The Catacombs

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Monday of the First Week of Lent
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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Each Feria of Lent has a proper Mass; whereas, in Advent, the Mass of the preceding Sunday is repeated during the week. This richness of the Lenten Liturgy is a powerful means for our entering into the Church’s spirit, since she hereby brings before us, under so many forms, the sentiments suited to this holy time. From these Ferial Masses we intend giving for the respective days the Collect(which is always the principal prayer), the Epistle, the Gospel, and the Prayer which is said “over the people” at the end of the Mass. All this will provide us with most solid instruction; and as the selections from the Bible, which are each day brought before us, are not only some of the finest of the Sacred Volume, but are moreover singularly appropriate to Lent—their attentive perusal will be productive of a twofold advantage.

At Rome, today’s Station is in the Church of Peter-ad-vincula. It was built in the 5th century by the Empress Eudoxia, wife of Valentinian 3rd, and possesses the venerable relic of St. Peter’s Chains. We shall speak more fully on this Basilica when we keep the Feast of the Apostle’s deliverance from prison on the 1st of August.

Converte nos, Deus salutaris noster: et ut nobis jejunium quadragesimale proficiat, mentes nostras cœlestibus instrue disciplinis. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum. Amen. 
Convert us, O God our Savior: and instruct our minds with thy heavenly doctrine, that this fast of Lent may be beneficial to us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lesson from Ezechiel the Prophet. Ch. xxxiv.
Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I myself will seek my sheep, and will visit them. As the shepherd visiteth his flock in the day when he shall be in the midst of his sheep that were scattered; so will I visit my sheep, and will deliver them out of all the places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And will bring them out from the peoples, and will gather them out of the countries, and will bring them to their own land; and I will feed them in the mountains of Israel, by the rivers, and in all the habitations of the land. I will feed them in the most fruitful pastures, and their pastures shall be in the high mountains of Israel: there shall they rest on the green grass and be fed in fast pastures upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my sheep; and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and that which was driven away I will bring again; and I will bind up that that which was broken, and I will strengthen that which was weak, and that which was fat and strong I will preserve; and I will feed them in judgment, saith the Lord Almighty.

Quote:Our Lord here shows himself to us as a Shepherd full of love for his Sheep. Such, indeed, he truly is to men, during this Season of mercy. A portion of his flock had gone astray, and was wandering to and fro amidst the darkness of this world; but Jesus did not forget them. He went in search of them, that he might gather them together. He sought through lonely deserts, and rocky places, and brambles. He now speaks to them through his Church, and invites them to return. He sweetly encourages them, for perhaps they might fear and be ashamed to appear before him after so many sins. He promises them that if they will but return to him, they shall be fed on the richest pastures near the river bank, and on the mountains of Israel. They are covered with wounds, but he will bind them up; they are weak, but he will strengthen them. He will once more give them fellowship with the faithful ones who never left him, and he himself will dwell with them forever. Let the sinner, then, yield to this tender love; let him not refuse to make the efforts required for his conversion. If these efforts of penance seem painful to nature, let him recall to mind those happy days when he was in grace, and in the fold of his Good Shepherd. He may be so again. The gate of the fold is open; and thousands who, like himself, had gone astray, are going in with joy and confidence. Let him follow them, and remember how his Jesus has said: There shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine who need not penance. (Luke 15:7)

Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew  Ch.xxv.

At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: When the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the Angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the King say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me; sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in; or naked, and clothed thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the King answering, shall say to them: Amen, I say to you, as long as you have done it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. Then shall he say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me not in; naked, and you clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then shall they also answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least ones, neither did you it to me. And these shall go into everlasting punishment, but the just into life everlasting.

Quote:We have just been listening to a Prophet of the Old Testament, inviting us to return to the Good Shepherd;—our Lord there put forth every argument which love could devise, to persuade his lost sheep to return to him: and here, on the very same day that the Church speaks to us of our God as being a gentle and compassionate Shepherd, she describes him as an inflexible judge. This loving Jesus, this charitable Physician of our souls, is seated on his dread tribunal, and cries out in his anger: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire! And where has the Church found this awful description? In the Gospel, that is, in the very Law of Love—But if we read our passage attentively, we shall find that He who pronounces this terrible anathema is the same God whom the Prophet has been just portraying as a Shepherd full of mercy, patience, and zeal for his Sheep. Observe how he is still a Shepherd, even on his judgment seat: he separates the sheep from the goats; he sets the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left; the idea, the comparison of a Flock, is still kept up. The Son of God will exercise his office of Shepherd even to the Last Day: only then, time will be at an end, and eternity will have begun; the reign of Justice, too, will have succeeded the reign of Mercy, for it will be Justice that will reward the good with the promised recompense, and that will punish impenitent sinners with eternal torments. How can the Christian who believes that we are all to stand before this tribunal refuse the invitation of the Church, who now presses him to make satisfaction for his sins? Truly, man is his own worst enemy, if he can disregard these words of Jesus, who now is his Savior, and then will be his Judge: Unless ye do penance, ye shall all perish. (Luke 13:3)

Humiliate capita vestra Deo. 
Bow down your heads to God.

Absolve, quæsumus, Domine, nostrorum vincula peccatorum: et quidquid pro eis meremur, propitiatus averte. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. 
Loosen, O Lord, we beseech thee, the bonds of our sins; and mercifully turn away from us whatever we deserve for them. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us close the day by reciting the following Hymn, which was composed by St. Gregory the Great, and is used by the Church in her Matins during Lent.
Ex more docti mystico,
Servemus hoc jejunium,
Deno dierum circulo
Ducto quater notissimo. 

Let us observe this most solemn fast of forty days, which has been handed down to us by sacred tradition.

Lex et Prophetæ primitus
Hoc prætulerunt, postmodum
Christus sacravit, omnium
Rex atque factor temporum. 

The Law and the Prophets first introduced it; and afterwards, Christ, the Master and Maker of all seasons, consecrated it by his own observing it.

Utamur ergo parcius
Verbis, cibis et potibus,
Somno, jocis, et arctius
Perstemus in custodia. 

Let us, therefore, be more sparing in our words; let us retrench somewhat of our food, and drink, and sleep, and merriment, and redouble our watchfulness.

Vitemus autem noxia,
Quæ subruunt mentes vagas:
Nullumque demus callidi
Hostis locum tyrannidi. 

Let us shun those noxious things, which play such havoc with unguarded souls: and let us avoid whatsoever could strengthen the tyranny of our crafty enemy.

Flectamus iram vindicem,
Ploremus ante judicem:
Clamemus ore supplici,
Dicamus omnes cernui. 

Let us appease the anger of our Judge, and pour out our tears before him: let us prostrate ourselves, and thus cry to him in suppliant prayer:

Nostris malis offendimus
Tuam, Deus, clementiam;
Effunde nobis desuper
Remissor indulgentiam.

“We have offended thy goodness, O God, by our sins: forgive us, and pour out thy mercy upon us.

Memento quod sumus tui,
Licet caduci, plasmatis:
Ne des honorem Nominis
Tui, precamur, alteri.

“Remember that we are the work of thy hands, frail though we be: we beseech thee, suffer not another to usurp the honor of thy Name.

Laxa malum quod fecimus,
Auge bonum quod poscimus:
Placere quo tandem tibi
Possimus hic et perpetim.

“Pardon us the evil we have done, and grant us good things, even beyond our prayer: that thus we may be well-pleasing to thee, now and forever.

Præsta, beata Trinitas,
Concede simplex Unitas,
Ut fructuosa sint tuis
Jejuniorum munera. Amen. 

“O Blessed Trinity! O Undivided Unity! grant us, thy servants, to reap fruit from the Fast thou hast given us. Amen.”

✠ ✠ ✠

LESSON. (Ezech. xxxiv. n — 16.) Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I myself will seek my sheep, and will visit them. As the shepherd visiteth his flock, in the day when he shall be in the midst of his sheep that were scattered: so will I visit my sheep, and will deliver them out of all the places, where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples, and will gather them out of the countries, and will bring them to their own land: and I will feed them in the mountains of Israel, by the rivers, and in all the habitations of the land. I will feed them in the most fruitful pastures, and their pastures shall be in the high mountains of Israel: there shall they rest on the green grass, and be fed in fat pastures upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my sheep: and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and that which was driven away, I will bring again, and I will bind up that which was broken, and I will strengthen that which was weak, and that which was fat and strong, I will preserve: and I will feed them in judgment, saith the Lord Almighty.

EXPLANATION. After these words to the Jews, to whom God promised, that He would free them from the Babylonian captivity, and then pasture and protect them like a good pastor, the prophet describes, in a higher sense, the time when all nations will be united in one fold, under one shepherd, namely, Christ Jesus. These words may be applied, at the same time, to a soul, which by a true conversion has been released from the power of Satan by the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who has followed it everywhere, and is now carefully nourished by Him, by His word and His blessed Sacraments and filled with heavenly consolations. Hasten back to Him, O Christian soul, if you have strayed away from Jesus, the Good Shepherd; He will receive you joyfully, and give you His love!

GOSPEL. (Matt. xxxv. 31 — 46.) At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: When the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty: and all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: naked, and you clothed me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and feed thee: thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in: or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. Then shall he say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me you cursed into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink: I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord when did we see thee hungry or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me. And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

EXPLANATION. From the words of this gospel we see how necessary it is to be charitable to the poor, since Jesus gives such great reward to the charitable, and so severely punishes those who do not practise this virtue. St. Francis the Seraph says: “In the poor Christ reveals Himself to us as in a mirror; as often, therefore, as a poor or feeble person meets you, remember the poverty and weakness Christ took upon Himself for us, and revere in him Christ Himself, who says: As long as you did it to one of these least in my name, you did it to me."
Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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At Rome, the Station is in the Church of St. Anastasia, where, formerly, the Mass of the Aurora, on Christmas Day, used to be celebrated. It is under the protection of this holy Martyr, who suffered death for Christ on the day of his Birth, that we offer our prayers to-day to the Father of Mercy.

Respice, Domine, familiam tuam, et præsta, ut apud te mens nostra tuo desiderio fulgeat, quæ se carnis maceratione castigat. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum. Amen. 
Look down, O Lord, on thy children, and grant that, while we chastise ourselves by mortifying the flesh, our minds may be inflamed with the love and desire of thee. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lesson from Isaias the Prophet. Ch. lv.

In those days, Isaias the prophet spake, saying: Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unjust man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he is bountiful to forgive. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts. And as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return no more thither, but soak the earth, and water it, and make it to spring, and give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall my word be, which shall go forth from my mouth. It shall not return to me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please, and shall prosper in the things for which I sent it, saith the Lord Almighty.

Quote:The Prophet, speaking to us in God’s name, assures us that, if we sincerely desire our conversion, we shall find mercy. The infinite distance which lies between the sovereign holiness of God and the soul that is defiled by sin is no obstacle to the reconciliation between the creature and the Creator. The goodness of God is omnipotent; it can create a clean heart in him that repents, and, where sin abounded, it can make grace abound more than ever sin abounded. The word of pardon will come down from heaven like plentiful rain upon parched land, and that land will yield a rich harvest. But let the sinner give ear to the rest of the prophecy. Is man at liberty to accept or refuse this word that comes from heaven? May he, for the present, neglect it in the hope that he will give it a welcome later on, when his life is at its close? No; God says to us by his Prophet: Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found; call upon him, while he is near. 

We cannot, therefore, find the Lord just when it suits our fickle humor; his nearness to us is not always the same. Let us take heed; God has his times; the time for mercy may be followed by the time for justice. Jonas went through the streets of the proud city, and cried out: Yet forty days, and Ninive shall be destroyed. Ninive did not allow the forty days to pass without returning to the Lord; she put on sackcloth and ashes, she fasted, and she was spared. Let us imitate the earnest repentance of this guilty city; let us not set Divine Justice at defiance by refusing to do penance, or by doing it negligently. This Lent is, perhaps, the last God’s mercy will grant us. If we put off our conversion, God may refuse us another such opportunity. Let us meditate upon these words of the Apostle, which repeat the truth told us in today’s Epistle: The earth that drinketh in the rain which cometh often upon it, and bringeth forth herbs, meet for them by whom it is tilled, receiveth blessing from God; but that which bringeth forth thorns and briars is reprobate, and very near unto a curse, whose end is to be burnt.

Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew. Ch. xxi.

At that time: When he was come into Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, saying: Who is this? And the people said: This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the chairs of them that sold doves. And he saith to them: It is written, “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.” And there came to him the blind and the lame in the temple: and he healed them. And the chief priests and scribes seeing the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying: “Hosanna to the son of David,” were moved with indignation, and said to him: Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus said to them: Yea, have you never read, “Out of the mouths of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” And leaving them, he went out of the city into Bethania, and remained there.

Quote:Our Forty Days have scarcely begun, and we find the implacable enemies of Jesus showing their hatred against him: that hatred will soon work his death. But how is this? have they not been witnesses of his wonderful works? True: but pride and jealousy have made them lose their senses. These faithless guardians of God’s Temple have seen Jesus exercise his authority in the holy place, and they opened not their lips; they were astonished at what he did, and they feared him. They did not even protest when he called the Temple his house, for they were awed by his great virtue and superhuman power. But these first impressions having subsided, their bold impiety returns. They hear the little children greeting our Savior with Hosanna, and they are indignant. They affect to be shocked at this honor which is paid to the Son of David, who went about everywhere doing good. These doctors of the Law are blinded by passion, and can neither understand the prophecies, nor their fulfillment. It is the verification of the words of Isaias, which we have just been reading in the Epistle: they would not seek the Lord while he was near them; and now that they are even speaking with him, they do not recognize him for their Messias. Little children know him and bless him; the sages of Israel see in him but an enemy of God, and a Blasphemer! 

Let us, at least, profit by the visit he is now granting us; lest he should treat us, as he did the Chief Priests and Scribes, and leave us. He withdrew his presence from them, he went out of the city, and returned to Bethania, which was near Jerusalem. It was there that Lazarus was living with his two sisters, Martha and Mary Magdalene. Mary, the Mother of Jesus had also retired thither, awaiting the terrible event. St. Jerome observes here that the word Bethania signifies the House of Obedience: this, says the holy Doctor, should remind us that our Savior withdraws from them who are rebels to his grace, and that he loves to be with them that are obedient. Let us learn the lesson well; and during these days of salvation, let us show, by our obedience to the Church and our submission to the guide of our conscience, that we are thoroughly convinced of this truth—that there is no salvation for us, except in humility and simplicity of heart.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo. 
Bow down your heads to God.

Ascendant ad te, Domine, preces nostræ: et ab Ecclesia tua cunctam repelle nequitiam. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. 
May our prayers, O Lord, ascend to thee, and deliver thy Church from all wickedness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Gothic Church of Spain, in her Mozarabic Missal, offers us this formula, which our readers will justly appreciate.
(Dominica II. in Quadragesima.)
℣. Miserere et parce, clementissime Domine, populo tuo; 
℣. Have pity on us, O most merciful Lord, and spare thy people;

℟. Quia peccavimus tibi. 
℟. For we have sinned against thee.

℣. Prostrati omnes lacrymas producimus: pandentes tibi occulta quæ admisimus, a te, Deus, veniam deposcimus. 
℣. We all prostrate before thee, and pour out our tears: we confess unto thee our hidden sins, and beseech thee, O God, to pardon us.

℟. Quia peccavimus tibi. 
℟. For we have sinned against thee.

℣. Orationes sacerdotum accipe, et quæque postulant affluenter tribue: ac tuæ plebi miserere, Domine. 
℣. Receive the prayers of thy priests, and abundantly grant what they ask: and have mercy on thy people, O Lord.

℟. Quia peccavimus tibi. 
℟. For we have sinned against thee.

℣. Fuorem tuum adduxisti super nos: nostra delicta dira curvaverunt nos: et absque ulla spe defecimus. 
℣. Thou art angry against us: our heinous crimes have bowed us down to the earth: and we have grown faint, because there is no hope within us.

℟. Quia peccavimus tibi. 
℟. For we have sinned against thee.

℣. Traditi sumus malis quæ nescimus, et omne malum irruit super nos: et invocavimus: et non audivimus. 
℣. We have been made a prey to evils that we know not, and every evil has come upon us: we have called upon thee, and we have heard no reply.

℟. Quia peccavimus tibi. 
℟. For we have sinned against thee.

℣. Omnes clamamus: omned te requirimus: te pœnitentes lacrymis prosequimur: cujusque iram ipsi provocavimus. 
℣. We all cry unto thee: we all seek thee: we are repentant, and weeping follow thee, for we have provoked thy anger.

℟. Quia peccavimus tibi. 
℟. For we have sinned against thee.

℣. Te deprecantes, te gementes proscimus: te, Jesu Christe, prosternati petimus: tua potestas jam sublevet miseros. 
℣. We beseech thee, we sigh out our prayers to thee: O Jesus, we prostrate before thee, and petition thee: let thy power raise us from our misery.

℟. Quia peccavimus tibi. 
℟. For we have sinned against thee.

℣. Confessionem tuæ plebis accipe: quam lamentantes coram te effundimus: et pro admissis corde ingemiscimus. 
℣. Receive thy people’s confession: full of sorrow, we pour it out before thee: and our hearts are sad for the sins we have committed.

℟. Quia peccavimus tibi. 
℟. For we have sinned against thee.

℣. Pacem rogamus, pacem nobis tribue: amove bella et nos omnes erue: humili prece postulamus, Domine. 
℣. We sue for peace; grant us peace! Avert the scourge of war, and deliver us, we humbly beseech thee, O Lord!

℟. Quia peccavimus tibi. 
℟. For we have sinned against thee.

℣. Inclina aurem, Deus clementissime: jam abluantur delictorum maculæ: et a periculis tu benignus exime. 
℣. Bow down thine ear, O most merciful God! Cleanse us from the stains of our sins, and, in thy pity, deliver us from all dangers.

℟. Miserere et parce. 

℟. Have mercy on us and spare us.
Wednesday in Lenten Ember Week
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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The fast of today is prescribed by a double law: it is Lent, and it is Ember Wednesday. It is the same with the Friday and Saturday of this week. There are two principal objects for the Ember days of this period of the year: the first is to offer up to God the Season of Spring, and by fasting and prayer, to draw down his blessing upon it; the second is to ask him to enrich with his choicest graces the Priests and Sacred Ministers who are to receive their Ordination on Saturday. Let us, therefore, have a great respect for these three days; and let those who violate, upon them, the laws of Fasting or Abstinence, know that they commit a two-fold sin.

Up to the 11th century, the Ember Days of Spring were kept in the first week of March; and those of Summer, in the second week of June. It was St. Gregory the Seventh who fixed them as we now have them; that is, the Ember Days of Spring in the first week of Lent, and those of Summer in Whitsun Week.

The Station for today is the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. Let us honor the Mother of God, the Refuge of Sinners; and let us ask her to present to our Divine Judge the humble tribute of our penance.

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

The Epistle of the Mass for all the Ember Wednesdays consists of two Lessons from Sacred Scripture. Today the Church brings before us the two great types of Lent—Moses and Elias—in order to impress us with an idea of the importance of this Forty Days’ Fast, which Christ himself solemnly consecrated when he observed it, and thus fulfilled, in his own person, what the Law and the Prophets had but prefigured.

First Lesson
Lesson from the book of Exodus. Ch. xxiv.

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

Second Lesson
Lesson from the book of Kings. Ch. xix.

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

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

Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew. Ch. xii.

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

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

Humiliate capita vestra Deo. 
Bow down your heads to God.

Mentes nostras, quæsumus, Domine, lumine tuæ claritatis illustra: ut videre possimus quæ agenda sunt, et quæ recta sunt, agere vadeamus. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. Enlighten, we beseech thee, O Lord, our minds with the light of thy brightness, that we may discern what is to be done and be able to do it. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

We take the following devout stanzas on Fasting from the Triodion of the Greek Church.
Mirabilia arma oratio, et jejunium; hoc Moysem legislatorem effecit, et Heliam inter sacrificia zelatorem: huic firmiter insistentes, fideles, ad Salvatorem clamemus: Peccavimus tibi soli, miserere nostri. 
Wonderful is the armor of Prayer and Fasting! With it, Moses became a legislator, and Elias a zealous priest. Let us, O ye Faithful! resolutely take it unto ourselves, and cry out to our Savior: To thee alone have we sinned; have mercy on us!

Spirituale jejunium jejunemus, tortuosos laqueos omnes abrumpamus, declinemus pariter malorum exemplorum nequitiam, dimittamusque fratribus debita, ut nobis quoque delicta nostra dimittantur; ita enim clamare poterimus: Dirigatur, Domine, oratio nostra, sicut incensum, in conspectu tuo. 
Let us fast a spiritual fast, break all the snares of the serpent, shun the wickedness of evil example, and forgive our brethren their offenses against us, that our own sins may be forgiven; for thus shall we be able to say: May our prayer, O Lord, be directed as incense in thy sight!

Solus bonus, fons misericordiæ, Agnus Dei, qui, utpote Deus, tollis peccata mundi, serva me criminum procellis agitatum, et ad pœnitentiæ semitas dirige. 
O thou that alone art Good! O fount of mercy! O Lamb of God, who, being thyself God, takest away the sins of the world! I am tost by the storms of sin; save me, and lead me to the paths of penance.

Purum jejunium, fuga peccati, pravorum affectuum abscessus, charitas erga Deum, orationis studium, lachryma cum compunctione, et pauperum cura, quemadmodum Christus in Scripturis præcepit. 
The true fast is fleeing from sin, turning away from evil affections, love of God, earnest prayer, tears of compunction, and charity towards the poor, as Christ teaches us in the Scripture.

Animam peccati gladio transfossam, multisque criminibus lancinatam sana, o animarum nostrarum medice, utpote benefactor, adhibens mihi sapientium mandatorum tuorum remedia, o clemens. 
My soul is pierced with the sword of sin, and is mangled by manifold crimes: heal it, O thou kind Physician of souls! Apply unto me, O merciful Jesus, the remedy of thy all-wise commandments.

Compunctioni idoneum nacti præsens jejunii tempus, magnopere lugeamus atque ingemamus, manusque ad solum Redemptorem, ut animas nostras solvat, expandamus. 
Now is the time for compunction, for it is the time of the Fast; let us earnestly give ourselves to tears and sighs, and stretch forth our hands to our only Redeemer, beseeching him to unfetter our souls.

Utinam mihi quoque detur, pravos affectus omnes exstinguere, et tui amorem, Christe, concipere, divinis ditescere, mi bone Jesu, tibique famulatum impendere. 
Give me the grace, O my good Jesus! to stifle all my wicked affections, to be filled with the love of thee, to be rich in divine gifts, and to serve thee with all devotedness.

Vide, attende, anima, ne forte dum jejunas, crapulæ loco tibi sint injuriæ, inimicitiæ, contentiones adversus proxomum, atque a Deo propter tuam negligentiam excidas. 
Take heed, my soul, lest, while fasting, thou be guilty of the gluttony of injuring and hating thy neighbor, and quarrelling with him; and thus lose thy God, by thy negligence.

Qua ratione, Christe meus, iram tuam sustinebo, dum ad judicandum veneris? quidve illic respondebo, cum justa tua neque fecerim, neque peregerim, Christe? quare mihi ante exitum ignosce. 
How shall I be able, O my Jesus, to endure thy wrath, when thou comest to judge me? What answer shall I then make unto thee, if now I refuse to fulfill thy just commands?—O pardon me, before my departure hence.

E cupiditatum tyrannide vindica, Domine, animam meam, ut libere voluntatem tuam implens, gaudeam, atque glorificem potentiam tuam in sæcula. 
Liberate my soul, O Lord, from the tyranny of my passions, that I may enjoy the freedom of doing thy will, and give glory to thy power, for eternity.

Oderis, anima mea, Esaii intemperantiam, et Jacobi bona æmuleris, Belial abstinentia supplantes, divina thesaurizes, et laudes Deum in sæcula. 
Hate, O my soul, the intemperance of Esau, and imitate the holy Jacob; destroy Belial by abstinence, make treasure to thyself of divine riches, and let the praise of God be forever on thy lips.

Tranquillum jejunii mare nobis nulla actis tempestate prætergredi tribue, donec ad portum Resurrectionis tuæ perveniamus, misericors, te in secula celebrantes.
Grant unto us, O merciful Savior, that we may traverse the sea of our Fast unmolested by storms; and that we, who are ever celebrating thy praise, may be brought to the heaven of thy Resurrection.
Thursday of the First Week of Lent
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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Today’s Station is in the Church of St. Laurence, in Paneperna, one of those which the piety of the Faithful of Rome has built in honour of this the most celebrated of the Martyrs of the Holy City.

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

Lesson from Ezechiel the Prophet. Ch. xviii.

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

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

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

Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew. Ch. xv.

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

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

Humiliate capita vestra Deo. 
Bow down your heads to God.

Da, quæsumus, Domine, populis Christianis, et quæ profitentur agnoscere: et cœleste munus diligere, quod frequentant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. 
Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that all Christian people may acknowledge what they profess, and love the heavenly mystery they so often approach. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us read this admirable Preface, taken from the Mozarabic Missal. It shows us how Jesus is the Bread of Life, which supports us during our Fast.
It will not be the less acceptable, because it is almost word for word a repetition of one already given from the Ambrosian Rite.
(Illatio. Dominica III. Quadragesimæ.)
Dignum et justum est, æquum vere et salutare est: nos tibi gratias agere, omnipotens Peter, et Jesu Christo Filio tuo Domino nostro; in quo jejunantium fides alitur: spes provehitur, charitas roboratur. Ipse est enim panis vivus et verus qui est et substantia æternitatis: et esca virtutis. Verbum enim tuum est, per quod facta sunt omnia: quia non solum humanarum mentium: sed ipsorum quoque panis est Angelorum. Hujus panis alimento Moyses famulus tuus quadraginta diebus ac noctibus legem suscipiens jejunavit: et a carnalibus cibis, ut tuæ suavitatis capacior esset, abstinuit; de Verbo tuo vivens et valens: cujus et dulcedinem bibebat in spiritu, et lucem accpiebat in vultu. Inde nec famem sensit, et terrenarum est oblitus escarum: quia illum et gloriæ tuæ glorificabat aspectus: et influente Spiritu Sancto sermo pascebat interius. Hunc panem etiam nobis ministrare non desinis: sed ut eum indeficienter esuriamus hortaris. Cujus carne dum pascimur, roboramur: et sanguinem dum potamus, abluimur.

It is meet and just, yea truly right and available to salvation, that we should give thanks, O Almighty Father, to thee, and to our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son; in whom, they that fast, find the nourishment of their faith, the advancement of their hope, the strengthening of their charity. For he is the true and living Bread, who is the nourishment of eternity, and the food of virtue. For he is thy Word, by whom all things were made; the Bread, not only of the souls of men, but likewise of the very Angels. With this Bread with thy servant Moses fed, when, receiving thy Law, he fasted forty days and forty nights, and abstained from bodily food, that he might be the better able to partake of thy sweetness. He lived and grew strong on thy Word, of whose sweetness his spirit drank, and with whose light his face did beam. Hence, he felt not hunger, and forgot all earthly food, for the sight of thy glory shone upon him, and, through the infusion of the Holy Spirit, he ate interiorly of the word. To us, likewise, thou ceasest not to administer this Bread; yea, thou biddest us unceasingly hunger after it. When we feed on this Flesh, we are strengthened; when we drink of this Blood, we are cleansed.
Very nice! Smile
Friday in Lenten Ember Week
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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The Station is in the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles : it is one of the grandest of the Churches of Rome ; and is enriched by the Bodies of the two Apostles, St. Philip and St. James the Less.

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

Lesson from Ezechiel the Prophet. Ch. xviii.

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

Quote:Let us not forget the ancient discipline of the Church during Lent. We should frequently be at a loss to understand her Liturgy of this Season unless we picture her to ourselves as preparing the Public Penitents for a re-participation in the Mysteries. But first, they must be reconciled with God, whom they have offended. Their soul is dead by sin; can it be restored to life? Yea; we have God’s word for it. The Lesson from the Prophet Ezechiel, which the Church began yesterday for the Catechumens, is continued today for the benefit of the Public Penitents. If the wicked do penance for all his sins, which he hath committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment and justice; living he shall live, and shall not die. But his iniquities are upon him, and rise up against him, crying to heaven for eternal vengeance! And yet, that God who knows all things and forgets nothing, assures us that he will not remember iniquities which have been redeemed by penance. Such is the affection of his fatherly heart, that he will forget the outrage offered him by his son, if this son will but return to his duty. 

Thus, then, our Penitents are to be reconciled; and on the Feast of the Resurrection, they will be associated with the just, because God will have forgotten their iniquities; they themselves will be just men. Thus it is that the Liturgy, which never changes, brings frequently before us her ancient discipline of public penance. Nowadays, sinners are not visibly separated from the Faithful; the Church doors are not closed against them; they frequently stand near the holy Altar, in the company of the just; and when God’s pardon descends upon them, the Faithful are not made cognizant of the grace by any special and solemn rite. Let us here admire the wonderful mercy of our Heavenly Father, and profit by the indulgent discipline of our holy Mother the Church. The lost sheep may enter the fold at any hour and without any display; let him take advantage of the condescension thus shown him, and never more wander from the Shepherd who thus mercifully receives him. Neither let the just man be puffed up with self-complacency by preferring himself to the lost sheep: let him rather reflect on those words of today’s Lesson: If the just man turn himself away from his justice, and do iniquity … the justices which he hath done shall not be remembered. Let us, therefore, tremble for ourselves, and have compassion on sinners. One of the great means on which the Church rests her hopes for the reconciliation of sinners is the fervent prayers offered up for them by the Faithful during Lent.

Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to John. Ch. v.

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

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

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

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

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

Humiliate capita vestra Deo. 
Bow down your heads to God.

Exaudi nos, misericors Deus, et mentibus nostris gratiæ tuæ lumen ostende. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. 
Graciously hear us, O merciful God, and manifest the light of thy grace to our souls. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us address ourselves to the heavenly Physician of our souls, in these words of the Triodion of the Greek Church.
(Feria VI. Hebdomadæ I. Jejuniorum.)
Qui passionibus tuis tradidisti omnibus vacuitatem a passionibus, effice. Domine, ut divina cruce carnis meæ affectionibus exstinctis, sanctam pariter Resurrectionem tuam conspiciam. 
Do thou, O Lord, whose Passion has merited for us the deliverance from our passions, grant that my carnal affections may be quenched by the virtue of thy divine Cross, and that I may contemplate thy holy Resurrection.

Puritatis fons, conserva nos, misericors, jejunii ope, respice ad nos ante te procidentes, attende elevationi manuum nostrarum, qui manus tuas in ligno pro mortalibus omnibus crucifixus expandisti, Angelorum unus Dominus
O Fount of purity, most merciful Savior, preserve us by the merit of this our Fast. Behold us here prostrate before thee. Disdain not our uplifted hands, O thou the sovereign Lord of the Angels, that didst stretch forth thy hands on thy Cross for all mankind.

Inimici fraudibus obtenebratum me illumina, Christe meus, qui cruci spspensus solem quondam obscurasti, et vero remissionis lumine fideles palam irradiasti, quo in mandatorum turoum luce ambulans, purus ad salutiferæ resurrectionis tuæ splendorem perveniam. 
The snares of the enemy have involved me in darkness: enlighten me, O Christ, who, when hanging on the Cross, didst obscure the sun, and bring to thy Faithful the rays of pardon. May I walk in the light of thy commandments, and, being purified, come to the brightness of thy saving Resurrection.

Salvator, vitis instar et ligno pendens, incorruptionis mero fines terræ irrigasti, o Christe! Unde exclamo: Mihi temulentia peccatorum miserum in modum semper obcæcato dulcem veræ compunctionis succum largitus, præbe nunc vires ut jejunare a voluptatibus valeam, utpote bonus, atque misericors. 
Thou, O my Savior, and Christ! hanging like a vine on the wood of the Cross, didst enrich the whole earth with the wine of immortality. Therefore do I cry unto thee: I was miserably blinded by the intoxication of sin, but thou didst bestow upon me the sweet refreshment of true compunction: grant me, now, the strength that I may fast from sinful pleasures, for thou art a good and merciful God.

O crucis tuæ potentiam! hoc abstinentiæ germen in Ecclesia efflorescere fecit, prisca in Eden Adami intemperantia radicitus evulsa; ex hac siquidem mors in homines derivavit, ex illa vero incorruptus immortalitis latex mundo effluit, veluti ex alio paradisi fonte, vivifico sanguine tuo, atque aqua simul effusis, unde universa vitam receperunt; indeque dulces nobis effice jejunii delicias, Deus Israël, qui magnam habes misericordiam. 

O wonderful power of thy Cross! It was thy Cross that made the plant of abstinence to bloom in the Church, after having uprooted the old intemperance of Adam in Eden. From the intemperance came death upon mankind; but from the other, the ever pure stream of immortality flowed upon the world, for from thy Side, as from a Found of Paradise, there streamed thy life-giving Blood, mingled with Water, and from these have all creatures received life. Therefore do we beseech thee, O God of Israel, to grant us, in thy great mercy, that we may experience the sweet delights of Fasting.
Saturday in Lenten Ember Week
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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

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

Lesson from the book of Deuteronomy. Ch. xxvi.

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

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

Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew. Ch. xvii.

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

Quote:This Gospel, which, as we have already explained, is to be repeated tomorrow, is the one that is read in the Mass of today’s Ordinations. The following is the interpretation given by the ancient Liturgists, among whom we may especially mention the learned Abbot Rupert. The Church would have us think upon the sublime dignity which has been conferred upon the newly ordained priests. They are represented by the three Apostles, who were taken by Jesus to the high mountain, and favored with the sight of his glory. The rest of the Disciples were left below: Peter, James, and John, were the only ones permitted to ascend to Thabor, and they, when the time should come, were to tell their fellow Apostles, and the whole world, how they had seen the glory of their Master, and heard the words of the Father declaring the Divinity of the Son of Man. This voice, says St. Peter, coming down to him from the excellent glory: This is my Beloved Son, in whom I have pleased myself; hear ye him. And this voice we heard, brought from heaven, when we were with him on the holy Mount. 

In like manner, these Priests, who have just been ordained, and for whom you have been offering up your prayers and fast, will enter into the cloud with the Lord. They will offer up the Sacrifice of your salvation in the silence of the sacred Canon. God will descend into their hands, for your sakes; and though they are mortals and sinners, yet will they, each day, be in closest communication with the Divinity. The forgiveness of your sins, which you are now preparing to receive from your Heavenly Father, is to come to you through their hands; their superhuman power will bring it down from heaven upon your souls. It is thus that God has cured our pride. The Serpent said to us, through our First Parents: “Eat of this fruit, and you shall be as gods.” We unfortunately believed the tempter, and the fruit of our transgression was Death. God took pity on us, and resolved to save us; but it was to be by the hands of men that he would save us, and this in order to humble our haughtiness. His own Eternal Son became Man, and he left other Men after him, to whom he said: As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you. Let us, then, show honor to these Men who have, this very day, been raised to so high a dignity. One of the duties imposed on us by our holy Religion is respect to the Priesthood.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.
Bow down your heads to God.

Fideles tuo, Deus, benedictio desiderata confirmet: quæ eos et a tua voluntate nunquam faciat discrepare, et tuis semper indulgeat beneficiis gratulari. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. 
May thy much desired blessing, O God, give strength to thy faithful people: may it hinder them from ever swerving from thy will, and make them always enjoy thy favors. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

This is Saturday; let us have recourse to Mary, the Refuge of Sinners. 

Let us put under her maternal protection the humble penances we are now going through;
and for this end, we may make use of the following Sequence, taken from the Cluny Missal.
Salvatoris Mater pia,
Mundi hujus spes Maria,
Ave plena gratia. 

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

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

O Gate of heaven! O Temple of God! O Haven of the sea, where sinners confidently seek shelter and repose.

Summi Regis sponda digna.
Cunctis clemens et benigna,
Operum suffragio, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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