The Liturgical Year by Ven. Dom Guéranger
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 to-day’s Matins, which the Church takes from one of the psalms, and which she repeats on every feria between this and Maundy Thursday? She says; 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.
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.
Violet – 1st Class
MISSA ‘Judica me’
STATION AT ST. PETER’S
(Indulgence of 10 years and 10 quarantines)
This Sunday is called Passion Sunday, because the Church begins, on this day, to make the sufferings of our Redeemer her chief thought. It is called also, Judica, from the first word of the Introit of the Mass; and again Neomania, that is, the Sunday of the new (or the Easter) moon, because it always falls after the new moon which regulates the feast of Easter. In the Greek Church, this Sunday goes under the simple name of the fifth Sunday of the holy fast.
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.
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.
Look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, O Lord, upon Thy family; by Thy governance may we be outwardly protected in body; by Thy favor may we be inwardly strengthened in heart and mind. 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.
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. Let Israel now say: Often have they fought against me from my youth. But they could not prevail over me: the wicked have wrought upon my back. 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.
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.
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:
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.
Draw near to us, O Lord, our God, and by Thy unfailing help defend those whom Thy mysteries have refreshed. Through our Lord.