor sinners, permits Himself to be overcome by our prayers, rises in our defence, and gives us all we stand in need of.

Offertory

Confitebor Domino nimis in ore meo: et in medio multorum laudabo eum, qui adstitit a dextris pauperis: ut salvam faceret a persequentibus animam meam, alleluia.
I will give great thanks to the Lord with my mouth; and in the midst of many I will praise him, because he hath stood at the right hand of the poor, to save my soul from persecutors, alleluia.

The bonds of sin enchained us, and, of ourselves, we could not have returned to our Creator; but the Paschal Lamb has restored us our liberty; and as often as His Sacrifice is renewed upon the altar, our deliverance is achieved afresh. The Church expresses this in the Secret: her confidence rests on the divine Victim, which the Father has given us, and which she is now about to offer to Him.

Secret

Hæc munera, quæsumus, Domine, et vincula nostræ pravitatis absolvant, et tuæ nobis misericordiæ dona concilient. Per Dominum.
May these offerings, O Lord, loosen the bonds of our wickedness, and obtain for us the gift of thy mercy. Through, &c.

Then are added the other Secrets, as given above in the Mass of the fifth Sunday after Easter, page 124.


The Communion-anthem is the repetition of the consoling words of our Saviour, as given us in the Gospel. It is He Himself who authorizes us to ask for whatsoever we please; we cannot ask too much. None of us would have dared to say: ‘Whosoever makes a petition to God, will have his petition granted’: but now that the Son of God has come from heaven to teach us this astounding truth, we should never tire of repeating it.

Communion

Petite, et accipietis: quærite, et invenietis; pulsate, et aperietur vobis: omnis enim qui petit accipit: et qui quærit invenit: et pulsanti aperietur, alleluia.
Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened, alleiuia.

The Sacrifice of peace is consummated, and the Church gives free scope to her confidence by the words of thanksgiving expressed in the Postcommunion. The sacred gifts have brought us consolation; and our holy mother prays that consolation may prompt us to warmer love.

Postcommunion

Vota nostra, quæsumus Domine, pio favore prosequere: ut, dum dona tua in tribulatione percipimus, de consolatione nostra in tuo amore crescamus. Per Dominum.
We besecch thee, O Lord, mercifully receive our prayers; that while we partake of thy gifts in our affliction, the consolation we find may increase our love. Through, &c.

To this are added the other Postcommunions, as given above, in the Mass of the fifth Sunday after Easter, page 126.


We subjoin a liturgical fragment, taken from the Rogation Mass of the ancient Gallican rite. This prayer was one of the supplications made on the first of these three days, and it bears with it the marks of its venerable antiquity.

Prayer
(Post Nomina)

Tua sunt, Domine, alimonia, quibus in quotidiano victu ad sustentationem reficimur: tuaque jejunia, quibus carnem a lubrica voluptate, te præcipiente, restringimus. Tu ad consolationem nostram vicissitudines temporum disposuisti: ut tempus edendi corpora nostra refectio sobria aleret; et jejunandi tempus ea in justitiam tibi placitam faceret macerata. Hanc hostiam ob jejunia triduanæ macerationis a nobis oblatam sanctificans dignanteradsume, et præsta placatus: ut sopita delectatione corporea, mens ab iniquitatibus pariter conquiescat. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
It is from thee, O Lord, we receive the food, wherewith we are daily supported; to thee also do we offer these fasts, whereby, according to thy command, we put upon our flesh the restraint from dangerous indulgence. Thou hast so ordered the changes of seasons, as to afford us consolation: thus the time for eating gives nourishment to the body, by sober repasts; and the time for fasting inflicts on them a chastisement pleasing to thy justice. Vouchsafe to bless and receive this our offering of a three days' penitential fast; and mercifully grant, that whilst our bodies abstain from gratification, our souls also may rest from sin. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

[1] St. Luke, v. 34.
[2] Homil. de Rogationibus.
[3] Serm. clxxii; amongst the Sermons of St. Augustine.
[4] Canon xxvii.
[5] Canon xvii.
[6] Serm. clxxiv. Herbertus Turritanus. Miracul., lib. i. o. 21.
[7] De rebus bellicis Caroli Magni, cap. xvi.
[8] Surius: ad diem xix. Novembris.
[9] Giussano: Life of St. Charles Borromeo.
[10] Cant. viii. 14.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

To-day, again, the great Litany, the supplication, is heard from the house of the Lord: the solemn procession re-appears in the streets of the city, and in the quiet lanes of the country. Let us take our share in this sacred rite; let us blend our voice with that of our mother, and join the cry that pierces the clouds: Kyrie eleison! Lord have mercy on us! Let us think, for a moment, of the countless sins that are being committed, day and night; and let us sue for mercy. In the days of Noe, all flesh had corrupted its way;[1] but men thought not of asking for mercy. The flood came, and destroyed them all,[2] says our Saviour. Had they prayed, had they begged God’s pardon, the hand of His justice would have been stayed, and the flood-gates of heaven would not have been opened.[3] The day is to come, when not water as heretofore, but fire, is suddenly to be enkindled by the divine wrath, and is to burn the whole earth. It shall burn even the foundations of the mountains;[4] it shall devour sinners, who will be resting then, as they were in the days of Noe, in a false security.

Persecuted by her enemies, decimated by the martyrdom of her children, afflicted by numerous apostasies from the faith, and deprived of every human aid, the Church will know that the terrible chastisement is at hand, for prayer will then be as rare as faith. Let us, therefore, pray; that thus the day of wrath may be put off, the Christian life regain something of its ancient vigour, and the end of the world not be in our times. There are even yet Catholics in every part of the world; but their number has visibly decreased. Heresy is now in possession of whole countries, that were once faithful to the Church. In others, where heresy has not triumphed, religious indifference has left the majority of men with nothing of Catholicity but the name, seeing that they neglect even their most essential obligations without remorse. Among many of those who fulfil the precepts of the Church, truths are diminished.[5] The old honesty of faith has been superseded by loose ideas and half- formed convictions. A man is popular in proportion to the concessions he makes in favour of principles condemned by the Church. The sentiments and actions of the saints, the conduct and teaching of the Church, are taxed with exaggeration, and decried as being unsuited to the period. The search after comforts has become a serious study; the thirst for earthly goods is a noble passion; independence is an idol to which everything must be sacrificed; submission is a humiliation which must be got rid of, or, where that cannot be, it must not be publicly acknowledged. Finally, there is sensualism, which, like an impure atmosphere, so impregnates every class of society, that one would suppose there was a league formed to abolish the cross of Christ from the minds of men.

What miseries must not follow from this systematic setting aside of the conditions imposed by God upon His creatures? If the Gospel be the word of infinite Truth, how can men oppose it without drawing down upon themselves the severest chastisements? Would that these chastisements might work the salvation of them that have provoked them! Let us humble ourselves before the sovereign holiness of our God, and confess our guilt. The sins of men are increasing both in number and in enormity. The picture we have just drawn is sad enough; what would it have been, had we added such abominations as these, which we purposely excluded: downright impiety; corrupt doctrines, which are being actively propagated throughout the world; dealings with satan, which threaten to degrade our age to the level of pagan times; the conspiracy organized against order, justice, and religion, by secret societies? Oh! let us unite our prayer with that of holy Church, and say to our God: From Thy wraths deliver us, O Lord!

The Rogation days were instituted for another end besides this of averting the divine anger. We must beg our heavenly Father to bless the fruits of the earth; we must beseech Him, with all the earnestness of public prayer, to give us our daily bread. ‘The eyes of all,’ says the psalmist, ‘hope in Thee, O Lord! and Thou givest them food in due season. Thou openest Thy hand, and fillest with blessing every living creature.'[6] In accordance with the consoling doctrine conveyed by these words, the Church prays to God, that He would, this year, give to all living creatures on earth the food they stand in need of. She acknowledges that we are not worthy of the favour, for we are sinners. Let us unite with her in this humble confession; but, at the same time, let us join her in beseeching our Lord to make mercy triumph over justice. How easily could He frustrate the self-conceited hopes, and the clever systems of men! They own that all depends on the weather; and on whom does that depend? They cannot do without God. True, they seldom speak of Him, and He permits Himself to be forgotten by them; but 'He neither sleepeth nor slumbereth, that keepeth Israel.’[7] He has but to withold His blessing, and all their progress in agricultural science, whereby they boast to have made famine an impossibility, is of no effect. Some unknown disease comes upon a vegetable; it causes distress among the people, and endangers the social order of a world that has secularized itself from the Christian law, and would at once perish, but for the mercy of the God it affects to ignore.

If, then, our heavenly Father deign, this year, to bless the fruits of the earth, we may say, in all truth, that He gives food to them that forget and blaspheme Him, as well as to them that make Him the great object of their thoughts and of their service. Men of no religion will profit by the blessing, but they will not acknowledge it to be His; they will proclaim more loudly than ever, that nature’s laws are now so well regulated by modern science, that she cannot help going on well! God will be silent, and will feed the men who thus insult Him. But why does He not speak? Why does He not make His wrath felt? Because His Church has prayed; because He has found the ten just men,[8] that is, the few for whose sake He mercifully consents to spare the world. He therefore permits these learned economists, whom He could so easily disconcert, to go on talking and writing. Thanks to this His patience, some of them will grow tired of their impious absurdity; an unexpected circumstance will open their eyes to the truth, and they will, one day, join us both in faith and in prayer. Others will go deeper and deeper into blasphemy; they will go on to the last, defying God’s justice, and fulfilling in themselves that terrible saying of holy Scripture: ‘The Lord hath made all things for Himself; the wicked also for the evil day.’[9]

We, who glory in the simplicity of our faith, who acknowledge that we have all from God and nothing from ourselves, who confess that we are sinners and undeserving of His gifts, will ask Him, during these three days, to give us the food we require; we will say to Him, with holy Church: That Thou vouchsafe to give and preserve the fruits of the earth: We beseech Thee, hear us!May He have pity on us in our necessities! Next year, we will return to Him with the same earnest request. We will march, under the standard of the cross, through the same roads, making the air resound with the same litanies. We will do this with all the greater confidence, at the thought that our holy mother is marshalling her children in every part of Christendom, in this solemn and suppliant procession. For thirteen hundred years has our God been accustomed to receive the petitions of His faithful people, at this season of the year; He shall have the same homage from us; nay, we will endeavour, by the fervour of our prayer, to make amends for the indifference and ignorance which are combining to do away with old Catholic customs, which our forefathers prized and loved.


The Mass is the same as yesterday’s, page 144.


We offer our readers the following prayer, taken from the ancient Gallican liturgy, and composed at a period when the observance of the Rogation days was in its first fervour.

Prayer
(Contestatio)

Vere dignum et justum est, te tota cordis contritione in jejunio laudare, omnipotene sempiterne Deus, per Christum Dominum nostrum. Qui nos mysteriorum tuorum secretis informans, pacificum nemus ore colum- bae gestatum, Noe oculis ostendens, nobis de virente arbore crucis gloriosum signum expressit: quem columbæ species in Christi decoravit honore, cunctis colendum Spiritus sanetifi- catione demonstrans. Cujus animalis innocentia esse similes præoptantes, ab eo- que sanctificari Spiritu, cujus ipse sumpsit speciem, exorantes; in hoc jejunio triduana humiliatione instituto, invictum hoc signum cum plebium cuneis præferentes, atque Majestatem tuam psalencii modulatione laudantes, petimus, omnipotens Deus: ut accipias cuncta piebis vota, quæque quoquo ritu tibi reddit subjecta: et ita eos in hoc jejunio sancti- fices, ut a cunctis mereantur exui peccatis.
It is truly meet and just, that, in all contrition of heart, we should praise thee by our fast, O almighty and eternal God, through Christ ourLord. Who, having come to teach us the hidden things of thy mysteries, revealed to us the symbol, shown to Noe, of the peaceful olive-branch borne in the dove’s beak: it was the glorious figure of the beautiful tree of the cross. It was in honour of Christ that the dove prefigured the cross, signifying that it was to bo venerated by all men, through the grace of the holy Spirit. We desire to be like this bird, by the innocence of our lives; we pray that we may be sanctified by that Spirit, of whom it was the figure. Therefore do we offer up our prayers in these three days of fasting and humiliation, carrying, at the head of the army of the faithful, the invincible standard of the cross, and singing psalms in praise of thy divine Majesty. We beseech thee, O almighty God, that thou receive ail the prayers of thy people, and the sacred rites whereby they present them to thee. We also beseech thee so to sanctify them by this their fast, that they may deserve to be freed from all their sins.

[1] Gen. vi. 12.
[2] Gen. vii. 11.
[3] St. Luke, xvii. 27.
[4] Deut. xxx. 22.
[5] Ps. xi. 2.
[6] Ps. cxliv. 15, 16.
[7] Ps. cxx. 4.
[8] Gen. xviii. 32.
[9] Prov. xvi. 4.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

For the third time, holy Church marshals her children in procession, and makes a solemn appeal to the divine mercy. Let us follow her sacred standard, and join her in invoking the intercession of the saints. The Litany, in which we pray to all the choirs of the heavenly Jerusalem, is both a magnificent and a powerful prayer: it is the Church triumphant uniting with the Church militant in praying for the salvation of the world.

O Mary! Mother of God, Virgin of virgins, miracle of divine power, exercise in our favour thy maternal mediation with Him, who, though God, is thy Son!

Michael the invincible, Gabriel, welcome messenger of our salvation, Raphael, affectionate physician of them that are suffering; Angels and Archangels, who watch over us, and co-operate in the work of our salvation; all ye choirs of blessed spirits, who are waiting for your ranks to be filled up by the elect of earth: intercede for your brethren, your clients!

John the Baptist, precursor of the Lamb of God; Joseph, spouse of Mary Immaculate, and foster-father of the Son of God; patriarchs, the glorious forefathers of the human race, and ancestors of the Messias; prophets, who foretold His coming, and described the events of His life, that so the earth might recognize Him as its promised Redeemer: remember us who are living in this exile, through which you also passed!

Peter, universal pastor, that holdest the keys of the kingdom of heaven; Paul, apostle of the Gentiles, armed with the sword of the word, and immolated by the sword of martyrdom; Andrew, crucified like thy master; James the Greater, son of thunder, founder of the Catholic kingdom; John, the beloved disciple, the adopted son and guardian of Mary, evangelist and prophet; Thomas, apostle of the Indies, pierced to death by a spear; James the Less, surnamed the 'brother of the Lord ’; Philip, who didst preach the Gospel to the Scythians, and wast crucified at Hierapolis; Bartholomew, the teacher and martyr of Armenia; Matthew, the evangelist, who didst carry the faith into the scorching regions of Ethiopia; Simon, by whose zeal Mesopotamia was led to the knowledge of Christ; Thaddeus, the courageous destroyer of the idols of Egypt; Mathias, chosen to fill up the place of the traitor Judas, and well worthy of the honour; Barnabas, Paul’s companion, and the light of the isle of Cyprus; Luke, disciple of the apostle of the Gentiles, and historian of the Incarnate Word; Mark, disciple of Peter, under whose direction thou wrotest the Gospel of salvation: we devoutly honour you as our fathers in the faith; pray for and with us!

Disciples of our Lord, who, though not raised to the rank of apostles, were chosen by Him to be their fellow-labourers, and who, on the day of Pentecost, were filled with the Holy Ghost; dear Innocents of Bethlehem, first-fruits of the martyrs: deign to join us in our supplications!

Stephen the crowned, Laurence the brave and cheerful winner of immortal laurels, Vincent the victorious,—the glorious triumvirate of deacons; Fabian, pontiff designated by a dove sent from heaven; Sebastian, dauntless soldier of holy Church; John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, Gervasius and Protasius, brothers by nature and by martyrdom; oh! all ye holy martyrs, protect us under the shadow of your palms!

Sylvester, pontiff of peace; Gregory, vicar both of the meekness and of the authority of Christ; Ambrose, whose eloquence was sweet as honey, and whose courage was as that of a lion; Augustine, doctor of doctors, and apostle of divine charity; Jerome inspired interpreter of the Scriptures; Martin thaumaturgus of the west, and Nicholas, wonder-worker in the east; holy pontiffs, holy doctors of the Church, lead back to Christ all His sheep that have gone astray.

Antony, the glory of the desert, and the conqueror of satan; Benedict, the Abraham of the new Testament, whose children are countless as the stars of heaven; Bernard, pillar of the Church, and favourite of the Mother of God; Dominic, preacher of divine truth, and scourge of heresy; Francis friend and spouse of poverty, crucified together with Christ; we honour you all; enkindle within our souls the desire of Christian perfection!

Priests of the Lord; holy monks, and hermits, and confessors: pray for us who implore your aid!

Mary Magdalene, once a sinner, but afterwards a saint, whose devotedness to Jesus was so generous and fervent: obtain for us that compunction of heart, which makes amends for sin by love!

Agatha and Lucy, beautiful flowers of fair Sicily; Agnes, who followest the Lamb whithersoever He goeth; Cecily, wreathed with thy roses and lilies, and queen of sweet melody; Catharine the wise virgin that confoundest the false wisdom of philosophers; Anastasia, the valiant woman that didst triumph over the trials of life and the severity of tortures; oh! all ye holy virgins, spouses of Jesus, look with compassion on us who are dwelling in this land of exile!

All ye holy men and women, saints of God, who now reign in heaven above, think of us your brethren, who mourn in this vale of tears. We, too, are created for eternal happiness; and yet the vanities of time engross our thoughts and affections. Make intercession for us, that, henceforth, we may walk worthy of God, who hath called us unto His kingdom and glory.[1]

The Litany is finished; and for the third time, the holy Sacrifice is about to work reconciliation between our God and us His guilty children. Let us hope that He will make this a year of peace and plenty; and next year, when the Church invites us to join her in this public supplication for pardon, may the number of those who respond to her call, be such as to merit an increase of every blessing!

The Mass is given above, page 144. Let us assist at it with a deep conviction of our own insufficiency to make atonement for our sins, and yet with a firm confidence in the infinite merits of the Paschal Lamb, our risen Jesus.

The ancient Church of Gaul used to recite the following prayer on this third of the Rogation days. It will aid us to a spirit of penance.

Prayer
(Immolatio)

Vere dignum et justum est, satisque eat dignum: te solum a jejunantibus quæ- rere, qui es magister absti- nentiæ, et continentiæ re- munerator æterne: quique a jejunantibua fideli tantum corde exposcunt abstergi omnem maculam, quam sa- turitas contrahit indecens. Hoc itaque sanctum jeju- nium in Leviticis apicibus per famulum tuum Moysen evidentius declarasti: in quo jussisti ut humiliaremus animas nostras, ne extermi- naremur; sicut esu gulæ deditus populus, extermi- natur. Quod etiam nobis Unigenitus tuus ita sancti- ticavit implendo: et ut re- gnum perditum per jejuni- um panderet, et peccatis ve- niam daret. Et ideo quæ instituisti, jejunia suscipe libens, per ea nos a reatibus cunctis absolvens.
It is truly meet and just, yea most meet, that they who fast should seek thee alone, thee that art the teacher of abstinence, and the giver of eternal rewards to them that practise it. To them that fast, thou grantest what they, with faith, ask of thee: thou clean- sest them from the stains contracted by intemperate indulgence. It was thou that didst proclaim holy fasting by thy servant Moses, in the book of Leviticus; wherein thou commandedst that we should humble our souls, lest we should be destroyed, as was the people that gave themselves up to excess in eating. Thine only-begotten Son sanctified this institution by himself fulfilling it, and, by his fast, opening to us the kingdom we had lost, and pardoning our sins. Do thou, therefore, graciously accept the fasts thou hast instituted, and, by them, absolve us from all our guilt.

The third morning of the Rogation days is over; the hour of noon has come, and from it we begin to count the hours of the last day which the Son of God is to spend upon earth in His visible presence. During these three days, we seem to have forgotten that the time of separation is close upon us; but no: the thought of our coming trial has often presented itself, and the humble supplications we have been presenting to heaven, in union with holy Church, have prepared us to celebrate the last mystery achieved by our Emmanuel on earth.

The disciples are all assembled in Jerusalem. They are grouped around the blessed Mother, in the cenacle, awaiting the hour when their divine Master is to appear to them for the last time. Recollected and silent, they are reflecting upon all the kindness and condescension He has been lavishing upon them during the last forty days; they are ruminating upon the instructions they have received from His sacred lips. They know Him so well now! They know in very deed that He came out from the Father.[2] As to what regards themselves, they have learned from Him what their mission is: they have to go, ignorant men as they are, and teach all nations;[3] but (Oh sad thought!) He is about to leave them; yet a little while, and they shall not see Him![4]

What a contrast between their sorrow and the smiling face of nature, which is decked out in her best, for she is going to celebrate the triumphant departure of her Creator! The earth is blooming with the freshness of her first-fruits, the meadows have put on their richest emerald, the air is perfumed with blossom and flower; and all this loveliness of spring is due to the bright sun that shines upon the earth to give her gladness and life, and is privileged to be, both by its kingly splendour and the successive phases of its influence upon our globe, the grand symbol of our Emmanuel’s passage through this world.

Let us go back in thought to the dismal days of the winter solstice. The sun looked then so pallid; his triumph over night was slow and short; he rose, and sank again, often without our seeing him; his light had a certain timid reserve about it, and his heat was, for weeks, too feeble to rescue nature from the grasp of frost. Such was our divine Sun of justice, when first He came on earth; His rays made but little way in the world’s thick gloom; He kept His splendour in, lest men should be dazzled by too sudden a change from darkness to light. Like the material sun, He gained upon the world by slow advances; and even so, His progress was shrouded by many a cloud. His sojourn in the land of Egypt, His hidden life at Nazareth, were long periods during which He was wholly lost sight of. But when the time came for Him to show Himself, His glory shone forth, with all its magnificence, upon Galilee and Judea; He spoke as one having power,[5] His works bore testimony to His being God,[6] and the people hailed Him with the cry of 'Hosanna to the Son of David!'

He was almost at the zenith of His glory, when suddenly came the eclipse of His Passion and Death. For some hours, His enemies flattered themselves that they had for ever put out His light. Vain hope! On the third day, our divine Sun triumphed over this final obstruction, and now stands in the firmament, pouring out His light upon all creation, but warning us that His course is run. For He can never descend; there is no setting for Him; and here finishes the comparison between Himself and the orb of day. It is from heaven itself that He, our beautiful Orient, is henceforth to enlighten and direct us, as Zachary foretold at the birth of the Baptist.[7] The royal prophet, too, thus exultingly sang of Him: 'He hath rejoiced, as a giant, to run the way: His going out is from the highest heaven, and His circuit even to the summit thereof: and there is no one that can hide himself from His heat.’[8]

This Ascension, which enthroned our Emmanuel as the eternal centre of light, was, by His own decree, to take place on one of the days of the month which men call May, and which clothes in its richest beauty the creation of this same God, who, when He had made it, was pleased with it, and found it very good.[9] Sweet month of May! Not gloomy and cold like December, which brought us the humble joys of Bethlehem; not lowering and clouded like March, when the Lamb was sacrificed on Calvary; but buoyant with sunshine, and flowers, and life, and truly worthy to be offered, each year, to Mary, the Mother of God, for it is the month of her Jesus’ triumph.

O Jesus! our Creator and our Brother! our eyes and heart have followed Thee from Thy first rising upon our world. We have celebrated, in the holy liturgy, each of Thy giant steps. But Thy very growth in beauty and brightness told us that Thou must one day leave us, to go and take possession of the place that was alone worthy of Thee, the throne at the right hand of Thine eternal Father. The splendour that has been on Thee since Thy Resurrection, is not of this world; Thou canst no longer abide among us. Thou hast remained here below, for these forty days, only for the sake of consolidating Thy work; and tomorrow the earth that has been blessed with Thy presence for three and thirty years, will be deprived of its privilege and joy. We rejoice at Thy approaching triumph, as did Thy blessed Mother, Thy disciples, Mary Magdalene and her companions; but we are sad at the thought of losing Thee, and Thou wilt forgive us. Thou wast our Emmanuel, our ‘God with us'; henceforth, Thou art to be our Sun, our King, reigning from the throne of heaven, and we shall no longer be able to hear Thee, nor see Thee, nor touch Thee, O Word of life![10] Still, dearest Jesus, we say to Thee with all our hearts: Glory and love be to Thee, for Thou hast treated us with infinite mercy! Thou owedst nothing to us; we were unworthy of a single look from Thee; and yet Thou camest down to this sinful earth, Thou hast dwelt among us, Thou hast paid our ransom by Thy Blood, Thou hast re-established peace between God and man. Oh, yes! it is most just that Thou shouldst now return to Him that sent Thee.[11] The Church, Thy bride, consents to her exile; she thinks only of what is most glorious to her Jesus; and she thus addresses Thee, in the words of the Canticle: 'Flee away, O my Beloved! and be swift as the roe and as the young hart, and ascend to the mountains, where the flowers of heaven exhale their sweet fragrance!’[12] Can we, poor sinners as we are, refuse to imitate this loving resignation of her, who is Thy bride, and our mother?


[1] I Thess, ii. 12.
[2] St. John, xvii. 8.
[3] St. Matth. xxviii. 19.
[4] St. John, xvi. 16.
[5] St. Matth. vii. 29.
[6] St. John, x, 26.
[7] St. Luke, i. 79.
[8] Ps. xviii. 6, 7.
[9] Gen. i. 31.
[10] I St. John, i. 1.
[11] St. John, xvi. 5.
[12] Cant. viii. 14.

 

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