ST. MARK THE EVANGELIST

                SAINT MARK, EVANGELIST

                      The Liturgical Year  

                  Abbot Dom Guéranger

The Cycle of holy mother Church brings before us today, the Lion, who, together with the Man, the Ox and the Eagle, stands before the Throne of God. It was on this day, that Mark ascended from earth to heaven, radiant with his triple aureola of Evangelist, Apostle, and Martyr.

As the preaching made to Israel had its four great representatives, Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel, and Daniel; so, likewise, would God have the New Covenant to be embodied in the four Gospels, which were to make known to the world the Life and teachings of his divine Son. The Holy Fathers tell us, that the Gospels are like the four streams which watered the Garden of pleasure, and that this Garden was a figure of the future Church. The first of the Evangelists, the first to register the actions and words of our Redeemer, is Matthew, whose star will rise in September; the second is Mark, whose brightness gladdens us today; the third is Luke, whose rays will shine upon us in October; the fourth is John, whom we have already seen in Bethlehem, at the Crib of our Emmanuel. Mark was the beloved disciple of Peter; he was the brilliant satellite of the Sun of the Church. He wrote his Gospel at Rome, under the eyes of the Prince of the Apostles. The Church was already in possession of the history given by Matthew; but the Faithful of Rome wished their own Apostle to narrate what he had witnessed. Peter refused to write it himself, but he bade his disciple take up his pen, and the Holy Ghost guided the hand of the new Evangelist. Mark follows the account given by Matthew; he abridges it, and yet he occasionally adds a word, or an incident, which plainly prove to us that Peter, who had seen and heard all, was his living and venerated authority. One would have almost expected, that the new Evangelist would pass over in silence the history of his master’s fall, or, at least, have said as little as possible about it; but no, the Gospel written by Mark is more detailed on Peter’s denial than is that of Matthew; and as we read it, we cannot help feeling, that the tears, elicited by Jesus’ look, when in the house of Caiphas, were flowing down the Apostle’s cheeks, as he described the sad event. Mark’s work being finished, Peter examined it and gave it his sanction; the several Churches joyfully received this second account of the mysteries of the world’s redemption, and the name of Mark was made known throughout the whole earth.

Mark having written his Gospel, was next to labour as an Apostle. Peter sent him, first, to Aquileia, where he founded an important Church: but this was not enough for an Evangelist. When the time designed by God came, and Egypt, the source of countless errors, was to receive the truth, and the haughty and noisy Alexandria was to be raised to the dignity of the second Church of Christendom, the second See of Peter, Mark was sent by his master to effect this great work. By his preaching, the word of salvation took root, grew up, and produced fruit in that most infidel of nations; and the authority of Peter was thus marked, though in different degrees, in the three great Cities of the Empire: Rome, Alexandria and Antioch.

St. Mark may be called the first founder of the Monastic life, by his instituting, in Alexandria itself, what were called the Therapeutes. To him, also, may be justly attributed, the origin of that celebrated Christian school, of Alexandria, which was so flourishing, even in the 2nd Century.

But glorious as were these works of Peter’s disciple, the Evangelist and Apostle Mark was also to receive the dignity of Martyr. The success of his preaching excited against him the fury of the idolaters. They were keeping a feast in honour of Serapis; and this gave them an opportunity which they were not likely to lose. They seized Mark, treated him most cruelly, and cast him into prison. It was there that our Risen Lord appeared to him, during the night, and addressed him in these words, which afterwards formed the Arms of the Republic of Venice:  ‘Peace be to thee, Mark, my Evangelist!’ To which the disciple answered: “Lord”  for such were his feelings of delight and gratitude, that he could say but that one word, as it was with Magdalene, when she saw Jesus on the morning of the Resurrection. On the following day, Mark was put to death by the pagans. He had fulfilled his mission on earth, and heaven opened to receive the Lion, who was to occupy near the throne of the Ancient of days the place allotted to him, as shown to the Prophet of Patmos, in his sublime vision.

In the 9th Century, the West was enriched with the Relics of St. Mark. They were taken to Venice; and, under the protection of the sacred Lion, there began for that City a long period of glory. Faith in so great a Patron achieved wonders; and from the midst of islets and lagoons there sprang into existence a City of beauty and power. Byzantine Art raised up the imposing and gorgeous Church, which was the palladium of the Queen of the Seas; and the new Republic stamped its coinage with the Lion of St. Mark. Happy would it have been for Venice, had she persevered in her loyalty to Rome, and in the ancient severity of her morals!

                SAINT MARK’S PROCESSION

This day is honoured in the Liturgy by what is called Saint Mark’s Procession. The term, however, is not a correct one, inasmuch as a Procession was a privilege peculiar to the 25th of April previously to the institution of our Evangelist’s feast, which, even so late as the 6th Century, had no fixed day in the Roman Church. The real name of this Procession is, The Greater Litanies. The word Litany means Supplication, and is applied to the religious rite of singing certain chants whilst proceeding from place to place, and this in order to propitiate heaven. The two Greek words Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy on us) were also called Litany, as likewise were the invocations which were afterwards added to that cry for Mercy, and which now form a Liturgical prayer used by the Church on certain solemn occasions.

The Greater Litanies, (or Processions,) are so called to distinguish them from the Minor Litanies, that is, Processions of less importance as far as the solemnity and concourse of the Faithful were concerned. We gather from an expression of St. Gregory the Great, that it was an ancient custom in the Roman Church to celebrate, once each year, a Greater Litany, at which all the Clergy and people assisted. This holy Pontiff chose the 25th of April as the fixed day for this Procession, and appointed the Basilica of St. Peter as the Station.

Several writers on the Liturgy have erroneously confounded this institution with the Processions prescribed by St. Gregory for times of public calamity. It existed long before his time, and all that he had to do with it was the fixing it to the 25th of April. It is quite independent of the Feast of St. Mark, which was instituted at a much later period. If the 25th of April occur during Easter Week, the Procession takes place on that day, (unless it be Easter Sunday,) but the Feast of the Evangelist is not kept till after the Octave.

The question naturally presents itself, why did St. Gregory choose the 2oth of April for a Procession and Station, in which everything reminds us of compunction and penance, and which would seem so out of keeping with the joyous Season of Easter? The first to give a satisfactory answer to this difficulty, was Canon Moretti, a learned Liturgiologist of last century. In a dissertation of great erudition, he proves that in the 5th, and probably even in the 4th, century, the 25th of April was observed at Rome as a day of great solemnity. The Faithful went, on that day, to the Basilica of St. Peter, in order to celebrate the anniversary of the first entrance of the Prince of the Apostles into Rome, upon which he thus conferred the inalienable privilege of being the Capital of Christendom. It is from that day that we count the twenty-five years, two months and some days that St. Peter reigned as Bishop of Rome. The Sacramentary of St. Leo gives us the Mass of this Solemnity, which afterwards ceased to be kept. St. Gregory, to whom we are mainly indebted for the arrangement of the Roman Liturgy, was anxious to perpetuate the memory of a day, which gave to Rome her grandest glory. He, therefore, ordained that the Church of St. Peter should be the Station of the Great Litany, which was always to be celebrated on that auspicious day. The 25th of April comes so frequently during the Octave of Easter, that it could not be kept as a Feast, properly so called, in honour of St. Peter’s entrance into Rome; St. Gregory, therefore, adopted the only means left of commemorating the great event.

But there was a striking contrast resulting from this institution, of which the holy Pontiff was fully aware, but which he could not avoid:  it was the contrast between the joys of Paschal Time, and the penitential sentiments wherewith the Faithful should assist at the Procession and Station of the Great Litany. Laden as we are with the manifold graces of this holy Season, and elated with our Paschal joys, we must sober our gladness by reflecting on the motives which led the Church to cast this hour of shadow over our Easter sunshine. After all, we are sinners, with much to be sorry for, and much to fear; we have to avert those scourges which are due to the crimes of mankind; we have, by humbling ourselves and invoking the intercession of the Mother of God and the Saints, to obtain the health of our bodies, and the preservation of the fruits of the earth; we have to offer atonement to Divine justice for our own and the world’s pride, sinful indulgences, and insubordination. Let us enter into ourselves, and humbly confess that our own share in exciting God’s indignation is great; and our poor prayers, united with those of our holy Mother the Church, will obtain mercy for the guilty, and for ourselves who are of the number. A day, then, like this, of reparation to God’s offended Majesty, would naturally suggest the necessity of joining some exterior penance to the interior dispositions of contrition which filled the hearts of Christians. Abstinence from flesh meat has always been observed, on this day, at Rome; and when the Roman Liturgy was established in France, by Pepin and Charlemagne, the Great Litany of the 25th of April was, of course, celebrated, and the Abstinence kept, by the Faithful of that country. A Council of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 836, enjoined the additional obligation of resting from servile work on this day: the same enactment is found in the Capitularia of Charles the Bald. As regards Fasting, properly so called, being contrary to the spirit of Paschal Time, it would seem never to have been observed on this day, at least not generally. Amalarius, who lived in the 9th Century, asserts that it was not then practiced even in Rome.

 We take this opportunity of protesting against the negligence of Christians on this subject. Even persons who have the reputation of being spiritual, think nothing of being absent from the Litanies said on St. Mark’s and the Rogation Days. One would have thought, that when the Holy See took from these Days the obligation of Abstinence, the Faithful would be so much the more earnest to join in the duty still left,  the duty of Prayer. The people’s presence at the Litanies is taken for granted: and it is simply absurd, that a religious rite of public reparation should be one from which almost all should keep away. We suppose that these Christians will acknowledge the importance of the petitions made in the Litanies; but God is not obliged to hear them in favour of such as ought to make them and yet do not. This is one of the many instances which might be brought forward of the strange delusions into which private and isolated devotion are apt to degenerate. When St. Charles Borromeo first took possession of his See of Milan, he found this negligence among his people, and that they left the Clergy to go through the Litanies of the 25th of April by themselves. He assisted at them himself, and walked bare-footed in the Procession. The people soon followed the sainted Pastor’s example.

Kyrie eleison! Lord have mercy on us! Let us think, for a moment, of the countless sins that are being committed, day and night; and let us sue for mercy. In the days of Noe, all flesh had corrupted its way, but men thought not of asking for mercy. The flood came, and destroyed them all, says our Saviour. Had they prayed, had they begged God’s pardon, the hand of his justice would have been stayed, and the flood-gates of heaven would not have been opened. The day is to come, when, not water, as heretofore, but fire is suddenly to be enkindled by the Divine wrath, and is to burn the whole earth. It shall burn even the foundations of the mountains; it shall devour sinners, who will be resting then, as they were in the days of Noe, in a false security. Persecuted by her enemies, decimated by the martyrdom of her children, afflicted by numerous apostasies from the faith, and deprived of every human aid, the Church will know that the terrible chastisement is at hand, for Prayer will then be as rare as Faith. Let us, therefore, pray; that thus the day of wrath may be put off, the Christian life regain something of its ancient vigour, and the end of the world not be in our times. There are even yet Catholics in every part of the world; but their number has visibly decreased.

Heresy is now in possession of whole countries, that were once faithful to the Church. In others, where heresy has not triumphed, religious indifference has left the majority of men with nothing of Catholicity but the name, seeing that they neglect even their most essential obligations without remorse. Among many of those who fulfill the precepts of the Church, truths are diminished.

PROCESSION PRAYERS

Litany of the Saints

Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of Virgins, pray for us.
St. Michael, pray for us.
All holy Angels and Archangels, pray for us.
All holy orders of blessed spirits, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
All holy Patriarchs and Prophets, pray for us.
St. Peter, pray for us.
St. Paul, pray for us.
St. Andrew, pray for us.
St. James, pray for us.
St. John, pray for us.
St. Thomas, pray for us.
St. James, pray for us.
St. Philip, pray for us.
St. Bartholomew, pray for us.
St. Matthew, pray for us.
St. Simon, pray for us.
St. Thaddeus, pray for us.
St. Matthias, pray for us.
St. Barnabas, pray for us.
St. Luke, pray for us.
St. Mark, pray for us.
All holy Apostles and Evangelists, pray for us.
All holy Disciples of the Lord, pray for us.
All Holy Innocents, pray for us.
St. Stephen, pray for us.
St. Lawrence, pray for us.
St. Vincent, pray for us.
Fabian and Sebastian, pray for us.
John and Paul, pray for us.
Cosmas and Damian, pray for us.
Gervase and Protase, pray for us.
All holy Martyrs, pray for us.
St. Sylvester, pray for us.
St. Gregory, pray for us.
St. Ambrose, pray for us.
St. Augustine, pray for us.
St. Jerome, pray for us.
St. Martin, pray for us.
St. Nicholas, pray for us.
All holy Bishops and Confessors, pray for us.
All holy Doctors, pray for us.
St. Anthony, pray for us.
St. Benedict, pray for us.
St. Bernard, pray for us.
St. Dominic, pray for us.
St. Francis, pray for us.
All holy Priests and Levites, pray for us.
All holy Monks and Hermits, pray for us.
St. Mary Magdalen, pray for us.
St. Agatha, pray for us.
St. Lucy, pray for us.
St. Agnes, pray for us.
St. Cecilia, pray for us.
St. Catherine, pray for us.
St. Anastasia, pray for us.
All holy Virgins and Widows, pray for us.
All holy Saints of God, intercede for us.
Be merciful, Spare us, O Lord.
Be merciful, Hear us, O Lord.
From all evil, Spare us, O Lord.
From all sin, Spare us, O Lord.
From thy anger, Spare us, O Lord
From a sudden and unprovided death, Spare us, O Lord.
From the snares of the devil, Spare us, O Lord.
From anger, and hatred, and every evil will, Spare us, O Lord.
From the spirit of fornication, Spare us, O Lord.
From lightning and storms, Spare us, O Lord.
From the scourge of earthquake, Spare us, O Lord.
From plague, famine, and war, Spare us, O Lord.
From everlasting death, Spare us, O Lord.
Through the mystery of thy holy Incarnation, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy Coming, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy Birth, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy Baptism and holy Fasting, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy Cross and Passion, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy Death and Burial, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy holy Resurrection, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy admirable Ascension, Spare us, O Lord.
Through the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, Spare us, O Lord.
In the day of Judgment, Spare us, O Lord.
We sinners, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst spare us, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst pardon us, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly bring us to true penance, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly govern and preserve thy holy Church, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly preserve in holy religion the Pope and all clerics in holy orders, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly humble the enemies of holy Church, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly give peace and true concord to Christian kings and princes, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly grant peace and unity to the whole Christian world, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst restore to the unity of the Church all who have strayed from the truth and lead all infidels to the light of the Gospel, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly confirm and preserve us in thy holy service, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly lift up our minds to heavenly desires, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly give eternal blessings to all our benefactors, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly deliver our souls, and the souls of our brethren, relations, and benefactors from eternal damnation, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly give and preserve the fruits of the earth, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst be so kind as to answer our prayers Son of God, We beg of thee, hear us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us,
Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.

Psalm 69

O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me. Let them be confounded and ashamed that seek my soul: Let them be turned backward, and blush for shame that desire evils to me: Let them be presently turned away blushing for shame that say to me: Tis well, tis well. Let all that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee; and let such as love thy salvation say always: The Lord be magnified. But I am needy and poor; O God, help me. Thou art my helper and my deliverer: O Lord, make no delay.

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.

V. Save thy servants.
R. Who put their trust in thee, O God.
V. Be unto us, O Lord, a tower of strength.
R. From the face of the enemy.
V. Let not the enemy prevail against us.
R. Nor the Son of iniquity have power to hurt us.
V. O Lord, deal not with us according to our sins.
R. Nor reward us according to our iniquities.

Pope St. Gregory the Great saved Rome from the plague he ordered a procession around the city to beg the heavens to end their affliction and their prayers were answered!

A Dreadful plague having broken out at Rome, anno 589, which carried off a great number of the people, and among the rest Pope Pelagius, who then sat in St. Peter’s Chair, St. Gregory, his successor, appointed public prayers for appeasing the anger of God, the happy effects of which became so evident by the immediate cessation thereof, that the same pious custom has been ever since continued. Wherefore, since by our repeated transgressions we also have just reason to deprecate the scourges of divine vengeance, let us this day humble ourselves by prayer before the throne of mercy, beseeching God to preserve us from all pestilential distempers, forgive us our sins, and grant his blessing on the fruit of the earth.

NINE DAY NOVENA TO ST. JOSEPH – SECOND DAY

              NOVENA IN PREPARATION 

   FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH 

        THE PATRONAGE OF ST. JOSEPH 

 JOYS AND DOLORS OF SAINT JOSEPH

                                 Day Two

                                   Prayer                                             

O Thrice happy Joseph, foster father to Jesus! by the great grief that pierced thy heart when thou didst contemplate this beloved infant lying in the manger, weeping and shivering with cold, and by the great joy thou receivedst in beholding the holy angels adoring and honouring him with their heavenly music, and in seeing the three kings prostrate before him, and offering him their precious gifts; pray for us, O great Saint, to the end that our souls may become a fit mansion to receive our Saviour, and that we may lodge and keep him always therein, even to the last moment of our lives; that then we may find and enjoy him in heaven, in the possession of his everlasting glory. Amen.

                               Our Father

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 those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

                                Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst 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 death. Amen.

                           Novena Prayer

O Glorious St. Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to you do we raise our hearts and hands to implore your powerful intercession, obtaining from the benign Heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare; particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special favour we now implore…

            [Here mention your request]

O guardian of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that your prayers in our behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God.

Saint Joseph, foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and true spouse of the Virgin Mary, pray for us.

NINE DAY NOVENA TO ST. JOSEPH

     

     NINE DAY NOVENA IN PREPARATION

     FOR  THE SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH

             PATRONAGE OF ST. JOSEPH 

    JOYS AND DOLORS OF SAINT JOSEPH

                                Prayer

Chaste Spouse of the most Immaculate Mother of Jesus! holy Joseph! how great was thy grief when, ignorant of the mystery and co-operation of the Holy Ghost in that sublime mystery, thou perceivest the pregnancy of thy beloved Spouse, and on that account had thoughts of leaving her. By this thy grief, and by the unspeakable joy thou hadst when the Angel of God opened to thee the mystery of the Incarnation of the Eternal Word, pray for us, that endeavouring to advance thy honour and worship through the whole world, we may, by God’s holy grace, overcome all affliction and dejection of mind in this life, and in the other become a fit mansion of the Holy Ghost for all eternity. Amen.

                          Our Father

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 those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

                         Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst 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 death. Amen.

                    Novena Prayer

O Glorious St. Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to you do we raise our hearts and hands to implore your powerful intercession, obtaining from the benign Heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare; particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special favour we now implore…

        [Here mention your request]

O guardian of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that your prayers in our behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God.

THE HISTORY OF PASCHAL TIME

 

   THE HISTORY OF PASCHAL TIME

                    The Liturgical Year

       Abbot Dom Guéranger, O.S.B

We give the name of Paschal Time to the period between Easter Sunday and the Saturday following Whit Sunday. It is the most sacred portion of the Liturgical Year, and the one towards which the whole Cycle converges.

We shall easily understand how this is, if we reflect upon the greatness of the Easter Feast, which is called the Feast of feasts, and the Solemnity of solemnities, in the same manner, says St. Gregory, as the most sacred part of the Temple was called the Holy of holies; and the Book of Sacred Scripture, wherein are described the espousals between Christ and the Church, is called the Canticle of canticles. It is on this day, that the mission of the Word Incarnate attains the object towards which it has hitherto been unceasingly tending: mankind is raised up from his fall, and regains what he had lost by Adam’s sin.

Christmas gave us a Man-God; three days have scarcely passed, since we witnessed His infinitely precious Blood shed for our ransom; but now, on the day of Easter, our Jesus is no longer the Victim of death: He is a Conqueror, that destroys death, the child of sin, and proclaims life, that undying life which He has purchased for us. The humiliation of His swathing-bands, the sufferings of His Agony and Cross, these are passed; all is now glory, glory for Himself, and glory also for us. On the day of Easter, God regains, by the Resurrection of the Man-God, His creation such as He made it at the beginning; the only vestige now left of death, is that likeness to sin which the Lamb of God deigned to take upon Himself. Neither is it Jesus alone that returns to eternal life; the whole human race also has risen to immortality together with our Jesus. ‘By a man came death,’ says the Apostle; ‘and by a Man the Resurrection of the dead: and as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.’

The anniversary of this Resurrection is, therefore, the great Day, the day of joy, the day by excellence; the day to which the whole year looks forward in expectation, and on which its whole economy is formed. But as it is the holiest of days, since it opens to us the gate of Heaven, into which we shall enter because we have risen together with Christ, the Church would have us come to it well prepared by bodily mortification and by compunction of heart. It was for this that she instituted the Fast of Lent, and that she bade us, during Septuagesima, look forward to the joy of her Easter, and be filled with sentiments suitable to the approach of so grand a solemnity. We obeyed; we have gone through the period of our preparation; and now the Easter sun has risen upon us!

But it was not enough to solemnize the great Day when Jesus, our Light, rose from the darkness of the tomb: there was another anniversary which claimed our grateful celebration. The Incarnate Word rose on the first day of the week, that same day, where on, four thousand years before, He, the Uncreated Word of the Father, had begun the work of the Creation, by calling forth light, and separating it from darkness. The first day was thus ennobled by the creation of light. It received a second consecration by the Resurrection of Jesus; and from that time forward Sunday, and not Saturday, was to be the Lord’s Day. Yes, our Resurrection in Jesus which took place on the Sunday, gave this first day a preeminence above the others of the week: the divine precept of the Sabbath was abrogated together with the other ordinances of the Mosaic Law, and the Apostles instructed the faithful to keep holy the first day of the week, which God had dignified with that twofold glory, the creation and the regeneration of the world. Sunday, then, being the day of Jesus’ Resurrection, the Church chose that day, in preference to every other, for its yearly commemoration. The Pasch of the Jews, in consequence of its being fixed on the fourteenth of the moon of March, (the anniversary of the going out of Egypt,) fell by turns on each day of the week. The Jewish Pasch was but a figure; ours is the reality, and puts an end to the figure. The Church, therefore, broke this her last tie with the Synagogue; and proclaimed her emancipation, by fixing the most solemn of her Feasts on a day, which should never agree with that on which the Jews keep their now unmeaning Pasch. The Apostles decreed, that the Christian Pasch should never be celebrated on the fourteenth of the moon of March, even were that day to be a Sunday; but that it should be everywhere kept on the Sunday following the day on which the obsolete calendar of the Synagogue still marks it.

Nevertheless, out of consideration for the many Jews who had received Baptism, and who formed the nucleus of the early Christian Church, it was resolved that the law regarding the day for keeping the new Pasch, should be applied prudently and gradually. Jerusalem was soon to be destroyed by the Romans; according to our Saviour’s prediction; and the new City, which was to rise up from its ruins and receive the Christian colony, would also have its Church, but a Church totally free from the Jewish element, which God had so visibly rejected. In preaching the Gospel and founding Churches, even far beyond the limits of the Roman Empire, the majority of the Apostles had not to contend with Jewish customs; most of their converts were from among the Gentiles. Saint Peter, who in the Council of Jerusalem had proclaimed the cessation of the Jewish Law, set up the standard of emancipation in the City of Rome; so that the Church, which through him was made the Mother and Mistress of all Churches, never had any other discipline regarding the observance of Easter, than that laid down by the Apostles, namely, that it should be kept on a Sunday.

There was, however, one province of the Church, which for a long time stood out against the universal practice: it was Asia Minor. The Apostle St. John, who lived for many years at Ephesus, where indeed he died, had thought it prudent to tolerate, in those parts, the Jewish custom of celebrating the Pasch; for many of the converts had been members of the Synagogue. But the Gentiles themselves, who, later’ on, formed the mass of the faithful, were strenuous upholders of this custom, which dated from the very foundation of the Church of Asia Minor. In the course of time, however, this anomaly became a source of scandal: it savoured of Judaism, and it prevented unity of religious observance, which is always desirable, but particularly so in what regards Lent and Easter.

Pope St. Victor, who governed the Church from the year 193, endeavoured to put a stop to this abuse; he thought the time had come for establishing unity in so essential a point of Christian worship. Already, that is in the year 160, under Pope St. Anicetus, the Apostolic See had sought, by friendly negotiations, to induce the Churches of Asia Minor to conform to the universal practice; but it was difficult to triumph over a prejudice, which rested on a tradition held sacred in that country. St. Victor, however, resolved to make another attempt. He ‘would put before them the unanimous agreement which reigned throughout the rest of the Church. Accordingly, he gave orders, that Councils should be convened in the several countries where the Gospel had been preached, and that the question of aster should be examined. Everywhere there was perfect uniformity of practice; and the historian Eusebius, who lived a hundred and fifty years later, assures us, that the people of his day used to quote the decisions of the Councils of Rome, of Gaul, of Achaia, of Pontus, of Palestine, and of Osrhoena in Mesopotamia. The Council of Ephesus, at which Polycrates, the Bishop of that city, presided, was the only one that opposed the Pontiff, and disregarded the practice of the universal Church.

Deeming it unwise to give further toleration to the opposition, Victor separated from communion with the Holy See the refractory Churches of Asia Minor. This severe penalty, which was not inflicted until Rome had exhausted every other means of removing the evil, excited the commiseration of several Bishops. St. Ireneus, who was then governing the See of Lyons, pleaded for these Churches, which, so it seemed to him, had sinned only through a want of light; and he obtained from the Pope the revocation of a measure which seemed too severe. This indulgence produced the desired effect. In the following century, St. Anatolius, Bishop of Laodicea, in his Book on the Pasch, written in 276, tells us that the Churches of Asia Minor had then, for some time past, conformed to the Roman practice.

About the same time, and by a strange coincidence, the Churches of Syria, Cilicia, and Mesopotamia, gave scandal by again leaving the Christian and Apostolic observance of Easter, and returning to the Jewish rite of the fourteenth of the March moon. This Schism in the Liturgy grieved the Church; and one of the points to which the Council of Nicaea directed its first attention, was the promulgation of the universal obligation to celebrate Easter on the Sunday. The Decree was unanimously passed, and the Fathers of the Council ordained, that all controversy being laid aside, the Brethren in the East should solemnize the Pasch on the same day as the Romans, the Alexandrians, and the rest of the faithful. So important seemed this question, inasmuch as it affected the very essence of the Christian Liturgy, that St. Athanasius, assigning the reasons which had led to the calling of the Council of Nicaea, mentions these two: the condemnation of the Arian heresy, and the establishment of uniformity in the observance of Easter.

The Bishop of Alexandria was commissioned by the Council to see to the drawing up of astronomical tables, whereby the precise day of Easter might be fixed for each future year. The reason of this choice was, that the astronomers of Alexandria were looked upon as the most exact in their calculations. These tables were to be sent to the Pope, and he would address letters to the several Churches, instructing them as to the uniform celebration of the great Festival of Christendom. Thus was the unity of the Church made manifest by the unity of the holy Liturgy; and the Apostolic See, which is the foundation of the first, was likewise the source of the second. But, even previous to the Council of Nicaea, the Roman Pontiff had addressed to all the Churches, every year, a Paschal Encyclical, instructing them as to the day on which the solemnity of the Resurrection was to be kept. This we learn from the synodical Letter of the Fathers of the great Council held at Arles, in 314. The Letter is addressed to Pope St. Sylvester, and contains the following passage: ‘In the first place, we beg that the observance of the Pasch of the Lord may be uniform, both as to time and day, in the whole world, and that You would, according to the custom, address Letters to all concerning this matter.’

This custom, however, was not kept up for any length of time, after the Council of  Nicaea. The want of precision in astronomical calculations occasioned confusion in the method of fixing the day of Easter. It is true, this great Festival was always kept on a Sunday; nor did any Church think of celebrating it on the same day as the Jews; but, since there was no uniform understanding as to the exact time of the Vernal Equinox, it happened some years, that the Feast of Easter was not kept, in all places, on the same day. By degrees, there crept in a deviation from the rule laid down by the Council, of taking the 21st of March as the day of the Equinox. There was needed a reform in the Calendar, and no one seemed competent to bring it about. Cycles were drawn up contradictory to one another; Rome and Alexandria had each its own system of calculation; so that, some years, Easter was not kept with that perfect uniformity which the Nicene Fathers had so strenuously laboured for: and yet, this variation was not the result of anything like party-spirit.

The West followed Rome. The Churches of Ireland and Scotland, which had been misled by faulty Cycles, were, at length, brought into uniformity. Finally, science was sufficiently advanced in the 16th century, for Pope Gregory XIII. to undertake a reform of the Calendar. The Equinox had to be restored to the 21st of March, as the Council of Nicaea had prescribed. The Pope effected this by publishing a Bull, dated February 24, 1581, in which he ordered that ten days of the following year, namely from the 4th to the 15th of October, should be suppressed. He thus restored the work of Julius Caesar, who had, in his day, turned his attention to the rectification of the Year. Easter was the great object of the reform, or, as it is called, the New Style, achieved by Gregory XIII. The principles and regulations of the Nicene Council were again brought to bear on this the capital question of the Liturgical Year; and the Roman Pontiff thus gave to the whole world the intimation of Easter, not for one year only, but for centuries. Heretical nations were forced to acknowledge the divine power of the Church in this solemn act, which interested both religion and society. They protested against the Calendar, as they had protested against the Rule of Faith. England and the Lutheran States of Germany preferred following, for many years, a Calendar which was evidently at fault, rather than accept the New Style, which they acknowledged to be indispensable; but it was the work of a Pope! The only nation in Europe that keeps up the Old Style is Russia, whose antipathy to Rome obliges her to be thus ten or twelve days behind the rest of the civilized world.

All this shows us how important it was to fix the precise Day of Easter; and God has several times shown, by miracles, that the date of so sacred a Feast was not a matter of indifference. During the ages, when the confusion of the Cycles and the want of correct astronomical computations occasioned great uncertainty as to the Vernal Equinox, miraculous events more than once supplied the deficiencies of science and authority. In a Letter to St. Leo the Great, in the year 444, Paschasinus, Bishop of Lilybea in Sicily, relates that under the Pontificate of St. Zozimus, Honorius being Consul for the eleventh, and Constantius for the second time, the real day of Easter was miraculously revealed to the people of one of the Churches there. In the midst of a mountainous and thickly wooded district of the Island was a village called Meltinas. Its Church was of the poorest, but it was dear to God. Every year, on the Night preceding Easter Sunday, as the Priest went to the Baptistery to bless the Font, it was found to be miraculously filled with Water, for there were no human means wherewith it could be supplied. As soon as Baptism was administered, the Water disappeared of itself, and left the Font perfectly dry. In the year just mentioned, the people, misled by a wrong calculation, assembled for the ceremonies of Easter Eve. The Prophecies having been read, the Priest and his flock repaired to the Baptistery, but the Font was empty. They waited, expecting the miraculous flowing of the Water, where with the Catechumens were to receive the grace of regeneration: but they waited in vain, and no Baptism was administered. On the following 22nd of April, (the tenth of the Kalends of May,) the Font was found to be filled to the brim, and thereby the people understood that that was the true Easter for that Year.

Cassiodorus writing, in the name of king Athalaric, to a certain Severus, relates a similar miracle, which happened every year on Easter Eve, in Lucania, near the small island of Leucothea, at a place called Marcilianum. There was a large fountain there, whose water was so clear, that the air itself was not more transparent. It was used as the Font for the administration of Baptism on Easter Night. As soon as the Priest, standing under the rock where with nature had canopied the fountain, began the prayers of the Blessing, the Water, as though taking part in the transports of the Easter joy, arose in the Font; so that, if previously it was to the level of the fifth step, it was seen to rise up to the seventh, impatient, as it were, to effect those wonders of grace whereof it was the chosen instrument. God would show by this, that even inanimate creatures can share, when he so wills it, in the holy gladness of the greatest of all Days.

St. Gregory of Tours tells us of a Font, which existed even then, in a Church of Andalusia, in a place called Osen, and whereby God miraculously certified to his people the true Day of Easter. On the Maundy Thursday of each year, the Bishop, accompanied by the Faithful, repaired to this Church. The bed of the Font was built in the form of a cross, and was paved with mosaics. It was carefully examined, to see that it was perfectly dry; and after several prayers had been recited, every one left the Church, and the Bishop sealed the door with his seal. On Holy Saturday, the Pontiff returned, accompanied by his flock; the seal was examined, and the door was opened. The Font was found to be filled, even above the level of the floor, and yet the water did not overflow. The Bishop pronounced the exorcisms over the miraculous Water, and poured the Chrism into it. The Catechumens were then baptized; and as soon as the sacrament had been administered, the Water immediately disappeared, and no one could tell what became of it. Similar miracles were witnessed in several Churches in the East. John Moschus, a writer of the 7th century, speaks of a Baptismal Font in Lycia, which was thus filled every Easter Eve; but the Water remained in the Font during the whole fifty days, and suddenly disappeared after the Festival of Pentecost.

We alluded, in our History of Passiontide, to the decrees passed by the Christian Emperors, which forbade all Law proceedings during the fortnight of Easter, that is, from Palm Sunday to the Octave Day of the Resurrection. St. Augustine, in a Sermon he preached on this Octave, exhorts the Faithful to extend to the whole year this suspension of law-suits, disputes, and enmities, which the Civil Law interdicted during these fifteen days.

The Church puts upon all her children the obligation of receiving Holy Communion at Easter. This precept is based upon the words of our Redeemer, who left it to his Church to determine the time of the Year, when Christians should receive the Blessed Sacrament. In the early Ages, Communion was frequent, and, in some places, even daily. By degrees, the fervour of the Faithful grew cold towards this august Mystery, as we gather from a decree of the Council of Agatha, (Agde,) held in 506, where it is defined, that those of the laity who shall not approach Communion at Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, are to be considered as having ceased to be Catholics. This Decree of the Council of Agatha was accepted as the law of almost the entire Western Church. We find it quoted among the regulations drawn up by Egbert, Archbishop of York, as also in the third Council of Tours. In many places, however, Communion was obligatory for the Sundays of Lent, and for the last three Days of Holy Week, independently of that which was to be made on the Easter Festival.

It was in the year 1215, in the 4th General Council of Lateran, that the Church, seeing the ever growing indifference of her children, decreed with regret that Christians should be strictly bound to Communion only once in the Year, and that that Communion of obligation should be made at Easter. In order to show the Faithful that this is the uttermost limit of her condescension to lukewarmness, she declares, in the same Council, that he that shall presume to break this Law, may be forbidden to enter a church during life, and be deprived of Christian burial after death, as he would be if he had, of his own accord, separated himself from the exterior link of Catholic unity. These regulations of a General Council show how important is the duty of the Easter Communion; but, at the same time, they make us shudder at the thought of the millions, throughout the Catholic world, who brave each year the threats of the Church, by refusing to comply with a duty, which would both bring life to their souls, and serve as a profession of their faith. And when we again reflect upon how many even of those who make their Easter Communion, have paid no more attention to the Lenten Penance than if there were no such obligation in existence, we cannot help feeling sad, and we wonder within ourselves, how long God will bear with such infringements of the Christian Law?

The fifty days between Easter and Pentecost have ever been considered by the Church as most holy. The first week, which is more expressly devoted to celebrating our Lord’s Resurrection, is kept up as one continued Feast; but the remainder of the fifty days is also marked with special honours. To say nothing of the joy, which is the characteristic of this period of the year, and of which the Alleluia is the expression, Christian tradition has assigned to Eastertide two practices, which distinguish it from every other Season. The first is, that Fasting is not permitted during the entire interval: it is an extension of the ancient precept of never fasting on a Sunday, and the whole of Eastertide is considered as one long Sunday. This practice, which would seem to have come down from the time of the Apostles, was accepted by the Religious Rules of both East and West, even by the severest. The second consists in not kneeling at the Divine Office, from Easter to Pentecost. The Eastern Churches have faithfully kept up the practice, even to this day. It was observed for many ages by the Western Churches also; but now, it is little more than a remnant. The Latin Church has long since admitted genuflexions in the Mass during Easter time. The few vestiges of the ancient discipline in this regard, which still exist, are not noticed by the Faithful, inasmuch as they seldom assist at the Canonical Hours.

Eastertide, then, is like one continued Feast. It is the remark made by Tertullian, in the 3rd Century. He is reproaching those Christians who regretted having renounced, by their Baptism, the festivities of the Pagan Year; and he thus addresses them: If you love Feasts, you will find plenty among us Christians; not merely Feasts, that last only for a day, but such as continue for several days together.  The Pagans keep each of their Feasts once in the year; but you have to keep each of yours many times over, for you have the eight days of its celebration. Put all the Feasts of the Gentiles together, and they do not amount to our fifty days of Pentecost. St. Ambrose speaking on the same subject, says: If the Jews are not satisfied with the Sabbath of each week, but keep also one which lasts a whole month, and another which lasts a whole year; how much more ought not we to honour our Lord’s Resurrection? Hence, our ancestors have taught us to celebrate the fifty days of Pentecost as a continuation of Easter. They are seven weeks, and the Feast of Pentecost commences the eighth. During these fifty days, the Church observes no fast, as neither does she on any Sunday, for it is the Day, on which our Lord rose: and all these fifty days are like so many Sundays.

 

St. Athanasius Novena

           Novena to St. Athanasius

                     April 23 – May 1

                     Novena Prayer

Hail, O St. Athanasius! Model of virtue, most brave defender of the Faith! Hail, thou rock of the Patriarchs! Sweet-voiced trumpet, admirable mind, most persuasive tongue, axe that felled the forest of heresies and burned them with the fire of the Holy Ghost, most firm pillar and unshakeable tower.

O Holy Doctor of the Church, thou armed the Mystical Body of Christ with divine dogmas of the Catholic Church; Thou didst keep the faith O glorious St. Athanasius, and justly won a crown by thy labors. In thy flesh, O blessed Patriarch, Thou filled up the sufferings of Christ, suffering many persecutions, even from among those counted within the Church.

O God-bearing Saint, with the staff of thy teachings thou drove heretical wolves far from the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, Thou didst encompass and defend her with the fortifications of thy words and presented her sound and safe to Christ.

Beseech God, therefore, that by thy merits and intercession, He would deliver from error, perversion and all dangers, both spiritual and temporal, those who faithfully celebrate thine ever venerable memory. In particular, we implore…

        (State your intentions)

We ask this through Christ our Lord, And the powerful intercession of St. Athanasius. Amen.

                 Let us pray

O God, the rewarder of faithful souls, grant that by our pious devotion and commemoration of St. Athanasius, and by the prayers of Thy same blessed confessor and bishop, may we be rendered acceptable to Thy mercy and receive the gifts of Thy grace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. Athanasius, ora pro nobis!

MONDAY IN PASSION WEEK

      MONDAY IN PASSION WEEK

      Station at Saint Chrysogonus

                 Violet Vestments

                 The Liturgical Year

        Ven. Abbot Dom Guéranger

INTROIT Psalm 55: 2, 3

Miserere mihi, Dómine, quóniam conculcávit me homo: tota die bellans tribulávit me. Ps 55:3. Conculcavérunt me inimíci mei tota die: quóniam multi bellántes advérsum me.

Have pity on me, O Lord, for men trample upon me; all the day they press their attack against me. Ps. My adversaries trample upon me all the day; yes, many fight against me.

COLLECT

O Lord, we beseech You, make holy our fasting, and graciously lavish upon us forgiveness for all our sins. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE – Jonas 3: 1-10

In those days, the word of the Lord came to Jona a second time: Set out for the great city of Ninive, and announce to it the message that I will tell you. So Jona made ready and went to Ninive, according to the Lord’s bidding. Now Ninive was an enormously large city; it took three days to go through it. Jona began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing, Forty days more and Ninive shall be destroyed, when the people of Ninive believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the King of Ninive, he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes. Then he had this proclaimed throughout Ninive, by decree of the king and his nobles: Neither man nor beast neither cattle nor sheep, shall taste anything; they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water. Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God; every man shall turn from his evil way and from violence he has in hand. Who knows, God may relent and forgive, and withhold His blazing wrath, so that we shall not perish. And God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way; and the Lord, our God, had mercy upon His people.

The Church’s intention in this day’s lesson, is to encourage us to earnestness and perseverance in our penance. Here we have an idolatrous city, a haughty and debauched capital, whose crimes have merited the anger of heaven. God threatens it with his vengeance: yet forty days, and Ninive and its inhabitants shall he destroyed. How came it, that the threat was not carried into effect? What was it that caused Ninive to be spared? Its people returned to the God they had left; they sued for mercy; they humbled themselves, and fasted; and the Church concludes the Prophet’s account by these touching words of her own: “And the Lord our God had mercy on his people.” They were Gentiles, but they became his people, because they did penance at the preaching of the Prophet. God had made a covenant with one only nation, —the Jews; but he rejected not the Gentiles, as often as they renounced their false Gods, confessed his holy name, and desired to serve him. We are here taught the efficacy of corporal mortification; when united with spiritual penance, that is, with the repentance of the heart, it has power to appease God’s anger. How highly, then, should we not prize the holy exercises of penance put upon us by the Church, during this holy Season! Let us also learn to dread that false spirituality, which tells us that exterior mortification is of little value: such doctrine is the result of rationalism and cowardice.

GRADUAL – Psalm 53: 4, 3

O God, hear my prayer; hearken to the words of my mouth. V. O God, by Your Name save me, and by your might deliver me.

TRACT – Psalm 102: 10; 78: 8, 9

O Lord, deal with us not according to our sins, nor requite us according to our crimes. V. Ps. O Lord, remember not against us the iniquities of the past; may Your compassion quickly come to us, for we are brought very low. [Here kneel.] V. Help us, O God, our Saviour, because of the glory of Your Name, O Lord; deliver us and pardon our sins for Your Name’s sake.

GOSPEL – John 7: 32-39

At that time, the rulers and Pharisees sent attendants to seize Jesus. Jesus then said, Yet a little while I am with you, and then I go to Him Who sent Me. You will seek Me and will not find Me; and where I am you cannot come. The Jews therefore said among themselves, Where is He going that we shall not find Him? Will He go to those dispersed among the Gentiles , and teach the Gentiles? What is this statement that He has made, ‘You will seek Me and will not find Me, and where I am you cannot come’? Now on the last, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture says, ‘From within him there shall flow rivers of living waters.’ He said this, however, of the Spirit Whom they who believed in Him were to receive.

The enemies of Jesus sought to stone him to death, as we were told in yesterday’s Gospel; today they are bent on making him a prisoner, and send soldiers to seize him. This time, Jesus does not hide himself; but how awful are the words he speaks: I go to Him that sent me: you shall seek me, and shall not find me! The sinner, then, who has long abused the grace of God, may have his ingratitude and contempt punished in this just, but terrific way, —that he shall not be able to find the Jesus he has despised: he shall seek, and shall not find. Antiochus, when humbled under the hand of God, prayed, yet obtained not mercy. After the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, whilst the Church was casting her roots in the world, the Jews, who had crucified the Just One were seeking the Messias in each of the many impostors, who were then rising up in Judea, and fomenting rebellions, which led to the destruction of Jerusalem. Surrounded on all sides by the Roman legions, with their temple and palaces a prey to flames, they sent up their cries to heaven, and besought the God of their fathers to send, as he had promised, the Deliverer! It never occurred to them, that this Deliverer had shown himself to their fathers, to many even of themselves; that they had put him to death, and that the Apostles had already carried his name to the ends of the earth. They went on looking for him, even to the very day when the deicide city fell, burying beneath its ruins them that the sword had spared. Had they been asked, what it was they were awaiting, they would have replied, that they were expecting their Messias! He had come, and gone. You shall seek me, and shall not find me! Let them, too, think of these terrible words of Jesus, who intend to neglect the graces offered them during this Easter. Let us pray, let us make intercession for them, lest they fall into that awful threat, of a repentance that seeks mercy when it is too late to find aught save an inexorable Justice.

OFFERTORY – Psalm 6: 5

Return, O Lord, save my life; rescue me because of Your kindness.

SECRET

Grant us, O Lord our God, that this saving sacrifice may cleanse us of our sins and gain us the favour of Your majesty. Through our Lord.

PREFACE OF THE HOLY CROSS

It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty and everlasting God. Who didst set the salvation of mankind upon the tree of the Cross, so that whence came death, thence also life might rise again, and that he who overcame by the tree might also be overcome on the tree: through Christ our Lord. Through whom the angels praise Thy majesty, the dominions worship it, and the powers stand in awe. The heavens and the heavenly hosts, and the blessed seraphim join together in celebrating their joy. With these we pray Thee join our voices also, while we say with lowly praise:

COMMUNION – Psalm 23: 10

The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory.

POSTCOMMUNION

May the sacrament of salvation which we have received, we beseech You, O Lord, cleanse and restore us. Through our Lord.

PRAYER OVER THE PEOPLE

Bow down your heads to God. 

O Lord, we beseech You, grant unto Your people health of soul and body, that, by persevering in good works, we may be always worthy of Your powerful protection. Through our Lord.

This being the day on which the Church offers to our meditations the history of the Prophet Jonas preaching to Ninive, we subjoin a new fragment from the Hymn of Prudentius on Fasting. It is the passage where he relates the life of this Prophet, and the repentance of the wicked City.

Hymn

I fain would now, in holy Fasting’s praise, tell, from the book of truth, how God our Father, with his wonted love, repressed the fire and thunder of his wrath, and spared the city doomed to be destroyed.

In ancient days, a city flourished, whose mighty power drove her into haughtiness extreme. Criminal indulgence and lewd corruption had destroyed the morals of her people, so brutalising them, that they left the worship of the God of heaven.

At length, the tired patience of God’s long-suffering gave way to justice, which moves his hand to prepare his arrowed lightnings, and storm-voiced clouds, and jarring whirlwinds, and thunder bolts that shake the vault of heaven.

Yet does he grant them time for penitence, wherein to tame and break the wicked ness of their lust and wonted follies. Mercy, that waits for prayer, holds back the blow of anger; a brief delay puts off the day of doom.

The meek Avenger sends a herald of the coming woe: it is Jonas the Prophet. But he, well knowing that the threatening Judge is prone to save, rather than to strike and punish, stealthily to Tharsis flees.

A noble vessel was prepared for sail, whereon he takes his place. The anchor weighed, the vessel puts from shore. She ploughs the deep, when, lo! a storm. Endangered thus, the crew would know the cause, and casting lots, it falls upon the fugitive, the Prophet.

Of all, the only one in fault is he. His guilt is clear, the lot has told the tale. Headlong is he cast, and buried in the deep; and as he falls, a whale’s huge jaw receives the Prophet, burying him alive in the sepulchre of his capacious womb.

There, for three nights, does Jonas lie unhurt; which passed, the sick monster heaves him from his womb, just where the murmuring billows break upon the shore, and whiten the salty rocks with foam. The Prophet comes forth, — wondering, but safe.

Compelled, to Ninive he tarns his hurried steps. He chides, he censures, he charges her with all her shameless crimes, saying: The anger of the great Avenger shall fall upon you, and speedily your City shall be made a prey to fire. Believe the prophecy I speak.

Then to the summit of a lofty hill he goes, from whence to see the thickened clouds of smoke rising from the ruined heap, and gaze upon the pile of unpitied dead. Suddenly there grows upon the spot an ivy-tree, whose knotted branches yield a shaded cover.

But scarce had the mournful City felt the wound of her coming grief, than deathly fear possesses her. Her people and her senate, her young and old, youths pale with panic, and women wailing loud, scamper in groups along the spacious walls.

It is decreed, — the anger of Christ shall by fasting be appeased. Henceforth, they spurn to eat. Matrons doff their trinkets, and vest in dingy garbs, and, for their wreaths of pearls and silks, sprinkle ashes on their hair.

Patricians put on robes of sombre hue; the people, weeping, take hair-shirts for their dress; disheveled maidens clad in skins of beasts, and hide their faces in veils of black. Children, too, make the dust of earth their bed.

The king himself from his shoulders tears the Cossian purple robe, and for the diadem that decks his brow with emeralds and gems, strews grim ashes on his head.

None think of drink or meat. Among the youths, not one would touch the food prepared. Nay, babes are kept from their mothers’ breasts, and in their cradles, wet with tears, these little fasters lie.

The herdsman, too, pens up his flock with care, lest, left to roam, the dewy grass or rippling fount should tempt them to transgress the universal fast; but now, pent up, their moans rebellow through their prison-cave.

Thus is God appeased, his anger brief restrained, and threatened evil yields to proffered love: for mercy leans to pardon men their sins, if they ut humbly pray; and when they weep, she makes herself their friend.

Let us close the day with these stanzas in honour of the holy Cross. We have taken them from the Triodion of the Greek Church.

                HYMN

(Feria VI. mediae Septimanae)

Purified by our fast, let us, to the praise and glory of the Omnipotent God, venerate that most holy Cross, whereon Christ, with his arms stretched forth, overcame the power of our enemy.

The saving Cross, that sanctifies us, is now exposed before our eyes. Let us draw nigh, having purified our body and our soul.

Cleanse me, O merciful Saviour, by the fire of thy commandments, and grant that I may contemplate thy saving Passion, and lovingly adore it, having the Cross for my protection and defense.

Having our hearts purified by the waters of our fast, let us, with faith, embrace the wood of the Cross, on which Christ was crucified, and gave us the water of immortality. Having thy Cross as our sail, we have already winged our way half through the saving voyage of our fast. Lead us by the same, O Jesus our Saviour, into the haven of thy Passion.

Moses on the mount was a figure of thee, O holy Cross, (when he prayed with his out stretched arms,) unto the destruction of the Amalekites. Grant that we, who sign thee on ourselves, and lovingly gaze on and venerate thee, may, by thy power, put our spiritual enemies to flight.

PASSION SUNDAY – MASS PROPERS

PASSIONTIDE MASS PROPERS

               PASSION SUNDAY

                The Liturgical Year

      Ven. Abbot Dom Guéranger 

Today, if ye shall hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts.

Hodie, si vocem Domini audieritis, nolite obdurare corda vestra.

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 fervor 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 marvelous 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 today’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: Today, 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. Today, 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.   

Crucifix veiled for Passiontide in the Parish Church of St. Martin, Germany

     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 today’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.

     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 Fests.

                      ________

         PASSION SUNDAY

            Violet – 1st Class

          Missa ‘Judica me’

  STATION AT ST. PETER’S

   (Indulgence of 10 years and 10 quarantines)

St Peters Basilica - Passion Sunday

INTROIT    Psalm 42: 1, 2

Judica me, Deus, et discérne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab hómine iníquo et dolóso éripe me: quia tu es Deus meus et fortitúdo mea. Ps. 42.3. Emítte lucem tuam et veritátem tuam: ipsa me deduxérunt et adduxérunt in montem sanctum tuum et in tabernácula tua.

Júdica 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. V. Send forth Thy light and Thy truth: they have conducted me, and brought me unto Thy holy hill, and into Thy tabernacles. V. 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.

Judge me…

The Gloria Patri is not said during Passion tide 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.    

COLLECT

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 Jesus Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.

EPISTLE – Hebrews 9: 11-15

Brethren: Christ being come, a 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. For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Holy Ghost, offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God? And therefore He is the Mediator of the New Testament; that by means of His death, for the redemption of those transgressions which were under the former Testament; they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance; in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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 mil 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? 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 contra diction? 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; that 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 today’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 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.

GRADUAL –  Psalm 142: 9, 10; Psalm 17: 48-49

Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord: teach me to do Thy will. V. Thou art my deliverer, O Lord, from the angry nations: Thou wilt lift me up above them that rise up against me: from the unjust man Thou wilt deliver me.

TRACT   – Psalm 128: 1-4

Often have they fought against me from my youth.

V. Let Israel now say: Often have they fought against me from my youth.

V. But they could not prevail over me: the wicked have wrought upon my back.

V. They have lengthened their iniquities: the Lord, Who is just, will cut the necks of sinners.

GOSPEL – John 8: 46-59

At that time, Jesus said to the multitudes of the Jews: “Which of you shall convince Me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe Me? He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God.” The Jews therefore answered, and said to Him: Do not we say well, that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered: “I have not a devil, but I honor My Father, and you have dishonoured Me. But I seek not My own glory; there is One that seeketh and judgeth. Amen, amen, I say to you, If any man keep My word, he shall not see death for ever.” The Jews therefore said: Now we know that Thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and Thou sayest: If any man keep My word, he shall not taste death for ever. Art Thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead. Whom dost Thou make Thyself? Jesus answered: “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing. It is My Father that glorifieth Me, of Whom you say that He is your God. And you have not known Him; but I know Him. And if I shall say that I know Him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know Him, and do keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see My day: he saw it, and was glad.” The Jews therefore said to Him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham? Jesus said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I AM.” They took up stones therefore to cast at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.

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, 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 astounding 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 fulfillment. 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.

OFFERTORY – Ps. 118: 17, 107

I will confess to Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: render to Thy servant, I shall live and keep Thy words: enliven 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 Church prays, in the Secret, that the Sacrifice she is about to offer, and which is one with that of the Cross, may work these same results in us.

SECRET

May these offerings, we beseech Thee, O Lord, loosen the bonds of our wickedness, and procure for us the gifts of Thy mercy. Through our Lord.

PREFACE OF THE HOLY CROSS

It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God; Who didst establish the salvation of mankind on the tree of the Cross; that whence death came, thence also life might arise again, and that he, who overcame by the tree, by the tree also might be overcome: Through Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with these we entreat Thee that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted while we say with lowly praise:

The Communion-Antiphon is formed out of the very words spoken by Jesus, when instituting the august Sacrifice that 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.

COMMUNION – 1 Corinthians 11: 24, 25

This is My Body which shall be delivered for you: this chalice is the new testament in My Blood, saith, the Lord: do this, as often as you receive it, in commemoration 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.

POSTCOMMUNION

Draw near to us, O Lord, our God, and by Thy unfailing help defend those whom Thy mysteries have refreshed. Through our Lord.