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The Liturgical Year

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Under this heading of Proper of the Time, we here comprise the movable Office of the Sundays and Ferias of Advent. Though anxious to give to the faithful the flowers of the Advent liturgy, yet were we to bring forward even those which might be considered as the choicest, four volumes would have barely sufficed. The fear of making our work too expensive to the faithful, persuaded us to limit it within much narrower bounds, and out of the abundant treasures before us, to give what we thought could be least dispensed with.

The plan we have adopted is this: We give the whole of the Mass and Vespers for the four Sundays of Advent. On the ferial days, we give one, at least, of the lessons from Isaias, which are read in the Office of Matins; adding to this a hymn or sequence, or some other poetic liturgical composition. All these have been taken from the gravest sources, for example, from the Roman and Mozarabic breviaries, from the Greek anthology and menæa, from the missals of the middle ages, &c. After this hymn or sequence, we have given a prayer from the Ambrosian, Gallican, or Mozarabic missal. So that the faithful will find in our collection an unprecedented abundance of liturgical formulæ, each of which carries authority with it, as being taken from ancient and approved sources.

We have not thought it desirable to give a commentary to each of the liturgical formulæ inserted in our work. It seemed to us that they would be rendered sufficiently intelligible by the general explanation which runs through our work, in which explanation we have endeavoured to excite the devotion of the reader, give unity to the several parts, and afford solid instruction. We shall thus avoid all those repetitions and commonplace remarks, which do little more than fatigue the reader.

We have inserted the Great Antiphons and the Office of Christmas Eve in the proper of the saints, because both of these have fixed days in the calendar, and to put them in the proper of the time, as they stand in the breviary and missal, would have required us to introduce into a book, destined for the laity, rubrics somewhat complicated, which would, perhaps, not have been understood.

For more information on the season of Advent, visit here.

We apply the name of Christmas to the forty days which begin with the Nativity of our Lord, December 25, and end with the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, February 2. It is a period which forms a distinct portion of the Liturgical Year, as distinct, by its own special spirit, from every other, as are Advent, Lent, Easter, or Pentecost. One same Mystery is celebrated and kept in view during the whole forty days. Neither the Feasts of the Saints, which so abound during this Season; nor the time of Septuagesima, with its mournful Purple, which often begins before Christmastide is over, seem able to distract our Holy Mother the Church from the immense joy of which she received the good tidings from the Angels[1] on that glorious Night for which the world had been longing four thousand years. The Faithful will remember that the Liturgy commemorates this long expectation by the four penitential weeks of Advent.
[1] St Luke ii 10.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Christmas)

For more information on the season of Christmas, visit here.

This third section of the liturgical year is much shorter than the two preceding ones; and yet it is one of real interest. The season of Septuagesima has only three weeks of the Proper of the Time, and the feasts of the saints are far less frequent than at other periods of the year. The volume we now offer to the faithful may be called one of transition, inasmuch as it includes the period between two important seasons—viz., Christmas and Lent. We have endeavoured to teach them how to spend these three weeks; and our instructions, we trust, will show them that, even in this the least interesting portion of the ecclesiastical year, there is much to be learned. They will find the Church persevering in carrying out the one sublime idea which pervades the whole of her liturgy; and, consequently, they must derive solid profit from imbibing the spirit peculiar to this season.

Were we, therefore, to keep aloof from the Church during Septuagesima, we should not have a complete idea of her year, of which these three weeks form an essential part. The three preliminary chapters of this volume will convince them of the truth of our observation; and we feel confident that, when they have once understood the ceremonies, and formulas, and instructions, offered them by the Church during this short season, they will value it as it deserves.

For more information on the season of Septuagesima, visit here.

We begin, with this volume, the holy season of Lent; but such is the richness of its liturgy, that we have found it impossible to take our readers beyond the Saturday of the fourth week. Passion-week and Holy Week, which complete the forty days of yearly penance, require to be treated at such length, that we could not have introduced them into this volume without making it inconveniently large.

The present volume is a very full one, although it only comprises the first four weeks of the season of Lent. We have called it Lent; and yet the two weeks of the next volume are also comprised in Lent; nay, they are its most important and sacred part. But, in giving the name of Lent to this first section, we have followed the liturgy itself, which applies this word to the first four weeks only; giving to the two that remain the names of Passion-week and Holy Week. Our next volume will, therefore, be called Passiontide and Holy Week.

For more information on Lent, visit here.

After having proposed the forty-days’ fast of Jesus in the desert to the meditation of the faithful during the first four weeks of Lent, the holy Church gives the two weeks which still remain before Easter to the commemoration of the Passion. She would not have her children come to that great day of the immolation of the Lamb, without having prepared for it by compassionating with Him in the sufferings He endured in their stead.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Passiontide and Holy Week)

For more information on Passiontide and Holy Week, visit here.

WITH this volume we begin the season of Easter, wherein are accomplished the mysteries prepared for, and looked forward to, since Advent. Such are the liturgical riches of this portion of the Christian year, that we have found it necessary to devote three volumes to it.

The present volume is wholly taken up with Easter Week. A week is indeed a short period; but such a week as this, with the importance of the events it brings before us, and the grandeur of the mysteries it celebrates, is, at least, equivalent to any other section of our Liturgical Year. We have abridged our explanations as much as possible; and yet we have exceeded two-thirds of one of our ordinary volumes. Hence, it was out of the question to add the remaining weeks; the more so, as the saints’ feasts recommence on the Monday following the Easter Octave, and their insertion would have obliged us to have made our volume considerably more bulky than even that of Passiontide. We have, therefore, been satisfied with giving the Mass and Office of the Annunciation, already given in our volume for Lent, but which are needed for the Monday after Low Sunday, when Easter falls between March 22 and April 2, which is frequently the case.

For more information on Paschal Tide, visit here.

This volume opens to us the second part of the Liturgical Year, beginning the long period of the Time after Pentecost. It treats of the feasts of the most holy Trinity, of Corpus Christi, and of the sacred Heart of Jesus. These three feasts require to be explained apart. Their dates depend on that of Easter; and yet they are detached, if we consider their object, from the moveable cycle, whose aim is to bring before us, each year, the successive, and so to speak historic, memories of our Lord’s mysteries. After the sublime drama, which has, by gradually presenting to us the facts of our Redeemer’s history, shown us the divine economy of the redemption, these feasts immediately follow, and give us a deep and dogmatic teaching: a teaching which is a marvellous synthesis, taking in the whole body of Christian doctrine.

The Holy Ghost has come down upon the earth, in order to sanctify it. Faith being the one basis of all sanctification, and the source of love, the holy Spirit would make it the starting-point of His divine workings in the soul. To this end, He inspires the Church, which has sprung up into life under the influence of His impetuous breathing, to propose at once to the faithful that doctrinal summary, which is comprised in the three feasts immediately coming after Pentecost. The volumes following the present one will show us the holy Spirit continuing His work, and, on the solid foundations of the faith He established at the outset, building the entire superstructure of the Christian virtues.

This was the idea which the author of the Liturgical year was busy developing in the second part of his work, when death came upon him; and the pen that had begun this volume was put by obedience into the hands of one, who now comes before the faithful, asking their prayers for the arduous task he has undertaken, of continuing the not quite finished work of his beloved father and master. He begs of them to beseech our Lord, that He Himself will vouchsafe to bring to a successful termination an undertaking that was begun for His honour and glory, and that has already produced so much fruit in the souls of men.

Br. L.F. O.S.B.

Solesmes, May 10, 1879.

 

For more information on Time after Pentecost, visit here.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Gospel, which is now assigned to the Mass of the seventeenth Sunday, has given it the name of the Sunday of the love of God, dating, that is, from the time when the Gospel of the cure of the dropsy and of the invitation to the wedding-feast was anticipated by eight days. Previously even to that change, and from the very first, there used to be read, on this seventeenth Sunday, another passage from the new Testament, which is no longer found in this series of Sundays: it was the Gospel which mentions the difficulty regarding the resurrection of the dead, which the Sadducees proposed to our Lord.[1]

 

MASS

 

The judgments of God are always just, whether it be, in His justice, humbling the proud, or, in His mercy, exalting the humble. This day last week we saw this sovereign disposer of all things, allotting to each his place at the divine banquet. Let us recall to mind the behaviour of the guests, and the respective treatment shown to the humble and the proud. Adoring these judgments of our Lord, let us sing our Introit; and, as far as regards ourselves, let us throw ourselves entirely upon His mercy.

Introit

Justus es, Domine, et rectum judicium tuum : fac cum servo tuo secundum misericordiam tuam.

Ps. Beati immaculati in via : qui ambulant in lege Domini. Gloria Patri. Justus es.
Thou art just, O Lord, and thy judgment is right; deal with thy servant according to thy mercy.

Ps. Blessed are the undefiled in the way : who walk in the law of the Lord. Glory, etc. Thou.

The most hateful of all the obstacles which divine love has to encounter upon earth is the jealousy of satan, who endeavours, by an impious usurpation, to rob God of the possession of our souls—souls, that is, which were created by and for Him alone. Let us unite with holy Church in praying, in the Collect, for the supernatural assistance we require for avoiding the foul contact of the hideous serpent.

Collect

Da, quæsumus Domine, populo tuo diabolica vitare contagia : et te solum Deum pura mente sectari. Per Dominum.

Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, that thy people may avoid all the contagions of the devil; and, with a pure mind, follow thee, who alone art God. Through, etc.


The other Collects, as on page 120.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Ephesios.

Cap. iv.

Fratres, Obsecro vos ego vinctus in Domino, ut digne ambuletis vocatione, qua vocati estis, cum omni humilitate, et mansuetudine, cum patientia, supportantes invicem in charitate, solliciti servare unitatem spiritus in vinculo pacis. Unum corpus, et unus Spiritus, sicut vocati estis in una spe vocationis vestræ. Unus Dominus, una fides, unum baptisma. Unus Deus et Pater omnium, qui est super omnes, et per omnia, et in omnibus nobis. Qui est benedictus in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul, the Apostle, to the Ephesians.

Ch. iv.

Brethren: I, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called, with all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity. Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. One body and one spirit; as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all, who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen.


The Church, by thus giving these words from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, again takes up the subject so dear to her, viz., the dignity of her children. She beseeches them to correspond, in a becoming manner, to their high vocation. This vocation, this call, which God gives us is, as we have been so often told, the call, or invitation, made to the human family to come to the sacred nuptials of divine union; it is the vocation given to us to reign in heaven with the Word, who has made Himself our Spouse, and our Head.[2] The Gospel read to us last week was formerly the one appointed for this present Sunday, and was thus brought into close connexion with our Epistle. These words of St. Paul to the Ephesians are an admirable commentary on that Gospel, and it, in turn, throws light on the apostle’s words about the vocation. ‘When thou art invited to a wedding (cum vocatus fueris) sit down in the lowest place!’ These were our Lord’s words to us last Sunday; and now we have the apostle saying to us : Walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called, yes, walk in that vocation with all humility!

Let us now attentively hearken to our apostle, telling us what we must do, in order to prove ourselves worthy of the high honour offered to us by the Son of God. We must practise, among other virtues, these three—humility, mildness, and patience. These are the means for gaining the end that is so generously proposed to us. And what is this end? It is the unity of that immense body, which the Son of God makes His own, by the mystic nuptials He vouchsafes to celebrate with our human nature. This Man-God asks one condition from those whom He calls, whom He invites, to become, through the Church, His bride, bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh.[3] This one condition is, that they maintain such harmony among them, that it will make one bodyand one spirit of them all, in the bond of peace. ‘Bond most glorious!’ cries out St. John Chrysostom—‘bond most admirable, which unites us all with one another, and then, thus united, unites us with God.’[4] The strength of this bond is the strength of the holy Spirit Himself, who is all holiness and love; for it is that holy Spirit who forms these spiritual and divine ties; He it is who, with the countless multitude of the baptized, does the work which the soul does in the human body— that is, gives it life, and unites all the members into oneness of person. It is by the Holy Ghost that young and old, poor and rich, men and women, distinct as all these are in other respects, are made one, fused, so to say, in the fire which eternally burns in the blessed Trinity. But, in order that the flame of infinite love may thus draw into its embrace our regenerated humanity, we must get rid of selfish rivalries, and grudges, and dissensions, which, so long as they exist among us, prove us to be carnal,[5] and, therefore, to be unfit material either for the divine flame to touch, or for the union which that flame produces. According to the beautiful comparison of St. John

Chrysostom,[6] when the fire lays hold of various species of wood which have been thrown into it, if it find the fuel properly dry, it makes one burning pile of all the several woods; but, if they are damp and wet, it cannot act on them separately, nor reduce the whole to one common blaze. So is it in the spiritual order; the unhealthy humidity of the passions neutralizes the action of the sanctifying Spirit; and union, which is both the means and the end of love, becomes an impossibility.

Let us, therefore, bind ourselves to our brethren by that blessed link of charity, which, if it fetters at all, fetters only our bad tempers; but, in all other respects, it dilates our hearts, by the very fact of its giving free scope to the Holy Ghost to lead them safely to the realization of that one hope of our common vocation and calling, which is to unite us to God by love. Of course, charity, even with the saints, is, so long as they are on this earth, a laborious virtue; because, even with the best, grace seldom restores to a perfect equilibrium the faculties of man, which were put out of order by original sin. From this it follows that the weaknesses of human nature will sometimes show themselves, either by excess or by deficiency; and when these weaknesses do appear, not only the saint himself is humbled by their getting the better of him, but, as he is well aware, those who live with him have to practise kindness and patience towards him. God permits all this, in order to increase the merit of us all, and make us long more and more for heaven. For it is there alone that we shall find ourselves, not only totally, but without any effort, in perfect harmony with our fellow-men; and this because of the perfect peaceful submissiveness of our entire being under the absolute sway of the thrice holy God, who will then be all in all.[7]In that happy land God Himself will wipe away the tears of His elect, for their miseries will all be gone; and their miseries will be gone because their whole being will be renovated, because united with Him, who is its infinite source.[8] The eternal Son of God, having then conquered in each member of His mystical body the hostile powers and death itself,[9]will appear, in the fullness of the mystery of His Incarnation, as the true Head of humanity, sanctified, restored,[10] and developed in Him. He will rejoice at seeing how, by the workings of the sanctifying Spirit, there has been wrought the destined degree of perfection in each of the several parts of that marvellous body,[11] which He vouchsafed to aggregate to Himself by the bond of love; and all this in order that He might Himself eternally celebrate, in concert with all creation, the glory of the ever adorable Trinity. How will the sweetest music of earth be then surpassed! How will our most perfect choirs seem to us then to have been almost like the noise of children singing out of tune, compared with the concord and harmony of that eternal song! Let us make ourselves ready for that heavenly concert. Let us put our voices in order, by now attuning our hearts to that plenitude of love, which, alas! is not often enjoyed here below, but which we should ever be trying to realize, by patiently supporting the faults of our brethren and ourselves, as the Epistle so earnestly impresses upon us.

In the ecstasy of her delight at hearing these few sounds of heaven’s music brought to her by such a singer as her apostle, our mother the Church seems to feel herself carried away far beyond time, and boldly joins a short song of her own to that of Jesus and His apostle; for by way of a conclusion to the text of our Epistle, she adds an ardent expression of praise, which is not in the original; and thus she forms a kind of doxology to the inspired words of her apostolic cantor.

We now know the priceless gifts brought to our earth by the Man-God. [12] Thanks to the prodigies of power and love achieved by the divine Word and the sanctifying Spirit, the soul of the just man is a little heaven on earth. Let us sing in our Gradual and Alleluia the happiness of the Christian people, chosen by God for His own inheritance.

Gradual

Beata gens, cujus est Dominus Deus eorum : populus, quem elegit Dominus in hæreditatem sibi.

V. Verbo Domini cœli firmati sunt : et spiritu oris ejus omnis virtus eorum. Alleluia, alleluia.

V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam : et clamor meus ad te perveniat. Alleluia.

Blessed is the nation that hath the Lord for its God : the people whom he hath chosen for his inheritance.

V. By the word of the Lord, and the breath of his mouth, were the heavens formed, and the whole host thereof. Alleluia, alleluia.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come unto thee. Alleluia.


Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xxii. 

In illo tempore : Accesserunt ad Jesum Pharisæi, et interrogavit eum unus ex eis legis doctor, tentans eum : Magister, quod est mandatum magnum in lege? Ait illi Jesus : Diliges Dominum Deum tuum ex toto corde tuo, et in tota anima tua, et in tota mente tua. Hoc est maximum, et primum mandatum. Secundum autem simile est huic : Diliges proximum tuum sicut teipsum. In his duobus mandatis universa lex pendet, et prophetæ. Congregatia autem Pharisæis, interrogavit eos Jesus, dicens : Quid vobis videtur de Christo? cujus filius est? Dicunt ei : David. Ait illis: Quomodo ergo David in spiritu vocat eum Dominum, dicens : Dixit Dominus Domino meo : Sede a dextris meis, donec ponam inimicos tuos scabellum pedum tuorum? Si ergo David vocat eum Dominum, quomodo filius ejus est? Et nemo poterat ei responded verbum; neque ausus fuit quisquam ex illa die eum amplius interrogare.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xxii.

At that time : The Pharisees came to Jesus: and one of them, a doctor of the law, asked him, tempting him: Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him : Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets. And the Pharisees being gathered together, Jesus asked them saying: What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say to him: David’s. He saith to them : How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying : The Lord said to my Lord, Sit on my right hand, until I make thy enemies thy footstool? If David then called him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word; neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.


The Man-God allowed temptation to approach His sacred Person in the desert;[13] He disdained not to sustain the attacks, which the devil’s spiteful cunning has, from the world’s beginning, been inventing, as the surest means of working man’s perdition. Our Jesus permitted the demon thus to tempt Him, in order that He might show His faithful servants how they are to repel the assaults of the wicked spirit. To-day, our adorable Master, who would be a model to His children in all their trials,[14] is represented to us as having to contend, not with satan’s perfidy, but with the hypocrisy of His bitterest enemies, the pharisees. They seek to ensnare Him in His speech,[15] just as the representatives of the world, which He has condemned,[16] will do to His Church, and that in all ages, right to the end of time. But as her divine Spouse triumphed, so will she; for He will enable her to continue His work upon earth, and amidst the same temptations and the same snares. She is ever to obtain the victory, by maintaining a most inviolable fidelity to God’s law and truth. The tools of satan, who are the heretics and the princes of the world, chafing at the restraint put by Christianity on their ambition and lust, will always be studying how best to outwit the guardian of the divine oracles, by their captious propositions or questions. When necessity requires her to speak, she is quite ready; for, as bride of that divine Word, who is His Father’s eternal and substantial utterance, what can she be but a voice, either to announce Him on earth, or to sing Him in heaven? That word of hers, endowed as it is with the power and penetration of God Himself, will not only never be conquered by surprise, but, like a two-edged sword, it will generally go much deeper than the crafty questioners of the Church anticipated; it will not only refute their sophistry, it will also expose the hypocrisy and wickedness of their intentions.[17] By their sacrilegious attempts, they will have gained nothing but disgrace and shame, and the mortification of having occasioned a fresh lustre to truth by the new light in which it has been put, and of having procured a clearer knowledge of dogma or morals for the devoted children of the Church.

It was thus with the pharisees of to-day’s Gospel. As the homily upon it tells us, they wanted to see if Jesus, who had declared Himself to be God, would not, consequently, make some addition to the commandment of divine love; and if He did they would be justified in condemning Him as having tried to change the letter of the law in its greatest commandment.[18] Our Lord disappointed them. He met their question by giving it a longer answer than they had asked for. Having first recited the text of the great commandment as given in the Scripture, he continued the quotation, and, by so doing, showed them that He was not ignorant of the intention which had induced them to question Him. He reminded them of the second commandment, like unto the first, the commandment of love of our neighbour, which condemned their intended crime of deicide. Thus were they convicted of loving neither their neighbour, nor God Himself, for the firstcommandment cannot be observed if the second, which flows from and completes it, be broken.

But our Lord does not stop there; He obliges them to acknowledge, at least implicitly, the Divinity of the Messiah. He puts a question, in His turn, to them, and they answer it by saying, as they were obliged to do, that the Christ was to be of the family of David; but if He be his Son, how comes it that David calls Him his Lord, just as he calls God Himself, as we have it in Psalm cix., where he celebrates the glories of the Messiah? The only possible explanation is, that the Messiah, who in due time, and as Man, was to be born of David’s house, was God, and Son of God, even before time existed, according to the same psalm: ‘From my womb, before the day-star, I begot thee.’[19] This answer would have condemned the pharisees, so they refused to give it; but their silence was an avowal; and, before very long, the eternal Father’s vengeance upon these vile enemies of His Son will fulfil the prophecy of making them His footstool in blood and shame: that time is to be the terrible day when the justice of God will fall upon the deicide city.

Let us Christians, out of contempt for satan, who stirred up the expiring Synagogue thus to lay snares for the Son of God, turn these efforts of hatred into an instruction which will warm up our love. The Jews, by rejecting Christ Jesus, sinned against both of the commandments which constitute charity, and embody the whole law; and we, on the contrary, by loving that same Jesus, fulfil the whole law.

Jesus is the brightness of eternal glory,[20] one, by nature, with the Father and the Holy Ghost; He is the God whom the first commandment bids us love, and it is in Him also that the second has its truest and adequate application. For not only is He as truly Man as He is truly God, but He is the Man par excellence,[21] the perfect Man, on whose type, and for whom, all other men were formed;[22] He is the model and the brother of all of them;[23] He is at the same time the leader who governs them as their King,[24] and offers them to God as their High Priest;[25] He is the Head who communicates to all the members of the human family beauty, and life, and movement, and light; He is the Redeemer of that human family since it has fallen, and on that account He is twice over the source of all right, and the ultimate and highest motive, even when not the direct object, of every love that deserves to be called love here below. Nothing counts with God, excepting so far as it has reference to Jesus. As St. Augustine says,[26]God loves men only inasmuch as they either are, or may one day become, members of His Son; it is His Son that He loves in them; thus He loves, with one same love though not equally, His Word, and the Flesh of His Word, and the members of His Incarnate Word. Now, charity is love—love such as it is in God, communicated to us creatures by the Holy Ghost. Therefore, what we should love, by charity, both in ourselves, and in others, is the divine Word, either as being, or, according to another expression of the same St. Augustine, ‘that He may be,’ in others and in ourselves.[27]

Let us take care, also, as a consequence of this same truth, not to exclude any human being from our love, excepting the damned, who are absolutely and eternally cut off from the body of the Man-God. Who can boast that he has the charity of Christ if he do not embrace His unity? The question is St. Augustine’s again.[28] Who can love Christ, without loving, with Him, the Church, which is His body? without loving all His members? What we do—be it to the least, or be it to the worthiest, be it of evil, or of good—it is to Him we do it, for He tells us so.[29] Then, let us love our neighbour as ourselves, because of Christ, who is in each of us, and who gives to us all union and increase in charity.[30]

That same apostle who says, 'The end of the law is charity,’[31] says also: ‘The end of the law is Christ;’[32] and we now see the harmony existing between these two distinct propositions. We understand, also, the connexion there is between the word of the Gospel: On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets, and that other saying of our Lord: Search the Scriptures, for the same are they that give testimony of Me.[33] The fullness of the law, which is the rule of men’s conduct, is in charity,[34] of which Christ is the end; just as the object of the revealed Scriptures is no other than the Man-God, who embodies in His own adorable unity, for us His followers, all moral teaching, and all dogma. He is our faith and our love, ‘the end of all our resolutions,’ says St. Augustine; 'for all our efforts tend but to this—to perfect ourselves in Him; and this is our perfection —to reach Him: having reached Him, seek no farther, for He is your End.’[35]The holy Doctor gives us, when we have reached this point, the best instruction as to how we are to live in the divine union: 'Let us cling to One, let us enjoy One, let us all be one in Him; hcereamus Uni, fruamur Uno, permaneamus unum'[36]

The beautiful anthem for to-day’s Offertory, separated, as we now have it, from the verses which formerly accompanied it, does not suggest why, in the earliest ages, it was assigned to this Sunday. We subjoin these verses to the anthem, which has been retained. The second concludes with the announcement of the arrival of the prince of the heavenly hosts, who is coming to the aid of God’s people. This gives the desired explanation; and it becomes all the clearer, when we remember that this Sunday begins the week of the great archangel in the antiphonary published, from the most ancient manuscripts, by the blessed Thomasi; and that the following Sunday is there designated as the first Sunday after Saint Michael (post Sancti Angeli).

Offertory

Oravi Deum meum ego Daniel, dicens : Exaudi, Domine, preces servi tui : illumina faciem tuam super sanctuarium tuum : et propitius intende populum istum, super quem invocatum est nomen tuum, Deus.

V. I. Adhuc me loquente et orante, et narrante peccata mea, et delicta populi mei Israel. Super quem.

V. II. Audivi vocem dicentem mihi : Daniel, intellige verba quæ loquor Ubi; quia ego missus sum ad te; nam et Michael venit in adjutorium meum.

Et propitius intende.

I Daniel prayed unto my God, saying : Graciously hear, O Lord, the prayers of thy servant : show thy face upon thy sanctuary : and mercifully look upon this people, upon which is invocated thy name, O God.

V. I. Whilst I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sins, and the sins of my people of Israel. Upon which.

V. II. I heard a voice saying unto me : Daniel! understand the words that I speak unto thee; for I am sent unto thee; for Michael likewise cometh to help me.

And mercifully look.


Forgiveness of our past sins, and preservation from future ones, these are the effects produced by the holy sacrifice. Let us pray for them, in the Secret, together with the Church.

Secret

Majestatem tuam, Domine, suppliciter deprecamur : ut hæc sancta, quægerimus, et a præteritis nos delictis exuant, et futuris. Per Dominum.
We humbly beseech thy majesty, O Lord: that the sacred mysteries we are celebrating may rid us of our past sins, and preserve us from sin for the future. Through, etc.

The other Secrets, as on page 130.


It is while assisting at these great mysteries that the Christian soul, in the enthusiasm of her love, presents to her God her promises and her engagements. Let her, then, give herself unreservedly to God, who overwhelms her with His favours; but, while thus giving free vent to the holy emotions which she so justly feels, let her not forget, that He who hides Himself, out of consideration for our weakness, under the eucharistic veil, is the Most High, who is terrible to the kings of the earth, and an avenger of infidelity to what is vowed.

Communion

Vovete, et reddite Domino Deo vestro omnes, qui in circuitu ejus affertis munera : terribili et ei, qui aufert spiritum principum : terribili apud omnes reges terræ.

Vow ye, and pay to the Lord your God, all ye that, round about him, bring gifts : to him that is terrible; even to him, who taketh away the spirit of princes : to the terrible with the kings of the earth.


It is the very holiness of God that in this divine Sacrament comes for the purpose of curing our vices, and fortifying our faltering steps on the road which leads to eternity. In the prayer of the Postcommunion, let us yield our souls to His almighty influence.

Postcommunion

Sanctificationibus tuis, omnipotens Deus, et vitia nostra curentur, et remedia nobis æterna proveniant. Per Dominum.

May our vices be cured, O almighty God, and eternal remedies procured for us, by these thy holy mysteries. Through, etc.


The other Postcommunions, as on page 131.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms, capitulum, hymn, and versicle, as above, pages 71-81.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Quid vobis videtur de Christo? cujus filius est? Dicunt ei omnes : David. Dicit eis Jesus : Quomodo David in spiritu vocat eum Dominum, dicens: Dixit Dominus Domino meo: Sede a dextris meis?

Oremus.

Da, quæsumus Domine, populo tuo diabolica vitare contagia : et te solum Deum pura mente sectari. Per Dominum. 

What think ye of Christ? whose Son is he? They all say to him: David’s. Jesus saith unto them : How doth David, in spirit, call him Lord, saying: the Lord said unto my Lord, sit on my right hand?

Let us Pray.

Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, that thy people may avoid all the contagions of the devil; and, with a pure mind, follow thee, who alone art God. Through, etc.


[1] St. Matt. xxii. 23-33.
[2] Eph. ii. 5.
[3] Eph. v. 30.
[4] St. Chrys., in Ep. ad Eph., Hom. ix. 3.
[5] 1 Cor. iii. 3.
[6] St. Chrys., ubi supra.
[7] 1 Cor. xv. 28.
[8] Apoc. xxi. 4, 5
[9] 1 Cor. xv. 24-28.
[10] Eph. i. 10.
[11] Ibid. iv. 13-16.
[12] Eph. iv. 8.
[13] St. Matt. iv. 1-11.
[14] Heb. ii. 17, 18; iv. 15.
[15] St. Matt. xxii. 15.
[16] St. John xvi. 8-11.
[17] Heb. iv. 12.
[18] St. Chrys., Hom, lxxvii. in Matt.
[19] Ps. cix. 3.
[20] Heb. i. 3.
[21] St. John xix. 5.
[22] Rom. viii. 29.
[23] Heb. ii. 17.
[24] St. John xviii. 37.
[25] Heb. x. 14.
[26] S. Aug., in Joan. Tract cx.
[27] Serm. cclv., in dieb pasch.
[28] Epist. lxi.
[29] St. Matt. xxv. 40-45.
[30] Eph. iv. 15, 16.
[31] 1 Tim. i 5
[32] Rom. x. 4.
[33] St. John v. 39.
[34] Rom. xiii. 10.
[35] St. Aug., in Ps. Ivi.
[36] De Trinit., L. iv. 11.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

For the fourth time in her year, holy Church comes claiming from her children the tribute of penance, which, from the earliest ages of Christianity, was looked upon as a solemn consecration of the seasons. The historical details relative to the institution of the Ember-days will be found on the Wednesdays of the third week of Advent and of the first week of Lent; and on those same two days, we have spoken of the intentions which Christians should have in the fulfilment of this demand made upon their yearly service.

The beginnings of the winter, spring, and summer quarters were sanctified by abstinence and fasting, and each of them, in turn, has received heaven’s blessing; and now autumn is harvesting the fruits which divine mercy, appeased by the satisfactions made by sinful man, has vouchsafed to bring forth from the bosom of the earth, notwithstanding the curse that still hangs over her.[1] The precious seed of wheat, on which man’s life mainly depends, was confided to the soil in the season of the early frosts, and, with the first fine days, peeped above the ground; at the approach of glorious Easter, it carpeted our fields with its velvet of green, making them ready to share in the universal joy of Jesus' resurrection; then, turning into a lovely image of what our souls ought to be in the season of Pentecost, its stem grew up under the action of the hot sun; the golden ear promised a hundred-fold to its master; the harvest made the reapers glad; and, now that September has come, it calls on man to fix his heart on that good God, who gave him all this store. Let him not think of saying, as that rich man of the Gospel did, after a plentiful harvest of fruits : 'My soul! thou hast much goods laid up for many years! Take thy rest, eat, drink, make good cheer!’ And God said to that man : ‘Thou fool! this night do they require thy soul of thee; and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?’[2] If we would be truly rich before God, if we would draw down His blessing on the preservation, as well as on the production, of the fruits of the earth, let us, at the beginning of this last quarter of the year, have recourse to those penitential exercises whose beneficial effects we have always experienced in the past. The Church gives us the commandment to do so, by obliging us, under penalty of grievous sin, to abstain and fast on these three days, unless we be lawfully dispensed.

We have already spoken of the necessity of private penance for the Christian who is at all desirous to make progress in the path of salvation. But in this, as in all spiritual exercises, a private work of devotion has neither the merit nor the efficacy of one that is done in company with the Church, and in communion with her public act; for the Church, as bride of Christ, communicates an exceptional worth and power to works of penance done, in her name, in the unity of the social body. St. Leo the Great is very strong on this fundamental principle of Christian virtue. We find him insisting on it in the sermons he preached to the faithful of Rome, on occasion of this fast, which was then called the fast of the seventh month. He says:

Although, it be lawful for each one of us to chastise his body by self-imposed punishments, and restrain, with more or less severity, the concupiscences of the flesh which war against the spirit, yet need is that, on certain days, a general fast be celebrated by all. Devotion is all the more efficacious and holy, when the whole Church is engaged in works of piety, with one spirit and one soul. Everything, in fact, that is of a public character is to be preferred to what is private; and it is plain, that so much the greater is the interest at stake, when the earnestness of all is engaged upon it. As for individual efforts, let each one keep up his fervour in them; let each one, imploring the aid of divine protection, take to himself the heavenly armour, wherewith to resist the snares laid by the spirits of wickedness; but the soldier of the Church (ecclesiasticus miles), though he may act bravely in his own private combats (specialibus prœliis), yet will he fight more safely and more successfully, when he shall confront the enemy in a public engagement; for in that public engagement, he has not only his own valour to which to trust, but he is under the leadership of a King who can never be conquered, and engaged in a battle fought by all his fellow-soldiers; so that, being in their company and ranks, he has the fellowship of mutual aid.’[3]

Another year, when preaching for the same occasion, this eloquent pontiff and doctor of the Church was even more energetic and lengthy, in putting these great truths before the people; would to God the words of such a Pope as Leo the Great could make themselves heard by our present generation, and induce us Christians to mistrust the individualistic tendencies of modern piety. Fortunately, the words of the saint exist, and in all their ‘pontifical eloquence we invite our readers to peruse his sermons; we have only space for a short selection from his third sermon on the fast of the seventh month (our September Ember-days).

God has sanctioned this privilege, that what is celebrated in virtue of a public law is more sacred than that which depends on a private regulation. The exercise of self-restraint which an individual Christian practises by his own will is for the advantage of that single member; but a fast undertaken by the Church at large includes everyone in the general purification. God’s people never is so powerful as when the hearts of all the faithful join together in the unity of holy obedience, and when, in the Christian camp, one and the same preparation is made by all, and one and the same bulwark protects all. . . . See, most dearly beloved, here is the solemn fast of the seventh month urging us to profit by this invincible unity. . . . Let us raise up our hearts, withdraw from worldly occupations, and steal some time for furthering our eternal welfare. ... The plenary remission of sin is obtained when the whole Church unites in the like prayer and the like confession; for, if the Lord promises that when two or three shall, with a holy and pious unanimity, agree to ask Him anything whatsoever, it shall be granted to them,[4] what can be refused to many thousands, who are all engaged in observing one and the same practice of religion, and in praying with one and the same spirit? In the eyes of God, my dearly beloved, it is a great and precious sight, when all Christ’s people are earnest at the same Offices; and when, without any distinction, men and women of every grade and order are all working together with one heart. To depart from evil and do good,[5] that is the one determination of them all. They all give glory to God for the works He achieves in His servants. They all unite in returning hearty thanks to the loving Giver of all blessings. The hungry are fed; the naked are clad; the sick are visited; and no one seeketh his own profit, but that of others. ... By this grace of God, who worketh all in all,[6]the fruit is common, and the merit is common; for the affection of all may be the same, although all are not equally rich; and those who have less to bestow can rejoice in the liberality of others. There is nothing inordinate in such a people as that; there are no variances; for all the members of the whole body are alike in the energy of the same piety. . . . The beauty of the whole becomes the excellence of each member. . . . Let us, then, embrace this blessed solidity of holy unity, and with the same resolution and the same good will, let us enter upon this solemn fast.[7]

Let us not, in our prayers and fasts, forget the new priests and other ministers of the Church, who, on Saturday next, are to receive the imposition of hands. The September ordination is not usually the most numerous of those given by the bishop during the year. The sublime function, to which the faithful owe their fathers and guides in the spiritual life, has, however, a special interest at this period of the year, which, more than any other, is in keeping with the present state of the world in its rapid decline towards ruin. Our year, too, is on the fall, as we say. The sun, which we beheld rising at Christmas as a giant who would burst the bonds of frost asunder and restrain the tyranny of darkness, now, as though he had grown wearied, is drooping towards the horizon; each day we see him gradually leaving that glorious zenith, where we admired his dazzling splendour on the day of our Emmanuel’s Ascension; his fire has lost its might; and though he still holds half the day as his, his disc is growing pale. All this foretells the approach of those long nights, when nature, stripped of all her loveliness by angry storms, seems as though she would bury herself for ever in the frozen shroud which is to bind her. So is it with our world. Illumined as it was by the light of Christ, and glowing with the fire of the Holy Ghost, it sees, in these our days, that charity is growing cold,[8] and that the light and glow it had from the Sun of justice are on the wane. Each revolution takes from the Church some jewel or other, which does not come back to her when the storm is over; tempests are so frequent, that tumult is becoming the normal state of the times. Error predominates, and lays down the law. Iniquity abounds. It is our Lord Himself who said: ‘When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find, think ye, faith on earth?’[9]

Lift up your heads, then, ye children of God! for your redemption is at hand.[10] But, from now until that time shall come when heaven and earth are to be made new for the reign that is to be eternal, and shall bloom in the light of the Lamb, the Conqueror,[11] days far worse than these must dawn upon this world of ours, when the elect themselves would be deceived, if that were possible![12] How important is it, in these miserable times, that the pastors of the flock of Christ be equal to their perilous and sublime vocation! Let us then fast and pray; and how numerous soever may be the losses sustained in the Christian ranks, of those who once were faithful in the practices of penance, let us not lose courage. Few as we may be, let us group ourselves closely round the Church, and implore of Jesus, her Spouse, that He vouchsafe to multiply His gifts in those whom He is calling to the now more than ever dread honour of the priesthood; that He infuse into them His divine prudence, whereby they may be able to disconcert the plans of the impious; His untiring zeal for the conversion of ungrateful souls; His perseverance even unto death, in maintaining without reticence or compromise the plenitude of that truth which He has destined for the world, and the unviolated custody of which is to be, on the last day, the solemn testimony of the bride’s fidelity.


[1] Gen. iii. 17.
[2] St. Luke xii. 16-21.
[3] St. Leo, Serm, iv., De Jejun. Sept. Mensis,
[4] St Matt. xviii. 19, 20.
[5] Ps. xxxiii. 15.
[6] 1 Cor. xii. 6.
[7] St. Leo, Serm. iii., De Jejun Sept, Mensis.
[8] St. Matt. xxiv. 12.
[9] St. Luke xviii. 8.
[10] Ibid. xxi. 28-31.
[11] Apoc. xxi.
[12] St. Mark xiii. 22.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The paralytic carrying his bed is the subject of this day’s Gospel, and gives the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost its title. This Sunday is inserted in the missal immediately after the Ember-days of autumn. We will not, like the liturgists of the Middle Ages,[1] discuss the question of its having taken the place of the vacant Sunday, which formerly used always to follow the ordination of the sacred ministers,[2] in the manner we have elsewhere described.[3] Manuscript sacramentaries and lectionaries of very ancient date give it the name, which was so much in use, of Dominica vacat.[4] Whatever may be the conclusion arrived at, there is one interesting point for consideration, viz., that in the Mass of this day the order of the lessons taken from St. Paul is broken. The Letter to the Ephesians, which has furnished the Epistles since the sixth Sunday after Pentecost, is to-day interrupted, and in its stead we have some verses from the first Epistle to the Corinthians, wherein the apostle gives thanks to God for the manifold gratuitous gifts granted, in Christ Jesus, to the Church. Now, the powers conferred by the imposition of the bishop’s hands on the ministers of the Church are the most marvellous gift that is known on earth, yea, in heaven itself. The other portions of the Mass, too, are, as we shall see further on, most appropriate to the prerogatives of the new priesthood. So that the liturgy of the present Sunday is particularly interesting when it immediately follows the Ember-days of September. But this coincidence is not of very frequent occurrence, at least as the liturgy now stands; nor can we dwell longer on these subjects without going too far into archæology, and exceeding our limits.

 

MASS

 

The Introits of the Sunday Masses since Pentecost have hitherto been taken from the Psalter. From Ps. xii. to Ps. cxviii. the Church, without ever changing the order of these sacred canticles, chose from each of them, as its own turn came, the verses most appropriate to the liturgy of each Sunday. But, dating from to-day, she is going to select her Introits elsewhere, with one exception, however, when she will again turn to this, the Book by excellence of divine praise. Her future opening anthems for the dominical liturgy to the end of the year will be taken from various other Books of the old Testament. For this eighteenth Sunday we have Jesus, son of Sirach, the inspired writer of Ecclesiasticus, asking God to ratify the fidelity of His prophets[5] by the accomplishment of what they foretold. The present interpreters of the divine oracles are the pastors, whom the Church sends, in her own name, to preach the word of salvation and peace: let us, her children, pray with her that their words may never be void.

Introit

Da pacem, Domine, sustinentibus te, ut prophetæ tui fideles inveniantur; exaudi preces servi tui et plebis tuæ Israel.

Ps. Lætatus sum in his, quæ dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus. Gloria Patri. Da pacem. 

Give peace, O Lord, to those who patiently wait for thee, that thy prophets may be found faithful; hear the prayers of thy servant, and of thy people Israel.

Ps. I rejoiced at the things that were said unto me: we shall go into the house of the Lord. Glory, etc. Give peace.


The surest way to obtain grace is to be ever humbly acknowledging to our God our deep conviction that, of ourselves, we cannot please His divine Majesty. The Church continues to give us, in her Collects, the most admirable expressions of such an avowal.

Collect

Dirigat corda nostra, quæsumus Domine, tuæ miserationis operatio : quia tibi sine te placere non possumus. Per Dominum.

May the influence of thy mercy, O Lord, direct our hearts: for, without thy help, we cannot please thee. Through, etc.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios.

1 Cap. i.

Fratres, Gratias ago Deo meo semper pro vobis in gratia Dei, quæ data est vobis in Christo Jesu : quod in omnibus divites facti estis in illo, in omni verbo, et in omni scientia: sicut testimonium Christi confirmatum est in vobis : ita ut nihil vobis desit in ulla gratia, exspectantibus revelationem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, qui et confirmabit vos usque in finem sine crimine, in die adventus Domini nostri Jesu Christi.

Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.

1 Ch. i.

Brethren: I give thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God, that is given you in Christ Jesus; that in all things you are made rich in him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge, as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you. So that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who also will confirm you unto the end without crime, in the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.


The other Collects, as on page 120.


The last coming of the Son of Man is no longer far off! The approach of that final event, which is to put the Church in full possession of her divine Spouse, redoubles her hopes; but the last judgment, which is also to pronounce the eternal perdition of so great a number of her children, mingles fear with her desire; and these two sentiments of hers will henceforth be continually brought forward in the holy liturgy.

It is evident that expectation has been, so to say, an essential characteristic of her existence. Separated from her Lord, she would have been sighing all day long in this vale of tears, had not the love which possesses her driven her to spend herself, unselfishly and unreservedly, for Him who is absolute Master of her whole heart. She, therefore, devotes herself to labour and suffering, to prayers and tears. But her devotedness, unlimited as it has been, has not made her hopes less ardent. A love without desires is not a virtue of the Church; she condemns it in her children as being an insult to the Spouse.

So just and, at the same time, so intense were, from the very first, these her aspirations that eternal Wisdom wished to spare His bride, by concealing from her the duration of her exile. The day and hour of His return is the one sole point upon which, when questioned by His apostles, Jesus refused to enlighten His Church.[6] That secret constituted one of the designs of God's government of the world; but, besides that, it was also a proof of the compassion and affection of the Man-God; the trial would have been too cruel; and it was better to leave the Church under the impression, which after all was a true one, that the end was nigh in God’s sight, with whom a thousand years are as one day.[7]

This explains how it is that the apostles, the interpreters of the Church’s aspirations, are continually recurring to the subject of the near approach of our Lord’s coming. St. Paul has just been telling us, and that twice over in the same breath, that the Christian is he who waiteth for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the day of His coming. In his Epistle to the Hebrews, he applies to the second coming the inflamed desires of the ancient prophets for the first, and says: ‘Yet a little, and a very little while, and He that is to come, will come, and will not delay.’[8] The reason is that, under the new Covenant as under the old, the Man-God is called, on account of His final manifestation, which is always being looked for, He that is coming, He that is to come.[9] The cry which is to close the world’s history is to be the announcement of His arrival: 'Behold! the Bridegroom is coming.’[10]

And St. Peter, too, says: 'Having the loins of your mind girt up, think of the glory of that day whereon the Lord Jesus is to be revealed! Hope for it, with a perfect hope!'[11] The prince of the apostles foresaw the contemptuous way in which future false teachers would scoff at this long-expected, but always put-off, coming: ‘Where is His promise, or His coming? For, since the fathers slept, all things continue so, from the beginning of the creation!'[12] Yes, he foresaw this, and forestalled their sarcasm, by answering it in the words which his brother Paul[13] had previously used :[14] The Lord delayeth not His promise, as some imagine; but dealeth patiently, for your sake, not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance. But the day of the Lord shall come as a thief, in which the heavens shall pass away with great violence; and the elements shall be melted with heat; and the earth, and the works which are in it, shall be burnt up. Seeing, then, that all these things are to be dissolved, what manner of people ought you to be in holy conversation and godliness, looking for, and hastening unto, the coming of the day of the Lord, by which the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with the burning heat of fire? But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to His promises, in which justice dwelleth. Wherefore, dearly beloved, seeing that you look for these things, be diligent that ye may be found undefiled and unspotted to Him in peace. . . . Wherefore, brethren, knowing these things before, take heed lest, being led aside by the error of the unwise, you fall from your own steadfastness.'[15]

If, in those last days, the danger is to be so great that the very powers of heaven shall be moved,[16] our Lord, as we are told in our Epistle, has providentially confirmed in us His testimony and our faith, by continual manifestations of His power. And, as if to verify that other word of the same Epistle, that He will thus confirm unto the end them that believe in Him, He redoubles His prodigies in these our times, as though they were precursors of the end. Miracles are forcing themselves on the world’s unwilling notice; and our modern facilities for propagating news are made to tell this glory of the Lord all over His earth! In the name of Jesus, in the name of one or other of His saints, but especially in the name of His Immaculate Mother, who is preparing the final triumph of the Church, the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, every misery of both body and soul is suddenly made to yield. So incontestable, indeed, and so public, is the manifestation of supernatural power, that business-managers of all kinds, though they must, out of regard for incredulity, laugh at the facts, yet are most serious in turning the occasion to their profit. Such very material agencies as railway companies have been glad to accommodate the faithful thousands, and carry them as quickly as they could to the favoured sanctuaries, where the holy Mother of God has appeared. It is not in Catholic countries only that the divine power has made itself felt. Quite recently, in the very centre of Mohammedan infidelity, the city of the Sultans rejoiced at hearing of the marvels done by the Queen of heaven within its own walls. The water of the miraculous fountain has been carried even into the city of Mecca, where is the tomb of the founder of Islam, and into which, until but lately, it was death for any Christian to enter.

The infidel may say in his heart : 'There is no God!’[17] If he hears not the divine testimony, it is because corruption, or pride, has more power over him than the light of reason, just as it had over the enemies of Jesus during His life upon earth. He is like to the asp of the Psalm,[18] which maketh itself deaf; it stoppeth its ears, that it may never hear the voice of the divine Enchanter, who speaketh that He may save. His life is one piece of madness[19] and folly;[20] he has done his best to draw down vengeance upon himself.

Let us not be like him, but, with the apostle, let us thank God for the rich profusion of grace which He has so mercifully poured out upon us. Never were His gratuitous gifts more necessary than in these our miserable times. True, the Gospel does not now need to be promulgated; but the efforts of hell against it have become so violent that, in order to withstand them, there is need of a power from on high equal in some sense to that we read of as granted in the beginning of the Church. Let us beseech our Lord to bless us with men powerful in word and work. Let us, by the fervour of our fastings and prayers, obtain from His divine Majesty that the imposition of hands may produce, now more than ever, in them that are called to the priesthood, its full result: that it may make them rich in all things, and especially in all utterance, and in all knowledge. May these days, in which all principles are growing shadowy, find that the supernatural light is kept up, in full splendour and purity, by the zeal of the guides of Christ’s flock. May the compromises and flinchings of a generation, in which all truth is being etiolated and diminished, never lead our newly ordained priests, either themselves to shorten, or to permit anyone else to curtail, the measure of the perfect man,[21] which was bestowed on them, in order that they might apply it to every Christian who is desirous of observing the Gospel! In spite of all threats, in spite of the noisy passions which are boisterous against any priest who dares to preach the truth, let their voice be what it should be—that is, an echo of the Word: let it vibrate with the holy firmness of the saints!

In the Gradual, the Church repeats the Introitverse, to celebrate once more the joy felt by the Christian people at hearing the glad tidings, that they are soon to go into the house of the Lord. That house is heaven, into which we are to enter on the last day, our Lord Jesus Christ leading the way. But the house is also the temple in which we are now assembled, and into which we are introduced by the representatives of that same Lord of ours, that is, by His priests.

Gradual

Lætatus sum in his, quæ dicta sunt mihi : in domum Domini ibimus.

V. Fiat pax in virtute tua, et abundantia in turribus tuis.

Alleluia, alleluia. V. Timebunt gentes nomen tuum, Domine : et omnes reges terræ gloriam tuam. Alleluia.

I rejoiced at the things that were said unto me : we shall go into the house of the Lord.

V. Let peace be in thy strength, and abundance in thy towers.

Alleluia, alleluia. V. The Gentiles shall fear thy name, O Lord: and all the kings of the earth thy glory. Alleluia.


Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. ix.

In illo tempore : Ascendens Jesus in naviculam, transfretavit, et venit in civitatem suam. Et ecce offerebant ei paralyticum jacentem in lecto. Et videns Jesus fìdem illorum, dixit paralytico : Confide, fili, remittuntur tibi peccata tua. Et ecce quidam de scribis dixerunt intra se : Hic blasphemat. Et cum vidisset Jesus cogitationes eorum, dixit : Ut quid cogitatis mala in cordibus vestris? Quid est facilius dicere : Dimittuntur tibi peccata tua : an dicere : Surge et ambula? Ut autem sciatis, quia filius hominis habet potestatem in terra dimittendi peccata, tunc ait paralytico : Surge, tolle le ctum tuum, et vade in domum tuam. Et surrexit, et abiit in doraum suam. Videntes autem turbæ timuerunt, et glorifica verunt Deum, qui dedit potestatem talem hominibus.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. ix. 

At that time : Jesus entering into a boat, passed over the water and came into his own city. And behold they brought to him one sick of the palsy, lying on a bed. And Jesus seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee. And behold some of the scribes said within themselves; He blasphemeth. And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said; Why do you think evil in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say : Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say : Arise and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then said he to the man sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. And he arose and went into his house. And the multitude seeing it, feared and glorified God that gave such power to men.


In the thirteenth century, in many Churches of the west, the Gospel for to-day was that wherein our Lord speaks of the scribes and pharisees as seated on the chair of Moses.[22] The Abbot Rupert, who gives us this detail in his book on the Divine Offices, shows how admirably this Gospel harmonized with the Offertory, which is the one we still have, and which alludes to Moses. ‘This Sunday’s Office,’ says he, ‘eloquently points out, to him who presides over the house of the Lord and has received charge of souls, the manner in which he should comport himself in the high rank, where the divine call has placed him. Let him not imitate those men, who unworthily sat on the chair of Moses; but let him follow the example of Moses himself, who, in the Offertory and its verses, presents the heads of the Church with such a model of perfection. Pastors of souls ought, on no account, to be ignorant of the reason why they are placed higher than other men: it is not so much that they may govern others, as that they may serve them.’[23] Our Lord, speaking of the Jewish doctors, said: ‘All whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do; but according to their works, do ye not: for they say, and do not.'[24] Contrariwise to these unworthy guardians of the Law, they that are seated on the chair of doctrine ‘should teach, and act conformably to their teaching,' as the same Abbot Rupert adds. ‘Or, rather,' says he, ‘let them first do what it is their duty to do, that they may afterwards teach with authority; let them not seek after honours and titles, but make this their one object, to bear on themselves the sins of the people, and to merit to avert the wrath of God from those who are confided to their care. Such, we are told in the Offertory, is the example given them by Moses.'[25] The Gospel which speaks of the scribes and pharisees who were seated on the chair of Moses has now been appointed for the Tuesday of the second week of Lent. But the one which is at present given for this Sunday equally directs our thoughts to the consideration of the superhuman powers of the priesthood, which are the common boon of regenerated humanity. The faithful, whose attention used formerly, on this Sunday, to be fixed on the right of teaching which is confided to the pastors of the Church, are now invited to meditate upon the prerogative which these same men have of forgiving sins and healing souls. Even if their conduct be in opposition to their teaching, it in nowise interferes with the authority of the sacred chair, from which, for the Church and in her name, they dispense the bread of doctrine to her children. Moreover, whatever unworthiness may happen to be in the soul of a priest, it does not in the least lessen the power of the keys which have been put into his hands to open heaven and to shut hell. For it is the Son of Man, Jesus, who, by the priest, be he a saint, or be he a sinner, rids of their sins His brethren and His creatures, whose miseries He has taken upon Himself, and whose crimes He has atoned for by His Blood.[26]

The miracle of the cure of the paralytic, which gave an occasion to Jesus of declaring His power of forgiving sinsinasmuch as he was Son of Man, has always been especially dear to the Church. Besides the narration she gives us of it from St. Matthew in to-day’s Gospel, she again, on the Ember Friday of Whitsuntide, relates it in the words of St. Luke.[27] The Catacomb frescoes, which have been preserved to the present day, equally attest the predilection for this subject, wherewith she inspired the Christian artists of the first centuries. From the very beginning of Christianity, heretics had risen up denying that the Church had the power, which her divine Head gave her, of remitting sin. Such false teaching would irretrievably condemn to spiritual death an immense number of Christians, who, unhappily, had fallen after their Baptism, but who, according to Catholic dogma, might be restored to grace by the sacrament of Penance. With what energy, then, would our mother the Church defend the remedy which gives life to her children! She uttered her anathemas upon, and drove from her communion, those pharisees of the new law, who, like their Jewish predecessors, refused to acknowledge the infinite mercy and universality of the great mystery of the Redemption.

Like to her divine Master, who had worked under the eyes of the scribes, His contradictors, the Church, too, in proof of her consoling doctrine, had worked an undeniable and visible miracle in the presence of the false teachers; and yet she had failed to convince them of the reality of the miracle of sanctification and grace invisibly wrought by her words of remission and pardon. The outward cure of the paralytic was both the image and the proof of the cure of his soul, which previously bad been in a state of moral paralysis; but he himself represented another sufferer, viz., the human race, which for ages had been a victim to the palsy of sin. Our Lord had already left the earth, when the faith of the apostles achieved this, their first prodigy, of bringing to the Church the world grown old in its infirmity. Finding that the human race was docile to the teaching of the divine messengers, and was already an imitator of their faith, the Church spoke as a mother, and said: Be of good heart, son! thy sins are forgiven thee! At once, to the astonishment of the philosophers and sceptics, and to the confusion of hell, the world rose up from its long and deep humiliation; and, to prove how thoroughly his strength had been restored to him, he was seen carrying on his shoulders, by the labour of penance and the mastery over his passions, the bed of his old exhaustion and feebleness, on which pride, lust, and covetousness had so long held him. From that time forward, complying with the word of Jesus, which was also said to him by the Church, he has been going on towards his house, which is heaven, where eternal joy awaits him! And the angels, beholding such a spectacle of conversion and holiness,[28] are in amazement, and sing glory to God, who gave such power to men.

Let us also give thanks to Jesus, whose marvellous dower, which is the Blood He shed for His bride, suffices to satisfy, through all ages, the claims of eternal justice. It was at Easter time that we saw our Lord instituting, the great Sacrament, which thus in one instant restores the sinner to life and strength.[29] But how doubly wonderful does its power seem, when we see it working in these times of effeminacy and of well-nigh universal ruin! Iniquity abounds; crimes are multiplied; and yet, the life-restoring pool, kept full by the sacred stream which flows from the open side of our crucified Lord, is ever absorbing and removing, as often as we permit it, and without leaving one single vestige of them, those mountains of sins, those hideous treasures of iniquity which had been amassed, during long years, by the united agency of the devil, the world, and man himself.

The Offertory speaks to us of the figurative altar, which was set up by Moses for the reception of the oblations of the figurative Law, which oblations, foreshadowed the great and only true sacrifice, at which we are now present. After the anthem which is still in use, we will append the verses which were anciently added. Moses is there represented as the type of those faithful prophets mentioned in the Introit; he is shown to us as the model of those true leaders of God’s people, who devote themselves in order to procure mercy and peace for those whom they guide.[30] God sometimes seems to resist them, but He always suffers Himself to be overcome; and in return for their fidelity, He admits them into the most intimate manifestations of His light and His love. The first verse shows us the priest in his public life of intercession and devotedness for others; the second reveals to us his private life, of which prayer and contemplation are the main occupation. We shall not be surprised at the length of these verses—the singing of which would far exceed the time for offering the Host and chalice, such as is now the custom—if we remember how it was the ancient usage that the whole assembly of the faithful present at the holy Sacrifice took part in the oblation of the bread and wine needed for the liturgy. So likewise the Communion, which at present consists of only a few lines, was originally nothing but the antiphon to an entire psalm, which in the ancient antiphonaries was appointed for each day, when it was not the same as the Introit-psalm; the psalm was sung, repeating the antiphon after each verse, until all had communicated.

Offertory

Sanctificavit Moyses altare Domino, offerens super illud holocausta, et immolans victimas : fecit sacrificium vespertinum in odorem suavitatis Domino Deo, in conspectu filiorum Israel.

V. I. Locutus est Dominus ad Moysen dicens : Ascende ad me in montem Sina, et stabis super cacumen ejus. Surgens Moyses, ascendit in montem, ubi constituit ei Deus; et descendit ad eum Dominus in nube, et adstitit ante faciem ejus. Videns Moyses, procidens adoravit, dicens: Obsecro, Domine, dimitte peccata populi tui. Et dixit ad eum Dominus: Faciam secundum verbum tuum.

Tunc Moyses fecit sacrificium vespertinum.

V. II. Oravit Moyses Dominum, et dixit : Si inveni gratiam in conspectu tuo, ostende mihi teipsum manifeste, ut videam te. Et locutua est ad eum Dominusdicends : Non enim videbit me homo, et vivere potest : sed esto super altitudinem lapidis, et protegat te dextera mea donec pertranseam: dum pertransiero, auferam manum meam, et turnc videbis gloriam meam : facies autem mea non videbitur tibi quia ego sum Deusostendens mirabilia in terra.

Tunc Moyses fecit.

Moses consecrated an altar unto the Lord, offering wholeburnt offerings thereon, and slaying victims: he made an evening sacrifice for a sweet odour unto the Lord God, in the sight of the children of Israel.

V. I. The Lord spake unto Moses saying: Come up unto me, upon mount Sina,and thou shalt stand on the top thereof. Moses rising up, went up the mountain, where the Lord had appointed him : and the Lord came down unto him in a cloud, and stood before his face. Which Moses seeing,fell down and adored, saying: I beseech thee, O Lord, forgive the sins of thy people. And the Lord said unto him: I will do according to thy word.

Then Moses made an evening sacrifice.

V. II. Moses prayed to the Lord and said: If I have found favour in thy sight, show me thyself openly, that I may see thee. And the Lord spake unto him, saying: For man shall not see me, and live; but be thou on the height of the rock, and my right hand shall protect thee, till I pass : whilst I pass I will take away my hand, and then shalt thou see my glory : but my face shall not be seen by thee; for I am God, showing wonderful things in the earth.

Then Moses made.


The sublime eloquence of the Secret is beyond all comment. Let us be thoroughly imbued with the high teaching here so admirably summed up in a few short words: let us come to understand that our life and conduct should have something divine about them, in response to the mysteries which are revealed to our understanding and incorporated into us by the venerable communication of this Sacrifice.

Secret

Deus, qui nos per hujus sacrificii veneranda commercia, unius summædivinitatis participes effìcis : præsta quæsumus; ut, sicut tuam cognoscimus veritatem, sic eam dignis moribus assequamur. Per Dominum.

O God, who, by the venerable communication of this sacrifice, makest us partakers of the one supreme divine nature : grant, we beseech thee, that as we know thy truth, so we may follow it up by a worthy life. Through, etc.


The other Secrets, as on page 130.


The Communion-anthem is addressed to the priests, and, at the same time, to us all: for if the priest offers the Victim, which is the holiest that can be, we should not think of accompanying him into the court of our God, without bringing up, that they may be united to the divine Host, other victims, that is ourselves. It is God’s injunction : Thou shalt not appear empty before me![31]

Communion

Tollite hostias, et introite in atria ejus: adorate Dominum in aula sanctaejus.

Bring up sacrifices, and come into his courts : adore ye the Lord in his holy court.


Whilst giving thanks in the Postcommunion for the priceless gift of the sacred mysteries, let us beseech our God to perfect within us the grace of always receiving it worthily.

Postcommunion

Gratias tibi referimus, Domine, sacro munere vegetati, tuam misericordiam deprecantes: ut dignos nos ejus participatione perficias. Per Dominum.

Being fed, O Lord, with the sacred gift, we give thee thanks, humbly beseeching thy mercy, that thou wouldst make us worthy of its reception. Through, etc.


The other Postcommunions, as on page 181.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms, capitulum, hymn, and versicle, as above, pages 71-81.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Tulit ergo paralyticus lectum suum in quo jacebat, magnificans Deum; et omnis plebs, ut vidit, dedit laudem Deo.

Oremus.

Dirigat corda nostra, quæsumus Domine, tuæ miserationis operatio: quia tibi sine te placere non possumus. Per Dominum.

The paralytic took up his bed, on which he had been lying, magnifying God; and all the people, as soon as they saw this, gave praise unto God.

Let us Pray.

May the influence of thy mercy, O Lord, direct our hearts: for, without thy help, we cannot please thee. Through, etc.


[1] Berno Aug., cap. v., etc.
[2] Microlog., cap. xxix.
[3] Advent: Ember Saturday.
[4] Thomasi Opp. Edit. Vezzosi, t. v., p. 148, 149, 309.
[5] Ecclus. xxxvi. 18.
[6] St. Matt. xxiv. 3, 36.
[7] 2 St. Pet. iii. 8.
[8] Hab. ii. 3; Heb. x. 37.
[9] St. Matt. xi. 3; Apoc. i. 8.
[10] St. Matt. xxv. 6.
[11] 1 St. Pet. i. 5, 7, 13.
[12] 2 St. Pet. iii. 3, 4.
[13] Ibid. 15.
[14] Rom. ii. 4.
[15] 2 St. Pet. iii. 9-17.
[16] St. Matt. xxiv. 29.
[17] Ps. xiii. i.
[18] Ps. lvii. 5, 6.
[19] Ps. lvii. 5, 6.
[20] Ps. xiii. 1.
[21] Eph. iv. 13.
[22] St. Matt. xxiii. 1-12.
[23] Rup., Div. Off., xii. 18.
[24] St. Matt. xxiii. 3.
[25] Rup., ubi supra.
[26] Heb. ii 10-18.
[27] St. Luke v. 17-26.
[28] St. Luke v. 26.
[29] Wednesday of the fifth week after Easter.
[30] Rup., ubi supra.
[31] Exod. xxiii. 15.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The divine Leader of God’s people is their salvation in all their distress. Did we not last Sunday see Him prove Himself such, and in a very telling way, by curing both body and soul of the poor paralytic, who was a figure of the whole human race? Let us hear His voice, in the Introit, with love and gratitude; let us promise Him the fidelity He asks of us; His Law, if we will but observe it, will preserve us from a relapse.

The anthem which follows is made up of several passages of holy Writ, without being exactly that of any one of them. The verse is taken from Psalm lxxvii.

Introit

Salus populi ego sum, dicit Dominus: de quacumque tribulatione clamaverint ad me, exaudiam eos : et ero illorum Dominus in perpetuum.

Ps. Attendite, popule meus, legem meam : inclinate aurem vestram in verba oris mei. Gloria Patri. Salus.

I am the salvation of the people, saith the Lord : in what distress soever they call upon me, I will hear them : and will be their Lord for ever.

Ps. Attend, O my people, unto my law: incline your ear to the words of my mouth. Glory, etc. I am the salvation.


Free both in mind and body by the omnipotent word of the Son of Man, the human race can devote itself, with all activity, to the service of God. Let us obtain from His divine Majesty, by uniting our prayer with that of the Church in her Collect, that the fatal paralysis, which was once so cruel a tyrant over our souls and faculties, may never return.

Collect

Omnipotens et misericors Deus, universa nobis adversantia propitiatus exclude : ut mente et corpore pariter expediti, quæ tua sunt liberis mentibus exsequamur. Per Dominum.

O almighty and merciful God, graciously keep away from us all things that are adverse: that being free in mind and body, we may, with unimpeded minds, attend to the things that are thine. Through, etc.


The other Collecte, as on page 120.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Ephesios.

Cap. iv.

Fratres, Renovamini spiritu mentis vestræ, et induite novum hominem, qui secundum Deum creatus est in justitia, et sanctitate veritatis. Propter quod deponentep mendacium, loquimini veritatem unusquisque cum proximo suo : quoniam sumus invicem membra. Irascimini, et nolite peccare : sol non occidat super iracundiam vestram. Nolite locum dare diabolo : qui furabatur, jam non furetur : magis autem laboret, operando manibus suis, quod bonum est, ut habeat unde tribuat necessitatem patienti.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians.

Ch. iv.

Brethren : be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and put on the new man, who, according to God, is created in justice, and holiness of truth. Wherefore, putting away lying, speak ye the truth every man with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be angry and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your anger. Give not place to the devil. He that stole, let him now steal no more; but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have something to give to him that suffereth need.

The Epistle to the Ephesians, which was interrupted last Sunday in the manner we then described, is continued to-day by the Church. The apostle has already laid down the dogmatical principles of true holiness; he now deduces the moral consequences of those principles.

Let us call to mind how the holiness, which is in God, is His very truth—truth living and harmonious, which is no other than the admirable concert of the Three divine Persons, united in love. We have seen that holiness, as far as it exists in us men, is also union, by infinite love, with the eternal and living Truth. The Word took a Body unto Himself in order to manifest in the Flesh this sanctifying and perfect truth,[1] of which He is the substantial expression;[2] His Humanity, sanctified directly by the plenitude of the divine life and truth, which dwell within Him,[3] became the model, as well as the means, the way, of all holiness to every creature.[4] It was not sin alone, but it was, moreover, the finite nature of man that kept him at a distance from the divine life;[5]but he finds in Christ Jesus, just as in God, the two elements of that life: truth and love. In Jesus, as the complement of His Incarnation, Wisdom aspires at uniting with herself all the members, also, of that human race, of which He is the Head,[6] and the First-born;[7] by Him the Holy Ghost, whose sacred fount He is,[8] pours Himself out upon man, whereby to adapt him to his sublime vocation, and to consummate, in infinite love (which is Himself), that union of every creature with the divine Word. Thus it is that we verily partake of that life of God, whose existence and holiness are the knowledge and love of His own Word; thus it is that we are sanctified in truth[9] by the participation of that very holiness wherewith God is holy by nature.

The Son of Man, being God, participates for us His brethren in the life of union in the truth which constitutes the holinessof the blessed Trinity. But He communicates that life, that truth, that deifying union, to none save those who have truly become His members, and who, in Him, reproduce between one another, by the operation of the Spirit of truth[10] and love, that unity of which that sanctifying Spirit is the almighty bond in the Godhead.

‘May they all be one, as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee,' said Jesus to His eternal Father, ‘that they also may be one in us. I have given unto them the glory (that is to say, the holiness) which Thou hast given unto Me, that they may be one, as we also are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be consummated (that is, be made perfect) in unity.'[11] Here we have, and formulated by our Lord Himself, the simple but fruitful axiom, the foundation of Christian dogma and morals. By that sublime prayer, He explained what He had previously been saying: 'I sanctify Myself for them, that they, also, may be sanctified in truth.'[12]

Let us now understand the moral doctrine given us by St. Paul in our to-day's Epistle. What does he mean by that justice, and that holiness of truth, which is that of Christ,[13] of the new man, whom everyone must put on, that aspires to the possession of the riches spoken of in the passages already read to us from this magnificent Epistle? Let us re-read the Epistle for the seventeenth Sunday, and we shall find that all the rules of Christian asceticism, as well as of the mystic life, are to St. Paul’s mind summed up in those words: Be careful to keep unity![14] It is the principle he lays down for all, both beginners and the perfect. It is the crowning of the sublimest vocations in the order of grace, as well as the foundation and reason of all God's commandments; so truly so, indeed, that, if we are commanded to abstain from lying, and to speak the truth to them that live with us, the motive is that we are members one of another.

There is a holy anger, of which the Psalmist speaks,[15] and which is the outcome, on certain occasions, of zeal for the divine law and charity; but the movement of irritation excited in the soul must, even then, be speedily calmed down; to foster it would be to give place to the devil, to give him an opportunity of weakening, or even destroying, within us, by bitterness and hatred, the structure of holy unity.[16]

Before our conversion our neighbour, as well as God, was grieved by our sins; we cared little or nothing for injustice, provided it was not noticed; egotism was our law, and it was proof enough of the reign of satan over our souls. Now that the Spirit of holiness has expelled the unworthy usurper, the strongest evidence of His being our rightful master is that not only the rights of others are sacred in our estimation, but our toil and our labours are all undergone for the purpose of being serviceable to our neighbour. In a word, as the apostle continues a little farther on, we walk in love, because, as most dear children, we are followers of God.[17]

It is by this means alone, says St. Basil, that the Church manifests the many and great benefits bestowed on the world by the Incarnation. The Christian family, which, heretofore, was split up into a thousand separate fragments, is now made one, one in itself, and one in God; it is the repetition of what our Lord did, by assuming Flesh and making it one with Himself.[18]

Our Jesus has restored to our hands, which once were paralyzed for every supernatural work, the full freedom of their movements; let us, then, raise them up spiritually in prayer, giving glory to God by this our homage, which He graciously accepts as a fragrant sacrifice. The Church gives us this teaching in the Gradual, and by her own example as well.

Gradual

Dirigatur oratio mea, sicut incensum in conspectu tuo, Domine.

V. Elevatio manuum mearum sacrificium vespertinum.

Alleluia, alleluia. V. Confitemini Domino, et invocate nomen ejus : annuntiate inter gentes opera ejus. Alleluia.
Let my prayer be directed as incense in thy sight, O Lord.

V. May the lifting up of my hands be as an evening sacrifice.

Alleluia, alleluia. V. Give glory to the Lord, and call upon his name: proclaim among the gentiles his works. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xxii.

In illo tempore; Loquebatur Jesus principibus sacerdotum, et pharisæis in parabolis, dicens : Simile factum est regnum cœlorum homini regi, qui fecit nuptias fìlio suo. Et misit servos suos vocare invitatos ad nuptias, et nolebant venire. Iterum misit alios servos, dicens : Dicite invitatis : Ecce prandium meum paravi; tauri mei, et altilia occisa sunt, et omnia parata; venite ad nuptias. Illi autem neglexerunt, et abierunt, alius in villam suam, alius vero ad negotiationem suam : reliqui vero tenuerunt servos ejus, et contumeliis affectos occiderunt.Rex autem cum audisset, iratus est : et missis exercitibus suis, perdidithomicidas illos, et civitatem illorum succendit. Tunc ait servis suis : Nuptiæ quidem paratæ sunt, sed qui invitati erant, non fuerunt digni. Ite ergo ad exitus viarum, et quoscumque inveneritis, vocate ad nuptias. Et egressi servi ejus in vias, congregaverunt omnes, quos invenerunt, malos et bonos : et impletæ sunt nuptiæ discumbentium. Intravit autem rex ut videret discumbentes, et vidit ibi hominem non vestitum veste nuptiali. Et ait illi: Amice, quomodo huc filtrasti, non habens vestem nuptialem? At ille obmutuit. Tunc dixit rex ministris : Ligatis manibuset pedibus ejus, mittite eum in tenebras exteriores : ibi erit fletus et stridor dentium. Multi enim sunt vocati, pauci vero electi.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xxii.

At that time : Jesus spoke to the chief priests and the pharisees in parables, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son. And he sent his servants, to call them that were invited to the marriage: and they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited: Behold, I have prepared my dinner : my beeves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come ye to the marriage. But they neglected, and went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise. And the rest laid hands on his servants, and having treated them contumeliously, put them to death. But when the king had heard of it, he was angry, and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city. Then he saith to his servants : The marriage indeed is ready : but they that were invited were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways; and as many as ye shall find, call to the marriage. And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good : and the marriage was filled with guests. And the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. And he saith to him: Friend, how eamest thou in hither not having on a wedding garment? But he was silent. Then the king said to the waiters : Bind his hands and his feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.

This Gospel has given to the present Sunday the name of the Sunday of the invited to the marriage. And yet, from the very opening of the dominical series, which began with the Descent of the Holy Ghost, the Church gave us the Gospel teaching which she offers to us, now a second time, for our consideration. On the second Sunday after Pentecost, she related to us, from St. Luke,[19] the parable of the great supper, to which many were invited, and which St. Matthew, entering into fuller details, calls a marriage-feast.

Set thus before us, both at the beginning and at the close of the liturgical season over which the holy Spirit reigns supreme, this parable is, as it were, the interpreter of the whole portion of the year which it thus hems in : it is an additional revelation of the true aim of the Church. But how much has the light increased, since the first time we had these mystery-telling allegories! The certain man (homo quidam), who made a great supper, and invited many, has become the King, who makes a marriage for His Son, and, in this marriage, gives us an image of the kingdom of heaven. The world’s history, too, has been developing, as we gather from the terms respectively used by the two Evangelists. Those who were the first invited, and contented themselves with declining the kindness of the Master of the house, have grown in their impious ingratitude; laying hands on the messengers sent them by the loving kindness[20] of the King, they treat them with contumely, and put them to death! We have seen the merited punishment inflicted on these deicides, by this Man, who was God Himself, the Father of Israel, now become King of the Gentiles : we have seen how He sent his armies to destroy them, and burn their city.[21] And now at last, in spite of the refusal of the invited of Juda, in spite of the treacherous opposition put by them against the celebration of the nuptials of the Son of God, all things are ready for the marriage, and the banquet-hall is filled with guests.

Our heavenly King has confided, to the ministers of His love, the work of calling from every people the new guests. But now that His ambassadors, according to His command, have traversed the whole earth,[22] bringing together all nations for this day of the joy of His heart,[23] He Himself is coming in person, to see that nothing is wanting to the due preparation for the feast, and to give the signal for the eternal banquet of the divine nuptials. Now, for such a feast, and in such a place, if there be any deficiency, it can only be on the part of the guests. Let them, then, be careful not to draw down upon themselves, in this general and last examination, the displeasure of the great King, who has called them to an alliance with Himself. Though He has condescended to call them, notwithstanding their extreme poverty, from the public streets and highways, He has given them abundant time to lay aside their tatters; and knowing that they could not get ready of themselves, He has placed at their disposal, for the marriage-feast, the richest garments of His grace and virtues. Woe, then, to him who on the last day shall be found not having the wedding garment of charity! Such a want would admit of no excuse; and the King would justly punish it, by excluding the guilty man from the feast, as one that had insulted His Son.

Everything we have had on the preceding Sundays, has shown us how solicitous the Church ever is in preparing mankind for that wonderful marriage whose realization is the one object aimed at by the divine Word, in coming upon our earth. During her long exile, the bride of the Son of God has been a living model to her children; and, by her instructions, she has been unceasingly preparing them for the understanding of the great mystery of divine union. Three weeks ago,[24]treating more directly than she had hitherto done on the great subject of her ambition as mother and bride, she reminded them of the great call. On the following Sunday, she gave them another lesson : she revealed to them the Bridegroom of the nuptials, to which they were invited, as the Man-God, the object of the twofold precept of love which embodies the whole Law. To-day, we have the teaching in all its perfection. It is condensed in the night Office, where we have St. Gregory explaining her whole teaching. The great doctor and the great Pope thus, in the name of the Church, explains our Gospel:

'The kingdom of heaven is the assembly of the just; for, the Lord says by a prophet: “Heaven is My throne"; [25] and Solomon says : “The soul of the just man is the throne of wisdom ”;[26] and Paul calls Christ the Wisdom of God.[27] If, therefore, heaven be the throne of God, we must evidently conclude that, as Wisdom is God, and the soul of the just man is the throne of Wisdom, this soul is a heaven. . . . The kingdom of heaven, then, is the assembly of the just. ... If this kingdom is said to be like to a King, who made a marriage for his Son, your charity at once understands who is this King, who is the Father of a Son, King like Himself. It is He, of whom the psalmist says: “Give to the King Thy judgment, O God, and to the King’s Son Thy justice!”[28]God the Father made the marriage of God His Son, when He wished that He, who had been God before all ages, should become Man towards the end of ages. But we must not, on that account, suppose that there are two persons in Jesus Christ, our God and our Saviour. ... It is, perhaps, clearer and safer to say, that the King made a marriage for His Son, in that, by the mystery of the Incarnation, He united the Church to Him. The womb of the Virgin-Mother was the nuptial-chamber of that Bridegroom, of whom the psalmist says:[29] He hath set His tabernacle in the sun : and He, as a Bridegroom, cometh out of His bride-chamber!'[30]

Notwithstanding her dignity of beloved bride of the Son of God, the Church is, none the less, subject to tribulations here below. The enemies of the Spouse, having ho longer any direct power to injure our Lord, turn all their rage against her. In these trials, endured as they are by the Church with love, Jesus sees a fresh trait of that resemblance which He wishes her to have to Himself; He, therefore, leaves her to suffer in this world, contenting Himself with ever upholding and saving her, as the Offertory says, in the midst of the evils which go on thickening around her.

Offertory

Si ambulavero in medio tribulationis, vivificabis me, Domine : et super iram inimicorum meorum extendes manum tuam, et salvum me faciet dextera tua.
If I should walk in the midst of tribulation, thou, O Lord, wilt quicken me: and thou wilt stretch forth thy hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.

The august sacrifice, which is about to be offered, always obtains its effect, as far as the glory of the divine Majesty is concerned; but its virtue is applied to man in a greater or less degree, according to the dispositions of the creature, and depending on the divine mercy. Let us, in the Secret, beseech our heavenly Father, that we may experience abundantly the effects of the divine mysteries, which are so soon to be produced on our altar.

Secret

Hæc munera, quæsumus Domine, quæ oculis tuæ majestatis offerimus, salutaria nobis esse concede. Per Dominum.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, that the offerings we bring before thy divine Majesty, may avail unto our salvation. Through, etc.

The other Secrets, as on page 130.


The Man-God, by His divine contact in the sacred banquet, has spiritually given vigour to our members; let us recall to mind that we must, henceforward, consecrate them to His service, and that our feet, now made sure, must run in the way of the divine commandments.

Communion

Tu mandasti mandata tua custodiri nimis: utinam dirigantur vise meæ, ad custodiendas justificationes tuas!

Thou hast commanded thy commandments to be kept most diligently: oh! that my ways may be directed to keep thy justifications!


The Postcommunion, again, seems to be an allusion to the Gospel of the paralytic, which used formerly to be read on this Sunday. In it, we implore the assistance of the heavenly Physician, who sets man free from the palsy, which held him a prisoner; He also gives him the strength needed for fulfilling the law of God bravely and perseveringly.

Postcommunion

Tua nos, Domine, medicinalis operatio et a nostris perversitatibus clementer expediat, et tuis semper faciat inhærere mandatis. Per Dominum.

May the healing efficacy of these thy mysteries, O Lord, mercifully free us from our perverseness, and make us always obedient to thy commandments. Through, etc.


The other Postcommunions, as on page 181.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms, capitulum, hymn, and versicle, as above, pages 71-81.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Intravit autem rex ut videret discumbentes : et vidit ibi hominem non vestitum veste nuptiali, et ait illi: Amice, quomodo hue intrasti non habens vestem nuptialem?

Oremus
.

Omnipotens et misericors Deus, universa nobis adversantia propitiatus exclude : ut mente et corpore pariter expediti, quæ tua sunt liberis mentibus exequamur. Per Dominum.

 

Now, the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment, and he saith unto him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having on a wedding garment?

Let Us Pray.

O almighty and merciful God, graciously keep away from us all things that are adverse : that being free in mind and body, we may, with unimpeded minds, attend to the things that are thine. Through, etc.

[1] St. John i. 14.
[2] Heb. i. 3
[3] Col. ii. 3, 9,
[4] St. John xiv. 6.
[5] Eph. iv. 18.
[6] Ibid. i. 10.
[7] Col. i. 15-20.
[8] Cf. St. John iv. 14; vii, 37, 39.
[9] Ibid. xvii. 17.
[10] Cf. St. John xv. 26.
[11] Ibid. xvii. 21-23.
[12] Ibid. 19.
[13] Rom. xiii. 14.
[14] Eph. iv. 3.
[15] Ps. iv. 5.
[16] S. Chrys., in ep. ad Eph. Hom., xiv.
[17] Eph. v. 1, 2.
[18] S. Basil, Const, mon., xviii
[19] St. Luke xiv. 16-24.
[20] See Time after Pentecost, vol. i., p. 358.
[21] See Ninth Sunday after Pentecost.
[22] Ps. xviii. 5.
[23] Cant. iii. 11.
[24] The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost.
[25] Isa. lxvi. 1.
[26] Wisd. vii. 27.
[27] 1 Cor. i. 24.
[28] Ps. lxxi. 2.
[29] Ps. xviii. 6.
[30] S. Greg., Hom, xxxviii. in Ev.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Gospel of last Sunday spoke to us of the nuptials of the Son of God with the human race. The realization of those sacred nuptials is the object which God had in view in the creation of the visible world; it is the only one He intends in His government of society. This being the case, we cannot be surprised, that the parable of the Gospel, whilst revealing to us this divine plan, has also brought before us the great fact of the rejection of the Jews, and the vocation of the Gentiles, which is not only the most important fact of the world’s history, but is also intimately connected with the consummation of the mystery of the divine union.

And yet, as we have already said,[1] the exclusion of Juda is one day to cease. His obstinate refusal of the grace has caused it to be brought to us Gentiles by the messengers of God’s loving mercy. But, now that the fullness of the Gentiles[2] has heard and followed the heavenly invitation, the time is advancing when the accession of Israel will complete the Church in her members, and give the bride the signal of the final call, which will put an end to the long labour of ages,[3] by the appearance of the Bridegroom.[4] The holy jealousy, which the apostle was so desirous to rouse in the people of his race by turning towards the Gentiles,[5] will, at last, make itself felt by the descendants of Jacob. What joy will there be in heaven, when they, repentant and humble, shall unite before God in the song of gladness sung by the Gentiles, in celebration of the entrance of His countless Jewish people into the house of the divine banquet! That union of the two peoples will truly be a prelude to the great day mentioned by St. Paul, when, speaking in his patriotic enthusiasm of the Jews, he said : ‘If their offence (i.e., their fall) hath been the riches of the world, and their diminution be the riches of the Gentiles, how much more the fullness of them!’[6] Now, the Mass of this twentieth Sunday after Pentecost gives us a foretaste of that happy day, when the new people will not be alone in singing hymns of praise for the divine favours bestowed on our earth. The ancient liturgists tell us that our Mass consists partly of the words of the prophets, giving to Jacob an expression of his repentance, whereby he is to merit a return of God’s favours, and partly of inspired formulas, wherein the Gentiles, who are already within the hall of the marriage-feast, are singing their canticles of love.[7] The Gentile-choir takes the Gradual and Communion-anthem; the choir of the Jews, the Introit and Offertory.

The Introit is from the book of Daniel.[8] Exiled to Babylon with his people, the prophet—in that captivity whose years of bitterness were a figure of the still longer and intenser sufferings of the present dispersion—laments with Juda in that strange land, and, at the same time, instructs his people how they may be readmitted into God’s favour. It is a secret which Israel had lost ever since his commission of the crime on Calvary; though, in the previous ages of his history, he knew the happy secret, and had continually experienced its efficacy. What it was, it still is and ever will be : it consists in the humble avowal of the sinner’s falls, in the suppliant regret of the culprit, and in the sure confidence that God’s mercy is infinitely above the sins of men, how grievous soever those may have been.

Introit

Omnia, quæ fecisti nobis, Domine, in vero judicio fecisti : quia peccavimus tibi, et mandatis tuis non obedivimus : sed da gloriam nomini tuo : et fac nobiscum secundum multitudinem misericordiæ tuæ.

Ps. Beati immaculati in via: qui ambulant in lege Domini. Gloria Patri. Omnia.
All things whatsoever thou hast done unto us, O Lord, thou hast done by a just judgment : for we have sinned, and disobeyed thy commandments : but glorify thy name: and deal with us according to thy great mercy.

Ps. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Glory, etc. All things.

The divine forgiveness, which restores the soul to purity and peace, is the indispensable preparation for the sacred marriage-feast; for the wedding garment of its guests must, under pain of exclusion, be without a stain; their heart, too, must be without bitterness, lest it should cause the Bridegroom to be offended. Let us implore this precious pardon. Our Lord is all the more ready to grant it us, when we ask it through His beloved bride, the Church, our mother. Let us unite our voices with hers, and say her Collect.

Collect

Largire, quæsumus Do mine, fidelibus tuis indulgentiam placatus, et pacem: ut pariter ab omnibus mundentur offensis, et secura tibi mente deserviant. Per Dominum.
Being appeased, O Lord, bestow pardon and peace upon thy faithful; that they being also cleansed from all their offences, may serve thee with a secure mind. Through, etc.

Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Ephesios.

Cap. v.

Fratres, Videte quomodo caute ambuletis : non quasi insipientes, sed ut sapientes : redimentes tempus, quoniam dies mali sunt. Propterea nolite fieri imprudentes, sed intelligentes quæ sit voluntas Dei. Et nolite inebrian vino, in quo est luxuria, sed implemini Spiritu sancto, loquentes vobismetipsis in psalmis, et hymnis, et canticis spiritualibus, cantantes, et psallentes in cordibus vestris Domino, gratias agentes semper pro omnibus, in nomine Domini nostri Jesu Christi Deo et Patri. Subjecti invicem in timore Christi.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians.

Ch. v.

Brethren: See, therefore, how you walk circumspectly, not as unwise, but as wise : redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore become not unwise, but understanding what is the will of God. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is luxury, but be ye filled with the holy Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord : giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God and the Father. Being subject one to another in the fear of Christ.

The other Collects, as on page 120.


As the nuptials of the Son of God approach their final completion, there will be, also, on the side of hell, a redoubling of rage against the bride, with a determination to destroy her. The dragon of the Apocalypse,[9] the old serpent who seduced Eve, will cast out water, as a river, from his mouth[10]—that is, he will urge on all the passions of man, that they may league together for her ruin. But, do what he will, he can never weaken the bond of the eternal alliance; and, having no power against the Church herself, he will turn his fury against the last children of the new Eve, who will have the perilous honour of those final battles, which are described by the prophet of Patmos.[11]

It is then, more than at all previous times, that the faithful will have to remember the injunction given to us by the apostle in to-day’s Epistle. They will have to comport themselves with that circumspection which he enjoins, taking every possible care to keep their understanding, no less than their heart, pure, in those evil days. Supernatural light will, in those days, not only have to withstand the attacks of the children of darkness, who will put forward their false doctrines; it will, moreover, be minimized and falsified by the very children of the light yielding on the question of principles; it will be endangered by the hesitations, and the human prudence, of those who are called far-seeing men. Many will practically ignore the master-truth, that the Church never can be overwhelmed by any created power. If they do remember that our Lord has promised to uphold His Church even to the end of the world,[12] they will still believe that they do a great service to the good cause by making certain politically clever concessions, not weighed in the balance of the sanctuary. Those future worldly-wise people will forget that our Lord needs no shrewd schemes to help Him to keep His promise; they will entirely overlook this most elementary consideration, that the co-operation which Jesus deigns to accept at the hands of His servants in the defence of the rights of His Church, never could consist in the disguising of those grand truths which constitute the power and beauty of the bride. They will forget the apostle’s maxim, laid down in his Epistle to the Romans, that to conform oneself to this world, to attempt an impossible adaptation of the Gospel to a world that is unchristianized, is not the means for proving what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God.[13]So that it will be a thing of great and rare merit, in many an occurrence of those unhappy times, merely to understand what is the will of God, as our Epistle expresses it.

‘Look to yourselves,’ would St. John say to those men, 'that ye lose not the things which ye have wrought; make yourselves sure of the full reward,’ which is given only to the persevering thoroughness of doctrine and faith![14] Besides, it will be then, as in all other times, that, according to the saying of the Holy Ghost, the simplicity of the just shall guide them,[15] and far more safely than any human ingenuity could do; humility will give them wisdom;[16] and, keeping themselves closely united to this noble companion, they will be made truly wise by her, and will know what is acceptable to God.[17] They will understand that, aspiring like the Church herself to union with the eternal Word, fidelity to the Spouse, for them as for the Church, is nothing else than fidelity to the truth; for the Word, who is the one same object of love to both of them, is, in God, no other than the splendour of infinite truth.[18] Their one care, therefore, will ever be to approach nearer and nearer to their Beloved, by a continually increasing resemblance to Him— that is to say, by the completest reproduction, both in their words and works, of the beautiful truth. By so doing, they will be serving their fellowcreatures in the best possible way, for they will be putting in practice the counsel of Jesus, who bids them seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and confide in Him for all the rest.[19] Others may have recourse to human and accommodating combinations, fitted to please all parties; they may put forward dubious compromises, which (so their suggesters think) will keep back, for some weeks or some months perhaps, the fierce tide of revolution; but those who have God’s spirit in them will put a very different construction on the admonition given us by the apostle in to-day’s Epistle, where he tells us to redeem the time.

It was our Lord who bought time, and at a great price; and He bought it for us, that it might be employed by His faithful servants in procuring glory for God. By most men it is squandered away in sin or folly; but those who are united to Christ, as living members to the Spouse of their souls, will redeem it—that is, they will put such an intensity into their faith and their love that, as far as it is possible for human nature, not a moment of their time shall be anything but an earnest tribute of service to their Lord. To the insolent and blasphemous things which are then to be spoken by the beast,[20] these determined servants of God will give, for their brave answer, the cry of St. Michael, which he uttered against satan, the helper of the beast :[21] ‘Who is like unto God?’

These closing weeks of the year used, in olden times, to be called ‘Weeks of the holy Angel.'’ We have seen, on one of these Sundays,[22] how the liturgy formerly announced the great Archangel’s coming to the aid of God’s people, according to the prophecy of Daniel.[23] When, therefore, the final tribulations shall commence; when exile shall scatter the faithful, and the sword shall slay them,[24] and the world shall approve all that, prostrate, as it then will be, before the beast and his image[25]— let us not forget that we have a leader chosen by God, and proclaimed by the Church; a leader who will marshal us during those final combats, in which the defeat of the saints[26] will be more glorious than were the triumphs of the Church in the days when she ruled the world. For what God will then ask of His servants is not success of diplomatical arrangements, nor a victory won by arms, but fidelity to His truth—that is, to His Word; a fidelity all the more generous and perfect, as there will be an almost universal falling off around the little army fighting under the Archangel’s banner. Uttered by a single faithful heart, under such circumstances, and uttered with the bravery of faith and the ardour of love, the cry of St. Michael, which heretofore routed the infernal legions, will honour God more than the blasphemies uttered by the millions of degraded followers of the beast will insult Him.

Let us be thoroughly imbued with these thoughts which are suggested by the opening lines of our Epistle. Let us also master the other instructions it contains, and which, after all, differ but little from those we have been developing. As the Gospel of the nuptials of the Son of God and the invitation to His divine banquet was formerly read on this day, our holy mother the Church appropriately points out in the Epistle the immense difference there is between these sacred delights, and the joys of the world’s marriage-feasts. The calm, the purity, the peace of the just man, who is admitted into intimacy with God, are a continual feast to his soul;[27] the food served up at that feast is Wisdom;[28] Wisdom, too, is the beloved Guest, who is unfailingly there.[29] The world is quite welcome to its silly, and often shameful, pleasures; the Word and the soul, which, in a mysterious way, He has filled with the holy Spirit,[30] join together to sing to the eternal Father in admirable unison; they will go on for ever with their hymns of thanksgiving and praise, for the materials of both are infinite. The hideous sight of the earth’s inhabitants, who will then by thousands be paying homage to the harlot who sits on the beast, and offers them the golden cup of her abominations—no, not even that will interfere in the least with the bliss caused in heaven by the sight of those happy souls on earth. The convulsions of a world in its last agony, the triumphs of the woman drunk with the blood of the martyrs,[31] far from breaking in on the harmony of a soul which is united with the Word, will but give greater fullness to the divine notes, and greater sweetness to the human music of her song. The apostle tells all this in his own magnificent way, where he says : ‘Who, then, shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or danger? or persecution? or the sword? It is written : For thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter[32]—but in all these things we overcome, because of Him that hath loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.[33]

In the Introit, the Jewish people sang its repentance and humble confidence; and now, in the Gradual, we have the Gentiles proclaiming, in music taught them by the Church, how, in the delights of the nuptial banquet, their hopes have been realized, yea, and surpassed.

Gradual

Oculi omnium in te sperant, 'Domine : et tu das illis escam in tempore opportuno.

V. Aperis tu manum tuam, et imples omne animai benedictione.

Alleluia, alleluia. V. Paratum cor meum, Deus, paratum cor meum, cantabo, et psallam tibi, gloria mea. Alleluia.
The eyes of all do hope in thee, O Lord: and thou givest them meat in due season.

V. Thou openest thy hand, and fillest every living creature with thy blessing.

Alleluia, alleluia. V. My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready; I will sing, and give praise to thee, my glory. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancii Evangelii secundum Joannem.

Cap. iv.

In illo tempore : Erat quidam regulus, cujus filius infirmabatur Capharnaum. Hic cum audisset, quia Jesus adveniret a Judæa in Galilæam, abiit ad eum: et rogabat eum ut descenderet, et sanaret filium ejus: incipiebat enim mori. Dixit ergo Jesus ad eum : Nisi signa, et prodigia videritis, non creditis. Dicit ad eum regulus: Domine, descende priusquam moriatur filius meus. Dicit ei Jesus: Vade; filius tuus vivit. Credidit homo sermoni, quem dixit ei Jesus, et ibat. Jam autem eo descendente, servi occurrerunt ei, et nuntiaverunt dicentes, quia filius ejus viveret. Interrogabat ergo horam ab eis, in qua melius habuerit. Et dixerunt ei: quia heri hora septima reliquit eum febris. Cognovit ergo pater, quia illa hora erat, in qua dixit ei Jesus: Filius tuus vivit: et credidit ipse, et domus ejus tota.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.

Ch. iv.

At that time : There was a certain ruler whose son was sick at Capharnaum. He having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, went to him, and prayed him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders you believe not. The ruler saith to him : Lord, come down before that my son die. Jesus saith to him: Go thy way, thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him: and they brought word, saying that his son lived. He asked therefore of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. The father therefore knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him: Thy son liveth; and himself believed, and his whole house.

The Gospel for to-day is taken from St. John; it is the first and only time during the whole course of these Sundays after Pentecost. It gives the twentieth Sunday the name of ‘the Ruler of Capharnaum.’ The Church has selected this Gospel on account of its bearing a certain mysterious relation to the state of the world in those last days which the liturgy prophetically brings before us at the close of the year.

The world is drawing towards its end; like the ruler’s son, it begins to die. Tormented by the fever of the passions which have been excited in Capharnaum, the city of business and pleasure, it is too weak to go itself to the Physician who could cure it. It is for its father—for the pastors, who, by Baptism, gave it the life of grace, and who govern the Christian people as rulers of holy Church—to go to Jesus, and beseech Him to restore the sick man to health. St. John begins this account[34] by mentioning the place where they were to find Jesus : it was at Cana, the city of the marriagefeast, where He first manifested His power[35] in the banquet-hall; it is in heaven that the Man-God abides, now that He has quitted our earth, where He has left His disciples deprived of the Bridegroom,[36] and having to pass a certain period of time in the field of penance. Capharnaum signifies the field of penance, and of consolation, which penance brings with it. Such was this earth intended to be, when man was driven from Eden; such was the consolation, to which, during this life, the sinner was to aspire; and, because of his having sought after other consolations, because of his having pretended to turn this field of penance into a new paradise, the world is now to be destroyed. Man has exchanged the life-giving delights of Eden for the pleasures which kill the soul, and ruin the body, and draw down the divine vengeance.

There is one remedy for all this, and only one: it is the zeal of the pastors, and the prayers of that portion of Christ’s flock which has withstood the torrent of universal corruption. But it is of the utmost importance that, on this point, the faithful and their pastors should lay aside all personal considerations, and thoroughly enter into the spirit which animates the Church herself. Though treated with the most revolting ingratitude, and injustice, and calumny, and treachery of every sort, this mother of mankind forgets all these her own wrongs, and thinks only of the true prosperity and salvation of the very countries which despise her.[37] She is well aware that the time is at hand when God will make justice triumphant; and yet she goes on struggling, as Jacob did, with God,[38] until the dawn of that terrible day, foretold by David and the sibyl.[39] At the thought of the pool of fire,[40] into which her rebellious children are to be plunged, she seems to have almost forgotten the approach of the eternal nuptials, and lost her vehement longings as a bride. One would say that she thinks of nothing but of her being a mother; and, as such, she keeps on praying as she has always prayed, only more fervently than ever, that the end may be deferred (pro mora finis).[41]

That we may fulfil her wishes, let us, as Tertullian says, ‘assemble together in one body, that we may, so to speak, offer armed force to God by our prayers. God loves such violence as that.'[42] But that our prayer may have power of that kind, it must be inspired by a faith which is thorough, and proof against every difficulty. As it is our faith which overcometh the world,[43] so it is, likewise, our faith which triumphs over God, even in cases which seem beyond all human hope. Let us do as our mother does, and think of the danger incurred by those countless men, who madly play on the brink of the precipice, into which, when they fall, they fall for ever. It is quite true they are inexcusable; it was only last Sunday that they were reminded of the weeping and gnashing of teeth, in the exterior darkness, which they will undergo that despise the call to the Kings marriage-feast.[44] But they are our brethren, and we should not be quietly resigned to see them lose their souls. Let us hope against all hope. Did our Lord, who knew with certainty that obstinate sinners would be lost, hesitate, on that account, to shed all His Blood for them?

It is our ambition to unite ourselves to Him by the closest possible resemblance; let us, then, be resolved to imitate Him in that also, did occasion serve; at all events, let us pray without ceasing for the Church’s and our enemies, so long as we are not assured of their being lost. Such prayer is never useless, never thrown away; for, come what may, God is greatly honoured by our faith, and by the earnestness of our charity.

Only, let us be careful not to merit the reproach uttered by our Redeemer against the halting[45] faith of the fellow-townsmen of the ruler of Capharnaum. We know that our Jesus has no need to come down from heaven to earth, in order to give efficiency to the commands of His gracious will. If He deign to multiply signs and wonders around us, we will rejoice at them, because of our brethren who are weak of faith; we will make them an occasion for exalting His holy name; but we will lovingly assure Him that our soul has no need of new proofs of His power, in order to believe in Him!

The Jewish people, whilst enduring its wellmerited captivity, and straying along the riverbanks of Babylon, has grown repentant, and, in our Offertory, joins our mother the Church, in singing the admirable hundred and thirty-sixth Psalm; there never was such a song of exile.

Offertory

Super flumina Babylonia illic sedimus, et flevimus, dum recordaremur tui, Sion.
Upon the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept, when we remembered thee, O Sion!

The whole power of the God, who, with a word, cures both soul and body, resides in the mysteries which are about to be celebrated on our altar here. Let us, in the Secret, beseech Him, that their effects may tell on our hearts.

Secret

Cœlestem nobis præbeant hæc mysteria, quæsumus Domine, medicinam : et vitia nostri cordis expurgent. Per Dominum.
May these mysteries, O Lord, we beseech thee, procure us a heavenly remedy, and cleanse away the vices of our hearts. Through, etc.

The other Secrets, as on page 130.


The word, spoken of in the Communion-anthem as having raised man up from the abyss of his misery, is that of the Gospel, which calls mankind, saying: Come to the marriage![46] But, although deified by his participation, here below, in the mystery of faith, man aspires to the perfect and eternal union, which is to be in the midday of glory.

Communion

Memento verbi tui servo tuo, Domino, in quo mihi spem dedisti: hæc me consolata est in humilitate mea.
Remember, O Lord, thy word to thy servant, by which thou gavest me hope: this hath comforted me in my distress.

A persevering fidelity in observing God’s commandments is the best preparation a Christian can make for approaching the holy Table, as the Postcommunion tells us.

Postcommunion

Ut sacris, Domine, reddamur digni muneribus : fac nos, quæsumus, tuis semper obedire mandatis. Per Dominum.
That we may be worthy of thy sacred gifts, O Lord, grant, we beseech thee, that we may always obey thy commandments. Through, etc.

The other Postcommunions, as on page 181.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms, capitulum, hymn and versicle, as above, pages 71-81.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Cognovit autem pater quia illa hora erat, in qua dixit Jesus : Filius tuus vivit; et credidit ipse, et domus ejus tota.

Oremus.

Largire, quæsumus Domine, fidelibus tuis indulgentiam placatus et paccm : ut pariter ab omnibus mundentur offensis, et secura tibi mente deserviant. Per Dominum.
Now the father knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said unto him: Thy son liveth; and himself believed, and his whole house.

Let us Pray.

Being appeased, O Lord, bestow pardon and peace upon thy faithful; that they being also cleansed from all their offences may serve thee with a secure mind. Through, etc.

[1] The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost.
[2] Rom. xi. 25, 26.
[3] Ibid. viii. 22.
[4] Apoc. xxii. 17.
[5] Rom. xi. 13, 14.
[6] Ibid. 12.
[7] Berno Aug., v.; Rup., De Div. Off., xii. 20; Durand., Ration., vi. 137.
[8] Dan. iii.
[9] Apoc. xii. 9.
[10] Ibid. 15.
[11] Ibid. 17
[12] St. Matt. xxviii. 20.
[13] Rom. xii. 2.
[14] 2 St. John 8, 9.
[15] Prov. xi. 3.
[16] Ibid. 2.
[17] Wisd. ix. 10.
[18] Ibid. vii. 25, 26.
[19] St. Matt. vi. 33.
[20] Apoc. xiii. 5, 6.
[21] Ibid. 2.
[22] The Seventeenth.
[23] Dan. xii. 1.
[24] Apoc. xiii. 7, 10.
[25] Ibid. 3, 4, 8, 15.
[26] Ibid. 7.
[27] Prov. xv. 15.
[28] Ecclus. xxiv. 29.
[29] Wisd. viii. 16; Apoc. iii. 20.
[30] Cant. i. 1.
[31] Apoc. xvii. 1-6.
[32] Ps. xliii. 22.
[33] Rom. viii. 35-39.
[34] St. John iv. 46.
[35] Ibid. ii. 11.
[36] St. Matt. ix. 15.
[37] Allocutions of Leo XIII.
[38] Gen. xxxii. 24-28.
[39] The sequence Dies irœ.
[40] Apoc. xxi. 8.
[41] Tertull., Apol. xxxix.
[42] Ibid.
[43] 1 St. John v. 4.
[44] St. Matt. xxii. 13.
[45] Heb. xii. 13.
[46] St. Matt. xxii. 4.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The remaining Sundays are the last of the Church’s cycle; but their proximity to its termination varies each year, according as Easter is early or late. This their movable character does away with anything like harmony between the composition of their Masses and the Lessons of the night Office, which, dating from August, have been appointed and fixed for each week. This we explained to our readers on the seventh Sunday after Pentecost. Still, the instruction which the faithful ought to derive from the sacred liturgy would be incomplete, and the spirit of the Church, during these last weeks of her year, would not be sufficiently understood by her children, unless they were to remember, that the two months of October and November are filled, the first, with readings from the Book of the Machabees, whose example inspirits us for the final combats, and the second, with lessons from the Prophets, proclaiming to us the judgments of God.[1]

 

MASS

 

Durandus, Bishop of Mende, in his Rational, tells us that this and the following Sundays till Advent bear closely on the Gospel of the marriage-feast, of which they are really but a further development. ‘Whereas,' says he, speaking of this twenty-first Sunday, ‘this marriage has no more powerful opponent than the envy of satan, the Church speaks to us to-day on our combat with him, and on the armour wherewith we must be clad in order to go through this terrible battle, as we shall see by the Epistle. And because sackcloth and ashes are the instruments of penance, therefore does the Church borrow, for the Introit, the words of Mardochai, who prayed for God’s mercy in sackcloth and ashes.'[2]

The reflexions of Durandus are quite true; but though the thought of her having soon to be united with her divine Spouse is uppermost in the Church’s mind, yet it is by forgetting her own happiness and turning all her thoughts to mankind, whose salvation has been entrusted to her care by her Lord, that she will best prove herself to be truly His bride during the miseries of those last days. As we have already said, the near approach of the general judgment, and the terrible state of the world during the period immediately preceding that final consummation of time, is the very soul of the liturgy during these last Sundays of the Church’s year. As regards the present Sunday, the portion of the Mass which used formerly to attract the attention of our Catholic forefathers was the Offertory, taken from the Book of Job, with its telling exclamations and its emphatic repetitions. We may, in all truth, say that this Offertory contains the ruling idea which runs through this twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost.

Reduced, like Job on the dung-hill, to the extremity of wretchedness, the world has nothing to trust to but God’s mercy. The holy men who are still living in it, imitating in the name of all mankind the sentiments of the just man of Idumea, honour God by a patience and resignation which do but add power and intensity to their supplications. They begin by making their own the sublime prayer made by Mardochai for his people, who were doomed to extermination. The world is condemned to a similar ruin.[3]

Introit

In voluntate tua, Domine, universa sunt posita, et non est qui possit resistere voluntati tuæ : tu enim fecisti omnia, cœlum et terrain, et universa quæ cœli ambitu continentur: Dominus universorum tu es.

Ps. Beati immaculati in via: qui ambulant in lege Domini. Gloria Patri. In voluntate.

All things, O Lord, are in thy power, and no one can resist thy will: for thou madest all things, heaven and earth, and all things that are contained within the compass of the heavens : thou art Lord of all.

Ps
. Blessed are the undefiled in the way : who walk in the law of the Lord. Glory, etc. All things.


The Church shows us very clearly in the Collect that, although she is quite ready to go through the roughest times, yet she prefers peace, because that furnishes her with undisturbed freedom for paying to her God the united homage of religion and good works. The closing petition made by Mardochai, in the prayer whose commencement forms our Introit, was that God would bestow on His people the liberty necessary for that occupation on which the world’s well-being ever depends, the occupation of giving praise to God. These were Mardochai’s grand words : ‘May we live, and praise Thy name, O Lord! and shut not Thou the mouths of them that sing to Thee!’

Collect

Familiam tuam, quæsumus Domine, continua pietate custodi : ut a cunctis adversitatibus, te protegente, sit libera : et in bonis actibus tuo nomini sit devota. Per Dominum.

Preserve thy family, O Lord, we beseech thee, by thy constant mercy: that, under thy protection, it may be freed from all adversities, and be devoted to thy name in the practice of good works. Through, etc.


The other Collects, as on page 120.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Ephesios.
Cap. vi.


Fratres, Confortamini in Domino, et in potentia virtutis ejus. Induite vos armaturam Dei, ut possitis stare adversus insidias diaboli : quoniam non est nobis colluctatio adversus carnem et sanguinem : sed adversus principes et potestates, adversus mundi rectores tenebrarum harum, contra spiritualia nequitiæ, in cœlestibus. Propterea accipite armaturam Dei, ut possitis resistere in die malo, et in omnibus perfecti stare. State ergo succincti lumbos vestros in ventate, et induti loricam justitiæ, et calceati pedes in præparatione Evangelii pacis: in omnibus sumentes scutum fìdei, in quo possitis omnia tela nequissimi ignea exstinguere : et galeam salutis assumite : et gladium Spiritus, quod est verbum Dei.

Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul, the Apostle, to the Ephesians.
Ch. vi.


Brethren : Be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power. Put ye on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; in all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


The early beginnings of man’s union with his God are, generally speaking, deliciously calm. Divine Wisdom, once He has led His chosen creature by hard laborious work to the purification of his mind and senses, allows him, when the sacred alliance is duly concluded, to rest on His sacred breast, and thoroughly attaches the devoted one to Himself by delights which are an ante-dated heaven, making the soul despise every earthly pleasure. It seems as though the welcome law of Deuteronomy were always in force,[4] namely, that no battle, and no anxiety, must ever break in upon the first season of the glorious union. But this exemption from the general taxation is never of long duration; for combat is the normal state of every man here below.[5]

The Most High is pleased at seeing a battle well fought by His Christian soldiers. There is no name so frequently applied to Him by the prophets as that of the God of hosts. His divine Son, who is the Spouse, shows Himself here on earth as the Lord who is mighty in battle.[6] In the mysterious nuptial canticle of the forty-fourth Psalm, He lets us see Him as a most powerful Prince, girding on His grand sword, and making His way, with His sharp arrows, through the very heart of His enemies, in order to reach, in fair valiance and beautiful victory, the bride He has chosen as His own. She, too, the bride, whose beauty He has vouchsafed to love, and whom He wills to share in all His own glories,[7] advances towards Him in the glittering armour of a warrior,[8]surrounded by choirs[9] singing the magnificent exploits of the Spouse, while she herself is terrible as an army set in array.[10]The armour of the brave is on her arms and breast; her noble bearing reminds one of the tower of David, with its thousand bucklers.[11]

United to her divine Lord, warriors the most valiant stand about her; they merit that privilege by their well-proved sword and their skill in war; each one of them has his sword ready, because of the night-surprises which the enemy may use against this most dear Church.[12] For until the dawn of the eternal day, when the shadows of this present life are put to flight[13] by the light of the Lamb,[14] who will then have vanquished all His enemies, power is in the hands of the rulers of the world of this darkness, says St. Paul, in our to-day’s Epistle; and it is against them that we must take to ourselves the armour of God, which he there describes; we must wear it all, if we would he able to resist, in the evil day.

The evil days, spoken of by the apostle last Sunday,[15] are frequent in the life of every individual, as, likewise, in the world's history. But for every man, and for the world at large, there is one evil day, evil beyond all the others : it is the last day, the day of judgment, the day of exceeding bitterness as the Church calls it,[16] on account of the woe and misery which are to fill it. We talk of so many years as passing away, and of centuries succeeding each other; but all these are neither more nor less than preparations hurrying on the world to the last day. Happy those who, on that day, shall fight the good fight,[17] and win victory! Or who, as our apostle expresses it, shall stand, whilst all around them is ruin, yea, stand in all things perfect! They shall not be hurt by the second death;[18] wreathed with the crown of justice,[19] they shall reign with God,[20] on His throne, together with His Son.[21]

The war is an easy one, when we have this Man. God for our Leader. All He asks of us, is what the apostle thus words : Be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of His power! It is leaning on her Beloved, that the beautiful Church is to go up from the desert; and, thus supported, she is actually to be flowing with delights,[22] even in those most sad days. The faithful soul is out of herself with love, when she remembers that the armour she wears is the armour of God, that is, the very armour of her Spouse. It is thrilling to hear the prophets describing Jesus, our Leader, accoutred for battle, with all the pieces we, too, are to wear : He girds Himself with the girdle of faith;[23] then He puts the helmet of salvation on His beautiful head;[24] then, the breast-plate of justice;[25] then, the shield of invincible equity;[26] and finally a magnificently tempered sword, the sivord of the Spirit, which is the word of God.[27] The Gospel also portrays Him entering on the great battle, that He might teach us by His example, how to use these divine arms.

This armour consists of many parts, because of its varied uses and effects; and yet, whether offensive or defensive, all of them have one common name, faith. This our Epistle tells us; and this our divine Leader taught us, when to the triple temptation brought against Him by the devil on the mount of Quarantana, He made answer by texts from the sacred Scriptures.[28] The victory which overcometh the world, is our faith, says St. John.[29] When St. Paul, at the close of his career, reviews the combats he had fought through life, he sums up all in this telling word : ‘I have kept the faith.’[30] The life of Paul, in that, should be the life of every Christian, for he says to us : 'Fight the good fight of faith!'[31] It is faith, which, in spite of those fearful odds enumerated in to-day’s Epistle as being against us, ensures the victory to men of good will. If, in the warfare we must go through, we were to reckon the chances of our enemies by their overwhelming forces and advantages, it is quite certain that we should have little hope of winning the day; for it is not with men like ourselves, it is not, as the Apostle puts it, with flesh and blood, that we have to wrestle; but with enemies that we can never grapple with, who are in the high places of the air around us, and are, therefore, invisible, and most skilled, and powerful, and wonderfully up in all the sad secrets of our poor fallen nature, and turning the whole weight of their advantages to trick man, and ruin him, out of hatred for God. These wicked spirits were originally created, that, in the purity of their unmixed spiritual nature, they should be a reflex of the divine splendour of their Maker; and now, having rebelled by pride, they exhibit that execrable prodigy of angelic intelligences, spending all their powers in doing evil to man, and in hating truth.

How, then, are we, who by our very nature are darkness and misery, to wrestle with these spiritual principalities and powers,who devote all their wisdom and rage to produce darkness, so as to turn the whole earth into a world of darkness?'By our becoming light,' answers St. John Chrysostom.[32] The light, it is true, is not to shine upon us in its own direct brightness until the great day of the revelation of the sons of God;[33] but meanwhile we have a divine subsidy, which supplements sight, viz., the revealed word.[34] Baptism did not open our eyes so as to see God, but it opened our ears that we might hear Him when He speaks to us. Now, He speaks to us by the Scriptures, and by His Church; and our faith gives us, regarding truth thus revealed, a certainty as great as though we saw it with our eyes. By his child-like docility, the just man walks on in peace, in the simplicity of the Gospel. Better than breast-plate or helmet, the shield of faith protects us from every sort of injury; it blunts the fiery darts of the world, it repels the fury of our own passions, it makes us far-seeing enough to escape the most artful snares of the most wicked ones. Is not the word of God good for every emergency? And it is never wanting to us. Satan has a horror of the Christian who, though he may be weak in other respects, is strong in this divine word. He has a greater fear of that man than he has of all the schools and professors of philosophy; he knows well that at every encounter he will be crushed beneath his feet,[35] and with a rapidity akin to what our Lord tells us He Himself witnessed : ‘I saw satan, like lightning, falling from heaven.'[36] It was on the great battle-day[37] when he was hurled from paradise by that one word michael; exquisite word, which was given to the triumphant Archangel to be his everlasting noble name! And he himself, by that word of God, and by that victory for God, was made our model and our defender. We have already explained to our readers why it is that these closing weeks of the Church’s year are so full of the grand Archangel St. Michael.

In the Gradual and its versicle the Church tells her Lord how He has ever been the refuge of His people: His goodness, like His power, was before all ages, because He is God from all eternity. May He, therefore, now protect His faithful servants, who, reduced to a scanty number as Israel was of old, are preparing the last exodus of the Church, which is leaving this infidel world, and is hastening to the true land of promise.

Gradual

Domine, refugium factus es nobis a generatione et progenie.
V. Priusquam montes fierent, aut formaretur terra et orbis : a sæculo, et usque in sæculum tu es Deus.
Alleluia, alleluia. V. In exitu Israel de Ægypto, domus Jacob de populo barbaro, Alleluia.

Lord! thou hast been our refuge from generation unto generation.
V. Before the mountains were made, or the earth and the world were formed: thou art God, for ever and ever.
Alleluia, alleluia. V. When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a barbarous people. Alleluia.


Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.
Cap. xviii..


In illo tempore : Dixit Jesus discipulis suis parabolam hanc : Assimilatum est regnum cœlorum homini regi, qui voluit rationem ponere cum servis suis. Et cum cœpisset rationem ponere, oblatus est ei unus, qui debebat ei decem millia talenta. Cum autem non haberet unde redderet, jussit eum dominus ejus venmndari, et uxorem ejus, et filios, et omnia quæhabebat, et reddi. Procidens autem servus ille, orabat eum, dicens : Patientiam habe in me, et omnia reddam tibi. Misertus autem dominus servi illius, dimisit eum, et debitum dimisit ei. Egressus autem servus ille, invenit unum de conservis suis, qui debebat ei centum denarios : et tenens suffocabat eum, dicens : Redde quod debes. Et procidens conservus ejus, rogabat eum, dicens : Patientiam habe in me, et omnia reddam tibi. Ille autem noluit; sed abiit, et misit eum in carcerem, donec redderet debitum. Videntes autem conservi ejus quæ fiebant, contristati sunt valde : et venerunt, et narraverunt domino suo omnia quæ facta fuerant. Tunc vocavit ilium dominus suus, et ait illi: Serve nequam, omne debitum dimisi tibi quoniam rogasti me : nonne ergo oportuit et te misereri conservi tui, sicut et ego tui misertus sum? Et iratus dominus ejus, tradidit eum tortoribus, quoadusque redderet universum debitum. Sic et Pater meus cœlestis faciet vobis, si non remise ritis unusquisque fratri suo de cordibus vestris.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
Ch. xviii.


At that time: Jesus spoke to his disciples this parable : The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king who would take an account of his servants. And when he had begun to take the account, one was brought to him that owed him ten thousand talents. And as he had not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. But that servant falling down, besought him, saying : Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all And the lord of that servant being moved with pity, let him go, and forgave him the debt. But when that servant was gone out, he found one of his fellow-servants that owed him a hundred pence; and laying hold of him, he throttled him, saying : Pay what thou owest. And his fellow-servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he paid the debt. Now his fellow-servants seeing what was done, were very much grieved, and they came and told their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him, and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me : shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellowservant, even as I had compassion on thee? And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers, until he paid all the debt. So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.


‘O thou just Judge of vengeance, grant us the gift of forgiveness before the day of reckoning cometh!' Such is the petition that comes from the heart of holy mother Church, as she thinks on what may have befallen those countless children of hers, who have been victims of death during this, as every other year; it is, moreover, the supplication that should be made by every living soul, after hearing the Gospel just read to us. The sequence Dies irœ, from which these words are taken, is not only a sublime prayer for the dead; it is, likewise, and especially at this close of the ecclesiastical year, an appropriate expression for all of us who are still living. Our thoughts and our expectations are naturally turned towards our own death. We almost seem forgotten, and overlooked, in this evening of the world’s existence; but it is not so, for we know, from the sacred Scripture, that we shall join those who have already slept the last sleep, and shall be taken, together with them, to meet our divine Judge.[38]

Let us hearken to some more of our mother’s words in that same magnificent sequence: ‘How great will be our fear, when the Judge is just about to come, and rigorously examine all our works! The trumpet’s wondrous sound will pierce the graves of every land, and summon us all before the throne! Death will stand amazed, and nature too, when the creature shall rise again, to go and answer Him that is to judge! The written book shall be brought forth, wherein all is contained, for which the world is to be tried. So, when the Judge shall sit on His throne, every hidden secret shall be revealed, nothing shall remain unpunished! What shall I, poor wretch! then say? Whom ask to be my patron, when the just man himself shall scarce be safe? O King of dreaded majesty! who savest gratuitously them that are saved, save me, O fount of love! Do Thou remember, loving Jesu! that I was cause of Thy life on earth! Lose me not on that day!' Undoubtedly, such a prayer as this has every best chance of being graciously heard, addressed as it is to Him, who has nothing so much at heart as our salvation, and who, to procure it, gave Himself up to fatigue and suffering, and to death on the cross. But we should be inexcusable, and deserve condemnation twice over, were we to neglect to profit by the advice He Himself gives us, whereby to avert from us the perils of ‘that day of tears, when guilty man shall rise from the dust, and go to be judged!’[39] Let us, then, meditate on the parable of our Gospel, whose sole object is to teach us a sure way of settling, at once, our accounts with the divine King.

We are all of us, in fact, that negligent servant, that insolvent debtor, whose master might, in all justice, sell him with all he has, and hand him over to the torturers. The debt contracted with God by the sins we have committed is of such a nature as to deserve endless tortures; it supposes an eternal hell, in which the guilty one will ever be paying, yet never cancelling his debt. Infinite praise, then, and thanks to the divine Creditor, who, being moved to pity by the entreaties of the unhappy man who asks for time and he will pay all, grants him far beyond what he prays for, by immediately forgiving him the debt. He attaches but one condition to the pardon, as is evident from the sequel. He insists, and most justly, that he should go and do in like manner towards his fellowservants, who may, perhaps, owe something to him. After being so generously forgiven by his Lord and King, after having his infinite debt so gratuitously cancelled, how can he possibly turn a deaf ear to the very same prayer which won pardon for himself, now that a fellow-servant makes it to him? Is it to be believed that he will refuse all pity towards one whose only offence is that he asks him for time, and he will pay all?

‘It is quite true,’ says St. Augustine, 'that every man has his fellow-man for a debtor; for who is the man that has had no one to offend him? But, at the same time, who is the man that is not debtor to God? For all of us have sinned. Man, therefore, is both debtor to God, and creditor to his fellow-man. It is for this reason that God has laid down this rule for thy conduct, that thou must treat thy debtor, as He treats His. . . . We pray every day; every day we send up the same petition to the divine throne; every day we prostrate ourselves before God, and say to Him : “ Forgive us our debts, as we forgive them that are debtors to us.”[40] Of what debts speakest thou? Is it of all thy debts? or of one or two only? Thou wilt say : “ Of all.” Do thou, therefore, forgive thy debtor, for it is the rule laid upon thee, it is the condition accepted by thee.’[41]

‘It is a greater thing,’ says St. John Chrysostom, ‘to forgive our neighbour the trespasses he has committed against us, than to remit him a sum of money; for, by forgiving him his sins, we imitate God.’[42] And, after all, what is the injury committed by one man against another man, if compared with the offence committed by man against God? Alas! we are all guilty of the latter; even the just man knows its misery seven times[43] over, and, as the text probably means, seven times a day; so that, it comes ruffling our whole day. Let us at least contract the habit of being merciful towards our fellow-men, since every night we are pardoned all our miseries, on the sole condition of owning them. It is an excellent practice, not to go to bed without putting ourselves in the dispositions of a little child, who can rest his head on God’s bosom, and there fall asleep. But, if we thus feel it a happy necessity, to find in the heart of our heavenly Father[44]forgetfulness of our day’s faults, and an infinitely tender love for us, how can we, at that very time, dare to be storing up in our minds any bitterness against our neighbours, our brethren, who are also His children? Even supposing that we had been treated by them with outrageous injustice or insult, could these their faults bear any comparison with our offences against that good God, whose born enemies we were, and whom we have caused to be put to an ignominious death? Whatsoever may be the circumstances attending the unkindness shown us, we may and should invariably practise the rule given us by the apostle: 'Be ye kind one to another, merciful, forgiving one another, even as God hath forgiven you, in Christ! Be ye imitators of God, as most dear children!’[45] What! thou callest God thy Father, and dost thou remember an injury that has been done thee? ‘That,’ says St. John Chrysostom, ‘is not the way a son of God acts! The work of a son of God is this: to pardon his enemies, to pray for them that crucify him, to shed his blood for them that hate him. Would you know the conduct of one who is worthy to be a son of God? He takes his enemies, and his ingrates, and his robbers, and his insulters, and his traitors, and makes them his brethren and sharers of all his wealth!’[46]

We here give, in its entirety, the celebrated Offertory of Job, with its verses. The observations we made at the beginning of the Mass will enable us to enter into the spirit of this liturgical piece. As Amalarius says, the anthem, which has been retained, gives us the words of the historian, who simply relates the facts, one after the other, without any remarks; but, in the verses, we have Job himself speaking, his body all humbled, and his soul full of sorrow : the repetition of the same words, their interruptions, their refrain, their broken phrases, vividly represent his panting for breath, and intense suffering.[47]

Offertory

Vir erat in terra Hus nomine Job, simplex et rectus ac timens Deum : quem satan petiit, ut tentaret; et data est ei potestas a Domino in facultates, et in carnem eius, perdiditque omnem suostantiam ipsius, et filios: carnem quoque ejus gravi ulcere vulneravit.

V. I. Utinam appenderentur peccata mea; utinam appenderentur peccata mea, quibus iram merui, quibus iram merui; et calamitas, et calamitas quarti patior : hœc gravior appareret.

Vir erat.

V. II Quœ est enim, quæ est enim, quæ est enim for titudo mea ut sustineam? aut quis finis meus ut patienter agam?

Vir erat.

V. III. Numquid fortitudo lapidum est fortitudo mea? ant caro mea ænea est? aut caro mea ænea est?

Vir erat

V. IV. Quoniam, quoniam, quoniam non revertetur oculus meus ut videat bona, ut videat bona, ut videat bona, ut videat bona, ut videat bona, ut videat bona, ut videat bona, ut videat bona, ut videat bona.

Vir erat.

There was a man in the land of Hus whose name was Job, simple and upright, and fearing God : and satan asked to tempt him; and power was given him by the Lord over his possessions, and over his flesh : and he destroyed all his substance, and his sons : and he wounded his flesh with a grievous ulcer.

V. I. Oh! that my sins were weighed in a balance! Oh! that my sins, whereby I have deserved wrath, whereby I have deserved wrath, were weighed in a balance! and the calamity, the calamity that I suffer, it would appear heavier!

There was a man.

V. II. For what is, for what is, for what is my strength, that I can hold out? or what is my end, that I should keep patience?

There was a man.

V. III. Is my strength the strength of stones? Or is my flesh of brass? or is my flesh of brass?

There was a man.

V. IV. For, for, for, mine eye shall not return to see good things, to see good things, to see good things, to see good things, to see good things, to see good things, to see good things, to see good things, to see good things.

There was a man.


The salvation of the world, and that of each individual man, is, virtually, ever in the august Sacrifice, whose power restoresman by appeasing God. With a confidence that fails not, let us use it, as the most efficacious recourse that can be had to the divine mercy.

Secret

Suscipe, Domine, propitius hostias, quibus et te piacari voluisti, et nobis salutem potenti pietate restitui. Per Dominum.

Mercifully receive, O Lord, these offerings, by which thou art pleased to be appeased, and in thy powerful goodness to restore our salvation. Through, etc.


The other Secrets, as on page 130.


An unflagging hope ever accompanies the admirable patience of holy Church. Persecutions, be they ever so fierce or long, never interrupt her prayer for, as the Communion expresses it, she keeps in her heart a faithful recollection of the word of salvation that was given her by God.

Communion

In salutari tuo anima mea, et in verbum tuum speravi : quando facies de persequentibus me judicium? Iniqui persecuti sunt me : adjuva me, Domine Deus meus.

My soul hath looked to be saved by thee, and hath relied on thy word: when wilt thou judge them that persecute me? The wicked ones have persecuted me: help me, O Lord my God!


Now that we have been nourished by the food of immortality, let us live on it, with all the sincerity of a soul that is made pure.

Postcommunion

Immortalitatis alimoniam consecuti, quæsumus Domine : ut quod ore percepimus, pura mente sectemur. Per Dominum.

Having received the food of immortality, we beseech thee, O Lord, that what we have taken with our mouths, we may receive with a pure mind. Through, etc.


The other Postcommunions, as on page 131.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms, capitulum, hymn, and versicle, as above, pages 71-81.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Serve nequam, omne debitum dimisi tibi, quoniam rogasti me : nonne ergo oportuit et te misereri conservi tui, sicut et ego tui misertus sum? Alleluia.

Oremus.

Familiam tuam, quæsumus Domine, continua pietate custodi : ut a cunctis adversitatibus, te protegente, sit libera : et in bonis actibus tuo nomini sit devota. Per Dominum.
Thou wicked servant I I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me : shouldst not thou, then, have had compassion also on thy fellow-servant, even as I had compassion on thee? Alleluia.

Let us Pray.

Preserve thy family, O Lord, we beseech thee, by thy constant mercy : that, under thy protection, it may be freed from all adversities, and be devoted to thy name in the practice of good works. Through, etc.

[1] See above, pp. 6, 7.
[2] Dur., Ration., vi. 138.
[3] Esth. xiii. 9-11.
[4] Deut. xxiv. 5.
[5] Job vii. 1.
[6] Ps. xxiii. 8.
[7] Pa. xliv.
[8] Cant. iv. 4.
[9] Ibid. vii. i.
[10] Ibid. vi. 9.
[11] Ibid. iv. 4.
[12] Ibid. iii. 7.
[13] Ibid. iv. 6.
[14] Apoc. xxi. 9, 23.
[15] Eph. v. 16.
[16] Resp. Libera me.
[17] 2 Tim. iv. 7.
[18] Apoc. ii. 11.
[19] 2 Tim. iv. 8.
[20] Apoc. xx. 6.
[21] Ibid. iii. 21.
[22] Cant. viii. 5.
[23] Isa, xi. 5.
[24] Ibid. lix. 17.
[25] Wisd. v. 19.
[26] Ibid. 20.
[27] Apoc. ii. 16.
[28] St. Matt. iv. 1-11.
[29] 1 St. John v. 4.
[30] 2 Tim. iv. 7.
[31] 1 Tim. vi. 12.
[32] St. Chrys., Hom, xxii., in ep. ad Eph.
[33] Rom viii. 19.
[34] 2 St. Pet. i. 19.
[35] Rom. xvi. 20.
[36] St. Luke x. 18.
[37] Apoc. xii. 7.
[38] 1 Thess. iv. 14-16.
[39] Seq. Dies irœ.
[40] St. Matt. vi. 12.
[41] St. Aug., Serm. lxxxiii.
[42] St. Chrys., in ep. ad Eph., Hom. xvii. 1.
[43] Prov. xxiv. 16.
[44] St. Matt. vi. 9.
[45] Eph. iv. 32; v. 1.
[46] St. Chrys., in ep. ad Eph., Hom. xiv. 3.
[47] Amal., De eccl. Off., L. iii., c. 39.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

 

MASS

 

According to Honorius of Autun, the Mass of to-day has reference to the days of Antichrist.[1] The Church, foreseeing the reign of the man of sin,[2] and as though she were actually undergoing the persecution which is to surpass all others, takes her Introit of this twenty-second Sunday from the Psalm De profundis.[3]

If, unitedly with this prophetic sense, we would apply these words practically to our own personal miseries, we must remember the Gospel we had last week, which was formerly appointed for the present Sunday. Each one of us will recognize himself in the person of the insolvent debtor, who has nothing to trust to but his master’s goodness; and, in our deep humiliation, we shall exclaim : If thou, O Lord, mark iniquities, who shall endure it?[4]

Introit

Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine, Domine, quis sustinebit? quia apud tė propitiatio est, Deus Israel.
Ps. De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine : Domine, exaudi vocem meam. Gloria Patri. Si iniquitates.

If thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities, Lord! who shall endure it? For with thee there is merciful forgiveness, O God of Israel!
Ps. Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord : Lord! hear my voice. Glory, etc. If thou.


We have just been rousing our confidence by singing that with God there is merciful forgiveness. It is He Himself who gives that loving unction to the prayers of the Church, which proves that He wishes to grant them. But we shall not be thus graciously heard, as she is, unless, like her, we ask with faith, that is to say, conformably with the teachings of the Gospel. To ask with faith is to forgive our fellow-creatures their trespasses against us; on that condition we may confidently beseech our common Lord and Master to forgive us.[5]

Collect

Deus, refugium nostrum, et virtus : adesto piis Ecclesiæ tuæ precibus, auctor ipse pietatis, et præsta : ut quod fideliter petimus, efficaciter consequamur. Per Dominum.

O God, our refuge and our strength! give ear to the holy prayers of thy Church, O thou, the author of holiness; and grant, that what we ask with faith, we may effectually obtain. Through, etc.


The other Collects, as on page 120.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Philippenses.
Cap. i.

Fratres, Confidimus in Domino Jesu, quia qui cœpit in vobis opus bonum, perficiet usque in diem Christi Jesu. Sicut est mihi justum hoc sentire pro omnibus vobis, eo quod habeam vos in corde, et in vinculis meis, et in defensione, et confirmatione Evangelii, socios gaudii mei omnes vos esse. Testis enim mihi est Deus, quomodo cupiam omnes vos in visceribus Jesu Christi. Et hoc oro, ut charitas vestra magis ac magis abundet in scientia, et in omni sensu: ut probetis potiora, ut sitis sinceri, et sine offensa in diem Christi, repleti fructu justitiæ per Jesum Christum, in gloriam et laudem Dei.

Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Philippians.
Ch. i.

Brethren : We are confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day. of Christ Jesus. As it is meet for me to think this for you all: for that I have you in my heart; and that in my bands, and in the defence and confirmation of the Gospel, you are all partakers of my joy. For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and in all understanding; that you may approve the better things, that you may be sincere and without offence unto the day of Christ. Filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.


St. Paul, in the Church’s name, again invites our attention to the near approach of the last day. But what, on the previous Sunday, he called the evil day, he now, in the short passage taken from his Epistle to the Philippians which has just been read to us, calls twice over the day of Christ Jesus. The Epistle to the Philippians is full of loving confidence; its tone is decidedly one of joy, and yet it plainly shows us that persecution was raging against the Church, and that the old enemy was making capital of the storm to stir up evil passions, even amidst the very flock of Christ. The apostle is in chains; the envy and treachery of false brethren Intensify his sufferings;[6] still, joy predominates in his heart over everything else, because he has attained that perfection of love, wherein divine charity is enkindled by suffering more even than by the sweetest spiritual caresses. To him, to live is Christ and to die is gain;[7] he cannot make up his mind which of the two to choose: death, which would give him the bliss of being with his Jesus,[8] or life, which would add to his merits and his labours for the salvation of men.[9] What are all personal considerations to him? His one joy, for both the present and the future, is that Christ may be known and glorified, no matter how! As to his hopes and expectations, he cannot be disappointed, for Christ is sure to be glorified in his body by its life and by its death![10]

Hence, in Paul’s soul, that sublime indifference which is the climax of the Christian life; it is, of course, a totally different thing from that fatal apathy, to which the false mystics of the seventeenth century pretended to reduce the love of man’s heart. What tender affection has this convert of Damascus for his brethren, once he has reached this point of perfection! God, says he, is my witness how I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ! The one ambition which rules and absorbs him[11] is that God, who has begun in them the work which is good by excellence, the work of Christian perfection such as we know had been wrought in the apostle himself, may continue and perfect it in them all, by the day, when Christ is to appear in His glory.[12] This is what he prays for, that charity, the wedding-garment of those whom he has betrothed to the one Spouse,[13] may beautify them with all its splendour for the grand day of the eternal nuptials.[14]

Now, how is charity to be perfected in them? It must abound, more and more, in knowledge and in all understanding of salvation, that is, in faith. It is faith that constitutes the basis of all supernatural virtue. A restricted, a diminished,[15] faith could never support a large and high-minded charity. Those men, therefore, are deceiving themselves whose love for revealed truth does not keep pace with their charity! Such Christianity as that believes as little as it may; it has a nervous dread of new definitions; and out of respect for error, it cleverly and continually narrows the supernatural horizon. Charity, they say, is the queen of virtues; it makes them take everything easily, even lies against truth; to give the same rights to error as to truth is, in their estimation, the highest point of Christian civilization grounded on love! They quite forget that the first object of charity, God who is substantial Truth, has no greater enemy than a lie; they cannot understand how it is that a Christian does not do a work of love by putting on the same footing the Object beloved and His mortal enemy!

The apostles had very different ideas; in order to make charity grow in the world, they gave it a rich sowing of truth. Every new ray of light they put into their disciples’ hearts was an intensifying of their love; and these disciples, having by Baptism become themselves light,[16] were most determined to have nothing to do with darkness. In those days, to deny the truth was the greatest of crimes; to expose themselves, by a want of vigilance, to infringe on the rights of truth, even in the slightest degree, was the height of imprudence.[17] When Christianity first shone upon mankind, it found error supreme mistress of the world. Having, then, to deal with a universe that was rooted in death,[18] Christianity adopted no other plan for giving it salvation than that of making the light as bright as could be; its only policy was to proclaim the power which truth alone has of saving man, and to assert its exclusive right to reign over this world. The triumph of the Gospel was the result. It came after three centuries of struggle— a struggle intense and violent on the side of darkness, which declared itself to be supreme, and was resolved to keep so; but a struggle most patient and glorious on the side of the Christians, the torrents of whose blood did but add fresh joy to the brave army, for it became the strongest possible foundation of the united kingdom of love and truth.

But now, with the connivance of those whose Baptism made them, too, children of light, error has regained its pretended rights. As a natural consequence, the charity of an immense number has grown cold in proportion;[19] darkness is again thickening over the world, as though it were in the chill of its last agony. The children of light,[20] who would live up to their dignity, must behave exactly as did the early Christians. They must not fear, nor be troubled: but, like their forefathers and the apostles, they must be proud to suffer for Jesus' sake,[21] and prize the word of life[22] as the dearest thing they possess; for they are convinced that, so long as truth is kept up in the world, so long is there hope for it.[23] As their only care is, to make their manner of life worthy of the Gospel of Christ,[24] they go on, with all the simplicity of children of God, faithfully fulfilling the duties of their state of life, in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation, as stars of the firmament shine in the night.[25] ‘The stars shine in the night,' says St. John Chrysostom, ‘they glitter in the dark; so far from growing dim amidst the gloom that surrounds them, they seem all the more brilliant. So will it be with thee, if thou art virtuous amidst the wicked; thy light will shine so much the more clearly.’[26] ‘As the stars,' says St. Augustine, ‘keep on their course in the track marked out for them by God, and grow not tired of sending forth their light in the midst of darkness, neither heed they the calamities which may be happening on earth; so should do those holy ones whose conversation is truly in heaven;[27] they should pay no more attention to what is said or done against them, than the stars do.’[28]

The Gradual hymns the praise of the sweet and strong unity, which the Church maintains even to the end; she does this by charity, in which the Epistle urged us to be making fresh progress, and which the ancient Gospel of this same Sunday put before us as the one means of securing a favourable sentence at the day of judgment.

Gradual

Ecce quam bonum, et quam jucundum habitare fratres in unum!
V. Sicut unguen tum in capite, quod deseendit in barbam, barbam Aaron.
Alleluia, alleluia.
V. Qui timent Dominum, sperent in eo; adjutor et protector eorum est. Alleluia.

Behold! how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
V. It is like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron.
Alleluia, alleluia.
V. Let them that fear the Lord, hope in him; he is their helper and their protector. Alleluia.


Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.
Cap. xxii.

In illo tempore: Abeuntes Pharisæi, consilium inierunt, ut caperent Jesum in sermone. Et mittunt ei discipulos suos cum Herodianis, dicentes : Magister, scimus quia verax es, et viam Dei in ventate doces,et non est tibi cura de aliquo : non enim respicis personam hominum : dic ergo nobis, quid tibi videtur : licet censum dare Cæsari, an non? Cognita autem Jesus nequitia eorum, ait : Quid me tentatis, hypocritæ? ostendite mihi numisma census. At illi obtulerunt ei denarium. Et ait illis Jesus : Cujus est imago hæc, et superscriptio? Dicunt ei: Cæsaris. Tunc ait illis : Reddite ergo quæ sunt Cæsaris, Cæsari: et quæ sunt Dei, Deo.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
Ch. xxii.

At that time : The Pharisees going, consulted among themselves how to ensnare Jesus in his speech. And they send to him their disciples, with the Herodians, saying : Master, we know that thou art a true speaker, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man : for thou dost not regard the person of men. Tell us therefore what dost thou think; is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not? But Jesus knowing their wickedness, said : Why do you tempt me, ye hypocrites? Show me the coin of the tribute. And they offered him a penny. And Jesus saith to them: Whose image and inscription is this? They say to him : Cæsar’s. Then he saith to them: Render therefore to Cæsar the things that are Caesar’s: and to God the things that are God’s.


The diminution of truth[29] is evidently to be a leading peril of the latter times; for, during these weeks which represent the last days of the world, the Church is continually urging us to a sound and solid understanding of truth, as though she considered that to be the great preservative for her children. Last Sunday she gave them, as defensive armour, the shield of faith, and, as an offensive weapon, the word of God.[30] On the previous Sunday, it was circumspection of mind and intelligence that she recommended to them,[31] with a view to their preserving, during the approaching evil days, the holiness which is founded on truth;[32] for, as she told them the previous week, their riches in all knowledge are of paramount necessity.[33] To-day, in the Epistle, she implored of them to be ever progressing in knowledge and all understanding, as being the essential means for abounding in charity, and for having the work of their sanctification perfected for the day of Christ Jesus. The Gospel comes with an appropriate finish to these instructions given us by the apostle: it relates an event in our Lord’s life, which stamps those counsels with the weightiest possible authority, viz., the example of Him, who is our divine Model. He gives His disciples the example they should follow, when, like Himself, they have snares laid, by the world, for their destruction.

It was the last day of Jesus’ public teaching; it was almost the eve of His departure from this earth.[34] His enemies had failed in every attempt hitherto made to ensnare Him; this last plot was to be unusually deep-laid. The pharisees, who refused to recognize Cæsar’s authority and denied his claim to tribute, joined issue with their adversaries, the partisans of Herod and Rome, to propose this insidious question to Jesus : Is it lawful to give tribute to Cæsar, or not? If our Lord’s answer was negative, He incurred the displeasure of the government; if He took the affirmative side, He would lose the estimation of the people. With His divine prudence, He disconcerted their plans. The two parties, so strangely made friends by partnership in one common intrigue, heard the magnificent answer, which was divine enough to make even pharisees and Herodians one in the truth. But truth was not what they were in search of; so they returned to their old party quarrels. The league formed against our Jesus was broken; the effort made by error recoiled on itself, as must ever be the case; and the answer it had elicited, passed from the lips of our Incarnate Lord to those of His bride, the Church, who would be ever repeating it to the world, for it contains the first principle of all governments on earth.

Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's: it was the dictum most dear to the apostles. If they boldly asserted that we must obey God rather than men,[35] they explained the whole truth, and added: 'Let every soul be subject to the higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore, he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation. Wherefore, be subject of necessity, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For therefore also ye pay tribute; for they are the ministers of God serving unto this purpose.’[36]

The will of God:[37] there is the origin, there is the real greatness of all authority amongst men! Of themselves, men have no right to command their fellow-men. Their number, however imposing it may be, makes no difference to this powerlessness of men over my conscience; for, whether they be one, or five hundred, I, by nature, am equal to each one among them; and, by adding the number of their so-called rights over me, they are only adding to the number of nothingnesses. But God, wishing that men should live one with the other, has thereby wished that there should exist amongst them a power which should rule over the rest; that is; should direct the thousands or millions of different wills to the unity of one social end. God leaves much to circumstances, though it is His providence that regulates those circumstances; He leaves to men themselves, at the beginning of any mere human society, a great latitude as to the choice of the form, under which is to be exercised both the civil power itself and the mode of its transmission. But, once regularly invested with the power, its depositaries are responsible to God alone, as far, that is, as the legitimate exercise of their authority goes, because it is from God alone that that power comes to them; it does not come to them from their people, who, not having that power themselves, cannot give it to another. So long as those rulers comply with the compact, or do not turn to the ruin of their people the power they received for its well-being, so long their right to the obedience of their subjects is the right of God Himself, whether they exercise their authority in exacting the subsidies needed for government; or in passing laws, which, for the general good of the people, restrain the liberty otherwise theirs by natural right; or again, by bidding their soldiers defend their country at the risk of life. In all such cases, it is God Himself that commands, and insists on being obeyed: in this world, He puts the sword into the hands of representatives, that they may punish the disobedient;[38] and, in the next, He Himself will eternally punish them, unless they have made amends.

How great, then, is the dignity of human law! It makes the legislator a representative of God, and, at the same time, spares the subject the humiliation of feeling himself debased before a fellow-man! But, in order that the law oblige, that is, be truly a law, it is evident that it must be, first and foremost, conformable to the commands and the prohibitions of God, whose will alone can give it a sacred character by making it enter into the domain of man’s conscience. It is for this reason that there cannot be a law against God, or His Christ, or His Church. When God is not with Him who governs, the power he exercises is nothing better than brute force. The sovereign, or the parliament, that pretends to govern a country in opposition to the laws of God, has no right to aught but revolt and contempt from every upright man; to give the sacred name of law to tyrannical enactments of that kind is a profanation unworthy, not only of a Christian, but of every man who is not a slave.

The Offertory-anthem, together with the verses which used to be joined to it, refers, like the Introit, to the period of the last persecution. The words are taken from the prayer addressed to God by Esther, when about to enter into the presence of Assuerus that she might plead with him against Aman, who is a figure of Antichrist. Esther is a type of the Church; and we could not better show the spirit in which we ought to sing our Offertory, than by quoting the inspired words which preface this sublime prayer. ‘Queen Esther, fearing the danger that was at hand, had recourse to the Lord. And when she had laid away her royal apparel, she put on garments suitable for weeping and mourning; instead of divers precious ointments, she covered her head with ashes and filth, and she humbled her body with fasts: and all the places in which before she was accustomed to rejoice, she filled with her torn hair. And she prayed to the Lord the God of Israel, saying: O my Lord, who alone art our King, help me a desolate woman, and who have no other helper but Thee!’[39]

Offertory

Recordare mei, Domine, omni potentatui dominana : et da sermonem rectnm in os meum, ut placeant verba mea in conspectu principia.
V. Recordare quod steterim in conspectu tuo.
V. Everte cor ejus in odium repugnantium nobis, et in eos qui consentiunt eis; nos autem libera in manu tua, Deus noster in æternum.
V. Qui regis Israel, intende; qui deducis velut ovem Joseph.
Recordare mei, Domine.

Remember me, O Lord, who art above all power; and put a right speech in my mouth, that my words may be pleasing to the prince.
V. Remember, that I have stood in thy sight.
V. Turn his heart into hatred of them that oppose us, and of them that consent unto them; but deliver us by thy hand, O our God for ever!
V. O thou that rulest Israel, give ear; thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep.
Remember me, O Lord.


The surest guarantee a Christian can have against adversity is freedom from sin. It is sin that stirs up the anger of God, and calls upon Him for vengeance. Let us unite in the following prayer of the Church :

Secret

Da, misericors Deus : ut hæc salutaris oblatio, et a propriis nos reatibus indesinenter expediat, et ab omnibus tueatur adversis. Per Dominum.

Grant, O merciful God, that this sacrifice of salvation may constantly both free us from our sins, and protect us from all adversity. Through, etc.


The other Secrets, as on page 130.


The Communion anthem shows us with what perseverance and earnestness the Church prays to her divine Lord. We must imitate her.

Communion

Ego clamavi quoniam exaudisti me, Deus : inclina aurem tuam, et exaudi verba mea.

I have cried out, because thou heardest me, O God; bend down thine ear, and graciously hearken to my words.


While offering the sacred mysteries in memory of our Jesus as He commanded us to do, we must not forget that these same are also our refuge in all our miseries. It would be presumption, or folly, to neglect to pray that they may thus protect us. The Church, here again, is our model, in utilizing these most powerful of all means for help.

Postcommunion

Sumpsimus, Domine, sacri dona mysterii, humiliter deprecantes : ut quæ in tui commemorationem nos facere præcepisti, in nostræ proficiant infirmitatis auxilium. Qui vivis.

Having received, O Lord, the sacred mysteries, we humbly beseech thee, that what thou hast commanded us to do in remembrance of thee may be a help to us in our weakness. Who livest, etc.


The other Postcommunions, as on page 131.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms, capitulum, hymn, and versicle, as above, pages 71-81.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Reddite ergo quæ sunt Cæsaris Cæsari; et quæ sunt Dei Deo. Alleluia.

Oremus.

Deus, refugium nostrum, et virtus : adesto piis Ecclesiæ tuæ precibus, auctor ipse pietatis, et præsta : ut quod fideliter petimus, efficaciter consequamur. Per Dominum.

Render, therefore, to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s: and to God, the things that are God’s. Alleluia.

Let us Pray.

O God, our refuge and our strength! give ear to the holy prayers of thy Church, O thou, the author of holiness; and grant, that what we ask for with faith, we may effectually obtain. Through, etc.

 

 


[1] Hon. Aug., Gemm. an., iv.
[2] 2 Thess. ii. 3.
[3] Ps. cxxix.
[4] Rup., De. Div. Off., xii 22.
[5] Bern, Aug., De Offic. Miss., v.
[6] Phil. i. 15, 17.
[7] Ibid. 21.
[8] Ibid. 23.
[9] Ibid. 22.
[10] Ibid. 18, 20.
[11] Phil. i. 24-27.
[12] Col. iii. 4.
[13] 2 Cor. xi. 2.
[14] Durand., Ration., vi. 139.
[15] Ps. xi. 2. (Diminutœ veritates.)
[16] Eph. v. 8.
[17] Ibid. 15, 17.
[18] St. Matt. iv. 16.
[19] St. Matt. xxiv. 12.
[20] Eph. v. 8.
[21] Phil. i. 28-80.
[22] Ibid. ii. 16.
[23] St. John viii. 32.
[24] Phil. i. 27.
[25] Ibid. ii. 15.
[26] St. Chrys., in Phil., Hom. viii. 4.
[27] Phil. iii. 20.
[28] St. Aug., Enarr. in Ps. xciii. 5, 6.
[29] Ps. xi. 2.
[30] Epistle of the twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost.
[31] Epistle of the twentieth Sunday.
[32] Epistle of the nineteenth Sunday.
[33] Epistle of the eighteenth Sunday.
[34] Tuesday in Holy Week.
[35] Acts v. 29.
[36] Rom. xiii. 1, 2, 5, 6.
[37] 1 St. Pet. ii. 15.
[38] Rom. xiii. 4.
[39] Esth. xiv. 1-3.

 

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