After having proposed the forty-days’ fast of Jesus in the desert to the meditation of the faithful during the first four weeks of Lent, the holy Church gives the two weeks which still remain before Easter to the commemoration of the Passion. She would not have her children come to that great day of the immolation of the Lamb, without having prepared for it by compassionating with Him in the sufferings He endured in their stead.
The most ancient sacramentaries and antiphonaries of the several Churches attest, by the prayers, the lessons, and the whole liturgy of these two weeks, that the Passion of our Lord is now the one sole thought of the Christian world. During Passion-week, a saint’s feast, if it occur, will be kept; but Passion Sunday admits no feast, however solemn it may be; and even on those which are kept during the days intervening between Passion and Palm Sunday, there is always made a commemoration of the Passion, and the holy images are not allowed to be uncovered.
We cannot give any historical details upon the first of these two weeks; its ceremonies and rites have always been the same as those of the four preceding ones. [It would be out of place to enter here on a discussion with regard to the name Mediana under which title we find Passion Sunday mentioned both in ancient liturgies and in Canon Law.] We, therefore, refer the reader to the following chapter, in which we treat of the mysteries peculiar to Passiontide. The second week, on the contrary, furnishes us with abundant historical details; for there is no portion of the liturgical year which has interested the Christian world so much as this, or which has given rise to such fervent manifestations of piety.
This week was held in great veneration even as early as the third century, as we learn from St. Denis, bishop of Alexandria, who lived at that time [Epist. ad Basilidem, Canon i]. In the following century, we find St. John Chrysostom, calling it the great week [Hom. xxx in Genes.]:- ‘Not,’ says the holy doctor, ‘that it has more days in it than other weeks, or that its days are made up of more hours than other days; but we call it great, because of the great mysteries which are then celebrated.’ We find it called also by other names: the painful week (hebdomada poenosa), on account of the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the fatigue required from us in celebrating them; the week of indulgence, because sinners are then received to penance; and, lastly, Holy Week, in allusion to the holiness of the mysteries which are commemorated during these seven days. This last name is the one under which it most generally goes with us; and the very days themselves are, in many countries, called by the same name, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday.
The severity of the lenten fast is increased during these its last days; the whole energy of the spirit of penance is now brought out. Even with us, the dispensation which allows the use of eggs ceases towards the middle of this week. The eastern Churches, faithful to their ancient traditions, have kept up a most rigorous abstinence ever since the Monday of Quinquagesima week. During the whole of this long period, which they call Xerophagia, they have been allowed nothing but dry food. In the early ages, fasting during Holy Week was carried to the utmost limits that human nature could endure. We learn from St. Epiphanius [Expositio fidei, ix Haeres. xxii.], that there were some of the Christians who observed a strict fast from Monday morning to cock-crow of Easter Sunday. Of course it must have been very few of the faithful who could go so far as this. Many passed two, three, and even four consecutive days, without tasting any food; but the general practice was to fast from Maundy Thursday evening to Easter morning. Many Christians in the east, and in Russia, observe this fast even in these times. Would that such severe penance were always accompanied by a firm faith and union with the Church, out of which the merit of such penitential works is of no avail for salvation!
Another of the ancient practices of Holy Week were the long hours spent, during the night, in the churches. On Maundy Thursday, after having celebrated the divine mysteries in remembrance of the Last Supper, the faithful continued a long time in prayer [St. John Chrysostom, Hom. xxx in Genes.]. The night between Friday and Saturday was spent in almost uninterrupted vigil, in honour of our Lord’s burial [St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. xviii.]. But the longest of all these vigils was that of Saturday, which was kept up till Easter Sunday morning. The whole congregation joined in it: they assisted at the final preparation of the catechumens, as also at the administration of Baptism; nor did they leave the church until after the celebration of the holy Sacrifice, which was not over till sunrise [Const. Apost. lib. 1. cap. xviii.].
Cessation from servile work was, for a long time, an obligation during Holy Week. The civil law united with that of the Church in order to bring about this solemn rest from toil and business, which so eloquently expresses the state of mourning of the Christian world. The thought of the sufferings and death of Jesus was the one pervading thought: the Divine Offices and prayer were the sole occupation of the people: and, indeed, all the strength of the body was needed for the support of the austerities of fasting and abstinence. We can readily understand what an impression was made upon men’s minds, during the whole of the rest of the year, by this universal suspension of the ordinary routine of life. Moreover, when we call to mind how, for five full weeks, the severity of Lent had waged war on the sensual appetites, we can imagine the simple and honest joy wherewith was welcomed the feast of Easter, which brought both the regeneration of the soul, and respite to the body.
In the preceding volume, we mentioned the laws of the Theodosian Code, which forbade all law business during the forty days preceding Easter. This law of Gratian and Theodosius, which was published in 380, was extended by Theodosius in 389; this new decree forbade all pleadings during the seven days before, and the seven days after, Easter. We meet with several allusions to this then recent law, in the homilies of St. John Chrysostom, and in the sermons of St. Augustine. In virtue of this decree, each of these fifteen days was considered, as far as the courts of law were concerned, as a Sunday.
But Christian princes were not satisfied with the mere suspension of human justice during these days, which are so emphatically days of mercy: they would, moreover, pay homage, by an external act, to the fatherly goodness of God, who has deigned to pardon a guilty world, through the merits of the death of His Son. The Church was on the point of giving reconciliation to repentant sinners, who had broken the chains of sin whereby they were held captives; Christian princes were ambitious to imitate this their mother, and they ordered that prisoners should be loosened from their chains, that the prisons should be thrown open, and that freedom should be restored to those who had fallen under the sentence of human tribunals. The only exception made was that of criminals whose freedom would have exposed their families or society to great danger. The name of Theodosius stands prominent in these acts of mercy. We are told by St John Chrysostom [Homil. in magn. Hebdom. Homil. xxx. in Genes. Homil. vi ad popul. Antioch.] that this emperor sent letters of pardon to the several cities, ordering the release of prisoners, and granting life to those that had been condemned to death, and all this in order to sanctify the days preceding the Easter feast. The last emperors made a law of this custom, as we find in one of St. Leo’s sermons, where he thus speaks of their clemency: ‘The Roman emperors have long observed this holy practice. In honour of our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection, they humbly withhold the exercise of their sovereign justice, and, laying aside the severity of their laws, they grant pardon to a great number of criminals. Their intention in this is to imitate the divine goodness by their own exercise of clemency during these days, when the world owes its salvation to the divine mercy. Let, then, the Christian people imitate their princes, and let the example of kings induce subjects to forgive each other their private wrongs; for, surely it is absurd that private laws should be less unrelenting than those which are public. Let trespasses be forgiven, let bonds be taken off, let offences be forgotten, let revenge be stifled; that thus the sacred feast may, by both divine and human favours, find us all happy and innocent.’ [Sermon xl. de Quadragesima, ii].
This Christian amnesty was not confined to the Theodosian Code; we find traces of it in the laws of several of our western countries. We may mention France as an example. Under the first race of its kings, St. Eligius bishop of Noyon, in a sermon for Maundy Thursday, thus expresses himself: ‘On this day, when the Church grants indulgence to penitents and absolution to sinners, magistrates, also, relent in their severity and grant pardon to the guilty. Throughout the whole world prisons are thrown open; princes show clemency to criminals; masters forgive their slaves.’ [Sermon x]. Under the second race, we learn from the Capitularia of Charlemagne, that bishops had a right to exact from the judges, for the love of Jesus Christ (as it is expressed), that prisoners should be set free on the days preceding Easter [We learn from the same capitularia, that this privilege was also extended to Christmas and Pentecost]; and should the magistrates refuse to obey, the bishops could refuse them admission into the church [Capitular. lib. vi.]. And lastly, under the third race, we find Charles VI, after quelling the rebellion at Rouen, giving orders, later on, that the prisoners should be set at liberty, because it was Painful Week, and very near to the Easter feast [Joan Juvénal des Ursins, year 1382].
A last vestige of this merciful legislation was a custom observed by the parliament of Paris. The ancient Christian practice of suspending its sessions during the whole of Lent, had long been abolished: it was not till the Wednesday of Holy Week that the house was closed, which it continued to be from that day until after Low Sunday. On the Tuesday of Holy Week, which was the last day granted for audiences, the parliament repaired to the palace prisons, and there one of the grand presidents, generally the last installed, held a session of the house. The prisoners were questioned; but, without any formal judgment, all those whose case seemed favourable, or who were not guilty of some capital offence, were set at liberty.
The revolutions of the last eighty years have produced in every country in Europe the secularization of society, that is to say, the effacing from our national customs and legislation of everything which had been introduced by the supernatural element of Christianity. The favourite theory of the last half century or more, has been that all men are equal. The people of the ages of faith had something far more convincing than theory, of the sacredness of their rights. At the approach of those solemn anniversaries which so forcibly remind us of the justice and mercy of God, they beheld princes abdicating, as it were, their sceptre, leaving in God’s hands the punishment of the guilty, and assisting at the holy Table of Paschal Communion side by side with those very men, whom, a few days before, they had been keeping chained in prison for the good of society. There was one thought, which, during these days, was strongly brought before all nations: it was the thought of God, in whose eyes all men are sinners; of God, from whom alone proceed justice and pardon. It was in consequence of this deep Christian feeling, that we find so many diplomas and charts of the ages of faith speaking of the days of Holy Week as being the reign of Christ: such an event, they say, happened on such a day, ‘under the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ:’ regnante Domino nostro Jesu Christo.
When these days of holy and Christian equality were over, did subjects refuse submission to their sovereigns? Did they abuse the humility of their princes, and take occasion for drawing up what modern times call the rights of man? No: that same thought which had inspired human justice to humble itself before the cross of Jesus, taught the people their duty of obeying the powers established by God. The exercise of power, and submission to that power, both had God for their motive. They who wielded the sceptre might be of various dynasties: the respect for authority was ever the same. Now-a-days, the liturgy has none of her ancient influence on society; religion has been driven from the world at large, and her only life and power is now with the consciences of individuals; and as to political institutions, they are but the expression of human pride, seeking to command, or refusing to obey.
And yet the fourth century, which, in virtue of the Christian spirit, produced the laws we have been alluding to, was still rife with the pagan element. How comes it that we, who live in the full light of Christianity, can give the name of progress to a system which tends to separate society from every thing that is supernatural? Men may talk as they please, there is but one way to secure order, peace, morality, and security to the world; and that is God’s way, the way of faith, of living in accordance with the teachings and the spirit of faith. All other systems can, at best, but flatter those human passions, which are so strongly at variance with the mysteries of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we are now celebrating.
We must mention another law made by the Christian emperors in reference to Holy Week. If the spirit of charity, and a desire to imitate divine mercy, led them to decree the liberation of prisoners; it was but acting consistently with these principles, that, during these days when our Saviour shed His Blood for the emancipation of the human race, they should interest themselves in what regards slaves. Slavery, a consequence of sin, and the fundamental institution of the pagan world, had received its death-blow by the preaching of the Gospel; but its gradual abolition was left to individuals, and to their practical exercise of the principle of Christian fraternity. As our Lord and His apostles had not exacted the immediate abolition of slavery, so, in like manner, the Christian emperors limited themselves to passing such laws as would give encouragement to its gradual abolition. We have an example of this in the Justinian Code, where this prince, after having forbidden all law-proceedings during Holy Week and the week following, lays down the following exception: ‘It shall, nevertheless, be permitted to give slaves their liberty; in such manner, that the legal acts necessary for their emancipation shall not be counted as contravening this present enactment.’ [Cod. lib. iii. tit. xii. de feriis. Leg. 8.]. This charitable law of Justinian was but applying to the fifteen days of Easter the decree passed by Constantine, which forbade all legal proceedings on the Sundays throughout the year, excepting only such acts as had for their object the emancipation of slaves.
But long before the peace given her by Constantine, the Church had made provision for slaves, during these days when the mysteries of the world’s redemption were accomplished. Christian masters were obliged to grant them total rest from labour during this holy fortnight. Such is the law laid down in the apostolic constitutions, which were compiled previously to the fourth century. ‘During the great week preceding the day of Easter, and during the week that follows, slaves rest from labour, inasmuch as the first is the week of our Lord’s Passion, and the second is that of His Resurrection; and the slaves require to be instructed upon these mysteries.’ [Constit. Apost. lib. viii. cap. xxxiii].
Another characteristic of the two weeks, upon which we are now entering, is that of giving more abundant alms, and of greater fervour in the exercise of works of mercy. St. John Chrysostom assures us that such was the practice of his times; he passes an encomium on the faithful, many of whom redoubled, at this period, their charities to the poor, which they did out of this motive: that they might, in some slight measure, imitate the divine generosity, which is now so unreservedly pouring out its graces on sinners.
The holy liturgy is rich in mystery during these days of the Church’s celebrating the anniversaries of so many wonderful events; but as the principal part of these mysteries is embodied in the rites and ceremonies of the respective days, we shall give our explanations according as the occasion presents itself. Our object in the present chapter, is to say a few words respecting the general character of the mysteries of these two weeks.
We have nothing to add to the explanation, already given in our Lent, on the mystery of forty. The holy season of expiation continues its course until the fast of sinful man has imitated, in its duration, that observed by the Man-God in the desert. The army of Christ’s faithful children is still fighting against the invisible enemies of man’s salvation; they are still vested in their spiritual armour, and, aided by the angels of light, they are struggling hand to hand with the spirits of darkness, by compunction of heart and by mortification of the flesh.
As we have already observed, there are three objects which principally engage the thoughts of the Church during Lent. The Passion of our Redeemer, which we have felt to be coming nearer to us each week; the preparation of the catechumens for Baptism, which is to be administered to them on Easter eve; the reconciliation of the public penitents, who are to be readmitted into the Church on the Thursday, the day of the Last Supper. Each of these three object engages more and more the attention of the Church, the nearer she approaches the time of their celebration.
The miracle performed by our Saviour almost at the very gates of Jerusalem, by which He restored Lazarus to life, has roused the fury of His enemies to the highest pitch of phrensy. The people’s enthusiasm has been excited by seeing him, who had been four days in the grave, walking in the streets of their city. They ask each other if the Messias, when He comes, can work greater wonders than these done by Jesus, and whether they ought not at once to receive this Jesus as the Messias, and sing their Hosanna to Him, for He is the Son of David. They cannot contain their feelings: Jesus enters Jerusalem, and they welcome Him as their King. The high priests and princes of the people are alarmed at this demonstration of feeling; they have no time to lose; they are resolved to destroy Jesus. We are going to assist at their impious conspiracy: the Blood of the just Man is to be sold, and the price put on it is thirty silver pieces. The divine Victim, betrayed by one of His disciples, is to be judged, condemned, and crucified. Every circumstance of this awful tragedy is to be put before us by the liturgy, not merely in words, but with all the expressiveness of a sublime ceremonial.
The catechumens have but a few more days to wait for the fount that is to give them life. Each day their instruction becomes fuller; the figures of the old Law are being explained to them; and very little now remains for them to learn with regard to the mysteries of salvation. The Symbol of faith is soon to be delivered to them. Initiated into the glories and the humiliations of the Redeemer, they will await with the faithful the moment of His glorious Resurrection; and we shall accompany them with our prayers and hymns at that solemn hour, when, leaving the defilements of sin in the life-giving waters of the font, they shall come forth pure and radiant with innocence, be enriched with the gifts of the holy Spirit, and be fed with the divine flesh of the Lamb that liveth for ever.
The reconciliation of the penitents, too, is close at hand. Clothed in sackcloth and ashes, they are continuing their work of expiation. The Church has still several passages from the sacred Scriptures to read to them, which, like those we have already heard during the last few weeks, will breathe consolation and refreshment to their souls. The near approach of the day when the Lamb is to be slain increases their hope, for they know that the Blood of this Lamb is of infinite worth, and can take away the sins of the whole world. Before the day of Jesus’ Resurrection, they will have recovered their lost innocence; their pardon will come in time to enable them, like the penitent prodigal, to join in the great Banquet of that Thursday, when Jesus will say to His guests: ‘With desire have I desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer.’ [St. Luke xxii. 15.]
Such are the sublime subjects which are about to be brought before us: but, at the same time, we shall see our holy mother the Church mourning, like a disconsolate widow, and sad beyond all human grief. Hitherto she has been weeping over the sins of her children; now she bewails the death of her divine Spouse. The joyous Alleluia has long since been hushed in her canticles; she is now going to suppress another expression, which seems too glad for a time like the present. Partially, at first [Unless it be the feast of a saint, as frequently happens during the first of these two weeks. The same exception is to be made in what follows.], but entirely during the last three days, she is about to deny herself the use of that formula, which is so dear to her: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. There is an accent of jubilation in these words, which would ill suit her grief and the mournfulness of the rest of her chants.
Her lessons, for the night Office, are taken from Jeremias, the prophet of lamentation above all others. The colour of her vestments is the one she had on when she assembled us at the commencement of Lent to sprinkle us with ashes; but when the dreaded day of Good Friday comes, purple would not sufficiently express the depth of her grief; she will clothe herself in black, as men do when mourning the death of a fellow-mortal; for Jesus, her Spouse, is to be put to death on that day: the sins of mankind and the rigours of the divine justice are then to weigh him down, and in all the realities of a last agony, He is to yield up His Soul to His Father.
The presentiment of that awful hour leads the afflicted mother to veil the image of her Jesus: the cross is hidden from the eyes of the faithful. The statues of the saints, too, are covered; for it is but just that, if the glory of the Master be eclipsed, the servant should not appear. The interpreters of the liturgy tell us that this ceremony of veiling the crucifix during Passiontide, expresses the humiliation to which our Saviour subjected Himself, of hiding Himself when the Jews threatened to stone Him, as is related in the Gospel of Passion Sunday. The Church begins this solemn rite with the Vespers of the Saturday before Passion Sunday. Thus it is that, in those years when the feast of our Lady’s Annunciation falls in Passion-week, the statue of Mary, the Mother of God, remains veiled, even on that very day when the Archangel greets her as being full of grace, and blessed among women.
The past four weeks seems to have been but a preparation for the intense grief of the Church during these two. She knows that men are in search of her Jesus, and that they are bent on His death. Before twelve days are over, she will see them lay their sacrilegious hands upon Him. She will have to follow Him up the hill of Calvary; she will have to receive His last breath; she must witness the stone placed against the sepulchre where His lifeless Body is laid. We cannot, therefore, be surprised at her inviting all her children to contemplate, during these weeks, Him who is the object of all her love and all her sadness.
But our mother asks something more of us than compassion and tears; she would have us profit by the lessons we are to be taught by the Passion and Death of our Redeemer. He himself, when going up to Calvary, said to the holy women who had the courage to show their compassion even before His very executioners: ‘Weep not over Me; but weep for yourselves and for your children’ [St. Luke xxiii. 28]. It was not that He refused the tribute of their tears, for He was pleased with this proof of their affection; but it was His love for them that made him speak thus. He desired, above all, to see them appreciate the importance of what they were witnessing, and learn from it how in exorable is God’s justice against sin.
During the four weeks that have preceded, the Church has been leading the sinner to his conversion; so far, however, this conversion has been but begun: now she would perfect it. It is no longer our Jesus fasting and praying in the desert, that she offers to our consideration; it is this same Jesus, as the great Victim immolated for the world’s salvation. The fatal hour is at hand; the power of darkness is preparing to make use of the time that is still left; the greatest of crimes is about to be perpetrated. A few days hence the Son of God is to be in the hands of sinners, and they will put Him to death. The Church no longer needs to urge her children to repentance; they know too well, now, what sin must be, when it could require such expiation as this. She is all absorbed in the thought of the terrible event, which is to close the life of the God-Man on earth; and by expressing her thoughts through the holy liturgy, she teaches us what our own sentiments should be.
The pervading character of the prayers and rites of these two weeks, is a profound grief at seeing the just One persecuted by His enemies even to death, and an energetic indignation against the deicides. The formulas, expressive of these two feelings are, for the most part, taken from David and the Prophets. Here, it is our Saviour Himself, disclosing to us the anguish of His soul; there, it is the Church pronouncing the most terrible anathemas upon the executioners of Jesus. The chastisement that is to befall the Jewish nation is prophesied in all its frightful details; and on the last three days, we shall hear the prophet Jeremias uttering his lamentations over the faithless city. The Church does not aim at exciting idle sentiment; what she principally seeks, is to impress the hearts of her children with a salutary fear. If Jerusalem’s crime strike them with horror, and if they feel that they have partaken in her sin, their tears will flow in abundance.
Let us, therefore, do our utmost to receive these strong impressions, too little known, alas! by the superficial piety of these times. Let us reflect upon the love and affection of the Son of God, who has treated His creatures with such unlimited confidence, lived their own life, spent His three and thirty years amidst them, not only humbly and peaceably, but in going about doing good [Acts i. 38]. And now this life of kindness, condescension, and humility, is to be cut short by the disgraceful death, which none but slaves endured: the death of the cross. Let us consider, on the one side, this sinful people, who, having no crimes to lay to Jesus’ charge, accuse Him of his benefits, and carry their detestable ingratitude to such a pitch as to shed the Blood of this innocent and divine Lamb; and then, let us turn to this Jesus, the Just by excellence, and see Him become a prey to every bitterest suffering: His Soul sorrowful even unto death [St. Matt. xxvi. 38]; weighed down by the malediction of our sins; drinking even to the very dregs the chalice He so humbly asks His Father to take from Him; and lastly, let us listen to His dying words: ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ [Ibid. xxvii. 46]. This it is that fills the Church with her immense grief; this it is that she proposes to our consideration; for she knows that, if we once rightly understood the sufferings of her Jesus, our attachments to sin must needs be broken, for, by sin, we make our selves guilty of the crime we detest in these Jews.
But the Church knows, too, how hard is the heart of man, and how, to make him resolve on a thorough Conversion, he must be made to fear. For this reason, she puts before us those awful imprecations, which the prophets, speaking in Jesus’ person, pronounced against them that put our Lord to death. These prophetic anathemas were literally fulfilled against the obdurate Jews. They teach us what the Christian, also, must expect, if, as the apostle so forcibly expresses it, we again crucify the Son of God [Heb. vi. 6]. In listening to what the Church now speaks to us, we cannot but tremble as we recall to mind those other words of the same apostle: How much more, think ye, doth he deserve worse punishment, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath esteemed the Blood of the testament unclean, (as though it were some vile thing), by which he was sanctified, and hath offered an affront to the Spirit of grace? For we know Him that hath said: ‘Vengeance belongeth to Me, and I will repay.’ And again: ‘The Lord shall judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God [Ibid. x. 29-31].
Fearful indeed it is! Oh! what a lesson God gives us of His inexorable justice, during these days of the Passion! He that spared not even his own Son [Rom. viii. 32], His beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased [St. Matt. iii. 17], will He spare us, if, after all the graces He has bestowed upon us, He should find us in sin, which He so unpitifully chastised even in Jesus, when He took it upon himself, that He might atone for it? Considerations such as these - the justice of God towards the most innocent and august of victims, and the punishments that befell the impenitent Jews - must surely destroy within us every affection to sin, for they will create within us that salutary fear which is the solid foundation of firm hope and tender love.
For if, by our sins, we have made ourselves guilty of the death of the Son of God, it is equally true that the Blood which flowed from His sacred wounds has the power to cleanse us from the guilt of our crime. The justice of our heavenly Father cannot be appeased, save by the shedding of this precious Blood; and the mercy of this same Father wills that it be spent for our ransom. The cruelty of Jesus’ executioners has made five wounds in His sacred Body; and from these, there flow five sources of salvation, which purify the world, and restore within each one of us the image of God which sin had destroyed. Let us, then, approach with confidence to this redeeming Blood, which throws open to the sinner the gates of heaven, and whose worth is such that it could redeem a million worlds, were they even more guilty than ours. We are close upon the anniversary of the day when it was shed; long ages have passed away since it flowed down the wounded Body of our Jesus, and fell in streams from the cross upon this ungrateful earth; and yet its power is as great as ever.
Let us go, then, and draw from the Saviour’s fountains [Is. xii. 3]; our souls will come forth full of life, all pure, and dazzling with heavenly beauty; not one spot of their old defilements will be left; and the Father will love us with the love wherewith He loves His own Son. Why did He deliver up unto death this His tenderly beloved Son? Was it not that He might regain us, the children whom He had lost? We had become, by our sins, the possession of satan; hell had undoubted claims upon us; and, lo! we have been suddenly snatched from both, and all our primitive rights have been restored to us. Yet God used no violence in order to deliver us from our enemy; how comes it, then, that we are now free? Listen to the apostle: ‘Ye are bought at a great price.’ [1 Cor. vi. 20]. And what is this price? The prince of the apostles explains it: ‘Know ye,’ says he, ‘that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as gold or silver, but with the precious Blood of Christ as of a Lamb unspotted and undefiled.’[ 1 Peter i. 18,19]. This divine Blood was placed in the scales of God’s justice, and so far did it outweigh our iniquities, as to make the bias in our favour. The power of this Blood has broken the very gates of hell, severed our chains, and made peace both as to the things on earth, and the things that are in heaven [Coloss. i. 20]. Let us receive upon us, therefore, this precious Blood, wash our wounds in it, and sign our foreheads with it as with an indelible mark, which may protect us, on the day of wrath, from the sword of vengeance.
There is another object most dear to the Church, which she, during these two weeks, recommends to our deepest veneration; it is the cross, the altar upon which our incomparable Victim is immolated. Twice during the course of the year, that is, on the feasts of its Invention and Exaltation, this sacred Wood will be offered to us that we may honour it as the trophy of our Jesus’ victory; but now, it speaks to us but of His sufferings, it brings with it no other idea but that of His humiliation. God had said in the ancient Covenant: ‘Accursed is he that hangeth on a tree’ [Deut. xxi. 23]. The Lamb, that saved us, disdained not to suffer this curse; but, for that very cause, this tree, this wood of infamy, has become dear to us beyond measure. It is the instrument of our salvation, it is the sublime pledge of Jesus’ love for us. On this account, the Church is about to lavish her veneration and love upon it; and we intend to imitate her, and join her in this, as in all else she does. An adoring gratitude towards the Blood that has redeemed us, and a loving veneration of the holy cross - these are the two sentiments which are to be uppermost in our hearts during these two weeks.
But for the Lamb Himself - for Him that gave us this Blood, and so generously embraced the cross that saved us - what shall we do? Is it not just that we should keep close to Him, and that, more faithful than the apostles who abandoned Him during His Passion, we should follow Him day by day, nay, hour by hour, in the way of the cross that He treads for us? Yes, we will be His faithful companions during these last days of His mortal life, when He submits to the humiliation of having to hide Himself from His enemies. We will envy the lot of those devoted few, who shelter Him in their houses, and expose themselves, by this courageous hospitality, to the rage of His enemies. We will compassionate His Mother, who suffered an anguish that no other heart could feel, because no other creature could love Him as she did. We will go, in spirit, into that most hated Sanhedrim, where they are laying the impious plot against the life of the just One. Suddenly, we shall see a bright speck gleaming on the dark horizon; the streets and squares of Jerusalem will re-echo with the cry of Hosanna to the Son of David. That unexpected homage paid to our Jesus, those palm branches, those shrill voices of admiring Hebrew children, will give a momentary truce to our sad forebodings. Our love shall make us take part in the loyal tribute thus paid to the King of Israel, who comes so meekly to visit the daughter of Sion, as the prophet had foretold He would: but alas! this joy will be short-lived, and we must speedily relapse into our deep sorrow of soul!
The traitorous disciple will soon strike his bargain with the high priests; the last Pasch will be kept, and we shall see the figurative lamb give place to the true one, whose Flesh will become our food, and His Blood our drink. It will be our Lord’s Supper. Clad in the nuptial robe, we will take our place there, together with the disciples; for that day is the day of reconciliation, which brings together, to the same holy Table, both the penitent sinner, and the just that has been ever faithful. Then, we shall have to turn our steps towards the fatal garden, where we shall learn what sin is, for we shall behold our Jesus agonizing beneath its weight, and asking some respite from His eternal Father. Then, in the dark hour of midnight, the servants of the high priests and the soldiers, led on by the vile Iscariot, will lay their impious hands on the Son of God; and yet the legions of angels, who adore Him, will be withheld from punishing the awful sacrilege! After this, we shall have to repair to the various tribunals, whither Jesus is led, and witness the triumph of injustice. The time that elapses between his being seized in the garden and His having to carry His cross up the hill of Calvary, will be filled up with the incidents of His mock trial - lies, calumnies, the wretched cowardice of the Roman governor, the insults of the by-standers, and the cries of the ungrateful populace thirsting for innocent Blood! We shall be present at all these things; our love will not permit us to separate ourselves from that dear Redeemer, who is to suffer them for our sake, for our salvation.
Finally, after seeing Him struck and spit upon, and after the cruel scourging and the frightful insult of the crown of thorns, we will follow our Jesus up Mount Calvary; we shall know where His sacred feet have trod by the Blood that marks the road. We shall have to make our way through the crowd, and, as we pass, we shall hear terrible imprecations uttered against our divine Master. Having reached the place of execution, we shall behold this august Victim stripped of His garment, nailed to the cross, hoisted into the air, as if the better to expose Him to insult! We will draw near to the free of life, that we may lose neither one drop of that Blood which flows for the cleansing of the world, nor one single word spoken, for its instruction, by our dying Jesus. We will compassionate His Mother, whose heart is pierced through with a sword of sorrow; we will stand close to her, when her Son, a few moments before His death, shall consign us to her fond care. After His three hours’ agony, we will reverently watch His sacred Head bow down, and receive, with adoring love, His last breath.
A bruised and mangled corpse, stiffened by the cold of death - this is all that remains to us of that Son of Man, whose first coming into the world caused us such joy! The Son of the eternal Father was not satisfied with emptying Himself and taking the form of a servant [Phil. ii. 7]; this His being born in the flesh was but the beginning of His sacrifice; His love was to lead Him even unto death, even to the death of the cross. He foresaw that He would not win our love save at the price of such a generous immolation, and His heart hesitated not to make it. ‘Let us, therefore, love God,’ says St. John, ‘because God first loved us.’ [1 St. John iv. 19]. This is the end the Church proposes to herself by the celebration of these solemn anniversaries. After humbling our pride and our resistance to grace by showing us how divine justice treats sin, she leads our hearts to love Jesus, who delivered Himself up, in our stead, to the rigours of that justice. Woe to us, if this great week fail to produce in our souls a just return towards Him who loved us more than Himself, though we were, and had made ourselves, His enemies. Let us say with the apostle: ‘The charity of Christ presseth us; that they who live, may not now live to themselves, but unto Him who died for them.’ [2 Cor.v. 14,15]. We owe this return to Him who made Himself a Victim for our sake, and who, up to the very last moment, instead of pronouncing against us the curse we so justly deserved, prayed and obtained for us mercy and grace. He is, one day, to reappear on the clouds of heaven, and as the prophet says, men shall look upon Him whom they have pierced [Zach. iii. 10]. God grant that we may be of the number of those who, having made amends by their love for the crimes they have committed against the divine Lamb, will then find confidence at the sight of those wounds!
Let us hope that, by God’s mercy, the holy time we are now entering upon will work such a happy change in us, that, on the day of judgment, we may confidently fix our eyes on Him we are now about to contemplate crucified by the hands of sinners. The death of Jesus puts the whole of nature in commotion; the midday sun is darkened, the earth is shaken to its very foundations, the rocks are split: may it be that our hearts, too, be moved, and pass from indifference to fear, from fear to hope, and, at length, from hope to love; so that, having gone down, with our Crucified, to the very depths of sorrow, we may deserve to rise again with Him unto light and joy, beaming with the brightness of His Resurrection, and having within ourselves the pledge of a new life, which shall then die no more!
During these two weeks, the Christian, on awaking in the morning, should unite himself with the Church, who repeats these words of St. Paul at every Hour of the Divine Office of Holy Week.
|Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis.||Christ became, for our sake, obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.|
He should, after this, profoundly adore that great God, who was not to be appeased but by the Blood of Jesus; he should, also, adore the infinite goodness of this Jesus, who made Himself a Victim, that He might save us sinners. It is with these two sentiments that he must perform the first acts of religion, both interior and exterior, wherewith he begins each day of this present season. The time for morning prayer being come, he may use the following method, which is formed upon the very prayers of the Church:-
First, praise and adoration of the most holy Trinity:-
|V. Benedicamus Patrem, et Filium, cum Sancto Spiritu.
R. Laudemus et superexaltemus eum in saecula.
V. Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
R. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
|V. Let us bless the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
R. Let us praise him and extol him above all for ever.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Then, praise to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ:-
|V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per Crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
|V. We adore thee, O Christ, and we bless thee.
R. Because by thy cross thou hast redeemed the world.
Thirdly, invocation of the Holy Ghost:-
|Veni, sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.||Come, O holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle within them the fire of thy love.|
After these fundamental acts of religion, recite the Lord’s Prayer, begging your Heavenly Father to be mindful of his infinite mercy and goodness, - to forgive you your trespasses, through the merits of the Blood of Jesus; to come to your assistance in the temptations and dangers which so thickly beset the path of this life, - and finally, to deliver you from evil, by removing from you every remnant of sin, which is the great evil, the evil that offends God, and entails the sovereign evil of man himself.
|Pater noster, qui es in coelis, sanctificetur 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: sed libera nos a malo. Amen.||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: but deliver us from evil. Amen.|
Then address our Blessed Lady, using the words of the Angelical Salutation. Pray to her with confidence and love, for she is the refuge of sinners.
|Ave Maria, gratia plena: Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
|Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
After this, you should recite the Creed, that is, the Symbol of Faith. It contains the dogmas we are to believe; and during this season, you should dwell with loving attention on that article which mentions our redemption by the sufferings and death of Jesus. Let us lovingly confess this mystery of a God suffering and dying for us. Let us, by our repentance and amendment, merit that this precious Blood may perfect the conversion that has been begun in us.
|Credo in Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, Creatorem coeli et terrae. Et in Jesum Christurn Filium ejus unicum Dominum nostrum: qui conceptus est de Spiritu sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine, passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus, et sepultus: descendit ad inferos, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis: ascendit ad coelos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotontis: inde venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos.
Credo in Spiritum sanctum, sanctam Ecclesiam Catholicam, sanctorum communionem, remissionem peccatorum, carnis resurrectionem, vitam aeternam. Amen.
|I believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell, the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost: the holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
Having thus made the Profession of your Faith, endeavour to excite yourself to sorrow for the sins you have committed. Ask our Lord to give you the graces appropriate to this holy Season; and, for this end, recite the following Hymn, which the Church uses in her Lauds for Lent:
O sol salutis, intimis,
Jesu, refulge mentibus,
Dum nocte pulsa, gratior
Orbi dies renascitur.
Dans tempus acceptabile,
Quo fonte manavit nefas,
Dies venit, dies tua,
Te prona mundi machina,
O Jesus! thou Sun of the world’s salvation! shine in the depths of our souls; for now is the hour of night’s departure, and sweeter day-break dawns upon the earth.
O thou that givest us this acceptable time! give us to wash, with our tears, the victim we offer thee, - which is our heart; and grant that it may burn with joyous love.
If the rod of penance but strike these hearts of stone, a flood of ceaseless tears will flow from that same fount, whence came our many sins.
The day, thine own day, is at hand, when all things bloom afresh; oh! grant, that we, too, may rejoice, being brought once more to the path by thy right hand.
O merciful Trinity! may the World prostrate itself before thee, and adore; and we, made new by grace, sing a new canticle of praise.
Then make a humble confession of your sins, reciting the general formula made use of by the Church.
|Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatae Mariae semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistae, sanctis apostolis Petro et Paulo, et omnibus sanctis, quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos apostolos Petrum et Paulum, et omnes sanctos, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.
Misereatur nostri omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis nostris, perducat nos ad vitam aeternam. Amen.
Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus. Amen.
|I confess to almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and to all the saints, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed: through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, to pray to the Lord our God for me.
May almighty God have mercy on us, and, our sins being forgiven, bring us to life everlasting. Amen.
May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins. Amen.
This is the proper place for making your meditation, as no doubt you practise this holy exercise. During these two weeks, the following should be the leading subjects of our Meditations:- the severity of God's justice towards His Divine Son, who had taken upon Himself our sins; the ingratitude of the Jews, who, though laden by Jesus with favours, clamour for His death; the share we have taken, by our sins, in the crucifixion; the sufferings, both of body and soul, endured by our Redeemer; His patience and meekness under every injury; and finally, the infinite love He shows He has for us, by saving us at the cost of His Blood, yea, of His very life.
The next part of your morning prayer must be to ask of God, by the following prayers, grace to avoid every kind of sin during the day you are just beginning. Say, then, with the Church, whose prayers must always be preferred to all others:
|V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
Domine, Deus omnipotens, qui ad principium hujus diei nos pervenire fecisti, tua nos hodie salva virtute, ut in hac die ad nullum declinemus peccatum, sed semper ad tuam justitiam faciendam nostra procedant eloquia, dirigantur cogitationes et opera. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
|V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.
Let us Pray
Almighty Lord and God, who hast brought us to the beginning of this day, let thy powerful grace so conduct us through it, that we may not fall into any sin, but that all our thoughts, words, and actions may be regulated according to the rules of thy heavenly justice, and tend to the observance of thy holy law. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Then beg the divine assistance for the actions of the day, that you may do them well, and say thrice:
V. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
R. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.
V. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
R. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.
V. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
R. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.
V. Incline unto my aid, O God.
R. Lord, make haste to help me.
V. Incline unto my aid, O God.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
V. Incline unto my aid, O God.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Let us pray
During the day, you will do well to use the instructions and prayers which you will find in this volume for each day of the Season, both for the Proper of the Time, and the Proper of the Saints. In the Evening, you may use the following Prayers.
After having made the sign of the Cross, let us adore that Sovereign Lord, who has so mercifully preserved us during this day, and blessed us, every hour, with his grace and protection. For this end, let us recite the following Hymn, which the Church sings in her Vespers of Passiontide:
Vexilla Regis prodeunt;
Fulget crucis mysterium,
Qua Vita mortem pertulit,
Et morte vitam protulit.
Quae vulnerata lanceae,
Impleta sunt quae concinit
Arbor decora et fulgida,
Beata, cujus brachiis
O crux, ave, spes unica,
Te, fons salutis. Trinitas,
The standard of our King comes forth; the mystery of the cross shines upon us, that cross on which Life suffered death, and by his death gave life.
He was pierced with the cruel spear, that, by the Water and the Blood which flowed from the wound, he might cleanse us from sin.
Here on the cross was fulfilled the prophecy foretold in David’s truthful words: ‘God hath reigned from the tree.’
O fair and shining tree! beautified by the scarlet of the King, and chosen as the noble trunk that was to touch such sacred limbs.
O blessed tree! on whose arms hung the ransom of the world! It was the balance, wherein was placed the Body of Jesus, and thereby hell lost its prey.
Hail, O cross! our only hope! During these days of the Passion, increase to the good their grace, and cleanse sinners from their guilt.
May every spirit praise thee, O holy Trinity, thou fount of salvation! and by the cross, whereby thou gayest us victory, give us, too, our recompense. Amen.
After this hymn, say the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Apostles’ Creed, as in the morning.
Then make the Examination of Conscience, going over in your mind all the faults you may have committed during the day. Think, how great is the obstacle put by sin to the merciful designs your God would work in you; and make a firm resolution to avoid it for the time to come, to do penance for it, and to shun the occasions which might again lead you into it.
The examination of conscience concluded, recite the Confiteor (or I confess) with heartfelt contrition, and then give expression to your sorrow by the following act, which we have taken from the Venerable Cardinal Bellarmine’s Catechism:
O my God, I am exceedingly grieved for having offended thee, and with my whole heart I repent of the sins I have committed: I hate and abhor them above every other evil, not only because, by so sinning, I have lost heaven and deserved hell, but still more because I have offended thee. O infinite Goodness, who art worthy to be loved above all things. I most firmly resolve, by the assistance of thy grace, never more to offend thee for the time to come, and to avoid those occasions which might lead me into sin.
You may then add the acts of Faith, Hope, and Charity, to the recitation of which Pope Benedict the Fourteenth has granted an indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines for each time.
O my God, I firmly believe whatsoever the holy, Catholic, apostolic, Roman Church requires me to believe: I believe it because thou hast revealed it to her, thou who art the very truth.
O my God, knowing thy almighty power, and thy infinite goodness and mercy, I hope in thee that, by the merits of the Passion and death of our Saviour Jesus Christ, thou wilt grant me eternal life, which thou hast promised to all such as shall do the works of a good Christian; and these I resolve to do with the help of thy grace.
O my God, I love thee with my whole heart and above all things, because thou art the sovereign Good: I would rather lose all things than offend thee. For thy love also, I love, and desire to love, my neighbour as myself.
Then say to our blessed Lady the following Anthem, which the Church uses from the Feast of the Purification to Easter:
Ave Regina coelorum,
Ave Domina Angelorum:
Salve radix, salve porta,
Ex qua mundo lux est orta;
Gaude, Virgo gloriosa,
Super omnes speciosa:
Vale, O valde decora,
Et pro nobis Christum exora.
V. Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata.
Hail, Queen of Heaven! Hail, Queen of Angels! Hail blest Root and Gate, from which came Light upon the world! Rejoice, O glorious Virgin, that surpassest all in beauty! Hail, most lovely Queen! and pray to Christ for us.
V. Vouchsafe, O Holy Virgin, that I may praise thee.
LET US PRAY
You would do well to add the Stabat Mater, which is given below on Friday in Passion Week.
Here invoke the holy angels, whose protection is indeed, always so much needed by us, but never so much as during the hours of night. Say with the Church:
Sancti angeli, custodes nostri, defendite nos in praelio, ut non pereamus in tremendo judicio.
V. Angelis suis Deus mandavit de te.
R. Ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis.
Holy angels, our loving guardians, defend us in the hour of battle, that we may not be lost at the dreadful judgement.
V. God hath given his angels charge of thee.
R. That they may guard thee in all thy ways.
LET US PRAY.
Then beg the assistance of the saints by the following antiphon and prayer of the Church:
|ANT. Sancti Dei omnes, intercedere dignemini pro nostra omniumque salute.||ANT. All ye Saints of God, vouchsafe to intercede for us and for all men, that we may be saved.|
And here you may add a special mention of the Saints to whom you bear a particular devotion, either as your Patrons or otherwise; as also of those whose feast is kept in the Church that day, or at least who have been commemorated in the Divine Office.
This done, remember the necessities of the Church Suffering, and beg of God that He will give to the souls in Purgatory a place of refreshment, light, and peace. For this intention recite the usual prayers.
De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine: Domine, exaudi vocem meam.
Fiant aures tuae intendentes: in vocem deprecationis meae.
Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine: Domine, quis sustinebit?
Quia apud te propitiatio est: et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine.
Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus: speravit anima mea in Domino.
A custodia matutina usque ad noctem: speret Israel in Domino.
Quia apud Dominum misericordia: et copiosa apud eum redemptio.
Et ipse redimet Israel: ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
V. A porta inferi.
R. Erue, Domine, animas eorum.
V. Requiescant in pace.
V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
From the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.
Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If thou wilt observe iniquities, O Lord: Lord, who shall endure it?
For with thee there is merciful forgiveness; and by reason of thy law I have waited for thee, O Lord.
My soul hath relied on his word; my soul hath hoped In the Lord.
From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy, and with him plentiful redemption.
And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Eternal rest give to them, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. From the gate of hell.
R. Deliver their souls, O Lord.
V. May they rest in peace.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.
Let us pray.
Here make a special memento of such of the Faithful departed as have a particular claim upon your charity; after which, ask of God to give you his assistance, whereby you may pass the night free from danger. Say, then, still keeping to the words of the Church:
ANT. Salva nos, Domine, vigilantes, custodi nos dormientes: Ut vigilemus cum Christo, et requiescamus in pace.
V. Dignare, Domine, nocte ista.
ANT. Save us, O Lord, while awake, and watch us as we sleep: that we may watch with Christ, and rest in peace.
V. Vouchsafe, O Lord, this night.
Let us pray.
And that you may end the day in the same sentiments with which you began it, say once more to your God these words of the Apostle:
|Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis.||Christ became, for our sake, obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.|
If there be any time in the year, when the holy Sacrifice of the Mass should excite the heart of the Christian to devotion, it is Passiontide. During these days set apart for the celebration of the death of our Redeemer, the faithful soul can scarcely turn her thoughts from her Jesus expiring on the cross; she envies those who were witnesses of the sublime mystery on Calvary; she wishes that she could have stood at the foot of the cross, have compassionated the sufferings of her Saviour, have heard His last words, and reverently have taken up each drop of the precious Blood and applied it to her own wounds.
These holy desires have not been given to the Christian that they might he nothing but desires; God has given him the means of carrying them into effect, for the sacrifice of the Mass is no other than the sacrifice of Calvary. Jesus offered Himself but once on the cross for our sins; but He renews the offering, by an unbloody, yet real and complete, immolation on our altars. He comes down on the altar as soon as the sacred words of consecration are pronounced by the priest, and He comes as the Victim of the world’s salvation. His Body is really present there, under the appearance of bread; the chalice contains His Blood under the species of wine; and why this mystic separation of the Body and Blood of the Man-God, who can die now no more, if it be not to represent before the divine Majesty the real death which was once suffered in a bloody manner on Calvary, and to renew, in man’s favour, the merits and fruits of that death?
This is the sacrifice of the new Law, as far above all the sacrifices of the old, both in holiness and efficacy, as the Creator is above all His creatures. Our Jesus in the omnipotence of His love, has invented a means for uniting His dignity, as immortal King of ages, with His office of our Victim. He can die now no more; but His death is truly represented on the altar: it is the same Body, bearing on it its five precious Wounds; it is the same Blood, which redeemed us. If it were possible for Him to die again, the power of the mysterious words, which produce the presence of His Blood in the chalice, would be the sword of His immolation.
Let, then, the Christian approach with confidence; on the holy altar, he will find his Saviour dying for him, and offering Himself as the great High Priest. Yes, He is there, with the same love He had for us on Calvary; He is there making intercession for all men, but, in a special manner, for those who are present at the Mass and unite themselves with Him. Let us see, in the action of the holy sacrifice, that same immolation of which we have read the history in the Gospel. Let us hope for everything from that adorable goodness which thus makes use of omnipotence in order to facilitate, by such stupendous means, the salvation and sanctification of man.
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 the spirit of the Church and of the priest.
The purple vestments, and the other rites of which we have already treated, give to the holy sacrifice an appearance of mournfulness, so well suited to the season. Nevertheless, if the feast of a saint occurs between Passion and Palm Sunday, the Church lays aside her purple, and celebrates the Mass in honour of the saint. The crucifix and the holy images, however, continue to be veiled, beginning from the first Vespers of Passion Sunday.
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.
|Asperges me, Domino, hyssopo, et mundabor; lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.
Ps. Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
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.
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.
|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.
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.
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 [Lam. 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.
|In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. 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.
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.
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 here blesses the incense, saying:
|Ab illo benedicaris, in cujus honore cremaberis.||Mayst thou be blessed by him, in whose honour thou art to be burned. Amen.|
He then censes the Altar in a most solemn manner. 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:
|Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
To the Son:
|Christ, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!
To the Holy Ghost:
|Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
As we have already mentioned, the Church abstains, during this season, 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.
|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.
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, after blessing the incense in these words:
|Per intercessionem beati Michaelis archangeli, stantis a dextris altaris incensi, et omnium electorum suorum, incensum istud dignetur Dominus benedicere, et in odorem suavitatis accipere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.||Through the intercession of blessed Michael the archangel, standing at the right hand of the altar of incense, and of all his elect, may our Lord deign to bless this incense, and to receive it for an odour of sweetness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.|
He then 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. St. John tells us that the incense he beheld burning on the altar in heaven is made up of the 'prayers of the saints'; let us take a share in those prayers, and with all the ardour of holy desires, let us say with the priest:
Incensum istud, a te benedictum, ascendat ad te Domine, et descendat super nos misericordia tua.
Dirigatur, Domine, oratio mea sicut incensum in conspectu tuo: elevatio manuum mearum sacrificium vespertinum. Pone, Domine, custodiam ori meo, et ostium circumstantiae labiis meis; ut non declinet cor meum in verba malitiae, ad excusandas excusationes in peccatis.
May this incense, blessed by thee, ascend to thee, O lord, and may thy mercy descend upon us.
Let my prayer, O Lord, be directed like incense in thy sight: the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, and a door around my lips; that my heart may not incline to evil words, to make excuses in sins.
Giving back the thurible to the deacon, the priest says:
|Accendat in nobis Dominus ignem sui amoris, et flammam aeternae charitatis. Amen.||May the Lord enkindle in us the fire of his love and the flame of eternal charity. Amen.|
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:
|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 His giving us His only-begotten Son, to be our Mediator by His Blood. 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:
|Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus. Qui salutem humani generis in ligno crucis constituisti, ut inde mors oriebatur, inde vita resurgeret; et qui in ligno vincebat, in ligno quoque vinceretur; 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 hast appointed that the salvation of mankind should be wrought on the wood of the cross; that from whence death came, thence life might arise; and that he who overcame by the tree, might also by the tree be overcome; 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. After these words, the substances of both 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 for the very purpose of inspiring confidence into our hearts. While the priest is pronouncing these words, 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 taught us by our Saviour Himself. 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; he says:
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.
|World without end.
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 [Apoc. v. 6]:- 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 [Is. ix. 6], 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 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 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.|
|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.
|May the Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, bless you!
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.
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.
The beginning of the holy Gospel according to John.
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.
The holy Mass is the true sacrifice, of which the sacrifices of the old Law were but figures. This sacrifice was expected by mankind for four thousand years. It was during the present season that it was first offered up. It is now mysteriously renewed, each day, upon our Christian altars.
No greater glory can be given to God than the celebration of this sacrifice, wherein God Himself is the Victim; at the same time, nothing can be more advantageous to man than to partake of this divine Victim, to become himself this Victim, by incorporating it with himself by holy Communion, whereby is realized that wonderful promise of our Redeemer: He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood, abideth in Me, and I in him [St. John vi. 57].
Now, it is by the immolation of our Redeemer on the cross that the Flesh of this Lamb of God has become truly our food, and His Blood truly our drink [Ibid. 56]. By the mysteries of His Incarnation and birth, we had Him as our Brother; His Passion and death have made Him both our Saviour and our Food. Thus was realized that figurative sacrifice which God prescribed to His people through Moses, and in which the victim, after being immolated, was to be eaten by the priest who offered it, and by the person in whose name it was offered.
St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, speaks thus: ‘As often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord, until He come.’ [1 Cor, xi. 26]. Therefore, there is a close relation between holy Communion and our Saviour’s Passion; and it is on this account that we are going to celebrate, during this present season, the institution of the holy Eucharist and the sacrifice of the Lamb, our Redeemer. The two anniversaries come close to each other. If Jesus has desired with so ardent a desire to eat this last Pasch with His disciples [St. Luke xxii. 15], it is because He had something infinitely grander to give them than He had given them the two preceding years: then He gave them to eat of the flesh of the figurative lamb; but now, in this the last Pasch, He is going to give them a pledge of pardon and immortality, by making them partake of the very substance of the true Lamb, whose Blood imparts remission of sin, and opens the gate of heaven. He immolates Himself on the table of the last Supper before men immolate Him on Calvary; and this wondrous anticipation of His sacrifice, in which He gives such a rich proof of His love and His power, is founded on the real sacrifice of the morrow, which is to cost Him every drop of His Blood.
In approaching, therefore, the holy Table, during this season of the Passion, the faithful must be absorbed in the remembrance of the Lamb that was sacrificed for us; they must keep this great truth uppermost in their hearts: that the divine Food which nourishes their souls was prepared on Calvary; and that, although this Lamb is now living and impassible, yet it was by His death on the cross that He became our Food. The sinner, reconciled to his offended God, must receive the Body of Jesus with sentiments of hearty contrition, and reproach himself, in all the bitterness of his soul, for having shed that precious Blood by his multiplied sins. The just man must make his Communion, and humble himself with the thought that he, too, has had too great a share in causing suffering to the innocent Lamb; and that if he now have reason to believe himself to be in the state of grace, he owes it to the Blood of the Victim who is about to be given to him for the increase of his spiritual life.
We will here give, as in our other volumes, acts which may serve as a preparation for holy Communion during these two weeks. There are souls that feel the want of some such assistance as this; and, for the same reason, we will add a form of
thanksgiving for after Communion.
The signal grace which thou, O my God, hast granted to me, that I should know the wounds of my soul, has revealed to me the greatness of my misery. I have been taught how deep was the darkness that covered me, and how much I needed thy divine light. But, whilst the torch of faith has thus shown me the abyss of my own poor nature, it has also taught me how wonderful are the works, which thy love of thy ungrateful creature has made thee undertake, in order that thou mightest raise him up and save him. It is for me thou didst assume my human nature, and wast born at Bethlehem; it is for me that thou fastest forty days in the desert; it is for me that thou art soon to shed thy Blood on the cross. Thou commandest me to believe these miracles of thy love. I do believe them, O my God, humbly and gratefully. I also believe, and with an equally lively faith, that in a few moments thou art to give thyself to me in this ineffable mystery of holy Communion. Thou sayest to me: ‘This is my Body, this is my Blood’; thy word is enough; in spite of my unworthiness seeming to forbid the possibility of such Communion, I believe, I consent, I bow me down before thine infinite truth. Oh! can there be Communion between the God of all holiness and a sinner such as I? And yet thou assurest me that thou art verily coming to me! I tremble, O eternal Truth, but I believe. I confess that thy love of me is infinite, and that having resolved to give thyself to thy poor and sinful creature, thou wilt suffer no obstacle to stand in thy way!
During the season just past, I have often contemplated, O my Jesus, thy coming from thy high throne into the bosom of Mary, thy uniting thy divine Person to our weak mortal nature, and thy being born in the crib of a poor stable. And when I thought on these humiliations of my God, they taught me not only to love thee tenderly, but to know also my own nothingness, for I saw more clearly what an infinite distance there is between the creature and his Creator; and, seeing these prodigies of thy immense love, I gladly confessed my own vileness. But now, dearest Saviour, I am led to consider something far more humiliating than the lowliness of my nature. That nothingness should be but nothingness, is not a sin. No; it is my sins that appal me. Sin has so long tyrannized over me; its consequences are still upon me; it has given me such dangerous tendencies; and I am so weak in resisting its bidding. When my first parent sinned, he hid himself, lest he should meet thee; and thou biddest me come unto thee, not to sentence me to the punishment I deserve, but to give me, oh! such a mark of love - union with thyself! Can this be? Art thou not the infinitely holy God? I must needs yield, and come, for thou art my sovereign Master; and who is there that dares resist thy will? I come, then, humbling myself, even to my very nothingness, before thee, and beseeching thee to pardon my coming, for I come because thou wilt have it so.
And shall I, O my Jesus, confess thus the grievousness and multitude of my sins, without promising thee to sin no more? Thou wishest this sinner to be reconciled with thee, thou desirest to press him to thy sacred Heart: and could he, whilst thanking thee for this thy wonderful condescension, still love the accursed cause which made him thine enemy? No, my infinitely merciful God, no! I will not, like my first parent, seek to escape thy justice, but, like the prodigal son, I will arise and go to my Father; like Magdalene, I will take courage and enter the banquet-hall; and, though trembling at the sight of my sins, I will comply with thy loving invitation. My heart has no further attachment to sin, which I hate and detest as the enemy of thy honour and of my own happiness. I am resolved to shun it from this time forward, and to spare no pains to free myself from its tyranny. There shall be no more of that easy life which chilled my love, nor of that studied indifference which dulled my conscience, nor of those dangerous habits which led me to stray from my loyalty to thee. Despise not, O God, this my humble and contrite heart.
Such is thy love for us in this world, O my Jesus, that, as thou thyself sayest, thou art come not to judge, but to save. I should not satisfy thee, in this happy Communion hour, were I to offer thee but this salutary fear, which has led me to thy sacred feet, and this shame-stricken conscience, which makes me tremble in thy holy presence. The visit thou art about to pay me, is a visit of love. The Sacrament, which is going to unite me to thee, is the Sacrament of thy love. Thou, my good Shepherd, hast said, that he loves most, who has been forgiven most. My heart then must dare to love thee; it must love thee with all its warmth; the very recollection of its past disloyalty must make its loving thee doubly needed and doubly fervent. Ah! sweet Lord! See this poor heart of mine; strengthen it, console it, drive away its fears, make it feel that thou art its Jesus! It has come back to thee, because it feared thee; if it love thee, it will never again leave thee.
And thou, O Mary, refuge of sinners, help me to love him, who is thy Son, and our Brother. Holy angels! ye who live eternally on that love, which has never ceased to glow in your mighty spirits, remember, I reverently pray you, that this God created me, as he did you, that I might love him. All ye holy saints of God! I beseech you, by the love wherewith ye are inebriated in heaven, graciously give me a thought, and prepare now my heart to be united with him. Amen.
Thou art here within me, great God of heaven! Thou art, at this moment, residing in a sinner’s heart! I, yea, I, am thy temple, thy throne. thy resting-place! How shall I worthily adore thee, who hast deigned to come down into this abyss of my lowliness and misery? The angels veil their faces in thy presence; thy saints lay their crowns at thy feet; and I, that am but a sinful mortal, how shall I sufficiently honour thee, O infinite Power, infinite Wisdom, infinite Goodness? This soul, wherein thou art now dwelling, has presumed so many times to set thee at defiance, and boldly disobey and break thy commands. And thou canst come to me after all this, and bring all thy beauty and greatness with thee! What else can I do, but give thee the homage of a heart, that knows not how to bear the immensity of the honour thou art now lavishing on me? Yes, my own wonderful and loving God, I adore thee; I acknowledge thee to be the sovereign Being, the Creator and preserver of all creatures, and the undisputed Master of everything that belongs to me. I delightedly confess my dependence on thee, and offer thee, with all my heart, my humble service.
Thy greatness, O my God, is infinite; but thy goodness to me is incomprehensible. Thy being now present within this breast of mine, is, I know, a proof of that immense power, which shows itself when and where it wills; but it is also a mark of thy love for me. Thou art come to my soul that thou mayst be closely united with her, comfort her, give her a new life, and bring her all good things. Oh! who will teach me how to value this grace, and thank thee for it in a becoming way? But how shall I hope to value it as I ought, when I am not able to understand either the love that brings thee thus within me, or my own need of having thee? And when I think of my inability to make thee a suitable return of thanks, I feel as though I can give thee nothing but my speechless gratitude. Yet thou willest that this my heart, poor as it is, should give thee its thanks; thou takest delight in receiving its worthless homage. Take it, then, my loving Jesus! I give it thee with all possible joy, and beseech thee to reveal unto me the immensity of thy gift, and to enrich me more that I may give thee more.
But nothing will satisfy thee, O my infinite Treasure, unless I give thee my love. Thou hast ever loved me, and thou art still loving me; I must love thee in return! Thou hast borne with me, thou hast forgiven me, thou art, at this moment, overpowering me with honour and riches; and all this out of love for me! The return thou askest of me, is my love. Gratitude will not content thee, thou wilt have my love! But Jesus, my dear Jesus! - my past life - the long years I have spent in offending thee - rise up before me, and tell me to hide myself from thee! And yet, whither could I go without carrying thee within me, for thou hast taken up thine abode in my inmost soul? No, I will not run from thee! I will summon all the energies of my heart to tell thee that I love thee; that thy love for me has emboldened me; that I belong to thee; that I love thee above all else that I love; and that henceforth all my joy and happiness shall be in pleasing thee, and doing whatsoever thou askest of me.
I know, dear Jesus, that what thou askest of me is not the passing sentiment of a heart excited by the thought of thy goodness towards it. Thou hast loved me from eternity; thou lovedst me, even when I was doing nothing for thee; thou hast given me light to know my miseries; thou hast shielded me against thine own angry justice; thou hast mercifully pardoned me a countless number of times; thou art even now embracing me with tenderest love: and all these works of thy almighty hand have been but for one end - to make me give myself to thee, and live, at last, for thee. It is this thou wouldst obtain of me, by granting me this precious earnest of thy love, which I have just received. Thou hast said, speaking of this ineffable gift: ‘As I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.’ [St. John vi. 58]. Henceforth, O Bread which came down from heaven! [Ibid. 51.] thou art the source of my life. Now, more than ever, my life belongs to thee. I give it unto thee. I dedicate unto thee my soul, my body, my faculties, my whole being. Do thou direct and govern me. I resign myself entirely into thy hands. I am blind, but thy light will guide me; I am weak, but thy power will uphold me; I am inconstant. but thy unchangeableness will give me stability. I trust unreservedly in thy mercy, which never abandons them that hope in thee.
O Mary! pray for me, that I lose not the fruit of this visit. Holy angels! watch over this dwelling-place of your Lord, which he has so mercifully chosen: let nothing defile it. O all ye saints of God! pray for the sinner, unto whom he has given this pledge of his divine pardon.
|Hodie, si vocem Domini audieritis, nolite obdurare corda vestra.||To-day if you shall hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts.|
The holy Church begins her night Office of this Sunday with these impressive words of the royal prophet. Formerly, the faithful considered it their duty to assist at the night Office, at least on Sundays and feasts; they would have grieved to lose the grand teachings given by the liturgy. Such fervour has long since died out; the assiduity at the Offices of the Church, which was the joy of our Catholic forefathers, has now become a thing of the past; and even in countries which have not apostatized from the faith, the clergy have ceased to celebrate publicly Offices at which no one assisted. Excepting in cathedral churches and in monasteries, the grand harmonious system of the divine praise has been abandoned, and the marvellous power of the liturgy has no longer its full influence upon the faithful.
This is our reason for drawing the attention of our readers to certain beauties of the Divine Office, which would otherwise be totally ignored. Thus, what can be more impressive than this solemn Invitatory of to-day’s Matins, which the Church takes from one of the psalms, and which she repeats on every feria between this and Maundy Thursday? She says; To-day, if ye will hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts! The sweet voice of your suffering Jesus now speaks to you, poor sinners! be not your own enemies by indifference and hardness of heart. The Son of God is about to give you the last and greatest proof of the love that brought Him down from heaven; His death is nigh at hand: men are preparing the wood for the immolation of the new Isaac: enter into yourselves, and let not your hearts, after being touched with grace, return to their former obduracy; for nothing could be more dangerous. The great anniversaries we are to celebrate have a renovating power for those souls that faithfully correspond with the grace which is offered them; but they increase insensibility in those who let them pass without working their conversion. To-day, therefore, if you hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts!
During the preceding four weeks, we have noticed how the malice of Jesus’ enemies has been gradually increasing. His very presence irritates them; and it is evident that any little circumstance will suffice to bring the deep and long-nurtured hatred to a head. The kind and gentle manners of Jesus are drawing to Him all hearts that are simple and upright; at the same time, the humble life He leads, and the stern purity of His doctrines, are perpetual sources of vexation and anger, both to the proud Jew that looks forward to the Messias being a mighty conqueror, and to the pharisee, who corrupts the Law of God, that he may make it the instrument of his own base passions. Still, Jesus goes on working miracles; His discourses are more than ever energetic; His prophecies foretell the fall of Jerusalem, and such a destruction of its famous temple, that not a stone is to be left on a stone. The doctors of the Law should, at least, reflect upon what they hear; they should examine these wonderful works, which render such strong testimony in favour of the Son of David; and they should consult these divine prophecies which, up to the present time, have been so literally fulfilled in His person. Alas! they themselves are about to carry them out to the very last iota. There is not a single outrage or suffering foretold by David and Isaias, as having to be put upon the Messias, which these blind men are not scheming to verify.
In them, therefore, was fulfilled that terrible saying: ‘He that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.' [St. Matt. xii. 32.] The Synagogue is nigh to a curse. Obstinate in her error, she refuses to see or to hear; she has deliberately perverted her judgment: she has extinguished within herself the light of the holy Spirit; she will go deeper and deeper into evil, and at length fall into the abyss. This same lamentable conduct is but too often witnessed nowadays in those sinners, who, by habitual resistance to the light, end by finding their happiness in sin. Neither should it surprise us, that we find in people of our own generation a resemblance to the murderers of our Jesus: the history of His Passion will reveal to us many sad secrets of the human heart and its perverse inclinations; for what happened in Jerusalem, happens also in every sinner’s heart. His heart, according to the saying of St. Paul, is a Calvary, where Jesus is crucified. There is the same ingratitude, the same blindness, the same wild madness, with this difference: that the sinner who is enlightened by faith, knows Him whom he crucifies; whereas the Jews, as the same apostle tells us, knew not the Lord of glory [1 Cor. ii. 8.] Whilst, therefore, we listen to the Gospel, which relates the history of the Passion, let us turn the indignation which we feel for the Jews against ourselves and our own sins; let us weep over the sufferings of our Victim, for our sins caused Him to suffer and die.
Everything around us urges us to mourn. The images of the saints, the very crucifix on our altar, are veiled from our sight. The Church is oppressed with grief. During the first four weeks of Lent, she compassionated her Jesus fasting in the desert; His coming sufferings and crucifixion and death are what now fill her with anguish. We read in to-day’s Gospel, that the Jews threaten to stone the Son of God as a blasphemer: but His hour is not yet come. He is obliged to flee and hide Himself. It is to express this deep humiliation, that the Church veils the cross. A God hiding Himself, that He may evade the anger of men - what a mystery! Is it weakness? Is it, that He fears death? No; we shall soon see Him going out to meet His enemies: but at present He hides Himself from them, because all that had been prophesied regarding Him has not been fulfilled. Besides, His death is not to be by stoning: He is to die upon a cross, the tree of malediction, which, from that time forward, is to be the tree of life. Let us humble ourselves, as we see the Creator of heaven and earth thus obliged to hide Himself from men, who are bent on His destruction! Let us go back, in thought, to the sad day of the first sin, when Adam and Eve bid themselves because a guilty conscience told them they were naked. Jesus has come to assure us of our being pardoned, and lo! He hides Himself, not because He is naked - He that is to the saints the garb of holiness and immortality - but because He made Himself weak, that He might make us strong. Our first parents sought to hide themselves from the sight of God; Jesus hides Himself from the eye of men. But it will not be thus for ever. The day will come when sinners, from whose anger He now flees, will pray to the mountains to fall on them and shield them from His gaze; but their prayer will not be granted, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with much power and majesty [St. Matt. xxiv. 30].
This Sunday is called Passion Sunday, because the Church begins, on this day, to make the sufferings of our Redeemer her chief thought. It is called also, Judica, from the first word of the Introit of the Mass; and again Neomania, that is, the Sunday of the new (or the Easter) moon, because it always falls after the new moon which regulates the feast of Easter.
In the Greek Church, this Sunday goes under the simple name of the fifth Sunday of the holy fast.
At Rome, the Station is in the basilica of St. Peter. The importance of this Sunday, which never gives way to any feast, no matter what its solemnity may be, required that the place for the assembly of the faithful should be in one of the chief sanctuaries of the holy city.
The Introit is taken from the first verses of Psalm xlii. The Messias appeals to God’s tribunal, and protests against the sentence about to be pronounced against Him by men. He likewise expresses his confidence in His Father’s help, who, after His sufferings and death, will lead Him in triumph into the holy mount.
|Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso eripe me: quia tu es Deus meus, et fortitudo mea.
Ps. Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam: ipsa me deduxerunt et adduxerunt in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernaculum tuum. Judica me.
|Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy; deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for thou art my God and my strength.
Ps. Send forth thy light and thy truth; for they have conducted me, and brought me to thy holy mount, and into thy tabernacles. Judge me, &c.
The Gloria Patri is not said during Passiontide and Holy Week (unless a saint’s feast be kept), but the Introit is repeated immediately after the Psalm.
In the Collect, the Church prays that there may be produced in her children that total reformation, which the holy season of Lent is intended to produce. This reformation is such, that it will not only subject the body to the spirit, but preserve also the spirit itself from those delusions and passions, to which it has been, hitherto, more or less a slave.
|Quaesumus, omnipotens Deus, familiam tuam propitius respice: ut, te largente, regatur in corpore, et te servante, custodiatur in mente. Per Dominum.||Mercifully look down on thy people, we beseech thee O almighty God, that by thy bounty and protection, they may be governed and guarded both in body and soul. Through, &c.|
Then is added one of the following prayers
|Ecclesiae tuae, quaesumus, Domine, preces placatus admitte: ut destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis, secura tibi serviat libertate. Per Dominum.||Mercifully hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayers of thy Church: that all oppositions and errors being removed, she may serve thee with a secure liberty. Through, etc.|
|Deus, omnium fidelium Pastor et Rector, famulum tuum N., quem Pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quaesumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus praeest, proficere; ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credi to, perveniat sempiternam. Per Dominum.||O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in thy mercy, on thy servant N., whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church: and grant we beseech thee, that both by word and example, he may edify all those that are under his charge: and, with the flock entrusted to him, arrive at length at eternal happiness. Through, &c.|
Lectio Epistolae beati Pauli Apostoli ad Hebraeos.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews.
It is by blood alone that man is to be redeemed. He has offended God. This God cannot be appeased by anything short of the extermination of His rebellious creature, who, by shedding his blood, will give an earnest of his repentance and his entire submission to the Creator, against whom he dared to rebel. Otherwise, the justice of God must be satisfied by the sinner’s suffering eternal punishment. This truth was understood by all the people of the ancient world, and all confessed it by shedding the blood of victims, as in the sacrifices of Abel at the very commencement of the world, in the hecatombs of Greece, in the countless immolations whereby Solomon dedicated the temple. And yet God thus speaks to His people: ‘Hear, O My people, and I will speak: O Israel, and I will testify to thee: I am God thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, and thy burnt-offerings are always in my sight. I will not take calves out of thy house, nor he-goats out of thy flocks. I need them not: for all the beasts of the woods are Mine. If I should be hungry I would not tell thee; for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof. Shall I eat the flesh of bullocks? or shall I drink the blood of goats?' [Ps. xlix. 7-13.] Thus, God commands the blood of victims to be offered to Him, and, at the same time, declares that neither it nor they are precious in His sight.
Is this a contradiction? No: God would hereby have man understand that it is only by blood that he can be redeemed, but that the blood of brute animals cannot effect this redemption. Can the blood of man himself bring him his own redemption, and appease God’s justice? No, not even man’s blood, for it is defiled; and even were it undefiled, it is powerless to compensate for the outrage done to God by sin. For this there was needed the Blood of a God; such was the Blood of Jesus, and He has come that He may shed it for our redemption.
In Him is fulfilled the most sacred of the figures of the old Law. Once each year, the high-priest entered into the Holy of holies, there to make intercession for the people. He went within the veil, even to the Ark of the Covenant; but he was not allowed to enjoy this great privilege, unless he entered the holy place carrying in his hands the blood of a newly-offered victim. The Son of God, the true High-Priest, is now about to enter heaven, and we are to follow Him thither; but unto this, He must have an offering of blood, and that Blood can be none other than His own. We are going to assist at this His compliance with the divine ordinance. Let us open our hearts, that this precious Blood may, as the apostle says in to-day’s Epistle, cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
The Gradual is taken from the Psalms. Our Saviour here prays to be delivered from His enemies, and protected from the rage of them that have risen up against Him; yet is He ready to do the will of His Father, by whom He will be avenged.
In the Tract, which is also taken from the Psalms, the Messias, under the name of Israel, complains of the persecution He has met with from the Jews, even from His youth. They are now about to scourge Him in a most cruel manner. But He also foretells the punishment their deicide is to bring upon them.
|Eripe me, Domine, de inimicis meis: doce me facere voluntatem tuam.
V. Liberator meus, Domine, de gentibus iracundis: ab insurgentibus in me exaltabis me: a viro iniquo eripies me.
|Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; teach me to do thy will.
V. Thou, O Lord, art my deliverer from the enraged Gentiles: thou wilt put me out of the reach of those that assault me; and thou wilt rescue me from the unrighteous man.
|Saepe expugnaverunt me a juventute mea.
V. Dicat nunc Israel; Saepe expugnaverunt me a juventute mea.
V. Etenim non potuerunt rnihi: supra dorsum meum fabricaverunt peccatores.
V. Prolongaverunt iniquitates suas: Dominus justus concidet cervices peccatorum.
|Many a time have they fought against me from my youth.
V. Let Israel now say: They have often attacked me from my youth.
V. But they could not prevail over me: the wicked have wrought upon my back.
V. They have lengthened their iniquity: the Lord who is just, will cut the necks of sinners.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
Sequel of the holy Gospel, according to John.
The fury of the Jews is evidently at its height, and Jesus is obliged to hide Himself from them. But He is to fall into their hands before many days are over; then will they triumph and put Him to death. They triumph, and Jesus is their victim: but how different is to be His lot from theirs! In obedience to the decrees of His heavenly Father, and out of love for men, he will deliver Himself into the hands of His enemies, and they will put Him to death; but He will rise victorious from the tomb, He will ascend into heaven, He will be throned on the right hand of His Father. His enemies, on the contrary, after having vented all their rage, will live on without remorse, until the terrible day come for their chastisement. That day is not far off, for observe the severity wherewith our Lord speaks to them: ‘You hear not the words of God, because you are not of God.’ Yet there was a time when they were of God, for the Lord gives His grace to all men; but they have rendered this grace useless; they are now in darkness, and the light they have rejected will not return.
You say that My Father is your God, and you have not known Him; but I know Him. Their obstinacy in refusing to acknowledge Jesus as the Messias, has led these men to ignore that very God, whom they boast of honouring; for if they knew the Father, they would not reject His Son. Moses, and the Psalms, and the Prophets, are all a dead letter to them; these sacred Books are soon to pass into the hands of the Gentiles, who will both read and understand them. If, continues Jesus, I should say that I know Him not, I should be like to you, a liar. This strong language is that of the angry Judge who is to come down, at the last day, to destroy sinners. Jerusalem has not known the time of her visitation: the Son of God has visited her, He is with her, and she dares to say to Him: Thou hast a devil! She says to the eternal Word, who proves Himself to be God by the most astonishing miracles, that Abraham and the prophets are greater than He! Strange blindness, that comes from pride and hardness of heart! The feast of the Pasch is at hand; these men are going to eat, and with much parade of religion, the flesh of the figurative lamb; they know full well that this lamb is a symbol, or a figure, which is to have its fulfilment. The true Lamb is to be sacrificed by their hands, and they will not know Him. He will shed His Blood for them, and it will not save them. How this reminds us of those sinners, for whom this Easter promises to be as fruitless as those of the past years! Let us redouble our prayers for them, and beseech our Lord to soften their hearts, lest trampling the Blood of Jesus under their feet, they should have it to cry vengeance against them before the throne of the heavenly Father.
At the Offertory, confiding in the merits of the Blood that has redeemed us, let us, in the words of the Psalm, give praise to God, and proclaim Him to be the author of that new life, of which the sacrifice of the Lamb is the never-failing source.
|Confitebor tibi, Domine, in toto corde meo: retribue servo tuo; vivam, et custodiam sermones tuos: vivifica me secundum verbum tuum, Domine.||I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: reward thy servant: I shall live, and keep thy commandments: save me according to thy word, O Lord.|
The Sacrifice of the spotless Lamb has produced two effects upon the sinner: it has broken his fetters, and has made him the object of God’s love. The Ohuroh prays, in the Secret, that the Sacrifice which she is about to offer, and which is one with that of the cross, may work the same results in us.
|Haec munera, quaesumus, Domine, et vincula nostrae pravitatis absolvant, et tuae nobis misericordiae dona concilient. Per Dominum.||May these offerings, O Lord, both loosen the bonds of our wickedness, and obtain for us the gifts of thy mercy. Through, &c.|
|Protege nos, Domine, tuis mysteriis servientes: ut divinis rebus inhaerentes, et corpore tibi famulemur et mente. Per Dominum.||Protect us, O Lord, while we assist at thy sacred mysteries: that being employed in acts of religion, we may serve thee both in body and mind. Through &c.|
|Oblatis, quaesumus, Domine, placare muneribus: et famulum tuum N. quem Pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti, assidua protectione guberna. Per Dominum.||Be appeased, O Lord, with the offering we have made: and cease not to protect thy servant N.. whom thou hast been pleased to appoint Pastor over thy Church. Through, &c.|
The Communion-antiphon is formed out of the very words spoken by Jesus, when instituting the august Sacrifice which has just been celebrated, and of which the priest and people have partaken, in memory of the Passion, for it renews both the remembrance and the merits of the Passion.
|Hoc corpus, quod pro vobis tradetur: hic calix novi testamenti est in meo sanguine, dicit Dominus: hoc facite, quotiesque sumitis, in meam commemorationem.||This is the body which shall be delivered up for you; this is the cup of the new covenant in my blood, saith the Lord. As often as you receive them, do it in remembrance of me.|
In the Postcommunion, the Church prays to God, that He would maintain in the faithful the fruits of the visit He has so graciously paid them; for, by their participation in the sacred mysteries, He has entered into them.
|Adesto nobis, Domine Deus noster: et, quos tuis mysteriis recreasti, perpetuis defende subsidiis. Per Dominum.||Help us, O Lord our God, and for ever protect those whom thou hast refreshed with thy sacred mysteries. Through, &c.|
|Quaesumus, Domine Deus noster: ut quos divina tribuis participatione gaudere, humanis non sinas subjacere periculis. Per Dominum.||We beseech thee, O Lord our God, not to leave exposed to the dangers of human life, those whom thou hast permitted to partake of these divine mysteries. Through, &c.|
|Haec nos quaesumus, Domine, divini Sacramenti perceptio protegat: et famulum tuum N. quem Pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti, una cum commisso sibi grege salvet semper et muniat. Per Dominum.||May the participation of this divine Sacrament protect us, we beseech thee, O Lord, and always procure safety and defence to thy servant N. whom thou hast appointed Pastor over the Church, together with the flock committed to his charge. Through &c.|
|Fratres: Christus assistens Pontifex futurorum bonorum, per amplius et perfectius tabernaculum non manufactum, id est, non hujus creationis, neque per sanguinem hircorum, aut vitulorum, sed per proprium sanguinem, introivit semel in Sancta, aeterna redemptione inventa.||Brethren: Christ being come as High Priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by his own Blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption.|
|Abraham pater vester exsultavit ut videret diem meum: vidit et gavisus est.||Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad.|
Quaesumus, omnipotens Deus familiam tuam propitius respice: ut, te largiente, regatur in corpore, et, te servante, custodiatur in mente. Per Dominum.
|LET US PRAY
Mercifully look down on thy people, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that by thy bounty and protection, they may be governed and guarded both in body and soul. Through, &c.
The following appropriate prayer is from the Mozarabic breviary.
|Passionis tuae festum, Christe Dei Filius, devotis cordium officiis, recursu temporis inchoantes, quo pro nobis et linguas fuisti persequentium passus, et tradentium te vulneribus crucifixus; rogamus atque exposcimus ne te elonges a nobis: ut quia proximante tribulatione, non est qui adjuvet; tu solus Passionis tuae nos subleves ope: ne tradas ergo nos inimicis nostris in malum, sed excipe servos tuos in bonum: ut nos calumniantes superbi, inimici scilicet animarum nostrarum, virtutis tam potentia propellantur; tu es enim divina lucerna per humanitatem super candelabrum crucis imposita; ideo te rogamus, ut nos accendas, ne veniamus in poenam. Quos ergo perspicis initiatum Passionis tuae festum devotis cordibus excepisse, facito eos Passioni tuae communicare: ut tenebrarum nostrarum errore discusso, lucis tuae muniamur praesidio.||The course of the year has brought us to the time for celebrating, with devout hearts and offices, the feast of thy Passion, O Jesus, Son of God! wherein, for our sake, thou didst suffer the calumnies of thine enemies, and wast crucified by the wounds of them that betrayed thee. We pray and beseech thee, that thou depart not from us: and whereas tribulation is nigh at hand, and there is none to help us, do thou, by the help of thy Passion, become our sole protector. Deliver us not, therefore, into the hands of our enemies unto evil, but receive us, as thy servants, unto good; that the haughty ones who calumniate us, namely the enemies of our souls, may be repelled by the might of thy power. Thou, by the human nature thou hast assumed, art the lamp set on the stand of the cross: we beseech thee, therefore, that thou enkindle us by thy flame, lest we become a prey to punishment. Behold us now entering, with devout hearts, upon the feast of thy Passion; oh! grant that we may partake of the merits of thy Passion: that thus, being delivered from the error of our darkness, we may be fortified by the help of thy light.|
That we may the better honour the holy cross, we give, for each day of this week, an appropriate hymn from one or other of the various ancient liturgies. The one we have selected for to-day is the composition of St. Venantius Fortunatus, bishop of Poitiers.
Crux benedicta nitet, Dominus qua carne pependit.
Atque cruore suo vulnera nostra lavat.
Mitis amore pio pro nobis victima factus,
Transfixis palmis ubi mundum a clade redemit,
Hic manus illa fuit clavis confixa cruentis.
Fertilitate potens, o dulce et nobile lignum,
Cujus odore novo defuncta cadavera surgunt,
Nullum uret aestus sub frondibus arboris hujus:
Tu plantata micas secus est ubi cursus aquarum:
Appensa est vitis inter tua brachia, de qua
Brightly shineth the blessed cross, whereon hung the Body of our Lord, when, with his Blood, he washed our wounds.
Become, out of tender love for us, a meek Victim, this divine Lamb did by the cross rescue us his sheep from the jaws of the wolf.
'Twas there, with his hands nailed to the wood, that he redeemed the world from ruin, and by his own death, closed the way of death.
Here was fastened with cruel nails that hand which delivered Paul from sin, and Peter from death.
O sweet and noble tree! how vigorous in thy growth, when, on thy branches, hang fruits so rare as these!
Thy fresh fragrance gives resurrection to many that lay in the tomb, and restores the dead to life.
He that shelters beneath thy shade, shall not be scorched either by the moon at night or by the midday sun.
Planted near the running waters, thou art lovely in thy verdure, and blossoms ever fresh blow on each fair branch.
Between thine arms hangs the pendant Vine, whence wine most sweet flows in a ruddy stream
This morning, also, Jesus goes with his Disciples to Jerusalem. He is fasting, for the Gospel tells us, that he was hungry [St Matth. xxi. 18]. He approaches a fig-tree, which is by the way-side; but finds nothing on it, save leaves only. Jesus, wishing to give us an instruction, curses the fig-tree, which immediately withers away. He would hereby teach us what they are to expect, who have nothing but good desires, and never produce in themselves the fruit of a real conversion. Nor is the allusion to Jerusalem less evident. This City is zealous for the exterior of Divine Worship; but her heart is hard and obstinate, and she is plotting, at this very hour, the death of the Son of God.
The greater portion of the day is spent in the Temple, where Jesus holds long conversations with the Chief Priests and Ancients of the people. His language to them is stronger than ever, and triumphs over all their captious questions. It is principally in the Gospel of St. Matthew [Chapters xxi. xxii. and xxiii.] that we shall find these answers of our Redeemer, which so energetically accuse the Jews of their sin of rejecting the Messias, and so plainly foretell the punishment their sin is to bring after it.
At length, Jesus leaves the Temple, and takes the road that leads to Bethania. Having come as far as Mount Olivet, which commands a view of Jerusalem, he sits down, and rests awhile. The Disciples make this an opportunity for asking him, how soon the chastisements he has been speaking of in the Temple will come upon the City. His answer comprises two events: the destruction of Jerusalem, and the final destruction of the world. He thus teaches them that the first is a figure of the second. The time when each is to happen, is to be when the measure of iniquity is filled up. But, with regard to the chastisement that is to befall Jerusalem, he gives this more definite answer: 'Amen I say to you: this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.' [St Matth. xxiv 34.] History tells us how this prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled: forty years had scarcely elapsed after his Ascension when the Roman army encamped on this very place where he is now speaking to his Disciples, and laid siege to the ungrateful and wicked City. After giving a prophetic description of that Last Judgment, which is to rectify all the unjust judgments of men, he leaves Mount Olivet, returns to Bethania, and consoles the anxious heart of his most holy Mother.
The Station, at Rome, is in the Church of Saint Praxedes. It was in this Church, that Pope Paschal the Second, in the 9th century, placed two thousand three hundred bodies of holy Martyrs, which he had ordered to be taken out of the Catacombs. The Pillar, to which our Saviour was tied during his scourging, is also here.
The Introit is taken from the 34fth Psalm. Jesus, by these words of the "Royal Prophet, prays to his Eternal Father, that he would defend him against his enemies.
|Judica, Domine, nocentes me, expugna impugnantes me: apprehende arma et scutim, et exsurge in adjutorium meum, Domine virtus salutis meae.
Ps. Effunde frameam, et conclude adversus eos qui persequuntur me: die animae meae: Salus tua ego sum.
|Judge thou, Lord, them that wrong me; overthrow them that fight against me: take hold of arms and shield, and rise up to help me, O Lord, my mighty deliverer.
Ps. Bring out the sword, and shut up the way against them that persecute me; say to my soul, I am thy salvation.
Judge thou, &c.
In the Collect, the Church teaches us to have recourse to the merits of our Savior's Passion, in order that we may obtain from God the help we stand in need of amidst our many miseries.
|Da, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui in tot adversis ex nostra infirmitate deficimus, intercedente unigeniti Filii tui Passione respiremus. Qui tecum.||Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we, who through our weakness, faint under so many adversities, may recover by the Passion of thy Only Begotten Son. Who liveth, etc.|
Then is added one of the following Collects.
AGAINST THE PERSECUTORS OF THE CHURCH.
|Ecclesiae tuae, quaesumus, Domine, preces placatus admitte: ut destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis, secura tibi serviat libertate. Per Dominum.||Mercifully hear, we beseech thee, Lord, the prayers of thy Church: that all oppositions and errors being removed, she may serve thee with a secure liberty. Through, etc.|
FOR THE POPE (when legitimate Pope sits in the Chair of Peter).
|Deus, omnium fidelium pastor et rector, famulum tuum N. quem pastorem Ecclesiae tuae prseesse voluisti propitius respice: da ei,quaesumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus praeeest, proficere: ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credito, perveniat sempiternam. Per Dominum.||O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the Faithful, look down, in thy mercy, on thy servant N., whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church; and grant, we beseech thee, that both by word and example, he may edify all those that are under his charge; and with the flock entrusted to him, arrive at length at eternal happiness. Through, etc.|
Lectio Isaiae Prophetae.
Lesson from Isaias the Prophet.
The Sufferings of our Redeemer, and the patience wherewith he is to bear them, are thus prophesied by Isaias, who is always so explicit on the Passion. Jesus has accepted the office of Victim for the world's salvation; he shrinks from no pain or humiliation: He turns not his Face from them that strike him and spit upon him. What reparation can we make to this Infinite Majesty, who, that he might save us, submitted to such outrages as these? Observe these vile and cruel enemies of our Divine Lord: now that they have him in their power, they fear him not. When they came to seize him in the Garden, he had but to speak, and they fell back upon the ground; but he has now permitted them to bind his hands and lead him to the High Priest. They accuse him; they cry out against him; and he answers but a few words. Jesus of Nazareth, the great Teacher, the wonder-worker, has seemingly lost all his influence; they can do what they will with him. It is thus with the sinner; when the thunder-storm is over, and the lightning has not struck him, he regains his courage. The holy Angels look on with amazement at the treatment shown by the Jews to Jesus, and falling down, they adore the Holy Face, which they see thus bruised and defiled: let us, also, prostrate and ask pardon for our sins have outraged that same Face.
But let us hearken to the last words of our Epistle: He that hath walked in darkness, and hath no lights let him hope in the name of the Lord and lean upon his God. Who is this but the Gentile, abandoned to sin and idolatry? He knows not what is happening at this very hour in Jerusalem; he knows not that the earth possesses its Savior, and that this Savior is being trampled beneath the feet of his own chosen people: but, in a very short time, the light of the Gospel will shine upon this poor Gentile: he will believe; he will obey; he will love his Redeemer, even to the laying down his life for him. Then will be fulfilled the prophecy of the unworthy Pontiff, who prophesied against his will that the death of Jesus would bring salvation to the Gentiles, by gathering into one family the children of God, that hitherto had been dispersed [St. John, xi. 52].
In the Gradual, the Royal Prophet again calls down, on the executioners of our Lord, the chastisements they have deserved by their ingratitude and their obstinacy in sin.
The Tract is the one used by the Church on every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, during Lent. It is a prayer, begging God to bless the works of penance done during this holy Season.
|Exsurge, Domine, et intende judicio meo, Deus meus et Dominus meus, in causam meam.
V. Effunde frameam, et conclude adversus eos qui me persequuntur.
|Arise, O Lord, and be attentive to my trial; my God and my Lord, undertake my cause.
V. Draw thy sword, and stop those that are in pursuit of me.
|V. Domine, non secundum peccata nostra, quae fecimus nos: neque secundum iniquitates nostras retribuas nobis.
V. Domine, ne memineris iniquitatum nostrarum antiquarum: cito anticipent nos misericordiae tuae, quia pauperes facti sumus nimis.
V. Adjuva nos, Deus salutaris noster: et propter gloriam Nominis tui, Domine, libera nos: et propitius esto peccatis nostris propter Nomen tuum.
|V. O Lord, deal not with us according to our sins, which we have done, nor reward us according to our iniquities.
V. O Lord remember not our former iniquities: let thy mercies speedily prevent us, for we are become exceeding poor.
V. Help us, God, our Savior: and for the glory of thy Name, Lord, deliver us: and forgive us our sins, for thy Name's sake.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii, secundum Joannem.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.
As we have already said, the event related in this passage of the Gospel took place on Saturday, the eve of Palm Sunday; but, as formerly there was no Station for that day, the reading of this Gospel was deferred till the following Monday. The Church brings this episode of the last days of our Savior before us, because it enables us to have a clearer understanding of the history of the Passion.
Mary Magdalene, whose conversion was the subject of our meditation a few days back, is a prominent figure in the Passion and Resurrection of her Divine Master. She is the type of a soul that has been purified by grace, and then admitted to the enjoyment of God's choicest favors. It is of importance that we study her in each of the several phases; through which divine grace led her. We have already seen how she keeps close to her Savior and supplies his sacred wants; elsewhere, we shall find Jesus giving the preference to her over her sister Martha, and this because Mary chose a better part than Martha; but now, during these days of Passion-tide, it is her tender love for Jesus that makes her dear to us. She knows that the Jews are plotting Jesus' death; the Holy Ghost, who guides her through the different degrees of perfection, inspires her, on the occasion mentioned in to-day's Gospel, to the performance of an action which prophesied what she most dreaded.
One of the three gifts offered by the Magi to the Divine Infant, was Myrrh; it is an emblem of death, and the Gospel tells us that it was used at the Burial of our Lord. Magdalene, on the day of her conversion, testified the earnestness of her change of heart by pouring on the feet of Jesus the most precious of her perfumes. She gives him, to-day, the same proof of her love. Her divine Master is invited by Simon the Leper to a feast: his Blessed Mother and his Disciples are among the guests: Martha is busy, looking after the service. Outwardly, there is no disturbance; but inwardly, there are sad forebodings. During the repast, Magdalene is seen entering the room, holding in her hand a vase of precious spikenard. She advances towards Jesus, kneels at his feet, anoints them with the perfume, and wipes them with her hair, as on the previous occasion.
Jesus lay on one of those couches, which were used by the Eastern people during their repasts. Magdalene, therefore, could easily take her favorite place at Jesus' feet, and give him the same proof of her love as she had already done in the Pharisee's house. The Evangelist does not say that this time, she shed tears. St. Matthew [St. Matth., xxvi 7], and St. Mark [St. Mark, xiv. 3] add, that she poured the ointment on his head also. Whether or no Magdalene herself understood the full import of what the Holy Ghost inspired her to do, the Gospel does not say; but Jesus himself revealed the mystery to his Disciples, and we gather from his words that this action of Magdalene was, in a certain manner, the commencement of his Passion: She, in pouring this ointment upon my body, hath done it for my burial [St. Matth., xxvi. 12].
The fragrance of the Ointment fills the whole house. One of the Disciples, Judas Iscariot, dares to protest against this waste, as he calls it. His base avarice deprives him of feeling and respect for his Divine Master. His opinion was shared in by several of the other Disciples, for they were still carnal-minded. For several reasons Jesus permits Magdalene's generosity to be thus blamed. And firstly, he wishes to announce his approaching death, which is mystically expressed by the pouring of this ointment upon his body. Then, too, he would glorify Magdalene; and he therefore tells them that are present, that her tender and ardent love shall be rewarded, and that her name shall be celebrated in every country, whosesoever the Gospel shall be preached [Ibid. 13]. And lastly, he would console those whose generous love prompts them to be liberal in their gifts to his Altars, for what he here says of Magdalene is, in reality, a defense for them, when they are accused of spending too much over the beauty of God's House.
Let us prize each of these divine teachings. Let us love to honor Jesus, both in his own person, and in his poor. Let us honor Magdalene, and imitate her devotion to the Passion and Death of our Lord. In fine, let us prepare our perfumes for our Divine Master; there must be the myrrh of the Magi, which signifies penance, and the precious Spikenard of Magdalene, which is the emblem of generous and compassionating love.
In the Offertory, our Redeemer implores his Eternal Father to deliver him from his enemies, and to fulfill the decrees regarding the salvation of mankind
|Eripe me de inimicis meis, Domine: ad te confugi, doce me facere voluntatem tuam: quia Deus meus es tu.||Deliver me from my enemies, Lord; to thee have I fled, teach me to do thy will, because thou art my God.|
The Secret tells us the wonderful power of the Sacred Mysteries. Not only does this Sacrifice purify our souls; it also raises them to perfect union with Him who is their Creator.
|Haec sacrificia nos, omnipotens Deus, potenti virtute mundatos, ad suum faciant puriores venire principium. Per Dominum.||Grant, O Almighty God, that being purified by the powerful virtue of this sacrifice, we may arrive with greater purity to the author and institutor thereof. Through, &c|
Then is added one of the following Prayers:
AGAINST THE PERSECUTORS OF THE CHURCH.
|Protege nos, Domine, tuis mysteriis servientes: ut divinis rebus inhaerentes, et corpore tibi famulemur et mente. Per Dominum.||Protect us, Lord, while we assist at thy sacred mysteries: that being employed in acts of religion, we may serve thee both in body and mind. Through, &c.|
FOR THE POPE.
|Oblatis, quaesumus, Domine, placare muneribus: et famulum tuum N. quem pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti, assidua protectione guberna. Per Dominum. &c.||Be appeased, O Lord, with the offering we have made: and cease not to protect thy Servant N., whom thou hast been pleased to appoint Pastor over thy Church. Through, &c.|
After the Faithful have partaken of the Divine Mystery, there is read, in the Communion-Anthem, a malediction against the enemies of our Saviour. Thus does God act in his government of the world: they who refuse his mercy, cannot escape his justice.
|Erubescant, et revereantur simul, qui gratulantur malis meis: induantur pudore et reverentia, qui maligna loquuntur adversus me.||Let them blush, and be ashamed, who rejoice at my misfortunes; let them be covered with shame and confusion, who speak maliciously against me.|
The Church concludes her Prayers of this morning's Sacrifice, by begging that her children may persevere in the holy fervour, which they have received at its very source.
|Praebeant nobis, Domine, divinum tua Sancta fervorem; quo eorum pariter et actu delectemur et fructu. Per Dominum.||Let thy holy mysteries, Lord, inspire us with divine fervour; that we may delight both in their effect and celebration. Through, &c.|
To this is added one of the following:
AGAINST THE PERSECUTORS OF THE CHURCH.
|Quaesumus, Domine Deus noster: ut quos divina tribuis participatione gaudere, humanis non sinas subjacere periculis. Per Dominum, &c.||We beseech thee, Lord our God, not to leave exposed to the dangers of human life, those whom thou hast permitted to partake of these divine mysteries. Through, &c.|
FOR THE POPE.
|Haec nos, quaesumus, Domine, divini sacramenti perceptio protegat: et famulum tuum N. quem pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti, una cum commisso sibi grege salvet semper, et muniat. PerDominum.||May the participation of this divine Sacrament protect us, we beseech thee, O Lord; and always procure safety and defence to thy Servant N. whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church, together with the flock committed to his charge. Through, &c.|
Humiliate capita vestra Deo.
Adjuva nos, Deus salutaris noster; et ad beneficia recolenda, quibus nos instaurare dignatus es, tribue venire gaudentes. Per Dominum
|LET US PRAY.
Bow down your heads to God.
Help us, O God, our salvation; and grant that we may celebrate with joy the memory of these benefits, by which thou hast been pleased to redeem us. Through, etc.
As an appropriate conclusion to this day, we may use the following beautiful Prayer, taken from the ancient Gallican Liturgy:
(Oratio ad Sextam.)
|Christe Deus, Adonai mag ne, nos tecum quasi huic mundo crucifige; ut vita tua in nobis sit: nostraque peccata super te pone, ut ea crucifigas: nos quoque ad teipsum trahe, cum pro nobis exaltatus es a terra, ut nos eripias ab adultero tyranno: quia licet carne et vitiis diabolo noxii sumus; tibi tamen, non illi optamus servire: et sub tuo jure vivere desideramus, et a te gubernari rogamus; qui nos mortales et a morte invasos, per mortem crucis liberare voluist. Pro quo singulari beneficio hodierna tibi nostra famulatur devotio: teque nunc hodie supplices adoramus, imploramus, invocamus; ut ad nos properes, virtus aeterna Deus: quod nobis proficiat tua crux, triumjphans scilicet de mundo in nobis per crucis virtutem: atque tua pietas nobis illud antiquum restituat beneficium, virtute scilicet et gratia: qui per potentiam futura praeterita; per praesentiam facis similiter praeterita praesentia: redde, ut nobis tua Passio salutaris sit, quasi praesens et hodiema; et sic nobis hodie, illa gutta sancti sanguinis super terram olim de cruce stiliantis, sit salus: ut omnia terrae nostras delicta lavans, et corporis nostri humo quodam modo immixta, nos de terra tuos efficiat; nos quoque tibi quasi corpus idem reconciliati capitis. Qui regnas cum Patre semper et Spiritu Sancto; nunc nobis regnare incipe, Homo Deus, Christi Jesu, Rex in saecula saeculorum.||O great and Sovereign Lord ! (Adonai!) Christ our God ! crucify us, with thyself, to this world, that so thy life may be in us. Take upon thee our sins, that thou mayst crucify them. Draw us unto thyself, since it was for our sakes that thou wast raised up from the earth; and thus snatch us from the power of the unclean tyrant: for, though by flesh and our sins, we be exposed to the insults of the devil, yet do we desire to serve, not him, but thee. We would be thy subjects; we ask to be governed by thee; for, by thy death on the cross, thou didst deliver us, who are mortals and surrounded by death. It is to bless thee for this wonderful favor, that we this day offer thee our devoted ser vice; and humbly adoring thee, we now implore and beseech thee, to hasten to our assistance, O thou our God, the Eternal and Almighty! Let thy Cross thus profit us unto good, that thou, by its power, mayst triumph over the world in us, and thine own mercy restore us, by thy might and grace, to the ancient blessing. O thou, whose power hath turned the future into the past, and whose presence maketh the past to be present, - grant, that thy Passion may avail us to salvation, as though it were accomplished now on this very day. May the drops of thy holy Blood, which heretofore fell upon the earth from the Cross, be our present salvation: may it wash away all the sins of our earthly nature, and be, so to say, commingled with the earth of our body, rendering it all thine, since we, by our reconciliation with thee, our Head, have been made one body with thee. Thou that ever reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, now, begin to reign over us, O God- Man, Christ Jesus, King for ever and ever !|
To-day, again, our Savior sets out in the morning for Jerusalem. His intention is to repair to the temple, and continue his yesterday's teachings. It is evident that his mission on earth is fast drawing to its close. He says to his Disciples: You know that after two days shall be the Pasch, and the Son of Man shall be delivered up to be crucified. [St Matth., xxvi. 2].
On the road from Bethania to Jerusalem, the Disciples are surprised at seeing the fig-tree, which their Divine Master had yesterday cursed, now dead. Addressing himself to Jesus, Peter says: Rabbi, behold, the fig-tree, which thou didst curse, is withered away? [St Mark, xi. 21]. In order to teach us that the whole of material nature is subservient to the spiritual element, when this last is united to God by faith, - Jesus replies: Rave the faith of God. Amen I say to you, that whosoever shall say to this mountain: Be thou removed and cast into the sea! and shall not stagger in his heart, but believe, that whatsoever he saith shall be done, it shall be done unto him [St Mark xi,22, 23].
Having entered the City, Jesus directs his steps towards the Temple. No sooner has he entered, than the Chief Priests, the Scribes, and the Ancients of the people, accost him with these words: By what authority dost thou these things? [St Mark, xi. 28] and who has given thee this authority, that thou shouldst do these things? We shall find our Lord's answer given in the Gospel. Our object is to mention the leading events of the last days of our Redeemer on earth; the holy Volume will supply the details.
As on the two preceding days, Jesus leaves the City towards evening: he passes over Mount Olivet, and returns to Bethania, where he finds his Blessed Mother and his devoted friends.
In to-day's Mass, the Church reads the history of the Passion according to St. Mark, who wrote his Gospel the next after St. Matthew: hence it is, that the second place is assigned to him. His account of the Passion is shorter than St. Matthew's, of which it would often seem to be a summary; and yet certain details are peculiar to this Evangelist, and prove him to have been an eye-witness. Our readers are aware that St. Mark was the disciple of St. Peter, and that his Gospel was written under the very eye of the Prince of the Apostles.
In Rome, the Station for to-day is in the Church of St. Prisca, which is said to have been the house of Aquila and his wife Prisca, to whom St Paul sends his salutations, in his Epistle to the Romans, In the 3rd century, Pope St. Eutychian had translated thither, on account of the sameness of the name, the body of St. Prisca, a Virgin and Martyr of Rome.
Three days hence, and the Cross will be lifted up on Calvary, bearing upon itself the Author of our Salvation. The Church, in the Introit of to-day's Mass, bids us at once pay our homage to this trophy of our victory, and glory in it.
|Nos autem gloriari oportet in cruce Domini nostri Jesu Christi: in quo est salus, vita, et resurrectio nostra, per quem salvati, et liberati sumus.
Ps. Deus misereatur nos tri, et benedicat nobis: illuminet vultum suum super nos, et misereatur nostri. Nos autem.
|We ought to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection, by whom we have been saved and delivered.
Ps. May God have mercy on us, and bless us; may his countenance shine upon us, and may he have mercy on us. We ought, etc.
In the Collect, the Church prays that the sacred anniversaries of our Saviour's Passion may be to us a source of pardon; and that they may work in as a full reconciliation with the Divine Justice.
|Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, da nobis ita Dominicae Passionis sacramenta peragere, ut indulgentiam percipere mereamur. Per eumdem.||O Almighty and everlasting God, grant that we may so celebrate the mysteries of our Lord's Passion, as to obtain thy pardon. Through the same, &c.|
For the other Collect, see Passion Sunday.
Lectio Jeremiae Prophetae.
Lesson from Jeremias the Prophet.
Again, we have the plaintive words of Jeremias; he gives us the very words used by his enemies, when they conspired his death. It is evident, however, that the Prophet is here a figure of one greater than himself. Let us, say these enemies, put wood upon his bread: that is, let us put poisonous wood into what he eats, that so we may cause his death. This is the literal sense of these words, as applied to the Prophet; but how much more truly were they fulfilled in our Redeemer! He tells us, that his Divine Flesh is the True Bread that came down from heaven. This Bread, this Body of the Man-God, is bruised, torn, and wounded; the Jews nail it to the Wood; so that, it is, in a manner, made one with the Wood, and the Wood is all covered with Jesus' Blood. This Lamb of God was immolated on the Wood of the Cross: it is by his immolation, that we have had given to us a Sacrifice, which is worthy of God; and it is by this Sacrifice, that we participate in the Bread of Heaven, the Flesh of the Lamb, our true Pasch.
The Gradual, which is taken from the 34th Psalm, shows us the humility and meekness of our Jesus under his sufferings. How they contrast with the haughty pride of his enemies 1
|Ego autem, dum mihi molesti essent, induebam me cilicio, et humiliabam in jejunio animam meam: et oratio mea in sinu meo convertetur.
V. Judica, Domine, nocentes me, expugna impugnantes me: apprehende arma et scutum, et exsurge in adjutorium mihi.
|When they were troublesome to me, I clothed myself with hair-cloth, and I humbled my soul with fasting; and I will yet continue to pour forth my prayer in my bosom.
V. Judge thou, O Lord, them that wrong me, overthrow them that fight against me; take hold of arms and shield, and rise to help me.
After the Gradual, is sung the Passion according to Saint Mark. The same ceremonies are observed as during the Passion, which was read to us on Sunday, excepting only what regarded the Palms.
Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Marcum.
Cap. xiv. et xv.
Et cum esset Jesus Bethaniae in domo Simonis leprosi, et recumberet: venit mulier habens alabastrum unguenti nardi spicati pretiosi, et fracto alabastro, effudit super caput ejus. Erant autem quidam indigne ferentes intra semetipsos, et dicentes: Ut quid perditio ista unguenti facta est? Poterat enim unguentum istud venundari plus quam trecentis denariis, et dari pauperibus. Et fremebant in eam. Jesus autem dixit: Sinite eam: quid illi molesti est is? Bonum opus operata est in me. Semper enim pauperes habetis vobiscum, et cum volueritis, potestis illis benefacere: me autem non semper habetis. Quod habuit haec, fecit: praevenit ungere corpus meum in sepulturam. Amen dico vobis: Ubicumque praedicatum fuerit evangelium istud in universo mundo, et quod fecit haec, narrabitur in memoriam ejus.
Et Judas Iscariotes unus de duodecim abiit ad summos sacerdotes, ut proderet eum illis. Qui audientes, gavisi sunt: et promiserunt ei pecuniam se daturos. Et quaerebat, quomodo illum opportune traderet.
Et primo die Azymorum, quando Pascha immolabant, dicunt ei discipuli: Quo vis eamus, et paremus tibi, ut manduces Pascha? Et mittit duos ex discipulis suis, et dicit eis: Ite in civitatem: et occurret vobis homo lagenam aquae bajulans; sequimini eum: et quocumque introierit, dicite domino domus, quia Magister dicit: Ubi est refectio mea, ubi Pascha cum discipulis meis manducem? Et ipse vobis demonstrabit coenaculum grande, stratum, et illic parate nobis. Et abierunt discipuli ejus, et venerunt in civitatem: et invenerunt sicut dixerat illis, et paraverunt Pascha.
Vespere autem facto, venit cum duodecim. Et discumbentibus eis, et manducantibus ait Jesus: Amen dico vobis, quia unus ex vobis tradet me, qui manducat mecum. At illi coeperunt contristari, et dicere ei singulatim: numquid ego? Qui ait illis: unus ex duodecim, qui intingit mecum manum in catino. Et Filius quidem hominis vadit, sicut scriptum est de eo; va autem homini illi, per quem Filius hominis tradetur. Bonum erat ei, si non esset natus homo ille. Et manducantibus illis, accepit Jesus panem: et benedicens fregit, et dedit eis, et ait: Sumite: hoc est corpus meum. Et accepto calice, gratias agens dedit eis: et biberunt ex illo omnes. Et ait illis : Hic est sanguis meus novi testamenti, qui pro multis effundetur. Amen dico vobis: quia jam non bibam de hoc genimine vitis, usque in diem illum, cum illud bibam novum in regno Dei.
Et hymno dicto, exierunt in montem Olivarum. Et ait eis Jesus: Omnes scandalizabimini in me, in nocte ista, quia scriptum est: Percutiam pastorem, et dispergentur oves: sed postquam resurrexero, praecedam vos in Galilaeam. Petrus autem ait illi: Et si omnes scandalizati fuerint in te, sed non ego. Et ait illi Jesus: Amen dico tibi, quia tu hodie in nocte hac, priusquam gallus vocem bis dederit, ter me es negaturus. At illi amplius loquebatur: Et si opportuerit me simul commori tibi, non te negabo. Similiter autem et omnes dicebant.
Et veniunt in praedium, cui nomen Gethsemani, et ait discipulis suis: Sedete hic donee orem. Et assumit Petrum, et Jacobum et Joannem secum: et coepit pavere, et taedere. Et ait illis: Tristis est anima mea usque ad mortem. Sustinete hic, et vigilate. Et cum processisset paululum, procidit super terram: et orabat, ut si fieri posset, transiret ab eo hora: et dixit: Abba Pater, omnia tibi possibilia sunt: transfer calicem hunc a me. Sed non quod ego volo: sed quod tu. Et venit, et invenit eos dormientes. Et ait Petro: Simon dormis? Non potuisti una hora vigilare? Vigilate, et orate, ut non intretis in tentationem. Spiritus quidem promptus est, caro vero infirma. Et iterum abiens oravit, eumdem sermonem dicens. Et reversus, denuo invenit eos dormientes (erant enim oculi eorum gravati), et ignorabant quid responderent ei. Et venit tertio, et ait illis: Dormite jam, et requiescite. Sufficit: venit hora: ecce Filius hominis tradetur in manus peccatorum. Surgite, eamus: ecce, qui me tradet, prope est.
Et adhuc eo loquente venit Judas Iscariotes unus de duodecim, et cum eo turba multa cum gladiis et lignis a summis sacerdotibus, et scribis et senioribus. Dederat autem traditor ejus signum eis, dicens: Quemcumque osculatus fuero, ipse est: tenete eum, et ducite caute. Et cum venisset, statim accedens ad eum ait: Ave Rabbi! Et osculatus est eum. At illi manus injecerunt in eum et tenuerunt eum. Unus autem quidam de circumstantibus educens gladium, percussit servum summi sacerdotis: et amputavit illi auriculam. Et respondens Jesus ait illis: Tanquam ad latronem existis cum gladiis et lignis comprehendere me? Quotidie eram apud vos in templo docens, et non me tenuistis. Sed ut impleantur Scripturae. Tunc discipuli ejus relinquentes eum, omnes fugerunt. Adolescens autem quidam sequebatur eum amictus sindone super nudo: et tenuerunt eum. At ille rejecta sindone, nudus profugit ab eis.
Et adduxerunt Jesum ad summum sacerdotem: et convenerunt omnes sacerdotes, et scribae et seniores. Petrus autem a longe secutus est eum, usque intro in atrium summi sacerdotis: et sedebat cum ministris ad ignem, et calefaciebat se. Summi vero sacerdotes et omne concilium quaerebant adversus Jesum testimonium, ut eum morti traderent; nec inveniebant.
Multi enim testimonium falsum dicebant adversus eum: et convenientia testimonia non erant. Et quidam surgentes, falsum testimonium ferebant adversus eum, dicentes: Quoniam nos audivimus eum dicentem: Ego dissolvam templum hoc manufactum: et per triduum, aliud non manufactum aedificabo. Et non erat conveniens testimonium illorum.
Et exsurgens summus sacerdos in medium, interrogavit Jesum, dicens: Non respondes quidquam ad ea, quae tibi objiciuntur ab his? Ille autem tacebat, et nihil respondit. Rursum summus sacerdos interrogabat eum, et dixit ei: Tu es Christus Filius Dei benedicti? Jesus autem dixit illi: Ego sum. Et videbitis Filium hominis sedentem a dextris virtutis Dei, et venientem cum nubibus coeli. Summus autem sacerdos scindens vestimenta sua, ait: Quid adhuc desideramus testes? Audistis blasphemiam. Quid vobis videtur? Qui omnes condemnaverunt eum esse reum mortis. Et coeperunt quidam conspuere eum, et velare faciem ejus, et colaphis eum caedere, et dicere ei: Prophetiza. Et ministri alapis eum caedebant.
Et cum esset Petrus in atrio deorsum, venit una ex ancillis summi sacerdotis: et cum vidisset Petrum calefacientem se, aspiciens illum, ait: Et tu cum Jesu Nazareno eras. At ille negavit, dicens: Neque scio, neque novi quid dicas. Et exiit foras ante atrium: et gallus cantavit. Rursus autem, cum vidisset illum ancilla, coepit dicere circumstantibus: Quia hic ex illis est. At ille iterum negavit. Et post pusillum, rursus qui astabant, dicebant Petro: Vere ex illis es: nam et Galilaeus es. Ille autem coepit anathematizare et jurare: quia nescio hominem istum quem dicitis. Et statim gallus iterum cantavit. Et recordatus est Petrus verbi, quod dixerat ei Jesus : Priusquam gallus cantet bis, ter me negabis. Et coepit flere.
Et confestim mane consilium facientes summi sacerdotes cum senioribus, et scribis, et universo concilio, vincientes Jesum, duxerunt, et tradiderunt Pilato. Et interrogavit eum Pilatus: Tu es Rex Judaeorum? At ille respondens, ait illi: Tu dicis. Et accusabant eum summi sacerdotes in multis. Pilatus autem rursum interrogavit eum, dicens: Non respondes quidquam? Vide, in quantis te accusant. Jesus autem amplius nihil respondit: ita ut miraretur Pilatus.
Per diem autem festum solebat dimittere illis unum ex vinctis quemcumque petiissent. Erat autem qui dicebatur Barabbas, qui cum seditiosis erat vinctus, qui in seditione fecerat homicidium. Et cum ascendisset turba, coepit rogare, sicut semper faciebat illis. Pilatus autem respondit eis, et dixit: Vultis dimittam vobis Regem Judaeorum? Sciebat enim quod per invidiam tradidissent eum summi sacerdotes. Pontifices autem concitaverunt turbam ut.magis Barabbam dimitteret eis. Pilatus autem iterum respondens, ait illis: Quid ergo vultis faciam Regi Judaeorum? At illi iterum clamaverunt: Crucifige eum. Pilatus vero dicebat illis: Quid enim mali fecit? At illi magis clamabant: Crucifige eum.
Pilatus autem volens populo satisfacere, dimisit illis Barabbam, et tradidit Jesum flagellis caesum, ut crucifigeretur. Milites autem duxerunt eum in atrium praetorii, et convocant totam cohortem: et induunt eum purpura, et imponunt ei plectentes spineam coronam. Et coeperunt salutare eum: Ave, Rex Judaeorum. Et percutiebant caput ejus arundine: et conspuebant eum, et ponentes genua, adorabant eum.
Et postquam illuserunt ei, exuerunt illum purpura, et induerunt eum vestimentis suis, et educunt illum, ut crucifigerent eum. Et angariaverunt praeteruntem quempiam Simonem Cyrenaeum venientem de villa, patrem Alexandri et Rufi, ut tolleret crucem ejus. Et perducunt illum in Golgotha locum: quod est interpretatum, Calvariae locus. Et dabant ei bibere myrrhatum vinum: et non accepit. Et crucifigentes eum diviserunt vestimenta ejus, mittentes sortem super eis, quis quid tolleret. Erat autem hora tertia: et Crucifixerunt eum. Et erat titulus causae ejus inscriptus: Rex Judaeorum.. Et cum eo crucifigunt duos latrones: unum a dextris, et alium a sinistris ejus. Et impleta est Scriptura, quae dicit: et cum iniquis reputatus est.
Et praetereuntes blasphemabant eum, moventes capita sua, et dicentes: Vah, qui destruis templum Dei et in tribus diebus reaedificas: salvum fac temetipsum, descendens de cruce. Similiter et summi sacerdotes illudentes, ad alterutrum cum scribis dicebant: Alios salvos fecit, seipsum non potest salvum facere. Christus Rex Israel descendat nunc de cruce, ut videamus, et credamus. Et qui cum eo crucifixi erant, conviciabantur ei.
Et facta hora sexta, tenebrae factae sunt per totam terram, usque in horam nonam. Et hora nona exclamavit Jesus voce magna, dicens: Eloï, Eloï, lamma sabacthani? Quod est interpretatum: Deus meus, Deus meus, ut quid dereliquisti me? Et quidam de circumstantibus audientes dicebant: Ecce Eliam vocat. Currens autem unus, et implens spongiam aceto, circumponensque calamo, potum dabat ei, dicens: Sinite, videamus si veniat Elias ad deponendum eum. Jesus autem emissa voce magna, expiravit.
The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark.
Ch. xiv. and xv.
And when Jesus was in Bethania, in the house of Simon the leper, and was at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of precious spikenard: and breaking the alabaster box, she poured it out upon his head. Now there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said: Why was this waste of the ointment made? For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and given to the poor. And they murmured against her. But Jesus said: Let her alone, why do you molest her? She hath wrought a good work upon me. For the poor you have always with you: and whensoever you will, you may do them good: but me you have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come beforehand to anoint my body for burial. Amen, I say to you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she hath done, shall be told for a memorial of her.
And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, to betray him to them. Who hearing it were glad; and they promised him they would give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.
Now on the first day of the unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the pasch, the disciples say to him: Whither wilt thou that we go, and prepare for thee to eat the pasch? And he sendeth two of his disciples, and saith to them: Go ye into the city; and there shall meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water, follow him; And whithersoever he shall go in, say to the master of the house, The master saith, Where is my refectory, where I may eat the pasch with my disciples? And he will shew you a large dining room furnished; and there prepare ye for us. And his disciples went their way, and came into the city; and they found as he had told them, and they prepared the pasch.
And when evening was come, he cometh with the twelve. And when they were at table and eating, Jesus saith: Amen I say to you, one of you that eateth with me shall betray me. But they began to be sorrowful, and to say to him one by one: Is it I? Who saith to them: One of the twelve, who dippeth with me his hand in the dish. And the Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed. It were better for him, if that man had not been born. And whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread; and blessing, broke, and gave to them, and said: Take ye. This is my body. And having taken the chalice, giving thanks, he gave it to them. And they all drank of it. And he said to them: This is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many. Amen I say to you, that I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it new in the kingdom of God.
And when they had said an hymn, they went forth to the mount of Olives. And Jesus saith to them: You will all be scandalized in my regard this night; for it is written, I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be dispersed. But after I shall be risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. But Peter saith to him: Although all shall be scandalized in thee, yet not I. And Jesus saith to him: Amen I say to thee, today, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shall deny me thrice. But he spoke the more vehemently: Although I should die together with thee, I will not deny thee. And in like manner also said they all.
And they came to a farm called Gethsemani. And he saith to his disciples: Sit you here, while I pray. And he taketh Peter and James and John with him; and he began to fear and to be heavy. And he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here, and watch. And when he was gone forward a little, he fell flat on the ground; and he prayed, that if it might be, the hour might pass from him. And he saith: Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee: remove this chalice from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt. And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping. And he saith to Peter: Simon, sleepest thou? couldst thou not watch one hour? Watch ye, and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. And going away again, he prayed, saying the same words. And when he returned, he found them again asleep, (for their eyes were heavy,) and they knew not what to answer him. And he cometh the third time, and saith to them: Sleep ye now, and take your rest. It is enough: the hour is come: behold the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go. Behold, he that will betray me is at hand.
And while he was yet speaking, cometh Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve: and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the ancients. And he that betrayed him, had given them a sign, saying: Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he; lay hold on him, and lead him away carefully. And when he was come, immediately going up to him, he saith: Hail, Rabbi; and he kissed him.
But they laid hands on him, and held him. And one of them that stood by, drawing a sword, struck a servant of the chief priest, and cut off his ear. And Jesus answering, said to them: Are you come out as to a robber, with swords and staves to apprehend me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you did not lay hands on me. But that the scriptures may be fulfilled. Then his disciples leaving him, all fled away. And a certain young man followed him, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and they laid hold on him. But he, casting off the linen cloth, fled from them naked.
And they brought Jesus to the high priest; and all the priests and the scribes and the ancients assembled together. And Peter followed him from afar off, even into the court of the high priest; and he sat with the servants at the fire, and warmed himself. And the chief priests and all the council sought for evidence against Jesus, that they might put him to death, and found none. For many bore false witness against him, and their evidences were not agreeing. And some rising up, bore false witness against him, saying: We heard him say, I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another not made with hands. And their witness did not agree.
And the high priest rising up in the midst, asked Jesus, saying: Answerest thou nothing to the things that are laid to thy charge by these men? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said to him: Art thou the Christ the Son of the blessed God? And Jesus said to him: I am. And you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming with the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rending his garments, saith: What need we any further witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What think you? Who all condemned him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him: Prophesy: and the servants struck him with the palms of their hands.
Now when Peter was in the court below, there cometh one of the maidservants of the high priest. And when she had seen Peter warming himself, looking on him she saith: Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying: I neither know nor understand what thou sayest. And he went forth before the court; and the cock crew. And again a maidservant seeing him, began to say to the standers by: This is one of them. But he denied again. And after a while they that stood by said again to Peter: Surely thou art one of them; for thou art also a Galilean. But he began to curse and to swear, saying; I know not this man of whom you speak. And immediately the cock crew again. And Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said unto him: Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt thrice deny me. And he began to weep.
And straightway in the morning, the chief priests holding a consultation with the ancients and the scribes and the whole council, binding Jesus, led him away, and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him: Art thou the king of the Jews? But he answering, saith to him: Thou sayest it. And the chief priests accused him in many things. And Pilate again asked him, saying: Answerest thou nothing? behold in how many things they accuse thee. But Jesus still answered nothing; so that Pilate wondered.
Now on the festival day he was wont to release unto them one of the prisoners, whomsoever they demanded. And there was one called Barabbas, who was put in prison with some seditious men, who in the sedition had committed murder. And when the multitude was come up, they began to desire that he would do, as he had ever done unto them. And Pilate answered them, and said: Will you that I release to you the king of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him up out of envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas to them. And Pilate again answering, saith to them: What will you then that I do to the king of the Jews? But they again cried out: Crucify him. And Pilate saith to them: Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more: Crucify him.
And so Pilate being willing to satisfy the people, released to them Barabbas, and delivered up Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. And the soldiers led him away into the court of the palace, and they called together the whole band: And they clothe him with purple, and platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon him. And they began to salute him: Hail, king of the Jews. And they struck his head with a reed: and they did spit on him. And bowing their knees, they adored him.
And after they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own garments on him, and they led him out to crucify him. And they forced one Simon a Cyrenian who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and of Rufus, to take up his cross. And they bring him into the place called Golgotha, which being interpreted is, The place of Calvary. And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh; but he took it not. And crucifying him, they divided his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. And the inscription of his cause was written over: THE KING OF THE JEWS. And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith: And with the wicked he was reputed.
And they that passed by blasphemed him, wagging their heads, and saying: Vah, thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days buildest it up again; Save thyself, coming down from the cross. In like manner also the chief priests mocking, said with the scribes one to another: He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the king of Israel come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole earth until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying: Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabacthani? Which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of the standers by hearing, said: Behold he calleth Elias. And one running and filling a sponge with vinegar, and putting it upon a reed, gave him to drink, saying: Stay, let us see if Elias come to take him down. And Jesus having cried out with a loud voice, gave up the ghost.
Here a pause is made, as on Palm Sunday. All kneel down and, if such be the custom of the place, prostrate and kiss the ground.
|Et velum templi scissum est in duo, a summo usque deorsum. Videns autem centurio, qui ex adverso stabat, quia sic clamans expirasset, ait: Vere hic homo Filius Dei erat. Erant autem et mulieres de longe aspicientes: inter quas erat Maria Magdalene, et Maria Jacobi minoris et Joseph mater, et Salome: et cum esset in Galilaea, sequebantur eum,: et ministrabant ei: et alias multae, quae simul cum eo ascenderant Jerosolymam.||And the veil of the temple was rent in two, from the top to the bottom. And the centurion who stood over against him, seeing that crying out in this manner he had given up the ghost, said: Indeed this man was the son of God. And there were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joseph, and Salome: Who also when he was in Galilee followed him, and ministered to him, and many other women that came up with him to Jerusalem.|
Here, the Deacon presents the Incense to the Priest, that it may be blessed; and, after having himself received a blessing, he terminates the Passion, observing the ceremonies which are used at the singing of the Gospel in a High Mass.
|Et quum jam sero esset factum (quia erat Parasceve, quod est ante Sabbatum) venit Joseph ab Arimathaea, nobilis decurio, qui et ipse erat exspectans regnum Dei. Et audacter introivit ad Pilatum, et petiit corpus Jesu. Pilatus autem mirabatur si jam obiisset. Et accersito centurione, interrogavit eum, si jam mortuus esset. Et cum cognovisset a centurione, donavit corpus Joseph. Joseph autem mercatus sindonem, et deponens eum, involvit sindone: et posuit eum in monumento, quod erat excisum de petra, et advolvit lapidem ad ostium monumenti.||And when evening was now come, (because it was the Parasceve, that is, the day before the Sabbath,) Joseph of Arimathea, a noble counsellor, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, came and went in boldly to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. But Pilate wondered that he should be already dead. And sending for the centurion, he asked him if he were already dead. And when he had understood it by the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And Joseph buying fine linen, and taking him down, wrapped him up in the fine linen, and laid him in a sepulcher which was hewed out of a rock. And he rolled a stone to the door of the sepulcher.|
At the Offertory, the Messias asks his Eternal Father to defend him from the enemies that are preparing his destruction.
|Custodi me, Domine, de manu peccatoris: et ab hominibus iniquis eripe me.||Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the sinful man; and from unjust men deliver me.|
In the Secret, the Church offers to the Majesty of God the tribute of our fasts, in union with the Holy Host on our Altar, and from which they derive all their merit and efficacy.
|Sacrificia nos, quaesumus, Domine, propensius ista restaurent: quae medicinalibus sunt instituta jejuniis. Per Dominum.||May these sacrifices, O Lord, we beseech thee, which are accompanied with healing fasts, mercifully repair us. Through, &c.|
For the other Secret, see Passion Sunday.
The words of the Psalmist, used by the Church in her Communion-Anthem, show us the blasphemous daring of our Saviour's enemies, as also the dispositions in which this dear Jesus himself was during his sacred Passion.
|Adversum me exercebantur, qui sedebant in porta: et in me psallebant, qui bibebant vinum: ego vero orationem meam ad te, Domine: tempus beneplaciti, Deus, in multitudine misericordiae tuae.||The judges in the gate spoke against me, and they that drank wine made songs against me. But I poured forth my prayer to thee, O Lord: it is time, God, to show thy good will to me, according to the multitude of thy mercies.|
In the Postcommunion, the Church prays, that, by the merits of the Sacrifice she has just offered, we may obtain the perfect cure of our spiritual infirmities; for the Blood of the Lamb takes away the sins of the world.
|Sanctificationibus tuis, omnipotens Deus, et vitia nostra curentur: et remedia nobis sempiterna proveni ant. Per Dominum.||May these thy holy mysteries, O Almighty God, both cure our vices and become an eternal remedy to us. Through, &c.|
See Passion Sunday for the other Postcommunion.
Humiliate capita vestra Deo.
Tua nos misericordia, Deus, et ab omni subreptione vetustatis expurget, et capaces sanctae novitatis efficiat. Per Dominum.
|LET US PRAY.
Bow down your heads to God.
May thy mercy, O God, purify us from the corruption of the old man, and enable us to put on the new. Through, &c.
We may close this day, by saying these few verses, taken from a Hymn of the Greek Church on the Passion of our Lord.
Vitale latus tuum, tanquam fons ex Eden scaturiens, Ecclesiam tuam, Christe, tanquam rationalem hortum adaquat: inde tanquam in quaedam initia se dividens in quatuor Evangelia: mundum irrigans, creaturam laetificans, gentesque fideliter docens venerari regnum tuum.
Crucifixua ea propter me; ut velut ex fonte mihi effunderes remissionem. Punctus es in latere, ut mihi vitae scaturigines aperires; clavis confixus es, ut ego in passionum tuarum profundo altitudinem tuae potentiae confessus, clamem ad te, vitae largitor Christe: Gloria cruci tuae Salvator, ac Passioni tuae.
Chirographum nostrum in cruce dirupisti, Christe: et inter mortuos reputatus, tyrannum illic ligasti, liberatis omnibus ex vinculis mortis resurrectione tua. Per quam illuminati sumus, o amans hominum Domine! tibique clamamus: Memento et nostri Salvator in regno tuo.
Tuam, Christe, Matrem, quae te in carne sine virili semine peperit, et vere virgo etiam post partum incorrupta permansit; hanc tibi adducimus ad intercessionem, Domine multum misericors: ut offensarum condonationem jugiter largiaris iis qui clamant: Memento et nostri Domine in regno tuo.
The life-giving wound of thy side, O Jesus! like the fountain that sprang from Eden, waters the spiritual garden of thy Church. Thence, dividing itself into the four Gospels, as into so many master-streams, it freshens the world, gladdens creation, and teaches all nations to bow down in faith, and venerate thy kingdom.
Thou wast crucified for me, that thou mightest be to me as a fountain pouring out forgiveness upon me. Thou wast wounded in thy side, that thou mightest open to me the sources of life. Thou wast nailed to the cross, that I, confessing the greatness of thy power in the depth of thy Passion, might sing to thee, O Christ, thou giver of life: Glory be to thy cross and Passion, O Savior!
Thou, O Christ, didst, on thy cross, tear the hand-writing that was against us. Thou wast numbered among the dead, and there didst bind down the tyrant, and, by thy Resurrection, didst set us all free from the chains of death. It is thy Resurrection that has given us light, O God, thou lover of mankind! To thee do we sing: Remember us, also, O Savior, in thy kingdom!
To thee, most merciful Lord, we bring thy Mother, that she may intercede for us, she that conceived thee and was a Virgin, she that gave thee birth and was a spotless Virgin. May her prayers obtain from thee the unceasing pardon of sin to all that cry out to thee: Remember us, also, O Lord, in thy kingdom.