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Fifth Week after Easter [Monday thru Saturday] - Printable Version

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Fifth Week after Easter [Monday thru Saturday] - Stone - 05-03-2021

Monday of the Fifth Week After Easter
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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℣. In resurrectione tua Christe, alleluia. 
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.

℟. Cœli et terra lætentur, alleluia. 
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

Jesus bestows an inestimable gift upon his Apostles; and from this gift there proceed two Sacraments. On the sixth day of the Creation, the Divine Word infused his breath into Man, whose body he had formed out of the slime of the earth; and immediately this body was animated by a soul, bearing upon it the image of God. On the evening of the day of his Resurrection, the same Divine Word, then made visible in the flesh he had assumed, suddenly appeared in the midst of his Apostles, and said to them: Peace be to you! As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. Then breathing upon them, he added, in a tone of command: Receive ye the Holy Ghost! What is this Breath, which is not given to all men but only to a few chosen ones? Jesus himself explains it by the words he speaks: this Breath imparts the Holy Ghost to them that receive it. The Holy Ghost is given to the Apostles, because they are sent by Jesus, as Jesus is sent by the Father.

The Apostles, then, receive this Divine Spirit, in order that they may communicate him to men, just as they themselves have had him given to them by Jesus. The Church’s tradition fills up the brief account of the Gospel. Two Sacraments, as we have already stated, take their origin from this act of our Risen Jesus, who, afterwards, instructed his Apostles as to the rites wherewith each of the two was to be administered.

The first of these two Sacraments is Confirmation, for whose institution we will return our humble thanks today; the other is Holy Orders, which we will explain further on in the week: both of them belong, in their administration, to the Episcopal character, which is the source whence flow the gifts conferred upon the Apostles for man’s sanctification.

Such is the importance of the Sacrament of Confirmation, that until such time as we have received it, we cannot be considered as perfect Christians. It is true that, by virtue of our Baptism, we are Children of God, Members of Christ and his Church; but as Christians, we are Soldiers—we have to Confess our faith, sometimes before tyrants, and even to the shedding of our blood; sometimes before the world, whose false seductive maxims are the occasion of so many apostasies; sometimes against Satan and his wicked angels, whose power is so justly feared by the servants of Christ. The seal of the Holy Ghost confers on us a degree of strength which Baptism does not give. Baptism made us citizens of the Church: Confirmation makes us Soldiers of God and of his Christ. Again, it is true that we can fight and conquer with the armor of Baptism; such is God’s will, who knows that the Sacrament which perfects the Christian is sometimes an impossibility; but wo to them that neglect to receive the completion of their Baptism! Hence, after administering the Sacrament of regeneration on Holy Saturday, the Bishop at once proceeded to give the Holy Ghost to all those who had been just born in the Son, and had been adopted by the Father.

Yes, Confirmation is administered by a Bishop; it is for him to say to the Baptized: Receive ye the Holy Ghost! It was just that this Divine Spirit should be thus honored. Even when, in cases of necessity, a Priest is delegated, by the Pope, to administer this Sacrament, he cannot validly do so except on the condition of his using Chrism consecrated by a Bishop: and thus, the Episcopal power is always uppermost in the conferring of the Holy Ghost.

What a solemn moment is that, wherein the Spirit of Power, who strengthened the Apostles, descends upon the Neophytes kneeling before the Bishop! The Pontiff stretches his hands over them; he pours out upon them the Spirit he has received in order to his communicating him to others; and, that he may give all possible solemnity to the gift he is about to bestow, he cites the words of Isaias, which prophesy the descent of the Spirit on the Branch that was to spring up from the Root of Jesse—a prophecy which was fulfilled in our Jesus when he received Baptism in the river Jordan, from the hands of St. John the Baptist: “O Almighty and Eternal God! who hast vouchsafed to regenerate these thy Servants by Water and the Holy Ghost; send forth from heaven upon them thy seven-fold Spirit, the Holy Paraclete: the Spirit of wisdom and understanding; the Spirit of counsel and fortitude; the Spirit of knowledge and godliness; fill them with the Spirit of thy fear, and sign them with the sign of the Cross of Christ.”

Then is brought the sacred Chrism, of whose virtue we heard so much on Maundy Thursday. Confirmation was anciently called the Sacrament of Chrism—of Chrism in which dwells the power of the Holy Ghost. The Pontiff anoints with it the foreheads of the Neophytes and, at that same instant, the Holy Ghost imprints on their souls the sign of a perfect Christian. They are confirmed, and forever. Let them but listen to the voice of the Sacrament which is now within them, and no trial, no danger, can master them. The holy Oil, wherewith the Cross has been signed on their forehead, had imparted to them that firmness of adamant which was given to the Prophet Ezechiel, and enabled him to withstand all his enemies.

To a Christian, strength is salvation; for man’s life on earth is a warfare. Glory, then, be to our Risen Jesus, who, foreseeing the attacks that would be made against us, has armed us for the battle and, in this admirable Sacrament of Confirmation, has given us the Divine Spirit, who proceeds from himself and the Father, that we might be strong and invincible! Let us thank him, with all our hearts, for his having thus completed the grace already given us in Baptism. The Father, who so graciously adopted us, has delivered up his Only-Begotten Son for us; the Son gives us the Spirit, that he may dwell within us—oh! how wonderful a creature is Man, who is so loved by the Trinity! And yet Man is a sinner, and unfaithful creature; and, but too frequently, all these graces are rendered fruitless by his negligence or malice! Let us, at least, be faithful by keeping ourselves closely united to the Holy Church, and by devoutly celebrating, with her, the mysteries of God’s goodness, which the Liturgical Year brings successively before us.

Let us adore our Risen Jesus, our Divine Benefactor. In the name of his Church, enriched as she is by such precious gifts, let us offer him this beautiful Paschal canticle, taken from the ancient Missals of Saint Gall’s.

Ecce vocibus
Carmina comparibus
Ecclesia dilecto
Pangat suo
Illius gaudens
Reditus triumpho.


Let the Church, rejoicing in the triumphant return of her Beloved, sing to him her canticles, with voices well attuned.


Et a pulchra
Tergens gena
Lacrymulam,
Læta nunc excipiat
Regressum,
Quem nuper flebat
Ademptum.


Let her dry the tears from her beautiful cheeks, and gladly welcome back her Jesus, for whom she wept when he was taken from her.


Qui de sursum veniens,
Hujus et effectu ardens,
Tersit suo vulnere
Ab illa nævum
Parentis primulæ.
Cujus sponsi radio
Procul de nuptæ gaudio
Synagoga pellatur,
Colore obfuscata nigerrimo.


He came from heaven, out of burning love for her; and, by his Blood, cleansed her from the stains of Eve’s offense. The Synagogue clad in robes of blackest hue, is driven, by the Bridegroom’s piercing rays, from the Marriage Feast.


Namque illius amore
Alta confixus crucis arbore
Sacravit lateris
Illam flumine.


Through love for his Church, Jesus was fastened to the lofty Tree of the Cross, and sanctified her by the stream that flowed from his Side.


Hanc præfiguravit Eva,
Viri cum fabricatur a costa,
Et Noe arcula
Aquis levata.


Eve, formed from Adam’s rib, was a figure of the Church; so, too, was Noah’s Ark, when it sailed on the waters.


Hanc Babylonis
Nuper tyrannus
Misere afflictam,
Atque suis a sedibus
Translatam,
Tu, Christe,
Favens ploranti,
Atque sternens Babylonem,
Revocasti Sion tuum
Ad montem.


The king of Babylon cruelly treated thy Spouse, O Christ, and sent her into exile: but thou hadst pity on her sorrow, and, destroying Babylon, broughtest her back to thy holy Mount of Sion.


Quam hic jocumdis
Ovantem gaudiis
Gratia figurat
Mundi florentis,
Hujus gratiæ
Confortes nos esse
Fac Jesu redemptos
Tuo cruore;

The earth, decked in her flowers of Spring, is a figure of thy Church’s triumphant joy. Make us, O Jesus, to imitate her loveliness, for thou redeemest us by thy Blood.


Et qui nostri causa
Canopicos afflixisti
Morte principes,
Ut nos inde solveres,
Præsta in eremo
Hujus vitæ,
Ut muniti pedes
Viperas
Conteramus igneas.

Thou, for our sakes, and for our deliverance, didst bring death upon the princes of Egypt: grant, that we may safely walk through the desert of this life, tread the fiery serpents beneath our feet,


Te duce, promissam
Veniamus ut ad terram. Amen.


And, having thee for our leader, reach the Promised Land. Amen.


RE: Fifth Week after Easter [Monday thru Saturday] - Stone - 05-04-2021

Tuesday of the Fifth Week After Easter
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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℣. In resurrectione tua Christe, alleluia. 
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.

℟. Cœli et terra lætentur, alleluia. 
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.


The third Sacrament—the Holy Eucharist—is so intimately connected with our Redeemer’s Passion that its institution could not be deferred till the Resurrection had taken place. On Maundy Thursday, we honored the solemn act whereby our Jesus prepared for the morrow’s sacrifice, by instituting the mystery of his Body and Blood, which are really immolated in the Eucharistic Supper. The Apostles were not only admitted, as all future generations were to be, to partake of the Divine Food, which giveth life to the world, but they moreover received power from Jesus, the Priest for ever, to do what he himself had just done. The great Mystery was inaugurated; the new Priesthood was instituted: and now that Jesus is risen from the dead, he makes known to his Apostles the whole importance of the gift bestowed upon mankind at the Last Supper; he bids them begin the exercise of the sublime power, conferred on them, as soon as the Holy Ghost, by descending upon the earth, shall give to the Church the signal for her using the prerogatives wherewith she has been endowed; and finally, he teaches how they are to perform this special function of their Priesthood.

At the Last Supper, the Apostles were still carnal-minded men. They were taken up with the sad event that was about to happen, and overcome with grief at their Divine Master’s telling them that that was the last Pasch he was to keep with them. They were not, therefore, in a fit state to appreciate what it was that Jesus had done for them, when he uttered those words: Take ye and eat; this is my Body.—Drink ye all of this; for this is my Blood. Still less did they understand the greatness of the power they received, of doing what their Lord himself had just done in their presence. Now that Jesus is risen from the grave, he unfolds all these mysteries to them. The Sacrament of the Eucharist was not instituted during these days, but it was made known, explained, and glorified by its Divine Institutor: and this circumstance gives a fresh luster to the sacred season we are now going through.

Of all the Sacraments, there is not one that can be compared, in dignity, to that of the Eucharist. The others give grace; this gives us the very Author of grace. The others are only Sacraments; this is both a Sacrament and a Sacrifice. We will endeavor to explain it in its magnificence, when we come to the bright feast of Corpus Christi. Let us for the present pay the tribute of our loving adorations to our Jesus, the Living Bread, that giveth life to the world.. Let us acknowledge his immense love for his Sheep. He seems to be on the point of leaving them that he may return to his Father, and yet his love retains him amongst them by means of this august mystery, wherein he is truly though invisibly present.

Be thou blessed, then, O Son of the Eternal Father! who, even in the days of the ancient Covenant, didst assure us that thy delights are to be with the children of men. Thou provest it now by this wonderful Sacrament, which reconciles thy two announcements, apparently so contradictory: thy leaving us, and thy abiding ever in our midst.

Be thou blessed for having provided for the nourishment of our souls, as well as for that of our bodies. At Christmas, we welcomed thy Birth at Bethlehem, which signifies a House of Bread. Thou wast both the Savior who was born for us, and the Food that came down from heaven to nourish our souls.

Be thou blessed who, not satisfied with working the greatest of wonders at the Last Supper, by changing bread into thy Body and wine into thy Blood, hast also willed that this same miracle should be renewed, everywhere and to the end of time, for the support and consolation of our souls.

Be thou blessed in that thou hast put no limits to our longing after this Bread of Life. On the contrary, thou biddest us make it our daily Bread, and this in order that we may not faint in the way of this our exile.

Be thou blessed for the generosity wherewith, out of thy desire to communicate thyself unto us, thou hast exposed thyself to the blasphemies of heretics, to the sacrileges of bad Christians, and to the indifference of the tepid.

Be thou blessed, O Divine Lamb, who enrichest the new Pasch by the shedding of thy Blood, and invitest the new Israel to a banquet, where thy sacred Body is offered as nourishment to thy Faithful; there do they receive Life at its very source, and share in the ineffable joys of thy Resurrection.

Be thou blessed, O Jesus, for having instituted, in the Holy Eucharist, not only the greatest of the Sacraments, but also a Sacrifice which surpasses all others; a Sacrifice whereby we are enabled to offer to the Divine Majesty the only homage that is worthy of him, give him thanks in keeping with his favors to us, make him a superabundant atonement for our sins, and finally beg and obtain from him all the graces of which we stand in need.

Be thou blessed, O Emmanuel, who, having promised to give us this heavenly Food, didst fulfill thy promise on the eve of thy Passion, and gavest us this adorable Sacrament as the Testament of thy love. In the interval between thy Resurrection and Ascension, thou didst reveal to thine Apostles the excellency of thy gift, that so we might receive it with becoming faith.

We offer thee, dear Jesus, this homage of our faith. We confess that, in this august Mystery, the bread is changed into thy Body, and the wine into thy Blood: and we believe it, because thou hast said it, and because thou canst do all things.


In praise of our Paschal Lamb—who gives himself to us to be our nourishment—let us recite the following beautiful canticle, composed by Notker for the Church of Saint Gall’s.

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Sequence

Agni paschalis
Esu potuque dignas,


That they may be worthy to partake of the Paschal Lamb,


Moribus sinceris
Præbeant omnes se christianæ animæ

Let Christians fit themselves by holy lives.


Pro quibus se Deo hostiam obtulit,
Ipse summus Pontifex.


Jesus, the High Priest, offered himself, for their sakes, as an oblation to the Father.


Quarum frons,
In postis est modum
Ejus illita sacrosancto cruore,
Tuta a clade Canopica,

They are signed, as were the doors of the Israelite house, with the most holy Blood of the Lamb; they are protected from the slaughter that fell upon Egypt.


Qua crudeles hostes
In mari rubro sunt obruti.


When the cruel enemies were engulfed in the Red Sea.


Renes constringant ad pudicitiam:
Pedes tutentur adversus viperas;


Let the Faithful gird their loins with purity; let them protect their feet against vipers;


Baculosque spirituales
Contra canes jugiter manu bajulent;

And let them ever carry spiritual staves in their hands, to defend themselves against dogs;


Ut Pascha Jesu moreantur sequi,
Quo de barathro victor rediit.


That, thus, they may deserve to follow Jesus’ Pasch, whereby he rose again victorious from the Tomb.


En redivivus mundus,
Ornatibus Christo consurgens,
Fideles admonet,


Lo! the earth is come once more to life, and, by her loveliness, rises together with Christ. She teaches us,


Post mortem melius
Cum eo victuros. Amen.


That we, after death, are to share in Jesus’ victory. Amen.


RE: Fifth Week after Easter [Monday thru Saturday] - Stone - 05-05-2021

Wednesday of the Fifth Week After Easter
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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℣. In resurrectione tua Christe, alleluia. 
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.

℟. Cœli et terra lætentur, alleluia. 
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

We now come to the fourth Sacrament, which may be justly called the Sacrament of Mercy. Jesus knew the weakness of man. He knew that the great majority of Christians would not persevere in the grace they received at Baptism; and that sin would, in most cases, spoil the beautiful plant which had been watered by the dew of heaven, and which, after growing and flowering, was to be transplanted into the garden of eternal life. Like grass that lies withered on the field, so would be this once fair plant. How could it ever revive, unless He that made it, gave it life again? Thanks to his infinite mercy!—this is what he has the will to do. Consulting the sinner’s salvation rather than his own glory, he prepared, as the holy Fathers express it, a second plank after shipwreck. The first was Baptism; but mortal sin came, and the soul was again plunged into the wild abyss. She had fallen once more into the hands of her enemy; she was fettered by chains, which it was out of her power to break.

During his mortal life on earth, Jesus, who came not to judge the world, but to save it, declared that these fetters, forged by the sinner’s malice, should be broken by a power which he would one day establish in his Church. Speaking to his Apostles, he told them that whatsoever they should loosen upon earth, should be loosed also in heaven. Since making that solemn promise, our Redeemer has offered his sacrifice on the Cross; his infinitely precious Blood has been shed for the superabundant expiation of the sins of the world. He that loved us to such a degree as this could never forget the promise he had made. On the contrary, he was most anxious to keep it, for he knew the fearful dangers to which our salvation is exposed. On the very day of his Resurrection, he appears to his Apostles, and his first words evince his eagerness to fulfill the promise he had previously made. It seems as though his mercy were impatient to break asunder the humiliating and terrible bonds of sin, which held us captives. No sooner has he breathed the Holy Ghost upon his Apostles, than he adds these words: Whose sins ye shall forgive, they are forgiven them. Observe here, as the holy Fathers have done, the strength of the words spoken by our Lord: They are forgiven. He says not, “They shall be forgiven:” it is no longer the promise of a gift, but the gift itself. Before the Apostles have exercised the divine power conferred on them by Jesus, every absolution, which they and their successors in this sacred ministry shall pronounce, even to the end of time, is already confirmed.

Glory, then, be to our Risen Jesus, who has removed the barriers of his Justice, that his Mercy might inundate the world! Let mankind unite, and sing to him the sublime canticle of David, wherein foreseeing the wondrous events that were to take place under the New Law, this Royal Psalmist prophesied the Forgiveness of sins, which the Apostles were afterwards to teach us as an Article of our Creed. Bless the Lord, O my soul! and let all that is within thee bless his holy Name. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases, who redeemeth thy life from destruction.

Thy youth shall be renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, long-suffering and plenteous in mercy. He will not always be angry. He hath not death with us according to our sins. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our iniquities from us.

As a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear him; for he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Man’s days are as grass; as the flower of the field, so shall he flourish; for the spirit shall pass in him, and he shall not be, and he shall know his place no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from eternity and unto eternity upon them that fear him. O my soul! bless thou the Lord.

And yet we, the children of the promise, know, even better than David did, the greatness of God’s mercy. Jesus was not content with giving us his assurance that if, after having sinned, we have recourse, with humble repentance, to the Divine Majesty, we shall obtain pardon: as the sentence of God’s mercy would thus be without any outward sign, a cruel anxiety would have ever been upon us, leaving us in doubt of our forgiveness. Therefore did this loving Savior ordain that men should give us pardon, in his name. That we might know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, he gave power to his delegates to pronounce over us a sentence of absolution, which our very ears might hear, and which would convey to our souls the sweet confidence of pardon.

O ineffable Sacrament, by whose means heaven is peopled by countless numbers who else had been lost, and who will for ever sing the mercies of the Lord! O irresistible power of the words of absolution, which, deriving their efficacy from the Blood of our Redeemer, take away all our iniquities, and plunge them into the abyss of Divine Mercy! The eternity of torments due to these iniquities would never have expiated them; and yet these few words of the Priest: I absolve thee, have utterly annihilated them.

Such is the Sacrament of Penance. In return for the humble confession of our sins and the sincere sorrow for having committed them, we receive pardon, and this not for once or twice only, but as often as we approach the sacred tribunal; not for this or that kind of sin only, but for every sin whatsoever. It is not to be wondered at that Satan should envy man this gift, and strive to throw such doubts and difficulties in the way as to prevent his profiting by it. What has not heresy said against this Sacrament? It began by teaching that it takes from the glory of holy Baptism; whereas on the contrary, it honors that first Sacrament, by repairing the injuries done to it by sin. Later on, it exacted, as absolutely necessary for the Sacraments, such perfect dispositions, that Absolution would find the soul already reconciled with God. It was by this dangerous snare of Jansenism that so many were ruined, either by pride or by discouragement. And lastly, it has set up that Protestant dictum: “I confess my sins to God;” just as though God had not the right to lay down the conditions for pardon.

The Sacraments being, as they are, such divine institutions, demand our faith; without faith, they are simply impossibilities. Though this be true of all the Seven, yet the Sacrament of Penance is especially welcome to a man of faith, because it so thoroughly humbles human pride. It sends man to ask of his fellow man what God could have given directly himself. Jesus said to the lepers, whom he wished to cure: Go, show yourselves to the priests! Surely, he has a right to act in the same manner, when there is question of spiritual leprosy.

Let us, as an homage to our generous Redeemer, offer him this Easter Hymn; it is the one used by the Church in her Ferial Matins of Paschal Time.

Hymn

Rex sempiterne cœlitum
Rerum creator omnium,
Æqualis ante sæcula
Semper Parenti Filius.


O King Eternal, of the heavenly citizens! Creator of all things! Son co-equal with the Father, before all ages!


Nascente qui mundo faber
Imaginem vultus tui
Tradens Adamo, nobilem
Limo jugasti spiritum.


When this world first sprang up at thy creating word, thou gavest to Adam a resemblance to thine own divine Face; and, to his body formed from slime, thou joinedst a noble soul.


Cum liver et fraus dæmonis
Fœdasset humanum genus,
Tu carne amictus perditam
Formam reformas artifex.


When the envy and craft of Satan brought degradation upon mankind, thou, our Maker, didst clothe thyself with flesh and reform our lost race.


Qui natus olim e Virgine,
Nunc a sepulchro nasceris,
Tecumque nos a mortuis
Jubes sepultos surgere.


Thou, that once wast born of a Virgin, art now born from the Sepulcher, and biddest us rise with thee from our death and burial.


Qui pastor æternus gregem
Aqua lavis baptismatis:
Hæc est lavacrum mentium,
Hæc est sepulcrum criminum.


Thou art the Eternla Shepherd, who washest thy sheep in the waters of Baptism: it is the laver of our souls, it is the grave of our sins.


Nobis diu qui debitæ
Redemptor affixus cruci,
Nostræ dedisti prodigus
Pretium salutis sanguinem.


Thou, our Redeemer, didst long hang upon the Cross that was due to us; thou generously gavest us thy Blood, as the ransom of our salvation.


Ut sis perenne mentibus
Paschale, Jesu, gaudium,
A morte dira criminum
Vitærenatos libera.


That thou, O Jesus, mayst be an endless Paschal joy to our hearts, free us, who have been regenerated unto life, from the dread death of sin.


Deo Patri sit gloria,
Et Filio, qui a mortuis
Surrexit, ac Paraclito,
In sempiterna sæcula.
Amen.


Glory be to God the Father, and to the Son who rose from the dead, and to the Paraclete, for everlasting ages. Amen.


RE: Fifth Week after Easter [Monday thru Saturday] - Stone - 05-06-2021

Thursday of the Fifth Week after Easter
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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℣. In resurrectione tua Christe, alleluia. 
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.

℟. Cœli et terra lætentur, alleluia. 
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

By the first four Sacraments, our Savior provided for the several spiritual necessities of man during this mortal life. Baptism gives him spiritual birth, Confirmation arms him for the battle, the Eucharist is his food, Penance is his cure. But the last moment of life—that most important and terrible of all, and on which depends eternity—does it not seem to require a special sacramental aid? Could it be that our Redeemer, after so lovingly supplying us with a Sacrament to meet our other wants, would leave us unprovided when we are dying, that is, when we are passing from this to another life, and are weighed down with bodily and mental sufferings? No: he has provided a Sacrament for the Dying; the grace of Redemption puts on a new form, that it may visit and fortify us in our last struggle.

Even before his Passion, he gave us some idea of the Sacrament he intended to institute for the help of the Dying. When he sent his Disciples before him, that they might prepare the people for his preaching, he commanded them to anoint the Sick with Oil: they did so, and the result was the cure of them that were thus anointed. But after his Resurrection, when our Redeemer was preparing the dowry of his Church, he gave her a Sacrament wherewith this Mother was to administer special grace and consolation to her Children when in danger of death.

Oil is the symbol of strength; hence, the wrestlers of old used it as a means for acquiring activity and nerve. Our Savior chose it as the matter of the Sacrament of Confirmation, whereby our souls, after being regenerated by Baptism, are strengthened for their future combats. The hour of Death is a combat, but one so terrible that it stands apart by itself. It is then that Satan, seeing how the long-coveted prey is soon to be beyond his reach, redoubles his efforts to make it his own forever. The dying Christian, standing as he does on the brink of eternity, is exposed to two temptations: presumption and despair. In a few moments he will be before the Judge, whose sentence is irrevocable. The remnants of sin are still upon him, and clog his soul. How will he comport himself, in that last combat, on which depends the final success of all the previous ones of his life? Is not this an occasion for a special Sacrament, whereby our Jesus may provide his combatant with the help so urgently needed? Yes; and here again it is Oil. The first anointing was that of Confirmation, and it gave strength; and the last, or as it is called Extreme Unction, is equally rich in power: it is the last application made to mankind of the Redeemer’s blood, “which flows in such abundance with this holy Oil.”

Let us consider the effects of Extreme Unction, of which the Apostle St. James speaks to us in his Epistle. What he there tells us, he had received from Jesus’ own lips. First of all, this Sacrament brings forgiveness of sins; forgiveness of those sins which the conscience, however diligent it may have been in its examination, had overlooked; and which, nevertheless, injure the soul: and forgiveness of those remnants of sin, which continue after the guilt of sin has been remitted; like wounds which, though cured, are not quite closed, and keep the patient weak. The holy Oil anoints each of the senses; each has been the source of sin; each now receives its special purification. These doors, which, up to this moment had been open to the world, are now closed; so that the soul can be all intent upon eternal things. Let the enemy come now, if he will; his attacks can do no harm. He expected to find his adversary the poor earthly-minded creature of old, on whom he had inflicted hundreds of wounds; but lo! he finds a soldier of Christ, vigorous and brave. It is Extreme Unction that has worked the change.

But the effects of this Sacrament do not stop here. Though primarily instituted for imparting strength to the soul, yet has it the power of restoring health to the body. We learn this from the same Apostle St. James. His words are these: Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with Oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man, and the Lord shall raise him up. The sacred formula, which accompanies each anointing in this Sacrament, has therefore the power of restoring bodily health, at the same time that it drives away the remnants of sin, which is the chief cause of all man’s miseries, whether of soul or body. Such is the interpretation put by the Church on the words of St. James; and we have continual proofs that our Divine Master has not forgotten the promise of two-fold efficacy which he gave to this Sacrament. Hence it is that after having appointed the several senses of the sick person, the Priest addresses God in earnest prayer, that he would restore strength of body to him, or her, whose soul has received the efficacy of the heavenly remedy. Nay, the Church looks upon the restoration to bodily health as so truly a Sacramental effect of Extreme Unction, that she does not consider as miracles, properly so called, the cures produced by its administration.

Let us, then, offer to the Conqueror of Death the homage of our thanks for this fresh proof of his compassionate love. He would himself experience all our miseries, not excepting even death or the agony that precedes it. When on his Cross, and enduring every anguish, as though he were a poor dying sinner and not the Saint of Saints, he thought of our deaths, and mercifully blessed our last agony with an outpouring of his precious Blood. This was the origin of the beautiful Sacrament of Extreme Unction, which he gave to his Church after his Resurrection, and for which we offer him today our humble thanks.

The following Hymn—composed by St. Ambrose, and used, during Paschal Time, in the Church of Milan—celebrates, with the Saint’s characteristic vigor of style,
the thoroughness of the salvation wrought by the Death of Christ, as was made evident in the conversion of the Good Thief.

Hymn

Hic est dies verus Dei,
Sanctus sereno lumine,
Quo diluit sanguis sacer
Probrosa mundi crimina.


This is indeed God’s own Day, holy with its uncloused light, whereon the Sacred Blood washed away the world’s infamous crimes.


Fidem refundens perditis,
Cæcosque visu illuminans:
Quem non gravi solvet metu
Latronis absolutio?


It re-animates to confidence them that were lost in despair; it gives sight to the blind. Oh! who would not cease to despair, that thought of the pardon given to the Thief?


Qui præmio mutans crucem,
Jesum brevi acquirit fide,
Justusque prævio gradu
Pervenit in regnum Dei.


His cross was changed into a crown; he gained Jesus by a brief act of faith; and, being justified, was the first to enter into the kingdom of God.


Opus stupent et Angeli,
Pœnam videntes corporis,
Christoque adhærentem reum
Vitam beatam carpere.


The very Angels are bewildered at the change: they behold the criminal suffering bodily tortures, yet, united with Christ, and culling the flower of life everlasting.


Mysterium mirabile,
Ut abluat mundi luem,
Peccata tollit omnium,
Carnis vitia mundans caro.


O wondrous Mystery! Jesus takes upon himself the sins of the world, that he may cleanse it from its filth: Flesh washes away the sins of flesh.


Quid hoc potest sublimius,
Ut culpa quærat gratiam,
Metumque solvat charitas,
Reddatque mors vitam novam?


What more sublime than this?&mash;sin seeking for grace? love expelling fear? and death giving a new life?


Hamum sibi mors devoret,
Suisque se nodis liget:
Moriatur vita omnium,
Resurgat ut vita omnium.


Let Death swallow the hook he throws out to others; let him be caught in his own net! Let Him but die, who is the Life of all, and all will rise to life.


Cum mors per omnes transeat,
Omnes resurgunt mortui:
Consumpta mors ictu suo
Perisse se solam gemit.


All men pass through death, and all the dead rise again to life: Death’s blow falls on himself, and none die but he.


Gloria tibi Domine,
Qui surrexisti a mortuis,
Cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu,
In sempiterna sæcula. Amen.


Glory be to thee, O Lord, who didst rise again from the dead! and to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, for everlasting ages. Amen.


RE: Fifth Week after Easter [Monday thru Saturday] - Stone - 05-07-2021

Friday of the Fifth Week After Easter
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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℣. In resurrectione tua Christe, alleluia. 
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.

℟. Cœli et terra lætentur, alleluia. 
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.


We have reverently followed our Redeemer in his institution of the Sacramental helps, whereby man is placed and kept in the state of sanctifying grace, from his first entrance into this life to his leaving it for the eternal enjoyment of the beatific vision. We must now speak of that sublime Sacrament, which was instituted by Jesus as the source whence mankind is to receive the other Sacraments.

This Sacrament is Holy Orders, and it is so called because of its being conferred, in several distinct degrees, upon those who receive it. As, in heaven, the Angels are arranged in different ranks according as they have been endowed with a greater or less degree of light and power, in such wise, that they who are higher act upon those that are lower: so is it in the Sacrament of Holy Orders; there is order in the several ranks, and the higher act upon the lower by the communication of light and power. It is this that constitutes the Hierarchy of the Church. Hierarchy means Sacred Government. It comprises three degrees: the Episcopate, Priesthood, and Diaconate, in which last are included the Orders below it. This is called the Hierarchy of Order, to distinguish it from the Hierarchy of Jurisdiction. This second, which is entrusted with the government of the Church, is composed of the Pope, of the Bishops, and of the inferior Clergy to whom the Pope and Bishops delegate a part of their power of government. We have already seen how this Hierarchy takes its origin from that sovereign act whereby our Lord Jesus, the Shepherd of men, gave to Peter the Keys of the Kingdom of God. The Hierarchy of Order is intimately connected with the first, and its object is the sanctification of men by the administering to them the treasures of grace confided to its keeping.

As we have already said, Jesus appeared to his Apostles on the day of his Resurrection, and said to them: As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. Now the Father sent his Son that he might be the Shepherd of men; and we have heard Jesus bidding Peter to feed his lambs and his sheep. The Father sent his Son that he might be the Teacher of men; and we have seen Jesus entrusting to his Apostles the truths which were to be proposed to us as the object of our faith. But the Father sent the Son that he might also be the High Priest of men; Jesus must, therefore, leave this same Priesthood on earth, that it may be continued among us to the end of time. Now, what is a Priest? He is the mediator between heaven and earth; he reconciles man to his God by offering a Sacrifice that gives infinite honor to God and atones for man’s sin; he cleanses the sinner’s conscience, and makes him a just man; he, in a word, unites man to his God by the mysteries, of which he is the dispenser.

Jesus exercised all these functions of Priest, agreeably to the mission given him by the Father; but the Father would have them to be continued, even after his Son should have ascended into heaven. For this, it was necessary that Jesus should communicate his Priestly character, by a special Sacrament, to a few chosen men, just as by Baptism he conferred upon all his Faithful the dignity of being his members. Here again, it will be the Holy Ghost that will act, and in each stage or degree of the Sacrament. It was by his divine operation that the Incarnate Word entered into Mary’s womb; it is his action that will imprint on the souls of them that are presented the Priestly character of this same Jesus our Lord. Hence, after using the words just cited, Jesus breathed on his Apostles, and said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost! hereby showing that it is by a special infusing of Him who is the Spirit of the Father and the Son, that men are fitted for being sent by the Son, as the Son was sent by the Father.

And yet, the Apostles and their successors are to confer this Sacrament, not by a Breath—that is the prerogative of the Word, the author of life—but by the imposition of hands. It is at the solemn moment of the imposition of the Bishop’s hands over them who are to be ordained, that the Holy Ghost comes down upon them. Thus will be transmitted the heavenly gift from generation to generation. It will be conferred in its several degrees, according to the will of the Hierarch, by and with whom the Holy Ghost acts. So that when Jesus comes on the last day to judge the world, he will find on earth the sacred character which he conferred upon his Apostles when he gave them the Holy Ghost.

Let us attentively and devoutly contemplate the mystic ladder of the Hierarchy, established by our Jesus, whereby we might ascend to heaven. At the very summit is the Episcopate, holding in itself the plenitude of Holy Orders, and having the power to produce other Pontiffs, and Priests, and Deacons. He has the power of offering up the Holy Sacrifice; he holds the keys whereof our Lord speaks, when he says: Whatsoever ye shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven; he can administer all the Sacraments; the consecration of the Chrism and Holy Oils belongs to his office; he can not only bless, he can also consecrate.

Next comes the Priest, who truly looks upon the Bishop as his spiritual Father, seeing that it was by the imposition of the Bishop’s hands that he received the dignity and character of Priesthood. The Priest, however, does not possess the plenitude of Jesus’ Priesthood. His hands, though most holy, have not the power to produce other Priests; he blesses, but he does not consecrate; he must look to the Bishop for holy Chrism, for he himself cannot make it. Notwithstanding this, his dignity is great, for he has power to offer the Holy Sacrifice, and his offering is the same as that of the Bishop. He forgives the sins of those whom the Bishop has put under his care. The solemn administration of Baptism is entrusted to him, when the Bishop himself does not perform it: and as to Extreme Unction, it is essentially a Priest’s function.

The next lower Order is that of Deacon, who is, as the Greek name implies, the servant of the Priest. Not having the Priesthood, he cannot offer Sacrifice, nor remit sins, nor give Extreme Unction to the dying: but he assists and serves the Priest at the Altar, and stands by his side during the solemn moment of Consecration. He reads the holy Gospel, from the Ambo, to the people. The Blessed Sacrament is entrusted to his care and, failing a Priest, he is allowed to distribute it to the faithful. In similar circumstances, he could solemnly administer Baptism. He has also the power of preaching the word of God to the people.

These are the three degrees of the Hierarchy of order. They correspond, as the great St. Denis teaches, with the three degrees whereby man attains to union with God: namely, purification, illumination, and perfection. The Deacon prepares the Catechumen and the sinner by instructing them in the word of God, which will purify their minds from error, and incite them to the repentance of their sins and to a desire of being freed from them. The Priest enlightens these same by the illumination of holy Baptism, by the remission of their sins, and by admitting them to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. The Bishop pours out upon them the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and raises them, by their seeing his own supereminent prerogatives, to union with Christ. Such is the Sacrament of Holy Orders. It is the essential means established for the salvation of mankind, the channel through which God has ordained that the infinite graces of the Incarnation should flow upon the earth, and the medium whereby is perpetuated among us the presence and action of our Redeemer.

Let us give thanks to our Jesus for this unspeakable blessing. Let us honor the Priesthood of the New Law: it is Jesus who inaugurated it in his own person, and who afterwards entrusted it to men, chosen by him for continuing the mission given to him by his Father. The Sacraments are the true life of the world; but who are the ministers of these Sacraments? The Priests of the Church. Let us pray for those who are in Holy Orders; for their responsibilities are great, the dignity is divine, and yet they themselves are but men. They are not a tribe or a caste, as were the Priests in the Old Law; but they are taken from every race and family. Finally, a Priest, though inferior to the Angels by nature, is, by the office he holds, superior to these blessed Spirits.

Let us celebrate, today, the Resurrection of our Eternal High Priest, by this joyous canticle of the ancient Missal of Liége.

Sequence

Eia dic nobis
Quibus e terris
Nova cuncto mundo
Nuncias gaudia,


Tell us, O Magdalene! from what land comest thou, announcing new joy to the whole world,


Nostram rursus
Visitans patriam.


And visiting once more our country?


Respondens placido vultu,
Dulci voce dixit: Alleluia.


She answered with a placid look, and sweet voice, saying: “Alleluia!”


Angelus mihi de Christo indicavit
Pia miracula.


“An Angel hath told me of the dear prodigies wrought by Christ:


Resurrexisse Dominum
Cecinit voce laudanda.


“He sang forth with a voice of praise, that the Lord hath risen from the Tomb.


Mox ergo pennas
Volucris vacuas
Dirigens læta per auras:


“Whereupon, I swiftly took wing, and joyfully sped my way through the thin air:


Redii famulis,
Ut dicam vacuatam legem veterem,
Et novam regnare gratiam.


“I have returned to you, Servants of God! that I may tell you that the Old Law is made void, and the New Law of Grace hath begun its reign.


Itaque plaudite, famuli,
Voce clara:
Christus hodie redemit nos
A morte dira.


Sing, then, O Servants of God! sweetly sing: “This day hath Christ delivered us from cruel Death.


Pater Filium tradidit servis,
Ut interimerent pro salute nostra.


“The Father hath delivered up his Son to his creatures, that they might slay him for our salvation’s sake.


Sponte subiit Filius mortem,
Ut nos redimeret morte ab æterna.


“The Son, of his own free will, suffered death, that he might redeem us from eternal death.”


Nunc requiem capere licet ovibus,
Et frui vita perpetua.


Now may the sheep take their rest, and enjoy never-ending life.


Hunc colite pariter mecum famuli
Celebri laude sanctum Pascha.


O ye Servants of God! unite with me in celebrating the praise of this holy Pasch.


Christus est Pax nostra.
Alleluia.

Christ is our Peace. Alleluia.


RE: Fifth Week after Easter [Monday thru Saturday] - Stone - 05-08-2021

Saturday of the Fifth Week After Easter
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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℣. In resurrectione tua Christe, alleluia. 
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.

℟. Cœli et terra lætentur, alleluia. 
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

On this day, which is sacred to Mary, let us open the holy Gospel, according to St. John. There, in the second chapter, we find these words: There was a Marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the Mother of Jesus was there. The sacred text goes on to say that Jesus also and his disciples were among the guests; but the Holy Spirit, who guided the Evangelist’s hand, would have him first make mention of Mary. It was to teach us that this our Blessed Mother extends her protection to those who enter upon the married life with worthy dispositions, that is, with such dispositions as to draw down upon themselves the blessing of her divine Son.

Marriage is a sacred state, for it was instituted by God. The first Marriage was celebrated in the earthly Paradise between Adam and Eve, when yet they were innocent. It was God himself who dictated the conditions of Marriage. Unity was to be its very basis; in other words, the wife was to have but one husband, the husband was to have but one wife. It was the type of a still more glorious unity, which was not to be revealed till a later period. The Mystery of Unity typified by Marriage being part of the Christian Revelation, we deem it a duty to put it before our readers by the following considerations.

The Angels were all created at one and the same time: but the members of the human race were to be born, each indeed from their respective parents, but yet so as that Adam and Eve were to be the common parents to whom all were to owe their origin. Such was our Creator’s design, and Marriage was the means he selected for its fulfillment. An immense multitude of the Angels having fallen, the places destined for them in heaven were to be filled up by the elect of earth; again, it was Marriage that was to provide these citizens for heaven. Hence, God blessed Marriage at the very commencement of the world, and with a blessing which was to be permanent, for, as the Church teaches us in the Liturgy, “it was not recalled, either by the punishment inflicted on original sin, or by the sentence which destroyed the world by the deluge.”

Even before this second great chastisement came upon the earth, all flesh had corrupted its way, and Marriage had fallen from the elevated dignity given to it by the Creator. The end for which he instituted it was forgotten; it was debased into a mere sensual gratification; it lost the sacred Unity which was its glory. Polygamy and Divorce destroyed its primitive character, and two frightful evils ensued: family ties were at an end, and Woman’s position was degraded into that of a being which must minister to man’s passions. The lesson intended to be conveyed by the Deluge was soon lost sight of; the world again became depraved, so much so indeed, that when the Mosaic Law came with its reforms, it had not power to restore to Marriage the dignity of its first institution.

To effect this, it was requisite that God himself should descend upon the earth. When the miseries of humanity had reached their height, the Word, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, assumed our human nature and dwelt amongst us. He called himself the Bridegroom. The Prophets and the Canticle of Canticles had foretold that he would take to himself a Spouse from among mortals. This Spouse is the Church, that is, the human race purified by Baptism and enriched with supernatural gifts. As a dowry, he gave her his own precious Blood and Merits; and then united her to himself forever. This Spouse is One: he affectionately called her his Only One. On her part, she has no other but him. Here we have revealed to us the divine type on which Marriage was formed, and which, as the Apostle teaches us, derives its holiness and dignity from its resemblance to the union existing between Christ and his Church. The two unions are for the same end, and bear a mutual relation to each other. Jesus loves his Church with the tenderest affection; but his Church is the issue of human Marriage, for it is Marriage that provides the Church with her Children, and thus perpetuates her existence upon the earth. Let us not be surprised, therefore, that Jesus restored Marriage to its primitive condition, and that he honors it as being his powerful aid in the accomplishment of his designs.

We have already seen, on the second Sunday after the Epiphany, how he selected the Nuptial Feast at Cana as the occasion of his working his first public Miracle. By his accepting the invitation to assist, in company with his Blessed Mother, at the Marriage, it is evident that he wished to honor, by his divine presence, the sacred engagement which was to unite the two spouses; it is evident that he intended to renew, in their persons, the ancient Blessing given in Paradise. Having, by his miracle at Cana, proved himself to be truly the Son of God, he began his public life and preaching. His object being to reform fallen man to the noble end for which he had been created, he frequently made Marriage the subject of his instructions. He spoke of its being divinely instituted on the basis of unity. He authoritatively repeated the command given at its first institution: They shall be two in one flesh: two, and only two. speaking of the indissolubility of the marriage tie, he told his hearers that no power on earth, not even the unfaithfulness, however criminal, of the husband or wife, could sever the bond. These were his words: What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. Thus did he restore Marriage to its normal state; thus did he abrogate the degrading liberty, or more correctly, the libertinism, of polygamy and divorce—those sad proofs of the hardness of man’s heart, and of the need he had of a Redeemer. Thus did the New Law bring back to Marriage its primal blessing, and make it, once more, a holy state, which so far from its being an obstacle, is a means to virtue, and peoples both earth and heaven with Elect.

But our Risen Jesus would do more than repair the injuries brought upon Marriage by human frailty. He raised to the dignity of a Sacrament the solemn and irrevocable contract whereby a man and woman take each other for husband and wife. The moment that two Christians are thus irrevocably united, a Sacramental grace descends upon them, and cements their union, which there and then becomes a sacred thing. The Apostle, speaking of Christian Marriage, says: It is a great Sacrament; but I speak in Christ, and in the Church. The meaning of these words is that Marriage is the type of the union which exists between Christ and his Spouse the Church. There is one and the same object and end in the two Unions—in that of Christ with the Church, and in that of the Husband with his Wife: this object, this end, is to people heaven with Elect. Hence it is that the Holy Ghost puts his Divine seal upon both these unions.

But the grace of the seventh Sacrament does more than cement the indissoluble union of husband and wife. It gives them every help they stand in need of for the fulfillment of their sacred mission. First of all, it infuses into their hearts a mutual love, which is strong as death, and which many waters cannot quench, so long as they make Religion the ruling principle of their lives. This love is mingled with a sentiment of chaste respect, which serves as a check upon evil concupiscence. It is a love which time, far from impairing, makes purer and stauncher. It is a love calm like that which is found in heaven. When sacrifices are to be made, it makes them almost without an effort, and is intensified by the making. The sacramental grace also fits the husband and wife for the great duty of educating their children. It gives them an untiring devotedness for their welfare; an affectionate patience with their faults; a supernatural discernment for treating them according to their age and dispositions; a ceaseless remembrance of these dear ones being created for heaven; and, finally, a deep-rooted sentiment of their belonging to God more truly than to the parents, through whom he gave them life.

Thus was the married state transformed by the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony. The Christian Law restored to it the dignity of which the vile egotism of pagan passion had deprived it. After so long a period of degradation, mankind was again brought to the knowledge of what Marriage really is—namely, Love surrounded by Sacrifice, and Sacrifice prompted and aided by Love. Truly, a Sacrament was needed for the bringing about such a change as this! The change came, and admirable indeed it was. Two centuries had not elapsed since the promulgation of the Gospel, and Paganism was still powerful; and yet we find a Writer of those days giving the following description of a Christian Husband and Wife. “How shall I find words to describe the happiness of a Marriage, whose tie is formed by the hands of the Church, which is confirmed by the sacred Oblation, sealed by the Blessing, proclaimed by the Angels, and ratified by the Heavenly Father? How wonderful a yoke is that which is taken up by two of the Faithful united together in the same hope, in the same law, in the same duty! They have the same God for their Father, they serve the same Master, they are two in one flesh, they are one heart and soul. They pray together, they prostrate together, they fast together; they instruct each other, they exhort each other, they encourage each other. You see them together in the Church, and at the Holy Table. They share in each other’s trials, persecutions, and joys. There are no secrets between them; no such thing as shunning each other, or being wearied of each other’s company. They have not to hide from each other in order to visit the sick or the needy. Their alms excite no disputes; they approve of each other’s sacrifices; they interfere not with each other’s practices of piety. They have no need to make the sign of the Cross stealthily; neither are they afraid to give way, in each other’s presence, to feelings of love and gratitude for their God. They sing together the Psalms and Canticles; and if there be any rivalry between them, it is which of them shall best sing the praises of God. Oh! these are the Marriages which gladden the eyes and ears of Christ. These are the Marriages to which he imparts his blessing of Peace. He has said, that he would be where two are united together; therefore, he is in such a house as the one we are describing; and the enemy of man is not there.”

What a picture! and how great must be the Sacrament which can bring about such results as this! Here is the secret of the world’s regeneration: it was our Lord Jesus Christ himself who created the beautiful existence of a Christian family and implanted it on our earth. Long ages passed, and this was the only type which, in spite of human frailty, was the only one acknowledged either by the consciences of individuals or by the public laws of nations. But the pagan element—which may be repressed, but which never dies—strove to regain what it had lost; and, at length, the time came when it succeeded in falsifying, in the majority of Christian countries, the nation of Marriage. Faith teaches us that this Contract, now become a Sacrament, comes under the jurisdiction of the Church, in what regards the bond, which constitutes its very essence: but the modern world looks on the Church as a power incompatible with the progress of liberty and enlightenment; and therefore the State takes the Church’s place, as often as it is deemed good for society!—and Marriage has been debased into a Civil Act. The immediate consequence of this has been that the State can legalize Divorce, and therefore paganize Society. The influence exercised over the world by the long predominance of the Christian spirit has not been entirely removed by this iniquitous secularization of Marriage; still, from the principles laid down by our Modern Governments we have this logical and practical result: that a marriage may be indissoluble and sacramental in the eyes of the Church, and null in the eyes of the Civil Power; and again, a Marriage held to be legal by the State may be counted as invalid by the Church, and therefore not binding on the conscience. The rupture between Church and State is, therefore, consummated.

And yet, that which Christ has appointed cannot be effaced by man. What Jesus has instituted is to last to the end of time. Therefore, let Christians fear not: let them continue to receive from their mother, the Church, the doctrine of the Sacraments; let them continue to look upon Marriage as a divine institution, such as we have been describing it to be; and thus, they may save Society and re-Christianize it—or, if that cannot be, they will save their own and their children’s souls.

The close of this week, and these reflections upon the divine Sacrament of Matrimony, lead us to think of thee, dear Mother of Jesus! The Marriage feast at Cana, which was honored by thy presence and blessing, is one of the great facts of the holy Gospel. Why, O thou the purest of Virgins, who wouldst have refused the dignity of being Mother of God had it called for the sacrifice of the Treasure already conferred on thee—why wast thou present at these Nuptials, if not to teach a sublime lesson? This lesson is that holy and perfect Continency is a state far superior to that of Marriage. It is a lesson which exercises an immense influence upon the Married Life, inasmuch as it secures to it its Christian dignity and happiness. Who, then, could have been more appropriately chosen by God than thou, to bless a union which is so holy in itself, and instituted for such a sublime end? Shield it with thy protection now more than ever, for the world’s laws have legislated for its ruin, and sensualism has destroyed in thousands of Christians the send of right and wrong. There are exceptions: there are some who receive this sacrament with the holiest of dispositions: upon these, O Mary, lavish thy blessing. They are the inheritance of thy divine Son; they are the salt of the earth, to keep it from universal corruption; they are the pledge of a better future. They are thy Children, sweet Mother! then watch over them, add to their number, that so the world may not perish.

To Mary, the Virgin of virgins, and Protectress of Christian Marriage—to Mary, Spouse of the Eternal Word before becoming his Mother by the Incarnation—let us, today, offer this beautiful Sequence of the Catholic Germany of the Middle Ages; let us devoutly present it to her as the Ring of her chaste Nuptials.

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Sequence

Ave Virgo nobilis,
Desponsari habilis
Summo Regi, annulum,
Arrhabonis titulum,
Suscipe, Maria.


Hail, O noble Virgin! called to be the Spouse of the great King! Receive, O Mary, this ring as the expression of our loving congratulation.


Novum florem virgula,
Paranympho credula,
Concipis, quam Jaspidis
color monstrat viridis
Plenam fide pia.


Tender branch! thou believedst the Angel’s word, and conceivedst Jesus, the fresh Flower. The green-colored Jasper shows thy fervent faith.


Virtus spei stabilis,
Numquam in te labilis
Fuis neque veritas,
Signat ut serenitas
Cœlica Sapphiri.

Thy hope, like thy truth, was changeless and unwavering. Its emblem is the Sapphire, with its heavenly blue.


Lucens Chalcedonius,
Sed sub divo pulchrius,
Pandit te eximimio
Charitatis radio
Fervide igniri.


The bright Chalcedony, whose beauty doubles in the light of day, signifies the burning flame of charity that glowed within thy heart.


Ut Smaragdi claritas
Monstrat et viriditas,
Mente cunctis purior
Es, et elegantior
Actu virtuali.


The pure green Emerald tells us that thou surpassest all creatures in the purity of thy soul and in the loveliness of thy holy deeds.


Sardonyx inturbidus
Ruber, niger, candidus,
Te designat limpide
Conversatam placide
Gestu virginali.


The limpid Sardonyx, with its veins of red and black and white, bespeaks thy innocent and peaceful and modest bearing.


Bene rubems Sardius
Indicat apertius,
Mortis Christi gladium
Sauciasse nimium
Spiritum Mariæ.


The deep red Sardius plainly tells us, that thy soul, O Mary, was wounded through and through by the sword of the death of Christ.

Exprimit Chrisolithus,
Præ fulgore inclytus,
Flammeis scintillulis,
Claram te miraculis
Ac dono sophiæ.


The Chrysolite, with its sparkling golden rays, denotes thy admirable miracles, and the wisdom wherewith thou wast gifted.


A Beryllo pallido,
Sed nitenti fulgido,
Humilis in animo,
Et benigna proximo
Rite comprobaris.


The pale yet shining Beryl reminds us aptly of thy humility, and of thy love of thy neighbor.


Tandem pretiosior,
Cunctis gemmis gratior,
Asserit Topazius,
Cunctis quod limpidius
Deum contemplaris.


The Topaz—that richest and loveliest of gems—tells us, that no creature enjoyed so clearly, as thou, the contemplation of our God.


Ecce nunc, qui rubeas
Guttas jacit aureas
Chrysoprasus, nimii
Æstu desiderii
Refert te fervere.


See, now, the Chrysoprasus! What say its red golden drops, but that thy soul burned with exceeding love?


Ut Hyacinthus celeri
Se conformat ætheri,
Sic fers opem anxiis,
Tuis quos auxiliis
Cernis indigere.


As the Hyacinth, which adapts its color to the air around it, thou helpest them that are in trouble, and need thy aid.


Insuper te omnibus,
Deo et hominibus,
Prædilectam, roseus
Color et purpureus
Probat Amethysti.


The Amathyst, with its ruddy and purple color, symbolizes thy being beloved by God and man.


Recte evangelica
Margarita cœlica
Es mercantum omnium;
Felix qui commercium
Consequitur Christi!


Truly art thou the spiritual Pearl of the gospel, after which all are in search. Oh! happy they that find the merchandise of Christ!


Grandis niger dicitur,
Venis albis cingitur,
Qui te vere humilem
Hinc et acceptabilem
Reseret Achates.


The Agate, a large black stone with white veins, speaks to us of thy humility, which makes thee so dear to God.


Illico Onychinus
Mixtus fert, quod Dominus
Piis te virtutibus
Adornavit omnibus,
Quam optarunt vates.

The very sight of the many-colored Onyx tells us that God enriched thee with every virtue, O thou whom the Prophets longed to behold!


Nunc te prodit largiter
Adamas, qui firmiter
Cunctis obstat ictibus,
In adversis omnibus
Fortem, patientem.


The Diamond, which is proof against every blow, loudly proclaims thy courage and patience in all adversities.


Indicat perlucida
Te Chrystallus frigida
Mente, carne virginem,
Nostræque originem
Spei existentem.


The cool transparent Chrystal makes us think of thee, who wast a Virgin in mind and body, and the commencement of our hope.


Sic te temperantia,
Ac timoris gratia
Ornant, ut egregius
Aperit Ligurius
Similis Electro.


The beautiful amber-like Ligurius reminds us of the grace of temperance and fear that beautified thy soul.


Magnes ferrum propius
Attrahit celerius;
Virgo pœnitentium
Chordas tangit mentium
Pietatis plectro.


The Loadstone attracts iron to itself; so thou, O Virgin! touchest with the wand of devotion the heart-strings of them that repent.


Approbat Carbunculus,
Lucens nocte oculus,
Longe, late, largiter
Laudis tuæ jugiter
Famam dilatari.


The Carbuncle, like a bright eye glistening in the gloom, tells us that, far and wide, thy praise is loudly and ever proclaimed.


Regnans in cœlestibus,
Ornata virtutibus,
Munda nos a vitiis,
Et de tuis nuptiis
Facias lætari.

O Queen of heaven! O rich in every virtue! cleanse us from vice, and give us to rejoice in thy Nuptials.


Insuper in copia
Exsultat Arabia,
Ophir, Saba pariter,
Tharsis dat similiter
Aurum affluenter.

Arabia and Ophir, Saba and Tharsis, yield an abundance of Gold.


Ex quo præsens parvulus
Sit gemmatus annulus,
Quem oblatum hodie
Per nos, sponsa gloriæ
Suscipe clementer.
Amen.


From which we form this our humble gift—this jewelled Ring. O glorious Spouse of Jesus! deign to accept the offering we this day present unto thee! Amen.