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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 Station is in the basilica of Saint Cecily. This church, one of the most venerable in Rome, was the house of the illustrious virgin and martyr whose name it bears. The body of Saint Cecily is under the high altar, together with those of Saints Valerian, Tiburtius, and Maximus, and of the holy Popes Urban and Lucius, all martyrs.

Collect

Populum tuum, quæsumus, Domine, propitius respice: et quos ab escis carnalibue præcipis abstinere, a noxiis quoque vitiis cessare concede. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Mercifully regard thy people, O Lord, we beseech thee; and grant that those whom thou commandest to abstain from flesh, may likewise cease from all sin. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio libri Esther.

Cap. xiii.

In diebus illus: Oravit Mardochæus ad Dominum, dicens: Domine, Domine, Rex omnipotens, in ditione enim tua cuneta sunt posita, et non est qui possit tuæ resistero voluntad, si decreveris salvare Israël. Tu fecisti cœlum et terrain, et quidquid cœli ambitu continetur. Dominus omnium es, nec est qui resistat majestad tuæ. Et nunc, Domine Rex, Deus Abraham, miserere populi tui, quia volunt nos inimici nostri perdere, et hæreditatem tuam delere. Ne despicias partern tuam, quam redemisti tibi de Ægypto. Exaudi deprecationem meam, et propitius esto sorti et funiculo tuo, et converte luctum nostrum in gaudium, ut viventes laudemus nornen tuum, Domine, et ne claudas ora te canentium, Domine Deus noster.
Lesson from the Book of Esther.

Ch. xiii.

In those days: Mardochai besought the Lord, and said: O Lord, Lord, almighty King, for all things are in thy power, and there is none that can resist thy will, if thou determine to save Israel. Thou hast made heaven and earth, and all things that are under the cope of heaven. Thou art Lord of all, and there is none that can resist thy majesty. And now, O Lord, O King, O God of Abraham, have mercy on thy people, because our enemies resolve to destroy us, and extinguish thine inheritance. Despise not thy portion, which thou hast redeemed for thyself out of Egypt. Hear my supplication and be merciful to thy lot and inheritance, and turn our mourning into joy, that we may live and praise thy name, O Lord, and shut not the mouths of them that sing to thee, O Lord, our God.

This petition, which Mardochai presented to God in favour of a whole nation that was doomed to destruction, represents the prayers which the saints of the old Testament offered for the salvation of the world. The human race was, to a great extent, in the power of satan, who is figured by Aman. The almighty King had given sentence against mankind: ‘Ye shall die the death.’Who was there that could induce Him to revoke the sentence? Esther made intercession with Assuerus, her lord; and she was heard. Mary presented herself before the throne of the eternal God: and it is she that, by her divine Son, crushes the head of the serpent, who was to have tormented us for ever. The sentence, then, is to be annulled; all shall live that wish to live.

To-day we have the Church praying for her children who are in the state of sin. She trembles at seeing them in danger of being eternally lost. She intercedes for them, and she uses Mardochai’s prayer. She humbly reminds her divine Spouse, that He has redeemed them out of Egypt; and, by Baptism, has made them His members, His inheritance. She beseeches Him to change their mourning into joy, even into the great Easter joy. She says to Him: Oh! shut not the mouths of them that sing to Thee! It is true, these poor sinners have in past times offended their God by word, as well as by deed and thought; but now they speak but words of humble prayer for mercy; and, when they shall have been pardoned, how fervently will they sing to their divine Deliverer, and bless Him in canticles of grateful love!

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xx.

In illo tempore: Ascendena Jesus Jerosolymam, assumpsit duodecim discipulos secreto, et ait illis: Ecce ascendimus Jerosolymam, et Filius hominis tradetur principibus sacerdotum et scribis, et condemnabunt eum morte, et tradent eum gentibus ad illudendum, et flagellandum, et crucifigendum, et tertia die resurget. Tunc accessit ad eum mater filiorum Zebedæi cum filiis suis, adorans et petens aliquid ab eo. Qui dixit ei: Quid vis? Ait illi: Die ut sedeant hi duo filii mei, unus ad dexteram tuam, et unus ad sinistram, in regno tuo. Respondens autem Jesus, dixit: Nescitis quid petatis. Potestis bibere calicem, quem ego bibiturus sum? Dicunt ei: Possumue. Ait illis: Calicem quidem meum bibetis: sedere autem ad dexteram meam vel sinistram, non est meum dare vobis, sed quibus paratum est a Patre meo. Et audientes decem, indignati sunt de duobus fratribus. Jesus autem vocavit eos ad se, et ait: Scitis quia principes gentium dominantur eorum: et qui majores sunt, potestatem exercent in eos. Non ita erit inter vos: sed quicumque voluerit inter vos major fieri, sit vester minister: et qui voluerit inter vos primus esse, erit vester servus. Sicut Filius hominis non venit ministran, sed ministrare, et dare animam suam redemptionem pro multis.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xx.

At that time: Jesus going up to Jersualem, took the twelve disciples apart, and said to them: Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man shall be betrayed to the chief priests and the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles, to be mocked, and scourged, and crucified, and the third day he shall rise again. Then came to him the mother of the sons of Zebedee, with her sons, adoring and asking something of him. Who said to her: What wilt thou? She saith to him: Say that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom. And Jesus answering, said: You know not what you ask. Can you drink the chalice that I shall drink? They said to him: We can. He saith to them: My chalice, indeed, you shall drink; but to sit on my right or left hand, is not mine to give to you, but to them for whom it is prepared by my Father. And the ten hearing it, were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them to him, and said: You know that the princes of the gentiles lord it over them; and they that are the greater, exercise power over them. It shall not be so among you, but whosoever will be the greater among you, let him be your minister; and he that will be first among you, shall be your servant. Even as the Son of Man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a redemption for many.

This is He that gave His own life in order to appease the anger of the almighty King, and redeem His people from death. It is Jesus, the Son of the new Esther, and the Son of God, who comes forward to humble the pride of Aman, at the very time when this perfidious enemy of ours is making sure of his victory. He goes up to Jerusalem, for it is there that the great battle is to be fought. He foretells to His disciples all that is to happen. He will be delivered up to the chief priests, who will condemn Him to death, and hand Him over to the Roman governor and soldiers. He will be mocked, scourged, and crucified; but He will rise again on the third day. The apostles heard this prophecy, for the Gospel says, that Jesus took the twelve apart, in order to tell them these things. Judas, consequently, was present; so were Peter, James, and John, the three that had witnessed the Transfiguration of their Master on Thabor, and had a clearer knowledge of His Divinity. And yet, all abandoned Him. Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him, and the whole flock fled away in fear, when the Shepherd was in the power of His enemies. Not one of them recollected how He had said that on the third day He would rise again: unless it were Judas, who was perhaps encouraged to commit his crime by the reflection that Jesus would soon triumph over His enemies and be again free. The rest could see no further than the scandal of the cross; that put an end to all their faith, and they deserted their Master. What a lesson for all future generations of Christians! How very few there are who look upon the cross, either for themselves or for others, as a sign of God’s special love!

We are men of little faith; we cannot understand the trials God sends to our brethren, and we are often tempted to believe that He has forsaken them, because He sends them the cross. We are men of little love, too; worldly tribulation seems an evil to us, and we think ourselves hardly dealt with, at the very time when our God is showing us the greatest mercy. We are like the mother of the sons of Zebedee: we would hold a high and conspicuous place near the Son of God, forgetting that we must first merit it, by drinking of the chalice that He drank, that is, the chalice of suffering. We forget, too, that saying of the apostle: ‘That we may be glorified with Jesus, we must suffer with Him!’[1] He, the just and All holy, entered not into His rest by honours, and pleasures:the sinner cannot follow Him, save by treading the path of penance.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Deus, innocentiæ restitutor et amator, dirige ad te tuorum corda servorum: ut Spiritus tui fervore concepto, et in fide inveniantur stabiles, et in opere efficaces. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

O God, the restorer and lover of innocence, draw to thyself the hearts of thy servants, that being inflamed by thy holy Spirit, they may be constant in faith, and zealous in good works. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Christian poet continues his subject—the merits of fasting. To-day he is going to show us how Jesus consecrated it by His own practice of it.

Sed cur vetustæ gentis exemplum loquor?
Pridem caducis quum gravatus artubus
Jesus, dicato corde jejunaverit:
Prænuncupatus ore qui prophetico
Emmanuel est, sive nobiscum Deus.

Qui corpus istud molle naturaliter,
Captumque laxo sub voluptatum jugo,
Virtutis arcta lege fecit liberum,
Emancipator servientis plasmatis,
Regnantis ante victor et cupidinis.

Inhospitali namque secretus loco,
Quinis diebus octies labentibus,
Nullam ciborum vindicavit gratiam,
Firmans salubri scilicet jejunio
Vas appetendis imbecillum gaudiis.

Miratur hostis, posse limum tabidum
Tantum laboris sustinere ac perpeti.
Explorat arte sciscitator callida,
Deusne membris sit receptus terreis:
Sed, increpata fraude, post tergum ruit.
But why give I examples from the old Law?
Jesus, whom the prophet had announced to the world as the Emmanuel,
that is, God with us, when here on earth
sharing the miseries of our mortality,
fasted rigidly out of love for us.

’Twas he that by the stringent law of virtue,
set these our bodies free from their natural effeminacy,
and from the yoke of unbridled indulgence.
He emancipated his creatures from their slavery;
he conquered the tyrant concupiscence, that had reigned till then.

He withdrew into a desert place,
and for forty days refused himself the use of food.
By this salutary fast,
he strengthened the weakness of our bodies,
which crave after gratification.

The enemy wonders within himself how a frail body,
that is but clay, can bear and suffer pain as long and sharp as this.
He, by cunning craft, contrives a plot,
whereby to sift this Jesus, and see if he perchance be God in human form.
But, rebuked and foiled, he flees away with shame.

 

[1] Rom. viii. 17.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Station for to-day is in the celebrated basilica, St. Mary’s across the Tiber. It was consecrated in the third century, under the pontificate of St. Callixtus, and was the first church built in Rome in honour of our blessed Lady.

Collect

Præsta nobis, quæsumus Domine, auxilium gratiæ tuæ, ut jejuniis et orationibus convenienter intenti, liberemur ab hostibus mentis et corporis. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Grant us, we beseech thee, O Lord, the assistance of thy grace; that whilst we duly apply ourselves to fasting and prayer, we may be delivered from all enemies both of soul and body. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio Jeremiæ Prophetæ.

Cap. xvii.

Hæc dicit Dominus Deus: Maledictus homo qui confidit in homine, et ponit carnem nem brachium euum, et a Domino recedit cor ejus. Erit enim quasi myricæ in deserto, et non videbit cum venerit bonum; sed habitant in siccitate in deserto, in terra salsuginis et inhabitabili. Benedictus vir, qui confidit in Domino, et erit Dominus fiducia ejus. Et erit quasi lignum quod transplantatur super aquas, quod ad humorem mittit radices euas: et non timebit cum venerit æstus. Et erit folium ejus viride, et in tempore siccitatis non erit sollicitum, nec aliquando desinet facere fructum. Pravum est cor omnium et inscrutabile: quis cognoscet illud? Ego Dominus scrutans cor, et probans renes; qui do unicuique juxta viam suam, et juxta fructum adinventionum suarum, dicit Dominus omnipotens.
Lesson from the Prophet Jeremias.

Ch. xvii.

Thus saith the Lord: Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like tamarick in the desert, and he shall not see when good shall come; but he shall dwell in dryness in the desert, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed be the man that trusteth in the Lord, and the Lord shall be his confidence. And he shall be as a tree that is planted by the waters, and spreadeth out its roots towards moisture; and it shall not fear when the heat cometh. And the leaf thereof shall be green, and in the time of drought it shall not be solicitous, neither shall it cease at any time to bring forth fruit. The heart is perverse above all things, and unsearchable; who can know it? I am the Lord who search the heart, and prove the reins; who give to every one according to his way, and according to the fruit of his devices, said the Lord almighty.

The Epistle and Gospel for to-day are intended as instructions upon Christian morality. Let us, for a moment, turn away our eyes from the sad spectacle of the plot which is being formed against our Redeemer, by His enemies; let us, to-day, think of our own sins, and how to apply a remedy. The prophet Jeremias here gives us the description of two classes of men: to which class do we belong? There are some men who make flesh their arm; that is to say, they care only for this present life and for created things; and this disposition of mind necessarily leads them to frequent violations of the commandments of their Creator. It was so with US, when we sinned: we lost sight of our last end, and the threefold concupiscence blinded us. Let us lose no time, but return to the Lord our God; a delay might bring upon us that curse, which our prophet says overtakes the unrepenting sinner; he shall not see goody when good shall come. The holy season of Lent is fast advancing; the choicest graces are being daily offered us; woe to the man whose mind is distracted by the fashion of this world that passeth away,[1] and takes no thought for eternity and heaven, and, even in this time of grace, is like tamarick a worthless weed of the desert. Oh how numerous is this class! and how terrible is their spiritual indifference! Pray for them, O ye faithful children of the Church, pray for them without ceasing. Offer up your penances and your almsgivings for them. Despair not; and remember that, each year, many straying sheep are brought to the fold by such intercession as this.

The prophet next describes the man that trusteth in the Lord; his whole hope is in God, and his whole care is to serve Him and to do His blessed will. He is like a beautiful tree that is planted near a stream of water, with its leaf ever green, and its fruit abundant. ‘I have appointed you,’says our Redeemer, ‘that you should go, and should bring forth fruit, and your fruit should remain. ’[2] Let us become this favoured and ever fruitful tree. The Church, during this holy time, is pouring out upon our hearts rich streams of God's grace: let us faithfully welcome them. The Lord searcheth the heart: if He find that our desire to be converted is sincere, what an Easter will the coming one be to us!

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. xvi.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus pharisaeis: Homo quidam erat dives, qui induebatur purpura et bysso: et epulabatur quotidie splendide. Et erat quidam mendicus, nomine Lazarus, qui jacebat ad januam ejus, ulceribus plenus, cupiens saturan de micis quæ cadebant de mensa divitis, et nemo illi dabat; sed et canes veniebant, et lingebant ulcera ejus. Factum est autem ut moreretur mendicus, et portaretur ab angelis in sinum Abrahæ. Mortuus est autem et dives, et sepultus est in inferno. Elevans autem oculos suos, cum esset in tormentis, vidit Abraham a longe, et Lazarum in sinu ejus: et ipse damans dixit: Pater Abraham miserere mei, et mitte Lazarum ut in tingat extremum digiti 8ui in aquam, ut ref rigeret linguam meam, quia crucior in hac flamma. Et dixit illi Abraham: Fili, recordare quia recepisti bona in vita tua, et Lazarus similiter mala: nunc autem hic consolatur, tu vero cruciaris. Et in his omnibus, inter nos et vos chaos magnum firmatum est: ut hi, qui volunt hinc transire ad vos, non possint, neque inde hue transmeare. Et ait: Rogo ergo te, pater, ut mittas eum in domum patris mei; habeo enim quinque fratres, ut testetur illis, ne et ipsi veniant in hunc locum tormento rum. Et ait illi Abraham: Habent Moysen et prophetas: audiant ülos. At ille dixit: Non, pater Abraham: sed si quis ex mortuis ierit ad eos, pœnitentiam agent. Ait autem illi: Si Moysen et prophetae non audiunt, neque si quis ex mortuis resurrexerit, credent.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. xvi.

At that time: Jesus said to the pharisees: There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and feasted sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores, desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table, and no one did give him: moreover the dogs came and licked hia sores. And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. And the rich man also died, and he was buried in hell. And lifting up his eyes, when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and .send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is fixed a great chaos; so that they who would pass from hence to you, cannot, nor from thence come hither. And he said: Then, father, I beseech thee that thou wouldst send him to my father’s house; for I have five brethren, that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torments. And Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. But he said: No, father Abraham, but if any one went to them from the dead, they will do penance. And he said to him; If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe if one rise again from the dead.

The commandments of God cannot be broken with impunity; he that sins shall be punished. This is the teaching of to-day’s Gospel; and after reading it, we exclaim with the apostle: ‘How fearful a thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God!’[3]What a terrible truth is here told us! A man is in the enjoyment of every comfort and luxury this life can give; when suddenly death surprises him, and he is buried in hell! In the midst of those eternal burnings, he asks for a drop of water, and that drop is refused him. Other men, whom he knew on earth a few hours ago, are now in the abode of eternal happiness, and a great chaosseparates him from them for ever. Oh, what misery! To be in despair for endless ages! And yet there are men that live and die without giving so much as one day to think upon hell! Happy, then, are they that fear, for this fear will aid them to lighten that weight of their sins, which would drag them into the bottomless pit.

Alas! what strange darkness has come upon the mind of man as a consequence of sin! People that are shrewd, and prudent, and far-sighted in everything that regards their temporal concerns, are mere idiots and fools in every question that regards eternity. Can we imagine anything more frightful than their surprise when they awaken in the next world and find themselves buried in hell? Observe, too, that our Saviour, in order to make His instruction more impressive, has not here described the condemnation of one whose crimes scandalize the neighbourhood, and make even worldlings look upon him as a sure prey of hell. The history He gives us is that of a man who led a quiet life; he was agreeable in company, and sought after; he was respected, and did honour to the position he held in society. He is not accused of any public scandals; there is no mention made of any atrocious crime; our Saviour simply says of him: he was clothed in purple and fine linenand feasted sumptuously every day. It is true, he was not charitable to the poor man who lay at his gate; hut he did not ill-treat him: he allowed him to lie there, and did not even insult his misery. Why, then, was this rich man condemned to bum eternally in that fire which God created for the wicked? It is because a man who leads a life of luxury and feasting, such as he lived — never thinking of eternity, caring for nothing but this world, which we are told to use as though we used it not,[4] with nothing about him of the spirit of the cross of Christ—such a man as this is already a victim to the triple concupiscence of pride, avarice, and luxury; he is their slave, and seems determined to continue so, for he never makes an effort to throw off their tyranny. He has yielded himself up to them; and they have worked their work in him—the death of the soul. It was not enough that he should not ill-treat the poor man that sat at his gate, he ought to have shown him kindness and charity, for such is God’s commandment. His very dogs had more compassion than he; therefore, his condemnation and perdition were most just. But had he been told of his duty? Yes, he had the Scriptures; he had Moses and the prophets; nay more, he had Jesus and the Church. Men who are leading a life like this, are now surrounded by the graces of the holy season of Lent. What excuse will they have, if they so far neglect them, that they do not even give themselves the trouble to think of them? They will have turned their Lent into judgment against themselves, and it will have been but one great step nearer to eternal misery.

Humiliate capita veetra Deo.

Adesto, Domine, famulis tuis, et perpetuam benignitatem largire poscentibus: ut iis qui te auctore et gubematore gloriantur, et congregata restaures, et restaurata conserves. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Be favourable, O Lord, to thy servants, and hear their prayers in the grant of everlasting mercy; that glorying in thee their Creator and Governor, they may have all things perfected and perpetuated to them. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The hymn of Prudentius, which we have followed with so much interest during this week, thus closes:

Hymn

Hoc nos sequamur quisque nunc pro viribus,
Quod consecrati tu magister dogmatis
Tuis dedisti, Christe, sectatoribus;
Ut quum vorandi vicerit libidinem,
Late triumphet imperator spiritus.

Hoc est, quod atri livor hostis invidet,
Mundi, polique quod gubornator probat,
Altarie aram quod facit plac&bilem,
Quod dormientis excitat cordis fidem,
Quod limat ægram pectorum rubiginem.

Perfusa non sic amne flamma exstinguitur,
Nec sic calente sole tabescunt nives,
Ut turbidarum scabra culparum seges
Vanescit almo trita sub jejunio,
Si blanda semper misceatur largitas.

Est quippe et illud grande virtutis genus
Operire nudos, indigentes pascere,
Opem benignam ferre supplicantibus,
Unam paremque sortis humanæ vicern
Inter potentes, atque egenos ducere.

Satis beatus quisque dextram porrigit
Laudis rapacem, prodigam pecuniae,
Cujus sinistra dulce factum nesciat.
Ilium perennes protinus complent opes,
Ditatque fructus foenerantem centuplex.
O Jesus! Teacher of holy doctrine!
grant that we may all now walk courageously
in the path thou hast marked out for thy followers;
that our spirit, having subdued gluttony,
may in all things triumph and be master.

O blessed fasting! It is the object of the devil’s hatred:
it is dear to the King of earth and heaven;
it makes the great sacrifice of tho altar acceptable:
it stirs up the faith of the drowsy heart;
it takes from the soul the rust that clogs her power.

As fire is quenched by water,
or as snow is melted by a scorching sun;
so (but by a higher law) are the wild weeds of our base sins
uprooted by the sacred power of fasting,
when joined with charitable alms unstintingly bestowed.

For this, too, is a great virtue:
to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry,
to kindfy help the needy, and to behave towards all,
both rich and poor,
as members of the one great family of mankind.

Right blessed is he,
whose right hand works the praiseworthy deed of lavish alms,
but whose left hand knows not the sweet charity done!
Such a man shall receive eternal riches,
and interest a hundredfold shall be given to him who thus lends to the poor.

 

[1] 1 Cor. vii. 31.
[2] St. John xv. 16.
[3] Heb. X. 31.
[4] 1 Cor. vii. 31.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Station for to-day is in the church of Saint Vitalis, martyr, the father of the two illustrious Milanese martyrs, Saints Gervasius and Protasius.

Collect

Da, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus; ut sacro nos purificante jejunio, sinceris mentibus ad sancta ventura facias pervenire. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Grant, O almighty God, that being purified by this fast, we may come to the approaching solemnity with clean hearts. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio libri Genesis.

Ch. xxxvii.

In diebus illis: Dixit Joseph fratribus suis: Audite somnium meum quod vidi: Putabam nos ligare manipulos in agro: et quasi consurgere manipulum meum, et stare, vestrosque manipulos circumstantes adorare manipulum meum. Responderunt fratres ejus: Numquid rex noster eris? aut subjiciemur ditioni tuæ? Hæe ergo causa somniorum atque sermonum, invidiæ et odii fomitem ministra vit. Aliud quoque vidit somnium, quod narrans fratribus ait; Vidi per somnium quasi solem, et lunam, et Stellas undecim adorare me,Quod quum patri suo et fratribue retulisset, increpavit eum pater suns, et dixit: Quid sibi vult hoc somnium quod vidisti? Num ego, et mater tua, et fratres tui adorabimus te super terram? Invidebant ei igitur fratres sui: pater vero rem tacitus considerabat. Cumque fratres illiue in pascendis gregibus patris morarentur in Sichem, dixit ad eum Israël: Fratres tui pascunt oves in Siohimie: veni, mittam te ad eos. Quo respondente: Præsto sum; ait ei: Vade, et vide si cuneta prospera sint erga fratres tuos, et pecora: et renuntia mihi quid agatur. Missus de valle Hebron, venit in Sichem: invenitque eum vir errantem in agro, et interrogavit quid quæreret. At ille respondit: Fratres meos quæro: indica mihi ubi paecant greges. Dixitque ei vir: Recesserunt de loco isto; audivi autem eos dicentes: Eamus in Dothain. Perrexit ergo Joseph post fratres suos, et invenit eos in Dothain. Qui cum vidissent eum procul, antequam accederet ad eos, cogitaverunt ilium occidere, et mutuo loquebantur: Ecce somniator venit: venite, occidamus eum, et mittamus in cistemam veterem: dicemusque: Fera pessima devoravit eum, et tune apparebit quid illi prosint somnia sua. Audiens autem hoc Ruben, nitebatur liberare eum de manibus eorum, et dicebat: Non interficiatis animam ejus, nec effundatis sanguinem; sed projicite eum in cisternam hane, quæ est in solitudine, manusque vestras servate innoxias. Hoc autem dicebat, volens eripere eum de manibus eorum, et reddere patri suo.
Lesson from the Book of Genesis.

Cap. xxxvii.

In those days: Joseph said to his brethren: Hear my dream which I have dreamed. I thought we were binding sheaves in the field; and my sheaf arose, as it were, and stood, and your sheaves, standing about, bowed down before my sheaf. His brethren answered: Shalt thou be our king? or shall we be subject to thy dominion? Therefore this matter of his dreams and words ministered nourishment to their envy and hatred. He dreamed also another dream, which he told his brethren, saying: I saw in a dream, as it were, the sun, and the moon, and eleven stars, worshipping me. And when he had told this to his father and brethren, his father rebuked him and said: What meaneth this dream that thou hast dreamed? shall I and thy mother, and thy brethren, worship thee upon the earth? His brethren therefore envied him, but his father considered the thing with himself. And when his brethren abode in Sichem, feeding their father’s flocks, Israel said to him: Thy brethren feed the sheep in Sichem; come, I will send thee to them. And when he answered: I am ready; he said to him: Go, and see if all things be well with thy brethren and the cattle, and bring me word again what is doing. So being sent from the vale of Hebron, he came to Sichem. And a man found him there wandering in the field, and asked him what he sought. But he answered: I seek my brethren; tell me where they feed their flocks. And the man said to him: They are departed from this place; for I heard them say: Let us go to Dothain. And Joseph went forward after his brethren, and found them in Dothain. And when they saw him afar off, before he came nigh them, they thought to kill him, and said one to another: Behold the dreamer cometh; come, let us kill him, and cast him into some old pit: and we will say: Some evil beast hath devoured him: and then it shall appear what his dreams avail him. And Ruben hearing this, endeavoured to deliver him out of their hands, and said: Do not take away his life, nor shed his blood; but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and keep your hands harmless. Now he said this, being desirous to deliver him out of their hands, and to restore him to his father.

To-day the Church reminds us of the apostasy of the Jewish nation, and of the consequent vocation of the Gentiles. This instruction was intended for the catechumens; let us, also, profit by it. The history here related from the old Testament is a figure of what we read in to-day’s Gospel. Joseph is exceedingly beloved by his father Jacob, not only because he is the child of his favourite spouse Rachel, but also because of his innocence. Prophetic dreams have announced the future glory of this child: but he has brothers; and these brothers, urged on by jealousy, are determined to destroy him. Their wicked purpose is not carried out to the full; but it succeeds at least this far, that Joseph will never more see his native country. He is sold to some merchants. Shortly afterwards, he is cast into prison; but he is soon set free, and is made the ruler, not of the land of Chanaan that had exiled him, but of a pagan country, Egypt. He saves these poor Gentiles from starvation, during a most terrible famine, nay, he gives them abundance of food, and they are happy under his government. His very brothers, who persecuted him, are obliged to come down into Egypt, and ask food and pardon from their victim. We easily recognize in this wonderful history our divine Redeemer, Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary. He was the victim of His own people’s jealousy, who refused to acknowledge in Him the Messias foretold by the prophets, although their prophecies were so evidently fulfilled in Him. Like Joseph, Jesus is the object of a deadly conspiracy; like Joseph, He is sold. He traverses the shadow of death, but only to rise again, full of glory and power. But it is no longer on Israel that He lavishes the proofs of His predilection; He turns to the Gentiles, and with them He henceforth dwells. It is to the Gentiles that the remnant of Israel will come seeking Him, when, pressed by hunger after the truth, they are willing to acknowledge, as the true Messias, this Jesus of Nazareth, their King, whom they crucified.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xxi.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus turbis Judæorum, et principibus sacerdotum parabolam hane: Homo erat paterfamilias, qui plantavit vineam, et sepem circumdedit ei, et fodit in ea torcular, et ædifieavit turrim, et locavit eam agricolis, et peregre profectus est. Cum autem tempus fructuum appropinquasset, misit servos suos ad agricolas, ut acciperent fructus ejus. Et agricolæ, apprehensis servis ejus, alium ceciderunt, alium occiderunt, alium vero lapidaverunt. Iterum misit alios servos plures priori bus, et fecerunt illis similiter. Novissime autem misit ad eos filium suum, dicens: Verebuntur filium meum. Agricolæ autem videntes filium, dixerunt intra se: Hic est hæres: venite, occidamus eum, et habebimus hæreditatem ejus. Et apprehensum eum ejecerunt extra vineam, et occiderunt. Cum ergo venerit dominus vineae, quid faciet agricolis illis? Aiunt illi: Malos male perdet: et vineam suam locabit aliis agricolis, qui reddant ei fructum temporibus suis. Dicit illis Jesus: Nunquam legistis in Scripturis: Lapidem quem reprobaverunt ædificantes, hicfactus est in caput anguli? A Domino factum est istud, et est mirabile in oculis nostris. Ideo dico vobis, quia auferetur a vobis regnum Dei, et dabitur genti facienti fructus ejus. Et qui ceciderit super lapidem istum, confringetur: super quem vero ceciderit, conteret eum. Et cum audissent principes sacerdotum et pharisæi parabolas ejus, cognoverunt quod de ipsis diceret. Et quærentes eum tenere, timuerunt turbas: quoniam sicut prophetam eum habebant.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xxi.

At that time: Jesus spoke to the multitude of the Jews, and to the chief priests this parable: There was a man an householder, who planted a vineyard, and made a hedge round about it, and dug in it a press, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a strange country. And when the time of the fruits drew nigh, he.sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits thereof. And the husbandmen laying hands on his servants, beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the former; and they did to them in like manner. And last of all he sent to them his son, saying: They will reverence my son. But the husbandmen seeing the son, said among themselves: This is the heir, come, let us kill him, and we shall have his inheritance. And taking him, they cast him forth out of the vineyard, and killed him. When, therefore, the lord of the vineyard shaU come, what will he do to those husbandmen? They say to him: He will bring those evil men to an evil end: and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen that shall render him the fruit in due season. Jesus saith to them: Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? By the Lord this has been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes. Therefore I say to you, that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and pharisees had heard his parables, they knew that he spoke of them. And seeking to lay hands on him they feared the multitude; because they held him as a prophet.

Here we have more than the mere figures of the old Law, which show us our Redeemer in the far distant future; we have the great reality. Yet a little while, and the thrice holy Victim will have fallen beneath the blows of His persecutors. How awful and solemn are the words of Jesus, as His last hour approaches! His enemies feel the full weight of what He says; but, in their pride, they are determined to keep up their opposition to Him, who is the Wisdom of the Father. They have made up their minds not to acknowledge Him to be what they well know He is—the stoneon which he that falls shall be broken, and which shall grind to powder him on whom it shall fall. But what is the vineyard, of which our Lord here speaks? It is revealed truth; it is the rule of faith and morals; it is the universal expectation of the promised Redeemer; and, lastly, it is the family of the children of God, His inheritance, His Church. God had chosen the Synagogue as the depository of such a treasure; He willed that His vineyard should be carefully kept, that it should yield fruit under their keeping, and that they should always look upon it as His possession, and one that was most dear to Him. But, in its hard-heartedness and avarice, the Synagogue appropriated the Lord’s vineyard to itself. In vain did He, at various times, send His prophets to reclaim His rights; the faithless husbandmen put them to death. The Son of God, the Heir, comes in Person. Surely, they will receive Him with due respect, and pay Him the homage due to His divine character! But no; they have formed a plot against Him; they intend to cast Him forth out of the vineyard, and kill Him. Come, then, ye Gentiles, and avenge this God! Leave not a stone on a stone of the guilty city that has uttered this terrible curse: ‘May His Blood be upon us and upon our children!’[1] But you shall be more than the ministers of the divine justice; you yourselves are now the favoured people of God. The apostasy of these ungrateful Jews is the beginning of your salvation. You are to be keepers of the vineyard to the end of time; you are to feed on its fruits, for they now belong to you. From east and west, from north and south, come to the great Pasch, that is being prepared! Come to the font of salvation, O ye new people, who are gathered unto God from all nations under the sun! Your mother the Church will fill up from you, if you be faithful, the number of the elect; and when her work is done, her Spouse will return, as the dread Judge, to condemn those who would not know the time of their visitation.[2]

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Da, quæsumus, Domine, populo tuo salutem mentis et corporis: ut bonis operibus inhærendo, tuæ semper virtues mereatur protectione defendi. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, to thy people health both of soul and body, that by the continual practice of good works they may always be defended by thy powerful protection. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us encourage within ourselves the spirit of humility and penance by the following hymn, which we take from the Greek liturgy. It was composed by St. Andrew of Crete.

Hymn
(Feria V. quintæ hebdomadæ)

Unde primum miseræ vitæ meæ actiones lamenter? quod, Christe, hodierni planctus initium faciam? enim vero, qui misericors sis, debitorum veniam concede.

Veni, misera anima, tua carne comite, omnium confitero Creatori, deincepsque antiqua abstine aliena a ratione affectione, ac Deo lacrymas pænitens exhibe.

Qui Adam protoplastum prævaricando sim æmulatus; Deo, ætemoque regno et voluptate, meis cognovi peccatis me nudatum.

Heu me, misera anima! ut quid primæ Evæ similis facta es? male quippe vidisti, direque vulnerata es; ac manum admovisti ligno, petulansque escam absonam gustasti.

Jure merito Adam, ut qui unum tuum mandatum, O Salvator, non custodivisset, Eden ilia ejectus est: at ego, qui continue vivifica eloquia tua spemam,quid sustinuero?

Tempus est pænitentiæ: ad te accedo, fictorem meum: grave a me tolle peccati jugum: mihique, ut misericors, tribue veniam delictorum.

Ne me, Salvator, abomineris, ne projicias a facie tua: grave a me tolle peccati jugum: mihique, ut misericors, tribue veniam delictorum.

Voluntaria mea debita præterque voluntatem, manifestaque et occulta, cognita omnia et incognita, tu Salvator, condona, velut Deus indulgens; propitius esto, ac me salvum facito.
I would mourn over the sins of my wretched life; but where shall I begin? O Jesus! how shall I commence the lamentation I fain would make this day? Do thou, my merciful God, forgive me my sins.

Come, my poor soul and thou, too, my body, come, and confess to the great Creator; and, henceforth, restrain your senseless passions, and offer to God the tears of repentance.

I have imitated my first parent in his sin; I acknowledge my nakedness, for I have lost my God, and the kingdom and the joys of eternity.

Alas, unhappy soul! wherefore hast thou made thyself like unto Eve! Oh that guilty look! Oh that cruel wound! Thou didst stretch forth thy hand to the tree; and, in thy frowardness, didst eat the forbidden fruit.

Adam was deservedly driven out of paradise, because he broke one of thy commandments. O my Saviour! I, then, who am for ever setting thy life-giving words at defiance, what punishment shall I not have?

Now is the time for repentance. I come to thee, O my Creator! Take from me the heavy yoke of sin, and, for thy mercy’s sake, pardon me my crimes.

Despise me not, my Saviour! Cast me not away from thy face. Take from me the heavy yoke of sin, and, for thy mercy’s sake, pardon me my crimes.

Do thou, my Saviour, and my merciful God, pardon mo my sins, deliberate or indeliberate, public or private, known or unknown. Have mercy on me, and save me!

[1] St. Matt. xxvii. 25.
[2] St. Luke xix. 44

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Station is in the church of Saints Peter and Marcellinus, two celebrated martyrs of Rome under the persecution of Diocletian. Their names are inserted in the Canon of the Mass.

Collect

Da, quæsumus, Domine, nostris effectum jejuniis salutarem: ut castigatio camis assumpta, ad nostrarum vegetationem transeat animarum. Per Christum Dorainum nostrum. Amen.
Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, this saving effect of our fast, that the chastisement of the flesh, which we have undertaken, may become the improvement of our souls. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio libri Genesis.

Cap. xxvii.

In diebus illis: Dixit Rebecca filio suo Jacob: Audivi patrem tuum loquentem cum Esaü fratre tuo et dicentem ei: Affer mihi de venatione tua, et fac cibos ut comedam, et benedioam tibi coram Domino antequam moriar. Nunc ergo, fili mi, acquiesce consiliis meis: et pergens ad gregem, affer mihi duos hcedos optimos, ut faciam ex eis escas patri tuo, quibus libenter vescitur: quas cum intuleris, et comederit derit, benedicat tibi priusquam moriatur. Cui ille reepondit: Nosti quod Esaü frater meus homo pilosus sit, et ego lenis: si attrecta verit me pater meus, et senserit, timeo ne putet me sibi voluisse illudere, et inducam super me maledictionem pro benedictione. Ad quern mater: In me sit, inquit, ista maledictio, fill mi: tantum audi vocem meam, et pergens affer quæ dixi. Abiit, et attulit, deditque matri. Paravit illa cibos eicut velle noverat patrem illius. Et vestibus Esaü valde bonis, quas apud se habebat domi, induit eum: pelliculasque hædorum circumdedit manibus, et colli nuda protexit. Deditque pulmentum, et panes quos coxerat tradidit. Quibus illatis dixit: Pater mi! At ille respondit: Audio. Quis es tu, fili mi? Dixitque Jacob: Ego sum primogenitus tuus Esaü: feci sicut præcepisti mihi: surge, eede, et comede de venatione mea, ut benedicat mihi anima tua. Kursumque Isaac ad filium suum: Quomodo, inquit, tam cito invenire potuisti fili mi? Qui respondit: Voluntas Dei fuit, ut cito occurreret mihi quod volebam. Dixitque Isaac: Accede hue, ut tangam te, fili mi, et probem utrum tu sis filiue meus Esaü, an non. Accessit ille ad patrem, et palpato eo, dixit Isaac: Vox quidem, vox Jacob est: sed manus, manus sunt Esaü. Et non cognovit eum, quia pilosæ manus similitudinem majoris expresserant. Benedicens ergo illi, ait: Tu es filiua meufl Esaü? Respondit: Ego sum. At ille: Affer mihi, inquit, cibos de venatione tua, fill mi, ut benedicat tibi anima mea. Quos cum oblatos comedieset, obtulit ei etiam vinum. Quo hausto, dixit ad eum: Accede ad me, et da mihi osculum, fili mi. Accessit, et osculatus est eum. Statimque ut sensit vestimentorum illius fragrantiam, benedicens illi, ait: Ecco odor filii mei, sicut odor agri pleni, cui benedixit Dominus. Det tibi Deus de rore cœli, et de pinguedine terræ, abundantiam frumenti et vini. Et serviant tibi populi, et adorent te tribus: esto dominus fratrum tuorum, et incurventur ante te filii matris tuæ. Qui maledixerit tibi, sit ille maledictus: et qui benedixerit tibi, benedictionibus repleatur. Vix Isaac sermone m impleverat: et egresso Jacob foras, venit Esaü, coctoeque de venatione cibos intulit patri, dicens: Surge, pater mi, et comede de venatione filii tui, ut benedicat mihi anima tua. Dixitque illi Isaac: Quis enim es tu? Qui respondit: Ego sum filius tuus primogenitus Esaü. Expavit Isaac stupore vehementi, et ultra quam credi potest, admirans, ait: Quis igitur ille est, qui dudum captam venationem attulit mihi, et comedi ex omnibus priusquam tu venires? Benedixique ei, et erit benedictus. Auditie Esaü sermonibus patris, irrugiit clamore magno: et conetematus, ait: Benedio etiam et mihi, pater mi. Qui ait: Venit germanus tuus fraudulenter, et accepit benedictionem tuam. At ille subjunxit: Juste vocatum est nomen ejus Jacob: supplantavit enim me in altera vice: primogenita mea ante tulit, et nunc secundo surripuit benedictionem meam. Rursumque ad patrem: Numquid non reservasti, ait, et mihi benedictionem? Respondit Isaac: Dominum tuum ilium conetitui, et omnes fra tres ejus servituti illius subjugavi: frumento et vino stabilivi eum; et tibi post haec, fili mi, ultra quid faciam? Cui Esaü: Num unam, inquit, tan turn benedictionem habes, pater? Mihi quoque obsecro ut benedicas. Cumque ejulatu magno fleret, motus Isaac, dixit ad eum: In pinguedine terræ, et in rore caeli desuper erit benedictio tua.
Lesson from the Book of Genesis.

Ch. xxvii.

In those days: Rebecca said to her son Jacob: I heard thy father talking with Esau thy brother, and saying to him: Bring me of thy hunting, and make me meats that I may eat, and bless thee in the sight of the Lord before I die. Now, therefore, my son, follow my counsel: and go thy way to the flock, bring me two kids of the best, that I may make of them meat for thy father, such as he gladly eateth; which when thou hast brought in, and he hath eaten, he may bless thee before he die. And he answered her: Thou knowest that Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am smooth; if my father shall feel me, and perceive it, I fear lest he will think I would have mocked him, and I shall bring upon me a curse instead of a blessing. And his mother said to him: Upon me be this curse, my son; only hear thou my voice, and go, fetch me the things which I have said. He went, and brought, and gave them to his mother. She dressed meats such as she knew his father liked. And she put on him very good garments of Esau, which she had at home with her; and the little skins of the kids she put about his hands, and covered the bare of his neck. And she gave him the savoury meat, and delivered him bread that she had baked. Which when he had carried in, he said: My father? But he answered: I hear; who art thou, my son? And Jacob said: I am Esau thy first-born; I have done as thou didst command me; arise, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me. And Isaac said to his son: How couldst thou find it so quickly, my son? He answered: It was the will of God, that what I sought came quickly in my way. And Isaac said: Come hither, that I may ioel thee, my sun. and may prove whether thou be my son Esau or not. He came near to his father, and when he had felt him, Isaac said: The voice, indeed, is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau. And he knew him not, because his hairy hands made him like to the elder. Then blessing him, he said: Art thou my son Esau? He answered: I am. Then he said: Bring me the meats of thy hunting, my son, that my soul may bless thee. And when they were brought and he had eaten, he offered him wine also; which after he had drunk, he said to him: Come near me, and give me a kiss, my son. He came near, and kissed him. And immediately as he smelled the fragrant smell of his garments, blessing him, he said: Behold the smell of my son is as the smell of a plentiful field, which the Lord hath blessed. God give thee of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, abundance of com and wine. And let peoples serve thee, and tribes worship thee; be thou lord of thy brethren, and let thy mother’s children bow down before thee. Cursed be he that curseth thee, and let him that blesseth thee be filled with blessings. Isaac had scarce ended his words when Jacob being now gone out abroad, Esau came, and brought in to his father meats made of what he had taken in hunting, saying: Arise, my father, and eat of thy son’s venison; that thy seul may bless me. And Isaac said to him: Why! who art thou? He answered: I am thy firstborn son Esau. Isaac was struck with fear, and astonished exceedingly, and wondering beyond what can be believed, said: Who is he then that even now brought me venison that he had taken and I ate of all before thou earnest? and I have blessed him and he shall be blessed. Esau having heard his father’s words, roared out with a great cry, and being in a consternation, said: Bless me also, my father. And he said: Thy brother came deceitfully and got thy blessing. But he said again: Rightly is his name called Jacob, for he hath supplanted me, lo! this second time; my first birth-right he took away before, and now this second time he hath stolen away my blessing. And again he said to his father: Hast thou not reserved me also a blessing? Isaac answered: I have appointed him thy lord, and have made all his brethren his servants: I have established him with corn and wine, and after this, what shall I do more for thee, my son? And Esau said to him: Hast thou only one blessing, father? I beseech thee, bless me also. And when he wept with a loud cry, Isaac being moved, said to him: In the fat of the earth and in the dew of heaven from above, shall thy blessing be.

The two sons of Isaac are another illustration of God’s judgments upon Israel, and His vocation of the Gentiles. The instruction contained in this passage from Genesis was intended for the catechumens. Here we have two brothers, Esau the elder, and Jacob the younger; Esau represents the Jewish people; he is his father’s heir, and, as such, he has a glorious future before him. Jacob, though twin-brother to Esau, is the second-born, and has no right to the special blessing which Esau claimed; he is the figure of the Gentiles. How, then, is it that Jacob receives the blessing and not Esau? The sacred volume tells us that Esau is a carnal-minded man. Rather than deny himself the momentary gratification of his appetite, he sacrifices the spiritual advantages which his father’s blessing is to bring him; he sells his birthright to Jacob for a mess of pottage. We know the mother’s plan for securing Jacob’s claim; and how the aged father is, unsuspectingly, the instrument in God’s hands, ratifying and blessing this substitution, of which he himself has no knowledge. Esau, having returned home, is made aware of the greatness of his loss; but it is too late, and he becomes an enemy to his brother. The same thing happens with the Jewish people; they are carnal-minded and lose their birthright, their pre-eminence over the Gentiles. They refuse to acknowledge a Messias who is poor and persecuted; their ambition is for earthly triumph and earthly greatness; and the only kingdom that Jesus holds out to His followers is a spiritual one. The Jews, then, reject this Messias; but the Gentiles receive Him, and they become the first-born, the favoured people. And, whereas the Jews repudiate this substitution (to which, however, they assented, when they said to Pilate: ‘We will not have this Man to reign over us’),[1] they are indignant at seeing the heavenly Father bestowing all His love and blessings on the Christian people. They that are children of Abraham according to the flesh are disinherited; and they that are the children of Abraham by faith alone are evidently the children of the promise; according to those words of the Lord, which He spoke to that great patriarch: ‘I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is by the sea-shore. ... In thy seed (that is, in Him who is to be born of thy race) all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.’[2]

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. xv.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus pharisæis et scribis parabolam istam: Homo quidam habuit duos filios: et dixit adolescentior ex illis patri: Pater, da mihi portionem substantiae quæ me contingit. Et divisit illis substantiam. Et non post multos dies, congregatis omnibus, adolescentior filius peregre profectus est in regionem longinquam, et ibi dissipavit substantiam suam vivendo luxuriose. Et postquam omnia consummasset, facta est fames valida in regione ilia, et ipse coepit egere. Et abiit, et adhæsit uni civium regionis illius. Et misit ilium in villain suam ut pasceret porcos. Et cupiebat implere ventre m suum de siliquis quas porci manducabant: et nemo illi dabat. In se autem reversus, dixit: Quanti mercenarii in domo patrie mei abundant panibus: ego autem hicfame pereo! Surgam, et ibo ad patrem meum, et dicam ei: Pater, peccavi in cœlum et coram te; jam non sum dignus vocan filius tuus: fac me sicut unum de mercenariis tuis. Et surgens venit ad patrem suum. Cum autem adhue longe esset, vidit ilium pater ipsius, et misericordia motus est, et accurrens cecidit super collum ejus, et osculatus est eum. Dixitque ei filius: Pater, peccavi in ccelum, et coram te: jam non sum dignus vocari filius tuus. Dixit autem pater ad servos suos: Cito proferte stolam primam, et induite ilium, et date annulum in manum ejus, et calceamenta in pedes ejus: et * adducite vitulum saginatum, et occidite, et manducemus et epulemur: quia hicfilius meus mortuus erat, et revixit: perierat, et inventus est. Et coeperunt epulari. Erat autem filius ejus senior in agro: et cum veniret, et appropinquaret domui, audivit symphoniam, et chorum; et vocavit unum de servis, et interrogavit quid hæc essent. Isque dixit illi: Frater tuus venit, et occidit pater tuus vitulum saginatum, quia salvum ilium recepit. Indignatus est autem, et nolebat introire. Pater ergo illius egressus, cœpit rogare ilium. At file respondens, dixit patri suo: Ecce tot annis servio tibi, et numquam mandatum tuum præterivi, et numquam dedisti mihi hcedum, ut cum amicis meis epularer: sed postquam filius tuus hie, qui devoravit substantiam suam cum meretricibus, venit, oceidisti illi vitulum saginatum. At ipse dixit illi: Fili, tu semper mecum es, et omnia mea tua sunt: epulari autem et gaudere oportebat, quia frater tuus hic mortuus erat, et revixit: perierat et inventus est.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. xv.

At that time: Jesus spoke to the scribes and pharisees this parable: A certain man had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father: Father, give me the portion of substance that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his substance. And not many days after, the younger son, gathering all together, went abroad into a far country, and there wasted his substance, living riotously. And, after he had spent all, there came a mighty famine in that country, and he began to be in want. And he went and cleaved to one of the citizens of that country. And he sent him into his farm to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him. And returning to .himself hesaid: How many hired servants in my father’s house abound with bread, and I here perish with hunger! I will arise and will go to my father, and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee; I am not now worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants. And rising up, he came to his father. And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion; and running to him, fell upon his neck, and kissed him. And the son said to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee; I am not now worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants: Bring forth quickly the first robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat, and make merry; because this my son was dead, and is come to life again, was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and when he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing, and he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said to him: Thy brother is come, and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe. And he was angry, and would not go in. His father therefore coming out began to entreat him. And he answering said to his father: Behold for so many years do I serve thee, and I have never transgressed thy commandment, and yet thou hast never given me a kid to make merry with my friends; but as soon as this thy son is come, who hath devoured his substance with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. But he said to him: Son, thou art always with me, and all I have is thine. But it was fit that we should make merry and be glad; for this thy brother was dead, and is come to life again, he was lost, and is found.

The mystery brought before us in the Epistle is repeated in our Gospel. Again it is the history of two brothers; the elder is angry at seeing his father show mercy to the younger. This younger brother has gone abroad into a far country; he has quitted his father’s house, that he might be under no control, and indulge in every kind of disorder. But when a mighty famine came, and he was perishing with hunger, he remembered that he had a father; and, at once, he arose, and humbly besought his father to receive him, and give him the last place in that housey which, but for his own folly, might have been all his own. The father received the prodigal with the tenderest affection; not only did he pardon him, he restored him to all his family rights; nay, he would have a feast kept in honour of this happy return. The elder brother, hearing what the father had done, was indignant, and conceived the bitterest jealousy against his younger brother. Let the Jews be jealous, if they will; let them be indignant with their God for showing His mercy to any but themselves. The time has come when all the nations of the earth are to be called to the one fold. The Gentiles, notwithstanding all the misery into which their errors and their passions had led them, are to receive the preaching of the apostles. Greeks and Romans, Scythians and barbarians, are to come, humbly acknowledging the evil of their ways, and ask to share in the favours offered to Israel. Not only are they to be allowed to eat of the crumbs that fall from the table, which was all the poor woman of Chanaan dared to hope for; they are to be made sons and heirs of the Father, with all the attendant rights and privileges. Israel will be jealous, and will protest; but to no purpose. He will refuse to take part in the feast; it matters not, the feast is to be. This feast is the Pasch. The prodigals that have come, starved and naked, to the Father’s house, are our catechumens, on whom God is about to bestow the grace of adoption.

But there are also the public penitents, who are being prepared by the Church for reconciliation; they, too, are the frodigals, who come seeking mercy from their offended Father. This Gospel was intended for them as well as for the catechumens. But now that the Church has relaxed her severe discipline, she offers this parable to all those who are in the state of sin, and are preparing to make their peace with God. They know not, as yet, how good is the God from whom they have strayed by sin: let them read to-day’s Gospel, and see how mercy exalteth itself above judgment,[3] in that God, who so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son.[4] How far soever they may have gone astray, or how great soever may have been their ingratitude, let them take courage; a feast is being prepared in their Father’s house, to welcome them home again. The loving Father is waiting at the door to receive and embrace them; the first robe, the robe of innocence, is to be restored to them; the ring, which they alone wear that are of God’s family, is to be once more placed on their hand. There is a banquet being prepared for them, at which the angels, out of joy, will sing their glad songs. Let these poor sinners, then, cry out with a contrite heart: Father! I have sinned against heavenand before Thee; I am not now worthy to be called Thy son: make me as one of Thy hired servants. This tender-hearted Father asks only this much of them: sincere sorrow for their sins, humble confession, and a firm resolution of being faithful for the time to come. Let them accept these easy terms, and He will receive them, once more, as His dearest children.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo. Familiam tuam, quæsumus, Domine, continua pietate custodi: ut quæin sola spe gratiæ cœlestis innititur, cœlesti etiam protectione muniatur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Protect, O Lord, we beseech thee, thy family, by thy continual goodness, that as it relieth on the hopes of thy heavenly grace, so it may bo defended by thy heavenly aid. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

This being Saturday, let us have recourse to Mary the Queen of mercy. Let us address ourselves to her in these devout words of a sequence, taken from the ancient Cluny missals. This is our request: that she would obtain for us the pardon of our sins.

Sequence

Ave novi luminis
Stella promens radium,
Quo nostræ propaginis
Deletur opprobrium.

Tu sola spes hominis,
Tu nostrum refugium,
In hora discriminis
Placa nobis Filium.

Florens Jesse virgula,
Vera veris primula,
Salutem initians.

Rosa semper vernula,
Tota sine macula,
Maculosos expians.

Uterus virgineus,
Fons hortorum, puteus
Aquarum viventium.

Imo thronus aureus,
In quo Rex æthereus
Coronavit Filium.

Domus aromatica,
Quam arte mirifica
Fecit summus Artifex.

In qua Christus unica
Sumpta camis tunica,
Consecratur Pontifex.

Fons distillans oleum,
Imo rorem melleum,
Per amoris fistulas.

Inde surgit balneum,
Purgans omne felleum,
Et peccati maculas.

Mater cujus viscera
Penetrarunt vulnera
Patientis Filii.

Lac profer et ubera;
Nos a pænis libera
Tremendi judicii.

Amen.
Hail, fair star!
that yieldest a ray of new light,
whereby is blotted out
the shame of our race.

O thou the singular hope of man!
O thou our refuge!
Appease thy Son,
at the hour of our judgment.

Thou art the flowery rod of Jesse:
thou art the true first spring-flower,
bringing us our Jesus.

O ever blooming rose
there is not a stain upon thee,
and thy Fruit taketh our stains away.

Thy virginal womb is the fount of the garden,
the source of him
that is the water of life.

Yea, thou art the golden throne,
whereon the King of heaven
crowned his Son.

The palace of sweet perfumes,
formed with exquisite skill
by the hand of the great Artificer;

Wherein Jesus,
having put on the garment of our flesh,
was consecrated High Priest.

Thou art the fount that givest forth oil,
yea, a dew sweet as honey;
for thou art all love.

Hence came to us the font
that washeth away
the bitterness and the stains of sin.

O Mother! whose heart
was pierced by the wounds
of thy suffering Son.

Show us a Mother’s care and love;
and when the dread judgment comes,
deliver us from punishment.

Amen.

 

[1] St. Luke xix. 14.
[2] Gen. xxii. 17, 18.
[3] St. James ii, 13.
[4] St. John iii. 16.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The catechumen who is now expecting the grace of Baptism, and the penitent who is looking forward to the day of his reconciliation, express, in the Introit, the ardour of their longings. They humbly confess their present misery; but they are full of hope in Him, who is soon to set them free from the snare.

Introit

Oculi mei semper ad Dominum, quia ipse evellet de laqueo pedes meos: respice in me, et miserere mei; quoniam unicue et pauper sum ego.

Ps. Ad te, Domine, levavi animam meam: Deus meus, in te confido, non erubescam. V. Gloria Patri. Oculi.
My eyes are ever towards the Lord, for he shall pluck my feet out of the snare: look thou upon me, and have mercy on me, for I am alone and poor.

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, &c. My eyes.

The great battle with the enemy of mankind is now fiercely raging: the Church beseeches her God to stretch forth His right hand in her defence. Such is the petition she makes in to-day’s Collect.

Collect

Quæeumus, omnipotens Deus, vota humilium respice: atque ad defensionem nostram, dexteram tuæ majestatie extende. Per Dominum.
Be attentive, we beseech thee, O almighty God, to the prayers of thy servants, and stretch forth the arm of thy divine Majesty in our defence. Through, &c.

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


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Ephesios.

Cap. v.

Fratres: Estote imitatores Dei, sicut filii charissimi: et ambulate in dilectione, sicut et Christus dilexit nos, et tradidit semetipsum pro nobis oblationem et hostiam Deo in odorem suavitatis. Fornicatio autem, et omnis immunditia, aut avaritia, nec nominetur in vobis, sicut decet sanctos: aut turpitudo, aut etultiloquium, aut scurrilitas, quæ ad rem non pertinet; sed magis gratiarum actio. Hoc enim ecitote intelligentes, quod omnis fornicator, aut immundus, aut avarus, quod est idolorum servitus, non håbet haereditatem in regno Christi et Dei. Nemo vos seducat inanibus verbis; propter hæc enim venit ira Dei in filios difiidentiæ. Noiite ergo effici participes eorum. Eratis enim aliquando tenebræ; nunc autem lux in Domino. Ut filii lucis ambulate: fructus enim lucis est in omni bonitate. et justitia, et veritate.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians.

Ch. v.

Brethren: Be ye followers of God, as most dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God, for an odour of sweetness. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints; or obscenity, or foolish talking, or scurrility, which is to no purpose: but rather giving of thanks. For know ye this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean, or covetous person, which ia serving of idols, hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these tilings cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk then as children of the light: for the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth.

The apostle, speaking to the faithful of Ephesus, reminds them how they once were darkness; but now, he says, ye are light in the Lord. What joy for our catechumens to think that the same change is to be their happy lot! Up to this time they have spent their lives in all the abominations of paganism; and now they have the pledge of a holy life, for they have been received as candidates for Baptism. Hitherto they have been serving those false gods, whose worship was an encouragement to vice; and now they hear the Church exhorting her children to be followers of God, that is to say, to imitate infinite Holiness. Grace—that divine element which is to enable even them to be perfect as their heavenly Father is perfect[1]—is about to be bestowed upon them. But they will have to fight hard in order to maintain so elevated a position; and of their old enemies, two, in particular, will strive to re-enslave them: impurity and avarice. The apostle would not have these vices so much as named among them, from this time forward; for they, he says, that commit such sins are idolaters, and by your vocation to Baptism you have abandoned all your idols.

Such are the instructions given by the Church to her future children. Let us apply them to ourselves, for they are also intended for us. We were sanctified almost as soon as we came into the world; have we been faithful to our Baptism? We, heretoforewere light; how comes it that we are now darkness? The beautiful likeness to our heavenly Father, which was once upon us, is perhaps quite gone! But, thanks to divine mercy, we may recover it. Let us do so by again renouncing satan and his idols. Let our repentance and penance restore within us that light, whose fruit consists in all goodnessjusticeand truth.

The Gradual expresses the sentiments of a soul that sees herself surrounded by enemies, and begs her God to deliver her.

The Tract is taken from Psalm cxxii., which is a canticle of confidence and humility. The sincere avowal of our misery always draws down the mercy of God upon us.

Gradual

Exsurge, Domine, non prævaleat homo: judicentur gentes in conspectus tuo. V. In convertendo inimicum meum retrorsum, infirmabuntur, et peribunt a facie tua.
Arise, O Lord, let not man prevail: let the Gentiles be judged in thy sight. V. When my enemy shall be turned back, they shall be weakened and perish before thy face.

Tract

Ad te levavi oculos meos, qui habitas in ccelis.

V. Ecce sicut oculi servorum in manibus dominorum suorum:

V. Et sicut oculi ancillæ in manibus dominæ suæ: ita oculi noetri ad Dominum Deum nostrum, donec misereatur nostri.

V. Miserere nobis, Domine, miserere nobis.
To thee have I lifted up my eyes, who dwellest in heaven.

V. Behold as the eyes of servants are on the hands of their master:

V. And as the eyes of the handmaid are on the hands of her mistress, so are our eyes unto the Lord our God, until he have mercy on us.

V. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. xi.

In illo tempore: Erat Jesus ejiciens dæmonium, et illud erat mutum. Et cum ejecisset dæmonium, locutus est mu tus, et admiratæ sunt turbæ. Quidam autem ex eis dixerunt: In Beelzebub principe dæmoniorum ejicit dæmonia. Et alii tentantes, signum de cælo quærebant ab eo. Ipse autem ut vidit cogitationes eorum, dixit eis: Omne regnum in seipsum divisum desolabitur, et domus supra domum cadet. Si autem et satanas in seipsum divisus est, quomodo stabit regnum ejus? Quia dicitis in Beelzebub me ejicere dæmonia. Si autem ego in Beelzebub ejicio dæmonia, filii vestri in quo ejiciunt? Ideo ipsi judices vestri erunt. Porro si in digito Dei ejicio dæmonia, proiccto pervenit in vos regnum Dei. Cum fortis armatus custodit atrium suum, in pace sunt ea quæ possidet. Si autem fortior eo superveniens vicerit eum, universa arma ejus auferet, in quibus confidebat, et spolia ejus distribuet. Qui non est mecum, contra me est; et qui non colligit mecum, dispergit. Cum immundus spiritus exierit de homine, ambulat per loca inaquosa, quærens requiem: et non inveniens, dicit: Reyertar in domum meam unde exivi. Et cum venerit, invenit eam scopis mundatam et omatam. Tunc vadit et assumit septem alios spiritus secum, nequiores se, et ingressi habitant ibi. Et fiunt novissima hominis illius pejora prioribus. Factum est autem, cum hæc diceret, extollens vocem quædam mulier de turba, dixit illi: Beatus venter qui te portavit, et ubera quæ suxisti. At ille dixit: Quinimo beati qui audiunt verbum Dei, et custodiunt illud.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. xi.

At that time: Jesus was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb. And when he had cast out the devil, the dumb spoke, and the multitudes were in admiration at it. But some of them said: He casteth out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. And others tempting, asked of him a sign from heaven. But he, seeing their thoughts, said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself, shall be brought to desolation, and house upon house shall fall. And if satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because you say, that through Beelzebub I cast out devils. Now if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I by the finger of God cast out devils, doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his court, those things are in peace which he possesseth. But if a stronger than he come upon him and overcome him, he will take away all his armour wherein he trusted, and will distribute his spoils. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattered. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest; and not finding, he saith: I will return into my house whence I came out. And when he is come, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and entering in they dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. But he said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it.

As soon as Jesus had cast out the devil, the man recovered his speech, for the possession had made him dumb. It is an image of what happens to a sinner, who will not, or dare not, confess his sin. If he confessed it, and asked pardon, he would be delivered from the tyranny which now oppresses him. Alas! how many there are who are kept back, by a dumb devil from making the confession that would save them! The holy season of Lent is advancing; these days of grace are passing away; let us profit by them; and if we ourselves be in the state of grace, let us offer up our earnest prayers for sinners, that they may speak, that is, may accuse themselves in confession and obtain pardon.

Let us also listen, with holy fear, to what our Saviour tells us with regard to our invisible enemies. They are so powerful and crafty, that our resistance would be useless, unless we had God on our side, and His holy angels, who watch over us and join us in the great combat. It is to these unclean and hateful spirits of hell that we delivered ourselves when we sinned: we preferred their tyrannical sway to the sweet and light yoke of our compassionate Redeemer. Now we are set free, or are hoping to be so; let us thank our divine Liberator; but let us take care not to readmit our enemies. Our Saviour warns us of our danger. They will return to the attack; they will endeavour to force their entrance into our soul, after it has been sanctified by the Lamb of the Passover. If we be watchful and faithful, they will be confounded, and leave us: but if we be tepid and careless, if we lose our appreciation of the grace we have received, and forget our obligations to Him who has thus saved us, our defeat is inevitable; and as our Lord says, our last state will be worse than the first.

Would we avoid such a misfortune? Let us meditate upon those other words of our Lord, in to-day’s Gospel: He that is not with Me is against Me. What makes us fall back into the power of satan, and forget our duty to our God, is that we do not frankly declare ourselves for Jesus, when occasions require us to do so. We try to be on both sides, we have recourse to subterfuge, we temporize: this takes away our energy; God no longer gives us the abundant graces we received when we were loyal and generous; our relapse is all but certain. Therefore, let us be boldly and unmistakably with Christ. He that is a soldier of Jesus, should be proud of his title!

The Offertory describes the consolation that a soul, rescued from satan’s grasp, feels in doing the will of her divine Master.

Offertory

Justitiæ Domini rectæ, lætificantes corda, et judicia ejus dulciora super mel et favum; nam et servus tuus custodit ea.
The justices of the Lord aro right, rejoicing hearts; his ordinances are sweeter than honey and the honey-comb; therefore thy servant observeth them.

In the Secret, the Church expresses her confidence in the Sacrifice she is about to offer to God; it is the Sacrifice of Calvary, which redeemed the whole world.

Secret

Hæc hostia, Domine, quæsumufl, emundet nostra delicta: et ad sacrificium celebrandum, subditorum tibi corpora mentesque sanctificet. Per Dominum.
May this offering, O Lord, we beseech thee, cleanse us from our sins, and sanctify the bodies and souls of thy servants for the celebrating of this sacrifice. Through, &c.

The second and third Secrets are given on the first Sunday of Lent, page 136.


Borrowing the words of David, the Church, in her Communion-anthem, describes the happiness of a soul that is united to her God in the Sacrament of love. It is the lot reserved for the catechumens, who have just been received as candidates for Baptism; it is to be also that of the penitents, who shall have washed away their sins in the tears of repentance.

Communion

Passer invenit sibi domum, et turtur nidum, ubi reponat pullos suos: altaria tua, Domine virtutum, Rex meus et Deus meus: beati qui habitant in domo tua; in sæculum sæculi laudabunt te.
The sparrow hath found herself a house, and the turtle a nest, where she may lay her young ones; thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God: blessed are they that dwell in thy house, they shall praise thee for ever and ever.

In the Postcommunion, the Church beseeches her Lord to grant, through the merits of the mystery just partaken of by her children, that sinners may be loosed from the fetters of their sins, and delivered from the danger they have incurred—the danger of eternal perdition.

Postcommunion

A cunctis nos, quæsumus Domine, reatibus et periculis propitiatus absolve: quos tanti mysterii tribuis esse participes. Per Dominum.
Mercifully, O Lord, we beseech thee, deliver us from all guilt and from all danger, since thou admittest us to be partakers of this great mystery. Through, &c.

The second and third Postcommunions are given on the first Sunday of Lent, page 138.


 

VESPERS

 


The psalms and antiphons are given on page 99.


Capitulum

Fratres: Estote imitatores Dei, sicut filii charissimi: et ambulate in dilectione, Micut et Christus dilexit nos, et tradidit semetipsum pro nobis, oblationem et hostiam Deo in odorem suavitatis.
Brethren: Be ye followers of God, as most dear children: and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to Gdd for an odour of sweetness.

For the hymn and versicle, see page 106.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Extollens vocem quædam mulier de turba, dixit: Beatus venter qui te portavit, et ubera quæ suxisti. At Jesus ait illi: Quinimo beati qui audiunt verbum Dei, et custodiunt illud.

Oremus

Quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, vota humilium respice: atque ad defensionem no stram, dexteram tuæ majestatis extende. Per Dominum.
A certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the pape that gave thee suck. But Jesus said to her: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.

Let us Pray

Be attentive, we beseech thee, O almighty God, to the prayers of thy servants, and stretch forth the arm of thy divine Majesty in our defence. Through, &c.

The Mozarabic breviary offers us this beautiful prayer for the commencement of the third week of Lent.

Prayer
(In Dominica III. Quadragesimæ)

Quarti nunc et decimi diei de nostrorum dierum decimis curriculo jam peracto, ad te levamus oculos nostros, Domine, qui habitas in cœlis; impende jam et misericordiam miseris, et medelam porrige vulneratis; tu nobis adgressum iter placidum effice: tu cor nostrum in mandatorum tuorum semitis dirige: per te lucis invenianme viam: per te luminosa amoris tui capiamue incendia; tu laboribus requiem, tu laborantibus tribue mansionem; ut horum dierum observatione tibi placentes, gloriæ tuæ mereamur esse participes.
Having now passed the fourteenth day of this season, which forms the tithe of our year, we lift up our eyes to thee, O Lord, who dwellest in heaven. Show mercy to the miserable, and heal them that are wounded. Grant that the journey we have begun may be prosperous. Direct our hearts in the way of thy commandments. Through thee may we find the way of light; through thee, may we be inflamed with the bright burning of thy love. Grant rest to our labours, and a home to us that labour; that having gained thy good-pleasure by our observance of these days, we may deserve to be partakers of thy glory.

 

[1] St. Matt. v. 48.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Station is in the church of Saint Mark, which was built in the fourth century in honour of the evangelist, by the holy Pope Mark, whose relics are kept there.

Collect

Cordibus nostris, quæsumus, Domine, gratiam tuam benignus infunde; ut sicut ab escis carnalibus abstinemus, ita sensus quoque nostros a noxiis retrahamus excessibus. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
We beseech thee, O Lord, mercifully to pour forth thy grace into our hearts; that, as we abstain from flesh, so we may keep our senses from all noxious excesses. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio libri Regum. IV.

Cap. v.

In diebus illis: Naaman princeps militiæ regis Syriæ, erat vir magnus apud dominum suum, et honoratus: per ilium enim dedit Dominus salutem Syriæ: erat autem vir fortis et dives, sed leprosus. Porro de Syria egressi fuerant latrunculi, et captivam duxerant de terra Israël puellam parvulam, quæerat in obsequio uxoria Naaman. Quæ ait ad dominam suam: Utinam fuisset do min us meus ad prophetam, qui est in Samaria: profecto curasset eum a lepra quam habet. Ingressus est itaque Naaman ad dominum suum, et nuntiavit ei, dicens: Sic et sic locuta est puella de terra Israël. Dixitque ei rex Syriæ: Vade, et mittam litteras ad regem Israël Qui cum profectus esset, et tulisset secum decem talenta argenti, et sex millia aureos, et decem mutatoria vestimentorum, detulit litteras ad regem Israël, in haec verba: Cum acceperis epistolam hane, scito quod miserim ad te Naaman servum meum, ut cures eum a lepra sua. Cumque legisset rex Israël litteras, scidit vestimenta sua, et ait: Numquid Deus ego sum, ut occidere possim et vivificare, quia iste misit ad me, ut curem hominem a lepra sua? Animadvertite et videte quod occasiones quærat adversum me. Quod cum audisset Elisæus vir Dei, scidisse videlicet regem Israel vestimenta sua, misit ad eum dicens: Quare scidisti vestimenta tua? Veniat ad me, et sciat esse prophetam in Israël. Venit ergo Naaman cum equis et curibus, et stetit ad ostium domus Elisæi: misitque ad eum Elisæus nuntium, dicens: Vade, et lavare septies in Jordane, et recipiet sanitatem caro tua, atque mundaberis. Iratus Naaman recedebat, dicens: Putabam quod egrederetur ad me, et stans invocaret nomen Domini Dei sui, et tangeret manu sua locum lepræ et curaret me. Numquid non meliores sunt Abana et Pharphar, fluvii Damasci, omnibus aquis Israel, ut laver in eis et munder? Cum ergo vertisset se, et abiret indignans, accesserunt ad eum servi sui, et locuti sunt ei: Pater, et si rem grandem dixisset tibi Propheta, certe facere debueras: quanto magis quia nunc dixit tibi: Lavare, et mundaberie? Descendit, et lavit in Jordane septies juxta sermonem viri Dei, et restitute est caro ejus, sicut caro pueri parvuli, et mundatus est. Reversusque ad virum Dei cum universo comitatu suo, venit, et stetit coram eo, et ait: Vere scio quod non sit alius Deus in universa terra, nisi tantum in Israël.
Lesson from the Book of Kings. IV.

Ch. v.

In those days: Naaman, general of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable: for by him the Lord gave deliverance to Syria; and he was a valiant man and rich, but a leper. Now there had gone out robbers from Syria, and had led away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid, and she waited upon Naaman’s wife. And she said to her mistress: I wish my master had been with the prophet that is in Samaria; he would certainly have healed him of the leprosy which he hath. Then Naaman went in to his lord, and told him, saying: Thus and thus said the girl from the land of Israel. And the king of Syria said to him: Go, and I wiU send a letter to the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment, and brought the letter to the king of Israel, in these words: When thou shalt receive this letter, know that I have sent to thee Naaman my servant, that thou mayest heal him of his leprosy. And when the king of Israel had read the letter, he rent his garments, and said: Am I God, to be able to kill and to give life, that this man hath sent to me, to heal a man of his leprosy? Mark, and see how he seeketh occasions against me. And when Eliseus the man of God had heard this, to wit, that the king of Israel had rent his garments, he sent to him, saying: W'hy hast thou rent thy garments? Let him come to me, and let him know that there is a prophet in Israel. So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and stood at the door of the house of Eliseus; and Eliseus sent a messenger to him, saying: Go, and wash seven times in the Jordan, and thy flesh shall recover health, and thou shalt be clean. Naaman was angry, and went away saying: I thought he would have come out to me, and standing, would have invoked the name of the Lord his God, and touched with his hand the place of the leprosy, and healed me. Are not the Abana, and the Pharphar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel, that I may wash in them, and be made clean? So as he turned, and was going away with indignation, his servants came to him, and said to him: Father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, surely thou shouldst have done it; how much rather what he now hath said to thee: Wash and thou shalt be clean? Then he went down, and washed in the Jordan seven times, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored, like the flesh of a little child, and he was made clean. And returning to the man of God with all his train, he came and stood before him, and said: In truth I know there is no other God in all the earth, but only in Israel.

Yesterday the Church made known to our catechumens that the day of their Baptism was at hand; to-day she reads them a passage from the old Testament, which relates a history that admirably symbolizes the saving font prepared for them by divine mercy. Naaman’s leprosy is a figure of sin. There is but one cure for the loathsome malady of the Syrian officer: he must go, and wash seven times in the Jordanand he shall he made dean. The Gentile, the infidel, the infant with its stain of original sin, all may be made just and holy; but this can be effected only by water and the invocation of the blessed Trinity. Naaman objects to the remedy, as being too simple; he cannot believe that one so insignificant can be efficacious: he refuses to try it; he expected something more in accordance with reason, for instance, a miracle that would have done honour both to himself and to the prophet. This was the reasoning of many a Gentile, when the apostles went about preaching the Gospel; but they that believed, with simple-hearted faith, in the power of water sanctified by Christ, received regeneration; and the baptismal font created a new people, composed of all nations of the earth. Naaman, who represents the Gentiles, was at length induced to believe; and his faith was rewarded by a complete cure. His flesh was restored like that of a little child, which has never suffered taint or disease. Let us give glory to God, who has endowed water with the heavenly power it now possesses; let us praise Him for the wonderful workings of His grace, which produce in docile hearts that faith whose recompense is so magnificent.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. iv.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus pharisæis: Utique dicetis mihi hanc similitudinem: Medice, cura teipsum: quanta audivimus facta in Caphamaum, fac et hic in patria tua. Ait autem: Amen dico vobis, quia nemo propheta acceptus est in patria sua. In veritate dico vobis, multæ vi du æ erant in diebus Eliæ in Israël, quando clausum est cœlum annis tribus et mensibus sex, cum facta esset fames magna in omni terra: et ad nullam illarum missus est Elias, nisi in Sarephta Sidoniæ ad mu· lierem viduam. Et multi leprosi erant in Israël sub Elisæo propheta: et nemo eorum mundatus est, nisi Naaman Syrus. Et repleti sunt omnes in synagoga ira, hæc audientes. Et surrexerunt et ejecerunt ilium extra civitatem: et duxerunt ilium usque ad supercilium montis, super quem civitas illorum erat ædificata, ut præcipitarent eum. Ipse autem transiens per medium illorum, ibat.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. iv.

At that time: Jesus said to the pharisees: Doubtless you will say to me this similitude: Physician, heal thyself; as great things as we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in thy own country. And he said: Amen, I say to you, that no prophet is accepted in his own country. In truth, I say to you, there were many widows in the days of Elias in Israel, when heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there was a great famine throughout all the earth: and to none of them was Elias sent, but to Sarephta of Sidon, to a widow woman. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed but Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, hearing these things, were filled with anger, and they rose up and thrust him out of the city; and they brought him to the brow of the hill, whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way.

Here, again, we find our Saviour proclaiming the mystery of the Gentiles being called to take the place of the incredulous Jews; and He mentions Naaman as an example of this merciful substitution. He also speaks, in the same sense, of the widow of Sarephta, whose history we had a few days ago. This terrible resolution of our Lord to transfer His light from one people to another, irritates the pharisees of Nazareth against the Messias. They know that Jesus, who has only just commenced His public life, has been working great miracles in Capharnaum: they would have Him honour their own little city in the same way; but Jesus knows that they would not be converted. Do these people of Nazareth so much as know Jesus? He has lived among them for eighteen years, during all which time He has been advancing in wisdom and age and grace before God and men;[1] but they despise Him, for He is a poor man, and the son of a carpenter. They do not even know that though He has passed so many years among them, He was not born in their city, but in Bethlehem. Not many days before this Jesus had gone into the synagogue of Nazareth,[2] and had explained, with marvellous eloquence and power, the Prophet Isaias; He told His audience that the time of mercy had come, and His discourse excited much surprise and admiration. But the pharisees of the city despised His words. They have heard that He has been working great things in the neighbourhood; they are curious to see one of His miracles; but Jesus refuses to satisfy their unworthy desire. Let them recall to mind the discourse made by Jesus in their synagogue, and tremble at the announcement He then made to them, that the Gentiles were to become God’s chosen people. But the divine Prophet is not accepted in His own country; and had He not withdrawn Himself from the anger of His compatriots of Nazareth, the Blood of the Just would have been shed that very day. But there is an unenviable privilege which belongs exclusively to Jerusalem: a prophet cannot perish out of Jerusalem![3]

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Subveniat nobis, Domine, misericordia tua: ut ab imminentibus peccatorum nostrorum periculis, te mereamur protegente, eripi, te liberante, salvari. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

May thy mercy, O Lord, assist us, that by thy protection we may be delivered from the dangers of sin that surround us, and so brought to eternal happiness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us, on this day, offer to God the following solemn supplication, taken from the Gothic missal.

Supplication
(In Dominica III. Quadragesimæ)

Rogamus te, Rex sæculorum, Deus sancte jam miserere; peccavimus tibi.
V. Audi clamantes, Pater altissime, et quæ precamur, demens attribue: exaudi nos Domine.
R. Jam miserere.

V
. Bone Redemptor, supplies quæsumus de toto corde flentes; requirimus, adsiste propitius.
R. Jam miserere.

V
. Emitte manum, Deus omnipotens, et invocantes potenter protege ex alto, piissime.
R. Jam miserere.

V
. Fertilitatem et pacem tribue: remove bella, et famem cohibe, Redemptor sanctissime.
R. Jam miserere.

V
. Indulge lapsis; indulge perditis; dimitte noxia: ablue crimina; acolines tu libera.
R. Jam miserere.

V
. Gemitus vide: fletus intellige: extende manum: peccantes redime.
R. Jam miserere.

V
. Hanc nostram, Deus, hane pacem suscipe: supplicum voces placatus suscipe: et parce, piissime.
R. Rogamus te, Rex sæculorum, Deus sancte jam miserere: peccavimus tibi.
We beseech thee, O King eternal! O holy God! have mercy now upon us, for we have sinned against thee.
V. Hear our cry, O Father, most high God I and mercifully grant us our requests. Graciously hear us, O Lord!
R. Have mercy now upon us.

V
. O good Redeemer! we suppliantly beseech thee, and with our whole heart we pour out our tears before thee. We seek after thee; be propitious, and show thyself unto us.
R. Have mercy now upon us.

V
. Stretch forth thy hand, O almighty God! and, in thy exceeding goodness, powerfully protect us from on high.
R. Have mercy now upon us.

V
. Grant us fertility and peace, O most holy Redeemer! Drive wars away from us, and deliver us from famine.
R. Have mercy now upon us.

V
. Grant pardon to the fallen: pardon them that have gone astray; forgive us our sins; cleanse us from our iniquities; deliver us who are here prostrate before thee.
R. Have mercy now upon us.

V
. See our sighing; hear our weeping; stretch forth thy hand: redeem us sinners.
R. Have mercy now upon us.

V
. Receive, O God, receive this our prayer for reconciliation; be appeased, and receive the petition of thy suppliants; and spare us, O most loving God!
R. We beseech thee, O King eternal! O holy God! have mercy now upon us, for we have sinned against thee.

 


[1] St. Luke ii. 52.
[2] St. Luke iv. 16-22.
[3] Ibid. xiii. 33.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Station is in the church of St. Pudentiana, daughter of Pudens the senator. This holy virgin of Rome lived in the second century. She was remarkable for her charity, and for the zeal wherewith she sought for and buried the bodies of the martyrs. Her church is built on the very spot where stood the house in which she lived with her father and her sister St. Praxedes. St. Peter the Apostle had honoured this house with his presence, during the lifetime of Pudentiana’s grandfather.

Collect

Exaudi nos, omnipotens et misericors Deus: et continentiæ salu taris propitius nobis dona concede. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Graciously hear us, O almighty and merciful God, and grant us the gift of salutary continence. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio libri Regum.

IV. Cap. iv.

In diebus illis: Mulier quædam clamabat ad Elieæum prophetam, dicens: Semis tuus vir meus mortuus est: efc tu nosti quia semis tuus fuit timens Dominum: et ecce creditor venit ut tollat duos filios meos ad serviendum sibi. Cui dixit Elisæus: Quid vis ut faciam tibi? Die mihi quid habes in domo tua? At ilia respondit: Non habeo ancilla tua quidquam in domo mea, nisi pa rum olei, quo ungar. Cui ait: Vade, pete mutuo ab omnibus vicinis tuis vasa vacua non pauca. Et ingredere, et claude ostium tuum, cum intrinsecus fueris tu et filii tui: et mitte inde in omnia vasa hæc: et cum plena fuerint, tolles. Ivit itaque mulier, et clausit ostium super se, et super filios suos: illi offerebant vasa, et ilia infundebat. Cumque plena fuissent vasa, dixit ad filium suum: Affer mihi adhuc vas. Et ille respondit: Non habeo. Stetitque oleum. Venit au tern illa, et indicavit homini Dei. Et ille: Vade, inquit, vende oleum, et redde creditori tuo: tu autem et filii tui vivite de reliquo.
Lesson from the Book of Kings.

IV. Ch. iv.

In those days: A certain woman cried to Eliseus, saying: Thy servant my husband is dead, and thou knowest that thy servant was one that feared God, and behold the creditor is come to take away my two sons to servo him. And Eliseus said to her: What wilt thou have me do for thee? Tell me, what hast thou in thy house? And she answered: I thy handmaid have nothing in my house but a little oil, to anoint me. And he said to her: Go, borrow of all thy neighbours empty vessels not a few. And go in, and shut thy door, when thou art within, with thy sons, and pour out thereof into all those vessels; and when they are full take them away. So the woman went, and shut the door upon her, and upon her sons; they brought her the vessels and she poured in. And when the vessels were full, she said to her son: Bring me yet a vessel. And he answered: I have no more. And the oil stood; and she came and told the man of God. And he said: Go, sell the oil, and pay thy creditor; and thou and thy sons live of the rest.

It is not difficult to unravel the mystery of this day’s lesson. Man’s creditor is satan; our sins have made him such. ‘Go,’says the prophet, ‘and pay the creditor’But how is this to be done? We shall obtain the pardon of our sins by works of mercy, of which oil is the symbol. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.[1] Let us, then, during these 1days of salvation, secure our reconciliation and forgiveness by doing all we can to assist our brethren who are in want; let us join almsdeeds to our fasting, and practise works of mercy. Thus shall we touch the Heart of our heavenly Father. Putting our debts into His hands, we shall take away from satan all the claims he had upon us. Let us learn a lesson from this woman. She lets no one see her as she fills the vessels with oil: let us, also, shut the door, when we do good, so that our left hand shall not know what our right hand doth.[2] Take notice, too, that the woman goes on pouring out the oil as long as she has vessels to hold it. So our mercy towards our neighbour must be proportionate to our means. The extent of these means is known to God, and He will not have us fall short of the power He has given us for doing good. Let us, then, be liberal in our alms during this holy season; let us make the resolution to be so at all times. When our material resources are exhausted, let us be merciful in desire, by interceding with those who are able to give, and by praying to God to help the suffering and the poor.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. xviii.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Si peccaverit in te frater tuus, vade, et corripe eum inter te et ipsum solum. Si te audierit, lucratue eris fratrem tuum. Si autem te non audierit, adhibe tecum adhuc unum vel duos, ut in ore duorum vel trium testium etet omne verbum. Quod si non audierit eos, die Ecclesiae. Si autem Ecclesiam non audierit, sit tibi sicut ethnicus et publicanus. Amen dico vobis: quæcumque alligaveritis super terrain, erunt ligata et in cælo;et quæcumque solveritis super terram, erunt soluta, et in cælo. Iterum dico vobis, quia si duo ex vobis consenserint super terram, de omni re quamcumque petierint, fiet illis a Patre meo, qui in oælis est. Ubi enim sunt duo vel tres congregati in nomine meo, ibi sum in medio eorum. Tunc accedens Petrus ad eum, dixit: Domine, quoties peccabit in me frater meus, et dimittam ei? Usque septies? Dicit illi Jesus: Non dico tibi usque septies; sed usque septuagies septies.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. xviii.

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: If thy brother shall offend against thee, go and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shallhear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more; that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them, tell the Church; and if he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. Again, I say to you, that if two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father, who is in heaven; for where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Then came Peter unto him, and said: Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith to him: I say not to thee, till seven times, but till seventy times seven times.

The mercy which God commands us to show to our fellow-creatures, does not consist only in corporal and spiritual almsdeeds to the poor and the suffering; it includes, moreover, the pardon and forgetfulness of injuries. This is the test whereby God proves the sincerity of our conversion. With the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.[3] If we, from our hearts, pardon our enemies, our heavenly Father will unreservedly pardon us. These are the days when we are hoping to be reconciled with our God; let us do all we can to gain our brother; and for this end, pardon him, if needs be, seventy times seven times. Surely, we are not going to allow the miserable quarrels of our earthly pilgrimage to make us lose heaven! Therefore, let us forgive insults and injuries, and thus imitate our God Himself, who is ever forgiving us.

But how grand are these other words of our Gospel: Whatsoever you shall loose upon earthshall be loosed, also in heaven!Oh, the hope and joy they bring to our hearts! How countless is the number of sinners, who are soon to feel the truth of this consoling promise! They will confess their sins, and offer to God the homage of a contrite and humble heart; and, at the very moment that the hand of the priest shall loose them upon earth, the hand of God will loose them from the bonds which held them as victims to eternal punishment.

And lastly, let us not pass by unnoticed this other sentence, which has a close relation with the one we have just alluded to: If a man hear not the Church, let him be to thee as a heathen and publican. What is this Church? Men, to whom Jesus Christ said: ‘He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me.’[4] Men, from whose lips comes to the world the truth, without which there is no salvation: men, who alone on earth have power to reconcile the sinner with his God, save him from the hell he has deserved, and open to him the gates of heaven. Can we be surprised, after this, that our Saviour—who would have these men to be His instruments, and as it were, the communication between Himself and mankind—should treat as a heathen, as one that has never received Baptism, him that refuses to acknowledge their authority? There is no revealed truth, except through their teaching; there is no salvation, except through the Sacraments which they administer; there is no hoping in Christ Jesus, except where there is submission to the spiritual laws which they promulgate.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Tua nos, Domine, protection defende: et ab omni semper iniquitate custodi. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Defend us, O Lord, by thy protection, and ever preserve us from all iniquity. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us address ourselves to God in these words of a hymn composed by St. Andrew of Crete. We take it from the Greek liturgy.

Hymn
(In V. Feria V. Hebdomadœ)

Audivit propheta adventum tuum, Domine, et timuit: quod esses nasciturus ex Virgine et mundo exhibendue; dixitque: Audi vi auditum tuum et timui. Sit gloria, Domine, tuæ potentiæ.

Ne despexeris tua opera, ac tuum figmentum, juste Judex, neglexeris: quamquam peccavi solus, tu o demens, qua Homo supra hominem omnem potestatem tamen dimittendi peccata, qua es Dominus universorum, habes.

Prope est finis, o anima, prope est, nec es sollicita? non te præparas? tempus urget, exsurge: prope est judex in januis: velut somaium, velut flos, vita decurrit; ut quid vero frustra conturbamur?

Resipisce, O anima mea! actus quos es operata, recogita, eosque ob oculos statue, atque ab oculis lacrymarum stillas funde. Dic palam Christo actiones tuas et cogitationes, et justificare.

Non fuerit in vita peccatum, actiove, aut malitia, quam ego, Salvator, intellectu et cogitatione atque proposito non peccaverim, affectu, mentis judicio, et aotione, et nemo unquam gravius peccaverit.

Inde etiam damnationis incurri reatum; inde, miser ego, conscientia propria judice, qua nihil .mundus violentius håbet, causa cecidi: tu judex et redemptor, cognitorque meus, parce et libera, salvumque fac servum tuum.

Tempus vitæ meæ exiguum est, laboribusque et molestia plenum: verum peenitentem suscipe et revoca agnoscentem Ne fiam aheni possessio et esca: tu ipse Salvator, mei miserere.

Jam grandiloquum ago, et corde temere audacem. Ne me condemnes cum pharisæo: imo publicani, qui solus misericors sis, humilitatem concede: tu me, justejudex, huic adcense.

Ipse mihi factus sum idolum, vitiie corrumpens animara: verum poenitentem suseipe, et revoca agnoscentem. No efficiar alieno in possessionem et escam: tu ipse Salvator, mei miserere.
The prophet trembled when he heard that thou, O Lord, wast to come: that thou wast to be bom of a Virgin, and be made visible to the world. He said: I heard thy hearing, and was afraid. Glory be to thy power, O Lord!

Despise not, O just Judge, thy works: turn not away from the creature thou hast formed. My sins are indeed all my own work; but thou, O merciful Jesus, as Man above all men, hast power to forgive sin, for thou art the Lord of the universe.

Thy end is near, O my soul! How comes it thou art heedless? How is it, that thou art making no preparation? Time presses; arise! The Judge is near, even at thevery gate. Life is passing away, as a dream, and as a flower. Why trouble we ourselves with vain things?

Recover thyself, O my soul! Recall to mind the acts of thy life; bring them before thee, and let thine eyes shed tears over them. Openly confess thy deeds and thoughts to Christ, and be justified.

There is no sin, or evil action, or wickedness which I, O Jesus! have not committed in mind and thought and intention. None ever sinned more grievously than I, in desire, in judgment, and in deed.

Therefore, have I incurred damnation; therefore is sentence given against me, a wretched sinner, whose own conscience is my judge, and whose crimes surpass all that this world has seen. Do thou, my Judge, my Redeemer, and my Witness, spare and deliver and save thy servant.

My life is short, and filled with labour and trouble: but do thou receive mo, for I repent; call me back unto thee, for I acknowledge thee to be my Lord. Let me not become the property and prey of any but thee. Thou art my Saviour; hav£ mercy on me.

My words are haughty, and my heart presumptuous. Condemn me not with the pharisee, but give me, O thou the one only merciful God, the humility of the publican, and number me with him, O my just Judge!

I have made myself my idol, and my sins have corrupted my soul: but do thou receive me, for I repent; call me back unto thee, for I acknowledge thee to be my Lord. Let me not become the property and prey of any but thee. Thou art my Saviour: have mercy on me.

 

[1] St. Matt. v. 7.
[2] Ibid. vi, 3.
[3] St. Luke vi. 38.
[4] St. Luke x. 16.

 

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