Excerpt from Dom Guéranger’s Liturgical Year
This Sunday, called, from the ﬁrst word of the Introit, Laetare Sunday, is one of the most solemn of the year. The Church interrupts her Lenten mournfulness; the chants of the Mass speak of nothing but joy and consolation; the organ, which has been silent during the preceding three Sundays, now gives forth its melodious voice; the deacon resumes his dalmatic, and the subdeacon his tunic; and instead of purple, rose-coloured vestments are allowed to be used. These same rites were practiced in Advent, on the third Sunday, called Gaudete. The Church’s motive for introducing this expression of joy into today’s liturgy is to encourage her children to persevere fervently to the end of this holy season. The real mid-Lent was last Thursday, as we have already observed; but the Church, fearing lest the joy might lead to some infringement on the spirit of penance, has deferred her own notice of it to this Sunday, when she not only permits, but even bids, her children to rejoice!
The Station at Rome is in the basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem, one of the seven principal churches of the holy city. It was built in the fourth century, by the emperor Constantine, in one of his villas called Sessorius, on which account it goes also under the’ name of the Sessorian basilica. The emperor’s mother, St. Helen, enriched it with most precious relics, and wished to make it the Jerusalem of Rome. With this intention she ordered a great quantity of earth taken from Mount Calvary to be put on the site. Among the other relics of the instruments of the Passion which she gave to this church was the inscription which was fastened to the cross; it is still there, and is called the Title of the Cross. The name of Jerusalem, which has been given to this basilica, and which recalls to our minds the heavenly Jerusalem towards which we are tending, suggested the choice of it as today’s Station.
Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs
Saints Perpetua and Felicity (believed to have died in 203 AD) are Christian martyrs of the 3rd century. Vibia Perpetua was a married noblewoman, said to have been 22 years old at the time of her death, and mother of an infant she was nursing. Felicity, a slave imprisoned with her and pregnant at the time, was martyred with her. They were put to death along with others at Carthage in the Roman province of Africa.
The Passion of St. Perpetua, St. Felicitas, and their Companions is one of the oldest and most notable early Christian texts. It survives in both Latin and Greek forms, and purports to contain the actual prison diary of the young mother and martyr Perpetua. Scholars generally believe that it is authentic although in the form we have it may have been edited by others. The text also purports to contain, in his own words, the accounts of the visions of Saturus, another Christian martyred with Perpetua. An editor who states he was an eyewitness has added accounts of the martyrs’ suffering and deaths.
According to the passion, a slave named Revocatus, his fellow slave Felicitas, the two free men Saturninus and Secundulus, and Perpetua, who were catechumens, that is, Christians being instructed in the faith but not yet baptized, were arrested and executed at the military games in celebration of the Emperor Septimus Severus’s birthday. To this group was added a man named Saturus, who voluntarily went before the magistrate and proclaimed himself a Christian.
FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
STATION AT THE HOLY CROSS IN JERUSALEM
(Indulgence of 10 years or 10 quarantines)
Semi-double Privilege of the First Class
Violet or rose vestments
Commemoration for Ss. Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs
Isaias 66: 10-11
Laetare, Jerúsalem: et convéntum fácite, omnes qui dilígitis eam: gaudéte cum lætítia, qui in tristítia fuístis: ut exsultétis, et satiémini ab ubéribus consolatiónis vestræ. Ps. 121. 2. Lætátus sum in his, quæ dicta sunt mihi: in domum Dómini íbimus. V. Glória Patri.
Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation.
Ps. I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord. Glory be to the Father.
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds justly deserve to be punished, by the comfort of Thy grace may mercifully be relieved. Through our Lord.
COMMEMORATION FOR ST PERPETUA AND FELICITAS
Give unto us, we beseech thee, O Lord our God, to reverence with unceasing devotion the glory of Thy holy Martyrs Perpetua and Felicitas; and though it be not ours worthily to honour their triumph, to persevere in offering them the humble tribute of our duty. Through our Lord.
Galatians 4: 22-31
Brethren: It is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman and the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh: but he of the free woman was by promise: which things are said by an allegory. For these are the two testaments. The one from Mount Sinai, engendering unto bondage: which is Agar: for Sinai is a mountain in Arabia, which hath affinity to that Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But that Jerusalem which is above is free, which is our mother. For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not: break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born according to the flesh persecuted him that was after the spirit: so also it is now. But what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman. So then, brethren, we are not the children of the bondwoman, but of the free: by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.
Psalm 121: 1-7
I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord. V. Let peace be in Thy strength: and abundance in Thy towers.
Psalm 124: 1-2
They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Sion: he shall not be moved for ever that dwelleth in Jerusalem. V. Mountains are round about it: so the Lord is round about His people, from henceforth now and for ever.
John 6: 1-15
At that time Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias: and a great multitude followed Him, because they saw the miracles which He did on them that were diseased. Jesus therefore went up into a mountain: and there He sat with His disciples. Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus therefore had lifted up His eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to Him, He said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? And this He said to try him: for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him: Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little. One of His disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to Him: There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves and two fishes: but what are these among so many? Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed to them that were set down: in like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would. And when they were filled, He said to His disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost. They gathered up therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which remained over and above to them that had eaten. Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet that is to come into the world. Jesus therefore when He knew that they would come to take Him by force and make Him king, fled again into the mountain, Himself alone.
Psalm 134: 3, 6
Praise ye the Lord, for He is good: sing ye to His name, for He is sweet: whatsoever He pleased, He hath done in heaven and in earth.
Look down mercifully upon These sacrifices, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that they may increase our devotion and effect our salvation. Through our Lord.
COMMEMORATION FOR ST PERPETUA AND FELICITAS
Favourably look down we beseech Thee, O Lord, upon the gifts laid upon Thine altars for the feast day of Thy holy Martyrs Perpetua and Felicitas, and as by these Sacred Mysteries, Thou didst raise Thy Saints to glory everlasting, so through them vouchsafe to us Thy forgiveness. Through our Lord.
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.
Psalm 121: 3-4
Jerusalem, which is built as a city, which is compact together: for thither did the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to praise Thy name, O Lord.
Grant us, we beseech Thee, O merciful God, ever to celebrate with sincere worship and receive with faithful hearts Thy holy mysteries, of which we continually partake. Through our Lord.
COMMEMORATION FOR ST PERPETUA AND FELICITAS
Thou hast filled us, O Lord, with mystic graces and joys: grant, we beseech Thee, that through the prayers of Thy holy Martyrs, Perpetua and Felicitas, may profit eternally from having in this our time ministered to Thee. Through our Lord.