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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.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The fast of to-day is prescribed by a double lawit is Lent, and it is Ember Wednesday. It is the same with the Friday and Saturday of this week. There are two principal objects for the Ember days of this period of the year: the first is to offer up to God the season of spring, and, by fasting and prayer, to draw down His blessing upon it; the second is, to ask Him to enrich with His choicest graces the priests and sacred ministers who are to receive their Ordination on Saturday. Let us, therefore, have a great respect for these three days; and let those who violate, upon them, the laws of fasting or abstinence, know that they commit a twofold sin.

Up to the eleventh century the Ember days of spring were kept in the first week of March; and those of summer, in the second week of June. It was St. Gregory VII. who fixed them as we now have them; that is, the Ember days of spring in the first week of Lent, and those of summer in Whitsunweek.

The Station for to-day is in the basilica of Saint Mary Major. Let us honour the Mother of God, the refuge of sinners; and let us ask her to present to our divine Judge the humble tribute of our penance.

Collect

Devotionem populi tui quæsumus Domine, benignus intende: ut qui per abstinentiam macerantur in corpore, per fructum boni operis reficiantur in mente. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum. Amen.
We beseech thee, O Lord, mercifully to regard the devotion of thy people; that mortifying their bodies by fasting, their minds may be refreshed by good works. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

On all the Ember Wednesdays are read, in place of the Epistle at Mass, two lessons from sacred Scripture. To-day the Church brings before us the two great types of Lent, Moses and Elias, in order to impress us with an idea of the importance of this forty days’fast, which Christ Himself solemnly consecrated when He observed it, thus fulfilling, in His own Person, what the Law and the Prophets had but prefigured.

First Lesson

Lectio libri Exodi.

Cap. xxiv.

In diebus illis: dixit Dominus ad Moysen: Ascende ad me in montem et esto ibi, dab oque tibi tabulas lapideas, et legem ac mandata, quæ scripsi, ut doceas filios Israël. Surrexerunt Moyses, et Josue minister ejus. Ascendensque Moyses in montem Dei, senioribus ait: Exspectate hic donec revertamur ad vos. Habetis Aaron et Hur vobiseum. Si quid natum fuerit quæstionis, referetis ad eos. Cumque ascendisset Moyses, operuit nubes montem, et habitavit gloria Domini super Sinai, tegens ilium nube sex diebus: septimo autem die vocavit eum de medio caliginis. Erat autem species gloriæ Domini, quasi ignis ardens super verticem montis in conspectu filiorum Ieraël. Ingressusque Moyses medium nebulæ, ascendit in montem: et fuit ibi quadraginta diebus et quadraginta noctibus.
Lesson from the Book of Exodus.

Ch. xxiv.

In those days: the Lord said to Moses: Come up to me into the mount, and be there; and I will give thee tables of stone, and the law, and the commandments which I have written, that thou mayst teach them. Moses rose up, and his minister Josue; and Moses going up into the mount of God, said to the ancients: Wait ye here till we return to you. You have Aaron and Hur with you: if any question shall arise, you shall refer it to them. And when Moses was gone up, a cloud covered the mount. And the glory of the Lord dwelt upon Sinai, covering it with a cloud six days; and the seventh day he called him out of the midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like a burning fire upon the top of the mount, in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses entering into the midst of the cloud, went up into the mountain; and he was there forty days and forty nights.

Second Lesson

Lectio libri Regum.

3. Cap. xix.

In diebus illis: venit Elias in Bersabee-Juda, et dimisit ibi puerum suum. et perrexit in desertum, viam unius diei. Cumque venisset, et sederet subter unam janiperum, petivit animæ suæ ut moreretur, et ait: Sufficit mihi, Domine: tolle animam meam: neque enim melior sum quam patres mei. Projecitque se et obdormivit in umbra juniperi: et ecce angelus Domini tetigit eum, et dixit illi: Surge, et comede. Respexit, et ecce ad caput suum subcinericius panis, et vas aquæ: comedit ergo et bibit, et rursum obdormivit. Reversusque est angelus Domini secundo, et tetigit eum, dixitque illi: Surge, comede: grandis enim tibi restat via. Qui cum surrexisset, comedit et bibit, et ambulavit in fortitudine cibi illius quadraginta diebus et quadraginta noctibus usque ad montem Dei Horeb.
Lesson from the Book of Kings.

3. Ch. xix.

In those days: Elias came into Bersabee of Juda, and left his servant there. And ho went forward one day’s journey into the desert. And when he was there, and sat under a juniper tree; he requested for his soul that he might die, and said: It is enough for me, Lord: take away my soul, for I am no better than my fathers. And he cast himself down, and slept in the shadow of the juniper tree; and behold an angel of the Lord touched him, and said to him: Arise and eat. He looked, and behold there was at his head a hearth-cake and a vessel of water; and he ate and drank, and he fell asleep again. Ai d the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said to him: Arise, eat, for thou hast yet a great way to go. And he arose, and ate, and drank, and walked in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights, unto the mount of God, Horeb.

Moses and Elias fast for forty days and forty nights, because God bids them come near to Him. Man must purify himself, he must unburden himself, in some measure at least, of the body which weighs him down, if he would enter into communication with Him who is the Spirit. And yet the vision of God granted to these two holy personages was very imperfect: they felt that God was near them, but they beheld not His glory. But when the fulness of time came,[1] God manifested Himself in the flesh: and man saw, and heard, and touched Him.[2] We, indeed, are not of the number of those favoured ones who lived with Jesus, the Word of life: but in the holy Eucharist He allows us to do more than see Him: He enters into our breasts, He is our food. The humblest member of the Church possesses God more fully than either Moses on Sinai, or Elias on Horeb. We cannot, therefore, be surprised that the Church, in order to fit us for this favour at the Easter solemnity, bids us go through a preparation of forty days, though its severity is not to be compared with the rigid fast which Moses and Elias had to observe as the condition of receiving what God promised them.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xii.

In illo tempore: Responderunt Jesu quidam de scribis et pharisæis, dicentes: Magister, volumus a te signum videre. Qui respondens, ait illis: Generatio mala et adultera signum quærit: et signum non dabitur ei, nisi signum Jonæ prophetæ. Sicut enim fuit Jonas in ventre ceti tribus diebus et tribus noctibus, sic erit Filius hominis in corde terræ tribus diebus et tribus noctibus. Viri Ninivitæ surgent in judicio cum generations ista, et condemnabunt eam: quia pœnitentiam egerunt in prædicatione Jonæ; et ecce plus quam Jonas hie. Regina Austri surget in judicio cum generations ista, et condemnabit eam: quia venit a finibus terræ audire sapientiam Salomonis; et ecce plus quam Salomon hic. Cum autem immundus spiritus exierit ab homine, ambulat per loca arida, quærens requiem, et non invenit. Tunc dicit: Revertar in domum meam, unde exivi. Et veniens invenit eam vacantem, scopis mundatam, et ornatam. Tunc vadit, et assumit septem alios spiritus secum nequiores se, et intran tes habitant ibi: et hunt novissima hominis illius pejora prioribus. Sic erit et generationi huic pessimæ. Adhuc eo loquente ad turbas, ecce mater ejus et fratres stabant foris quærentes loqui ei. Dixit autem ei quidam: Ecce mater tua, et fratres tui foris stant, quærentes te. At ipse respondens dicenti sibi, ait: Quæ est mater mea, et qui sunt fratres mei? Et extenderia manum in discipulos suos, dixit: Ecce mater mea, et fratres mei: quicumque enim fecerit voluntatem Patris mei, qui in cœlis est, ipse meus frater, et so ror, et mater est.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xii.

At that time: Some of the scribes and pharisees answered him, saying: Master we would see a sign from thee. Who answering said to them: An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign; and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was in the whale’s belly three days and three nights, so shall the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. The men of Ninive shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it, because they did penance at the preaching of Jonas; and behold a greater than Jonas here. The queen of the south shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold a greater than Solomon here. When an unclean spirit ie gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest and findeth none. Then he saith: I will return into my house, from whence I came out. And coming, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then he goeth, and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is made worse than the first. So shall it be also to this wicked generation. As he was yet speaking to the multitudes, behold his Mother and his brethren stood without, seeking to speak to him. And one said unto him: Behold thy Mother and thy brethren stand without, seeking thee. But he answering him that told him said: Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? And stretching forth his hand towards his disciples, he said: Behold my mother and my brethren; for whosoever shall do the will of my Father that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Our Lord forewarns Israel of the chastisements which its voluntary blindness and hardness of heart will bring upon it. The men of Israel refuse to believe, unless they see signs and prodigies; they have them in abundance, but will not see them. Such are the unbelievers of the present day. They say they want proofs of the divine origin of the Catholic religion. What is history but a tissue of proofs; what are the events of the present age, but testimony of the truth? And yet they remain incredulous. They have their own views and prejudices, and they intend to keep to them; how, then, can it be wondered at that they never embrace the true faith? Infidels, who have not had the like opportunities, will rise in judgment with such a generation and condemn it for its resistance to grace. Let us Catholics remember that amidst the great religious movement which is now going on, it is our duty to be not only most firm in our faith, but also most zealous in the observance of the laws of the Church, such, for example, as Lent. The apostolate of example will produce its fruits; and if a mere handful of Christians was to the Roman empire like that leaven of which our Saviour speaks,[3] and which leavened the whole mass, what results might we not expect in a country like our own, which has retained so much Catholic practice and doctrine, if the Catholics themselves were but zealous in the exercise of their duties?

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Mentes nostras, quæsumus, Domine, lumine tuæ claritatis illustra: ut videre possimus quæ agenda sunt, et quæ recta sunt, agere valeamus. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Enlighten, we beseech thee, O Lord, our minds with the light of thy brightness, that we may discern what is to be done, and be able to do it. Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

We take the following devout stanzas on fasting from the Triodion of the Greek Church

Hymn

Mirabilia arma oratio, et jejunium; hoc Moysen legislatorem effecit, et Heliam inter sacrificia zelatorem: huic firmiter insistentes, fideles, ad Salvatorem clamenme: Peccavimus tibi soli, miserere nostri.

Spirituale jejunium jejunemus, tortuosos laqueos omnes abrumpamus, declinemus pariter malorum exemplorum nequitiam, dimittamusque fratribus debita, ut nobis quoque delicta nostra dimittantur; ita enim clamare poterimus: Dirigatur, Domine, oratio nostra, sicut incensum, in conspectu tuo.

Solus bonus, fons misericordiæ, Agnus Dei, qui, utpote Deus, tollis peccata mundi, serva me criminum procellis agitatum, et ad pænitentiæ semitas dirige.

Purum jejunium, fuga peccati, pravorum affectuum abscessus, charitas erga Deum, orationis studium, lacryma cum compunctione, et pauperum cura, quemadmodum Christus in Scripturis præcepit.

Animam peccati gladio transfossam, multisque criminibus lanoinatam sana, o animarum nostrarum medico, utpote benefactor, adhibens mihi sapientium mandatorum tuorum remedia, o clemens.

Compunction! idoneum nacti præsens jejunii tempus, magnopere lugeamus atque ingemamus, manusque ad solum Redemptorem, ut animas nostras solvat, expendamus.

Utinam mihi quoque detur pravos affectus omnes exstinguere, et tui amorem, Christe, concipere, divinis ditescere, mi bone Jesu, tibique famulatum impendere.

Vide, attende, anima, ne forte dum je junas, crapulæ loco tibi sint injuriæ, inimicitiæ, contentiones adversus proximum, atque a Deo propter tuam negligentiam excidas.

Qua ratione, Christe meus, iram tuam sustinebo, dum ad judicandum veneris? quidve illic respondebo, cum jussa tua neque fecerim, neque peregerim, Christe? quare mihi ante exitum ignosce.

Ecupiditatum tyrannide vindica, Domine, animam meam, ut libere voluntatem tuam implens, gaudeam, atque glorificem potentiam tuam in sæcula.

Oderis, anima mea, Esaü in temperan tiam, et Jacobi bona aemuleris, Belial abetinentia supplantes, divina thesaurizes, et laudes Deum in sæcula.

Tranquillum jejunii mare nobis nulla actis tempestate prætergredi tribue, donee kd portum Resurrectionis tuæ perveniamus, misericors, te in sæcula celebrantes.
Wonderful is the armour of prayer and fasting! With it, Moses became a legislator, and Elias a zealous priest. Let us, O ye faithful, resolutely take it unto ourselves, and cry out to our Saviour: To thee alone have we sinned; have mercy on us.

Let us fast a spiritual fast, break all the snares of the serpent, shun the wickedness of evil example, and forgive our brethren their offences against us, that our own sins may be forgiven; for thus shall we be able to say: May our prayer, O Lord, be directed as incense in thy sight!

O thou that alone art Good! O fount of mercy! O Lamb of God, who, being thyself God, takest away the sins of the world! I am tossed by the storms of sin; save me, and lead me to the paths of penance.

The true fast is fleeing from sin, turning away from evil affections, love of God, earnest prayer, tears of compunction, and charity towards the poor, as Christ teaches us in the Scripture.

My soul is pierced with the sword of sin, and is mangled by manifold crimes: heal it, O thou kind physician of souls! Apply unto me, O merciful Jesus, the remedy of thy all-wise commandments.

Now is the time for compunction, for it is the time of the fast; let us earnestly give ourselves to tears and sighs, and stretch forth our hands to our only Redeemer, beseeching him to unfetter our souls.

Give me the grace, O my good Jesus! to stifle all my wicked affections, to be filled with the love of thee, to be rich in divine gifts, and to serve thee with all devotedness.

Take heed, my soul, lest, whilst fasting, thou be guilty of the gluttony of injuring and hating thy neighbour, and quarrelling with him; and thus lose thy God, by thy negligence.

How shall I be able, O my Jesus, to endure thy wrath, when thou comest to judge me? What answer shall I then make unto thee, if now I refuse to fulfil thy just commands? O pardon me, before my departure hence.

Liberate my soul, O Lord, from the tyranny of my passions, that I may enjoy the freedom of doing thy will, and give glory to thy power, for eternity.

Hate, O my soul, the intemperance of Esau, and imitate the holy Jacob; destroy Belial by abstinence, make treasure to thyself of divine riches, and let the praise of God be for ever on thy lips.

Grant unto us, O merciful Saviour, that we may traverse the sea of our fast unmolested by storms: and that we, who are ever celebrating thy praise, may be brought to the haven of thy Resurrection.

 

[1] Gal. iv. 4.
[2] 1 St. John i. 1.
[3] See the Gospel for the sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, in our Septuagesima.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

To-day’s Station is in the church of St. Laurence in Paneperna, one of those which the piety of the faithful of Rome has built in honour of this the most celebrated of the martyrs of the holy city

Collect

Devotionem populi tui, quæsumus, Domine, benignus intende, ut qui per abstinentiam macerantur in corpore, per fructum boni operis reficiantur in mente. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
We beseech thee, O Lord, mercifully to regard the devotion of thy people; that mortifying their bodies by fasting, their minds may be refreshed by good works. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio Ezechielis Prophetæ.

Cap. xviii.

In diebus illis: Factus est eermo Domini ad me, dicens: Quid est quod inter os parabolam vertitis in proverbium istud in terra Israël, dicentes: Patres comederunt uvam acerbam, et dentes filiorum obstupescunt? Vivo ego, dicit Dominus Deus, si erit ultra vobis parabola hæc in proverbium in Israël. Ecce omnes animæ mese sunt; ut anima patris, ita et anima filii mea est: anima quæ peccaverit, ipsa morietur. Et vir, si fuerit justus, et fecerit judicium et justitiam, in montibus non comederit, et oculos suos non leva verit ad idola domus Israël: et uxorem proximi sui non violaverit, et ad mulierem menstruatam non accesserit: et hominem non contrista verit: pignus debitori reddiderit: per vim nihil rapuerit: panem suum esurienti dederit, et nudum operuerit vestimento: ad usuram non commodaverit, et amplius non acceperit: ab iniquitate averterit ma· num suam, et judicium verum fecerit inter virum et virum: in præceptis meis ambulaverit, et judicia mea custodierit, ut faciat veritatem: hic justus est, vita vivet, ait Dominus omnipotens.
Lesson from the Prophet Ezechiel.

Ch. xviii.

In those days: The word of the Lord came to me, saying: What is the meaning that you use among you this parable as a proverb in the land of Israel, saying: The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the teeth of the children are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord God, this parable shall be no more to you a proverb in Israel. Behold all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine; the soul that sinneth, the same shall die. And if a man be just, and do judgment and justice, and hath not eaten upon the mountains, nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, and hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife, nor come near to a men etruous woman; and hath not wronged any man, but hath restored the pledge to the debtor, hath taken nothing away by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment, hath not lent upon usury, nor taken any increase, hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, and hath executed true judgment between man and man, hath walked in my commandments, and kept my judgments, to do truth; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God.

These words of the prophet declare to us the wonderful mercy of God towards the Gentiles, who are preparing to pass from darkness to light by the grace of holy Baptism. The Jews had a favourite proverb: The fathers have eaten sour grapesand the teeth of the children are set on edge: but God assures us, even in the old Testament, that sins are personal, that is, they belong to him who commits them, and to no one else; so that the son of a wicked father, if he walk in the path of righteousness, shall find mercy and salvation. The apostles and their disciples preached the Gospel to the Gentiles, and the Gentiles were obedient to the call; they were the children of idolaters, and yet they were seen flocking to the font of regeneration, abjuring the evil ways of their fathers, and becoming the objects of God’s love. The same happened in the conversion of the barbarians of the west; it is happening now in our own times among infidel nations; and many will be the catechumens who, at the coming Easter, will receive the sacrament of Baptism.

God frequently visits children with temporal punishments, because of the sins of their parents; it is a providence, which acts as a check upon men, deterring them from evil out of fear of bringing misery upon their families. But in the moral order, each individual is treated according to his own merits or demerits; and as God does not impute to a virtuous son the iniquities of the father, so neither do the virtues of the father cover the son’s iniquity. Philip the Fair was the grandson of St. Louis; and Wulfere, the wicked king of Mercia, was father of the two saints, Wulfhad and Ruffin. Similar contrasts are often found in families, for, as the Scripture says,’God hath left man in the hand of his own counsel…. Before man is life and death, good and evil; that which he shall choose, shall be given unto him.’[1] And yet, such is the mercy of the Lord our God, that, if a man have made a bad choice, but afterwards cast away from himself the evil, and turn to what is good, he shall surely live, and his repentance shall restore to him what he had forfeited.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. XV.

In illo tempore: egressus Jesus, secessit in partes Tyri et Sidonis. Et ecce mulier Chananæa a finibus illis egressa clamavit, dicens ei: Miserere mei, Domine, fill David: filia mea male a dæmonio vexatur. Qui non respondit ei verbum. Et accedentes discipuli ejus rogabant eum, dicentes: Dimitte eam, quia clamat post nos. Ipse autem responded, ait: Non sum missus nisi ad oves quæ perierunt domus Israël. At ilia venit, et adoravit eum, dicens: Domine, adjuva me. Qui responded, ait: Non est bonum sumere panem filiorum et mittere canibus. At ilia dixit: Etiam, Domine; nam et catelli edunt de micis quæ cadunt de mensa dominorum suorum. Tunc respondens Jesus, ait illi: O mulier, magna est tides tua: fiat tibi sicut vis. Et sanata est filia ejus ex illa hora.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.

Ch. XV.

At that time: Jesus went from thence, and retired into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And behold a woman of Canaan who came out of those coasts, crying out, said to him: Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David: my daughter is grievously troubled by a devil. Who answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying: Send her away, for she crieth after us. And he answering, said: I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel. But she came, and adored him, saying: Lord, help me. Who answering said: It is not good to take the bread of the children, and to cast it to the dogs. But she said: Yea, Lord; for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters. Then Jesus answering, said to her: O woman, great is thy faith: be it done to thee as thou wilt. And her daughter was cured from that hour.

Jesus is in admiration at the woman’s faith: He praises her for it; He would have us imitate her. And yet she was a Gentile; probably, she had been an idolatress; but maternal love induces her to come to Jesus, and throw herself at His feet. She obtains from Him her daughter’s cure, and, undoubtedly, her own conversion. It is an illustration of the consoling promise we have just been hearing from the prophet Ezechiel: there are chosen souls in every race, even in that cursed one of Canaan. Our Lord treats this woman with apparent harshness, although He intends to grant her what she asks: He would have her faith gain strength by being tried, and thus deserve to be rewarded. Let us pray, during these days of mercy, with persevering confidence. The daughter of this Canaanite woman was troubled by a devil, that is, her body was possessed by an evil spirit. How many are there, everywhere in the Church, whose souls are a prey to satan, by being in the state of mortal sin! Are they conscious of their misery? Do they beg of our Lord to have mercy on them, and deliver them? And if, at first, He defer their pardon, do they humble themselves like this woman of our Gospel, who confesses that she quite deserves this contempt wherewith Jesus seems to treat her? Lost sheep of the house of Israel! make good use of this holy season, when your good Shepherd is so nigh unto you. Before forty days have elapsed, He will be put to death, and the people that shall deny Him shall not be His.[2] Before forty days are over, we shall be celebrating the anniversary of this great sacrifice; and the sinner that shall not be converted from the error of his ways, and shall not have come to Jesus, as did this humble woman of Canaan, will deserve to be for ever rejected. Let us, then, be earnest in the great work of our conversion, and fit ourselves for pardon. Such is the generosity of our heavenly Father, that if we desire, with all the sincerity of our soul, to be once more His faithful children, He will give us more than the crumbs which fall from His table; He will give us Jesus, the Bread of life; and oh, what a pledge of reconciliation is that!

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Da quæeumus, Domine, populis Christiania, et quæ profitentur agnoscere: et cœleste munus diligere, quod frequentant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that all Christian people may acknowledge what they profess, and love the heavenly mystery they so often approach. Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Let us read this admirable preface, taken from the Mozarabic missal. It shows us how Jesus is the Bread of life, which supports us during our fast. It will not be the less acceptable, because it is almost word for word a repetition of one already given from the Ambrosian rite.

Preface
(Illatio. Dominica III. Quadragesimæ)

Dignum et jus turn est, æquum vere et salutare est: nos tibi gratias agere, omnipotens Pater, et Jesu Christo Filio tuo Domino nostro; in quo jejunantium fides alitur: spes provehitur, charitas roboratur. Ipse est enim panis vivus et venis qui est et substantia ætemitatis, et esca virtutis. Verbum enim tuum est, per quod facta sunt omnia: quia non solum humanarum mentium: sed ipsorum quoque panis est angelorum. Hujus panis alimento Moyses famulus tuus quadraginta diebus et noctibus legem suscipiens jejunavit: et a camalibus cibis, ut tuae suavitatis capacior esset, abstinuit; de Verbo tuo vivens et valens: cujus et dulcedinem bibebat in spiritu et lucem accipiebat in vultu. Inde nec famem sensit, et terrenarum est oblitus escarum: quia ilium et gloriæ tuæ glorificabat aspectus: et influente Spiritu sancto sermo pascebat interius. Hunc panem etiam nobis ministrare non desinis: sed ut eum indeficienter esuriamus hortaris. Cujus carne dum pascimur, roboramur: et sanguinem dum potamus, abluimur.
It is meet and just, yea truly right and available to salvation, that we should give thanks, O almighty Father, to thee, and to our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son: in whom they that fast find the nourishment of their faith, the advancement of their hope, the strengthening of their charity. For he is the true and living Bread, who is the nourishment of eternity, and the food of virtue. For he is thy Word, by whom all things were made; the Bread, not only of the souls of men, but likewise of the very angels. With this Bread was thy servant Moses fed, when, receiving thy Law, he fasted forty days and forty nights, and abstained from bodily food, that he might be the better able to partake of thy sweetness. He lived and crew strong on thy Word, of whose sweetness his spirit drank, and with whose light his face did beam. Hence, he felt not hunger, and forgot all earthly food, for the sight of thy glory shone upon him, and, through the infusion of the holy Spirit, he ate interiorly of the word. To us likewise, thou ceasest not to administer this Bread; yea, thou biddest us unceasingly hunger after it. When we feed on this Flesh, we are strengthened; when we drink of this Blood, we are cleansed.

 

[1] Ecclus. xv. 14, 18.
[2] Dan. ix. 26·

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Station is in the basilica of the twelve apostles; it is one of the grandest of the churches of Rome, and is enriched by the bodies of the two apostles, St. Philip and St. James the less.

Collect

Esto, Domine, propitius plebi tuæ: et quam tibi facis esse devotam, benigno refove miseratus auxilio. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum. Amen.
Be propitious, O Lord, to thy people and mercifully strengthen those by thy aid, whom thou fillest with devotion to thee. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio Ezechielis Prophetæ.

Cap. xviii.

Hæc dicit Dominus Deus: Anima quæ peccaverit, ipsa morietur: filius non portabit iniquitatem patris, et pater non portabit iniquitatem filii: justitia justi super eum erit, et impietas impii erit super eum. Si autem impius egerit pœnitentiam ab omnibus peocatis suis, quæ operatus est, et custodierit omnia præcepta mea, et fecerifc judicium et justitiam: vita vivet, et non morietur. Omnium iniquitatum ejus, quas operatus est, non recordabor: in justitia sua, quam operatus est, vivet. Numquid voluntatis meæ est mors impii, dicit Dominus Deus, et non ut convertatur a viis suis, et vivat? Si autem averterit se justus a justitia sua, et fecerit iniquitatem secundum omnes abominationes quas operari solet impius, numquid vivet? Omnes justitiæ ejus, quas fecerat, non recordabuntur: in prævaricatione qua prævaricatus est, et in peccato suo quod peccavit, in ipsis morietur. Et dixistis: Non est æqua via Domini. Audite ergo, domus Israël: Numquid via mea non est æqua, et non magis vise vestræ pravse sunt? Cum enim averterit se justus a justitia sua, et fecerit iniquitatem, morietur in eis: in in justitia, quam operatus est, morietur. Et cum averterit se impius ab impietate sua, quam operatus est, et fecerit judicium et justitiam: ipse animam suam vivificabit. Considerans enim, et avertens se ab omnibus iniquitatibus suis, quas operatus est, vita vivet, et non morietur, ait Dominus omnipotens.
Lesson from the Prophet Ezechiel.

Ch. xviii.

Thus saith the Lord God: The soul that sinneth, the same shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, and the father shall not bear the iniquity of the son: the justice of the just shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked do penance for all his sins, which he hath committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment and justice; living he shall live, and shall not die. I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done; in his justice, which he hath wrought, he shall live. Is it my will that a sinner should die, saith the Lord God, and not that he should be converted from his ways and live? But if the just man turn himself away from his justice, and do iniquity according to all the abominations which the wicked man useth to work, shall he live? All his justices which he hath done, shall not be remembered; in the prevarication, by which he hath prevaricated, and in his sin, which he hath committed, in them he shall die. And you have said: The way of the Lord is not right. Hear ye, therefore, O house of Israel: Is it my way that is not right, and are not rather your ways perverse? For when the just turneth himself away from his justice, and committeth iniquity, he shall die therein; in the injustice that he hath wrought, he shall die. And when the wicked turneth himself away from his wickedness, which he hath wrought, and doeth judgment and justice, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth and tumeth away himself from all his iniquities, which he hath wrought, he shall surely live, and not die, saith the Lord almighty.

Let us not forget the ancient discipline of the Church, during Lent. We should frequently be at a loss to understand her liturgy of this season, unless we picture her to ourselves as preparing the public penitents for a renewed participation in the mysteries. But first they must be reconciled with God, whom they have offended. Their soul is dead by sin; can it be restored to life? Yes; we have God’s word for it. The lesson from the prophet Ezechiel, which the Church began yesterday for the catechumens, is continued to-day for the benefit of the public penitents. If the wicked do penance for all his sins, which he hath committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment and justice; living he shall live, and shall not die. But his iniquities are upon him, and rise up against him, crying to heaven for eternal vengeance! And yet God, who knows all things, and forgets nothing, assures us that He will not remember iniquities which have been redeemed by penance. Such is the affection of His fatherly Heart, that He will forget the outrage offered Him by His son, if this son will but return to his duty. Thus, then, our penitents are to be reconciled; and on the feast of the Resurrection they will be associated with the just, because God will have forgotten their iniquities; they themselves will be just men. Thus it is that the liturgy, which never changes, brings frequently before us the ancient discipline of pubhc penance. Nowadays, sinners are not visibly separated from the faithful; the Church doors are not closed against them; they frequently stand near the holy altar, in the company of the just; and when God’s pardon descends upon them, the faithful are not made cognizant of the grace by any special and solemn rite. Let us here admire the wonderful mercy of our heavenly Father, and profit by the indulgent discipline of our holy mother the Church. The lost sheep may enter the fold at any hour and without any display; let him take advantage of the condescension thus shown him, and never more wander from the Shepherd, who thus mercifully receives him. Neither let the just man be puffed up with self-complacency, by preferring himself to the lost sheep; let him rather reflect on those words of to-day’s lesson: If the just man turn himself away from his justice, and do iniquity ... the justices which he hath done shall not he remembered. Let us, therefore, tremble for ourselves, and have compassion on sinners. One of the great means on which the Church rests her hopes for the reconciliation of sinners is the fervent prayers offered up for them by the faithful during Lent.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.

Cap. v.

In illo tempore: Erat dies festus Judæorum, et aseen dit Jesus Jerosolymam. Est autem Jerosolymis Probatica piscina, quæ cognominatur hebraice Bethsaida, quinque porticus habens. In his jacebat multitudo magna languentium, cæcorum, claudorum, aridorum, exspectantium aquæ motum. Angelus autem Domini descendebat secundum tempus in piscinam: et movebatur aqua. Et qui prior descendisset in piscinam post motionem aquæ, sanus fiebat a quacumque detinebatur infirmitate. Erat autem quidam homo ibi, triginta et octo annos habens in infirmitate sua. Hunc cum vidisset Jesus jacentem, et cognovisset quia jam multum tempus haberet, dicit ei: Vis sanus fieri? Respondit ei languidus: Domine, hominem non habeo, ut cum turbata fuerit aqua, mittat me in piscinam: dum venio enim ego, alius ante me descendit. Dicit ei Jesus: Surge, tolle grabatum tuum, et ambula. Et statim sanus factus est homo ille: et sustulit grabatum suum, et ambulabat. Erat autem sabbatum in die illo. Dicebant ergo Judæi illi qui sanatus fuerat: Sabbatum est, non licet tibi tollere grabatum tuum. Respondit eis: Qui me sanum fecit, ille mihi dixit: Tolle grabatum tuum et ambula. Interrogaverunt ergo eum: Quis est ille homo qui dixit tibi: Tolle grabatum tuum, et ambula? Is autem qui sanus fuerat effectus, nesciebat quis esset. Jesus enim declinavit a turba constituta in loco. Postea invenit eum Jesus in templo, et dixit illi: Ecce sanus factus es: jam noli pec care, ne de terms tibi aliquid contingat. Abiit ille homo, et nuntiavit Judaeis quia Jesus esset, qui fecit eum sanum.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.

Ch. v.

At that time: There was a festival day of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem a pond, called Probatica, which in Hebrew is named Bethsaida, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick, of blind, of lame, of withered, waiting for the moving of the water. And an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water, was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under. And there was a certain man there, that had been eight-and-thirty years under his infirmity. Him, when Jesus had seen lying, and knew that he had been now a long time, he saith to him: Wilt thou be made whole? The infirm man answered him: Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pond; for whilst I am coming, another goeth down before me. Jesus saith to him: Arise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole; and he took up his bed and walked. And it was the Sabbath that day. The Jews therefore said to him that was healed: It is the Sabbath, it is not lawful for thee to take up thy bed. He answered them: He that made me whole, he said to me: Take up thy bed and walk. They asked him, therefore: Who is that man who said to thee: Take up thy bed, and walk? But he who was healed, knew not who it was: for Jesus went aside from the multitude standing in the place. Afterwards Jesus findeth him in the temple, and saith to him: Behold thou art made whole: sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee. The man went his way, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him whole.

Let us return to our penitents of the ancient discipline of the Church; those of the present day, and we ourselves, can easily make a practical application of the reflections suggested by the Gospel. We have just been told by the prophet that God is ever ready to pardon a penitent sinner. But how is this pardon to be administered? Who is to pronounce the sentence of absolution? The answer is given in our Gospel. He that had been eight-and-thirty years under his infirmity, is a figure of the inveterate sinner: and yet he is made whole, and recovers the use of his limbs. How has the cure been wrought? First of all, the infirm man says to Jesus: I have no manwhen the water is troubledto put me into the pond. The water would have cured him; but observe, he has need of some man to lead him to the water. This Man is the Son of God, and He became Man in order to heal us. As Man, He has received power to forgive sins; and, before leaving this earth, He gives that same power to other men, and says to them: ‘Whose sins ye shall forgive, they are forgiven them.’[1] Our penitents, then, are to be reconciled with God by virtue of this supernatural power; and the infirm man, who takes up his bed and walks, is a figure of the sinner, whose sins have been forgiven him by the Church, by the divine power of the keys.

In the third century, a heretic, named Novatian, taught that the Church has not the power to forgive sins committed after Baptism. This doctrine was condemned by the Councils and the holy doctors of the Church; and in order to offer to the faithful some outward expression of the power given to the Son of Man of forgiving sins to such as repent, there was painted on the walls of the places where the Christians used to assemble, the infirm man of our Gospel, walking with his bed upon his shoulders. This consoling symbol is frequently met with in the frescoes which were painted, even in the age of the martyrs, in the Roman catacombs. They show us how the early Christians were taught to understand this passage of the Gospel, which the Church, so many centuries ago, assigned to this day.

The water of the Probatica was also a symbol; and here our Gospel conveyed a special instruction to the catechumens. By water they were to be made whole, and by water endowed with a supernatural virtue. The miraculous pond of Jerusalem could cure only the body, and that at rare intervals, and the favour could be conferred only upon a single individual; but now that the angel of the Great Counsel has come down from heaven, and sanctified the waters of the Jordan, the Probatica is everywhere; it is giving health to the souls of men, without any limitation either of time or of number. Man is the minister of this grace; but it is the Son of God, become the Son of Man, that works by the human minister.

Let us also consider the multitude of sick, who, as the Gospel tells us, were waiting for the moving of the water. They represent the various classes of sinners, who are seeking, during this holy time, to be converted to their God. There are the sick, or, as the Latin word has it, the languid; these are the tepid, who never thoroughly give up their evil habits; there are the blind; these are they whose spiritual eye is dead; there are the lame, who limp and falter in the path of salvation; and, lastly, there are the withered, who seem incapable of doing a single good action. All are waiting for the favourable moment. Jesus will soon be with them, and will say to each of them: Wilt thou be made whole? Let them answer this question with love and confidence, and they will be healed.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Exaudi nos, misericors Deus, et mentibus nostris gratiæ tuæ lumen ostende. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Graciously hear us, O merciful God, and manifest the light of thy grace to our souls. Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Let us address ourselves to the heavenly Physician of our souls, in these words of the Triodion of the Greek Church.

HYMN

(Feria VI. Hebdomadæ I. Jejuniorum.)

Qui passionibus tuis tradidisti omnibus vacuitatem a passionibus, effice, Domine, ut divina cruce camis meæ affectionibus exstinctis, sanctam pariter Resurrectionem tuam conspiciam.
Puritatis fons, conserva nos, misericors, jejunii ope, respice ad nos ante te procidentes, attende elevationi manuum nostrarum, qui manus tuas in ligno pro mortalibus omnibus crucifixus expandisti, angelorum unus Dominus.

Inimici fraudibus obtenebratum me illumina, Christe meus, qui cruci suspensus solem quondam obscurasti, et vero re missionis lumine fideles palam irradias ti, quo in mandatorum tuoruin luce ambulans, purus ad salutiferæ resurrectionis tuæ splendorem perveniam.

Salvator, vitis instar e ligno pendens, incorruptionis mero fines terræ irrigasti, gas ti, O Christe. Unde exclamo: Mihi tremulentia pecca torum miserum in modum semper obcæcato dulcem veræ compunctionis succum largitus, præbe nunc vires ut jejunare a voluptatibus valeam, utpote bonus, atque misericors.

O crucis tuæ potentiam! hoc abstinentiæ germen in Ecclesia efflorescere fecit, prisca in Eden Adami intemperantia radicitus evulsa; ex hac siquidem mors in homines derivavit, ex ilia vero incorruptus immortalitatis latex mundo effluit, veluti ex alio paradisi fonte, vivifico sanguine tuo, atque aqua simul effusis, unde universa vitam receperunt; indeque dulces nobis effice jejunii delicias, Deus Israël, qui magnam habes misericordiam.
Do thou, O Lord, whose Passion has merited for us the deliverance from our passions, grant that my carnal affections may be quenched by the virtue of thy divine cross, and that I may contemplate thy holy Resurrection.

O Fount of purity, most merciful Saviour, preserve us by the merits of this our fast. Behold us here prostrate before thee. Disdain not our uplifted hands, O thou the sovereign Lord of the angels, that didst stretch forth thy hands on thy cross for all mankind.
The snares of the enemy have involved me in darkness: enlighten me, O Christ, who, when hanging on the cross, didst obscure the sun, and bring to thy faithful the rays of pardon. May I walk in the light of thy commandments and, being purified, come to the brightness of thy saving Resurrection.

Thou, O my Saviour, and Christ! hanging like a vine on the wood of the cross, didst enrich the whole earth with the wine of immortality. Therefore do I cry out unto thee: I was miserably blinded by the intoxication of sin, but thou didst bestow upon me the sweet refreshment of true compunction; grant me, now, the strength that I may fast from sinful pleasures, for thou art a good and merciful God.

O wonderful power of thy cross! It was thy cross that made the plant of abstinence to bloom in the Church, after having uprooted the old intemperance of Adam in Eden. From the intemperance came death upon mankind; but from the other, the ever pure stream of immortality flowed upon the world, for from thy side, as from a fount of paradise, streamed thy life-giving Blood, mingled with water, and from these have all creatures received life. Therefore do we beseech thee, O God of Israel, to grant us, in thy great mercy, that we may experience the sweet delights of fasting.

[1] St. John xx. 23.

 

The Station is in the basilica of Saint Peter on the Vatican, where the people were wont to assemble towards evening, that they might be present at the Ordination of the priests and sacred ministers. This day was called Twelve-Lesson-Saturday, because, formerly, twelve passages from the holy Scriptures were read, as upon Holy Saturday. The Mass, during which the Ordinations were given, was celebrated during the night; so that by the time it was over, the Sunday had begun. Later on, the Ordination Mass was said early on the Saturday, as we now have it; but in memory of the ancient practice, the Gospel for Saturday is repeated on the Sunday. The same is observed on the Saturday in the Advent Ember week; because the Ordination Mass of that season was also anticipated.

Collect

Populum tuum, quæsumus, Domine, propitius respice: atque ab eo flagella tuæ iracundiæ elementer averte. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Mercifully, O Lord, look down on thy people, and in thy clemency turn away from them the scourges of thy wrath. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lesson

Lectio libri Deuteronomii.

Cap. xxvi.

In diebus illis: Locutus est Moyses ad populum dicens: Quando compleveris decimam cunctarum frugum tuarum, loqueria in conspectu Domini Dei tui: Abstuli quod sanctificatum eat de domo mea, et dedi illud levitæ et advenæ, et pupillo ao viduæ, sicut jussisti mihi: non præterivi mandata tua, neo sum oblitua imperii tui. O bedi vi voci Domini Dei mei, et feci omnia eicut præcepisti mihi. Respice de sanctuario tuo, et de excelso cœlorum habitaculo, et benedio populo tuo Israël, et terræ quam dedisti nobis, eicut jurasti patribus nostris, terræ lacte et melle manan ti. Hodie Dominus Deus tuus præcepit tibi ut facias mandata hæc atque judicia; et custodias et impleas ex toto corde tuo, et ex tota anima tua. Dominum elegisti hodie, ut sit tibi Deus, et ambules in viis ejus, et custodias cæremonias illius, et mandata atque judicia, et obedias ejus imperio. Et Dominus elegit te hodie, ut sis ei populus peculiaris, sicut locutus est tibi, et custodias omnia præcepta illius: et faciat te excelsiorem cunctis gentibus quas cbeavit, in laudem, et nornen, et gloriam suam: ut sis populus sanctus Domini Dei tui, si cut locutus est.
Lesson from the Book of Deuteronomy.

Ch. xxvi.

In those days: Moses spoke to the people, saying: When thou hast made an end of tithing all thy fruits thou shalt speak thus in the sight of the Lord thy God: I have taken that which was sanctified out of my house, and I have given it to the levite and to the stranger, and to the fatherless and to the widow, as thou hast commanded me; I have not transgressed thy commandments, nor forgotten thy precepts. I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, and have done all things as thou hast commanded me. Look from thy sanctuary, and thy high habitation of heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou didst swear to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey. This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these commandments and judgments, and to keep and fulfil them with all thy heart, and with all thy soul. Thou hast chosen the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways and keep his ceremonies and precepts, and judgments, and obey his command. And the Lord hath chosen thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath spoken to thee, and to keep all his commandments; and to make thee higher than all nations, which he hath created, to his own praise, and name, and glory; that thou mayst be a holy people of the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken.

God here assures us that a nation, which is faithful in observing the laws regarding the divine service, shall be blessed above other nations. History is one long illustration of the truth of this promise. Of all the nations which have fallen, there is not one that has not brought the chastisement upon itself by its neglect of the Law of God. At times, the Almighty delays to strike; but it is only that the chastisement may be the more evident and produce a more salutary effect upon mankind. When we would know the future of a country, we need only observe how it comports itself with regard to the laws of the Church. If its own laws are based on the principles and practices of Christianity, that country is sound, in spite of certain weaknesses here and there: revolutions may disturb its peace, but it will triumph over all. If the bulk of its people is faithful in the observance of external practices prescribed by the Church: for example, if they observe the Lord’s day and the holy fast of Lent; there is a fund of morality in that country, which is sure to draw down upon it the blessings of heaven. Irreligious men will scoff at all this, and call it superstition, prejudice of weak minds, and out of date for an age of progress like ours, but if their theories were to rule, and a country, which up to this time had been practically Catholic, were to seek progress by infringing the law of Christian ritual, it would, in less than a hundred years, find that public and private morality had lost ground, and its own security would be menaced. Man may talk and write as he likes: God wishes to be served and honoured by His people, and it is for Him to prescribe what are to be the forms of this service and adoration. Every injury offered to external worship, which is the great social link, is an injury to the interests of mankind. Even were there not the word of God for it, it is but just that such a consequence should follow.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xvii.

In illo tempore: Assumpsit Jesus Petrum, et Jacobum, et Joannem fratrem ejus, et duxit illos in montem excelsum seorsum: et transfiguratus est ante eos. Et resplenduit facies ejus sicut sol, vestimenta autem ejus facta sunt alba sicut nix. Et ecce apparuerunt illis Moyses et Elias cum eo loquentes. Respondens autem Petrus dixit ad Jesum: Domine, bonum est nos hic esse: si vis, faciamus hic tria tabernacula, tibi unum, Moysi unum, et Eliæ unum. Adnuc eo loquente, ecce nubes lucida obumbravit eos. Et ecce vox de nube, dicens: Hic est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi bene complacui: ipsum audite. Et audientes discipuli, ceciderunt in faciem suam, et timuerunt valde. Et accessit Jesus, et tetigit eos, dixitque eis: Surgite et nolite timere. Levantes autem oculos suos, neminem viderunt nisi solum Jesum. Et descendentibus illis de monte, præcepit eis Jesus, dicens: Nemini dixeritis visionem, donee Filius hominis a mortuis resurgat.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xvii.

At that time: Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: and he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here; if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshaded them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said to them: Arise and fear not. And they, lifting up their eyes, saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of Man be risen from the dead.

This Gospel, which, as we have already explained, is to be repeated to-morrow, is the one that is read in the Mass of to-day’s Ordinations. The following is the interpretation given by the ancient liturgists, among whom we may especially mention the learned abbot Rupert. The Church would have us think upon the sublime dignity which has been conferred upon the newly ordained priests. They are represented by the three apostles, who were taken by Jesus to the high mountain, and favoured with the sight of His glory. The rest of the disciples were left below; Peter, James, and John were the only ones permitted to ascend to Thabor, and they, when the time should come, were to tell their fellow-apostles, and the whole world, how they had seen the glory of their Master, and heard the words of the Father declaring the Divinity of the Son of Man. ‘This voice,’ says St.Peter, ‘coming down to Him from the excellent glory: This is My beloved Son, in whom I have pleased Myself; hear ye Him. And this voice we heard, brought from heaven, when we were with Him in the holy mount.’[1] In like manner, these priests who have just been ordained, and for whom you have been offering up your prayers and fast, will enter into the cloud with the Lord. They will offer up the Sacrifice of your salvation in the silence of the sacred Canon. God will descend into their hands, for your sake; and though they are mortal and sinners, yet will they, each day, be in closest communication with the Divinity. The forgiveness of your sins, which you are now preparing to receive from your heavenly Father, is to come to you through their hands; their superhuman power will bring it down from heaven upon your souls. It is thus that God has cured our pride. The serpent said to us, through our first parents: ‘Eat of this fruit, and you shall be as gods.’We unfortunately believed the tempter, and the fruit of our transgression was death. God took pity on us, and resolved to save us; but it is by the hands of men that He would save us, and this in order to humble our haughtiness. His own eternal Son became Man, and He left other men after Him, to whom He said: ‘As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you.’[2] Let us, then, show honour to these men, who have, this very day, been raised to so high a dignity. One of the duties imposed on us by our holy religion is respect to the priesthood.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Fideles tuos, Deus, benedictio desiderata confirmet: quæ eos et a tua voluntate nunquam faciat discrepare, et tuis semper indulgeat beneficiis gratulan. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

May thy much desired blessing, O God, give strength to thy faithful people: may it hinder them from ever swerving from thy will, and make them always enjoy thy favours. Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

This is Saturday; let us have recourse to Mary, the refuge of sinners. Let us put under her maternal protection the humble penances we are now going through; for this end we may make use of the following sequence, taken from the Cluny missal:

Sequence

Salvatoris Mater pia,
Mundi hujus spes Maria,
Ave plena gratia.

Porta cœli, Templum Dei,
Maris portus ad quem rei
Currunt cum fiducia.

Summi Regis sponsa digna,
Cunctis demens et benigna,
Operum suffragio.

Cæcis lumen, Claudis via,
Nudis Martha et Maria,
Mentis desiderio.

Inter spinas flos fuisti;
Sic flos flori patuisti,
Pietatis gratia.

Verbum verbo concepisti,
Regem regum peperisti,
Virgo viri nescia.

Regi nato adhæsisti,
Quem lactasti et pavisti,
More matris debito.

Quæ conjuncta nunc eidem,
Et Regina facta pridem,
Operum pro merito.

Reis ergo fac, Regina,
Apud Regem ut ruina
Relaxentur debita.

Et regnare fac renatos,
A reatu expurgatos,
Pietate solita.

Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace!
dear Mother of Jesus,
and hope of the world!

O gate of heaven! O temple of God!
O haven of the sea, where sinners
confidently seek shelter and repose.

Thou art the worthy bride of the great King,
and, by thy powerful prayers,
thou art kind and loving to all.

Thou art light to the blind, and a sure path to such as are lame.
Thou art, by thy loving affection,
both Martha and Mary to the needy.

Thou wast the flower among the thorns;
the flower that, by its rich graces,
bloomed to the divine Flower, thy Jesus.

Thou didst speak thy word, and then conceivedst the Word;
thou didst give birth to the King of kings,
thou that wast a pure Virgin.

Thou wast ever faithful to this King, thy Child;
and, using a mother’s privilege,
thou didst feed him at thy breast.

Now, thou art united with him,
and in reward for thy merits,
thou art made the Queen of heaven and earth.

Then pray for us, O Queen,
to him that is our King,
beseeching him to pardon us poor fallen sinners.

Show us thy wonted clemency,
and, having obtained us the new life of remission of our sins,
bring us to the kingdom, there to reign for ever.

Amen.

 

[1] 2 St. Peter i. 17, 18.
[2] St. John xx. 21.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The subject offered to our consideration, on this second Sunday, is one of the utmost importance for the holy season. The Church applies to us the lesson which our Saviour gave to three of His apostles. Let us endeavour to be more attentive to it than they were.

Jesus was about to pass from Galilee into Judea, that He might go up to Jerusalem and be present at the feast of the Pasch. It was that last Pasch, which was to begin with the immolation of the figurative lamb, and end with the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. Jesus would have His disciples know Him. His works had borne testimony to Him, even before those who were, in a manner, strangers to Him; but as for His disciples, had they not every reason to be faithful to Him, even to death? Had they not listened to His words, which had such power with them that they forced conviction? Had they not experienced His love, which it was impossible to resist? And had they not seen how patiently He had borne with their strange and untoward ways? Yes, they must have known Him. They had heard one of their company, Peter, declare that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God.[1] Notwithstanding this, the trial to which their faith was soon to be put was of such a terrible kind, that Jesus would mercifully arm them against temptation by an extraordinary grace.

The cross was to be a scandal and a stumbling block[2] to the Synagogue, and alas! to more than it. Jesus said to His apostles at the last Supper: ‘All of you shall be scandalized in Me this night.’[3] Carnal minded as they then were, what would they think when they should see Him seized by armed men, handcuffed, hurried from one tribunal to another, and doing nothing to defend Himself! And when they found that the high priests and pharisees, who had hitherto been so often foiled by the wisdom and miracles of Jesus, had now succeeded in their conspiracy against Him, what a shock to their confidence! But there was to be something more trying still: the people, who, but a few days before, greeted Him so enthusiastically with their Hosannas, would demand His execution; and He would have to die, between two thieves, on the cross, amidst the insults of His triumphant enemies.

Is it not to be feared that these disciples, when they witness His humiliations and sufferings, will lose their courage? They have lived in His company for three years; but when they see that the things He foretold would happen to Him are really fulfilled, will the remembrance of all they have seen and heard keep them loyal to Him? Or will they turn cowards and flee from Him? Jesus selects three out of the number, who are especially dear to Him: Peter, whom He has made the rock, on which His Church is to be built, and to whom He has promised the keys of the kingdom of heaven; James, the son of thunder, who is to be the first martyr of the apostolic college; and John, James’s brother, and His own beloved disciple. Jesus has resolved to take them aside, and show them a glimpse of that glory, which, until the day fixed for its manifestation, He conceals from the eyes of mortals.

He therefore leaves the rest of His disciples in the plain near Nazareth, and goes in company with the three privileged ones towards a high hill called Thabor, which is a continuation of Libanus, and which the psalmist tells us was to rejoice in the name of the Lord.[4] No sooner has He reached the summit of the mountain, than the three apostles observe a sudden change come over Him; His Face shines as the sun, and His humble garments become white as snow. They observe two venerable men approach and speak with Him upon what He is about to suffer in Jerusalem. One is Moses, the lawgiver; the other is Elias, the prophet, who was taken up from earth on a fiery chariot without having passed through the gates of death. These two great representatives of the Jewish religion, the Law and the Prophets, humbly adore Jesus of Nazareth. The three apostles are not only dazzled by the brightness which comes from their divine Master; but they are filled with such a rapture of delight, that they cannot bear the thought of leaving the place. Peter proposes to remain there for ever and build three tabernacles, for Jesus, Moses, and Elias. And while they are admiring the glorious sight, and gazing on the beauty of their Jesus’ human Nature, a bright cloud overshadows them, and a voice is heard speaking to them: it is the voice of the eternal Father, proclaiming the Divinity of Jesus, and saying: ‘This is My beloved Son!’

This transfiguration of the Son of Man, this manifestation of His glory, lasted but a few moments: His mission was not on Thabor; it was humiliation and suffering in Jerusalem. He therefore withdrew into Himself the brightness He had allowed to transpire; and when He came to the three apostles, who, on hearing the voice from the cloud, had fallen on their faces with fear, they could see no one save only Jesus. The bright cloud was gone; Moses and Elias had disappeared. What a favour they have had bestowed upon them! Will they remember what they have seen and heard? They have had such a revelation of the Divinity of their dear Master! Is it possible that, when the hour of trial comes, they will forget it, and doubt His being God? And when they see Him suffer and die, will they be ashamed of Him and deny Him? Alas! the Gospel has told us what happened to them.

A short time after this, our Lord celebrated His last Supper with His disciples. When the supper was over, He took them to another mount, Mount Olivet, which lies to the east of Jerusalem. Leaving the rest at the entrance of the garden, He advances with Peter, James, and John, and then says to them: ‘My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here and watch with Me.’[5] He then retires some little distance from them, and prays to His eternal Father. The Heart of our Redeemer is weighed down with anguish. When He returns to His three disciples, He is enfeebled by the agony He has suffered, and His garments are saturated with Blood. The apostles are aware that He is sad even unto death, and that the hour is close at hand when He is to be attacked: are they keeping watch? are they ready to defend Him? No: they seem to have forgotten Him; they are fast asleep, for their eyes are heavy.[6] Yet a few moments, and all will have fled from Him; and Peter, the bravest of them all, will be taking his oath that he never knew the Man.

After the Resurrection our three apostles made ample atonement for this cowardly and sinful conduct, and acknowledged the mercy wherewith Jesus had sought to fortify them against temptation, by showing them His glory on Thabor a few days before His Passion. Let us not wait till we have betrayed Him: let us at once acknowledge that He is our Lord and our God. We are soon to be keeping the anniversary of His Sacrifice; like the apostles, we are to see Him humbled by His enemies and bearing, in our stead, the chastisements of divine justice. We must not allow our faith to be weakened, when we behold the fulfilment of those prophecies of David and Isaias, that the Messias is to be treated as a worm of the earth,[7] and be covered with wounds, so as to become like a leper, the most abject of men, and the Man of sorrows.[8] We must remember the grand things of Thabor, and the adorations paid Him by Moses and Elias, and the bright cloud, and the voice of the eternal Father. The more we see Him humbled, the more must we proclaim His glory and divinity; we must join our acclamations with those of the angels and the four-and-twenty elders, whom St. John, one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration, heard crying out with a loud voice: ‘The Lamb that was slain, is worthy to receive power and divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and benediction!’[9]


The second Sunday of Lent is called, from the first word of the Introit, Reminiscere; and also Transfiguration Sunday, on account of the Gospel which is read in the Mass.

The Station at Rome is in the church of St. Mary in Dominica, on Monte Celio. Tradition tells us that in this basilica was the diaconicum of which St. Laurence had charge, and from which he distributed to the poor the alms of the Church.

 

MASS

 

The Church, in the Introit, encourages us to confidence in God, who will deliver us from our enemies, if we ask it of Him with fervent prayer. There are two favours which, during Lent, we ought to beseech Him to grant us: the pardon of our sins, and His help to avoid a relapse.

Introit

Reminiscere miserationum tuarum, Domine, et misericordiæ tuæ, quæ a sunt: ne unquam dominentur nobis inimici nostri: libera nos, Deus Israël, ex omnibus angustiis nostris.

Ps. Ad te, Domine, levavi animam meam: Deus meus, in te confido, non erubescam. V. Gloria Patri. Reminiscere.
Remember, O Lord, Thy bowels of compassion, and thy mercies that are from the beginning of the world. Let not our enemies ever rule over us: deliver us, O God of Israel, from all our distress.

Ps. To thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul; in thee O my God, I put my trust, let me not be ashamed. V. Glory. Remember.

In the Collect, we beg of God to watch over us in all our necessities, of both body and soul. If our prayer be humble and earnest, it will be granted. God will provide for us in our corporal necessities, and will defend our souls against the suggestions of our enemy, who strives to sully even our thoughts.

Collect

Deus qui conspicis omni nos virtute destitui, interius exteriusque custodi: ut ab omnibus adversitatibus muniamur in corpore, et a pravis cogitationibus mundemur in mente. Per Dominum.
O God, who seest how destitute we are of all strength, preserve us both within and without, that our bodies may be free from all adversity, and our souls purified from all evil thoughts. Through, &c.

The second and third Collects are given on the first Sunday of Lent, page 129.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolae beati Pauli Apostoli ad Thessalonicenses.

Cap. iv.

Fratres: Rogamus vos et obsecramus in Domino Jesu, ut quemadmodum accepistis a nobis, quomodo oporteat vos ambulare, et placere Deo, sic et ambuletis, ut abundetis magis. Scitis enim quæ præcepta dederim vobis per Dominum Jesum. Hæc est enim voluntas Dei sanctificatio vestra: ut abstineatis vos a fomicatione, ut sciat unusquisque vestrum vas suum possidere in sanctificatione et honore: non in passione desiderii, sicut et Gentes quæ ignorant Deum: et ne quis supergrediatur, neque circumveniat in negotio fratrem suum: quoniam vindex est Dominus de his omnibus, sicut prædiximus vobis, et testificati sumus. Non enim vocavit nos Deus in immunditiam, sed in sanctificationem: in Christo Jesu Domino nostro.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians.

Ch. iv.

Brethren: We pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us, how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more. For you know what precepts I have given to you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that you should abstain from fornication; that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour, not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles, that know not God; and that no man over-reach, nor circumvent his brother in business; because the Lord is the avenger of all these things, as we have told you before, and have testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto sanctification: in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Here the apostle shows what manner of life should be followed by Christians; and the Church, by repeating his words, exhorts the faithful to profit of the present season of grace, and regain all the beauty of the image of God, which the grace of Baptism first gave them. A Christian is a’vessel of honour,’formed and enriched by the hand of God; let him, therefore, shun whatsoever would degrade his noble origin, and turn him into a vessel of dishonour, fit only to be broken and cast with the unclean into the sink of hell. The Christian religion has so far ennobled man, that even his very body may share in the soul’s sanctity; on the other hand it teaches us that this sanctity of the soul is impaired, yea altogether effaced, by the loss of the body’s purity. The whole man, therefore, both body and soul, is to be reformed by the practices of this holy season. Let us purify the soul by the confession of our sins, by compunction of heart, by the love of God; and let us give back its dignity to the body, by making it bear the yoke of penance, that so it may be, henceforth, subservient and docile to the soul, and, on the day of the general resurrection, may partake in her endless bliss.

In the Gradual, man cries out to his God to deliver him from the evils that threaten him, and give him victory over the invisible enemy, who so cruelly humbles and insults him.

The Tract is both a canticle of confidence in the divine mercy, and a prayer addressed by the Church to her Saviour, beseeching Him to visit and save her faithful children on the great feast, which is still so far off, but towards which each day brings us nearer.

Gradual

Tribulationes cordis mei dilatatæ sunt; de necessitatibus meis eripe me, Domine. V. Vide humilitatem meam et laborera meum: et dimitte omnia pcccata mea.
The distress of my soul is increased: deliver me, O Lord, from my necessities. V. See to what I am reduced, see what I suffer: and forgive me all my sins.

Tract

Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus: quoniam in sæculum misericordia ejus.

V. Quis loquetur potentias Domini, auditas faciet omnes laudes ejus?

V. Beati qui custodiunt judicium, et faciunt justitiam in omni tempore.

V. Memento nostri, Domine, in beneplacito populi tui: visita nos in salutari tuo.
Give glory to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

V. Who shall declare the powers of the Lord? who shall set forth all his praises?

V. Blessed are they that keep judgment, and do justice at all times.

V. Remember us, O Lord, in favour of thy people: visit us with thy salvation.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xvii.

In illo tempore: Assumpsit Jesus Petrum, et Jacobum, et Joannem fratrem ejus, et duxit illos in montem excelerum eeorsum: et transfiguratus est ante eos. Et resplenduit facies ejus sicut sol: vestimenta autem ejus facta sunt alba sicut nix. Et ecce apparuerunt illis Moyses et Elias cum eo loquentes. Respondens autem Petrus, dixit ad Jesum: Domine, bonum est nos hic esse: si vis, faciamus hic tria tabernacula, tibi unum, Moysi unum, et Eliæ unum. Adhuc eo loquente ecce nubes lucida obumbravit eos. Et ecce vox de nube, dicens: Hic est Filius meus dilectus in quo mihi bene complacui: ipsum audite. Et audientes discipuli, ceciderunt in faciem suam, et timuerunt valde. Et accessit Jesus, et tetigit eos, dixitque eis: Surgite et nolite timere. Levantes autem oculos suos, neminem viderunt nisi solum Jesum. Et descendentibus illis de monte, præcepit eis Jesus, dicens: Nemini dixeritis visionem, donee Filius hominis a mortuis resurgat.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xvii.

At that time: Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: and he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshaded them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said to them: Arise and fear not And they lifting up their eyes saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the yision to no man, till the Son of Man be risen from the dead.

Thus did Jesus encourage His apostles, when the time of temptation was near; He sought to impress them with His glory, that it might keep up their faith in that trying time, when the outward eye would see nothing in His Person but weakness and humiliation. Oh, the loving considerateness of divine grace, which is never wanting, and which shows us in so strong a light the goodness and the justice of our God! Like the apostles, we also have sinned; like them, we have neglected to profit of the help that was sent us from heaven; we have shut our eyes against the light; we have forgotten the fair vision that was granted us, and which made us so fervent and happy; and we fell. We have not, then, been tempted above our strength[10] and it is indeed our own fault that we committed sin. The three apostles were exposed to a terrible temptation, when they beheld their divine Master robbed of all His majesty; but how easy for them to resist the temptation, by thinking of what they had seen, but a few days before! Instead of that, they lost their courage, and forgot prayer, which would have brought their courage back; and thus the favoured witnesses of Thabor became cowards and deserters in the garden of Mount Olivet. There was but one thing left them to do: throw themselves upon the loving mercy of their Jesus, as soon as He had triumphed over His enemies; they did so, and His generous Heart pardoned them.

Let us imitate them here too. We have abused the grace of God and rendered it fruitless, by our want of correspondence. The fountain of this grace is not yet dried up; as long as we are in this world, we may always draw from this source, which comes from the Blood and merits of our Redeemer. It is grace that is now urging us to the amendment of our lives. It is given to us in abundance during the present time, and it is given mainly by the holy exercises of Lent. Let us go up the mountain with Jesus; there we shall not be disturbed by the noise of earthly things. Let us there spend our forty days with Moses and Elias, who long ago sanctified this number by their fasts. Thus, when the Son of Man shall have risen from the dead, we will proclaim the favours He has mercifully granted us on Thabor.

In the Offertory, the Church bids us meditate on the commandments of God. Would that we might love them as fervently as the royal prophet, whose words these are!

Offertory

Meditabor in mandatis tuis, quæ dilexi valde: et levabo manus meas ad mandata tua, quæ dilexi.
I will meditate on thy law, which I have loved exceedingly: and I will practise thy commandments, which I have loved.

The holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a source of devotion; let us, as the Church, in the Secret, prays we may, profit by our to-day’s assistance at it. It contains the pledge and price of our salvation, and, if we put no obstacle in the way, it will complete our reconciliation with our Lord.

Secret

Sacrificiis praesentibus, Domine, quæsumus, intende placatus: ut et devotioni nostræ proficiant, et saluti. Per Dominum.
Look down, O Lord, we beseech thee, on this our sacrifice, that it may increase our devotion and procure our salvation. Through, &c.

The other Secrets as on the first Sunday, page 136.


The penitent soul, having seen how this ineffable mystery has given her to enjoy the presence of Him who is her Saviour and her Judge, offers to Him her prayers with all the fervour of confidence. She says to Him these words of the psalmist, which form the Communion antiphon:

Communion

Intellige clamorem meum: intende voci orationis meæ, Rex meus et Deus meus: quoniam ad te orabo, Domine.
Understand my cry, hearken to the voice of my prayer, O my King and my God! For to thee will I pray, O Lord!

In the Postcommunion, the Church prays especially for those of her children who have partaken of the Victim she has just been offering. Jesus has nourished them with His own Flesh; it behoves them to prove themselves worthy of Him by the renewal of their lives.

Postcommunion

Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus, ut quos tuis reficis sacramentis, tibi etiam placitis moribus dignanter deservire concedas. Per Dominum.
Grant, we humbly beseech thee, O almighty God, that those whom thou hast refreshed with thy sacraments, may worthily serve thee in the conduct of their lives. Through, &c.

The other Postcommunions as on the first Sunday, page 138.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms and antiphons are given on page 99.


Capitulum
(1 Thess, iv.)

Fratres: Rogamus vos et obsecramus in Domino Jesu, ut quemadmodum accepistis a nobis, quomodo vos oporteat ambulare, et placere Deo, sic et ambuletis ut abundetis magis.
Brethren, We pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us, how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more.

For the hymn and versicle, see page 106.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Visionem quam vidistis, nemini dixeritis, donec a mortuis resurgat Filius hominis.

Oremus.

Deus qui conspicis omni nos virtute destitui, interius exteriusque custodi: ut ab omnibus adversitatibus muniamur in corpore, et a pravis cogitationibus mundemur in mente. Per Dominum.
Tell the vision ye have seen to no man, till the Son of Man be risen from the dead.

Let us Pray.

O God, who seest how destitute we are of all strength, preserve us both within and without, that our bodies may be free from all adversity, and our souls purified from all evil thoughts. Through, &c.

We may close our Sunday by reciting the following beautiful prayer taken from the Mozarabic breviary.

Capitulum
(In II. Dominica Quadragesimæ)

Christe Deus, luminis perenne principium, qui septimum diei curriculum sanctificatione potius quam operatione voluisti esse confitentium; quærimus ecce faciem tuam, sed impedimur conscientiæ nostræ tenebra consueta: conamur adsurgere, sed relabimur in mœrorem; non ergo abjicias te quærentes, qui non quærentibus apparere dignatus es. Ecce dierum nostrorum decimas sancto tuo nomini annuis recursibus persolventes, septimum nunc ex ipsis decimis peregimus diem; da ergo nobis adjutorium in hujus laboriosi itineris via, quo inlibata tibi nostra dedicentur obsequia: ut labores nostros amoris tui desiderio releves, et socordiam sensus nostri fervida dilectionis tuæ ubertate exsuscites: ut in te vita nostra non habeat casum, sed fides inveniat præmium.
O Jesus, our God, eternal first beginning of light, who willedst that thy servants should devote the seventh day to sanctification, rather than to work: lo! we come, seeking how we may find thee, but we are prevented by the habitual darkness of our conscience; we make efforts to arise, but we fail back again, and are dejected. Therefore, we beseech thee, cast not away from thy face them that seek thee, for thou didst deign to show thyself to them that did not seek thee. Now is the season of the year, when we are offering to thy holy name a tithe of our days; and of these days, seven have passed: grant us thine assistance in the path of this fatiguing journey, that so our proffered homage may be without blemish. Sweeten our toil by filling us with an ardent love of thy Majesty, and awaken us from the sluggishness of the body, by the fervent abundance of thy charity. May our life, being thus in thee, know no faltering, and our faith find its reward.

 

 

[1] St. Matt. xvi. 16.
[2] 1 Cor. i. 23.
[3] St. Matt. xxvi 31.
[4] Ps. lxxxviii. 13.
[5] St. Matt. xxvi. 38.
[6] Ibid. 43.
[7] Ps. xxi 7.
[8] Is. liii. 3. 4.
[9] Apoc. v. 12.
[10] 1 Cor. X. 13.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE Station is in the church of Saint Clement, Pope and Martyr. In this, more than in any other church of the city of Rome, there has been preserved the ancient arrangement of the early Christian basilicas. Under its altar reposes the body of its holy patron, together with the relics of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, and of the consul St. Flavius Clemens.

Collect

Præsta quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, ut familia tua quæ se, affligendo camera, ab ali mentis abstinet, sectando justitiam, a culpa jejunet. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that thy people who mortify themselves by abstinence from meat, may likewise fast from sin, and follow righteousness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio Danielis Prophetæ.

Cap. ix.

In diebus illis: Oravit Daniel Dominum, dicens: Domine, Deus noster, qui eduxisti populum tuum de terra Ægypti in manu forti, et fecisti tibi nornen secundum diem hane: peccavimus, iniquitatem feeimus, Domine, in omnem justitiam tuam. Avertatur, obsecro, ira tua et furor tuus a civitate tua Jerusalem, et a monte eaneto tuo. Propter peccata enim nostra, et iniquitates patnim nostrorum, Jerusalem et populus tuus in opprobrium sunt omnibus per circuitum nostrum. Nano ergo exaudi, Deus noster, orationem servi tui et preces ej us: et ostende faciem tuam super sanctuarium tuum, quod desertum est, propter temetipsum. Inclina, Deus meus, aurem tuam, et audi: aperi oculos tuos, et vide desolationem nostram, et civitatem super quam invocatum est nomen tuum: neque enim in justifiGationibus nostris prostemimus preces ante faciem tuam, sed in miserationibus tuis multis. Exaudi, Domine; placare, Domine: attende et fac: ne moreris, propter temetipsum Deus meus: quia nornen tuum invocatum est super civitatem et super populum tuum, Domine Deus noster.
Lesson from the Prophet Daniel.

Ch. ix.

In those days: Daniel prayed to the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, who hast brought forth thy people out of the land of Egypt with a strong hand, and hast made thee a name as at this day: we have sinned, we have committed iniquity, O Lord, against all thy justice. Let thy wrath and thy indignation be turned away, I beseech thee, from thy city Jerusalem, and from thy holy mountain. For, by reason of our sins, and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are a reproach to all that are round about us. Now, therefore, O our God, hear the supplication of thy servant, and his prayers: and show thy face upon thy sanctuary which is desolate, for thy own sake. Incline, O my God, thy ear and hear: open thine eyes, and see our desolation, and the city upon which thy name is called: for it is not for our justifications that we present our prayers before thy face, but for the multitude of thy tender mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, be appeased; hearken, and do; delay not for thy own sake, O my God; because thy name is invocated upon thy city, and upon thy people, O Lord our God.

Such was the prayer and lamentation of Daniel, during the captivity in Babylon. His prayer was heard; and, after seventy years of exile, the Jews returned to their country, rebuilt the temple, and were once more received by the Lord as His chosen people. But what are the Israelites now? What has been their history for the last eighteen hundred years? The words of Daniel’s lamentation but faintly represent the sad reality of their present long chastisement. God’s anger lies heavily on Jerusalem; the very ruins of the temple have perished; the children of Israel are dispersed over the whole earth, a reproach to all nations. A curse hangs over this people; like Cain, it is a wanderer and a fugitive; and God watches over it, that it become not extinct.

The rationalist is at a loss how to explain this problem: whereas the Christian sees in it the punishment of the greatest of crimes. But what is the explanation of this phenomenon? The light shone in darkness; and the darkness did not comprehend it![1] If the darkness had received the light, it would not be darkness now; but it was not so; Israel, therefore, deserved to be abandoned. Several of its children did, indeed, acknowledge the Messias, and they became children of the light; nay, it is through them that the light was made known to the whole world. When will the rest of Israel open its eyes? When will this people address to God the prayer of Daniel? They have it; they frequently read it; and yet, it finds no response in their proud hearts. Let us, the Gentiles, pray for the Jews— the younger for the elder. Every year there are some who are converted, and seek admission into the new Israel of the Church of Christ. Right welcome are they! May God, in His mercy, add to their number; that thus all men may adore the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, together with Jesus Christ, His Son, whom He sent into this world.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.

Cap. viii.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus turbis Judæorum: Ego vado, et quæretis me, et in peccato vestro moriemini. Quo ego vado, vos non potestis venire. Dicebant ergo Judæi: Numquid interficiet semetipsum, quia dixit: Quo ego vado, vos non potestis venire? Et dicebateis: Vos de deorsum estie; ego de euperme sum. Vos de mundo hoc estis; ego non sum de hoc mundo. Dixi ergo vobis, quia moriemini in pcccatis vestris: si enim non credideritis quia ego sum, moriemini in peccato vestro. Dicebant ergo ei: Tu quis es? Dixit eis Jesus: Principium, qui et loquor vobis. Multa habeo de vobis loqui, et judicare. Sed qui me misit, verax est; et ego quæ audivi ab eo, hæc loquor in mundo. Et non cognoverunt quia Patrem ejus dicebat Deum. Dixit ergo eis Jesus: Cum exaltaveritis Filium hominis, tunc cognoscetis quia ego sum, et a meipso fació nihil, sed sicut docuit me Pater, hæc loquor: et qui me misit, mecum est, et non reliquit me solum: quia ego, quæ placita sunt ei, facio semper.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.

Ch. viii.

At that time: Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: I go, and you shall seek me, and you shall die in your sin. Whither I go, you cannot come. The Jews, therefore, said: Will he kill himself, because he said: Whither I go, you cannot come? And he said to them: You are from beneath, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you, that you shall die in your sins. For if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sin. They said therefore to him: Who art thou? Jesus said to them: The beginning, who also speak unto you. Many things I have to speak and to judge of you. But he that sent me is true; and the things I have heard of him, these same I speak in the world. And they understood not that he called God his Father. Jesus therefore said to them: W’hen you shall have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself, but as the Father hath taught me, these things I speak: and he that sent me is with me, and he hath not left me alone: for I do always the things that please him.

 

I go; could Jesus say anything more awful? He has come to save this people; He has given them every possible proof of His love. A few days ago, we heard Him saying to the Canaanite woman, that He was sent not but for the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel. Alas; these lost sheep disown their Shepherd. He tells the Jews that He is soon going to leave them, and that they will not be able to follow Him; but it makes no impression on them. His works testify that He is from above; they, the Jews, are of this world, and they can think of no other. The Messias they hope for, is to be one of great earthly power; he is to be a great conqueror. In vain, then, does Jesus go about doing good;[2] in vain is nature obedient to His commands; in vain do His wisdom and teaching exceed all that mankind has ever heard: Israel is deaf and blind. The fiercest passions are raging in his heart; nor will he rest, till the Synagogue shall have imbrued its hands in the blood of Jesus. But then the measure of iniquity will be filled up, and God’s anger will burst upon Israel in one of the most terrible chastisements that the world has ever witnessed. It makes one tremble to read the horrors of the siege of Jerusalem, and the massacre of that people that had clamoured for the death of Jesus. Our Lord assures us that nothing more terrible had ever been from the beginning of the world, or ever would be.[3]

God is patient; He waits a long time: but when His anger bursts upon a guilty people like the Jews, the chastisement is without mercy, and serves as an example to future generations. O sinners! you who, so far, have turned a deaf ear to the admonitions of the Church, and have refused to be converted to the Lord your God, tremble at these words of Jesus: I go. If this Lent is to be spent like so many others, and to leave you in your present state, are you not afraid of that terrible threat: You shall die in your sin? By remaining in your sins, you number yourselves with those who cried out against Jesus: ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him!’ Oh! if He chastised a whole people—a people that He had loaded with favours, and protected and saved innumerable times—think you, He will spare you? He must triumph; if it be not by mercy, it will be by justice.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Adesto supplicationibus nostris, omnipotens Deus: et quibue fiduciam sperandæ pietatis indulges: consuetæ misericordiæ trihue berlignus effectum. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Hear our prayers and entreaties, O almighty God; and grant that those, to whom thou givest hopes of thy mercy, may experience the effects of thy usual clemency. Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

We will begin to-day the beautiful hymn of Prudentius on fasting. Its extreme length obliges us to divide it into fragments. We reserve the stanzas which refer to the fast of Ninive for Monday in Passion-week. Formerly, several Churches of the Roman rite introduced this hymn into the Divine Office, but they only made a selection from it; whereas the Mozarabic breviary gives the whole hymn from beginning to end.

Hymn

O Nazarene, lux Bethlem, verbum Patris,
Quem partus alvi virginalis protulit,
Adesto castis, Christe, parcimoniis,
Festumque nostrum Rex serenus aspice,
Jejuniorum dum litamus victimam.

Nil hoc profecto purius mysterio,
Quo fibra cordis expiatur vividi:
Intemperata quo domantur viscera,
Arvina putrem ne resudans crapulam,
Obstrangulatæ mentis ingenium premat.

Hino subjugatur luxus et turpis gula;
Vini, atque somni degener socordia,
Libido sordens, inverecundus lepos,
Variæque pestes languidorum sensuum
Parcam subactæ disciplinam sentiunt.

Nam si licenter diffluene potu, et cibo,
Jejuna rite membra non coerceas,
Sequitur, frequenti marcida oblectamine
Scintilla mentis ut tepescat nobilis,
Animusque pigris stertat in præcordiis.

Frænentur ergo corporum cupidincs,
Detersa et intus emicet prudentia:
Sic excitato perspicaz acumine,
Liberque flatu laxiore spiritus
Rerum parentem rectius precabitur.
O Jesus of Nazareth, O Light of Bethlehem, O Word of the Father,
born to us from a Virgin’s womb,
be thou with us in our chaste abstinence.
Do thou, our King, look with a propitious eye upon our feast,
whereon we offer thee the tribute of our fast.

Truly, nothing can be more holy than this fast,
which purifies the inmost recesses of man’s heart.
By it is tamed the unruly carnal appetite;
that thus the ardent soul may not be choked
by the surfeiting of a pampered body.

By fasting are subdued luxury and vile gluttony.
The drowsiness that comes of wine and sleep;
lust with its defilements; the impudence of buffoonery;
yea, all the pests that come from our sluggish flesh,
are hereby disciplined into restraint.

For, if thou freely indulgest in meat and drink,
and bridlest not thine appetite by fasting, it needs must be
that the noble fire of the spirit, smothered by the frequent indulgence of the body,
should grow dull, and the soul,
like the drowsy flesh it inhabits, fall into heavy sleep.

Therefore, let us bridle our bodily desires,
and follow the clear interior light of prudence.
Thus, the soul having her sight made keener,
will breathe more freely,
and will pray to the Creator with the stronger hope.

 

[1] St. John i. 5.
[2] Acts x. 38.
[3] St. Matt, xxiv. 21.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE Station is in the church of Saint Balbina. This holy virgin of Rome was the daughter of the tribune Quirinus, and suffered martyrdom during the pontificate of Alexander I., in the second century. She consecrated her virginity to God, and led a life rich in good works.

Collect

Perfice, quæsumus, Domine, benignus in nobis observantiæ sanctæ subsidium: ut quæ, te auctore, facienda cognovimus, te operante impleamus. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Grant us, O Lord, we beseech thee, thy assistance, whereby we may go through the observance of this holy fast, that what we have undertaken by thy appointment, we may accomplish by thy grace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio libri Regum.

III. Cap. xvii.

In diebus illis: Factus est sermo Domini ad Eliam Thesbiten, dicens: Surge, et vade in Sarephta Sidoniorum, et manebis ibi: præcepi enim ibi mulieri viduæ ut pascat te. Surrexit et abiit in Sarephta. Cumque venisset ad portam civitatis, apparuit ei mulier vidua colligens ligna, et vocavit eam, dixitque ei: Da mihi paululum aquæ in vase, ut bibam. Cumque ilia pergeret ut afierret, clamavit post tergum ejus dicens: After mihi, obsecro, et bucel1am panis in manu tua. Quæ respondit: Vivifc Dominus Deus tuus, quia non habeo panem, nisi quantum pugillus capere potest farinæ in hydria, et paululum olei in lecytho: en colligo duo ligna ut ingrediar et faciam illud mihi et filio meo, ut comedamus, et moriamur. Ad quam Elias ait: Noli timere, sed vade, et fac sicut dixisti: verumtamen mihi primum fac de ipsa farinula subcinericium panem parvulum, et after ad me: tibi autem et filio tuo facies postea. Hæc autem dicit Dominus Deus Israël: Hydria farinæ non deficiet, nec lecythus olei minuetur usque ad diem in qua Dominus daturus est pluviam super faciem terræ. Quæ abiit, et fecit juxta verbum Eliæ; et comedit ipse, et illa, et domus ejus: et ex illa die hydria farinæ non defecit, et lecythus olei non est imminutus, juxta verbum Domini, quod locutus fuerat in manu Eliæ.
Lesson from the Book of Kings.

III. Ch. xvii.

In those days: The word of the Lord came to Elias the Thesbite, saying: Arise, and go to Sarephta of the Sidonians, and dwell there; for I have commanded a widow woman there to feed thee. He arose and went to Sarephta. And when he was come to the gate of the city, he saw the widow woman gathering sticks, and he called her, and said to her: Give me a little water in a vessel that I may drink. And when she was going to fetch it, he called after her, saying: Bring me also, I beseech thee, a morsel of bread in thy hand. And she answered: As the Lord thy God liveth, I have no bread, but only a handful of meal in a pot, and a little oil in a cruse; behold I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. And Elias said to her: Fear not, but go, and do as thou hast said; but first make for me of the same meal a little hearth cake, and bring it to me: and after, make for thyself and thy son. For thus saith the Lord the God of Israel: The pot of meal shall not waste, nor the cruse of oil be diminished, until the day wherein the Lord will give rain upon the face of the earth. She went, and did according to the word of Elias; and he ate, and she, and her house: and from that day the pot of meal wasted not, and the cruse of oil was not diminished, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke in the hand of Elias.

The instruction of the catechumens is continued by means of the Gospel facts, which are each day brought before them; and the Church reads to them the prophecies from the old Testament, which are to be fulfilled by the rejection of the Jews, and the vocation of the Gentiles. Elias, who is our faithful companion during Lent, is represented to us to-day as foreshadowing, in his own conduct, the treatment which God is one day to show towards His ungrateful people. A three years’drought had been sent upon the kingdom of Israel; but the people continued obstinate in their sins. Elias goes in search of some one that will provide him with food. It is a great privilege to entertain the prophet; for God is with him. Then, whither will he go? Is it to any family in the kingdom of Israel? Or will he pass into the land of Juda? He neglects them both, and directs his steps towards the land of the Gentiles. He enters the country of Sidon; and coming to the gates of a city called Sarephta, he sees a poor widow; it is to her that he transfers the blessing which Israel had rejected. Our Lord Himself has taken notice of this event in the prophet’s life, which portrays, in such strong colours, the justice of God towards the Jews, and His mercy towards us Gentiles: ‘In truth I say to you, there were many widows in the days of Elias in Israel: and to none of them was he sent, but to Sarephta of Sidon, to a widow woman.’[1]

So, then, this poor woman is a figure of the Gentiles, who were called to the faith. Let us study the circumstances of this prophetic event. The Woman is a widow; she has no one to defend or protect her: she represents the Gentiles, who were abandoned by all, and had no one that could save them from the enemy of mankind. All the mother and her child have to live upon, is a handful of meal and a little oil: it is an image of the frightful dearth of truth, in which the pagans were living at the time when the Gospel was preached to them. Notwithstanding her extreme poverty, the widow of Sarephta receives the prophet with kindness and confidence; she believes what he tells her, and she and her child are saved: it is thus that the Gentiles welcomed the apostles, when these shook the dust from their feet and left the faithless Jerusalem. But what mean the two pieces of wood, which the widow holds in her hands? St. Augustine, St. Cesarius of Arles, and St. Isidore of Seville (who, after all, are but repeating what was the tradition of the early Church), tell us that this wood is a figure of the cross. With this wood the widow bakes the bread that is to support her; it is from the cross that the Gentiles receive life by Jesus, who is the living Bread. Whilst Israel dies of famine and drought, the Gentile Church feeds abundantly on the heavenly wheat, and on the oil, which is the symbol of strength and charity. Glory then be to Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvellous light[2] of faith! But let us tremble at witnessing the evils which the abuse of grace has brought upon a whole people. If God in His justice has not spared a whole nation, but cast it off; will He spare you or me, if we dare to resist His call?

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xxiii.

In illo tempore: Locutus est Jesus ad turbas, et ad discipulos suos, dicens: Super cathedram Moysi sederunt scribæ et pharisæi. Omnia ergo quæcumque dixerint vobis, servato et facite: secundum opera vero eorum nolite facere: dicunt enim et non faciunt. Alli· gant enim onera gravia, et importabilia, et imponunt in humeros hominum: digito autem suo nolunt ea movere. Omnia vero opera sua faciunt ut videantur ab hominibus; dilatant enim phylacteria sua, et magnificant fimbrias. Amant autem primos reoubitus in cænis,et primas cathedras dras in synagogis, et salutationes in foro, et vocari ab hominibujB Rabbi. Vos autem nolite vocari Rabbi. Unus est enim Magister vester, omnes autem vos fratres estis. Et patrem nolite vocare vobis super terrain: unus est enim Pater vester qui in cœlis est. Nec vocemini magistri: quia Magister vester unus est, Chris tus. Qui major est vest rum, erit minister vester. Qui autem se exaltaverit, humiliabitur: et qui se humiliaverit, exaltabitur.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew. 

Ch. xxiii.

At that time: Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, saying: The scribes and the pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do; but according to their works, do ye not; for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy and insupportable burdens, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but with a finger of theit own they will not move them. And all their works they do to be seen of men: for they make their phylacteries broad, and enlarge their fringes. And they love the first places at feasts, and the first chaira in the synagogues, and salutations in the marketplace, and to be called by men, Rabbi. But be not you called Rabbi; for one is your master, and all you are brethren. And call none your father upon earth; for one is your Father, who is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters; for one is your Master, Christ. He that is the greatest among you, shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

The doctors of the law were sitting on the chair of Moses; therefore, Jesus bids the people abide by their teachings. But this chair—which, in spite of the unworthiness of them that sit on it, is the chair of truth—is not to remain long in Israel. Caiphas, because he is a high priest for the year, will prophesy; but his crimes have rendered him unworthy of his office; and the chair, on which he sits, is to be taken away and set in the midst of the Gentiles. Jerusalem, which is preparing to deny her Saviour, is to be deprived of her honours; and Rome, the very centre of the pagan world, is to possess within her walls that chair which was the glory of Jerusalem, and from which were proclaimed the prophecies so visibly fulfilled in Jesus. Henceforth, this chair is never to be moved, though all the fury of the gates of hell will seek to prevail against it; it is to be the unfailing source, at which all nations are to receive the teaching of revealed truth. The torch of faith has been removed from Israel, but it has not been extinguished. Let us live in its light, and merit by our humility that its rays ever shine upon us.

What is it that caused Israel’s loss? His pride. The favours he had received from God excited him to self-complacency; he scorned to recognize any one for the Messias, who was not great in this world’s glory; he was indignant at hearing Jesus say that the Gentiles were to participate in the grace of redemption; he sought to imbrue his hands in the Blood of the God-Man, and this because He reproached him for the hardness of his heart. These proud Jews, even when they saw that the day of God’s judgment was close upon them, kept up their stubborn haughtiness. They despised the rest of the world as unclean and sinners. The Son of God became the Son of Man. He is our Master, and yet He ministered to us, as though He were our Servant. Does not this show us how precious a virtue is humility? If our fellow-creatures call us master or father, let us not forget that no one is master or father but by God’s appointment. No one deserves to be called master, but he by whose lips Jesus gives us the lessons of divine wisdom; he alone is truly a father, who acknowledges that his paternal authority comes from God alone; for the apostle says: ‘I bow my knee to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named.’[3]

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Propitiare, Domine, supplication bus nostris, et animarum nostrarum medere languoribus: ut remissione percepta, in tua semper benedictione lætemur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Be appeased, O Lord, by our prayers, and heal the infirmities of our souls: that our sins being forgiven, we may ever rejoice in thy blessings. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us continue the hymn which we began yesterday; our readers will remember that it is by Prudentius, the prince of Christian poets.

Hymn

Helia tali crevit observantia,
Vetue sacerdos runs hospes aridi:
Fragore ab omni quem remotum et segregem
Sprevisse tradunt crimmum frequentiam?
Cateo fruentem syrtium silentio.

Sed mox in auras igneis jugalibus,
Curruque raptus evolavit præpeti,
Ne de propinquo eordium contagio
Dims quietum mundus afflaret virum,
Olim probatis inclytum jejuniis.

Non ante cœli Principem septemplicis
Moses tremendi fidus interpres throni
Potuit viderp, quam decem recursibus
Quater volutis sol peragrans sidera,
Omni carentem cerneret substantia.

Victus precan ti solus in lacrymis fuit:
Nam flendo pemox irrigatum pulverem,
Humi madentis ore pressit cemuo:
Donee loquentis voce præstrictus Dei
Expavit ignem non ferendum visibus.

Joannes hujus artis haud minus potens,
Dei perennis præcucurrit Filium,
Curvos viarum qui retorsit tramites,
Et flexuosa corrigens dispendia,
Dedit sequendam calle recto lineam.

Hanc obsequelam præparabat nuncius,
Mox affuturo construens iter Deo,
Clivosa planis, confragosa ut lenibus
Converterentur, neve quidquam devium
Illapsa terns in veniret Veritas.

Non usitatis ortus hic natalibus,
Oblita lactis jam vieto in pectore
Matris tetendit serus infans ubera:
Nec ante partu de senili effusus est,
Quam prædicaret Virginem plenam Deo.

Post in patentes ille solitudines,
Amictus hirtis bestiarum pellibus,
Setisve tectus, hispida et lanugine,
Secessit,. horrens inquinan ac pollui
Contaminatis oppidorum moribus.

Illic dicata parcus abstinentia,
Potum, cibumque vir severæ industriæ
In usque serum respuebat vesperum,
Parvum locustis, et favorum agrestium
Liquore pastum corpori suetus dare.

Hortator ille primus et doctor novæ
Fuit salutis: nam sacrato in flumine
Veterum piatas lavit errorum notas:
Sed tincta postquam membra defæcaverat,
Cœlo refulgena influebat Spiritus.
It was by the observance of a forty-days’ fast,
that Elias the venerable priest, the guest of the desert,
received his great glory.
We read that he fled far from the noisy world, and the wickedness of cities,
and lived in the happy innocence of silent deserts.

But soon was he carried to heaven in a chariot drawn by swift fiery steeds;
for so long as he remained nigh this wretched world,
it might breathe something of the contagion of its vices upon the prophet,
though his life was one of retirement,
and his spirit had long been fortified by holy fasts.

Moses, the faithful interpreter of the dread throne,
was not permitted to see
the King of the seventimes holy heaven,
until the sun had forty times passed over his head
and witnessed him abstaining from every food.

Prayer and weeping, these were his only nourishment.
He spent the night in weeping, and lay prostrate on the ground,
which was bedewed with his tears:
till at length, aroused by the voice of God,
he directed his steps towards the fire on which no man could fix his gaze.

John, too, was fervent in the practice of fasting.
He was the precursor of the Son of God,
who was to make the crooked ways straight,
and the rough ways plain,
and was to teach men the right path wherein to walk

The Baptist, as a herald that was preparing the way
of the Lord who was soon to come, exacted this of men:
that every mountain and hill should be made low,
and that all should be in the right path,
when Truth should come down upon the earth.

His birth was not like that of other children. Elizabeth,
old as she was, was made to bear this child within her
hitherto barren womb. She fed him, too, at her own breast.
Before his birth, he announced to his mother
the presence of the Virgin that was full of God.

He retired into the vast wilderness,
clad in the rough and bristly skins of wild beasts,
and in camels’ hair; for he trembled
lest he might become defiled and contaminated
by the wickedness of them that dwelt in cities.

There did he lead a life of fasting.
This man of rigid penance neither ate nor drank
till the evening was far spent;
and then, a few locusts and a little wild honey
were the only refreshment he took.

He was the first to teach the new salvation,
and the first to invite men to receive it.
In the sacred stream, he washed away the stains of the old errors;
but after he had administered to men this outward baptism,
the heavenly Spirit worked within their souls.

 


[1] St. Luke iv. 25, 26.
[2] 1 St. Peter ii. 9.
[3] Eph. iii. 14, 15.

 

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