St Margaret Clitherow (26 March)

called the “Pearl of York”, born about 1556; died 25 March 1586. She was a daughter of Thomas Middleton, Sheriff of York (1564-5), a wax-chandler; married John Clitherow, a wealthy butcher and a chamberlain of the city, in St. Martin’s church, Coney St., 8 July, 1571, and lived in the Shambles, a street still unaltered. Converted to the Faith about three years later, she became most fervent, continually risking her life by harbouring and maintaining priests, was frequently imprisoned, sometimes for two years at a time, yet never daunted, and was a model of all virtues. Though her husband belonged to the Established Church, he had a brother a priest, and Margaret provided two chambers, one adjoining her house and a second in another part of the city, where she kept priests hidden and had Mass continually celebrated through the thick of the persecution. Some of her priests were martyred, and Margaret who desired the same grace above all things, used to make secret pilgrimages by night to York Tyburn to pray beneath the gibbet for this intention. Finally arrested on 10 March, 1586, she was committed to the castle. On 14 March, she was arraigned before Judges Clinch and Rhodes and several members of the Council of the North at the York assizes. Her indictment was that she had harboured priests, heard Mass, and the like; but she refused to plead, since the only witnesses against her would be her own little children and servants, whom she could not bear to involve in the guilt of her death. She was therefore condemned to the peine forte et dure, i.e. to be pressed to death. “God be thanked, I am not worthy of so good a death as this”, she said. Although she was probably with child, this horrible sentence was carried out on Lady Day, 1586 (Good Friday according to New Style). She had endured an agony of fear the previous night, but was now calm, joyous, and smiling. She walked barefooted to the tollbooth on Ousebridge, for she had sent her hose and shoes to her daughter Anne, in token that she should follow in her steps. She had been tormented by the ministers and even now was urged to confess her crimes. “No, no, Mr. Sheriff, I die for the love of my Lord Jesu”, she answered. She was laid on the ground, a sharp stone beneath her back, her hands stretched out in the form of a cross and bound to two posts. Then a door was placed upon her, which was weighted down till she was crushed to death. Her last words during an agony of fifteen minutes, were “Jesu! Jesu! Jesu! have mercy on me!” Her right hand is preserved at St. Mary’s Convent, York, but the resting-place of her sacred body is not known. Her sons Henry and William became priests, and her daughter Anne a nun at St. Ursula’s, Louvain.

Her life, written by her confessor, John Mush, exists in two versions. The earlier has been edited by Father John Morris, S.J., in his “Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers”, third series (London, 1877). The later manuscript, now at York Convent, was published by W. Nicholson, of Thelwall Hall, Cheshire (London, Derby, 1849), with portrait: “Life and Death of Margaret Clitherow the martyr of York”. It also contains the “History of Mrs. Margaret Ward and Mrs. Anne Line, Martyrs”.

[Note: St. Margaret Clitherow was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970.]

 

ON HEARING MASS DURING LENT ~ Dom Prosper Gueranger

ON HEARING MASS DURING THE SEASON OF LENT

The Christian who enters into the spirit of the Church during this Season of Lent, will find an increase in his soul of that holy Fear of God, which the Psalmist tells us is the beginning of wisdom [Ps. cx. 10].  The remembrance of his sincs, the practice of the holy penances of Lent, the example of a God expiating our sins by fasting in the desert, the Church’s ceaseless prayer for her guilty children, – all combine to arouse him from the indifference which so easily fastens on the soul. He has need, therefore, of some refuge, some powerful and saving help, which may re-enkindle within his heart that Christian Hope, without which he cannot be in the grace of God. Nay more, – he has need of a Victim of Propitiation, which may appease the divine anger; he has need of a Sacrifice, whereby to stay the arm of God, that he knows is raised to punish his sins.

This Victim is ready; this infinitely efficacious Sacrifice is prepared for us. We shall soon have to celebrate the sad anniversary of his being offered upon the Cross: meanwhile, he is daily offered to the Divine Majesty, and it is by assisting at this Holy Sacrifice that we shall be taking the most efficacious means for obtaining the regeneration of our souls. When, therefore, we would offer to our God the sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart, let us ensure its acceptance by going to the Altar, and supplicating the Victim, who there offers himself for our sakes, that he join His infinite merits with our feeble works. When we leave the House of God, the weight of our sins will be lessened, our confidence in divine mercy will be increased, and our love, renewed by compunction, will be firmer and truer.

We will now endeavour to embody these sentiments in our explanation of the Mysteries of the Holy Mass, and initiate the faithful into these divine secrets; not, indeed, by indiscreetly presuming to translate the sacred formulae, but by suggesting such Acts, as will enable those who hear Mass to enter into the ceremonies and sentiments of the Church and the Priest.

The purple Vestments, and the penitential rites already explained, give to the Holy Sacrifice, during Lent, an air of sadness, which harmonises with the mysteries of this Season. But if, on the week-days, there occur a Saint’s feast, the Church keeps it, and laying aside her purple vestments, she celebrates the Holy Sacrifice in memory of the Saint.

On the Sundays, if the Mass at which the faithful assist be the Parochial, or as it is often called, the Public Mass, two solemn rites precede it, which are full of instruction and blessing;- the Asperges, or sprinkling of the Holy Water, and the Procession.

During the Asperges, let us ask with David, whose words are used by the Church in this ceremony, that our souls may be purified by the hyssop of humility, and become whiter than snow.

ANTIPHON OF THE ASPERGES

Asperges me, Domino, hyssopo, et mundabor; lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.
Ps. Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
V. Gloria Patri, &c.
Ant. Asperges me, &c.V. Ostende nobis, Domino, misericordiam tuam.
R. Et salutare tuum da nobis.
V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Ex clamor meus ad te veniat.
V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.

Oremus.
Exaudi nos, Domine sancte, Pater ornnipotens, aeterne Deus: et mittere digneris sanctum angelum tuum de coelis, qui custodiat, foveat, protegat, visitet atque defendat omnes habitantes in hoc habitaculo. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
R. Amen.

Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, O Lord, and I shall be cleansed; thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.
Ps. Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy.
V. Glory, &c.
Ant. Thou shalt sprinkle me, &c.V. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.
R. And grant us the Saviour, whom we expect from thee.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.
Graciously hear us, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: and vouchsafe to send thy holy angel from heaven, who may keep, cherish, protect, visit, and defend all who are assembled in this place. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

The Procession, which immediately precedes the Mass, shows us the ardour wherewith the Church advances towards her God. Let us imitate her fervour, for it is written: The Lord is good to them that hope in him, to the soul that seeketh him [Lament. iii. 25].

But see, Christians, the sacrifice begins! The priest is at the foot of the altar; God is attentive, the angels are in adoration, the whole Church is united with the Priest, whose priesthood and action are those of the great High Priest, Jesus Christ. Let us make the sign of the cross with him.

THE ORDINARY OF THE MASS

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
V. Introibo ad altare Dei.
R. Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.
Judica me Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me.
Quia tu es, Deus, fortitudo mea: quare me repulisti? et quare tristis incedo, dum affligit me inimicus?
Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam: ipsa me deduxerunt et adduxerunt in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernacula tua.
Et introibo ad altare Dei: ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.
Confitebor tibi in cithara Deus, Deus meus: quare tristis es anima mea? et quare conturbas me?
Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc confitebor illi: salutare vultus mei, et Deus meus.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
V. Introibo ad altare Dei.
R. Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.
V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit coelum et terram.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
I unite myself, O my God, with thy Church, who comes to seek consolation in Jesus Christ thy Son, who is the true Altar.
Like her, I beseech thee to defend me against the malice of the enemies of my salvation.
It is in thee that I have put my hope; yet do I feel sad and troubled at being in the midst of the snares which are set for me.
Send me, then, him who is light and truth; it is he that will open to us the way to thy holy mount, to thy heavenly tabernacle.
He is the Mediator and the living Altar; I will draw nigh to him, and be filled with joy.
When he shall have come, I will sing in my gladness. Be not sad, O my soul! why wouldst thou be troubled?
Hope in his coming; he who is thy Saviour and thy God, will soon be with thee.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
I am to go to the altar of God, and feel the presence of him who consoles me!
This my hope comes not from any merits of my own, but from the all-powerful help of my Creator.

The thought of his being about to appear before his God excites in the soul of the Priest a lively sentiment of compunction. He cannot go further in the holy Sacrifice without confessing, and publicly, that he is a sinner, and deserves not the grace he is about to receive. Listen, with respect, to this confession of God’s Minister, and earnestly ask our Lord to show mercy to him; for the priest is your Father; he is answerable for your salvation, for which he every day risks his own. When he has finished, unite with the Servers, or the Sacred Ministers, in this prayer:

Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam aeternam. May Almighty God have mercy on thee, and, forgiving thy sins, bring thee to everlasting life.

The Priest having answered Amen, make your confession, saying with a contrite spirit:

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatae Mariae semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Johanni Baptistae, sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus sanctis, et tibi, Pater: quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Johannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes sanctos, et te, Pater, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum. I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the saints, and to thee, Father, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore, I beseech the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the Saints, and thee, Father, to pray to our Lord God for me.

Receive with gratitude the paternal wish of the Priest, who says to you:

Misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis vestris, perducat vos ad vitam aeternam. R. Amen.
Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus. R. Amen.
May Almighty God be merciful to you, and, forgiving your sins, hung you to life everlasting. R. Amen.
May the Almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins. R. Amen.

Invoke the divine assistance, that you may approach to Jesus Christ.

V. Deus, tu conversus vivificabis nos.
R. Et plebs tua laetabitur in te.
V. Ostende nobis, Domine misericordiam tuam.
R. Et salutare tuum da nobis.
V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
V. O God, it needs but one look of thine to give us life.
R. And thy people shall rejoice in thee.
V. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.
R. And give us the Saviour whom thou hast prepared for us.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.

The Priest here leaves you to ascend to the altar; but first he salutes you:

V. Dominus vobiscum. V. The Lord be with you.

Answer him with reverence:

R. Et cum spiritu tuo.Oremus. R. And with thy spirit.Let us pray.

He ascends the steps, and comes to the Holy of Holies. Ask, both for him and yourself, deliverance from sin:

Aufer a nobis, quaesumus Domine, iniquitates nostras; ut ad Sancta sanctorum puris mereamur mentibus introire. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. Take from our hearts, O Lord, all those sins, which make us unworthy to appear in thy presence; we ask this of thee by thy divine Son, our Lord.

When the Priest kisses the altar, out of reverence for the relics of the Martyrs which are there, say:

Oramus te, Domine, per merita sanctorum tuorum quorum reliquiae hic sunt, et omnium Sanctorum, ut indulgere digneris omnia peccata mea. Generous soldiers of Jesus Christ, who have mingled your own blood with his, intercede for us that our sins may be forgiven; that so we may like you, approach unto God. Amen.

If it be a High Mass at which you are assisting, the priest incenses the Altar in a most solemn manner; and this white cloud which you see ascending from every part of the Altar, signifies the prayer of the Church, who addresses herself to Jesus Christ; which this Divine Mediator then causes to ascend, united with his own, to the throne of the majesty of his Father.

The Priest then says the Introit. It is a solemn opening anthem, in which the Church, at the very commencement of the Holy Sacrifice, gives expression to the sentiments which fill her heart.

It is followed by nine exclamations which are even more earnest, – for they ask for mercy. In addressing them to God, the Church unites herself with the nine Choirs of angels, who are standing round the altar of Heaven, – one and the same with this before which you are kneeling.

To the Father:

Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!

To the Son:

Christe eleison.
Christe eleison.
Christe eleison.
Christ, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!

To the Holy Ghost:

Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!

As we have already mentioned, the Church abstains, during the Season of Lent, from the heavenly Hymn which the Angels sang over the Crib of the Divine Babe. But, if she be keeping the Feast of a Saint, she recites this beautiful Canticle on that day. The beginning of the Angelic Hymn  seems more suitable for heavenly than for earthly voices; but the second part is in no ways out of keeping with the sinner’s wants and fears, for we there remind the Son of the Eternal Father that he is the Lamb, who came down from heaven that he might take away the sins of the world. We beseech him to have mercy on us, and receive our humble prayer. Let us foster these sentiments within us, for they are so appropriate to the present Season.

THE ANGELIC HYMN.

Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.
Laudamus te: benedicimus te: adoramus te: glorificamus te: gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.
Domine Deus, Rex coelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.
Domine, Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram.
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris miserere nobis.
Quoniam tu solus sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe, cum Sancto Spiritu, in gloria Dei Patris.
Amen.
Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace to men of good will.
We praise thee: we bless thee: we adore thee: we glorify thee: we give thee thanks for thy great glory.
O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.
O Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son.
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father.
Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Who takest away the sins of the world, receive our humble prayer.
Who sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For thou alone art holy, thou alone art Lord, thou alone, O Jesus Christ, together with the Holy Ghost, art most high, in the glory of God the Father.
Amen.

The Priest then turns towards the people, and again salutes them, as it were to make sure of their pious attention to the sublime act, attention to the sublime act, for which all this is but the preparation.

Then follows the Collect or Prayer, in which the Church formally expresses to the divine Majesty the special intentions she has in the Mass which is being celebrated. You may unite in this prayer by reciting with the Priest the Collects, which you will find in their proper places: but on no account omit to join with the server of the Mass in answering Amen.

Then follows the Epistle, which is generally a portion of one or other of the Epistles of the Apostles, or a passage from some Book of the Old Testament. Whilst it is being read, ask of God that you may profit of the instructions it conveys.

The Gradual is an intermediate formula of Prayer between the Epistle and Gospel. It again brings to our attention the sentiments already expressed in the Introit. Read it with devotion, that so you may enter more and more into the spirit of the mystery proposed to you by the Church.

During every other portion of her Year, the Church here repeats her joyous Alleluia; but now she denies herself this demonstration of gladness, until such time as her Divine Spouse has passed through that sea of bitterness, into which our sins have plunged him. Instead of the Alleluia, then, she sings in a plaintive tone some verses from the Psalms, appropriate to the rest of that day’s Office. This is the Tract, of which we have already spoken.

If it be a High Mass, the Deacon, meanwhile, prepares to fulfil his noble office, that of announcing the Good Tidings of salvation. He prays God to cleanse his heart and lips. Then, kneeling before the Priest, he asks a blessing; and having received it, he at once goes to the place where he is to sing the Gospel.

As a preparation for hearing it worthily, you may thus say, together with the Priest and Deacon:

Munda cor meum, ac labia mea, omnipotens Deus, qui labia Isaiae Prophetae calculo mundasti ignito: ita me tua grata miseratione dignare mundare, ut sanctum Evangelium tuum digne valeam nuntiare. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Dominus sit in corde meo, et in labiis meis: ut digne et competenter annuntiem Evangelium suum: In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
Alas! these ears of  mine are but too often defiled with the world’s vain words; cleanse  them, O Lord, that so I may hear the words of Eternal life, and treasure them in my heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Grant to thy ministers thy grace, that they may faithfully explain thy law; that so all, both pastors and flock, may be united to thee for ever, Amen.

You will stand during the Gospel, as though you were waiting the orders of your Lord; and at the commencement, make the sign of the Cross on your forehead, lips, and breast; and then listen to every word of the Priest or Deacon. Let your heart be ready and obedient. While my beloved was speaking, says the Bride in the Canticle, my soul melted within me [Cant. v. 6]. If you have not such love as this, have at least the humble submission of Samuel, and say: Speak, Lord! thy servant heareth [1 Kings iii. 10].

After the Gospel, if the Priest says the Symbol of Faith, the Credo, you will say it with him. Faith is that gift of God, without which we cannot please him. It is that makes us see the Light which shineth in darkness, and which the darkness of unbelief did not comprehend. It is Faith alone that teaches us what we are, whence we come, and the end for which we are made. It alone can point out to us the path whereby we may return to our God, when once we have separated ourselves from him. Let us love this admirable Faith, which, if we but make it fruitful by good works, will save us. Let us, then, say with the Catholic Church, our Mother:

THE NICENE CREED.

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem coeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.
Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum. Et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero. Genitum non factum, consubstantialem Patri: per quem omnia facta sunt. Qui propter nos homines, et propter nostram salutem, descendit de coelis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto, ex Maria Virgine et homo factus est. Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus est. Et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas. Et ascendit in coelum; sedet ad dexteram Patris. Et iterum venturus est cum gloria judicare vivos et mortuos; cujus regni non erit finis.
Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem, qui ex Patre Filioque procedit. Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur, et conglorificatur; qui locutus est per Prophetas. Et unam sanctam Catholicam et Apostolicam Ecclesiam. Confiteor unum Baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et  exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et  vitam venturi saeculi.  Amen.
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God. And born of the Father before all ages; God of God, light of light; true God of true God. Begotten, not made; consubstantial to the Father: by whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven. And became Incarnate by the Holy Ghost, by the Virgin Mary; and was made man. He was crucified also for us, under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried. And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of the Father. And he is to come again with glory, to judge the living and the dead; of whose kingdom there shall be no end.
And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son. Who together with the Father and the Son, is adored and glorified; who spoke by the Prophets. And one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the remission of sins. And I expect the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Priest and the people should now have their hearts ready: it is time to prepare the offering itself. And it is here that we come to the second part of the holy Mass; it is called the Oblation, and immediately follows that which was named the Mass of the Catechumens, on account of its being formerly the only part at which the candidates for Baptism had a right to be present.

See then, dear Christians! bread and wine are about to be offered to God, as being the noblest of inanimate creatures, since they are made for the nourishment of man; and yet that is but a poor material image of what they are destined to become in our Christian Sacrifice. Their substance will soon give place to God Himself, and of themselves nothing will remain but the appearances. Happy creatures, thus to yield up their own being, that God may take its place! We, too, are to undergo a like transformation, when, as the Apostle expresses it, that which to us is mortal shall put on immortality [1 Cor. xv. 53].  Until that happy change shall be realized, let us offer ourselves to God as often as we see the Bread and Wine presented to him in the holy sacrifice; and let us prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus, who will transform us, by making us partakers of the divine nature [2 St. Pet. i. 4].

The Priest again turns to the people with the usual salutation, as though he would warn them to redouble their attention. Let us read the Offertory with him, and when he offers the Host to God, let us unite with him and say:

Suscipe, sancte Pater, omnipotens aeterne Deus, hanc immaculatam hostiam, quam ego indignus famulus tuus offero tibi Deo meo vivo et vero, pro innumerabilibus peccatis et offensionibus et negligentiis meis, et pro omnibus circumstantibus, sed et  pro omnibus fidelibus christianis vivis atque defunctis; ut mihi et illis proficiat ad salutem in vitam aternam. Amen. All that we have, O Lord, comes from thee, and belongs to thee; it is just, therefore, that we return it unto thee. But how wonderful art thou in the inventions of thy immense love! This Bread which we are offering to thee, is to give place in a few moments, to the sacred Body of Jesus. We beseech thee, receive, together with this oblation, our hearts, which long to live by thee, and to cease to live their own life of self.

When the Priest puts the wine into the Chalice, and then mingles with it a drop of water, let your thoughts turn to the divine mystery of the Incarnation, which is the source of our hope and our salvation; and say:

Deus qui humanae substantiae dignitatem mirabiliter condidisti, et mirabilius reformasti: da nobis per hujus aquae et vini mysterium, ejus divinitatis esse consortes, qui humanitatis nostrae fieri dignatus est particeps, Jesus Christus Filius tuus Dominus noster: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen. O Lord Jesus, who art the true Vine, and whose Blood, like a generous wine, has been poured forth under the pressure of the Cross! thou hast deigned to unite thy divine nature to our weak humanity, which is signified by this drop of water. Oh come, and make us partakers of thy divinity, by showing thyself to us by thy sweet and wondrous visit.

The Priest then offers the mixture of wine and water, beseeching God graciously to accept this oblation, which is so soon to be changed into the reality, of which it is now but the figure. Meanwhile, say, in union with the Priest:

Offerimus tibi, Domine, calicem salutaris, tuam deprecantes clementiam: ut in conspectu divinae majestatis tuae, pro nostra et totius mundi salute, cum odore suavitatis ascendat. Amen. Graciously accept these gifts, O sovereign Creator of all things. Let them be fitted for the divine transformation, which will make them, from being mere offerings of created things, the instrument of the world’s salvation.

After having thus held up the sacred gifts towards heaven, the Priest bows down: let us, also, humble ourselves, and say:

In spiritu humilitatis, et in animo contrito suscipiamur a te, Domine; et sic fiat, sacrificium nostrum in conspectu tuo hodie, ut placeat tibi, Domine Deus. Though daring, as we do, to approach thy altar, O Lord, we cannot forget that we are sinners. Have mercy on us, and delay not to send us thy Son, who is our saving Host.

Let us next invoke the Holy Ghost, whose operation is about to produce on the altar the presence of the Son of God, as it did in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, in the divine mystery of the Incarnation:

Veni Sanctificator omnipotens aeterne Deus, et benedic hoc sacrificium tuo sancto nomini praeparatum. Come, O Divine Spirit, make fruitful the offering which is upon the altar, and produce in our hearts Him whom they desire.

If it be a High Mass, the priest, before proceeding any further with the Sacrifice, takes the thurible a second time. He first censes the bread and wine which have just been offered, and then the altar itself; hereby inviting the faithful to make their prayer, which is signified by the fragrant incense, more and more fervent, the nearer the solemn moment approaches.

But the thought of his own unworthiness becomes more intense than ever in the heart of the Priest. The public confession which he made at the foot of the altar is not enough; he would now at the altar itself express to the people, in the language of a solemn rite, how far he knows himself to be from that spotless sanctity, wherewith he should approach to God. He washes his hands. Our hands signify our works; and the priest, though by his priesthood he bear the office of Jesus Christ, is, by his works, but man. Seeing your Father thus humble himself, do you also make an act of humility, and say with him these verses of the Psalm:

PSALM 25.

Lavabo inter innocentes manus meas et circumdabo altare tuum, Domine.
Ut audiam vocem  laudis: et enarrem universa mirabilia tua.
Domine, dilexi decorem domus tua, et locum habitationis gloriae tuae.
Ne perdas cum impiis, Deus, animam meam, et cum viris sanguinum vitam meam.
In quorum manibus iniquitates sunt: dextera eorum repleta est muneribus.
Ego autem in innocentia mea ingressus sum: redime me, et miserere mei.
Pes meus stetit in directo: in ecclesiis benedicam te, Domine.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
I, too, would wash my hands, O Lord, and become like unto those who are innocent, that so I may be worthy to come near thy altar, and hear thy sacred canticles, and then go and proclaim to the world the wonders of thy goodness. I love the beauty of thy house, which thou art about to make the dwelling-place of thy glory. Leave me not, O God, in the midst of them that are enemies both to thee and me. Thy mercy having separated me from them, I entered on the path of innocence, and was restored to thy grace; but have pity on my weakness still: redeem me yet more, thou who hast so mercifully brought me back to the right path. In the midst of these thy faithful people, I give thee thanks. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The priest, taking encouragement from the act of humility he has just made, returns to the middle of the altar, and bows down, full of respectful awe, begging of God to receive graciously the sacrifice which is about to be offered to Him, and expresses the intentions for which it is offered. Let us do the same.

Suscipe sancta Trinitas, hanc oblationem, quam tibi offerimus ob memoriam Passionis, Resurrectionis, et Ascensionis Jesu Christi Domini nostri: et in honore beatae Mariae semper Virginis, et beati Johannis Baptistae, et sanctorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, et istorum, et omnium Sanctorum: Ut illis proficiat ad honorem, nobis autem ad salutem: et illi pro nobis intercedere dignentur in coelis quorum memoriam agimus in terris. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. O Holy Trinity, graciously accept the Sacrifice we have begun. We offer it in remembrance of the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. Permit thy Church to join with this intention that of honouring the ever glorious Virgin Mary, the blessed Baptist John, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, the Martyrs whose relics lie here under our altar awaiting their resurrection, and the Saints whose memory we this day celebrate. Increase the glory they are enjoying, and receive the prayers they address to thee for us.

The Priest again turns to the people; it is for the last time before the sacred Mysteries are accomplished. He feels anxious to excite the fervour of the people. Neither does the thought of his own unworthiness leave him; and before entering the cloud with the Lord, he seeks support in the prayers of his brethren who are present. He says to them:

Orate, fratres: ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat apud Deum Patrem omnipotentem. Brethren, pray that my Sacrifice, which is yours also, may be acceptable to God, our Almighty Father.

With this request he turns again to the altar, and you will see his face no more, until our Lord himself shall have come down from heaven upon that same altar. Assure the Priest that he has your prayers, and say to him:

Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis, ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostram totiusque Ecclesiae suae sanctae. May our Lord accept this Sacrifice at thy hands, to the praise and glory of his name, and for our benefit and that of his holy Church throughout the world.

Here the Priest recites the prayers called the Secrets, in which he presents the petition of the whole Church for God’s acceptance of the Sacrifice, and then immediately begins to fulfil that great duty of religion, – Thanksgiving. So far he has adored God, and has sued for mercy; he has still to give thanks for the blessings bestowed on us by the bounty of our heavenly Father, the chief of which, during this season, is the enabling us to satisfy his justice by our Lenten mortifications. The Priest, in the name of the Church, is about to give expression to the gratitude of all mankind. In order to excite the faithful to that intensity of gratitude which is due to God for all his gifts, he interrupts his own and their silent prayer by terminating it aloud, saying:

Per omnia saecula saeculorum! For ever and ever!

In the same feeling, answer your Amen! Then he continues:

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
V. Sursum corda!
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
V. Lift up your hearts!

Let your response be sincere:

R. Habemus ad Dominum. R. We have them fixed on God.

And when he adds:

V. Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro. V. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

Answer him with all the earnestness of your soul:

R. Dignum et justum est. R. It is meet and just.

Then the Priest:

THE PREFACE

Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus. Qui corporali jejunio vitia comprimis, mentem elevas, virtutem largiris et praemia, per Christum Dominum nostrum. Per quem majestatem tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates, Coeli, coelorumque Virtutes, ac beata Seraphim, socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admitti jubeas deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes: 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, Father Almighty, Eternal God, Who by this bodily Fast extinguishest our vices, elevatest our understanding, bestowest on us virtue and its rewards, through Christ our Lord. By whom the Angels praise thy majesty, the Dominations adore it, the Powers tremble before it; the Heavens and the heavenly Virtues, and the blessed Seraphim, with common jubilee, glorify it. Together with whom, we beseech thee that we may be admitted to join our humble voices, saying:

Here unite with the Priest, who on his part, unites himself with the blessed spirits, in giving thanks to God for the unspeakable gift: bow down and say:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus, Deus sabaoth!
Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis!
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis!
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of thy glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed be the Saviour who is coming to us in the name of the Lord who sends him.
Hosanna be to him in the highest!

After these words commences the Canon, that mysterious prayer, in the midst of which heaven bows down to earth, and God descends unto us. The voice of the Priest is no longer heard; yea, even at the altar, all is silence. Let a profound respect stay all distractions, and keep our senses in submission to the soul. Let us fix our eyes on what the Priest does in the Holy Place.

THE CANON OF THE MASS.

In this mysterious colloquy with the great God of heaven and earth, the first prayer of the sacrificing Priest is for the Catholic Church, his and our Mother.

Te igitur, clementissime Pater, per Jesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum supplices rogamus ac petimus, uti accepta habeas, et benedicas haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia illibata, in primis quae tibi offerimus pro Ecclesia tua sancta Catholica: quam pacificare, custodire, adunare, et regere digneris toto orbe terrarum, una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N., et Antistite nostro N., et omnibus orthodoxis, atque catholicae et apostolicae fidei cultoribus. O God, who manifestest thyself unto us by means of the mysteries, which thou hast intrusted to thy holy Church, our Mother; we beseech thee, by the merits of this sacrifice, that thou wouldst remove all those hindrances which oppose her during her pilgrimage in this world. Give her peace and unity. Do thou thyself guide our Holy Father the Pope, thy Vicar on earth. Direct thou our Bishop, who is our sacred link of unity; and watch over all the orthodox children of the Catholic Apostolic Roman Church.

Here pray, together with the Priest, for those whose interests should be dearest to you.

Memento, Domine, famulorum famularumque tuarum N. et N., et omnium circumstantium, quorum tibi fides cognita est, et nota devotio; pro quibus tibi offerimus, vel qui tibi offerunt hoc sacrificium laudis, pro se, suisque omnibus, pro redemptione animarum suarum, pro spe salutis et incolumitatis suae; tibique reddunt vota sua aeterno Deo, vivo et vero. Permit me, O God, to intercede with thee in more earnest prayer for those for whom thou knowest that I have a special obligation to pray: * * *  Pour down thy blessings upon them. Let them partake of the the fruits of this divine Sacrifice, which is offered unto thee in the name of all mankind. Visit them by thy grace, pardon them their sins, grant them the blessings of this present life and of that which is eternal.

Here let us commemorate the Saints: they are that portion of the Body of Jesus Christ, which is called the Church Triumphant.

Communicantes, et memoriam venerantes, in primis gloriosae semper Virginis Mariae, Genitricis Dei et Domini nostri Jesu Christi: sed et beatorum Apostolorum ac Martyrum tuorum, Petri et Pauli, Andreae, Jacobi, Johannis, Thomae, Jacobi, Philippi, Bartholomaei, Matthaei, Simonis, et Thaddaei: Lini, Cleti, Clementis, Xysti, Cornelii, Cypriani, Laurentii, Chrysogoni, Johannis et Pauli, Cosmae et Damiani, et omnium Sanctorum tuorum, quorum meritis precibusque concedas, ut in omnibus protectionis tuae muniamur auxilio. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. But the offering of this Sacrifice, O my God, does not unite us with those only of our brethren who are still in this transient life of trial: it brings us closer to those also, who are already in possession of heaven. Therefore it is, that we wish to honour by it the memory of the glorious and ever Virgin Mary; of the Apostles, Confessors, Virgins, and of all the Saints; that so they may assist us, by their powerful intercession, to become worthy to contemplate thee, as they now do, in the mansions of thy glory.

The Priest, who up to this time, had been praying with his hands extended, now joins them, and holds them over the Bread and Wine, as the high Priest of the Old Law did over the figurative victim: he thus expresses his intention of bringing these gifts more closely under the notice of the divine Majesty, and of marking them as the material offering whereby we profess our dependence, and which, in a few instants, is to yield its place to the living Host, upon whom all our iniquities are to be laid .

Hanc igitur oblationem servitutis nostrae, sed et cunctae familiae tuae, quaesumus Domine, ut placatus accipias: diesque nostros in tua pace disponas, atque ab aeterna damnatione nos eripi, et in electorum tuorum jubeas grege numerari. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Quam oblationem tu Deus in omnibus quaesumus, benedictam, adscriptam, ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilemque facere digneris; ut nobis Corpus et Sanguis fiat dilectissimi Filii tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi.
Vouchsafe, O God to accept this offering which this thy assembled family presents to thee as the homage of its most happy servitude. In return, give us peace, save us from thy wrath, and number us amongst thy elect, through Him who is coming to us, thy Son our Saviour.
Yea, Lord, this is the moment when this bread is to become his sacred Body, which is our food; and this wine is to be changed into his Blood, which is our drink. Ah! delay no longer, but bring us into the presence of this divine Son our Saviour.

And here the Priest ceases to act as man; he now becomes more than a mere minister of the Church. His word becomes that of Jesus Christ, with all its power and efficacy. Prostrate yourself in profound adoration; for God himself is about to descend upon our Altar, coming down from heaven.

Qui pridie quam pateretur, accepit panem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas: et elevatis oculis in coelum, ad te Deum Patrem suum omnipotentem, tibi gratias agens, benedixit, fregit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite, et manducate ex hoc omnes. HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM. What, O God of heaven and earth, my Jesus, the long-expected Messias, what else can I do at this solemn moment but adore thee, in silence, as my sovereign Master, and open my whole heart to thee, as to its dearest King! Come, then, Lord Jesus, come!

The Divine Lamb is now lying on our altar. Glory and love be to him for ever! But he has come that he may be immolated. Hence, the Priest, who is the minister of the will of the Most High, immediately pronounces over the Chalice those sacred words which will produce the great mystical immolation, by the separation of the Victim’s Body and Blood. The substances of the bread and wine have ceased to exist: the species alone are left, veiling, as it were, the Body and Blood, lest fear should keep us from a mystery, which God gives us in order to give us confidence. Let us associate ourselves to the angels, who tremblingly gaze upon this deepest wonder.

Simili modo postquam coenatum est, accipiens et hunc praeclarum Calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas: item tibi gratias agens, benedixit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite et bibite ex eo omnes. HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI, NOVI ET AETERNI TESTAMENTI: MYSTERIUM FIDEI: QUI PRO VOBIS ET PRO MULTIS EFFUNDETUR IN REMISSIONEM PECCATORUM. Haec quotiescumque feceritis, in mei memoriam facietis. O Precious Blood!  thou price of my salvation! I adore thee! Wash away my sins, and make me whiter than snow. Lamb ever slain, yet ever living, thou comest to take away the sins of the world! Come also and reign in me by thy power and by thy love.

The Priest is now face to face with God. He again raises his hands towards heaven, and tells our heavenly Father that the oblation now on the altar is no longer an earthly offering, but the Body and Blood, the whole Person, of his divine Son.

Unde et memores Domine, nos, servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta ejusdem Christi Filii tui Domini nostri tam beatae Passionis, nec non et ab inferis Resurrectionis, sed et in coelos gloriosae Ascensionis: offerimus praeclarae Majestati tuae de tuis donis ac datis: Hostiam puram, Hostiam sanctam, Hostiam immaculatam: Panem sanctum vitae aeternae et Calicem salutis perpetuae.
Supra quae propitio ac sereno vultu respicere digneris: et accepta habere, sicuti accepta habere dignatus es munera pueri tui justi Abel, et sacrificium Patriarchae nostri Abrahae, et quod tibi obtulit summus Sacerdos tuus Melchisedech, sanctum sacrificium, immaculatam hostiam.
Father of infinite holiness, the Host so long expected is here before thee! Behold this thine eternal Son, who suffered a bitter Passion, rose again with glory from the grave, and ascended triumphantly into heaven. He is thy Son; but he is also our Host, – Host pure and spotless, – our Meat and Drink of everlasting life.
Heretofore thou didst accept the sacrifice of the innocent lambs offered to thee by Abel; and the sacrifice which Abraham made thee of his son Isaac, who, though immolated, yet lived; and lastly the sacrifice, which Melchisedech presented to thee, of bread and wine. Receive our Sacrifice, which is above all those others. It is the Lamb of whom all others could be but figures: it is the undying Victim: it is the Body of thy Son, who is the Bread of Life, and his Blood, which, whilst, a drink of immortality for us, is a tribute adequate to thy glory.

The Priest bows down to the altar, and kisses it as the throne of love on which is seated the Saviour of men.

Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus: jube haec perferri per manus sancti Angeli tui in sublime Altare tuum, in conspectu divinae Majestatis tuae: ut quotquot ex hac altaris participatione, sacrosanctum Filii tui Corpus et Sanguinem sumpserimus, omni benedictione coelesti et gratia repleamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. But, O God of infinite power, these sacred gifts are not only on this altar here below; they are also on that sublime Altar in heaven, which is before the throne of thy divine Majesty. These two Altars are but one and the same, on which is accomplished the great mystery of thy glory and our salvation. Vouchsafe to make us partakers of the Body and Blood of the august Victim, from whom flow every grace and blessing.

Nor is the moment less favourable for our making supplication for the Church suffering. Let us therefore ask the divine Liberator, who has come down among us, that he mercifully visit, by a ray of his consoling light, the dark abode of Purgatory, and permit his Blood to flow, as a stream of mercy’s dew, from this our altar, and refresh the panting captives there. Let us pray expressly for those among them who have a claim on our suffrages.

Memento etiam Domine, famulorum famularumque tuarum N. et N. qui nos praecesserunt cum signo fidei, et dormiunt in somno pacis. Ipsis, Domine, et omnibus in Christo quiescentibus, locum refrigerii, lucis et pacis, ut indulgeas, deprecamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. Dear Jesus! let the happiness of this thy visit extend to every portion of thy Church. Thy face gladdens the elect in the holy City: even our mortal eyes can see beneath the veil of our delighted faith; and hide not thyself from those brethren of ours, who are imprisoned in the place of expiation. Be thou refreshment to them in their flames, light in their darkness, and peace in their agonies of torment.

This duty of charity fulfilled, let us pray for ourselves, sinners, alas! and who profit so little by the visit which our Saviour pays us, let us together with the priest, strike our breast, saying:

Nobis quoque peccatoribus famulis tuis, de multitudine miserationum tuarum sperantibus, partem aliquam et societatem donare digneris cum tuis sanctis Apostolis et Martyribus: cum Johanne, Stephano, Matthia, Barnaba, Ignatio, Alexandro, Marcellino, Petro, Felicitate, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucia, Agnete, Caecilia, Anastasia, et omnibus Sanctis tuis; intra quorum nos consortium, non aestimator meriti, sed veniae, quaesumus, largitor admitte. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Per quem haec omnia, Domine, semper bona creas, sanctificas, vivificas, benedicis, et praestas nobis: per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti, in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria. Alas! we are poor sinners, O God of all sanctity! yet do we hope that thy infinite mercy will grant us to share in thy kingdom, not, indeed, by reason of our works, which deserve little else than punishment, but because of the merits of this Sacrifice, which we are offering to thee. Remember, too, the merits of thy holy Apostles, of thy holy Martyrs, of thy holy Virgins, and of all thy Saints. Grant us, by their intercession, grace in this world, and glory eternal in the next; which we ask of thee, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son. It is by him thou bestowest upon us thy blessings of life and sanctification; and by him also, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, may honour and glory be to thee!

While saying these last few words, the priest has taken up the sacred Host, which was on the altar; he has held it over the chalice, thus reuniting the Body and Blood of the divine Victim, in order to show that He is now immortal. Then raising up both Chalice and Host, he offers to God the most noble and perfect homage which the divine Majesty could receive.

This sublime and mysterious rite ends the Canon. The silence of the mysteries is broken. The Priest concludes his long prayers, by saying aloud, and so giving the faithful the opportunity of expressing their desire that his supplications be granted:

Per omnia saecula saeculorum. For ever and ever.

Answer him with faith, and in a sentiment of union with your holy mother the Church:

Amen. Amen! I believe the mystery which has just been accomplished. I unite myself to the offering which has been made, and to the petitions of the Church.

It is now time to recite the prayer which our Saviour Himself has taught us. Let it ascend to heaven together with the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. How could it be otherwise than heard, when he himself who made it for us is in our very hands now whilst we say it. As this Prayer belongs in common to all God’s children, the Priest recites it aloud, and begins by inviting us all to join in it.

Oremus.
Praeceptis salutaribus moniti, et divina institutione formati, audemus dicere:
Let us pray.
Having been taught by a saving precept, and following the form given us by a divine instruction, we thus presume to speak:

THE LORD’S PRAYER.

Pater noster, qui es in caelis, santificetur nomen tuum: adveniat regnum tuum: fiat voluntas tua, sicut in coelo, et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie: et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris: et ne nos inducas in tentationem. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name: thy kingdom come: thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us: and lead us not into temptation.

Let us answer with deep feeling of our misery:

Sed libera nos a malo. But deliver us from evil.

The Priest falls once more into the silence of the holy mysteries. His first word is an affectionate Amen to your last petition – deliver us from evil – on which he forms his own next prayer: and could he pray for anything more needed? Evil surrounds us everywhere, and the Lamb on our altar has been sent to expiate it and deliver us from it.

Libera nos, quaesumus, Domine, ab omnibus malis, praeteritis, praesentibus, et futuris: et intercedente beata et gloriosa semper Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beatis Apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque Andrea, et omnibus Sanctis, da propitius pacem in diebus nostris: ut ope misericordiae tuae adjuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione securi. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus. How many, O Lord, are the evils which beset us! Evils past, which are the wounds left on the soul by our sins, and strengthen her wicked propensities. Evils present, that is, the sins now at this very time upon our soul; the weakness of this poor soul; and the temptations which molest her. There are, also, future evils, that is, the chastisement which our sins deserve from the hand of thy justice. In presence of this host of our Salvation, we beseech thee, O Lord, to deliver us from all these evils, and to accept in our favour the intercession of Mary the Mother of Jesus, of thy holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and Andrew. Liberate us, break our chains, give us peace; through Jesus Christ, thy Son, who with thee liveth and reigneth God.

The Priest is anxious to announce the Peace which he has asked and obtained; he therefore finishes his prayer aloud, saying:

Per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.
World without end.
R. Amen.

Then he says:

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum. May the peace of the Lord be ever with you.

To this paternal wish reply:

R. Et cum spiritu tuo. R. And with thy spirit.

The Mystery is drawing to a close: God is about to be united with man, and man with God, by means of Communion. But first, an imposing and sublime rite takes place at the altar. So far the priest has announced the death of Jesus; it is time to proclaim his Resurrection. To this end, he reverently breaks the sacred Host, and having divided it into three parts, he puts one into the Chalice, thus reuniting the Body and Blood of the immortal Victim. Do you adore, and say:

Haec commixtio et consecratio Corporis et Sanguinis Domini nostri Jesu Christi fiat accipientibus nobis in vitam aeternam. Amen. Glory be to thee, O Saviour of the world, who didst, in thy Passion, permit thy precious Blood to be separated from thy sacred Body, afterwards uniting them again together by thy divine power.

Offer now your prayer to the ever-living Lamb, whom St. John saw on the Altar of Heaven standing, though slain: – say to this your Lord and king, who has taken upon himself all our iniquities, in order to wash them away by his Blood:

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, rniserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, give us Peace.

Peace is the grand object of our Saviour’s coming into the world: he is the Prince of Peace. The divine Sacrament of the Eucharist ought therefore to be the Mystery of Peace, and the bond of Catholic Unity; for, as the Apostle says, all we who partake of one bread, are all one Bread and one Body [1 Cor. x. 17]. It is on this account that the priest, now that he is on the point of receiving, in Communion, the Sacred Host, prays that fraternal peace may be preserved in the Church, and more especially in this portion of it which is assembled round the altar. Pray with him, and for the same blessing:

Domine Jesu Christe, qui dixisti Apostolis tuis: Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis: ne respicias peccata mea, sed fidem Ecclesiae tuae: eamque secundum voluntatem tuam pacificare, et coadunare digneris. Qui vivis et regnas, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen. Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst to thy Apostles, “my peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:” regard not my sins, but the faith of thy Church, and grant her that peace and unity which is according to thy will. Who livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

If it be a High Mass, the Priest here gives the kiss of peace to the Deacon, who gives it to the Sub-deacon, and he to the Choir. During this ceremony, you should excite within yourself feelings of Christian charity, and pardon your enemies if you have any. Then continue to pray with the priest:

Domine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi, qui ex voluntate Patris, cooperante Spiritu Sancto, per mortem tuam mundum vivificasti; libera me per hoc sacrosanctum Corpus et Sanguinem tuum, ab omnibus iniquitatibus meis, et universis malis, et fac me tuis semper inhaerere mandatis, et a te nunquam separari permittas. Qui cum eodem Deo Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivis et regnas Deus in saecula saeculorum. Amen. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who, according to the will of thy Father, through the co-operation of the Holy Ghost, hast by thy death given life to the world; deliver me by this thy most Sacred Body and Blood from all my iniquities, and from all evils; and make me always adhere to thy commandments, and never suffer me to be separated from thee, who with the same God the Father and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

If you are going to Communion at this Mass, say the following prayer; otherwise prepare yourself to make a Spiritual Communion:

Perceptio Corporis tui, Domine Jesu Christe, quod ego indignus sumere praesumo, non mihi proveniat in judicium et condemnationem: sed pro tua pietate prosit mihi ad tutamentum mentis et corporis, et ad medelam percipiendam. Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen. Let not the participation of thy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, though unworthy, presume to receive, turn to my judgment and condemnation; but through thy mercy may it be a safeguard and remedy both to my soul and body. Who with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

When the Priest takes the host into his hands, in order to his receiving it in Communion, say:

Panem caelestem accipiam, et nomen Domini invocabo. Come, my dear Jesus, come!

When he strikes his breast, confessing his unworthiness, say thrice with him these words, and in the same disposition as the centurion of the Gospel, who first used them:

Domine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea. Lord, I am not worthy thou shouldst enter under my roof; say it only with one word of thine, and my soul will be healed.

Whilst the Priest receives the Sacred Host, if you also are to communicate, adore profoundly your God, who is ready to take up his abode within you, and again say to him with the Bride: Come, Lord Jesus, come!

But should you not be going to receive sacramentally, make a Spiritual Communion. Adore Jesus Christ, who thus visits your soul by His grace, and say to him:

Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi, custodiat animam meam in vitam aeternam. Amen. I give thee, O Jesus, this heart of mine, that thou mayest dwell in it, and do with me what thou wilt.

Then the priest takes the Chalice in thanksgiving and says:

Quid retribuam Domino pro omnibus, quae retribuit mihi? Calicem salutaris accipiam, et nomen Domini invocabo. Laudans invocabo Dominum, et ab inimicis meis salvus ero. What return shall I make to the Lord for all He hath given to me? I will take the Chalice of salvation, and will call upon the name of the Lord. Praising I will call upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from mine enemies.

But if you are to make a Sacramental Communion, you should, at this moment of the Priest’s receiving the precious Blood, again adore the God who is coming to you, and keep to your Canticle: Come, Lord Jesus, come!

If on the contrary, you are going to communicate only spiritually, again adore your divine Master, and say to him:

Sanguis Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam aeternam. Amen. I unite myself to thee, my beloved Jesus! do thou unite thyself to me! and never let us be separated.

It is here that you must approach to the altar, if you are going to Communion. The dispositions suitable for Holy Communion during this season of Lent are given in the next chapter.

The Communion being finished, and whilst the Priest is purifying the Chalice the first time, say:

Quod ore sumpsimus, Domine, pura mente capiamus: et de munere temporali fiat nobis remedium sempiternum. Thou hast visited me, O God, in these days of my pilgrimage; give me grace to treasure up the fruits of this visit for my future eternity.

Whilst the priest is purifying the chalice the second time, say:

Corpus tuum, Domine, quod sumpsi, et Sanguis quem potavi, adhaereat visceribus meis: et praesta ut in me non remaneat scelerum macula, quem pura et sancta refecerunt Sacramenta. Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum. Amen. Be thou for ever blessed, O my Saviour, for having admitted me to the sacred mystery of thy Body and Blood. May my heart and senses preserve, by thy grace, the purity which thou hast imparted to them, and I be thus rendered less unworthy of thy divine visit.

The priest, having read the antiphon called the Communion, which is the first part of his Thanksgiving for the favour just received from God, whereby he has renewed his divine presence among us, turns to the people with the usual salutation; after which, he recites the prayers, called the Postcommunion, which are the completion of the thanksgiving. You will join him here also, thanking God for the unspeakable gift he has just lavished on you, and asking him, with most earnest entreaty, that he will bestow upon you a lasting spirit of compunction.

These prayers having been recited, the priest again turns to the people, and, full of joy for the immense favour he and they have been receiving, he says:

Dominus vobiscum. The Lord be with you.

Answer him:

Et cum spiritu tuo.
Ite, Missa est.
R. Deo gratias.
And with thy spirit.
Go, the Mass finished.
R. Thanks be God.

The priest makes a last Prayer, before giving you his blessing: pray with him:

Placeat tibi, sancta Trinitas, obsequium servitutis meae, quod oculis tuae majestatis indignus obtuli, tibi sit acceptabile, mihique, et omnibus, pro quibus illud obtuli, sit te miserante, propitiabile. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Eternal thanks be to thee, O adorable Trinity, for the mercy thou hast shown to me, in permitting me to assist at this divine Sacrifice. Pardon me the negligence and coldness wherewith I have received so great a favour, and, deign to confirm the Blessing, which thy Minister is about to give me in thy Name.

The Priest raises his hand, and thus blesses you:

Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus.
R. Amen.
May the Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, bless you!
R. Amen.

He then concludes the Mass by reading the first fourteen verses of the Gospel according to St. John, which tell us of the eternity of the Word, and of the mercy which led him to take upon himself our flesh, and to dwell among us. Pray that you may be of the number of those who, now he has come unto his own, receive him, and are made the sons of God.

Initium sancti Evangelii secundum Johannem.Cap 1.

In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. Hoc erat in principio apud Deum. Omnia per ipsum facta sunt et sine ipso factum est nihil, quod factum est, in ipso vita erat, et vita erat lux hominum: et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt. Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Johannes. Hic venit in testimonium, ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine, ut omnes crederent per illum. Non erat ille lux, sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine. Erat lux vera, quae illuminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum. In mundo erat, et mundus per ipsum factus est, et mundus eum non cognovit. In propria venit, et sui eum non receperunt. Quotquot autem receperunt eum, dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri, his, qui credunt in nomine ejus: qui non ex sanguinibus, neque ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt. Et Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis: et vidimus gloriam ejus, gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre, plenum gratiae et veritatis.
R. Deo gratias.

The beginning of the holy Gospel according to John.Ch. I.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was made nothing that was made, in him was life, and the life was the light of men and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them he gave power to be made the sons of God; to them that believe in his name, who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw his glory, as it were the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
R. Thanks be to God.

Practice During Lent ~ Dom Prosper Gueranger

PRACTICE DURING LENT

After having spent the three weeks of Septuagesima in meditating upon our spiritual infirmities, and upon the wounds caused in us by sin, – we should be ready to enter upon the penitential season, which the Church has now begun. We have now a clearer knowledge of the justice and holiness of God, and of the dangers that await an impenitent soul; and, that our repentance might be earnest and lasting, we have bade farewell to the vain joys and baubles of the world. Our pride has been humbled by the prophecy, that these bodies would soon be like the ashes that wrote the memento of death upon our foreheads.

During these Forty Days of penance, which seem so long to our poor nature, we shall not be deprived of the company of our Jesus. He seemed to have withdrawn from us during those weeks of Septuagesima, when everything spoke to us of his maledictions upon sinful man;- but this absence has done us good. It has taught us how to tremble at the voice of God’s anger. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom [Ps. c x. 10.]; we have found it to be so;- the spirit of penance is now active within us, because we have feared.

And now, let us look at the divine object that is before us. It is our Emmanuel; the same Jesus, but not under the form of the sweet Babe whom we adored in his Crib. He is grown to the fulness of the age of man, and wears the semblance of a Sinner, trembling and humbling himself before the Sovereign Majesty of his Father, whom we have offended, and to whom he now offers himself as the Victim of propitiation. He loves us with a Brother’s love; and seeing that the season for our doing penance has begun, he comes to cheer us on by his presence and his own example. We are going to spend Forty Days in fasting and abstinence:- Jesus, who is innocence itself, goes through the same penance. We have separated ourselves, for a time, from the pleasures and vanities of the world:- Jesus withdraws from the company and sight of men. We intend to assist at the Divine Services more assiduously, and pray more fervently, than at other times: – Jesus spends forty days and forty nights in praying, like the humblest suppliant; and all this for us. We are going to think over our past sins, and bewail them in bitter grief :- Jesus suffers for them and weeps over them in the silence of the desert, as though He himself had committed them.

No sooner had he received Baptism from the hands of St. John, than the Holy Ghost led him to the Desert. The time had come for his showing himself to the world; he would begin by teaching us a lesson of immense importance. He leaves the saintly Precursor and the admiring multitude, that had seen the divine Spirit descend upon him, and heard the Father’s voice proclaiming him to be his Beloved Son; he leaves them, and goes into the Desert. Not far from the Jordan, there rises a rugged mountain, which has received, in after ages, the name of Quarantana. It commands a view of the fertile plain of Jericho, the Jordan, and the Dead Sea. It is within a cave of this wild rock that the Son of God now enters, his only companions being the dumb animals who have chosen this same for their own shelter. He has no food wherewith to satisfy the pangs of hunger; the barren rock can yield him no drink; his only bed must be of stone. Here he is to spend Forty Days; after which, he will permit the Angels to visit him and bring him food.

Thus does our Saviour go before us on the holy path of Lent. He has borne all its fatigues and hardships, that so we, when called upon to tread the narrow way of our Lenten Penance, might have His example wherewith to silence the excuses, and sophisms, and repugnances, of self-love and pride. The lesson is here too plainly given not to be understood; the law of doing penance for sin is here too clearly shown, and we cannot plead ignorance;- let us honestly accept the teaching and practise it. Jesus leaves the Desert where he had spent the Forty Days, and begins his preaching with these words, which he addresses to all men: Do penance, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand [St. Matth. iv. 17]. Let us not harden our hearts to this invitation, lest there be fulfilled in us the terrible threat contained in those other words of our Redeemer: Unless ye shall do penance, ye shall perish [St. Luke, xiii. 3].

Now, Penance consists in contrition of the soul, and in mortification of the body; these two parts are essential to it. The soul has willed the sin; the body has frequently co-operated in its commission. Moreover, man is composed of both Soul and Body; both, then, should pay homage to their Creator. The Body is to share with the Soul, either the delights of heaven, or the torments of hell; there cannot, therefore, be any thorough Christian life, or any earnest penance, where the Body does not take part, in both, with the Soul.

But it is the Soul which gives reality to Penance. The Gospel teaches this by the examples it holds out to us of the Prodigal Son, of Magdalene, of Zacheus, and of St. Peter. The Soul, then, must be resolved to give up every sin; she must heartily grieve over those she has committed; she must hate sin ; she must shun the occasions of sin. The Sacred Scriptures have a word for this inward disposition, which has been adopted by the Christian world, and admirably expresses the state of the Soul that has turned away from her sins: this word is, Conversion. The Christian should, therefore, during Lent, study to excite himself to this repentance of heart, and look upon it as the essential foundation of all his Lenten exercises. Nevertheless, he must remember that this spiritual penance would be a mere delusion, were he not to practise mortification of the Body. Let him study the example given him by his Saviour, who grieves, indeed, and weeps over our sins; but he also expiates them by his bodily sufferings. Hence it is, that the Church, – the infallible interpreter of her Divine Master’s will, – tells us, that the repentance of our heart will not be accepted by God, unless it be accompanied by fasting and abstinence.

How great, then, is the illusion of those Christians, who forget their past sins, or compare themselves with others whose lives they take to have been worse than their own; and thus satisfied with themselves, can see no harm or danger in the easy life they intend to pass for the rest of their days! They will tell you, that there can be no need of their thinking of their past sins, for they have made a good Confession! Is not the life they have led since that time a sufficient proof of their solid piety? And why should any one speak to them about God’s Justice and Mortification? – Accordingly, as soon as Lent approaches, they must get all manner of Dispensations. Abstinence is an inconvenience: Fasting has an effect upon their health, it would interfere with their occupations, it is such a change from their ordinary way of living: besides, there are so many people who are better than themselves, and yet who never fast or abstain:- and, as the idea never enters their minds of supplying for the penances prescribed by the Church with other penitential exercises, such persons as these, gradually and unsuspectingly, lose the Christian spirit.

The Church sees this frightful decay of supernatural energy; but she cherishes what is still left, by making her Lenten observances easier, year after year. With the hope of maintaining that little, and of seeing it strengthen for some better future, she leaves to the Justice of God her children who hearken not to her, when she teaches them how they might, even now, propitiate his anger. Alas! these her children, of whom we are speaking, are quite satisfied that things should be as they are, and never think of judging their own conduct by the examples of Jesus and his Saints, or by the undeviating rules of Christian penance.

It is true, there are exceptions; but how rare they are, especially in our large towns! Groundless prejudices, idle excuses, bad example, – all tend to lead men from the observance of Lent. Is it not sad to hear people giving such a reason as this for their not fasting or abstaining, – because they feel them ? Surely, they forget that the very aim of fasting and abstinence is to make these bodies of sin [Rom. vi. 6] suffer and feel. And what will they answer on the Day of Judgment, when our Saviour shall show them how the very Turks, who were the disciples of a gross and sensual religion, had the courage to practise, every year, the forty days’ austerities of their Ramadan?

But their own conduct will be their loudest accuser. These very persons, who persuade themselves that they have not strength enough to bear the abstinence and fasting of Lent, even in their present mitigated form, think nothing of going through incomparably greater fatigues for the sake of temporal gains or worldly enjoyments. Constitutions, which have broken down in the pursuit of pleasures, – which, to say the least, are frivolous, and always dangerous, – would have kept up all their vigour, had the laws of God and his Church, and not the desire to please the world, been the guide of their conduct. But such is the indifference, wherewith this non-observance of Lent is treated, that it never excites the slightest trouble or remorse of conscience; and they who are guilty of it will argue with you, that people who lived in the Middle Ages may perhaps have been able to keep Lent, but that now-a-days it is out of the question: and they can coolly say this in the face of all that the Church has done to adapt her Lenten discipline to the physical and moral weakness of the present generation! How comes it, that whilst these men have been trained in, or converted to, the Faith of their Fathers, they can forget that the observance of Lent is an essential mark of Catholicity; and that when the Protestants undertook to Reform her, in the 16th century, one of their chief grievances was that she insisted on her children mortifying themselves by Fasting and Abstinence!

But, it will be asked, – are there, then, no lawful Dispensations? – We answer, that there are; and that they are more needed now than in former ages, owing to the general weakness of our constitutions. Still, there is great danger of our deceiving ourselves. If we have strength to go through great fatigues, when our own self-love is gratified by them, – how is it we are too weak to observe Abstinence? If a slight inconvenience deter us from doing this penance, how shall we ever make expiation for our sins, for expiation is essentially painful to nature? The opinion of our physician, that Fasting will weaken us, may be false, or it may be correct; – but is not this mortification of the flesh the very object that the Church aims at, knowing that our soul will profit by the body being brought into subjection? But let us suppose the dispensation to be necessary: that our health would be impaired, and the duties of our state of life neglected, if we were to observe the law of Lent to the letter:- do we, in such case, endeavour, by other works of penance, to supply for those, which our health does not allow us to observe:- Are we grieved and humbled to find ourselves thus unable to join with the rest of the Faithful Children of the Church, in bearing the yoke of Lenten discipline? Do we ask of our Lord to grant us the grace, next year, of sharing in the merits of our fellow-Christians, and of observing those holy practices, which give the soul an assurance of mercy and pardon? If we do, the dispensation will not be detrimental to our spiritual interests; and when the Feast of Easter comes, inviting the Faithful to partake of its grand joys, we may confidently take our place side by side with those who have fasted; for though our bodily weakness has not permitted us to keep pace with them exteriorly, our heart has been faithful to the spirit of Lent.

How long a list of proofs we could still give of the negligence, into which the modern spirit of self-indulgence leads so many among us, in regard of Fasting and Abstinence! Thus, there are Catholics to be found in every part of the world who make their Easter Communion, and profess themselves to be Children of the Catholic Church, who yet have no idea of the obligations of Lent. Their very notion of Fasting and Abstinence is so vague, that they are not aware that these two practices are quite distinct one from the other; and that the dispensation from one does not, in any way, include a dispensation from the other. If they have, lawfully, or unlawfully, obtained exemption from Abstinence, it never so much as enters into their minds, that the obligation of fasting is still binding upon them, during the whole Forty Days; or if they have had granted to them a dispensation from Fasting, they conclude that they may eat any kind of food they wish. Such ignorance as this is the natural result of the indifference wherewith the commandments and traditions of the Church are treated.

So far, we have been speaking of the non-observance of Lent in its relation to individuals and Catholics; let us now say a few words upon the influence which that same non-observance has upon a whole people or nation. There are but few social questions which have not been ably and spiritedly treated of by the public writers of the age, who have devoted their talents to the study of what is called Political Economy; and it has often been a matter of surprise to us, that they should have overlooked a subject of such deep interest as this, – the results produced on society by the abolition of Lent, that is to say, of an institution, which, more than any other, keeps up in the public mind a keen sentiment of moral right and wrong, inasmuch as it imposes on a nation an annual expiation for sin. No shrewd penetration is needed to see the difference between two nations, one of which observes, each year, a forty-days’ penance in reparation of the violations committed against the Law of God, and another, whose very principles reject all such solemn reparation. And looking at the subject from another point of view, is it not to be feared that the excessive use of animal food tends to weaken, rather than to strengthen, the constitution?  We are convinced of it, – the time will come, when a greater proportion of vegetable, and less of animal, diet, will be considered as an essential means for maintaining the strength of the human frame.
Let, then, the Children of the Church courageously observe the Lenten practices of penance. Peace of conscience is essential to Christian life; and yet it is promised to none but truly penitent souls. Lost innocence is to be regained by the humble confession of the sin, when it is accompanied by the absolution of the Priest; but let the Faithful be on their guard against the dangerous error, which would persuade them that they have nothing to do when once pardoned. Let them remember the solemn warning given them by the Holy Ghost in the sacred scriptures: Be not without fear about sin forgiven! [Ecclus. v. 5]. Our confidence of our having been forgiven should be in proportion to the change or conversion of our heart the greater our present detestation of our past sins, and the more earnest our desire to do penance for them for the rest of our lives, the better founded is our confidence that they have been pardoned. Man knoweth not, as the same holy Volume assures us, whether he be worthy of love or hatred [Eccles. ix. 1]; but he that keeps up within him the spirit of penance, has every reason to hope that God loves him.

But the courageous observance of the Church’s precept of Fasting and Abstaining during Lent must be accompanied by those two other eminently good works, to which God so frequently urges us in the Scripture: Prayer and Alms-deeds. Just as under the term Fasting the Church comprises all kinds of mortification; so under the word Prayer, she includes all those exercises of piety whereby the soul holds intercourse with her God. More frequent attendance at the services of the Church, assisting daily at Mass, spiritual reading, meditation upon eternal truths and the Passion, hearing sermons, and, above all, the approaching the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, – these are the chief means whereby the Faithful should offer to God the homage of Prayer, during this holy Season.

Almsdeeds comprise all the works of mercy to our neighbour, and are unanimously recommended by the Holy Doctors of the Church, as being the necessary complement of Fasting and Prayer during Lent. God has made it a law, to which he has graciously bound himself, – that charity shown towards our fellow-creatures, with the intention of pleasing our Creator, shall be rewarded as though it were done to Himself. How vividly this brings before us the reality and sacredness of the tie, which he would have to exist between all men! Such, indeed, is its necessity, that our Heavenly Father will not accept the love of any heart that refuses to show mercy: but, on the other hand, he accepts, as genuine and as done to himself, the charity of every Christian, who, by a work of mercy shown to a fellow-man, is really acknowledging and honouring that sublime union, which makes all men to be one family, with God as its Father. Hence it is, that Alms-deeds, done with this intention, are not merely acts of human kindness, but are raised to the dignity of acts of religion, which have God for their direct object, and have the power of appeasing his Divine Justice.

Let us remember the counsel given by the Arch angel Raphael to Tobias. He was on the point of taking leave of this holy family, and returning to heaven; and these were his words: Prayer is good with fasting and alms, more than to lay up treasures of gold: for alms delivereth from death, and the same is that which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find mercy and life everlasting [Tob. xii, 8, 9]. Equally strong is the recommendation given to this virtue by the Book of Ecclesiasticus: Water quencheth a flaming fire, and alms resisteth sins [Ecclus. iii. 33]. And again: Shut up alms in the heart the poor, and it shall obtain help for thee against all evil [Ibid. xxix. 15]. The Christian should keep these consoling promises ever before his mind, but more especially during the season of Lent. The rich man should show the poor. whose whole year is a fast, that there is a time when even he has his self-imposed privations. The faithful observance of Lent naturally produces a saving; let that saving be given to Lazarus. Nothing, surely, could be more opposed to the spirit of this holy Season, than the keeping up a table, as richly and delicately provided, as at other periods of the year, when God permits us to use all the comforts compatible with the means he has given us. But how thoroughly Christian is it, that during these days of penance and charity, the life of the poor man should be made more comfortable, in proportion as that of the rich shares in the hardships and privations of his suffering brethren throughout the world! Poor and rich would then present themselves, with all the beauty of fraternal love upon them, at the Divine Banquet of the Paschal Feast, to which our Risen Jesus will invite us after these forty days are over.

There is one means more whereby we are to secure to ourselves the grand graces of Lent; it is the spirit of retirement and separation from the world. Our ordinary life, that is, such as it is during the rest of the year, should all be made to pay tribute to the holy Season of penance; otherwise, the salutary impression produced on us by the holy ceremony of Ash Wednesday will soon be effaced. The Christian ought, therefore, to forbid himself, during Lent, all the vain amusements, entertainments, and parties, of the world he lives in. As regards Theatres and Balls, which are the World in the very height of its power to do harm, no one that calls himself a disciple of Christ should ever be present at them, unless necessity, or the position he holds in society, oblige him to it: but if, from his own free choice, he throw himself amidst such dangers during the present holy Season of penance and recollection, he offers an insult to his character, and must needs cease to believe that he has sins to atone for, and a God to propitiate. The world, (we mean that part of it which is Christian,) has thrown off all those external indications of mourning and penance, which we read of as being so religiously observed in the Ages of Faith; let that pass: but there is one thing which can never change: God’s Justice, and man’s obligation to appease that Justice. The world may rebel as much as it will against the sentence, but the sentence is irrevocable: Unless ye do penance, ye shall all perish [St. Luke, xiii. 3]. It is God’s own word. Say, if you will, that few now-a-days give ear to it; but, for that very reason many are lost. They, too, who hear this word, must not forget the warnings given them by our Divine Saviour himself, in the Gospel read to us on Sexagesima Sunday. He told us, how some of the Seed is trodden down by the passers-by, or eaten by the fowls of the air; how some falls on rocky soil, and gets parched; and how, again, some is choked by thorns. Let us be wise, and spare no pains to become that good ground, which not only receives the Divine Seed, but brings forth a hundred-fold for the Easter harvest which is at hand.

An unavoidable feeling will arise in the minds of some of our readers, as they peruse these pages, in which we have endeavoured to embody the spirit of the Church, such as it is expressed, not only in the Liturgy, but also in the decrees of Councils and in the writings of the holy Fathers. The feeling we allude to, is one of regret at not finding, during this period of the Liturgical Year, the touching and exquisite poetry, which gave such a charm to the forty days of our Christmas solemnity. First came Septuagesima, throwing its gloomy shade over those enchanting visions of the Mystery of Bethlehem; and now we have got into a desert land, with thorns at every step, and no springs of water to refresh us. Let us not complain, however; Holy Church knows our true wants, and is intent on supplying them. Neither must we he surprised at her insisting on a severer preparation for Easter, than for Christmas. At Christmas, we were to approach our Jesus as an Infant; all she put us through then, were the Advent exercises, for the Mysteries of our Redemption were but beginning.

And of those who went to Jesus’ crib, there were many who, like the poor Shepherds of Bethlehem, might be called simple, at least in this sense, – that they did not sufficiently realise, either the holiness of their Incarnate God, or the misery and guilt of their own conscience. But now that this Son of the Eternal God has entered the path of penance; now that we are about to see him a victim to every humiliation, and suffering even a death upon a Cross; – the Church does not spare us; she rouses us from our ignorance and our self-satisfaction. She bids us strike our breasts, have compunction in our souls, mortify our bodies, – because we are sinners. Our whole life ought to be one of penance; fervent souls are ever doing penance; could anything be more just or necessary, than that we should do some penance during these days, when our Jesus is fasting in the desert, and is to die on Calvary? There is a sentence of this our Redeemer, which he spoke to the daughters of Jerusalem, on the day of his Passion; let us apply it to ourselves: If in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry? [St. Luke, xxiii. 31]. Oh! what a revelation is here! and yet, by the mercy of the Jesus who speaks it, the dry wood may become the green, and so, not be burned.

The Church hopes, nay her whole energy is labouring, that this may be; therefore, she bids us bear the yoke; she gives us a Lent. Let us only courageously tread the way of penance, and the Light will gradually beam upon us. If we are now far off from our God by the sins that are upon us, this holy Season will be to us what the Saints call the Purgative Life, and will give us that purity, which will enable us to see our Lord in the glory of his victory over death. If, on the contrary, we are already living the Illuminative Life; if, during the three weeks of Septuagesima, we have bravely sounded the depth of our miseries, our Lent will give us a clearer view of Him who is our Light; and if we could acknowledge Him as our God when we saw him as the Babe of Bethlehem, our soul’s eye will not fail to recognize him in the divine Penitent of the Desert, or in the bleeding Victim of Calvary.

The Mystery of Lent – Dom Prosper Gueranger

THE MYSTERY OF LENT

We may be sure, that a season, so sacred as this of Lent, is rich in mysteries. The Church has made it a time of recollection and penance, in preparation for the greatest of all her Feasts; she would, therefore, bring into it everything that could excite the faith of her children, and encourage them to go through the arduous work of atonement for their sins. During Septuagesima, we had the number Seventy, which reminded us of those seventy years’ captivity in Babylon, after which, God’s chosen people, being purified from idolatry, was to return to Jerusalem and celebrate the Pasch. It is the number Forty that the Church now brings before us: – a number, as Saint Jerome observes, which denotes punishment and affliction [In Ezechiel, cap. xxix].

Let us remember the forty days and forty nights of the Deluge (Gen. vii. 12), sent by God in his anger, when he repented that he had made man, and destroyed the whole human race, with the exception of one family. Let us consider how the Hebrew people, in punishment for their ingratitude, wandered forty years in the desert, before they were permitted to enter the Promised Land [Num. xiv. 33]. Let us listen to our God commanding the Prophet Ezechiel to lie forty days on his right side, as a figure of the siege, which was to bring destruction on Jerusalem [Ezech. iv. 6].

There are two, in the Old Testament, who represent, in their own persons, the two manifestations of God: Moses, who typifies the Law; and Elias, who is the figure of the Prophets. Both of these are permitted to approach God, – the first on Sinai [Exod. xxiv. 18], the second on Horeb [3 Kings, xix. 8], – but both of them have to prepare for the great favour by an expiatory fast of forty days.

With these mysterious facts before us, we can understand why it was, that the Son of God, having become Man for our salvation, and wishing to subject himself to the pain of fasting, chose the number of Forty Days. The institution of Lent is thus brought before us with everything that can impress the mind with its solemn character, and with its power of appeasing God and purifying our souls. Let us, there fore, look beyond the little world which surrounds us, and see how the whole Christian universe is, at this very time, offering this Forty Days’ penance as a sacrifice of propitiation to the offended Majesty of God; and let us hope, that, as in the case of the Ninivites, he will mercifully accept this year’s offering of our atonement, and pardon us our sins.

The number of our days of Lent is, then, a holy mystery: let us, now, learn from the Liturgy, in what light the Church views her Children during these Forty Days. She considers them as an immense army, fighting, day and night, against their Spiritual enemies. We remember how, on Ash Wednesday, she calls Lent a Christian Warefare. Yes, – in order that we may have that newness of life, which will make us worthy to sing once more our Alleluia, – we must conquer our three enemies the devil, the flesh, and the world. We are fellow combatants with our Jesus, for He, too, submits to the triple temptation, suggested to him by Satan in person. Therefore, we must have on our armour, and watch unceasingly. And whereas it is of the utmost importance that our hearts be spirited and brave, – the Church gives us a war-song of heaven’s own making, which can fire even cowards with hope of victory and confidence in God’s help: it is the Ninetieth Psalm [Ps. Qui habitat in adjutorio, in the Office of Compline]. She inserts the whole of it in the Mass of the First Sunday of Lent, and, every day, introduces several of its verses in the Ferial Office.

She there tells us to rely on the protection, wherewith our Heavenly Father covers us, as with a shield [Scuto circumdabit to veritas ejus. Office of None.]; to hope under the shelter of his wings [Et sub pennis ejus sperabis. Sext.]; to have confidence in him, for that he will deliver us from the snare of the hunter [Ipse liberavit me de laqueo venantium. Tierce.], who had robbed us of the holy liberty of the children of God; to rely upon the succour of the Holy Angels, who are our Brothers, to whom our Lord hath given charge that they keep us in all our ways [Angelis suis mandavit de te, ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis. Lauds and Vespers.], and who, when our Jesus permitted Satan to tempt him, were the adoring witnesses of his combat, and approached him, after his victory, proffering to him their service and homage. Let us get well into us these sentiments wherewith the Church would have us be inspired; and, during our six weeks’ campaign, let us often repeat this admirable Canticle, which so fully describes what the Soldiers of Christ should be and feel in this season of the great spiritual warfare.

But the Church is not satisfied with thus animating us to the contest with our enemies; – she would also have our minds engrossed with thoughts of deepest import; and for this end, she puts before us three great subjects, which she will gradually unfold to us between this and the great Easter Solemnity. Let us be all attention to these soul-stirring and instructive lessons.

And firstly, there is the conspiracy of the Jews against our Redeemer. It will be brought before us in its whole history, from its first formation to its final consummation on the great Friday, when we shall behold the Son of God hanging on the Wood of the Cross. The infamous workings of the synagogue will be brought before us so regularly, that we shall be able to follow the plot in all its details. We shall be inflamed with love for the august Victim, whose meekness, wisdom, and dignity, bespeak a God. The divine drama, which began in the cave of Bethlehem, is to close on Calvary; we may assist at it, by meditating on the passages of the Gospel read to us, by the Church, during these days of Lent.

The second of the subjects offered to us, for our instruction, requires that we should remember how the Feast of Easter is to be the day of new birth for our Catechumens; and how, in the early ages of the Church, Lent was the immediate and solemn preparation given to the candidates for Baptism. The holy Liturgy of the present season retains much of the instruction she used to give to the Catechumens; and as we listen to her magnificent Lessons from both the Old and the New Testament, whereby she completed their initiation, we ought to think with gratitude on how we were not required to wait years before being made Children of God, but were mercifully admitted to Baptism, even in our Infancy. We shall be led to pray for those new Catechumens, who this very year, in far distant countries, are receiving instructions from their zealous Missioners, and are looking forward, as did the postulants of the primitive Church, to that grand Feast of our Saviour’s victory over Death, when they are to be cleansed in the Waters of Baptism and receive from the contact a flew being, – regeneration.

Thirdly, we must remember how, formerly, the public Penitents, who had been separated, on Ash Wednesday, from the assembly of the Faithful, were the object of the Church’s maternal solicitude during the whole Forty Days of Lent, and were to be admitted to Reconciliation on Maundy Thursday, if their repentance were such as to merit this public forgiveness. We shall have the admirable course of instructions, which were originally designed for these Penitents, and which the Liturgy, faithful as she ever is to such traditions, still retains for our sakes. As we read these sublime passages of the Scripture, we shall naturally think upon our own sins, and on what easy terms they were pardoned us; whereas, had we lived in other times, we should have probably been put through the ordeal of a public and severe penance. This will excite us to fervour, for we shall remember, that, whatever changes the indulgence of the Church may lead her to make in her discipline, the justice of our God is ever the same. We shall find in all this an additional motive for offering to his Divine Majesty the sacrifice of a contrite heart, and we shall go through our penances with that cheerful eagerness, which the conviction of our deserving much severer ones always brings with it.

In order to keep up the character of mournfulness and austerity which is so well-suited to Lent, the Church, for many centuries, admitted very few Feasts into this portion of her year, inasmuch as there is always joy, where there is even a spiritual Feast. In the 4th century, we have the Council of Laodicea forbidding, in its fifty-first canon, the keeping a Feast or commemoration of any Saint, during Lent, excepting on the Saturdays or Sundays [Labbe, Concil., tom. i.]. The Greek Church rigidly maintained this point of Lenten Discipline; nor was it till many centuries after the Council of Laodicea that she made an exception for the 25th of March, on which day she now keeps the Feast of our Lady’s Annunciation.

The Church of Rome maintained this same discipline, at least in principle; but she admitted the Feast of the Annunciation at a very early period, and somewhat later, the Feast of the Apostle St. Matthias, on the 24th of February. During the last few centuries, she has admitted several other Feasts into that portion of her general Calendar which coincides with Lent; still, she observes a certain restriction, out of respect for the ancient practice.

The reason of the Church of Rome being less severe on this point of excluding the Saints’ Feasts during Lent, is, that the Christians of the West have never looked upon the celebration of a Feast as incompatible with fasting; the Greeks, on the contrary, believe that the two are irreconcilable, and as a consequence of this principle, never observe Saturday as a fasting-day, because they always keep it as a Solemnity, though they make Holy Saturday an exception, and fast upon it. For the same reason, they do not fast upon the Annunciation.

This strange idea gave rise, in or about the 7th century, to a custom which is peculiar to the Greek Church. It is called the Mass of the Presanctified, that is to say, consecrated in a previous Sacrifice. On each Sunday of Lent, the Priest consecrates six Hosts, one of which he receives in that Mass; but the remaining five are reserved for a simple Communion, which is made on each of the five following days, without the Holy Sacrifice being offered. The Latin Church practises this rite only once in the year, that is, on Good Friday, and this in commemoration of a sublime mystery, which we will explain in its proper place.

This custom of the Greek Church was evidently suggested by the 49th Canon of the Council of Laodicea, which forbids the offering the Bread of sacrifice during Lent, excepting on the Saturdays and Sundays [Labbe, Concil., tom. i.]. The Greeks, some centuries later on, concluded from this Canon, that the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice was incompatible with fasting; and we learn from the Controversy they had, in the 9th century, with the Legate Humbert [Centra Nicetam., tom. iv.], that the Mass of the Presanctified, (which has no other authority to rest on save a Canon of the famous Council in Trullo [Can. 52. Labbe, Concil. tom. vi.] held in 692,) was justified by the Greeks on this absurd plea, – that the Communion of the Body and Blood of our Lord broke the Lenten Fast.

The Greeks celebrate this rite in the evening, after Vespers, and the Priest alone communicates, as is done now in the Roman Liturgy on Good Friday. But for many centuries, they have made an exception for the Annunciation; they interrupt the Lenten fast on this Feast, they celebrate Mass, and the Faithful are allowed to receive Holy Communion.

The Canon of the Council of Laodicea was probably never received in the Western Church. If the suspension of the Holy Sacrifice during Lent was ever practised in Rome, it was only on the Thursdays; and even that custom was abandoned in the 8th century, as we learn from Anastasius the Librarian, who tells us that Pope St. Gregory the Second, desiring to complete the Roman Sacramentary, added Masses for the Thursdays of the first five weeks of Lent [Anastas. In Gregorio II]. It is difficult to assign the reason of this interruption of the Mass on Thursdays in the Roman Church, or of the like custom observed by the Church of Milan on the Fridays of Lent. The explanations we have found in different authors are not satisfactory. As far as Milan is concerned, we are inclined to think, that not satisfied with the mere adoption of the Roman usage of not celebrating Mass on Good Friday, the Ambrosian Church extended the rite to all the Fridays of Lent.

After thus briefly alluding to these details, we must close our present Chapter by a few words on the holy rites, which are now observed, during Lent, in our Western Churches. We have explained several of these in our “Septuagesima.” [See their explanation in the volume for Septuagesima]. The suspension of the Alleluia; the purple vestments; the laying aside the deacon’s Dalmatic, and the subdeacon’s Tunic; the omission of the two joyful canticles, – the Gloria in excelsis, and the Te Deum; the substitution of the mournful Tract for the Alleluia verse in the Mass; the Benedicamus Domino instead of the Ite, Missa est; the additional Prayer said over the people after the Post-communion Collects on Ferial Days ; the saying the Vesper Office before mid-day, excepting on the Sundays; – all these are familiar to our readers. We have only now to mention, in addition, the genuflections prescribed for the conclusion of all the Hours of the Divine Office on Ferias, and the rubric which bids the Choir to kneel, on those same Days, during the Canon of the Mass.

There were other ceremonies peculiar to the season of Lent, which were observed in the Churches of the West, but which have now, for many centuries, fallen into general disuse; we say general, because they are still partially kept up in some places. Of these rites, the most imposing was that of putting up a large veil between the Choir and the Altar, so that neither clergy nor people could look upon the Holy Mysteries celebrated within the Sanctuary. This veil – which was called the Curtain, and, generally speaking, was of a purple colour – was a symbol of the penance to which the sinner ought to subject himself, in order to merit the sight of that Divine Majesty, before whose face he had committed so many outrages. It signified, moreover, the humiliations endured by our Redeemer, who was a stumbling-block to the proud Synagogue. But, as a veil that is suddenly drawn aside, these humiliations were to give way, and be changed into the glories of the Resurrection [Honorius of Autun. Gemma animae. Lib. iii. cap. lxvi.]. Among other places where this rite is still observed, we may mention the Metropolitan Church of Paris, Notre Dame.

It was the custom also, in many Churches, to veil the Crucifix and the Statues of the Saints as soon as Lent began; in order to excite the Faithful to a livelier sense of penance, they were deprived of the consolation which the sight of these holy Images always brings to the soul. But this custom, which is still retained in some places, was less general than the more expressive one used in the Roman Church, and which we will explain in our next volume, – we mean the veiling the Crucifix and Statues only in Passion Time.

We learn from the Ceremonials of the Middle Ages, that, during Lent, and particularly on the Wednesdays and Fridays, processions used frequently to be made from one Church to another. In Monasteries, these Processions were made in the Cloister, and barefooted [Martène. De antiquis Eccles ritibus. Tom. iii. cap. xviii.]. This custom was suggested by the practice of Rome, where there is a Station for every day of Lent, and which, for many centuries, began by a procession to the Stational Church.

Lastly, – the Church has always been in the habit of adding to her prayers during the Season of Lent. Her present discipline is, that, on Ferias, in Cathedral and Collegiate Churches, (which are not exempted by a custom to the contrary,) the following additions are to be made to the Canonical Hours: on Mondays, the Office of the Dead; on Wednesday, the Gradual Psalms; and on Fridays, the Penitential Psalms. In some Churches, during the Middle-Ages, the whole Psaltery was added each week of Lent to the usual Office [Martène. De antiquis Eccles ritibus. Tom. iii. cap. xviii.].

First Sunday of Lent – Dom Prosper Gueranger

THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

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: “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

Invocabit me, et ego exaudiam eum: eripiam eum et glorificabo eum: longitudine dierum adimplebo eum.
Ps. Qui habitat in adjutorio Altissimi; in protectione Dei coeli commorabitur. V. Gloria Patri. Invocabit me.
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

Deus, qui Ecclesiam tuam annua quadragesimali observatione purificas: praesta familiae tuae, ut quod a te obtinere abstinendo nititur, hoc bonis operibus exsequatur. Per Dominum. 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.

The two following Collects, for the general wants of the Church, are then added.

SECOND COLLECT

A cunctis nos, quaesumus, Domine, mentis et corporis defende periculis: et intercedente beata et gloriosa semper virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beatis Apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque beato N. et omnibus Sanctis, salutem nobis tribue benignus et pacem: ut, destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis, Ecclesia tua secura tibi serviat libertate. Preserve us, O Lord, we beseech thee, from all dangers of soul and body: and by the intercession of the glorious and blessed Mary, the ever Virgin-Mother of God, of thy blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, of blessed N. (here is  mentioned the Titular Saint of  the Church), and of all the Saints, grant us, in thy mercy, health and peace; that all adversities and errors being removed, thy Church may serve thee with undisturbed liberty.

THIRD COLLECT

Omnipotons sempiterne Deus, qui vivorum dominaris simul et mortuorum, omniumque misereris quos tuos fide et opere futuros esse praenoscis: te supplices exoramus, ut pro quibus effundere preces decrevimus, quosque vel praesens saeculum adhuc in carne retinet, vel futurum jam exutos corpore suscepit, intercedentibus omnibus Sanctis tuis, pietatis tuae clementia, omnium delictorum suorum veniam consequantur. Per Dominum. O Almighty and eternal God, who hast dominion over the living and the dead, and art merciful to all whom thou knowest will be thine by faith and good works: we humbly beseech thee, that they, for whom we have proposed to offer our prayers, whether this world still retains them in the flesh, or the next world hath already received them divested of their bodies, may, by the clemency of thine own goodness, and the intercession of thy Saints, obtain pardon and full remission of their sins. Through, &c.

EPISTLE

Lectio Epistolae beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios.II. Cap. VI.
Fratres, exhortamur vos, ne in vacuum gratiam Dei recipiatis. Ait enim: Tempore accepto exaudivi te, et in die salutis adjuvi te. Ecce nunc tempus acceptabile, ecce nunc dies salutis. Nemini dantes ullam offensionem, ut non vituperetur ministerium nostrum: sed in omnibus exhibeamus nosmetipsos sicut Dei ministros, in multa patientia, in tribulationibus, in necessitatibus, in angustiis, in plagis, in carceribus, in seditionibus, in laboribus, in vigiliis, in jejuniis, in castitate, in scientia, in longanimitate, in suavitate, in Spiritu Sancto, in charitate non ficta, in verbo veritatis, in virtute Dei, per arma justitiae a dextris et a sinistris, per gloriam et ignobilitatem, per infamiam et bonam famam; ut seductores, et veraces; sicut qui ignoti, et cogniti; quasi morientes, et ecce vivimus: ut castigati, et non mortificati: quasi tristes, semper autem gaudentes: sicut egentes, multos autem locupletantes: tamquam nihil habentes, et omnia possidentes.
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.

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 befal 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

Angelis suis Deus mandavit de te, ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis.
V. In manibus portabunt te, ne unquam offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum.
God hath given his Angels charge over thee, to keep theo 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. Qui habitat in adjutorio Altissimi: in protectione Dei coeli commorabitur.
V. Dicet Domino: Susceptor meus es tu, et refugium meum: Deus meus, sperabo in eum.
V. Quoniam ipse liberavit me de laqueo venantium: et a verbo aspero.
V. Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi: et sub pennis ejus sperabis.
V. Scuto circumdabit te veritas ejus: non timehis a timore nocturno.
V. A sagitta volante per diem, a negotio perambulante in tenebris, a ruina et a daemonio meridiano.
V. Cadent a latere tuo mille, et decem millia a dextris tuis: tibi autem non appropinquabit.
V. Quoniam Angels suis mandavit de te, ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis.
V. In manibus portabunt te, ne unquam offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum.
V. Super aspidem et basiliscum ambulabis, et conculcabis leonem et draconem.
V. Quoniam in me speravit, liberabo eum : protegam eum, quoniam cognovit Nomen meum.
V. Invocabit me, et ego exaudiam eum: cum ipso sum in tribulatione.
V. Eripiam eum et glorificabo eum: longitudine dierum adimplebo eum, et ostendam illi Salutare meum.
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

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum.Cap. IV.
In illo tempore, Ductus est Jesus in desertum a Spiritu, ut tentaretur a diabolo. Et, cum jejunasset quadraginta diebus et quadraginta noctibus, postea esuriit. Et accedens tentator, dixit ei: Si Filius Dei es, dic ut lapides isti panes fiant. Qui respondens, dixit: Scriptum est: Non in solo pane vivit homo, sed in omni verbo, quod procedit de ore Dei. Tunc assumpsit eum diabolus in sanctam civitatem, et statuit eum super pinnaculum templi, et dixit ei: Si Filius Dei es, mitte te deorsum. Scriptum est enim: Quia Angelis suis mandavit de te, et in manibus tollent te, ne forte offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum. Ait illi Jesus: Rursum scriptum est: Non tentabis Dominum Deum tuum. Iterum assumpsit eum diabolus in montem excelsum valde et ostendit ei omnia regna mundi, et gloriam eorum, et dixit ei: Haec omnia tibi dabo, si cadens adoraveris me. Tunc dicit ei Jesus: Vade Satana: scriptum est enim: Dominum Deum tuum adorabis, et illi soli servies. Tune reliquit eum diabolus: et ecce Angeli accesserunt, et ministrabant ei.
Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.Ch. IV.
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 overahadowing 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

Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi Dominus, et sub pennis ejus sperabis: scuto circumdabit te veritas ejus. 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

Sacrificium quadragesimalis initii solemniter immolamus, te, Domine, deprecantes: ut cum epularum restrictione carnalium, a noxiis quoque voluptatibus temperemus. Per Dominum. 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.

SECOND SECRET

Exaudi nos, Deus salutaris noster: ut per hujus Sacramenti virtutem, a cunctis nos mentis et corporis hostibus tuearis, gratiam tribuens in praesenti, et gloriam in futuro. Graciously grant us, O God our Saviour, that by virtue of this Sacrament, thou mayest defend us from all enemies, both of soul and body, giving us grace in this life, and glory in the next.

THIRD SECRET

Deus, qui soli cognitus est numerus electorum in superna felicitate locandus: tribue quaesumus, ut intercedentibus omnibus Sanctis tuis, universorum quos in oratione commendatos suscepimus, et omnium fidelium nomina, beatae praedestinationis liber adscripta retineat. Per Dominum. O God, to whom alone is known the number of thine elect to be placed in eternal bliss: grant we beseech thee, by the intercession of all thy Saints, that the book of predestination may contain the names of all those whom we have undertaken to pray for, as well as those of all the faithful. 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

Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi Dominus, et sub pennis ejus sperabis: scuto circumdabit te veritas ejus. 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

Tui nos, Domine, Sacramenti libatio sancta restauret: et a vetustate purgatos, in mysterii salutaris faciat transire consortium. Per Dominum. 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.

SECOND POSTCOMMUNION

Mundet et muniat nos, quaesumus, Domine, divini sacramenti munus oblatum: et intercedente beata Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beatis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, atque beato N., et omnibus Sanctis, a cunctis nos reddat et perversitatibus expiatos, et adversitatibus expeditos. May the oblation of this divine Sacrament, we beseech thee, O Lord, both cleanse and defend us, and by the intercession of Blessed Mary, the Virgin-Mother of God, together with that of thy blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul, as likewise of blessed N., and of all the Saints, free us from all sin, and deliver us from all adversity.

THIRD POSTCOMMUNION

Purificent nos quaesumus omnipotens et misericors Deus, Sacramenta quae sumpsimus: et intercedentibus omnibus Sanctis tuis, praesta ut hoc tuum Sacramentum non sit nobis reatus ad poenam, sed intercessio salutaris ad veniam: sit ablutio scelerum, sit fortitude fragilium, sit contra omnia mundi pericula firmamentum: sit vivorum atque mortuorum fidelium remissio omnium delicto rum. Per Dominum. May the Mysteries we have received, purify us, we beseech thee, O Almighty and merciful God, and grant by the intercession of all thy Saints, that this thy Sacrament may not increase our guilt to punishment, but be a means of obtaining pardon in order to salvation: may it wash away sin, strengthen our frailty, secure us against the dangers of the world: and procure forgiveness for all the Faithful, both living and dead. Through, &c.

 


VESPERS

The Psalms and Antiphons are given above.

For the Hymn and Versicle, see above.

CAPITULUM

(II. Cor. vi.)

Fratres, hortamur vos non in vacuum gratiam Dei recipiatis. Ait enim: Tempore accepto exaudivi te, et in die salutis adjuvi te. 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.

ANTIPHON OF THE MAGNIFICAT

ANT. Ecce nunc tempus acceptabile, ecce nunc dies salutis: in his ergo diebus exhibeamus nosmetipsos sicut Dei ministros, in multa patientia, in jejuniis, in vigiliis, et in charitate non ficta. ANT. Behold now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation: in these days, therefore, let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in fastings, in watchings, and in charity unfeigned.
OREMUS.
Deus, qui Ecclesiam tuam annua quadragesimali observatione purificas: praesta familiam tuam, ut quod a te obtinere abstinendo nititur, hoc bonis operibus exsequatur. Per Dominum.
LET US PRAY.
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.

It sometimes happens, during Lent, that a Feast of a double class is kept on the Monday; in which case, the Sunday’s Vespers are of the following Feast, and only a commemoration is made of the Sunday.


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)

Dignum et justum est: nos tibi gratias agere, aeterne omnipotens Deus, per Jesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum. Qui gloriosum de diabolo triumphum jejunus obtinuit: et certandi formulam militibus propriis suo exemplo monstravit. Quadraginta igitur diebus et quadraginta noctibus Deus et Dominus omnium jejunavit: ut et verum Deum et hominem suscepisse monstraret: et quod Adam per escam perdiderat, suo jejunio repararet. Aggreditur itaque diabolus Virginis illum: Dei quoque nesciens unigenitum. Et licet veternosa calliditate eisdem machinis quibus Adam primum dejecerat, etiam secundum seducere obtineret: nec fortissimum bellatorem in ulla potuit omnino fraude subripere. Ille etenim quadraginta diebus vel noctibus jejunavit et postea esuriit qui quadraginta dudum annorum temporibus, innumeras pane coelesti multitudines saginavit. Hic est qui virtute propria fretus, cum diabolo tenebrarum principo dimicavit: et prostrato victoriae trophaeum ad coelos magnifice portavit. 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.)

Vere quia dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipoten s, aeterne Deus, per Christum Dominum nostrum, in quo jejunantium fides alitur, spes provehitur, charitas roberatur. Ipse enim est panis verus et vivus, qui est substantia aeternitatis, et esca virtutis. Verbum enim tu um, per quod facta sunt omnia, non solum humanarum mentium, sed ipsorum quoque panis est Angelorum. Hujus panis alimento Moyses famulus tuus quadraginta diebus, et noctibus, legem suscipiens, jejunavit: et a carnalibus cibis, ut tuae suavitatis capacior esset, abstinuit. Unde nec famem corporis sensit, et terrenarum est oblitus escarum: quia illum et gloriae tuae clarificabat aspectus, et, influente Spiritu, Dei sermo pascebat. Hunc panem etiam nobis ministrare non desinas, quem ut indesinenter esuriamus hortaris. 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

The History of Lent ~ Dom Prosper Gueranger

 THE HISTORY OF LENT

The Forty Days’ Fast, which we call Lent [In most languages the name given to this Fast expresses the number of the day, Forty. But our word Lent signifies the Spring-Fast; for Lenten-Tide, in the ancient English-Saxon language, was the season of Spring. Translator.], is the Church’s preparation for Easter, and was instituted at the very commencement of Christianity. Our Blessed Lord himself sanctioned it by his fasting forty days and forty nights in the desert; and though he would not impose it on the world by an express commandment, (which, then, could not have been open to the power of dispensation,) yet he showed plainly enough by his own example, that Fasting, which God had so frequently ordered in the Old Law, was to be also practised by the Children of the New.

The Disciples of St. John the Baptist came, one day, to Jesus, and said to him: Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but thy Disciples do not fast? And Jesus said to them: Can the children of the bridegroom mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast. [St Matth. ix. 14,15].

Hence, we find it mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, how the Disciples of our Lord, after the Foundation of the Church, applied themselves to Fasting. In their Epistles, also, they recommended it to the Faithful. Nor could it be otherwise. Though the divine mysteries, whereby our Saviour wrought our redemption, have been consummated, – yet are we still Sinners: and where there is sin, there must be expiation.

The Apostles, therefore, legislated for our weakness, by instituting, at the very commencement of the Christian Church, that the Solemnity of Easter should be preceded by a universal Fast; and it was only natural, that they should have made this period of Penance to consist of Forty Days, seeing that our Divine Master had consecrated that number by his own Fast. St. Jerome [Epist. xxvii. ad Marcellam], St. Leo the Great [Serm. ii, v, ix. de Quadragesima], St. Cyril of Alexandria [Homil. Paschal.], St. Isidore of Seville [De Ecclesiast. Officiis, lib vi., cap. xix.], and others of the holy Fathers, assure us that Lent was instituted by the Apostles, although, at the commencement, there was not any uniform way of observing it.

We have already seen, in our Septuagesima, that the Orientals begin their Lent much earlier than the Latins, owing to their custom of never fasting on Saturdays, (or, in some places, even on Thursdays). They are, consequently, obliged, in order to make up the forty days, to begin the Lenten Fast on the Monday preceding our Sexagesima Sunday. These are the kind of exceptions, which prove the rule. We have also shown, how the Latin Church, – which, even so late as the 6th Century, kept only thirty-six fasting days during the six weeks of Lent, (for the Church has never allowed Sundays to be kept as days of fast,) – thought proper to add, later on, the last four days of Quinquagesima, in order that her Lent might contain exactly Forty Days of Fast.

The whole subject of Lent has been so often and so fully treated, that we shall abridge, as much as possible, the History we are now giving. The nature of our Work forbids us to do more, than insert what is essential for the entering into the spirit of each Season. God grant, that we may succeed in showing to the Faithful the importance of the holy institution of Lent! Its influence on the spiritual life, and on the very salvation, of each one among us, can never be over-rated.

Lent, then, is a time consecrated, in an especial manner, to penance; and this penance is mainly practised by Fasting. Fasting is an abstinence, which man voluntarily imposes upon himself, as an expiation for sin, and which, during Lent, is practised in obedience to the general law of the Church. According to the actual discipline of the Western Church, the Fast of Lent is not more rigorous than that prescribed for the Vigils of certain Feasts, and for the Ember Days; but it is kept up for Forty successive Days, with the single interruption of the intervening Sundays.

We deem it unnecessary to show the importance and advantages of Fasting. The Sacred Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, are filled with the praises of this holy practice. The traditions of every nation of the world testify the universal veneration, in which it has ever been held; for there is not a people, nor a religion, how much soever it may have lost the purity of primitive traditions, which is not impressed with this conviction, – that man may appease his God by subjecting his body to penance.

St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory the Great, make the remark, that the commandment put upon our First Parents, in the earthly paradise, was one of Abstinence; and that it was by their not exercising this virtue, that they brought every kind of evil upon themselves and us their children. The life of privation, which the king of creation had thenceforward to lead on the earth, – (for the earth was to yield him nothing of its own natural growth, save thorns and thistles,) – was the clearest possible exemplification of the law of penance, imposed by the anger of God on rebellious man.

During the two thousand and more years, which preceded the Deluge, men had no other food than the fruits of the earth, and these were only got by the toil of hard labour. But when God, as we have already observed, mercifully shortened man’s life, (that so he might have less time and power for sin), – he permitted him to eat the flesh of animals, as an additional nourishment in that state of deteriorated strength. It was then, also, that Noah, guided by a divine inspiration, extracted the juice of the grape, which thus formed a second stay for human debility.

Fasting, then, is the abstaining from such nourishments as these, which were permitted for the support of bodily strength. And firstly, it consisted in abstinence from flesh-meat, because it is a food that was given to man by God, out of condescension to his weakness, and not as one absolutely essential for the maintenance of life. Its privation, greater or less according to the regulations of the Church, is essential to the very notion of Fasting. Thus, whilst in many countries, the use of eggs, milk-meats, and even dripping and lard, is tolerated, – the abstaining from flesh-meat is everywhere maintained, as being essential to Fasting. For many centuries, eggs and milk-meats were not allowed, because they come under the class of animal food: even to this day, they are forbidden in the Eastern Churches, and are only allowed in the Latin Church by virtue of an annual dispensation. The precept of abstaining from flesh-meat is so essential to Lent, that even on Sundays, when the Fasting is interrupted, Abstinence is an obligation, binding even on those who are dispensed from the fasts of the week, unless there be a special dispensation granted for eating meat on the Sundays.

In the early ages of Christianity, Fasting included also the abstaining from Wine, as we learn from St. Cyril of Jerusalem [Catech. iv], St. Basil [Homil. i. De Jejunio], St. John Chrysostom [Homil. iv. Ad populum Antioch.], Theophilus of Alexandria [Litt. Pasch, iii], and others. In the West, this custom soon fell into disuse. The Eastern Christians kept it up much longer, but even with them it has ceased to be considered as obligatory.

Lastly, Fasting includes the depriving ourselves of some portion of our ordinary food, inasmuch as it only allows the taking of one meal during the day. Though the modifications introduced from age to age in the discipline of Lent, are very numerous, yet the points we have here mentioned belong to the very essence of Fasting, as is evident from the universal practice of the Church.

It was the custom with the Jews, in the Old Law, not to take the one meal, allowed on fasting days, till sun-set. The Christian Church adopted the same custom. It was scrupulously practised, for many centuries, even in our Western countries. But, about the 9th century, some relaxation began to be introduced in the Latin Church. Thus, we have a Capitularium of Theodulph, Bishop of Orleans, (who lived at that period,) protesting against the practice, which some had, of taking their repast at the hour of None, that is to say, about three o’clock in the afternoon [Capitul. xxxix. Labb. Conc. tom. viii.]. The relaxation, however, gradually spread; for, in the 10th century, we find the celebrated Ratherius, Bishop of Verona, acknowledging, that the Faithful had permission to break their fast at the hour of None [Serm. 1, De Quadrages.  D’Archery. Spicilegium, tom. ii.]. We meet with a sort of reclamation made as late as the 11th century, by a Council held at Rouen, which forbids the Faithful to take their repast before Vespers shall have begun to be sung in the Church, at the end of None [Orderic Vital. Histor., lib. iv.]; but this shows us, that the custom had already begun of anticipating the hour of Vespers, in order that the Faithful might take their meal earlier in the day.

Up to within a short period before this time, it had been the custom not to celebrate Mass, on days of Fasting, until the Office of None had been sung, (which was about three o’clock in the afternoon,) – and, also, not to sing Vespers till sun-set. When the discipline regarding Fasting began to relax, the Church still retained the order of her Offices, which had been handed down from the earliest times. The only change she made, was to anticipate the hour for Vespers; and this entailed the celebrating Mass and None much earlier in the day;- so early, indeed, that, when custom had so prevailed as to authorise the Faithful taking their repast at mid-day, all the Offices, even the Vespers, were over before that hour.

In the 12th century, the custom of breaking one’s fast at the hour of None everywhere prevailed, as we learn from Hugh of Saint-Victor [In regul. S. Augustini, cap.iii]; and in the 13th century, it was sanctioned by the teaching of the School-men. Alexander Hales declares most expressly, that such a custom was lawful [Summa, Part. iv. Quaest. 28,  art. 2.]; and St. Thomas of Aquin, is equally decided in the same opinion [2a 2ae Q. 147, a. 7].

But even the fasting till None, (i.e. three o’clock,) was found too severe; and a still further relaxation was considered to be necessary. At the close of the 13th century, we have the celebrated Franciscan, Richard of Middleton, teaching, that they who break their fast at the Hour of Sext, (i.e. mid-day,) are not to be considered as transgressing the precept of the Church; and the reason he gives, is this: that the custom of doing so had already prevailed in many places, and that fasting does not consist so much in the lateness of the hour at which the faithful take their refreshment, as in their taking but one meal during the twenty-four hours [In iv. Dist. xv., art. 3., quaest. 8].

The 14th century gave weight, both by universal custom and theological authority, to the opinion held by Richard of Middleton. It will, perhaps, suffice if we quote the learned Dominican, Durandus, Bishop of Meaux, who says, that there can be no doubt as to the lawfulness of taking one’s repast at mid-day; and he adds, that such was then the custom observed by the Pope, and Cardinals, and even the Religious Orders [In iv. Dist. xv., Quaest. 9., art 7]. We cannot, therefore, be surprised at finding this opinion maintained, in the 15th century, by such grave authors as St. Antoninus, Cardinal Cajetan, and others. Alexander Hales and St. Thomas sought to prevent the relaxation going beyond the Hour of None; but their zeal was disappointed, and the present discipline was established, we might almost say, during their life-time.

But, whilst this relaxation of taking the repast so early in the day as twelve o’clock rendered fasting less difficult in one way, it made it more severe in another. The body grew exhausted by the labours of the long second half of the twenty-four hours; and the meal, that formerly closed the day, and satisfied the cravings of fatigue, had been already taken. It was found necessary to grant some refreshment for the evening, and it was called a Collation. The word was taken from the Benedictine Rule, which, for long centuries before this change in the Lenten observance, had allowed a Monastic Collation. St. Benedict’s Rule prescribed a great many Fasts, over and above the ecclesiastical Fast of Lent; but it made this great distinction between the two:- that whilst Lent obliged the Monks, as well as the rest of the Faithful, to abstain from food till sunset, these monastic fasts allowed the repast to be taken at the hour of None. But, as the Monks had heavy manual labour during the summer and autumn months, (which was the very time when these Fasts “till None” occurred several days of each week, and, indeed, every day from the 14th of September;) the Abbot was allowed by the Rule to grant his Religious permission to take a small measure of wine before Compline, as a refreshment after the fatigues of the afternoon. It was taken by all at one and the same time, during the evening reading, which was called Conference,  (in Latin, Collatio,) because it was mostly taken from the celebrated Conferences (Collationes) of Cassian. Hence, this evening monastic refreshment got the name of Collation.

We find the Assembly, or Chapter of Aix-la-Chapelle, held in 817, extending this indulgence even to the Lenten fast, on account of the great fatigue entailed by the Offices, which the Monks had to celebrate during this holy Season. But experience showed, that unless something solid were allowed to be taken together with the wine, the evening Collation would be an injury to the health of many of the Religious; accordingly, towards the close of the 14th, or the beginning of the 15th century, the usage was introduced of taking a morsel of bread with the Collation-beverage.

As a matter of course, these mitigations of the ancient severity of Fasting soon found their way from the cloister into the world. The custom of taking something to drink, on Fasting Days, out of the time of the repast, was gradually established; and even so early as the 13th century, we have St. Thomas of Aquin discussing the question, whether or no drink is to be considered as a breaking of the precept of Fasting [In iv. Quaest. cxlvii. art, 6]. He answers in the negative; and yet he does not allow that anything solid may be taken with the drink. But when it had become the universal practice, (as it did in the latter part of the 13th century, and still more fixedly during the whole of the 14th,) that the one meal on Fasting Days was taken at mid-day, a mere beverage was found in sufficient to give support, and there was added to it bread, herbs, fruits, &c. Such was the practice, both in the world and the cloister. It was, however, clearly understood by all, that these eatables were not to be taken in such quantity as to turn the Collation into a second meal.

Thus did the decay of piety, and the general deterioration of bodily strength among the people of the Western nations, infringe on the primitive observance of Fasting. To make our history of these humiliating changes anything like complete, we must mention one more relaxation. For several centuries, abstinence from flesh-meat included likewise the prohibition of every article of food that belonged to what is called the animal kingdom, with the single exception of Fish, which, on account of its cold nature, as also for several mystical reasons, founded on the Sacred Scriptures, was always permitted to be taken by those who fasted. Every sort of milk-meat was forbidden; and in Rome, even to this day, butter and cheese are not permitted during Lent, except on those days whereon permission to eat meat is granted.

Dating from the 9th century, the custom of eating milk-meats during Lent began to be prevalent in Western Europe, more especially in Germany and the northern countries. The Council of Kedlimburg, held in the 11th century, made an effort to put a stop to the practice as an abuse; but without effect [Labbe, Concil., tom. x.]. These Churches maintained that they were in the right, and defended their custom by the dispensations, (though, in reality, only temporary ones,) granted them by several Sovereign Pontiffs: the dispute ended by their being left peaceably to enjoy what they claimed. The Churches of France resisted this innovation up to the 16th century; but in the 17th, they too yielded, and milk-meats were taken during Lent, throughout the whole Kingdom. As some reparation for this breach of ancient discipline, the City of Paris instituted a solemn rite, whereby she wished to signify her regret at being obliged to such a relaxation. On Quinquagesima Sunday, all the different Parishes went in procession to the Church of Notre Dame. The Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, and Augustinians, took part in the procession. The Metropolitan Chapter, and the four Parishes that were subject to it, held, on the same day, a Station in the court-yard of the Palace, and sang an Anthem before the Relic of the True Cross, which was exposed in the Sainte Chapelle. These pious usages, which were intended to remind the people of the difference between the past and the present observance of Lent, continued to be practised till the Revolution.

But this grant for the eating milk-meats during Lent, did not include eggs. Here, the ancient discipline was maintained, at least this far, – that eggs were not allowed, save by a dispensation, which had to be renewed each year. In Rome they are only allowed on days when Flesh-meat may be taken. In other places, they are allowed on some days, and on others, especially during Holy Week, are forbidden. Invariably do we find the Church, seeking, out of anxiety for the spiritual advantage of her Children, to maintain all she can of those penitential observances, whereby they may satisfy Divine Justice. It was with this intention, that Pope Benedict the Fourteenth, alarmed at the excessive facility wherewith dispensation were then obtained, renewed, by a solemn Constitution, (dated June 10, 1745,) the prohibition of eating fish and meat, at the same meal, on fasting days.

The same Pope, whose spirit of moderation has never been called in question, had no sooner ascended the Papal Throne, than he addressed an Encyclical Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic world, expressing his heartfelt grief at seeing the great relaxation that was introduced among the Faithful by indiscreet and unnecessary dispensations. The Letter is dated May 30th, 1741. We extract from it the following passage: “The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it, we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the Cross of Christ. By it, we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it, we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted, but that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe.” [Constitution: Non ambigimus.]

More than a hundred years have elapsed since this solemn warning of the Vicar of Christ was given to the world; and during that time, the relaxation, he inveighed against, has gone on gradually increasing. How few Christians do we meet, who are strict observers of Lent, even in its present mild form! The long list of general Dispensations granted, each year, by the Bishops to their flocks, would lead us to suppose that the immense majority of the Faithful would be scrupulously exact in the fulfilment of the Fasting and Abstinence still remaining; but is such the case? And must there not result from this ever-growing spirit of immortification, a general effeminacy of character, which will lead, at last, to frightful social disorders? The sad predictions of Pope Benedict the Fourteenth are but too truly verified. Those nations, among whose people the spirit and practice of penance are extinct, are heaping against themselves the wrath of God, and provoking his justice to destroy them by one or other of these scourges, – civil discord, or conquest. In our own country, there is an inconsistency, which must strike every thinking mind:- the observance of the Lord’s Day, on the one side; the national inobservance of days of penance and fasting, on the other. – The first is admirable, and, (if we except puritanical extravagances,) be speaks a deep-rooted sense of religion: but the second is one of the worst presages for the future. No:- the word of God is too plain: unless we do penance, we shall perish [St. Luke, xiii. 3]. But, if our ease-loving and sensual generation were to return, like the Ninivites, to the long-neglected way of penance and expiation, – who knows, but that the arm of God which is already raised to strike us, may give us blessing, and not chastisement?

Let us resume our History, and seek our edification in studying the fervour wherewith the Christians of former times used to observe Lent. We will first offer to our readers a few instances of the manner in which Dispensations were given.

In the 13th century, the Archbishop of Braga applied to the reigning Pontiff, Innocent the Third, asking him, what compensation he ought to require of his people, who, in consequence of a dearth of the ordinary articles of food, had been necessitated to eat meat during the Lent? He at the same time, consulted the Pontiff as to how he was to act in the case of the sick, who asked for a dispensation from abstinence. The answer given by Innocent, which is inserted in the Canon Law [Decretal., lib. iii. cap. Concilium; de Jejunio. Tit. xlvi.], is, as we might expect, full of considerateness and charity; but we learn from this fact, that such was then the respect for the law of Lent, that it was considered necessary to apply to the Sovereign Pontiff, when dispensations were sought for. We find many such instances in the history of the Church.

Wenceslaus, King of Bohemia, being seized with a malady, which rendered it dangerous to his health to take Lenten diet, – he applied, in the year 1297, to Pope Boniface the Eighth, for leave to eat meat. The Pontiff commissioned two Cistercian Abbots to enquire into the real state of the Prince’s health: they were to grant the dispensation sought for, if they found it necessary; but on the following conditions: that the King had not bound himself by a vow, for life, to fast during Lent; that the Fridays, Saturdays, and the Vigil of St. Matthias, were to be excluded from the dispensation; and, lastly, that the King was not to take his meal in the presence of others, and was to observe moderation in what he took [Raynaldi, Ad ann. 1297].

In the 14th century, we meet with two Briefs of dispensation, granted by Clement the Sixth, in 1351, to John, King of France, and to his Queen consort. In the first, the Pope, – taking into consideration, that during the wars in which the King is engaged he frequently finds himself in places where fish can with difficulty be procured, – grants to the Confessor of the King the power of allowing, both to his majesty and his suite, the use of meat on days of abstinence, excepting, however, the whole of Lent, all Fridays of the year, and certain Vigils; provided, moreover, that neither he, nor those who accompany him, are under a vow of perpetual abstinence [D’Archery. Spicilegium. tom. iv.]. In the second Brief the same Pope, replying to the petition made him by the King for a dispensation from fasting, again commissions his Majesty’s present and future Confessors, to dispense both the King and his Queen, after having consulted with their Physicians [D’Archery. Spicilegium. tom. iv.].

A few years later, that is, in 1376, Pope Gregory the Eleventh sent a Brief in favour of Charles 5th, King of France, and of Jane, his Queen. In this Brief, he delegates to their Confessor the power of allowing them the use of eggs and milk-meats, during Lent, should their Physician, think they stand in need of such dispensation; but he tells both Physicians and Confessor, that he puts it upon their consciences, and that they will have to answer before God for their decision. The same permission is granted also to their servants and cooks, but only as far as it is needed for their tasting the food to be served to their Majesties.

The 15th century, also, furnishes us with instances of this applying to the Holy See for Lenten dispensations. We will cite the Brief addressed by Xystus the Fourth, in 1483, to James 3rd, King of Scotland; in which he grants him permission to eat meat on days of abstinence, provided his Confessor consider the dispensation needed [Raynald, Ad ann. 1484]. In the following century, we have Julius the Second granting a like dispensation to John, King of Denmark, and to his Queen Christina [Ibid. Ad ann. 1505]; and, a few years later, Clement the Seventh giving one to the Emperor Charles the Fifth, [Ibid. Ad ann. 1524], and, again, to Henry the Second of Navarre, and to his Queen Margaret [Ibid. Ad ann. 1533].

Thus were Princes themselves treated, three centuries ago, when they sought for a dispensation from the sacred law of Lent. What are we to think of the present indifference wherewith it is kept? What comparison can be made between the Christians of former times, who, deeply impressed with the fear of God’s judgments and with the spirit of penance, cheerfully went through these forty days of mortification, – and those of our own days, when love of pleasure and self-indulgence is for ever lessening man’s horror for sin? Where there is little or no fear of having to penance ourselves for sin, there is so much the less restraint to keep us from committing it.

Where now that simple and innocent joy at Easter, which our forefathers used to show, when, after their severe fast of Lent, they partook of substantial and savoury food? The peace, which long and sharp mortification ever brings to the conscience, gave them the capability, not to say the right, of being light-hearted as they returned to the comforts of life, which they had denied themselves, in order to spend forty days in penance, recollection, and retirement from the world. This leads us to mention some further details, which will assist the Catholic reader to understand what Lent was in the Ages of Faith.

It was a season, during which, not only all amusements and theatrical entertainments were forbidden by the civil authority [It was the Emperor Justinian who passed this law, as we learn from Photius; Nomocanon. tit. vii., cap. i. It is still in force in Rome.], but when even the Law Courts were closed; and this, in order to secure that peace and calm of heart, which is so indispensable for the Soul’s self-examination, and reconciliation with her offended Maker. As early as the year 380, Gratian and Theodosius enacted, that Judges should suspend all lawsuits and proceedings, during the forty days preceding Easter (Cod. Theodos., lib. ix., tit. xxxv., leg. 4.]. The Theodosian Code contains several regulations of this nature; and we find councils, held in the 9th century, urging the Kings of that period to enforce the one we have mentioned, seeing that it had been sanctioned by the Canons, and approved of by the Fathers of the Church [Labbe, Concil., tom. vii. and ix.]. These admirable Christian traditions have long since fallen into disuse in the countries of Europe; but they are still kept up among the Turks, who, during the forty days of their Ramadan, forbid all law proceedings. What a humiliation for us Christians!

Hunting, too, was for many ages considered as forbidden during Lent;- the spirit of the holy season was too sacred to admit such exciting and noisy sport. The Pope, St. Nicholas the First, in the 9th century, forbade it the Bulgarians [Ad Consultat. Bulgarorum. Labbe, Concil., tom. viii.], who had been recently converted to the Christian Faith. Even so late as the 13th Century, we find St. Raymund of Pegnafort teaching, that they who, during Lent, take part in the chase, if it be accompanied by certain circumstances, which he specifies, cannot be excused from sin [Summ. cas. Poenit., lib. iii, tit. xxix. De laps. et disp., §1]. This prohibition has long since been a dead letter; but St. Charles Borromeo, in one of his Synods, re-established it in his province of Milan.

But we cannot be surprised that Hunting should be forbidden during Lent, when we remember, that, in those Christian times, War itself, which is sometimes so necessary for the welfare of a nation, was suspended during this holy Season. In the 4th century, we have the Emperor Constantine the Great enacting, that no military exercises should be allowed on Sundays and Fridays, out of respect to our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered and rose again on these two days, as also in order not to disturb the peace and repose needed for the due celebration of such sublime mysteries [Euseb. Constant. vita, lib. iv.. cap. xviii. et xix.]. The discipline of the Latin Church, in the 9th century, enforced everywhere the suspension of war, during the whole of Lent, except in cases of necessity [Labbe, Concil. tom. vii]. The instructions of Pope St. Nicholas the First to the Bulgarians recommend the same observance [Ibid. tom. x]; and we learn, from a letter of St. Gregory the Seventh to Desiderius, Abbot of Monte Cassino, that it was kept up in the 11th century [Ibid. tom. x]. We have an instance of its being practised in our own country, in the 12th century, when, as William of Malmesbury relates, the Empress Matilda, Countess of Anjou, and daughter of King Henry, was contesting the right of succession to the throne against Stephen, Count of Boulogne. The two armies were in sight of each other;- but an armistice was demanded and observed, for it was the Lent of 1143 [Willhelm. Malmesbur. Hist. nov. no. 30].

Our readers have heard, no doubt, of the admirable institution called God’s Truce, whereby the Church, in the 11th century, succeeded in preventing much bloodshed. It was a law that forebade the carrying arms from Wednesday evening till Monday morning, throughout the year. It was sanctioned by the authority of Popes and Councils, and enforced by all Christian Princes. It was a continuing, during four days of each week of the year, the Lenten discipline of the suspension of war. Our saintly King, Edward the Confessor, gave a still greater extension to it, by passing a law, (which was confirmed by his successor, William the Conqueror,) that God’s Truce should be observed, without cessation, from the beginning of Advent to the Octave of Easter, from the Ascension to the Whitsuntide Octave; on all the Ember Days; on the Vigils of all feasts; and, lastly, every week, from None on Wednesday till Monday morning, which had been already prescribed [Labbe, Concil. tom. ix.].

In the Council of Clermont, held in 1095, Pope Urban the Second, after drawing up the regulations for the Crusades, used his authority in extending the God’s Truce, as it was then observed during Lent. His decree, which was renewed in the Council held the following year at Rouen, was to this effect: that all war proceedings should be suspended from Ash Wednesday to the Monday after the Octave of Pentecost, and on all Vigils and Feasts of the Blessed Virgin and the Apostles, over and above what was already regulated for each week, that is, from Wednesday evening to Monday morning [Orderic Vital. Hist. Eccles. lib. ix.].

Thus did the world testify its respect for the holy observances of Lent, and borrow some of its wisest institutions from the seasons and feasts of the liturgical year. The influence of this Forty-Days’ penance was great, too, on each individual. It renewed man’s energies, gave him fresh vigour in battling with his animal instincts, and, by the restraint it put upon sensuality, ennobled the soul. Yes, there was restraint everywhere; and the present discipline of the Church, which forbids the Solemnisation of Marriage, during Lent, reminds Christians of that holy continency, which, for many ages, was observed during the whole Forty Days as a precept, and of which the most sacred of the liturgical books – the Missal – still retains the recommendation [Missale Romanum. Missa pro sponso et sponsa].

It is with reluctance that we close our history of Lent, and leave untouched so many other interesting details. For instance, what treasures we could have laid open to our readers from the Lenten usages of the Eastern Churches, which have retained so much of the primitive discipline! We cannot, however, resist devoting our last page to the following particulars.

We mentioned in the preceding Volume, that the Sunday we call Septuagesima, is called, by the Greeks, Prophoné, because the opening of Lent is proclaimed on that day. The Monday following it is counted as the first day of the next week, which is Apocreos, the name they give to the Sunday which closes that week, and which is our Sexagesima Sunday. The Greek Church begins abstinence from flesh-meat with this week. Then, on the morrow, Monday, commences the week called Tyrophagos, which ends with the Sunday of that name, and which corresponds to our Quinquagesima. White-meats are allowed during that week. Finally, the morrow is the first day of the first week of Lent, and the Fast begins, with all its severity, on that Monday, whilst, in the Latin Church, it is deferred to the Wednesday.

During the whole of Lent, (at least, of the Lent preceding Easter,) milk-meats, eggs, and even fish, are forbidden. The only food permitted to be eaten with bread, is vegetables, honey, and, for those who live near the sea, shell-fish. For many centuries, wine might not be taken: but it is now permitted: and on the Annunciation and Palm Sunday, a dispensation is granted for eating fish.

Besides the Lent preparatory to the feast of Easter, the Greeks keep three others in the year: that which is called of the Apostles, which lasts from the Octave of Pentecost to the feast of Saints Peter and Paul; that of the Virgin Mary, which begins on the first of August, and ends with the Vigil of the Assumption; and lastly, the Lent of preparation for Christmas, which consists of forty days. The fasting and abstinence of these three Lents are not quite so severe as those observed during the great Lent. The other if Christian nations of the East also observe several Lents, and more rigidly than the Greeks; but all these details would lead us too far. We, therefore, pass on to the mysteries which are included in this holy season.