SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT
Commentary by Abbot Dom Guéranger
This is my beloved Son…hear ye him.
The subject offered to our consideration, on this Second Sunday, is one of the utmost importance for the holy Season. The Church applies to us the lesson which our Saviour gave to three of his Apostles. Let us endeavour to be more attentive to it than they were.
Jesus was about to pass from Galilee into Judea, that he might go up to Jerusalem, and be present at the Feast of the Pasch. It was that last Pasch, which was to begin with the immolation of the figurative lamb, and end with the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. Jesus would have his disciples know him. His works had borne testimony to him, even to those who were, in a manner, strangers to him; but as for his Disciples, had they not every reason to be faithful to him, even to death? Had they not listened to his words, which had such power with them, that they forced conviction? Had they not experienced his love, which it was impossible to resist? and had they not seen how patiently he had borne with their strange and untoward ways? Yes, they must have known him. They had heard one of their company, Peter, declare that he was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Notwithstanding this, the trial to which their faith was soon to be put, was to be of such a terrible kind, that Jesus would mercifully arm them against temptation by an extraordinary grace.
The Cross was to be a scandal and stumbling block to the Synagogue, and, alas! to more than it. Jesus said to his Apostles, at the Last Supper: All of you shall be scandalized in me this night. Carnal-minded as they then were, what would they think, when they should see him seized by armed men, handcuffed, hurried from one tribunal to another, and he doing nothing to defend himself! And when they found, that the High Priests and Pharisees, who had hitherto been so often foiled by the wisdom and miracles of Jesus, had now succeeded in their conspiracy against him, — what a shock to their confidence! But, there was to be something more trying still: the people, who, but a few days before, greeted him so enthusiastically with their hosannas, would demand his execution, and he would have to die, – between two thieves, on the Cross, amidst the insults of his triumphant enemies.
Is it not to be feared that these Disciples of his, when they witness his humiliations and sufferings, will lose their courage? They have lived in his company for three years; but when they see, that the things he foretold would happen to him are really fulfilled, — will the remembrance of all they have seen and heard, keep them loyal to him? or will they turn cowards and flee from him? — Jesus selects three out of the number, who are especially dear to him.
Peter, whom he has made the Rock, on which his Church is to be built, and to whom he has promised the Keys of the kingdom of heaven; James, the son of Thunder, who is to be the first Martyr of the Apostolic College; and John, James’ brother, and his own Beloved Disciple. Jesus has resolved to take them aside, and show them a glimpse of that glory, which, until the day fixed for its manifestation, he conceals from the eyes of mortals.
He therefore leaves the rest of his Disciples in the plain near Nazareth, and goes, in company with the three privileged ones, towards a high hill, called Thabor, which is a continuation of Libanus, and which the Psalmist tells us was to rejoice in the Name of the Lord. No sooner has he reached the summit of the mountain, than the three Apostles observe a sudden change come over him; his Face shines as the sun, and his humble garments become white as snow. They observe two venerable men approach, and speak with him upon what he was about to suffer in Jerusalem. One is Moses, the lawgiver; the other is Elias, the Prophet, who was taken up from earth on a fiery chariot, without having passed through the gates of death. These two great representatives of the Jewish Religion, the Law and the Prophets, humbly adore Jesus of Nazareth. The three Apostles are not only dazzled by the brightness which comes from their Divine Master; but they are filled with such a rapture of delight, that they cannot bear the thought of leaving the place. Peter proposes to remain there for ever, and build three tabernacles, for Jesus, Moses and Elias. And whilst they are admiring the glorious sight, and gazing on the beauty of their Jesus’ human Nature, a bright cloud overshadows them, and a voice is heard speaking to them: it is the voice of the Eternal Father, proclaiming the Divinity of Jesus, and saying: This is my beloved Son!
This transfiguration of the Son of Man, this manifestation of his glory, lasted but a few moments; his mission was not on Thabor; it was humiliation and suffering in Jerusalem. He therefore withdrew into himself the brightness he had allowed to transpire; and when he came to the three Apostles, who, on hearing the voice from the cloud, had fallen on their faces with fear, — they could see no one save only Jesus. The bright cloud was gone; Moses and Elias had disappeared. What a favour they have had bestowed upon them! Will they remember what they have seen and heard? They have had such a revelation of the Divinity of their dear Master! — is it possible, that when the hour of trial comes, they will forget it, and doubt his being God? and, when they see him suffer and die, be ashamed of him and deny him? Alas! the Gospel has told us what happened to them.
A short time after this, our Lord celebrated his Last Supper with his Disciples. When the Supper was over, he took them to another mount, Mount Olivet, which lies to the east of Jerusalem. Leaving the rest at the entrance of the Garden, he advances with Peter, James, and John, and then says to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me. He then retires some little distance from them, and prays to his Eternal Father. The Heart of our Redeemer is weighed down with anguish. When he returns to his three Disciples, he is enfeebled by the Agony he has suffered, and his garments are saturated with Blood. The Apostles are aware that he is sad even unto death, and that the hour is close at hand when he is to be attacked: are they keeping watch? are they ready to defend him? No: they seem to have forgotten him; they are fast asleep, for their eyes are heavy. Yet a few moments, and all will have fled from him; and Peter, the bravest of them all, will be taking his oath that he never knew the Man.
After the Resurrection, our three Apostles made ample atonement for this cowardly and sinful conduct, and acknowledged the mercy wherewith Jesus had sought to fortify them against temptation, by showing them his glory on Thabor, a few days before his Passion. Let us not wait till we have betrayed him: let us at once acknowledge that he is our Lord and our God. We are soon to be keeping the anniversary of his Sacrifice; like the Apostles, we are to see him humbled by his enemies and bearing, in our stead, the chastisements of Divine Justice. We must not allow our faith to be weakened, when we behold the fulfillment of those prophecies of David and Isaias, that the Messias is to be treated as a worm of the earth, and be covered with wounds, so as to become like a leper, the most abject of men, and the Man of sorrows. We must remember the grand things of Thabor, and the adorations paid him by Moses and Elias, and the bright cloud, and the voice of the Eternal Father. The more we see him humbled, the more must we proclaim his glory and divinity; we must join our acclamations with those of the Angels and the Four-and-Twenty Elders, whom St. John, (one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration,) heard crying out with a loud voice: The Lamb that was slain, is worthy to receive power, and divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and benediction!
Dominica Secunda in Quadragesima
SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT
This is my beloved Son… hear ye him
STATION AT ST. MARY’S IN DOMINICA
(Indulgence of 10 years and 10 quarantines)
Semi-double – Privilege of the First Class
INTROIT – Psalm 24: 6, 3, 22
Reminiscere miseratiónum tuárum, Dómine, et misericórdiæ tuæ, quæ a sǽculo sunt: ne umquam dominéntur nobis inimíci nostri: líbera nos, Deus Israël, ex omnibus angústiis nostris. Ps. 24: 1-2. Ad te, Dómine, levávi ánimam meam, Deus meus, in te confído, non erubéscam. V. Glória Patri.
Remember, O Lord, Thy bowels of compassion, and Thy mercies that are from the beginning of the world, lest at any time our enemies rule over us: deliver us, O God of Israel, from all our tribulations. Ps. To Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul: in Thee, O my God, I put my trust; let me not be ashamed V. Glory be to the Father.
In the Collect, we beg of God to watch over us in all our necessities, both of body and soul. If our prayer be humble and earnest, it will be granted. God will provide for us in our corporal necessities, and will defend our souls against the suggestions of our enemy, who strives to sully even our thoughts.
O God, who seest that we have no power whatever from ourselves; keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts which may hurt the soul. Through our Lord.
INTERCESSION OF THE SAINTS
Defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all dangers of mind and body: and through the intercession of the blessed and glorious Mary, ever Virgin, mother of God, of Saint Joseph, of Thy holy apostles, Saints Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in Thy loving-kindness grant us safety and peace; that, all adversities and errors being overcome, Thy Church may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost.
FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
O Almighty and Eternal God, Who hast dominion over both the living and the dead, and hast mercy on all Whom Thou knowest shall be Thine by faith and good works: we humbly beseech Thee that all for whom we have resolved to make supplication whether the present world still holds them in the flesh, or the world to come has already received them out of the body, may, through the intercession of all Thy saints, obtain of Thy goodness and clemency pardon for all their sins, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost; One God; forever and ever, Amen.
EPISTLE -1 Thessalonians 4: 1-7
Brethren: We pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus that, as you have received from us, now you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more. For you know what precepts I have given to you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles that know not God: and that no man overreach nor circumvent his brother in business: because the Lord is the avenger of all these things, as we have told you before and have testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto sanctification: in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Here the Apostle shows what manner of life should be followed by Christians; and the Church, by repeating his words, exhorts the Faithful to profit of the present Season of grace, and regain all the beauty of the image of God, which the grace of Baptism first gave them. A Christian is a vessel of honour, formed and enriched by the hand of God; let him, therefore, shun whatsoever would degrade his noble origin, and turn him into a vessel of dishonor, fit only to be broken and cast with the unclean into the sink of hell. The Christian Religion has so far ennobled man, that even his very body may share in the soul’s sanctity; on the other hand, she teaches us, that this sanctity of the soul is impaired, yea, altogether effaced, by the loss of the body’s purity. The whole man, therefore, both body and soul, is to be reformed by the practices of this holy Season. Let us purify the soul by the confession of our sins, by compunction of heart, by the love of God; and let us give back its dignity to the Body, by making it bear the yoke of penance, that so it may be, henceforth, subservient and docile to the Soul, and, on the day of the general Resurrection, partake in her endless bliss.
In the Gradual, man cries out to his God to de liver him from the evils that threaten him, and give him victory over the invisible enemy, who so cruelly humbles and insults him.
GRADUAL – Psalm 24: 17-18
The troubles of my heart are multiplied: deliver me from my necessities, O Lord. V. See my abjection and my labour, and forgive me all my sins.
The Tract is both a canticle of confidence in the divine mercy, and a prayer addressed by the Church to her Saviour, beseeching him to visit and save her faithful children on the great Feast, which is still so far off, but towards which each day brings us nearer.
TRACT – Psalm 105: 1-4
Give glory to the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever. V. Who shall declare the powers of the Lord: who shall set forth all His praises? V. Blessed are they that keep judgment and do justice at all times. V. Remember us, O Lord, in the favour of Thy people: visit us with Thy salvation.
GOSPEL Matthew 17: 1-9
At that time Jesus took Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: and He was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and His garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with Him. And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. hear ye Him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said to them: Arise, and fear not. And they lifting up their eyes saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man till the Son of Man be risen from the dead.
Thus did Jesus encourage his Apostles, when the time of temptation was near ; he sought to impress them with his glory, that it might keep up their faith in that trying time, when the outward eye would see nothing in his person but weakness and humiliation. Oh! the loving considerateness of divine grace, which is never wanting, and shows us, in so strong a light, the goodness and the justice of our God! Like the Apostles, we, also, have sinned ; like them, we have neglected to profit of the help that was sent us from heaven; we have shut our eyes against the light; we have forgotten the fair vision that was granted us, and which made us so fervent and happy; — and we fell. We have not, then, been tempted above our strength, and it is indeed our own fault that we committed sin. The three Apostles were exposed to a terrible temptation, when they beheld their Divine Master robbed of all his majesty; but how easy for them to resist the temptation, by thinking of what they had seen, but a few days before? Instead of that, they lost their courage, and forgot prayer, which would have brought their courage back; and thus, the favoured wit nesses of Thabor became cowards and deserters in the Garden of Mount Olivet. There was but one thing left them to do, — throw themselves upon the loving mercy of their Jesus, as soon as he had triumphed over his enemies; they did so, and his generous Heart pardoned them.
Let us imitate them here too. We have abused the grace of God, and rendered it fruitless, by our want of correspondence. The fountain of this Grace is not yet dried up; as long as we are in this world, we may always draw from this source, which comes from the Blood and merits of our Redeemer. It is Grace that is now urging us to the amendment of our lives. It is given to us in abundance during the present time, and it is given mainly by the holy exercises of Lent. Let us go up the mountain with Jesus; there, we shall not be disturbed by the noise of earthly things. Let us there spend our forty days with Moses and Elias, who, long before us, sanctified this number by their fasts. Thus, when the Son of Man shall have risen from the dead, we will proclaim the favours he has mercifully granted us on Thabor.
In the Offertory, the Church bids us meditate on the commandments of God. Would that we might love them as fervently as the Royal Prophet, whose words these are:
OFFERTORY Psalm 118: 47-48
I will meditate on Thy commandments, which I have loved exceedingly: and I will lift up my hands to Thy commandments, which I have loved.
The holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a source of devotion: let us, as the Church, in the Secret, prays we may, profit by our today’s assistance at it. It contains the pledge and price of our Salvation, and, if we put no obstacle in the way, will complete our reconciliation with our Lord.
Peacefully look down, we beseech Thee, O Lord, upon these sacrifices, that they may both increase our devotion and contribute to our salvation. Through our Lord.
INTERCESSION OF THE SAINTS
Graciously hear us, O God our Saviour, and, by virtue of this Sacrament, defend us from all enemies of soul and body, bestowing upon us Thy grace here and Thy glory hereafter. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
O Almighty and Eternal God, O God, Who alone knowest the number of the elect to be admitted to the happiness of Heaven, grant, we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of all Thy saints, the names of all who have been recommended to our prayers and of all the faithful, may be inscribed in the book of blessed predestination. Protect us, O Lord, who assist at Thy mysteries; that, fixed upon things divine we may serve Thee in both body and mind, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost; One God; forever and ever, Amen.
PREFACE FOR LENT
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 by the fasting of the body dost curb our vices, elevate our minds and bestow virtue and reward; 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, with the blessed seraphim join together in celebrating their joy. With these we pray Thee join our voices also, while we say with lowly praise:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dóminus Deus Sábaoth. Pleni sunt cæli et terra glória tua. Hosánna in excélsis. Benedíctus qui venit in nómine Dómini. Hosánna in excélsis.
The penitent soul, having seen how this ineffable Mystery has given her to enjoy the presence of Him who is her Saviour and her Judge, offers to him her prayers with all the fervour of confidence. She says to him these words of the Psalmist, which form the Communion Antiphon:
COMMUNION – Psalm 5: 2-4
Understand my cry: hearken to the voice of my prayer, O my King and my God: for to Thee will I pray, O Lord.
In the Postcommunion, the Church prays especially for those of her children, who have partaken of the Victim she has just been offering. Jesus has nourished them with his own Flesh; it behooves them to prove themselves worthy of him by the renewal of their lives.
We humbly beseech Thee, almighty God, that we whom Thou hast strengthened with Thy sacraments, may henceforth serve and please Thee in worthiness of life. Through our Lord.
INTERCESSION OF THE SAINTS
May the oblation of this divine sacrament which we have offered, cleanse us and defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord; and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, of St. Joseph, of Thy holy apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, free us from all iniquity and deliver us from all adversity. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
May the sacraments which we have received purify us, we beseech Thee, O almighty and merciful Lord; and through the intercession of all Thy saints, grant that this Thy sacrament may not be unto us a condemnation, but a salutary intercession for pardon; may it be the washing away of sin, the strength of the weak, a protection against all dangers of the world, and a remission of all the sins of the faithful, whether living or dead, through our Lord.
We may close our Sunday by reciting the following beautiful prayer taken from the Mozarabic Breviary.
(In 11. Dominica Quadragesimae)
O Jesus, our God! Eternal first beginning of light! who willedst that thy servants should devote the seventh day to sanctification, rather than to work; lo! we come, seeking how we may find thee, but we are prevented by the habitual darkness of our conscience; we make efforts to arise, but we fall back again, and are dejected. Therefore, we beseech thee, cast not away from thy face them that seek thee, for thou didst deign to show thyself to them that did not seek thee. Now is the season of the year, when we are offering to thy holy Name a tithe of our days; and of these days, seven are passed: grant us thine assistance in the path of this fatiguing journey, that so our proffered homage may be without blemish. Sweeten our toil by filling us with an ardent love of thy Majesty and awaken us from the sluggishness of the body, by the fervent abundance of thy charity. May our life, being thus in thee, know no faltering, and our faith find its reward.