First Sunday in Lent
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INSTRUCTION ON THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT, called INVOCABIT.
Taken from Fr. Goffine's Explanations of the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays, Holydays, and Festivals throughout the Ecclesiastical Year
36th edition, 1880

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THIS Sunday is called Invocabit, because the Introit of the Mass begins with this word, which is taken from the ninetieth psalm, wherein we are urged to confidence in God, who willingly hears the prayer of the penitent: He shall call upon me, and I will hear him; I will deliver him, and glorify him; I will fill him with length of days. (Ps. xc. 15. 16.) He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most High shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven. (Ps. xc. 1.) Glory be to the Father. &c.


PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. O God who dost purify Thy Church by the yearly fast of Lent: grant to Thy household that what we strive to obtain from Thee by abstinence, by good works we may secure. Through our Lord, &c.


EPISTLE. (ii. Cor. vi. 1 — 10.) Brethren, we exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Giving no offence to any man, that our ministry be not blamed: but in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labors, in watchings, in fastings, in chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God, by the armor of justice on the right hand, and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report, and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastised, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as needy, yet enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things.

Quote:EXPLANATION. The Church very appropriately reads on this day this epistle of St. Paul, in which he exhorts the Christians to make use of the time of grace. A special time of grace is Lent, in which everything invites to conversion and penance, a time, therefore, in which God is ready to make rich bestowal of His graces. St. Anselm says, those do not use the grace who do not cooperate. Let us, therefore, follow St. Paul's exhortation, and earnestly practise those virtues he places before us, and especially those of temperance, patience, chastity, liberality, love of God and of our neighbor. Let us arm ourselves with the arms of justice at the right and the left, that is, let us strive to be humble in prosperity, and in adversity confident of God's help. Let us never be led from the path of virtue, by mockery, contempt, nor by persecution, torments, or death.

ASPIRATION. Grant, O Jesus, that we may always faithfully cooperate with Thy graces, and employ well the time Thou hast again given for our salvation.


GOSPEL. (Matt. iv. i — ii.) At that time, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming, said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written: Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down; for it is written: He hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and said to him: All these will I give thee, if, falling down, thou wilt adore me. Then Jesus said to him: Begone, Satan, for it is writ- ten, The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left him; and behold, angels came, and ministered to him.



Quote:INSTRUCTION.

I. Christ went into the desert by inspiration of the Holy Ghost to prepare by fasting and prayer, for His mission, and to endure the temptations of Satan, that, as St. Paul says, He might be one tempted in all things such as we are, without sin, and so become for us a High-priest who knew how to have com- passion on our infirmities, (Heb. iv. 15.) and to show us by His own example, how we should, armed with the word of God, as with a sword, overcome the tempter.(Eph. vi. 17.) — Let us, therefore, courageously follow Christ to the combat against all temptations, with His assistance it will not be hard to conquer them. He has certainly taught us to overcome the hardest ones: the lust of"the eyes, of the flesh, and the pride of life, and if we overcome these, it will be easy to conquer the rest.


II. If Christ, the only Son of God, permitted Himself to be tempted by Satan, even to be taken up on a high mountain, and to the pinnacle of the temple, it should not appear strange to us, that we are assailed by many temptations, or that we should find in the lives of so many saints that the evil spirit tormented them by various images of terror and vexation. This we find in the history of the pious Job, where we also find at the same time that the evil spirit cannot harm a hair of our head without God's permission.


III. From the coming of the angels to minister to Christ, after He had conquered Satan, we see that all who bravely resist temptations, will enjoy the assistance and consolations of the heavenly spirits.


INSTRUCTION ON TEMPTATION
To be tempted by the devil. (Matt. iv. 1.)


What is a temptation?

A temptation is either a trial for instruction and exercise in virtue, or a deception and incitement to sin. In the first sense, God tempts man. in the second, he is tempted by the devil, the world or bad people, and the flesh, by evil thoughts, feelings, words, or works.


By what are we principally tempted?

By our own evil concupiscence and inclination to sin which adhere to us through original sin, (Jam. i. 14.) on account of which it is said, that the flesh lusteth against the spirit. (Gal. v. 17.)


Does the devil also tempt us?

He does, and is therefore called, in this day's gospel, the tempter. St. Peter teaches us this, having himself experienced it: Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour,(i Peter v. 8.) Not all temptations are to be ascribed to the devil,however, they often come from our own corrupt nature, our own incautiousness, or looseness of our senses, by which we expose ourselves to the danger of falling into sin.


How does the devil tempt us to sin?

In a twofold manner: He incites the concupiscence of man to those sins to which he sees him inclined, and then seeks to blind and confuse his imagination, so that he neither reflects, nor properly sees the temporal injury, disgrace, and derision, nor the shamefulness of sin and its eternal punishment. Thus the devil seduced Eve, our first mother, and thus he tempted Christ, with whom he could not, of course, succeed, for He was incapable of sin. He tempts bad people to persecute us, or to try us by their wicked vanities, as he did by the friends of Job.


Can the devil force us to evil?

He cannot; "for as a chained dog," says St. Augustine, "can bite none but those who go near him, so the devil cannot harm with his temptations those who do not consent to them. Like the dog he can bark at you, but cannot bite you against your will." Not by force but by persuasion Satan strives to injure, he does not force our consent, but entreats it. Seek, therefore, to subdue your passions and your senses, especially your eyes, and you will either remain free from all temptations, or easily overcome them.


Does God also tempt us?

God does indeed tempt us, but not to sin, as St. James expressly teaches. (Jam. i.13.) God either Himself proves us by sufferings and adversities, or He permits the temptations of the devil or evil-minded people to give us opportunity to practise the virtues of love, patience, obedience, etc. Thus He said to the Jews through Moses: The Lord your God trieth you, that it may appear whether you love him with all your heart, and with all your soul, or no. (Deut. xiii. 3.)


Does God permit us to be tempted by man also?

He does, and for the same reasons. Thus He permitted the chaste Joseph to be tempted by Putiphar's wife; (Gen. xxxix. 7.) Job by his wife and his friends. {Job ii. 9.) But He never permits us to be tempted beyond our strength, but gives us always sufficient grace to overcome and even derive benefit from the temptation,(i Cor. x. 13.)


Are temptations pernicious and bad?

No; they are useful and necessary, rather. "Hard is the fight” St. Bernard writes,"but meritorious, for although it is accompanied by suffering, it is followed by the crown;" (Apoc. iii. 12.) and Origen says. (Libr. Num.) "As meat be- comes corrupt without salt, so does the soul without temptations." Temptations, then, are only injurious when con- sent is given, and we suffer ourselves to be overcome by them.


When do we consent to temptations?

When we knowingly and willingly decide to do the evil to which we are tempted; as long as we resist we commit no sin.


What are the best means of overcoming temptations?

Humility; for thus answered St. Anthony, when he saw the whole earth covered with snares, and was asked, "Who will escape?" "The humble;" he who knows his own frailty, distrusts himself, and relies only on God, who resists the proud and gives His grace to the humble; (Jam. iv. 6.) the fervent invocation of the Mother of God, of our holy guardian angels and patron saints; the pronouncing of the holy name of Jesus, making the sign of the cross, sprinkling holy water; the remembrance of the presence of God who knows our most secret thoughts, and before whom we are indeed ashamed to think or do that which would cause us shame in the presence of an honorable person; frequent meditation on death, hell, and eternal joys; fleeing from all those persons by whom, and places in which we are generally tempted; fervent prayers, especially ejaculations, as: "Lord, save me, lest I perish! . Lord, hasten to help me!" finally, the sincere acknowledgment of our temptations at the tribunal of penance, which is a remedy especially recommended by pious spiritual teachers.


PRAYER. O Lord Jesus! who spent forty days in the desert without food or drink, and didst permit Thyself to be tempted by the evil spirit, give me, I beseech Thee by that holy fast, the grace to combat, during this holy season of Lent, under Thy protection. against intemperance, and to resist the suggestions of Satan that I may win the crown of eternal life. Amen.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Reply
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THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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This Sunday, the first of the six which come during Lent, is one of the most solemn throughout the year. It has the same privilege as Passion and Palm Sundays, - that is, it never gives place to any Feast, not even to that of the Patron, Titular Saint, or Dedication of the Church. In the ancient Calendars, it is called Invocabit, from the first word of the Introit of the Mass. In the Middle-Ages [More especially in France. Translator.], it was called Brand Sunday, because the young people, who had misconducted themselves during the carnival, were obliged to show themselves to-day, at the Church, with a torch in their hands, as a kind of public satisfaction for their riot and excess.

Lent solemnly opens to-day. We have already noticed, that the four preceding days were added since the time of St. Gregory the Great, in order to make up Forty days of fasting. Neither can we look upon Ash Wednesday as the solemn opening of the Season, for the Faithful are not bound to hear Mass on that day. The Holy Church, seeing her children now assembled together, speaks to them, in her Office of Matins, these eloquent and noble words of St. Leo the Great:

Quote:“Having to announce to you, dearly beloved, the most sacred and chief Fast, how can I more appropriately begin, than with the words of the Apostle, (in whom Christ himself spoke,) and by saying to you what has just been read: Behold! now is the acceptable time; behold! now is the day of salvation. For although there be no time, which is not replete with divine gifts, and we may always, by God’s grace, have access to his mercy, - yet ought we all to redouble our efforts to make spiritual progress and be animated with unusual confidence, now that the anniversary of the day of our Redemption is approaching, inviting us to devote ourselves to every good work, that so we may celebrate, with purity of body and mind, the incomparable Mystery of our Lord’s Passion.

“It is true, that our devotion and reverence towards so great a Mystery should be kept up during the whole year, and we ourselves be, at all times, in the eyes of God, the same as we are bound to be at the Easter Solemnity. But this is an effort which only few among us have the courage to sustain. The weakness of the flesh induces us to relent our austerities; the various occupations of every-day life take up our thoughts; and thus, even the virtuous find their hearts clogged by this world’s dust. Hence it is, that our Lord has most providentially given us these Forty Days, whose holy exercises should be to us a remedy, whereby to regain our purity of soul. The good works and the holy fastings of this Season were instituted as an atonement and obliteration of the sins we commit during the rest of the Year.

“Now, therefore, that we are about to enter upon these days, which are so full of mystery, and were instituted for the holy purpose of purifying both our soul and body, let us, dearly beloved, be careful to do as the Apostle bids us, and cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and the spirit: that thus the combat between the two substances being made less fierce, the soul, which, when she herself is subject to God, ought to be the ruler of the body, will recover her own dignity and position. Let us also avoid giving offence to any man, so that there be none to blame or speak evil things of us. For we deserve the harsh remarks of infidels, and we provoke the tongues of the wicked to blaspheme religion, when we, who fast, lead unholy lives. For our Fast does not consist in the mere abstaining from food; nor is it of much use to deny food to our body, unless we restrain the soul from sin.” [Fourth Sermon for Lent]

Each Sunday of Lent offers to our consideration a passage from the Gospel, which is in keeping with the sentiments wherewith the Church would have us be filled. To-day she brings before us the Temptation of our Lord in the Desert. What light and encouragement there is for us in this instruction!

We acknowledge ourselves to be sinners; we are engaged, at this very time, in doing penance for the sins we have committed;- but, how was it that we fell into sin? The devil tempted us; we did not reject the temptation; then, we yielded to the suggestion, and the sin was committed. This is the history of our past; and such it would, also, be for the future, were we not to profit by the lesson given us, to-day, by our Redeemer.

When the Apostle speaks of the wonderful mercy shown us by our Divine Saviour, who vouchsafed to make himself like to us in all things, save in sin, he justly lays stress on his temptations [Heb. iv. 15]. He, who was very God, humbled himself even so low as this, to prove how tenderly he compassionated us. Here, then, we have the Saint of Saints allowing the wicked spirit to approach him, in order that we might learn, from His example, how are to gain victory under temptation.

Satan has had his eye upon Jesus; he is troubled at beholding such matchless virtue. The wonderful circumstances of his Birth, - the Shepherds called by Angels to his Crib, and the Magi guided by the Star; the Infant’s escape from Herod’s plot; the testimony rendered to this new Prophet by John the Baptist;- all these things which seem so out of keeping with the thirty years spent in obscurity at Nazareth, are a mystery to the infernal serpent, and fill him with apprehension. The ineffable mystery of the Incarnation has been accomplished unknown to him; he never once suspects that the humble Virgin, Mary, is she who was foretold by the Prophet Isaias, as having to bring forth the Emmanuel [Is. viii. 14]; but he is aware that the time is come, that the last Week spoken of to Daniel has begun its course, and that the very Pagans are looking towards Judea for a Deliverer. He is afraid of this Jesus; he resolves to speak with him, and elicit from him some expression which will show him whether he be or not the Son of God; he will tempt him to some imperfection, or sin, which, should he commit, will prove that the object of so much fear is, after all, but a mortal Man.

The enemy of God and men was, of course, disappointed. He approached Jesus; but all his efforts only turn to his own confusion. Our Redeemer, with all the self-possession and easy majesty of a God-Man, repels the attacks of Satan; but he reveals not his heavenly origin. The wicked spirit retires, without having made any discovery beyond this, - that Jesus is a prophet, faithful to God. Later on, when he sees the Son of God treated with contempt, calumniated, and persecuted; when he finds, that his own attempts to have him put to death, are so successful;- his pride and his blindness will be at their height: and not till Jesus expires on the Cross, will he learn, that his victim was not merely Man, but Man and God. Then will he discover, how all his plots against Jesus have but served to manifest, in all their beauty, the Mercy and Justice of God;- his Mercy, because be saved mankind: and his Justice, because be broke the power of hell for ever.

These were the designs of Divine Providence in permitting the wicked spirit to defile, by his presence, the retreat of Jesus, and speak to him, and lay his hands upon him. But, let us attentively consider the triple temptation in all its circumstances; for our Redeemer only suffered it, in order that he might instruct and encourage us.

We have three enemies to fight against; our soul has three dangers; for, as the Beloved Disciple says: All that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life! [1 St. John, ii. 16].

By the concupiscence of the flesh, is meant the love of sensual things, which covets whatever is agreeable to the flesh, and, when not curbed, draws the soul into unlawful pleasures. Concupiscence of the eyes expresses the love of the goods of this world, such as riches, and possessions; these dazzle the eye, and then seduce the heart. Pride of life is that confidence in ourselves, which leads us to be vain and presumptuous, and makes us forget that all we have, - our life and every good gift, - we have from God.

Not one of our sins but what comes from one of these three sources; not one of our temptations but what aims at making us accept the concupiscence of the flesh, or the concupiscence of the eyes, or the pride of life. Our Saviour, then, who would be our model in all things, deigned to subject himself to these three temptations.

First of all, Satan tempts him in what regards the Flesh:- he suggests to him to satisfy the cravings of hunger, by working a miracle, and changing the stones into bread. If Jesus consent, and show an eagerness in giving this indulgence to his body, the tempter will conclude that he is but a frail mortal, subject to concupiscence like other men. When he tempts us, who have inherited evil concupiscence from Adam, his suggestions go further than this; he endeavours to defile the soul by the body. But the sovereign holiness of the Incarnate Word could never permit Satan to use upon Him the power which he has received of tempting man in his outward senses. The lesson, therefore, which the Son of God here gives us, is one of temperance: but we know, that, for us, temperance is the mother of purity, and that intemperance excites our senses to rebel.

The second temptation is to pride; Cast thyself down; the Angels shall bear thee up in their hands. The enemy is anxious to see if the favours of heaven have produced in Jesus’ soul that haughtiness, that ungrateful self-confidence, which makes the creature arrogate God’s gifts to itself, and forget its benefactor. Here, also, he is foiled; our Redeemer’s humility confounds the pride of the rebel angel.

He then makes a last effort: he hopes to gain over by ambition Him who has given such proofs of temperance and humility. He shows him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and says to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down, thou wilt adore me. Jesus rejects the wretched offer, and drives from him the seducer, the prince of this world [St. John, xiv. 30]; hereby teaching us, that we must despise the riches of this world, as often as our keeping or getting them is to be on the condition of our violating the law of God and paying homage to Satan.

But, let us observe how it is, that our Divine Model, our Redeemer, overcomes the tempter. Does be hearken to his words? Does he allow the temptation time? and give it strength by delay? We did so, when we were tempted, and we fell. But our Lord immediately meets each temptation with the shield of God’s word. He says: It is written: Not on bread alone doth man live. - It is written: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. - It is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve. - This, then, must be our practice for the time to come. Eve brought perdition on herself, and on the whole human race, because she listened to the serpent. He that dallies with temptation, is sure to fall. We are now in a Season of extraordinary grace; our hearts are on the watch, dangerous occasions are removed, everything that savours of worldliness is laid aside; our souls, purified by prayer, fasting, and almsdeeds, are to rise with Christ, to a new life;- but, shall we persevere? All depends upon how we behave under temptation. Here, at the very opening of Lent, the Church gives us this passage of the Holy Gospel, that we may have, not only precept, but example. If we be attentive and faithful, the lesson she gives us will produce its fruit; and when we come to the Easter Solemnity, we shall have those sure pledges of perseverance, - vigilance, self-diffidence, prayer, and the never-failing help of Divine Grace.

The Greek Church, in spite of her principle of never admitting a Feast during Lent, celebrates to-day one of her greatest solemnities. It is called Orthodoxia, and was instituted in memory of the restoration of sacred Images in Constantinople and the Eastern Empire, in the year 842, when the Empress Theodora, aided by the holy Patriarch Methodius, put a stop to the Iconoclast persecution, and restored to the Churches the holy Images, which the fury of the heretics had taken away.


MASS

The Station, at Rome, is in the patriarchal Basilica of Saint John Lateran. It was but right, that a Sunday, of such solemnity as this, should be celebrated in the Church which is the Mother and Mistress of all Churches, not only of the Holy City itself, but of the whole world. It was here that the public Penitents were reconciled on Maundy Thursday; it was here, also, in the Baptistery of Constantine, that the Catechumens received Baptism on the night preceding Easter Sunday. No other Basilica could have had such a claim for the Station of a day like this; for it was there that the Lenten Fast had been so often proclaimed by Leo and Gregory.

The Introit, as likewise the Gradual, Tract, Offertory, and Communion, are all taken from the 90th Psalm. We have, elsewhere, spoken of the appropriateness of this beautiful Psalm to the spirit of the Church during the Season of Lent. It bids the Christian soul confide in the divine aid. She is now devoting her whole energies to prayer; she is engaged in battle with her own and God’s enemies. She has need of support. Let her not be afraid God tells her, in these words of the Introit, that her confidence in him shall not be in vain.

Introit: He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: I will deliver him, and I will glorify him: I will fill him with length of days. Ps. He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most high, shall abide under the protection of the God of Heaven. V. Glory, &c. He shall cry.


In the Collect, the Church prays for her children, that their fast may not only purify them, but may also obtain for them that divine assistance, which will secure their salvation, by enabling them to abound in good works.

Collect: O God, who purifiest thy Church by the yearly observation of Lent: grant that what thy children endeavour to obtain of thee by abstinence, they may put in execution by good works. Through, &c.


Epistle: Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. II. Ch. VI

Brethren, we exhort you, that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time: behold, now is the day of salvation. Giving no offence to any man, that our ministry be not blamed: but in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in prison, in seditions, in labours, in watchings, in fastings, in chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armour of justice on the right hand, and on the left: by honour and dishonour: by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true: as unknown, and yet known: as dying, and behold we live: as chastised, and not killed: as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing: as needy, yet enriching many: as having nothing, and possessing all things.

Quote:These words of the Apostle give us a very different idea of the Christian Life from that which our own tepidity suggests. We dare not say that he is wrong, and we right; but we put a strange interpretation upon his words, and we tell both ourselves and those around us, that the advice he here gives is not to be taken literally now-a-days, and that it was written for those special difficulties of the first age of the Church, when the Faithful stood in need of unusual detachment and almost heroism, because they were always in danger of persecution and death. The interpretation is full of that discretion which meets with the applause of our cowardice, and it easily persuades us to be at rest, just as though we had no battle to fight; whereas, we have both: for there is the devil, the world, flesh and blood. The Church never forgets it; and hence, at the opening of this great Season, she sends us into the desert, that there we may learn from our Jesus how we are to fight. Let us go; let us learn, from the Temptations of our Divine Master, that the life of man upon earth is a warfare [Job, vii. 1], and that, unless our fighting be truceless and brave, our life, which we would fain pass in peace, will witness our defeat. That such a misfortune may not befall us, the Church cries out to us, in the words of St. Paul: Behold! now is the acceptable time. Behold! now is the day of salvation. Let us, in all things comport ourselves as the servants of God, and keep our ground unflinchingly to the end of our holy campaign. God is watching over us, as he did over his Beloved Son in the Desert.


The Gradual tells us, that we are under the protection of the Angels, and that these blessed Spirits leave us not, either day or night. During Lent, they redouble their efforts against our enemies, and rejoice at seeing us sinners accept the penance, which is to bring us to salvation.

The Tract, too, inspires us with confidence: it speaks to us of the goodness of God, and of his fatherly watchfulness over us his ungrateful children, whom he wishes to make his faithful friends and co-heirs of his kingdom.

Gradual: God hath given his Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
V. In their hands they shall boar thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Tract
V. He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven.
V. He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust.
V. For he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters:
and from the sharp word.
V. He will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust.
V. His truth shall compass thee with a shield: thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.
V. Of the arrow that flieth in the day; of the business that walketh in the dark, of ruin, or of the noon-day devil.
V. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh thee.
V. For he hath given his Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
V. In their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
V. Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk, and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon.
V. Because he hath hoped in me, I will deliver him: I will protect him, because he bath known my name.
V. He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: I am with him in his trouble.
V. I will deliver him and I will glorify him: I will fill him with length of days, and I will show him my salvation.


Gospel: Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew. Ch. IV.

Quote:At that time, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards hungry. And the tempter coming, said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said: It is written, “Not by bread alone doth man live, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Then the devil took him into the holy city, and set him upon a pinnacle of the temple, and said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, “He hath given his Angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone.” Jesus said to him: It is written again, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt! adore me. Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan, for it is written: “The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve.” Then the devil left him; and behold Angels came and ministered to him.

Let us admire the exceeding goodness of the Son of God, who, not satisfied with atoning for all our sins by dying on the Cross, deigns to suffer a fast of forty days and forty nights, in order to encourage us to do penance. He would not that the justice of his heavenly Father should exact any punishment from us, unless he himself first suffered it, and that, too, in a thousand times severer way than we could. What are all our penances, - even were they done thoroughly, - when we compare them with the severity of this fast of Jesus in the desert? Can we have the face, to be ever seeking for dispensations from the little which our Lord asks of us in atonement for our sins, - sins, alas! which deserve such rigorous penance? Instead of complaining at our feeling a slight inconvenience of a few days’ duration, let us compassionate our innocent Jesus, who subjects himself to a forty days of most rigorous privation of food and drink.

What was it that supported him? Prayer, devotedness to us, and the knowledge of the exigencies of his Father’s justice. And when the Forty Days were over, and his Human Nature was faint from exhaustion, he is assailed by Temptation; but here again he thinks upon us, and sets us an example;- he triumphs over the temptation, calmly and resolutely, and thereby teaches us how to conquer. How blasphemous the boldness of Satan, who dares to tempt Him, who is the Just by excellence! But, how divine is the patience of Jesus, who permits the hellish monster to lay his hand upon him, and carry him from place to place! The Christian soul is oftentimes exposed to the vilest insults from this same enemy; nay, at times, she is on the point of complaining to her God, for his permitting her to have such humiliations. Let her, on these occasions, think upon Jesus, the Saint of Saints, who was given over, so to speak, to the wicked spirit; and yet, he is not the less the Son of God, the Conqueror of hell; and all that Satan gains by his attack, is utter defeat. In the same way, if the soul, when under the violence of temptation, resist with all her energy, - she is not one jot less dear to God, and Satan retires with one more eternal shame and chastisement upon him. Let us take part with the Holy Angels, who, as soon as the tempter is gone, come to our Redeemer, and respectfully administer food to him. How affectionately do they not compassionate his hunger and thirst! How zealously they make amends, by their adorations, for the frightful outrage offered to their King! How fervently they extol the charity of their God, who, out of his love for man, seems to have been forgetting his own dignity, in order to provide for the wants of the children of Adam.


In the Offertory, the Church borrows, once more, the words of David, and shows us our Lord overshadowing his faithful people with the wings of his tenderest care, and shielding us, with the truth of holy Faith, from every attack [Eph. vi. 16].

Offertory: The Lord will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust: his truth shall compass thee with a shield.


Lent consists in something more than mere fasting. Fasting will not produce our conversion, unless we join with it the avoiding dangerous occasions; for these would lead us into sin, and rob us at once of God’s grace. Hence it is, that the Church, in her Secret, beseeches our Lord to bless us with the special grace of keeping from noxious pleasures.

Secret: We offer thee, O Lord, in the most solemn manner, this sacrifice at the beginning of Lent, humbly beseeching thee, that as we retrench from the food of our bodies, we may also refrain from all noxious pleasures. Through, &c.


In order to impress our minds with more and more confidence, the Church repeats, in her Communion Antiphon, the encouraging words already spoken to us in the Offertory. The Sacrifice which has just been offered for us, is a fresh earnest of how much God loves us.

Communion: The Lord will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust: his truth shall compass thee with a shield.


In the Postcommunion, the Church reminds us that the holy Eucharist is our richest source of strength because it purifies us. Let the sinner, therefore, lose no time in making his peace with his God; let him not wait for Easter, but receive, as soon as may be, that heavenly food, which saves us from the anger of God, because it makes us one with the very Author of Salvation.

Postcommunion: May the holy oblation, O Lord, of thy sacrament, give us a new life, that, by laying aside the old man, it may bring us to the participation of this saving mystery. Through,& c.


We will finish our Sunday with the following two fine Prefaces; the first is from the Mozarabic, the second from the Ambrosian Missal.
The truths proposed to-day by the Church for our instruction, are here expressed with much unction and eloquence.
PRAYER FROM THE MOZARABIC MISSAL
(Illatio. Feria VI. Hebdom. IV. Quadragesimae)

It is meet and just, that we give thanks to thee, O Eternal and Almighty God, through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord: who, by fasting, obtained a glorious victory over the devil, and, by his own example, taught his soldiers how to fight. For forty days and forty nights did the God and Lord of all fast, that he might both show that he, the true God, had assumed human nature, and make good, by his fast, that which Adam had forfeited by intemperance. The devil attacks the Virgin’s Son, not knowing that he was, moreover, the Only Begotten Son of God. And although, with his ancient craft, he used the same artifices to seduce the second Adam, wherewith he had vanquished the first; yet did all his cunning fail with the most brave combatant. He who fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards was hungry, is the same that, of old, for the space of forty years, fed countless multitudes with bread from heaven. This is He that, by his own power, entered into battle with the devil, the prince of darkness; and having cast him down, gloriously bore up to heaven the trophy of his victory.


PRAYER FROM THE AMBROSIAN MISSAL
(Praefatio. Dominica I. in Quadrag.)

It is truly meet and just. right and available to salvation, that we should always, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Almighty Father, Eternal God, through Christ our Lord, 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 thy Word, whereby all things were made, is the Bread, not only of the souls of men, hut likewise of the very Angels. With this Bread was thy servant Moses fed, when receiving thy Law, he fasted forty days and forty nights, and abstained from bodily food, that he might be the better able to partake of thy sweetness. Hence, he felt not corporal hunger; and forgot all earthly food; for the sight of thy glory shone upon him, and, through the infusion of thy Spirit, his meat was the word of God. To us, likewise, thou ceasest not to administer this Bread, and biddest us unceasingly hunger after it.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
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The Great Combat
First Sunday of Lent
Taken from Divine Intimacy by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen

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Presence of God – O Jesus, I withdraw in spirit with You into the desert; teach me how to fight the triple concupiscence of the flesh, pride, and avarice.

MEDITATION

On this day, which is the real beginning of Lent, the Church invites us to the great combat, the struggle against sin which will bring us to the Easter resurrection. Our model is Jesus, who although exempt from the incitements of concupiscence, willed to be tempted by the devil for us, in order to have “compassion on our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15).

After forty days of rigorous fast, while He is feeling the pangs of hunger, Jesus is tempted by Satan to change stones into bread. No one can undertake a serious program of penance or mortification without feeling its discomforts; but that is the time to resist the insinuating voices which invite us to condescend to the demands of nature; that is the time to reply with Jesus, “not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God” (see Matthew 4:1-11). Man’s life is far more dependent on the will of God than on material food. If we are convinced of this truth, we shall have the courage to submit to privations, trusting in divine Providence for our sustenance.

Jesus was next tempted to pride. “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down … and in their hands the angels shall bear thee up.” Such a miracle would have aroused the admiration and enthusiasm of the people, but Jesus knew that His Father had chosen an entirely different way for Him—the way of humiliations rather than of triumphs, the way of the Cross and of death. Because He had no desire to escape from this way, He resolutely rejected the suggestion to pride. The best means of conquering temptations to pride and vanity is to choose exactly what humiliates us and makes us appear little in the eyes of others.

The devil returns to the attack and tempts Jesus to avarice: “All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me.” But Jesus replies, “The Lord thy God shalt thou adore and Him only shalt thou serve!” He whose heart is firmly anchored in God will never let it be drawn away from His service by an attraction for, or envy of, earthly things. But if this strong adherence to God is weakened or lost, the temptations to avarice will often succeed in making even those stray who have a special vocation to be “serving God alone.”


COLLOQUY

“Lord God, our Father, Life by which all live, without which everything would be as dead, do not abandon me to evil thoughts and to pride; take away from me all concupiscence and do not give me as prey to an irreverent and foolish spirit; but take possession of my heart, that I may always think of You…. Help me now, my Redeemer, I beseech You, so that I will not fall before my enemies, caught in the snares which they set for my feet to abase my soul; but save me, strength of my salvation, that I may not become a laughing-stock to Your enemies who hate You. Rise, O Lord, my God, my strength, and Your enemies will be dispersed; those who hate You will flee before Your face.

“As wax melts in the fire, so do sinners vanish before Your face. I shall hide myself in You, and rejoice with Your children, satiated with all Your good things. And You, O Lord God, Father of orphans, protecting Mother, spread your wings, that under them we may take refuge from our enemies” (St. Augustine).*

I entrust myself to You, my God and Savior! I wish, particularly in times of struggle, to take refuge in You with redoubled confidence, for “You are my defense and will deliver me from the nets of the fowler and from all misfortune. You will cover me with Your wings and I shall be safe. Your fidelity will surround me like a shield, and I shall fear neither the terrors of the night nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the plague that roams in darkness, nor the attacks of the noonday devil. You are my hope, Lord; You are my refuge, O Most High! You have commanded Your angels to watch over all my paths, and they will bear me in their hands lest my feet strike against a stone” (cf Psalm 91: 3-12).


* Saint Augustine, Exposition on Psalm 68.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
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