First Week of Lent
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
Each feria of Lent has a proper Mass; whereas, in Advent, the Mass of the preceding Sunday is repeated during the week. This richness of the lenten liturgy is a powerful means for our entering into the Church’s spirit, since she hereby brings before us, under so many forms, the sentiments suited to this holy time. From these ferial Masses we intend giving, for the respective days, the Collect, which is always the principal prayer, the Epistle, the Gospel, and the Prayer which is said’over the people’at the end of the Mass. All this will provide us with most solid instruction; and as the selections from the Bible, which are each day brought before us, are not only some of the finest of the sacred volume, but are, moreover, singularly appropriate to Lent, their attentive perusal will be productive of a twofold advantage.
At Rome, to-day’s Station is in the church of St. Peter ad Vincula. It was built in the fifth century, by the empress Eudoxia, wife of Valentinian III., and possesses the venerable relic of St. Peter’s chains. We shall speak more fully of this basilica when we keep the feast of the apostle’s deliverance from prison, on August 1.
Converte nos, Deus, salutaris noster: et ut nobis jejunium quadragesimale proficiat, mentes nostras cœlestibus instrue disciplinis. Per Dominum nostrum Jeeum Christum. Amen.
Convert us, O God our Saviour: and instruct our minds with thy heavenly doctrine, that this fast of Lent may be beneficial to us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lectio Ezechielis Prophetæ
Hæc dicit Dominus Deus: Ecce ego ipse requiram oves meas, et visitabo eas. Sicut visitat pastor gregem suum in die quando fuerit in medio ovium suarum dissipatarum: sic visitabo oves meas, et liberabo eas de omnibus locis, in quibus dispersae fuerant in die nubis et caliginis. Et educam eas de populis, et congregabo eas de tenis, et inducam eas in terram suam, et pascam eas in montibus Israël, in rivis, et in cunctis sedibus terræ. In pascuis uberrimis pascam eas, et in montibus excelsis Israël erant pascua earum: ibi requiescent in herhis virentibus, et in pascuis pinguibus pascentur super montes Israël. Ego pascam oves meas: et ego eas accubare faciam, dicit Dominus Deus. Quod perierat requiram, et quod abjectum erat reducam, et quod confractum fuerat alligabo, et quod infirmum fuerat consolidabo, et quod pingue et forte custodiam: et pascam illas in judicio, dicit Dominus omnipotens.
Lesson from the Prophet Ezechiel.
Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I myself will seek my sheep, and will visit them. As the shepherd visiteth his flock in the day when he shall be in the midst of his sheep that were scattered; so will I visit my sheep, and will deliver them out of all the places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples, and will gather them out of the countries, and will bring them to their own land; and I will feed them in the mountains of Israel, by the rivers and in all the habitations of the land. I will feed them in the most fruitful pastures, and their pastures shall be in the high mountains of Israel: there shall they rest on the green grass and be fed in fat pastures upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my sheep; and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and that which was driven away I will bring again; and I will bind up that which was broken, and I will strengthen that which was weak, and that which was fat and strong I will preserve; and I will feed them in judgment, saith the Lord almighty.
Our Lord here shows Himself to us as a Shepherd full of love for His sheep. Such, indeed, He truly is to men, during this season of mercy. A portion of His flock had gone astray, and was wandering to and fro amidst the darkness of this world; but Jesus did not forget them. He went in search of them, that He might gather them together. He sought them through lonely deserts, and rocky places, and brambles. He now speaks to them through His Church, and invites them to return. He sweetly encourages them, for perhaps they might fear and be ashamed to appear before Him, after so any sins. He promises them that, if they will but return to Him, they shall be fed on the richest pastures, near the river bank, and on the mountains of Israel. They are covered with wounds, but He will bind them up; they are weak, but He will strengthen them. He will once more give them fellowship with the faithful ones who never left Him, and He Himself will dwell with them for ever. Let the sinner, then, yield to this tender love; let him not refuse to make the efforts required for his conversion. If these efforts of penance seem painful to nature, let him recall to mind those happy days, when he was in grace, and in the fold of his good Shepherd. He may be so again. The gate of the fold is open; and thousands who like himself had gone astray are going in with joy and confidence. Let him follow them, and remember how Jesus has said: ‘There shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine who need not penance.’
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.
In illo tempore: dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Cum venerit Filius hominis in majestate sua, et omnes angeli cum eo, tunc sedebit super sedem majestatis suæ: et congregabuntur ante eum omnes gentes, et separabit eos ab invicem, sicut pastor segregat oves ab hædis: et statuet oves quidem a dextris suis, hædos autem a sinistris. Tunc dicet Rex his qui a dextris ejus erunt: Venite, benedicti Patris mei, possidete paratum vobis regnum a constitutione mundi. Esurivi enim, et dedistis mihi manducare: sitivi, et dedistis mihi bibere: hospes eram, et collegistis me: nudus, et cooperuistis me: infirmus, et visitastis me: in carcere eram, et venistis ad me. Tunc respondebunt ei justi, dicentes: Domine, quando te vidimus esurientem, et pavimus te? sitientem, et dedimus tibi potum? Quando autem te vidimus hospitem, et collegimus te? aut nudum, et cooperuimus te? aut quando te vidimus infirmum, aut in carcere, et venimus ad te? Et respondens Rex, dicet illis: Amen dico vobis, quamdiu feeistis uni ex his fratribus meis minimis, mihi feeistis. Tunc dicet et his, qui a sinistris erunt: Discedite a me, maledicti, in ignem æternum, qui paratus est diabolo et angelis ejus. Esurivi enim, et non dedistis mihi manducare: sitivi, et non dedistis mihi potum: hospes eram, et non collegistis me: nudus, et non cooperuistis me: infirmus, et in carcere, et non visitastis me. Tunc respondebunt ei et ipsi, dicentes: Domine, quando te vidimus esurientem, aut sitientem, aut hospitem, aut nudum, aut infirmum, aut in carcere, et non ministravimus tibi? Tunc respondebit illis, dicens: Amen dico vobis, quamdiu non fecistis uni de minoribus his, nec mihi fecistis. Et ibunt hi in supplicium æternum: justi autem in vitam æternam.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: When the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the King say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you covered me; sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee? thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the King answering, shall say to them: Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. Then shall he say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me not in; naked, and you covered me not; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me. And these shall go into everlasting punishment, but the just into life everlasting.
We have just been listening to a prophet of the old Testament, inviting us to return to the good Shepherd; our Lord there put forth every argument which love could devise, to persuade His lost sheep to return to Him: and here, on the very same day that the Church speaks to us of our God as being a gentle and compassionate Shepherd, she describes Him as an inflexible Judge. This loving Jesus, this charitable Physician of our souls, is seated on His dread tribunal, and cries out in His anger: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire! And where has the Church found this awful description? In the Gospel, that is, in the very Law of love. But if we read our passage attentively, we shall find that He who pronounces this terrible anathema is the same God, whom the prophet has been just portraying as a Shepherd full of mercy, patience, and zeal for His sheep. Observe how He is still a Shepherd, even on His judgment seat: He separates the sheep from the goats; He sets the sheep on His right hand, and the goats on His left; the comparison of a flock is still kept up. The Son of God will exercise His office of Shepherd even to the last day: only then, time will be at an end, and eternity will have begun; the reign of justice, too, will have succeeded the reign of mercy, for it is justice that will reward the good with the promised recompense, and that will punish impenitent sinners with eternal torments. How can the Christian, who believes that we are all to stand before this tribunal, refuse the invitation of the Church, who now presses him to make satisfaction for his sins? How can he hesitate to go through those easy penances, with which the divine mercy now deigns to be satisfied? Truly, man is his own worst enemy, if he can disregard these words of Jesus, who now is his Saviour, and then will be his Judge: ‘Unless ye do penance, ye shall all perish.’
Humiliate capita vestra Deo.
Absolve, quæsumus, Domine, nostrorum vincula peccatorum: et quidquid pro eis meremur, propitiatus averte. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
Bow down your heads to God.
Loosen, O Lord, we beseech thee, the bonds of our sins; and mercifully turn away from us whatever we deserve for them. Through Christ our Lord.
Let us close the day by reciting the following hymn, which was composed by St. Gregory the Great, and is used by the Church in her Matins during Lent.
Ex more docti mystico,
Servemus hoc jejunium,
Deno dierum cirqulo
Ducto quater notissimo.
Lex et prophetæ primitus
Hoc prætulerunt, postmodum
Christus sacravit, omnium
Rex atque factor temporum.
Utamur ergo parcius
Verbis, cibis et potibus,
Somno, jocis, et arctius
Perstemus in custodia.
Vitemus autem noxia,
Quæ subruunt mentes vagas:
Nullumque demus callidi
Hostis locum tyrannidi.
Flectamus iram vindicem;
Ploremus ante judicem;
Clamemus ore supplici,
Dicamus omnes cernui:
Nostris malis offendimus
Tuam, Deus, clementiam;
Effunde nobis desuper
Memento quod sumus tui,
Licet caduci, plasmatis:
Ne des honorem nominis
Tui, precamur, alteri.
Laxa malum quod fecimus;
Auge bonum quod poscimus:
Placere quo tandem tibi
Possimus hic et perpetim.
Præsta, beata Trinitas,
Concede simplex Unitas,
Ut fructuosa sint tuis
Let us observe this most solemn
fast of forty days,
which has been handed down to us
by sacred tradition.
The Law and the Prophets first
introduced it; and afterwards, Christ,
the Master and Maker of all seasons,
consecrated it by himself observing it.
Let us, therefore, be more sparing in our words;
let us retrench somewhat of our food,
and drink, and sleep, and merriment,
and redouble our watchfulness.
Let us show those noxious things,
which play such havoc with unguarded souls:
and let us avoid whatsoever
could strengthen the tyranny of our crafty enemy.
Let us appease the anger of our Judge,
and pour out our tears before him;
let us prostrate ourselves,
and thus cry to him in suppliant prayer:
We have offended thy goodness,
O God, by our sins:
forgive us, and pour out
thy mercy upon us.
Remember that we are the work of thy hands,
frail though we be:
we beseech thee, suffer not another
to usurp the honour of thy name.
Pardon us the evil we have done,
and grant us good things, even beyond our prayer:
that thus we may be well pleasing to thee,
now and for ever.
O blessed Trinity,
O undivided Unity, grant us,
thy servants, to reap fruit
from the fast thou hast given us.
 St. Luke xv. 7.
 St. Luke xiii. 3.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
This Sunday, the first of the six which come during Lent, is one of the most solemn throughout the year. In common with the other Sundays of Lent, it has the privilege of taking precedence of all feasts, even that of the patron, titular saint, or dedication of the Church. In the ancient calendars, it is called Invocabit, from the first word of the Introit of the Mass. In the middle ages, it was called Brand Sunday, because the young people, who had misconducted themselves during the carnival, were obliged to show themselves to-day at the church with a torch in their hands, as a kind of public satisfaction for their riot and excess.
Lent solemnly opens to-day. We have already noticed that the four preceding days were added since the time of St. Gregory the Great, in order to make up forty days of fasting. Neither can we look upon Ash Wednesday as the solemn opening of the season; for the faithful are not bound to hear Mass on that day. The holy Church, seeing her children now assembled together, speaks to them, in her Office of Matins, these eloquent and noble words of St. Leo the Great:
Having to announce to you, dearly beloved, the most sacred and chief fast, how can I more appropriately begin, than with the words of the apostle, in whom Christ Himself spoke, and by saying to you what has just been read: Behold! now is the acceptable time; behold! now is the day of salvation. For although there be no time which is not replete with divine gifts, and we may always, by God’s grace, have access to His mercy, yet ought we all to redouble our efforts to make spiritual progress and be animated with unusual confidence, now that the anniversary of the day of our redemption is approaching, inviting us to devote ourselves to every good work, that so we may celebrate, with purity of body and mind, the incomparable mystery of our Lord’s Passion.
It is true that our devotion and reverence towards so great a mystery should be kept up during the whole year, and we ourselves should be at all times, in the eyes of God, the same as we are bound to be at the Easter solemnity. But this is an effort which only few among us have the courage to sustain. The weakness of the flesh induces us to relax our austerities; the various occupations of every-day life take up our thoughts; and thus even the virtuous find their hearts clogged by this world’s dust. Hence it is that our Lord has most providentially given us these forty days, whose holy exercises should be to us a remedy, whereby to regain our purity of soul. The good works and the holy fastings of this season were instituted as an atonement for, and an obliteration of, the sins we commit during the rest of the year.
Now, therefore, that we are about to enter upon these days, which are so full of mystery, and which were instituted for the holy purpose of purifying both soul and body, let us; dearly beloved, be careful to do as the apostle bids us, and cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit: that thus the combat between the two substances being made less fierce, the soul, which, when she herself is subject to God, ought to be the ruler of the body, will recover her own dignity and position. Let us also avoid giving offence to any man, so that there be none to blame or speak evil things of us. For we deserve the harsh remarks of infidels, and we provoke the tongues of the wicked to blaspheme religion, when we who fast lead unholy lives. For our fast does not consist in the mere abstinence from food; nor is it of much use to deny food to our body, unless we restrain the soul from sin.
Each Sunday of Lent offers to our consideration a passage from the Gospel, which is in keeping with the sentiments wherewith the Church would have us be filled. To-day she brings before us the temptation of our Lord in the desert. What light and encouragement there is for us in this instruction!
We acknowledge ourselves to be sinners; we are engaged, at this very time, in doing penance for the sins we have committed—but how was it that we fell into sin? The devil tempted us; we did not reject the temptation; then we yielded to the suggestion, and the sin was committed. This is the history of our past; and such it would, also, be for the future, were we not to profit by the lesson given us to-day by our Redeemer.
When the apostle speaks of the wonderful mercy shown us by our divine Saviour, who vouchsafed to make Himself like to us in all things save sin, he justly lays stress on His temptations. He, who is very God, humbled Himself even so low as this, to prove how tenderly He compassionated us. Here, then, we have the Saint of saints allowing the wicked spirit to approach Him, in order that we might learn, from His example, how we are to gain victory under temptation.
Satan has had his eye upon Jesus; he is troubled at beholding such matchless virtue. The wonderful circumstances of His birth; the shepherds called by angels to His crib, and the Magi guided by the star; the Infant’s escape from Herod’s plot; the testimony rendered to this new Prophet by John the Baptist: all these things, which seem so out of keeping with the thirty years spent in obscurity at Nazareth, are a mystery to the infernal serpent, and fill him with apprehension. The ineffable mystery of the Incarnation has been accomplished unknown to him; he never once suspects that the humble Virgin, Mary, is she who was foretold by the prophet Isaias, as having to bring forth the Emmanuel; but he is aware that the time has come, that the last week spoken of to Daniel has begun its course, and that the very pagans are looking towards Judea for a deliverer. He is afraid of this Jesus; he resolves to speak with Him, and elicit from Him some expression which will show him whether He be or not the Son of God; he will tempt Him to some imperfection, or sin, which, should he commit it, will prove that the object of so much fear is, after all, but a mortal Man.
The enemy of God and men is, of course, disappointed. He approaches Jesus; but all his efforts turn only to his own confusion. Our Redeemer, with all the self-possession and easy majesty of a God-Man, repels the attacks of satan; but He reveals not His heavenly origin. The wicked spirit retires without having made any discovery beyond this—that Jesus is a prophet, faithful to God. Later on, when he sees the Son of God treated with contempt, calumniated and persecuted; when he finds that his own attempts to have Him put to death are so successful: his pride and his blindness will be at their height; and not till Jesus expires on the cross, will he learn that his victim was not merely Man, but Man and God. Then will he discover how all his plots against Jesus have but served to manifest, in all their beauty, the mercy and justice of God: His mercy, because He saved mankind; and His justice, because He broke the power of hell for ever.
These were the designs of divine Providence in permitting the wicked spirit to defile, by his presence, the retreat of Jesus, to speak to Him, and to lay his hands upon Him. But let us attentively consider the triple temptation in all its circumstances; for our Redeemer suffered it only in order that He might instruct and encourage us.
We have three enemies to fight against; our soul has three dangers; for, as the beloved disciple says, all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life! By the concupiscence of the flesh, is meant the love of sensual things, which covets whatever is agreeable to the flesh, and, when not curbed, draws the soul into unlawful pleasures. Concupiscence of the eyes expresses the love of the goods of this world, such as riches, and possessions; these dazzle the eye, and then seduce the heart. Pride of life is that confidence in ourselves, which leads us to be vain and presumptuous, and makes us forget that all we have, our life and every good gift, we have from God.
Every one of our sins comes from one of these three sources; every one of our temptations aims at making us accept the concupiscence of the flesh, or the concupiscence of the eyes, or the pride of life. Our Saviour, then, who would be our model in all things, deigned to subject Himself to these three temptations.
First of all satan tempts Him in what regards the flesh: he suggests to Him to satisfy the cravings of hunger, by working a miracle, and changing the stones into bread. If Jesus consent, and show an eagerness in giving this indulgence to His body, the tempter will conclude that He is but a frail mortal, subject to concupiscence like other men. When he tempts us, who have inherited evil concupiscence from Adam, his suggestions go further than this: he endeavours to defile the soul by the body. But the sovereign holiness of the Incarnate Word could never permit satan to use upon Him the power which he has received of tempting man in his outward senses. The lesson, therefore, which the Son of God here gives us, is one of temperance: but we know that, for us, temperance is the mother of purity, and that intemperance excites our senses to rebel.
The second temptation is to pride; ‘Cast Thyself down; the angels shall bear Thee up in their hands.’The enemy is anxious to see if the favours of heaven have produced in Jesus’soul that haughtiness, that ungrateful self-confidence, which makes the creature arrogate God’s gifts to itself, and forget its benefactor. Here, also, he is foiled; our Redeemer’s humility confounds the pride of the rebel angel.
He then makes a last effort: he hopes to gain over by ambition Him who has given such proofs of temperance and humility. He shows Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and says to Him: ‘All these will I give Thee, if falling down, Thou wilt adore me.’Jesus rejects the wretched offer, and drives from Him the seducer, the prince of this world; hereby teaching us that we must despise the riches of this world, as often as our keeping or getting them is to be on the condition of our violating the law of God and paying homage to satan.
But let us observe how it is that our divine Model, our Redeemer, overcomes the tempter. Does He hearken to His words? Does He allow the temptation time, and give it strength by delay? We did so, when we were tempted; and we fell. But our Lord immediately meets each temptation with the shield of God’s word. He says: ‘It is written: Not on bread alone doth man live. It is written: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. It is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve.’ This, then, must be our practice for the time to come. Eve brought perdition on herself, and on the whole human race, because she listened to the serpent. He that dallies with temptation is sure to fall. We are now in a season of extraordinary grace; our hearts are on the watch, dangerous occasions are removed, everything that savours of worldliness is laid aside; our souls, purified by prayer, fasting, and almsdeeds, are to rise with Christ, to a new life; but, shall we persevere? All depends upon how we behave under temptation. Here, at the very opening of Lent, the Church gives us this passage of the holy Gospel, that we may have not only precept but example. If we be attentive and faithful, the lesson she gives us will produce its fruit; and when we come to the Easter solemnity, we shall have those sure pledges of perseverance: vigilance, self-diffidence, prayer, and the never-failing help of divine grace.
The Greek Church, in spite of her principle of never admitting a feast during Lent, celebrates to-day one of her greatest solemnities. It is called Orthodoxia, and was instituted in memory of the restoration of sacred images in Constantinople and the eastern empire, in the year 842, when the empress Theodora, aided by the holy patriarch Methodius, put a stop to the Iconoclast persecution, and restored to the churches the holy images which the fury of the heretics had taken away.
The Station, at Rome, is in the patriarchal basilica of Saint John Lateran. It was but right, that a Sunday of such solemnity as this should be celebrated in the church which is the mother and mistress of all churches, not only of the holy city itself, but of the whole world. It is here that the public penitents were reconciled on Maundy Thursday; it is here, also, in the baptistery of Constantine, that the catechumens received Baptism on the night preceding Easter Sunday. No other basilica could have had such a claim for the Station of a day like this; for it is there that the Lenten Fast had been so often proclaimed by Leo and Gregory.
The Introit, as likewise the Gradual, Tract, Offertory, and Communion, are all taken from Psalm XC. We have elsewhere spoken of the appropriateness of this beautiful psalm to the spirit of the Church during the season of Lent. It bids the Christian soul confide in the divine aid. She is now devoting her whole energies to prayer; she is engaged in battle with her own and God’s enemies. She has need of support. Let her not be afraid: God tells her, in these words of the Introit, that her confidence in Him shall not be in vain.
Invocabit me, et ego exaudiam eum: eripiam eum et glorificabo eum: longitudine dierum adimplebo eum.
Ps. Qui habitat in adjutorio Altissimi: in protection Dei cœli commorabitur. V. Gloria Patri. Invocabit me.
He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: I will deliver him, and I will glorify him: I will fill him with length of days.
Ps. He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven. V. Glory, &c. He shall cry.
In the Collect, the Church prays for her children, that their fast may not only purify them, but also obtain for them that divine assistance, which will secure their salvation by enabling them to abound in good works.
Deus, qui Ecclesiam tuam annua quadragesimali observations purificas: præsta familiæ tuæ, ut quod a te obtinere abstinendo nititur, hoc bonis operibus exsequatur. Per Dominum.
O God, who purifiest thy Church by the yearly observance of Lent: grant that what thy children endeavour to obtain of thee by abstinence, they may put in execution by good works. Through, &c.
The two following Collects, for the general wants of the Church, are then added.
A cunctis nos, quæsumus Domine, mentis et corporis defends periculis: et intercedente beata et gloriosa semper Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beato Joseph, beatis apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque beato N. et omnibus sanctis, salutem nobis tribue benignus et pacem: ut, destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis, Ecclesia tua secura tibi serviat libertate.
Preserve us, O Lord, we beseech thee, from all dangers of soul and body: and by the intercession of the glorious and blessed Mary, the ever Virgin-Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul, of blessed N. (here is mentioned the titular saint of the church), and of all the saints, grant us, in thy mercy, health and peace; that all adversities and errors being removed, thy Church may serve thee with undisturbed liberty.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui vivorum dominanris 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, omnium delictorum suorum veniam consequantur. Per Dominum.
O almighty and eternal God, who hast dominion over the living and the dead, and art merciful to all who thou knowest will be thine by faith and good works: we humbly beseech thee, that those for whom we have proposed to offer our prayers, whether this world still retains them in the flesh, or the next world hath already received them divested of their bodies, may, by the clemency of thine own goodness, and the intercession of thy saints, obtain pardon and full remission of their sins. Through, &c.
Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios.
2 Cap. vi.
Fratres, exhortamur vos, ne in vacuum gratiam Dei recipiatis. Ait enim: Tempore accepto exaudivi te, et in die salutis adjuvi te. Ecce nunc tempus acceptable, ecce nunc dies salutis. Nemini dantee ullam offensionem, ut non vituperetur ministerium nostrum: sed in omnibus exhibeamus nosmetipsos sicut Dei ministros, in multa patientia, in tribulationibus, in necessitatibus, in angustiis, in plagis, in carceribus, in seditionibus, in laboribus, in vigiliis, in jejuniis, in castitate, in scientia, in longanimitate, in suavitate, in Spiritu sancto, in charitate non ficta, in verbo veritatis, in virtute Dei, per arma justitiæ a dextris et a sinistris, per gloriam et ignobilitatem, per infamiam et bonam famam; ut seductores, et veraces; sicut qui ignoti, et cogniti; quasi morientes, et ecce vivimus: ut castigati, et non mortificati: quasi tristes, semper autem gaudentes: sicut egentes, multos autem locupletantes: tamquam nihil habentes, et omnia possidentes.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.
2 Ch. vi.
Brethren, we exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time: behold, now is the day of salvation. Giving no offence to any man, that our ministry be not blamed: but in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labours, in watchings, in fastings, in chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armour of justice on the right hand, and on the left: by honour and dishonour: by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true: as unknown, and yet known: as dying, and behold we live: as chastised, and not killed: as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing: as needy, yet enrichingmany: as having nothing, and possessing all things.
These words of the apostle give us a very different idea of the Christian life from that which our own tepidity suggests. We dare not say that he is wrong, and we are right; but we put a strange interpretation upon his words, and we tell both ourselves and those around us that the advice he here gives is not to be taken literally nowadays, and that it was written for those special difficulties of the first age of the Church, when the faithful stood in need of unusual detachment and almost heroism, because they were always in danger of persecution and death. The interpretation is full of that discretion which meets with the applause of our cowardice, and it easily persuades us to be at rest, just as though we had no dangers to fear, and no battle to fight; whereas, we have both: for there is the devil, the world, flesh and blood. The Church never forgets it; and hence, at the opening of this great season, she sends us into the desert, that there we may learn from our Jesus how we are to fight. Let us go; let us learn, from the temptations of our divine Master, that the life of man upon earth is a warfare, and that, unless our fighting be truceless and brave, our life, which we would fain pass in peace, will witness our defeat. That such a misfortune may not befall us, the Church cries out to us, in the words of St. Paul: Behold! now is the acceptable time. Behold! now is the day of salvation. Let us, in all things, comport ourselves as the servants of God, and keep our ground unflinchingly to the end of our holy campaign. God is watching over us, as He did over His beloved Son in the desert.
The Gradual tells us that we are under the protection of the angels, and that these blessed spirits leave us not, either day or night. During Lent they redouble their efforts against our enemies, and rejoice at seeing us sinners accept the penance which is to bring us to salvation.
The Tract, too, inspires us with confidence: it speaks to us of the goodness of God, and of His fatherly watchfulness over us His ungrateful children, whom He wishes to make His faithful friends and coheirs of His kingdom.
Angelis suis Deus mandavit de te, ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis. V. In manibus portabunt te, ne unquam offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum.
God hath given his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. V. In their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
V. Qui habitat in adjutorio altissimi: in protections Dei cœli commorabitur.
V. Dicet Domino: Susceptor meus es tu, et refugium meum: Deus meus, sperabo in eum.
V. Quoniam ipse liberavit me de laqueo venantium: et a verbo aspero.
V. Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi: et sub pennis ejus sperabis.
V. Scuto circumdabit te veritas ejus: non timebis a timore nocturno.
V. A sagitta volante per diem, a negotio perambulante in tenebris: a ruina et dæmonia meridiano.
V. Cadent a latere tuo mille, et decem millia a dextris tuis: tibi autem non appropinquabit.
V. Quoniam angelis suis mandavit de te: ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis.
V. In manibus portabunt te: ne unquam offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum.
V. Super aspidem et basiliscum ambulabis: et conculcabis leonem et draconem.
V. Quoniam in me speravit, liberabo eum: protegam eum, quoniam cognovit nornen meum.
V. Invocabit me, et ego exaudiam eum: cum ipso sum in tribulatione.
V. Eripiam eum et glorificabo eum: longitudine dierum ad imple bo eum, et ostendam illi salutare meum.
V. He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven.
V. He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust.
V. For he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters: and from the sharp word.
V. He will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust.
V. His truth shall compass thee with a shield: thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.
V. Of the arrow that flieth in the day: of the business that walketh in the dark: of ruin, or of the noonday devil.
V. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh thee.
V. For he hath given his angels charge over thee: to keep thee in all thy ways.
V. In their hands they shall bear thee up: lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
V. Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk: and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon.
V. Because he hoped in me, I will deliver him: I will protect him, because he hath known my name.
V. He will cry to me, and I will hear him: I am with him in trouble.
V. I will deliver him and I will glorify him: I will fill him with length of days, and I will show him my salvation.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.
In illo tempore, Ductus est Jesus in desertum a Spiritu, ut tentaretur a diabolo. Et, cum jejunasset quadraginta diebus et quadraginta noctibus, postea esuriit. Et accedens tentator, dixit ei: Si Filius Dei os, dic ut lapides isti panes fiant. Qui respondens, dixit: Scriptum est: Non in solo pane vivit homo, sed in omni verbo quod procedit de ore Dei. Tunc assumpsit cum diabolus in sanctam civitatem, et statuit eum super pinnaculum templi, et dixit ei: Si Filius Dei es, mitte te deorsum. Scriptum est enim: Quia angelis suis mandavit de te, et in manibus tollent te, ne forte offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum. Ait illi Jesus: Rursum scriptum est: Non tentabis Dominum Deum tuum. Iterum assumpsit eum diabolus in montem excelsum valde: et ostendit ei omnia regna mundi, et gloriam eorum, et dixit ei: Hæc omnia tibi dabo, si cadens adoraveris me. Tune dicit ei Jesus: Vade satana: scriptum est enim: Dominum Deum tuum adorabis, et illi soli servies. Tunc reliquit eum diabolus: et ecce angeli accesserunt, et ministrabant ei.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
At that time, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming, said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written: Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceeded from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, that he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, satan, for it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left him; and behold angels came and ministered to him.
Let us admire the exceeding goodness of the Son of God, who, not satisfied with atoning for all our sins by dying on the cross, deigns to suffer a fast of forty days and forty nights, in order to encourage us to do penance. He would not that the justice of His heavenly Father should exact any punishment from us, unless He Himself first suffered it, and that, too, a thousand times more severely than we could. What are all our penances, even were they done thoroughly, when we compare them with the severity of this fast of Jesus in the desert? Can we have the face to be ever seeking for dispensations from the little which our Lord asks of us in atonement for our sins—sins, alas! which deserve such rigorous penance? Instead of complaining at our feeling a slight inconvenience of a few days’duration, let us compassionate our innocent Jesus, who subjects Himself to forty days of most rigorous privation of food and drink.
What was it that supported Him? Prayer, devotedness to us, and the knowledge of the exigencies of His Father’s justice. And when the forty days were over, and His human Nature was faint from exhaustion, He is assailed by temptation; but here again He thinks upon us, and sets us an example: He triumphs over the temptation, calmly and resolutely, and thereby teaches us how to conquer. How blasphemous the boldness of satan, who dares to tempt the Just by excellence! But, how divine is the patience of Jesus, who permits the hellish monster to lay his hand upon Him, and carry Him from place to place! The Christian soul is oftentimes exposed to the vilest insults from this same enemy; nay, at times, she is on the point of complaining to her God, for permitting her to have such humiliations. Let her, on these occasions, think upon Jesus, the Saint of saints, who was given over, so to speak, to the wicked spirit; and yet, He is not the less the Son of God, the Conqueror of hell; and all that satan gains by his attack is utter defeat. In the same way, if the soul, when under the violence of temptation, resist with all her energy, she is not one jot less dear to God, and satan retires with one more eternal shame and chastisement upon him. Let us take part with the holy angels, who, as soon as the tempter is gone, come to our Redeemer, and respectfully administer food to Him. How affectionately do they compassionate His hunger and thirst! How zealously they make amends, by their adorations, for the frightful outrage offered to their King! How fervently they extol the charity of their God, who, out of His love for man, seems to have been forgetting His own dignity, in order to provide for the wants of the children of Adam.
At the Offertory, the Church borrows, once more, the words of David, and shows us our Lord overshadowing His faithful people with the wings of His tenderest care, and shielding us, with the truth of holy faith, from every attack.
Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi Dominus, et sub pennis ejus sperabis: scuto circumdabit te ventas ejus.
The Lord will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust: his truth shall compass thee with a shield.
Lent consists in something more than mere fasting. Fasting will not produce our conversion, unless we join with it the avoiding of dangerous occasions; for these would lead us into sin, and rob us at once of God’s grace. Hence it is that the Church, in her Secret, beseeches our Lord to bless us with the special grace of keeping from noxious pleasures.
Sacrificium quadragesimalis initii solemniter immolamus, te, Domine, deprecantes: ut cum epularum restrictione carnalium, a noxiis quoque voluptatibus temperemus. Per Dominum.
We offer thee, O Lord, in the most solemn manner, this sacrifice at the beginning of Lent, humbly beseeching thee, that as we retrench from the food of our bodies, we may also refrain from all noxious pleasures. Through, &c.
Exaudi nos, Deus salutaris noster: ut per hujus Sacramenti virtutem, a cunctis nos mentis et corporis hostibus tuearis, gratiam tribuens in præsenti, et gloriam in futuro.
Graciously grant us, O God our Saviour, that by virtue of this Sacrament, thou mayst defend us from all enemies, both of soul and body, giving us grace in this life, and glory in the next.
Deus, cui soli cognitus est numerus electorum in superna felicitate locandus: tribue quæsumus, ut intercedentibus omnibus sanctis tuis, universorum quos in oratione commendatos suscepimus, et omnium fidelium nomina, beatæ prædestinationis liber adscripta retineat. Per Dominum.
O God, to whom alone is known the number of thine elect to be placed in eternal bliss: grant, we beseech thee, by the intercession of all thy saints, that the book of predestination may contain the names of all those whom we have undertaken to pray for, as well as those of all the faithful. Through, &c.
In order to impress our minds with more and more confidence, the Church repeats, in her Communion-antiphon, the encouraging words already spoken to us in the Offertory. The sacrifice which has just been offered for us is a fresh earnest of how much God loves us.
Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi Dominus, et sub pennis ej us sperabis: sputo circumdabit te ventas ejus.
The Lord will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust: his truth shall compass thee with a shield.
In the Postcommunion, the Church reminds us that the holy Eucharist is our richest source of strength, because it purifies us. Let the sinner, therefore, lose no time in making his peace with his God; let him not wait for Easter, but receive, as soon as may be, that heavenly food, which saves us from the anger of God, because it makes us one with the very author of salvation.
Tui nos, Domine, Sacramenti libatio sancta restauret: et a vetustate purgatos, in mysterii salutaris faciat transire consortium. Per Dominum.
May the holy oblation, O Lord, of thy Sacrament, give us a new life, that, by laying aside the old man, it may bring us to the participation of this saving mystery. Through. &c.
Mundet et muniat nos, quæsumus, Domine, divini sacramenti munus oblatum: et intercedente beata Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beato Joseph, beatis apostolis Petro et Paulo, atque beato N., et omnibus sanctis, a cunctis nos reddat et perversitatibus expiatos, et adversitatibus expeditos.
May the oblation of this divine Sacrament, we beseech thee, O Lord, both cleanse and defend us, and by the intercession of blessed Mary, the Virgin-Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of thy blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, of blessed N., and of all the saints, free us from all sin, and deliver us from all adversity.
Purificent nos, quæsumus omnipotens et misericors Deus, Sacramenta quæ sumpsimus: et intercedentibus omnibus sanctis tuis, præsta ut hoc tuum Sacramentum non sit nobis reatus ad pœnam, sed intercessio salutaris ad veniam: sit ablutio scelerum, sit fortitudo fragilium, sit contra omnia mundi pericula firmamentum: sit vivorum atque mortuorum fidelium remissio omnium delictorum. Per Dominum.
May the mysteries we have received purify us, we beseech thee, O almighty and merciful God: and grant by the intercession of all thy saints, that this thy Sacrament may not increase our guilt to punishment, but be a means of obtaining pardon in order to salvation: may it wash away sin, strengthen our frailty, secure us against the dangers of the world: and procure forgiveness for all the faithful, both living and dead. Through, &c.
The psalms and antiphons are given on page 99.
(2 Cor. vi.)
Fratres, hortamur vos ne in vacuum gratiam Dei recipiatis. Ait enim: Tempore accepto exaudivi te, et in die salutis adjuvi te.
Brethren, we exhort you, that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee.
For the hymn and versicle, see page 106.
Antiphon Of The Magnificat
Ecce nunc tempus acceptabile, ecce nunc dies salutis: in his ergo diebus exhibeamus nosmetipsos sicut Dei ministros, in multa patientia, in jejuniis, in vigiliis, et in charitate non ficta.
Deus, qui Ecclesiam tuam annua quadragesimali observatione purificas: præsta familiæ tuæ, ut quod a te obtinere abstinendo nititur, hoc bonis operibus exsequatur. Per Dominum.
Behold now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation: in these days, therefore, let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in fastings, in watchings, and in charity unfeigned.
Let us Pray.
O God, who purifiest thy Church by the yearly observance of Lent: grant, that what thy children endeavour to obtain of thee by abstinence, they may put in execution by good works. Through, &c.
It sometimes happens, during Lent, that a double feast of the first or second class is kept on the Monday; in which case the Sunday Vespers are of the following feast, and only a commemoration is made of the Sunday.
We will finish our Sunday with the following two fine Prefaces; the first is from the Mozarabic, the second from the Ambrosian, missal. The truths proposed to-day by the Church for our instruction are here expressed with much unction and eloquence.
Prayer From The Mozarabic Missal
(Illatio. Feria VI. Hebdom. IV. Quadragesimæ.)
Dignum et justum est: nos tibi gratias agere, æterne omnipotens Deus, per Jesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum. Qui gloriosum de diabolo triumphum jejunus obtinuit: et certandi formulam militibus propriis suo exemplo monstravit. Quadraginta igitur diebus et quadraginta noctibus Deus et Dominus omnium jejunavit: ut et verum Deum et hominem suscepisse monstraret: et quod Adam per escam perdiderat, suo jejunio repararet. Aggreditur itaque diabolus Virgin is Filium: Dei quoque nesciens unigenitum. Et licet veternosa calliditate eisdem machinis quibus Adam primum dejecerat, etiam secundum seducere obtineret: tamen hoc non valuit, nec fortissimum bellatorem in ulla potuit omnino fraude subripere. Ille etenim quadraginta diebus vel noctibus jejunavit: et postea esuriit: qui quadraginta dudum annorum temporibus, innumeras pane cœlesti multitudines saginavit. Hic est qui virtute propria fretus, cum diabolo tenebrarum principe dimicavit: et eo prostrato victoriæ trophæum ad cœlos magnifice portavit.
It is meet and just, that we give thanks to thee, O eternal and almighty God, through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord: who, by fasting, obtained a glorious victory over the devil, and by his own example, taught his soldiers how to fight. For forty days and forty nights did the God and Lord of all fast, that he might both show that he, the true God, had assumed human nature, and make good, by his fast, that which Adam had forfeited by intemperance, The devil attacked the Virgin’s Son, not knowing that he was, moreover, the only-begotten Son of God. And although, with his ancient craft, he used the same artifice to seduce the second Adam, wherewith he had vanquished the first; yet did all his cunning fail with the most brave combatant. He who fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards was hungry, is the same that, of old, for the space of forty years, fed countless multitudes with bread from heaven. This is he that, by his own power, entered into battle with the devil, the prince of darkness; and having cast him down, gloriously bore up to heaven the trophy of his victory.
Prayer from the Ambrosian Missal
(Præfatio. Dom. I. in Quadrag.)
Vere quia dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus, per Christum Dominum nostrum, in quo jejunantium fides alitur, spes provehitur, charitas roboratur. Ipse enim est panis verus et vivus, qui est substantia stantia ætemitatis, et esca virtutis. verbum enim tuum, per quod facta sunt omnia, non solum humanarum mentium, sed ipsorum quoque panis est angelorum. Hujus panis alimento moyses famulus tuus quadraginta diebus, et noctibus, legem suscipiens, jejunavit: et a carnalibus cibis, ut tuæ suavitatis capacior esset, abstinuit. unde nec famem corporis sensit, et terrenarum est oblitus escarum: quia ilium et gloriæ tuæ clarificabat aspectus, et, influente spiritu, dei sermo pascebat. Hunc panem etiam nobis ministrare non desinas, quem ut indesinenter esuriamus hortaris.
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, through Christ our Lord, in whom they that fast find the nourishment of their faith, the advancement of their hope, the strengthening of their charity. for he is the true and living bread, who is the nourishment of eternity, and the food of virtue. for thy word, whereby all things were made, is the bread, not only of the souls of men, but likewise of the very angela with this bread was thy servant moses fed, when receiving thy law, he fasted forty days and forty nights, and abstained from bodily food, that he might be the better able to partake of thy sweetness. hence, he felt not corporal hunger; and forgot all earthly food; for the sight of thy glory shone upon him, and, through the infusion of thy spirit, his meat was the word of god. to us likewise cease not to administer this bread, since thou biddest us unceasingly hunger after it.
 More especially in France. [Tr.]
 Fourth Sermon for Lent.
 Heb. iv. 15.
 Is vii 14
 St. John ii. 16.
 St. John xiv. 30.
 Job vii. 1.
 Eph. vi. 16.