The Twenty-Fourth and Last Week after Pentecost
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
The number of the Sundays after Pentecost may exceed twenty-four, and go as far as twenty-eight, according as Easter is each year more or less near to the vernal equinox. But the Mass here given is always reserved for the last; and the intervening ones, be their number what it may, are taken from the Sundays after the Epiphany, which, in that case, were not used at the beginning of the year. This, however, does not apply to the Introit, Gradual, Offertory, and Communion, which, as we have already said, are repeated from the twenty-third Sunday.
We have seen how that Mass of the twenty-third Sunday was regarded, by our forefathers, as really the last of the cycle. Abbot Rupert has given us the profound meaning of its several parts. According to the teaching we have already pondered over, the reconciliation of Juda was shown us as being, in time, the term intended by God: the last notes of the sacred liturgy blended with the last scene of the world’s history, as seen and known by God. The end proposed by eternal Wisdom in the world’s creation, and mercifully continued, after the fall, by the mystery of Redemption, has now (we speak of the Church’s year and God’s workings) been fully carried out. This end was no other than that of divine union with human nature, making it one in the unity of one only body. Now that the two antagonistic people, Gentile and Jew, are brought together in the one same new Man in Christ Jesus their Head, the two Testaments, which so strongly marked the distinction between the ages of time, the one called the old, the other the new, fade away, and give place to the glory of the eternal Alliance.
It was here, therefore, that mother Church formerly finished her liturgical year. She was delighted at what she had done during all the past months; that is, at having led her children, not only to have a thorough appreciation of the divine plan, which she had developed before them in her celebrations, but moreover, and more especially, to unite them themselves, by a veritable union, to their Jesus, by a real communion of views, and interests, and loves. On this account, she used not to revert again to the second coming of the God-Man and the last judgment, two great subjects which she had proposed for her children’s reflexions, at the commencement of the purgative life, that is, in her season of Advent. It is only a few centuries ago that, with a view of giving to her year a conclusion more defined and intelligible to the faithful of these comparatively recent times, she chose to conclude the cycle with the prophetic description of the dread coming of her Lord, which is to put an end to time, and to open eternity. From time immemorial, St. Luke had had the office of announcing, in Advent, the approach of the last judgment; the evangelist St Matthew was selected for this its second, and more detailed, description, on the last Sunday after Pentecost.
Dicit Dominus : Ego cogito cogitationes pacis, et non afilictionis: invocabitis me, et ego exaudiam vos: et reducam captivitatem vestram de cunctis locis.
Ps. Benedixisti, Domine, terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob. Gloria Patri. Dicit Dominus.
The Lord saith: I think thoughts of peace, and not of affliction; ye shall call upon me, and I will hear you: and I will bring back your captive people from all places.
Ps. Thou, O Lord, hast blessed thy land: thou hast brought back the captive children of Jacob. Glory, etc. The Lord.
The doing of good works, by the help of divine grace, prepares us to receive a still greater grace, for greater works in the future. In the Collect, let us unite with our mother, the Church, in praying for an efficacious influence of the divine Mover upon our wills.
Excita, quæsumus Domine, tuorum fidelium voluntates, ut divini operis fructum propensius exequentes, pietatis tuæ remedia majora percipiant. Per Dominum.
Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful; that, becoming more zealous as to the fruit of the divine work, they may receive the greater remedies of thy goodness. Through, etc.
The other Collects, as on page 120.
Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Colossenses.
Fratres, Non cessamus pro vobis orantes et postulantes, ut impleamini agnitione voluntatis Dei in omni sapientia, et intellectu spiritali : ut ambuletis digne Deo per omnia placentes: in omni opere bono fructificantes, et crescentes in scientia Dei : in omni virtute confortati secundum potentiam claritatis ejus, in omni patientia, et longanimitate cum gaudio, gratias agentes Deo Patri, qui dignos nos fecit in partem sortis sanctorum in lumine : qui eripuit nos de potestate tenebrarum, et transtulit in regnum Filii dilectionis suæ; in quo habemus redemptionem per sanguinem ejus, remissionem peccatorum.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Colossians.
Brethren: We cease not to pray for you, and to beg that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom, and spiritual understanding: that you may walk worthy of God, in all things pleasing: being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God: strengthened with all might, according to the power of his glory, in all patience and longsuffering with joy. Giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins.
Thanksgiving and prayer! There we have the epitome of our Epistle, and an eloquent conclusion of the apostle’s course of instructions: it is also both the summary and the conclusion of the year of the sacred liturgy. The Doctor of the Gentiles has been zealous, beyond measure, in his fulfilment of the task assigned to him by mother Church. Of a certainty, the fault is not his, if the souls he undertook to guide, on the morrow of the descent of the Spirit of love, have not all reached that summit of perfection, which he longed for us all to attain. Those who have gone bravely forward in the path which, a year since, was opened out to them by holy Church, now, by a happy experience, know that that path most surely leads them to the life of union, where divine charity reigns supreme. Who is there that, with anything like earnestness, has allowed his mind and heart to take an interest in the several liturgical seasons which have been brought before us, and been celebrated by the Church during the past twelve months, has not also felt an immense increase of light imparted to him? Now, light is that indispensable element, which delivers us from the power of darkness, and translates us, by the help of God, into the kingdom of the Son of His love. The work of redemption, which this His beloved Son came down upon earth to accomplish for His Father’s glory, could not do otherwise than make progress in those who have, with more or less fervour, entered into the spirit of His Church, during the whole year, that is, from the opening of Advent right up to these the closing days of the sacred cycle. All of us, then, whosoever we may be, should give thanks to this Father of lights,who hath thus made us worthy to be partakers, somewhat at least, of the lot of the saints.
So, then, all of us, be the share of our participation what it may, must pray that the excellent gift, which has been put into our hearts, may fervently yield itself to the still richer development, which the coming new cycle is intended to produce within us.
The just man cannot possibly remain stationary in this world; he must either descend or ascend; and whatever may be the degree of perfection to which grace has led him, he must be ever going still higher as long as he is left in this life. The Colossians, to whom the apostle was writing, had fully received the Gospel; the word of truth which had been sown in them had produced abundant fruit in faith, hope, and love; and yet, instead of relenting on that account his solicitude in their regard, it is precisely for that reason that St. Paul, who had prayed for them up till then, ceases not to pray for them. So let us do: let us go on praying. Let us beg of God, that He will again, and always, fill us with His divine Wisdom, and with the Spirit of understanding. We need all that, in order to correspond with His merciful designs. If the new year of the Church, which is so soon to begin, finds us faithful and making fresh progress, we shall be repaid with new aspects of truth in the garden of the Spouse, and the fruits we shall produce there will be more plentiful, and far sweeter, than in any bygone year. Therefore, let us make up our minds to walk worthy of God, ‘with dilated hearts,’ and bravely; for the eye of His approving love will be ever upon us, as we toil along. Oh, yes! let us run on in that uphill path, which will lead us to eternal repose in the beatific vision!
Liberasti nos, Domine, ex affligentibus nos : et eos, qui nos oderunt, confudisti.
V. In Deo laudabimur tota die, et in nomine tuo confitebimur in sæcula.
Alleluia, alleluia. V. De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine; Domine, exaudi orationem meam. Alleluia.
Thou hast saved us, O Lord, from them that afflict us: and hast put them to shame that hate us.
V. In God shall we glory all the day long; and in thy name we will give praise for ever.
Alleluia, Alleluia. V. Out of the depths I have cried unto thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my prayer. Alleluia.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.
In illo tempore : Dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Cum videritis abominationem desolationis, quæ dicta est a Daniele propheta, stantem in loco sancto, qui legit intelligat: tunc qui in Judæa sunt, fugiant ad montes: et qui in tecto, non descendat tollere aliquid de domo sua: et qui in agro, non revertatur tollere tunicam suam. Væautemprægnantibus, et nutrientibus in illis diebus. Orate autem ut non fìat fuga vestra in hieme, vel Sabbato. Erit enim tunc tribulatio magna, qualis non fuit ab initio mundi usque modo, neque fiet. Et nisi breviati fuissent dies illi, non fìeret salva omnis caro: sed propter electos breviabuntur dies illi. Tunc si quis vobis dixerit : Ecce hic est Christus, aut illic : nolite credere. Surgent enim pseudochristi, et pseudoprophetæ : et dabunt signa magna et prodigia, ita ut in errorem inducantur (si fieri potest) etiam electi. Ecce prædixi vobis. Si ergo dixerint vobis : Ecce in deserto est, nolite exire: Ecce in penetralibus, nolite credere. Sicut enim fulgur exit ab Oriente, et paret usque in Occidentem : ita erit et adventus Filii hominis. Ubicumque fuerit corpus, illic congregabuntur et aquilæ. Statim autem post tribulationem dierum illorum sol obscurabitur, et luna non dabit lumen suum, et stellæ cadent de cœlo, et virtutes cœlorum commovebuntur : et tunc parebit signum Filii hominis in cœlo: et tunc plangent omnes tribus terræ : et videbunt Filium hominis venientem in nubibus cœli cum virtute multa et majestate. Et mittet angelos suos cum tuba, et voce magna: et congregabunt electos ejus a quatuor ventis, a summis cœlorum usque ad terminos eorum. Ab arbore autem fici discite parabolam : cum jam ramus ejus tener fuerit, et folia nata, scitis quia prope est æstas; ita et vos, cum videritis hæc omnia, scitote quia prope est in januis. Amen dico vobis, quia non præteribit generatio hæc, donec omnia hæc fiant. Cœlum et terra transibunt, verba autem mea non præteribunt.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: When you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth, let him understand. Then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains; and he that is on the house-top, let him not come down to take anything out of his house; and he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat. And wo to them that are with child, and that give suck in those days. But pray that your flight be not in the winter, or on the Sabbath. For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be. And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect, those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say to you: Lo! here is Christ, or there: do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Behold I have told it to you beforehand; if therefore they shall say to you : Behold he is in the desert, go ye not out: Behold he is in the closets, believe it not. For as lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. Wheresoever the body shall be there shall the eagles also be gathered together. And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be moved: and there shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all tribes of the earth mourn: and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty. And he shall send his angels with a trumpet, and a great voice: and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the farthest parts of the heavens to the utmost bounds of them. And from the fig-tree learn a parable: when the branch thereof is now tender and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh even at the doors. Amen, I say to you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass.
Several times during Advent we meditated on the circumstances which are to accompany the last coming of Christ our Lord; and in a few days the same great teachings will be again brought before us, filling our souls with a salutary fear. May we, then, be permitted, on this last Sunday of our liturgical year, to address ourselves in a prayer of desire and praise to our adorable Lord and King, the solemn hour of whose judgment is to be the consummation of His work, and the signal of His triumph.
O Jesus! who then art to come to deliver Thy Church, and avenge that God who has so long borne every sort of insult from His creature man, that day of Thy coming will indeed be terrible to the sinner! He will then understand how the Lord hath made all things for Himself—all, even the ungodly, who, on the evil day, are to show forth the divine justice. The whole world, fighting on His side against the wicked, shall then at last be avenged for that slavery of sin which had been forced upon it.Vainly will the wicked cry out to the rocks to fall upon them, and hide them from the face of Him that will then be seated on His throne; the abyss will refuse to engulf them; in obedience to Him who holds the keys of death and of hell, it will give forth, to a man, its wretched victims, and set them at the foot of the dread tribunal. O Jesus, how magnificent will Thy power then appear! The heavenly hosts will also be standing around Thee, forming Thy brilliant court, and assembling Thy elect from the four quarters of the earth.
For we also, Thy redeemed who have become Thy members by becoming the members of Thy beloved Church, we are to be there on that day, and our place (O ineffable mystery!) is to be the one Thou hast reserved for Thy bride; it is to be Thy own throne, where seated we shall judge the very angels. Even now, all those blessed of the Father, all those elect whose youth, like that of the eagle, has been so often renewed by receiving Thy precious Blood, have they not had their eyes fitted to gaze without being dazzled on the Sun of justice, when He shall appear in the heavens? The tediousness of their long exile has given such keenness to their hunger that nothing will have power to stay their flight, once the sacred prey of Thy divine Body shall be shown them! What hindrance could be strong enough to check the impetuosity of the love which will bring them all together to the banquet of the eternal Pasch? The trumpet of the Archangel, which will ring through the graves of the just, is to be a summons calling them, not to death, but to life; to the sight of the old enemy’s destruction; to a redemption which is to include their very bodies; to the unimpeded passover to the true Land of promise; in a word, to the Pasch, and this time real, and for all, and for ever. What will be the joy of that true day of the Lord! What joy for them that have, by faith, lived in Christ, and loved Him without seeing Him! Identifying themselves with Thee, O Jesus, notwithstanding the weakness of the flesh, they have continued here below Thy life of suffering and humiliation. What a triumph when, delivered for ever from sin, and vested in their immortal bodies, they shall be borne aloft before Thy face, that they may for ever be with Thee!
But their chiefest joy on that great day will be to assist at the glorification of their most dear Lord, by the manifestation of the power which was given to Him over all flesh. Then, O Emmanuel! crushing the heads of kings, and making Thine enemies Thy footstool, Thou wilt be shown as the one Ruler of all nations. Then will heaven, and earth, and hell bow their knee before that Son of Man, who heretofore appeared on earth as a slave, and was judged, and condemned, and put to death between two thieves. Then, dear Jesus, Thou wilt judge the unjust judges, to whom, even in the midst of all the humiliations they put on Thee, Thou didst foretell this Thy coming on the clouds of heaven. And when, after the irrevocable sentence has been passed, the wicked shall go to everlasting torments, and the just to life eternal, Thy apostle tells us that, having conquered Thine enemies and been proclaimed undisputed King, Thou wilt consign to Thy eternal Father this Thy kingdom won over death; it will be the perfect homage of Thee, the Head, and of all Thy faithful members. God will thus be all in all. It will be the perfect accomplishment of that sublime prayer Thou taughtest mankind to make, which they daily offer up to the Father who is in heaven, saying to Him : 'Hallowed be Thy name! Thy kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven!' O blissfully peaceful day, when blasphemy is to cease, and when this poor earth of ours, cleansed by fire from the filth of sin, shall be turned into a new paradise! Where, then, is the Christian, who would not thrill with emotion at the thought of that last of all the days of time, which is to usher in beautiful eternity? Who would not despise the agonies of his own last hour, when he reflects that those sufferings have really only one meaning in them, that the Son of Man, as the Gospel words it, is nigh even at the very doors!
O sweet Jesus, detach us every year more and more from this world, whose fashion passeth away, with its vain toils, its false glories, and its lying pleasures. It was Thine own foretelling, that, as in the days of Noe and Sodom, men will go on with their feasting, and business, and amusements, without giving any more thought to Thy approaching coming than their forefathers heeded the threat of the Deluge, or of the fire, which came upon them and destroyed them. Let these men go on with their merry-making, and their sending gifts one to the other, as Thine Apocalypse expresses it, because, so they will have it, Christ and His Church are then to be worn-out ideas! Whilst they are tyrannizing over Thy holy city in a thousand varied ways, and persecuting her as no past period had ever done, they little think that all this is an announcement of the eternal nuptials, which are nigh at hand. All these trials are the fresh jewels, which the bride is to have given her before her beauty is complete; and the blood of her last martyrs is to incarnadine her already splendid robes with all the richness of royal crimson. As for us, we lend an ear to the echoes of our home above; and, from the throne of our God, we hear going forth the voice heard by Thy beloved prophet of Patmos: 'Give praise unto our God, all ye His servants, and ye that fear Him, little and great! Alleluia! For the Lord our God the almighty hath reigned! Let us be glad and rejoice, and give glory unto Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath prepared herself!'Yet a little while, till the number of our brethren be made up; and then, with the Spirit and the bride, we will say to Thee, in all the ardour of our souls that have long thirsted after Thee: ‘Come, Lord Jesus! Come, and perfect us in love, by eternal union, unto the glory of the Father, and of Thyself the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever!'
De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine: Domine, exaudi orationem meam : de profundis clamavi ad te, Domine.
Out of the depths I have cried unto thee, O Lord : Lord, hear my prayer: out of the depths I have cried unto thee, O Lord!
In the Secret, let us ask of God that, at the approach of the last judgment, He would turn all hearts towards Himself, and vouchsafe to make our earthly desires give place to the desire for, and relish of, heavenly things.
Propitius esto, Domine, supplicationibus nostris: et populi tui oblationibus precibusque susceptis, omnium nostrum ad te corda converte; ut a terrenis cupiditatibus liberati, ad cœlestia desideria transeamus. Per Dominum.
Mercifully hear our supplications, O Lord: and, having received the offerings and prayers of thy people, turn the hearts of us all unto thee; that, being freed from earthly desires, we may come to desire heavenly things. Through, etc.
The other Secrets, as on page 130.
Amen dico vobis, quidquid orantes petitis, credite quia accipietis, et tiet vobis.
Amen I say unto you: all things whatsoever ye ask for when ye pray, believe that ye shall receive, and it shall be done unto you.
May the divine Sacrament, as the Church prays in the Postcommunion, fully cure, by its virtue, whatsoever may remain faulty in our souls at this close of the year!
Concede nobis, quæsumus Domine, ut per hæc sacramenta quæ sumpsimus, quidquid in nostra mente vitiosum est, ipsorum medicationis dono curetur. Per Dominum.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord that whatsoever is faulty in our souls may be cured by the virtue of the mysteries we have received. Through, etc.
The other Postcommunions, as on page 131.
The psalms, capitulum, hymn and versicle, above, pages 71-81.
Antiphon of the Magnificat
Amen dico vobis, quia non præteribit generatio hæc, donec omnia fiant : cœlum et terra transibunt, verba autem mea non transibunt, dicit Dominus.
Excita, quæsumus Domine, tuorum fidelium voluntates, ut divini operis fructum propensius exsequentes, pietatis tuæ remedia majora percipiant. Per Dominum.
Amen, I say to you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done: heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass, saith the Lord.
Let us Pray.
Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful; that, becoming more zealous as to the fruit of the divine work, they may receive the greater remedies of thy goodness. Through, etc.
 Farther on (vid. inf., pages 496-511) we have given these Sundays, which are the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth, after the Epiphany. When there are twenty-five Sundays after Pentecost, it is the sixth after the Epiphany, which is put after the twenty-third; if the number of Sundays be twenty-six, the fifth after the Epiphany becomes the twenty-fourth after Pentecost; if the number be twenty-seven, we go back to the fourth after the Epiphany, and the rest follow; if it be as high as twenty-eight, we begin with the third.
 The thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost.
 Eph. ii. 16.
 Ibid. 15.
 First Sunday of Advent.
 St. Jas. i. 17.
 Ps. lxxxiii. 6.
 Col. i. 4-6.
 Ibid. 9.
 St. Benedict, The Holy Rule.
 Prov. xvi 4.
 Wisd. v. 21.
 Rom. viii 21.
 Apoc. vi. 16.
 Ibid. i. 18.
 Apoc. xix. 14.
 Ibid. iii. 21.
 1 Cor. vi. 3.
 St. Matt. xxv. 3.
 Ps. cii. 5.
 Cant. viii. 6.
 1 Cor. xv. 28.
 Rom. viii. 23.
 Ps. cxvii. 24.
 1 St. Pet. i. 8.
 1 Thess. iv. 6.
 St. John xvii. 2.
 Ps. cix.
 Ps. ii.
 Phil. ii. 10.
 St. Matt. xxvi. 64.
 Ibid. xxv. 46.
 1 Cor. xv. 24-28.
 St. Matt. vi. 9.
 1 Cor. vii. 31.
 St. Luke xvii. 26-30.
 Apoc. ix. 10.
 Apoc. xix. 5-7.
 Ibid. vi. 11.
 Ibid. xxii. 17.