Saturday, January 31, 2015

Season of Septuagesima

The History of Septuagesima

The season of Septuagesima comprises the three weeks immediately preceding Lent. It forms one of the principal divisions of the liturgical year, and is itself divided into three parts, each part corresponding to a week: the first is called Septuagesima; the second, Sexagesima;, the third, Quinquagesima.

All three are named from their numerical reference to Lent, which, in the language of the Church, is called Quadragesima, that is, Forty, because the great feast of Easter is prepared for by the holy exercises of forty days. The words Quinquagesima, sexagesima, and Septuagesima, tell us of the same great solemnity as looming in the distance, and as being the great object towards which the Church would have us now begin to turn all our thoughts, and desires, and devotion.

Now, the feast of Easter must be prepared for by forty days of recollectedness and penance. Those forty days are one of the principal seasons of the liturgical year, and one of the most power means employed by the Church for exciting in the hearts of her children the spirit of their Christian vocation. It is of the utmost importance that such a season of grace should produce its work in our souls—the renovation of the whole spiritual life. The Church, therefore, has instituted a preparation for the holy time of Lent. She gives us the three weeks of Septuagesima, during which she withdraws us, as much as may be, from the noisy distractions of the world, in order that our hearts may be more readily impressed by the solemn warning she is to give us at the commencement of Lent by marking our foreheads with ashes.

This prelude to the holy season of Lent was not known in the early ages of Christianity: its institution would seem to have originated in the Greek Church. Besides the six Sundays of Lent, on which by universal custom the faithful never fasted, the practice of this Church prohibited fasting on the Saturdays likewise; consequently their Lent was short by twelve days of the forty spent by our Savior doing penance in the desert. To make up for the deficiency, they were obliged to begin their Lent so many days earlier, as we will observe later.

The Church of Rome had no such motive for anticipating the season of those privations which belong to Lent; for, from the earliest antiquity, she kept the Saturdays in Lent (and as often during the rest of the year as circumstances might require) as fasting days. At the close of the sixth century, St. Gregory the Great alludes, in one of his homilies, to the fast of Lent being less than forty days, owing to the Sundays which come during that holy season. “There are,” he says, “from this day (the first Sunday of Lent) to the joyous feast of Easter, six weeks, that is, forty-two days. As we do not fast on the six Sundays, there are but thirty-six fasting days … which we offer to God as the tithe of our year.”

It was, therefore, after the pontificate of St. Gregory that the last four days of Quinquagesima week were added to Lent, in order that the number of fasting days might be exactly forty. As early, however, as the ninth century, the custom of beginning lent on Ash Wednesday was of obligatio in the whole Latin Church. All the manuscript copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary, which bear that date, entitle this Wednesday In capite jejunii, that is to say, the beginning of the fast; and Amalarius, who gives us every detail of the liturgy of the ninth century, tells us that it was, even then, the rule to begin the fast four days before the first Sunday of Lent. We find the practice confirmed by two Councils held in that century, at Meaux and Soissons. But out of respect for the form of divine service drawn up by St. Gregory, the Church does not make any important change in the Office of these four days. Up to the Vespers of Saturday, when alone she begins the lenten rite, she observes the rubrics prescribed for Quinquagesima week.

Peter of Blois, who lived in the twelfth century, tells us what was the practice in his days. He says: “All religious begin the fast of Lent at Septuagesima; the Greeks, at Sexagesima; the clergy, at Quinquagesima; and the rest of Christians, who form the Church militant on earth, begin their Lent on the Wednesday following Quinquagesima.” The secular clergy, as we learn from these words, were bound to begin the lenten fast somewhat before the laity; though it was only by two days—that is, on Monday, as we gather from the Life of St. Ulric, bishop of Augsburg, written in the tenth century. The Council of Clermont, in 1095, at which Pope Urban II presided, has a decree sanctioning the obligation of the clergy to begin abstinence from flesh-meat at Quinquagesima. This Sunday was called, indeed, Dominica carnis privii, and carnis privium sacerdotum, that is, priests’ carnival Sunday; but the term is to be understood in the sense of the announcement being made, on that Sunday, of the abstinence having to begin on the following day. We shall find, further on, that a like usage was observed in the Greek Church on the three Sundays preceding Lent. This law, which obliged the clergy to these two additional days of abstinence, was in force in the thirteenth century, as we learn from a Council held at Angers, which threatens with suspension all priests who neglect to begin Lent on the Monday of Quinquagesima week.

This usage, however, soon became obsolete; and in the fifteenth century, the secular clergy, and even the monks themselves, began the lenten fast, like the rest of the faithful, on Ash Wednesday.

There can be no doubt that the original motive for this anticipation—which, after several modifications, was limited to the four days immediately preceding Lent—was to remove from the Greeks the pretext of taking scandal at the Latins, who did not fast fully forty days. Retramnus, in his Controvery with the Greeks, clearly implies it. But the Latin Church did not think it necessary to carry her condescension farther, by imitating the Greek ante-lenten usages, which originated, as we have already said, in the eastern custom of not fasting on Saturdays.

Thus it was that the Roman Church, by this anticipation of Lent by four days, gave the exact n;umber of forty days to the holy season, which she had instituted in imitation of the forty days spent by our Savior in the desert. While faithful to her ancient practice of looking on the Saturday as a day appropriate for penitential exercises, she gladly borrowed from the Greek Church the custom of preparing the Lent, by giving to the liturgy of the the preceding weeks a tone of holy mournfulness. Even as early as the beginning of the ninth century, as we learn from Amalarius, the Alleluia and Gloria in excelsis were suspended in the Septuagesima Offices. The monks conformed to the custom, although the Rule of St. Benedict prescribed otherwise. Finally, in the second half of the eleventh century, Pope Alexander II enacted that the total suspension of the Alleluia should be everywhere observed, beginning with the Vespers of the Saturday preceding Septuagesima Sunday. This Pope was but renewing a rule already sanctioned in that same century by Pope Leo IX, and inserted in the body of Canon Law.

Thus was the present important period of the liturgical year, after various changes, established in the cycle of the Church. It has been there upwards of a thousand years. Its name, Septuagesima (seventy), expresses, as we have already remarked, a numerical relation to Quadragesima (the forty days); although, in reality, there are not seventy but only sixty-three days from Septuagesima Sunday to Easter. We will speak of the mystery of the name anon. The first Sunday of Lent being called Quadragesima (forty), each of the three previous Sundays has a name expressive of an additional ten; the nearest to Lent, Quinquagesima (fifty); the middle one, Sexagesima (sixty); the third, Septuagesima (seventy).

As the season of Septuagesima depends upon the time of the Easter celebration, it comes sooner or later according to the changes of that great feast. January 18 and February 22 are called the “Septuagesima keys” because the Sunday which is called Septuagesima cannot be earlier in the year than the first, nor later than the second, of these two days.

The Mystery of Septuagesima

The season upon which we are now entering is expressive of several profound mysteries. But these mysteries belong not only to the three weeks which are preparatory to Lent: they continue throughout the whole period of time which separates us from the great feast of Easter.

The number seven is the basis of all these mysteries. We have already seen how the holy Church came to introduce the season of Septuagesima into her calendar. Let us now meditate on the doctrine hidden under the symbols of her liturgy. And first, let us listen to St. Augustine, who thus gives us the clue to the whole of our season’s mysteries. “There are two times,” says the holy Doctor: “one which is now, and is spent in the temptations and tribulations of this life; the other which shall be then, and shall be spent in eternal security and joy. In figure of these, we celebrate two periods: the time before Easter, and the time after Easter. That which is before Easter signified the sorrow of this present life; that which is after Easter, the blessedness of our future state … Hence it is that we spend the first in fasting and prayer; and in the second we give our fasting, and give ourselves to praise.”

The Church, the interpreter of the sacred Scriptures, often speaks to us of two places, which correspond with these two times of St. Augustine. These two places are Babylon and Jerusalem. Babylon is the image of this world of sin, in the midst whereof the Christian has to spend his years of probation; Jerusalem is the heavenly country, where he is to repose after all his trials. The people of Israel, whose whole history is but one great type of the human race, was banished from Jerusalem and kept in bondage in Babylon.

Now, this captivity, which kept the Israelites exiles from Sion, lasted seventy years; and it is to express this mystery, as Alcuin, Amalarius, Ivo of Chartres, and all the great liturgists tell us, that the Church fixed the number of seventy for the days of expiation. It is true, there are but sixty-three days between Septuagesima and Easter; but the Church, according to the style so continually used in the sacred Scriptures, uses the round number instead of the literal and precise one.

The duration of the world itself, according to the ancient Christian tradition, is divided into seven ages. The human race must pass through seven ages before the dawning of the day of eternal life. The first age included the time from the creation of Adam to Noah; the second begins with Noah and the renovation of the earth by the deluge, and ends with the vocation of Abraham; the third opens with this first formation of God’s chosen people, and continues as far as Moses, through whom God gave the Law; the fourth consists of the period between Moses and David, in whom the house of Juda received the kingly power; the fifth is formed of the years which passed between David’s reign and the captivity of Babylon, inclusively; the sixth dates from the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, and takes us on as far as the birth of our Savior. Then finally comes the seventh age: it starts with the rising of this merciful Redeemer, the Sun of justice, and is to continue till the dread coming of the Judge of the living and the dead. These are the seven great divisions of time; after which, eternity.

In order to console us in the midst of the combats, which so thickly beset our path, the Church, like a beacon shining amidst the darkness of this our earthly abode, shows us another seven, which is to succeed the one we are now preparing to pass through. After the Septuagesima of mourning, we shall have the bright Easter with its seven weeks of gladness, foreshadowing the happiness and bliss of heaven. After having fasted with our Jesus, and suffered with Him, the day will come when we shall rise together with Him, and our hearts shall follow Him to the highest heavens; and then after a brief interval, we shall feel the Holy Ghost descending upon us, with His seven Gifts. The celebration of all these wondrous joys will take us seven weeks, as the great liturgists observe in their interpretation of the rites of the Church. The seven joyous weeks from Easter to Pentecost will not be too long for the future glad mysteries, which, after all, will be but figures of a still gladder future, the future of eternity.

Having heard these sweet whisperings of hope, let us now bravely face the realities brought before us by our dear mother the Church. We are sojourners upon this earth; we are exiles and captives in Babylon, that city which plots our ruin. If we love our country, if we long to return to it, we must be proof against the lying allurements of this strange land, and refuse the cup she proffers us, and with which she maddens so many of our fellow captives. She invites us to join in her feasts and her sons; but we must unstring our harps, and hang them on the willows that grow on her river’s bank, till the signal be given for our return to Jerusalem .She will ask us to sing to her the melodies of our dear Sion: but how shall we, who are so far from home, have heart to “sing the son of the Lord in a strange land“? No, there must be no sign that we are content to be in bondage, or we shall deserve to be slaves forever.

These are the sentiments wherewith the Church would inspire us during the penitential season which we are now beginning. She wishes us to reflect on the dangers that beset us; dangers which arise from ourselves and from creatures. During the rest of the year she loves to hear us chant the song of heaven, the sweet Alleluia; but now, she bids us close our lips to this word of joy, because we are in Babylon. We are pilgrims absent from our Lord: let us keep our glad hymn for the day of His return. We are sinners, and have but too often held fellowship with the world of God’s enemies; let us become purified by repentance, for it is written that “praise is unseemly in the mouth of a sinner.”

The leading feature, then, of Septuagesima, is the total suspension of the Alleluia, which is not to be heard upon the earth until the arrival of that happy day when, having suffered death with our Jesus, and having been buried together with Him, we shall rise again with Him to a new life.

The sweet hymn of the angels, Gloria in excelsis Deo, which we have sung every Sunday since the birth of our Savior in Bethlehem, is also taken from us; it is only on the feasts of the saints which may be kept during the week that we shall be allowed to repeat it. The night Office of the Sunday is to lose also, from now till Easter, its magnificent Ambrosian hymn, the Te Deum; and at the end of the holy Sacrifice, the deacon will no longer dismiss the faithful with his solemn Ite, Missa est, but will simply invite them to continue their prayers in silence, and bless the Lord, the God of mercy, who bears with us, notwithstanding all our sins.

After the Gradual of the Mass, instead of the thrice repeated Alleluia, which prepared our hearts to listen to the voice of God in the holy Gospel, we shall hear but a mournful and protracted chant, called, on that account, the Tract.

That the eye, too, may teach us that the season we are entering on is one of mourning, the Church will vest her ministers (both on Sundays and on the days during the week which are not feasts of saints) in the somber purple. Until Ash Wednesday, however, she permits the deacon to wear his dalmatic, and the subdeacon his tunic; but from that day forward, they must lay aside these vestments of joy, for Lent will then have begun, and our holy mother will inspire us with the deep spirit of penance, by suppressing everything of that glad pomp, which she loves, at other seasons, to bring into the sanctuary of her God.

Practice During Septuagesima

The joys of Christmastide seem to have fled far from us. The forty days of gladness brought us by the birth of our Emmanuel are gone. The atmosphere of holy Church has grown overcast, and we are warned that the gloom is still to thicken. Have we, then, forever lost Him whom we so anxiously and longingly sighed after during the four slow weeks of our Advent? Has our divine Sun of justice, that rose so brightly in Bethlehem, now stopped His course, and left our guilty earth?

Not so. The Son of God, the Child of Mary, has not left us. The Word was made Flesh in order the He might dwell among us. A glory far greater than that of His birth, when angels sang their hymns, awaits Him, and we are to share it with Him. Only, He must win this new and greater glory by strange, countless sufferings; He must purchase it by a most cruel and ignominious death: and we, if we would have our share in the triumph of His Resurrection, must follow Him in the way of the cross, all wet with the tears and the Blood He shed for us.

The grave, maternal voice of the Church will soon be heard, inviting us to the lenten penance; but she wishes us to prepare for this “laborious baptism” by employing these three weeks in considering the deep wounds caused in our souls by sin. True, the beauty and loveliness of the little Child born to us in Bethlehem, are great beyond measure; but our souls are so needy that they require other lessons than those He gave us of humility and simplicity. Our Jesus is the Victim of the divine justice, and He has now attained the fullness of His age; the altar, on which He has to be slain, is ready: and since it is for us that He is to be sacrificed, we should at once set ourselves to consider what are the debts we have contracted towards that infinite justice, which is about to punish the innocent One instead of us the guilty.

The mystery of a God becoming Incarnate for the love of His creature has opened to us the path of the illuminative way; but we have not yet seen the brightest of its light. Let not our hearts be troubled; the divine wonders we witnessed at Bethlehem are to be surpassed by those that are to grace the day of our Jesus’ triumph: but, that our eye may contemplate these future mysteries, it must be purified by courageously looking into the abyss of our own personal miseries. God will grant us His divine light for the discovery; and if we come to know ourselves, to understand the grievousness of original sin, to see the malice of our own sins, and to comprehend, at least in some degree, the infinite mercy of God towards us, we shall be prepared for the holy expiations of Lent, and for the ineffable joys of Easter.

The season, then, of Septuagesima is one of most serious thought. Perhaps we could not better show the sentiments wherewith the Church would have her children to be filled at this period of her year than by quoting a few words from the eloquent exhortation, given to his people, at the beginning of Septuagesima, by the celebrated Ivo of Chartres. He spoke thus to the faithful of the eleventh century: “‘We know,’ says the apostle, ‘that every creature groaneth, and travaileth in pain even till now: and not only it, but ourselves, also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.’ The creature here spoken of is the soul that has been regenerated from the corruption of sin unto the likeness of God: she groaneth within herself at seeing herself made subject to vanity; she, like one that travaileth, is filled with pain, and is devoured by an anxious longing to be in that country which is still so far off. It was this travail and pain that the psalmist was suffering, when he exclaimed: ‘Woe is me, that my sojourning is prolonged!’ Nay, that apostle, who was one of the first members of the Church, and had received the holy Spirit, longed to have, in all its reality, that adoption of the sons of God which he already had in hope; and he too thus exclaimed in his pain: ‘I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ.’ … During these days, therefore, we must do what we do at all seasons of the year, only we must do it more earnestly and fervently: we must sigh and weep after our country, from which we were exiled in consequence of having indulged in sinful pleasures; we must redouble our efforts in order to regain it by compunction and weeping of heart … Let us now shed tears in the way, that we may afterwards be glad in our country. Let us now so run the race of this present life that we may make sure of ‘the prize of the supernal vocation.’ Let us not be like imprudent wayfarers, forgetting our country, and preferring our banishment to our home. Let us not become like those senseless invalids, who feel not their ailments, and seek no remedy. We despair of a sick man who will not be persuaded that he is in danger. No: let us run to our Lord, the physician of eternal salvation. Let us show Him our wounds, and cry out to Him with all our earnestness: ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak: heal me, for my bones are troubled.’ Then will He forgive us our iniquities, heal us of our infirmities, and satisfy our desire with good things.”

From all this it is evident that the Christian who would spend Septuagesima according to the spirit of the Church, must make war upon that false security, that self-satisfaction, which are so common to effeminate and tepid souls, and produce spiritual barrenness. It is well for them if these delusions do not insensibly lead them to the absolute loss of the true Christian spirit. He that thinks himself dispensed from that continual watchfulness, which is so strongly inculcated by our divine Master is already in the enemy’s power. He that feels no need of combat and of struggle in order to persevere and make progress in virtue (unless he have been honored with a privilege, which is both rare and dangerous) should fear that he is not even on the road to that kingdom of God, which is only to be won by violence. He that forgets the sins which God’s mercy has forgiven him should fear lest he be the victim of a dangerous delusion. Let us, during these days which we are going to devote to the honest unflinching contemplation of our miseries, give glory to our God, and derive from the knowledge of ourselves fresh motives of confidence in Him who, in spite of all our wretchedness and sin, humbled Himself so low as to become one of us, in order that He might exalt us even to union with Himself.

Hearing Mass During the Season of Septuagesima

The Christian who enters into the spirit of the Church during the season of Septuagesima will find an increase in his soul of that holy fear of God, which the psalmist tells us is the beginning of wisdom. The consideration of what original sin has brought upon him, the recollection of his own sins, and the dread of God’s judgments, all combine to arouse him from the indifference which so easily fastens on the soul. He has need, therefore, of some refuge, some powerful and saving help, which may re-enkindle within his heart that Christian hope, without which he cannot be in the grace of God. Nay more: he has need of a victim of propitiation, which may appease the divine anger; he has need of a sacrifice, whereby to stay the arm of God, which he knows is raised to punish his sins.

This Victim is ready; this infinitely efficacious Sacrifice is prepared for us. “The Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world” is still on our earth. His birth has filled us with consolation; the joy we experienced as we stood near His crib, but which has suddenly given place to thoughts the very opposite of joy, will return to us, and be greater than when we had it at Christmas, on the Easter day of His Resurrection: but in the interval, while awaiting the dawn of that bright day which is to lead us to our Jesus purified from our sins and vigorous with our new life, we may and must trust that His merits will effect the regeneration of our souls. When, therefore, we would offer to our God the sacrifice of “a contrite and humble heart,” let us ensure its acceptance by going to the altar and supplicating the Victim, who there offers Himself for our sake, that He join His infinite merits with our feeble works. When we leave the house of God, the weight of our sins will be lessened, our confidence in divine mercy will be increased, and our love, renewed by compunction, will be firmer and truer.

We will now endeavor to embody these sentiments in our explanation of the mysteries of the holy Mass, and initiate the faithful into these divine secrets; not, indeed, by indiscreetly presuming to translate the sacred formulæ, but by suggesting such acts as will enable those who hear Mass to enter into the ceremonies and the spirit of the Church and of the priest.

On the three Sundays of Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima, the Mass is always celebrated according to the rite of the penitential season we are now keeping. These Sundays are never put out by any feast that may occur on them, unless it be that of the patron or the dedication of the Church. Ash Wednesday does not admit of even that exception; the Mass of that feria is never omitted. But when a saint’s feast (and there are many such during the time of Septuagesima) falls on any other day than the four just mentioned, the Church then lays aside her purple vestments, and celebrates the holy Sacrifice in memory of the saint.

On the Sundays, if the Mass at which the faithful assist be the Parochial, or, as it is often called, the public Mass, two solemn rites precede it, and they are full of instruction and blessing: the Asperges, or sprinkling of the holy water, and the procession.

During the Asperges, let us ask with David, whose words are used by the Church in this ceremony, that our souls may be purified by the hyssop of humility, and become whiter than snow.

Antiphon of the Asperges

Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo, et mundabor; lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.

Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, O Lord, and I shall be cleansed; thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.

Ps. Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.

Ps. Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy.

℣. Gloria Patri, &c.

℣. Glory, &c.

Ant. Asperges me, &c.

Ant. Sprinkle me, &c.

℣. Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam.

℣. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.

℟. Et salutare tuum da nobis.

℟. And grant us thy salvation.

℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.

℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.

℟. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.

℟. And let my cry come unto thee.

℣. Dominus vobiscum.

℣. The Lord be with you.

℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

℟. And with thy spirit.

Oremus. Let us Pray.

Exaudi nos, Domine sancte, Pater omniptens, æterne Deus: et mittere digneris sanctum angelum tuum de cœlis, qui custodiat, foveat, protegat, visitet atque defendat omnes habitantes in hoc habitaculo. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Graciously hear us, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: and vouchsafe to send thy holy angel from heaven, who may keep, cherish, protect, visit, and defend all who are assembled in this place. Through Christ our Lord.

℟. Amen.

℟. Amen.

The procession, which immediately precedes the Mass, shows us the ardor wherewith the Church advances towards her God. Let us imitate her fervor, for it is written: The Lord is good to them that hope in Him, to the soul that seeketh Him.

But see, Christians! the Sacrifice begins! The priest is at the foot of the altar; God is attentive, the angels are in adoration, the whole Church is united with the priest, whose priesthood and action are those of the great High Priest, Jesus Christ. Let us make the sign of the cross with him.

The Ordinary of the Mass

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

℣. Introibo ad altare Dei.
℟. Ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam.

I unite myself, O my God, with thy Church, whose heart is filled with the hope of soon seeing, and in all the splendor of his Resurrection, Jesus Christ thy Son, who is the true altar.

Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me.

Like her, I beseech thee to defend me against the malice of the enemies of my salvation.

Quia tu es, Deus, fortitudo mea: quare me repulisti? et quare tristis incedo, dum affligit me inimicus?

It is in thee that I have put my hope; yet do I feel sad and troubled at being in the midst of the snares which are set for me.

Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam: ipsa me deduxerunt et adduxerunt in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernacula tua.

Send me, then, him who is light and truth: it is he who will open to us the way to thy holy mount, to thy heavenly tabernacle.

Et introibo ad altare Dei: ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam.

He is the Mediator, and the living altar; I will draw nigh to him, and be filled with joy.

Confitebor tibi in cithara Deus, Deus meus: quare tristis es anima mea? et quare conturbas me?

When he shall have come, I will sing in my gladness. Be not sad, O my soul! Why wouldst thou be troubled?

Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc confitebor illi: salutare vultus mei, et Deus meus.

Hope in thy Jesus, who will soon show himself to thee as the conqueror of that death which he will have suffered in thy stead; and thou wilt rise again together with him.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

℣. Introibo ad altare Dei.
℟. Ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam.

I am to go to the altar of God, and feel the presence of him who desires to give me a new life!

℣. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
℟. Qui fecit cœlum et terram.

This my hope comes not to me as thinking that I have any merits, but from the all-powerful help of my Creator.

The thought of being about to appear before his God excites in the soul of the priest a lively sentiment of compunction. He cannot go further in the holy Sacrifice without confessing, and publicly, that he is a sinner, and deserves not the grace he is about to receive. Listen with respect to this confession of God’s minister, and earnestly ask our Lord to show mercy to him; for the priest is your father; he is answerable for your salvation, for which he every day risks his own. When he has finished, unite with the servers, or the sacred ministers, in this prayer:

Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam æternam.

May almighty God have mercy on thee, and, forgiving thy sins, bring thee to everlasting life.

The priest having answered Amen, make your confession, saying with a contrite spirit:

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatæ Mariæ semper Virgini, beato Michaeli archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistæ, sanctis apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus sanctis, et tibi, pater: quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes sanctos, et te, pater, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.

I confess to almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy apostles Peter and Paul, to all the saints, and to thee, father, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed: through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, and thee, father, to pray to the Lord our God for me.

Receive with gratitude the paternal wish of the priest, who says to you:

Misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis vestris, perducat vos ad vitam æternam.

May almighty God be merciful to you, and, forgiving your sins, bring you to everlasting life.

℟. Amen.

℟. Amen.

Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum, tribuat nobis omniptens et misericors Dominus.

May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins.

℟. Amen.

℟. Amen.

Invoke the divine assistance, that you may approach to Jesus Christ.

℣. Deus, tu conversus vivificabis nos.

℣. O God, it needs but one look of thine to give us life.

℟. Et plebs tua lætabitur in te.

℟. And thy people shall rejoice in thee.

℣. Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam.

℣. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.

℟. Et salutare tuum da nobis.

℟. And give us to know and love the Savior whom thou hast sent unto us.

℣. Domine, exaude orationem meam.

℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.

℟. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.

℟. And let my cry come unto thee.

The priest here leaves you to ascend to the altar; but first he salutes you:

℣. Dominus vobiscum.

℣. The Lord be with you.

Anser him with reverence:

℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

℟. And with thy spirit.

Oremus. Let us Pray.

He ascends the steps, and comes to the Holy of holies. Ask, both for him and for yourself, deliverance from sin:

Aufer a nobis quæsumus, Domine, iniquitates nostras; ut ad Sancta sanctorum puris mereamur mentibus introire. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Take from our hearts, O Lord, all those sins, which make us unworthy to appear in thy presence; we ask this of thee by thy divine Son, our Lord. Amen.

When the priest kisses the altar, out of reverence for the relics of the martyrs which are there, say:

Oramus te Domine, per merita sanctorum tuorum, quorum reliquiæ hic sunt, et omnium sanctorum: ut indulgere digneris omnia peccata mea. Amen.

Generous soldiers of Jesus Christ, who have mingled your own blood with his, intercede for us that our sins may be forgiven: that so we may, like you, approach unto God.

If it be a High Mass at which you are assisting, the priest here blesses the incense, saying:

Ab illo benedicaris, in cujus honore cremaberis. Amen.

Mayst thou be blessed by him, in whose honor thou art to be burned. Amen.

He then censes the altar in a most solemn manner. This white cloud, which you see ascending from every part of the altar, signifies the prayer of the Church, who addresses herself to Jesus Christ; while the divine mediator causes that prayer to ascend, united with His own, to the throne of the majesty of His Father.

The priest then says the Introit. It is a solemn opening anthem in which the Church, at the very commencement of the holy Sacrifice, gives expression to the sentiments which fill her heart.

It is followed by nine exclamations, which are even more earnest, for they ask for mercy. In addressing them to God, the Church unites herself with the nine choirs of angels, who are standing round the altar of heaven, one and the same as this before which you are kneeling.

To the Father:
Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
To the Son:
Christe eleison.
Christe eleison.
Christe eleison.
Christ, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!
To the Holy Ghost:
Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!

As we have already mentioned, the Church abstains, during the season of Septuagesima, from the heavenly hymn which the angels sang over the crib of the divine Babe. But if she be keeping the feast of a saint, she recites this beautiful canticle on that day. The beginning of the Angelic Hymn seems more suitable for heavenly than for earthly voices; but the second part is in no way out of keeping with the sinner’s wants and fears, for we there remind the Son of the eternal Father that He is the Lamb, who came down from heaven that He might take away the sins of the world. We beseech Him to have mercy on us, and receive our humble prayer. Let us foster these sentiments within us, for they are so appropriate to the present season.

The Angelic Hymn

Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis.

Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace to men of good will.

Laudamus te: benedicimus te: adoramus te: glorificamus te: gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.

We praise thee: we bless thee: we adore thee: we glorify thee: we give thee thanks for thy great glory.

Domine Deus, Rex cœlestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.

O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty.

Domine, Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe.

O Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son.

Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris.

O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father.

Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram.

Who takest away the sins of the world, receive our humble prayer.

Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis.

Who sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.

Quoniam tu solus sanctus, to solus Dominus, tu solus altissimus, Jesu Christe, cum Sancto Spiritu, in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.

For thou alone art holy, thou alone art Lord, thou alone, O Jesus Christ, together with the Holy Ghost, art most high, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

The priest then turns towards the people, and again salutes them, as it were to make sure of their pious attention to the sublime act, for which all this is but the preparation.

The follows the Collect or Prayer, in which the Church formally expresses to the divine Majesty the special intentions she has in the Mass which is being celebrated. You may unite in this prayer by reciting with the priest the Collects, which you will find in their proper places; but on no account omit to join with the server of the Mass in answering Amen.

After this comes the Epistle, which is generally a portion of one or other of the Epistles of the apostles, or a passage from some Book of the old Testament. While it is being read, ask of God that you may profit by the instructions it conveys.

The Gradual is an intermediate formula of prayer between the Epistle and the Gospel. It again brings to us the sentiments already expressed in the Introit. Read it with devotion, that so you may enter more and more into the spirit of the mystery proposed to you by the Church.

During every other portion of her year, the Church here repeats her joyous Alleluia; but now she denies herself this demonstration of gladness, until such time as her divine Spouse has passed through that sea of bitterness, into which our sins have plunged Him. Instead of the Alleluia, then, she sings in a plaintive tone some verses from the Psalms, appropriate to the rest of that day’s Office. This is the Tract, of which we have already spoken.

If it be a High Mass, the deacon, meanwhile, prepares to fulfill his noble office—that of announcing the good tidings of salvation. He prays God to cleanse his heart and lips. Then kneeling before the priest, he asks a blessing; and, having received it, goes to the place where he is to sing the Gospel.

As a preparation for hearing it worthily, you may thus pray, together with both priest and deacon:

Munda cor meum, ac labia mea, omnipotens Deus, qui labia Isaiæ prophetæ calculo mundasti ignito: ita me tua grata miseratione dignare mundare, ut sanctum Evangelium tuum digne valeam nuntiare. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Alas! these ears of mine are but too often defiled with the world’s vain words: cleanse them, O Lord, that so I may hear the words of eternal life, and treasure them in my heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dominus sit in corde meo, et in labiis meis: ut digne et competenter annuntiem Evangelium suum: In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

Grant to thy ministers thy grace, that they may faithfully explain thy law; that so all, both pastors and flock, may be united to thee forever. Amen.

You will stand during the Gospel, as thou you were waiting for the orders of your Lord; at the commencement make the sign of the cross on your forehead, lips, and breast; and then listen to every word of the priest or deacon. Let your heart be ready and obedient. While my beloved was speaking, says the bride in the Canticle, my soul melted within me. If you have not such love as this, have at least the humble submission of Samuel, and say: Speak, Lord! thy servant heareth.

After the Gospel, if the priest says the Symbol of faith, the Credo, you will say it with him. Faith is that gift of God, without which we cannot please Him. It is faith that makes us see the light which shineth in darkness, and which the darkness of unbelief did not comprehend. It is faith alone that teaches us what we are, whence we come, and the end for which we are made. It alone can point out to us the path whereby we may return to our God, when once we have separated ourselves from Him. Let us love this admirable faith, which, if we but make it fruitful by good works, will save us. Let us, then, say with the Catholic Church, our mother:

The Nicene Creed

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem cœli et terræ, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum. Et ex Patre natum ante omnia sæcula; Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, deum verum de Deo vero. Genitum non factum, consubstantialem Patri, per quem omnia facta sunt. Qui propter nos homines, et propter nostram salutem, descendit de cœlis. Here all kneel. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine: et homo factus est. Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus est. Et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas. Et ascendit in cœlum; sedet ad dexteram Patris. Et iterum venturus est cum gloria judicare vivos et mortuos; cujus regni non erit finis.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God. And born of the Father before all ages; God of God, light of light; true God of true God. Begotten, not made; consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven. Here all kneel. And became incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary: and was made man. He was crucified also for us, under Pontius Pilate, suffered, and was buried. And the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of the Father. And he is to come again with glory, to judge the living and the dead; of whose kingdom there shall be no end.

Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem, qui ex Patre Filioque procedit. Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur, et conglorificatur; qui locutus est per prophetas. Et unam sanctam Catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam. Confiteor unum Baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi sæculi. Amen.

And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son. Who together with the Father and the Son, is adored and glorified; who spoke by the prophets. And one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the remission of sins. And I expect the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The priest and the people should, by this time, have their hearts ready: it is time to prepare the offering itself. And here we come to the second part of the holy Mass; it is called the Oblation, and immediately follows that which was named the Mass of Catechumens, on account of its being formerly the only part at which the candidates for Baptism had a right to be present.

See, then, dear Christians! bread and wine are about to be offered to God, as being the noblest of inanimate creatures, since they are made for the nourishment of man; and even that is only a poor material image of what they are destined to become in our Christian Sacrifice. Their substance will soon give place to God Himself, and of themselves nothing will remain but the appearances. Happy creatures, thus to yield up their own being, that God may take its place! We, too, are to undergo a like transformation, when as the apostle expresses it, that which is mortal shall put on immortality. Until that happy change shall be realized, let us offer ourselves to God, as often as we see the bread and wine presented to Him in the holy Sacrifice; and let us glorify Him who, by assuming our human nature, has made us partakers of the divine nature.

The priest again turns to the people with the usual salutation, as though he would warn them to redouble their attention. Let us read the Offertory with him, and when he offers the Host to God, let us unite with him in saying:

Suscipe, sancte Pater, omnipotens æterne Deus, hanc immaculatam hostiam, quam eto indignus famulus tuus offero tibi Deo meo vivo et vero, pro innumerabilibus peccatis et offensionibus et negligentiis meis, et pro omnibus circumstantibus, sed et pro omnibus fidelibus christianis vivis atque defunctis; ut mihi et illis proficiat ad salutem in vitam æternam. Amen.

All that we have, O Lord, comes from thee, and belongs to thee; it is just, therefore, that we return it unto thee. But how wonderful art thou in the inventions of thy immense love! This bread which we are offering to thee, is to give place, in a few moments, to the sacred Body of Jesus. We beseech thee, receive, together with this oblation, our hearts which long to live by thee, and to cease to live in their own life of self.

When the priest puts the wine into the chalice, and then mingles with it a drop of water, let your thoughts turn to the divine mystery of the Incarnation, which is the source of our hope and our salvation; and say:

Deus, qui humanæ substantiæ dignitatem mirabiliter condidisti, et mirabilius reformasti: da nobis per hujus aquæ et vini mysterium, ejus divinitatis esse consortes, qui humanitatis nostræ fieri dignatus est particeps, Jesus Christus Filius tuus Dominus noster: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

O Lord Jesus, who art the true vine, and whose Blood, like a generous wine, has been poured forth under the pressure of the cross! thou hast deigned to unite thy divine nature to our weak humanity, which is signified by this drop of water. Oh, come and make us partakers of thy divinity, by showing thyself to us in thy sweet and wondrous visit.

The priest then offers the mixture of wine and water, beseeching God graciously to accept this oblation, which is so soon to be changed into the reality, of which it is now but the figure. Meanwhile, say, in union with the priest:

Offerimus tibi, Domine, calicem salutaris, tuam deprecantes clementiam: ut in conspectu divinæ Majestatis tuæ, pro nostra et totius mundi salute, cum odore suavitatis ascendat. Amen.

Graciously accept these gifts, O sovereign Creator of all things. Let them be fitted for the divine transformation, which will make them, from being mere offerings of created things, the instrument of the world’s salvation.

After having thus held up the sacred gifts towards heaven, the priest bows down; let us, also, humble ourselves, and say:

In spiritu humilitatis, et in animo contrito suscipiamur a te, Domine: et sic fiat sacrificium nostrum in conspectu tuo hodie, ut placeat tibi, Domine Deus.

Though daring, as we do, to approach thy altar, O Lord, we cannot forget that we are sinners. Have mercy on us, and delay not to send us thy Son, who is our saving Host.

Let us next invoke the Holy Ghost, whose operation is about to produce on the altar the presence of the Son of God, as it did in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, in the divine mystery of the Incarnation:

Veni Sanctificator, omnipotens æterne Deus, et benedic hoc sacrificium tuo sancto nomini præparatum.

Come, O divine Spirit, make fruitful the offering which is upon the altar, and produce in our hearts him whom they desire.

If it be a High Mass, the priest, before proceeding further with the sacrifice, takes the thurible a second time, after blessing the incense in these words:

Per intercessionem beati Michaelis archangeli, stantis a dextris altaris incensi, et omnium electorum suorum, incensum istud dignetur Dominus benedicere, et in odorem suavitatis accipere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Through the intercession of blessed Michael the archangel, standing at the right hand of the altar of incense, and of all his elect, may our Lord deign to bless this incense, and to receive it for an odor of sweetness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

He then censes first the bread and wine, which have just been offered, and then the altar itself; hereby inviting the faithful to make their prayer, which is signified by the fragrant incense, more and more fervent, the nearer the solemn moment approaches. St. John tells us that the incense he beheld burning on the altar in heaven is made up of the prayers of the saints; let us take a share in those prayers, and with all the ardor of holy desires, let us say with the priest:

Incensum istud, a te benedictum, ascendat ad te, Domine, et descendat super nos misericordia tua.

May this incense, blessed by thee, ascend to thee, O Lord, and may thy mercy descend upon us.

Dirigatur, Domine, oratio mea sicut incensum in conspectu tuo: elevatio manuum mearum sacrificium vespertinum. Pone, Domine, custodiam ori meo, et ostium circumstantiæ labiis meis; ut on declinet cor meum in verba malitiæ, ad excusandas excusationes in peccatis.

Let my prayer, O Lord, be directed like incense in thy sight: the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, and a door round about my lips; that my heart may not incline to evil words, to make excuses in sins.

Giving back the thurible to the deacon, the priest says:

Accendat in nobis Dominus ignem sui amoris, et flammam æternæ charitatis. Amen.

May the Lord enkindle in us the fire of his love and the flame of eternal charity. Amen.

But the thought of his own unworthiness becomes more intense than ever in the heart of the priest. The public confession which he made at the foot of the altar is not enough; he would now at the altar itself express to the people, in the language of a solemn rite, how far he knows himself to be from that spotless sanctity wherewith he should approach to God. He washes his hands. Our hands signify our works; and the priest, though by his priesthood he bear the office of Jesus Christ, is, by his works, but man. Seeing your father thus humble himself, do you also make an act of humility, and say with him these verses of the Psalm.

Psalm 25

Lavabo inter innocentes manus meas: et circumdabo altare tuum, Domine.

I, too, would wash my hands, O Lord, and become like unto those who are innocent, that so I may be worthy to come near thy altar, and hear thy sacred canticles, and then go and proclaim to the world the wonders of thy goodness. I love the beauty of thy house, which thou art about to make the dwelling-place of thy glory. Leave me not, O God, in the midst of them that are enemies both to thee and me. Thy mercy having separated me from them, I entered on the path of innocence, and was restored to thy grace; but have pity on my weakness still; redeem me yet more, thou who hast so mercifully brought me back to the right path. In the midst of these thy faithful people, I give thee thanks. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Ut audiam vocem laudis: et enarrem universa mirabilia tua.

Domine, dilexi decorem domus tuæ, et locum habitationis gloriæ tuæ.

Ne perdas cum impiis, Deus, animam meam, et cum viris sanguinum vitam meam.

In quorum manibus iniquitates sunt: dextera eorum repleta est muneribus.

Ego autem in innocentia mea ingressu sum: redime me, et miserere mei.

Pes meus stetit in directo: in ecclesiis benedicam te, Domine.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.

Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

The priest, taking encouragement from the act of humility he has just made, returns to the middle of the altar, and bows down full of respectful awe, begging of God to receive graciously the Sacrifice which is about to be offered to Him, and expresses the intentions for which it is offered. Let us do the same.

Suscipe, sancta Trinitas, hanc oblationem, quam tibi offerimus ob memoriam Passionis, Ressurectionis, et Ascensionis Jesu Christi Domini nostri: et in honorem beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis, et beati Joannis Baptistæ, et sanctorum apostolorum Petri et Pauli, et istorum, et omnium sanctorum: ut illis proficiat ad honorem, nobis antem ad salutem: et illi pro nobis intercedere dignentur in cœlis, quorum memoriam agimus in terris. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

O holy Trinity, graciously accept the Sacrifice we have begun. We offer it in remembrance of the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. Permit thy Church to join with this intention that of honoring the ever glorious Virgin Mary, the blessed Baptist John, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, the martyrs whose relics lie here under our altar awaiting their resurrection, and the saints whose memory we this day celebrate. Increase the glory they are enjoying, and receive the prayers they address to thee for us.

The priest again turns to the people; it is for the last time before the sacred mysteries are accomplished. He feels anxious to excite the fervor of the people. Neither does the thought of his own unworthiness leave him; and before entering the cloud with the Lord, he seeks support in the prayers of his brethren who are present. He says to them:

Orate, fratres: ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat apud Deum Patrem omnipotentem.

Brethren, pray that my Sacrifice, which is yours also, may be acceptable to God, our almighty Father.

The request made, he turns again to the altar, and you will see his face no more until our Lord Himself shall have come down from heaven upon that same altar. Assure the priest that he has your prayers, and say to him:

Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manifubs tuis, ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostram totiusque Ecclesiæ suæ sanctæ.

May our Lord accept this Sacrifice at thy hands, to the praise and glory of his name, and for our benefit and that of his holy Church throughout the world.

Here the priest recites the prayers called the Secrets, in which he presents the petition of the whole Church for God’s acceptance of the Sacrifice, and then immediately begins to fulfil that great duty of religion—thanksgiving. So far he has adored God, and has sued for mercy; he has still to give thanks for the blessings bestowed on us by the bounty of our heavenly Father, and expressly for that chiefest of all His gifts, the Messias. We are on the point of receiving a new visit of this Son of God; the priest, in the name of the Church, is about to give expression to the gratitude of all mankind. In order to excite the faithful to that intensity of gratitude which is due to God for all His gifts, he interrupts his own and their silent prayer by terminating it aloud, saying:

Per omnia sæcula sæculorum! For ever and ever!

In the same feeling, answer your Amen. Then he continues:

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
℣. Sursum corda!
℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.
℣. Lift up your hearts!

Let your response be sincere:

℟. Habemus ad Dominum.

℟. We have them fixed on God.

And when he adds:

℣. Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.

℣. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

Answer him with all the earnestness of your soul:

℟. Dignum et justum est.

℟. It is meet and just.

Then the priest:

The Preface
(For the Sundays)

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper, et ubique gratis agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus. Qui cum unigenito Filio tuo et Spiritu Sancto unus es Deus, unus es Dominus: non in unius singularitate Personæ, sed in unius Trinitate substantiæ. Quod enim de tua gloria, revelante te, eredimus, hoc de Filio tuo, hoc de Spiritu Sancto, sine differentia discretionis sentimus. Ut in confessione veræ, sempiternæque Deitatis, et in Personis propiretas, et in essentia unitas, et in Majestate adoretur æqualitas. Quam laudant Angeli atque Archangeli, Cherubim quoque ac Seraphim; qui non cessant clamare quotidie, una voce dicentes, Sanctus, etc.

It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God, who together with thy only-begotten Son and the Holy Ghost art one God, one Lord: not in the singleness of one person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe of thy glory, as thou hast revealed, the same we believe of thy Son and of the Holy Ghost, without any difference or distinction. So that in the confession of the true and eternal Deity, we adore a distinction in the Persons, a unity in the essence, and an equality in the Majesty. Whom the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim praise; who cease not daily to cry out with one voice, saying, Holy, etc.

The Preface
(For the Weekdays)

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus, per Christum Dominum nostrum; per quem majestatem tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates; Cœli, cœlorumque Virtutes, ac beata Seraphim, socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admitti jubeas deprecamur, supplici confessione, dicentes:

It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: through Christ our Lord; by whom the Angels praise thy majesty, the Dominations adore it, the Powers tremble before it; the Heavens and the heavenly Virtues, and the blessed Seraphim, with common jubilee, glorify it. Together with whom, we beseech thee that we may be admitted to join our humble voices, saying:

Here unite with the priest, who, on his part, unites himself with the blessed spirits in giving thanks to God for the unspeakable gift; kneel and say:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus sabaoth!

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts!

Pleni sunt cœli et terra gloria tua.

Heaven and earth are full of thy glory.

Hosanna in excelsis!

Hosanna in the highest!

Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.

Blessed be the Savior who is coming to us in the name of the Lord who sends him.

Hosanna in excelsis!

Hosanna be to him in the highest!

After these words commences the Canon, that mysterious prayer, in the midst of which heaven bows down to earth, and God descends unto us. The voice of the priest is no longer heard; yea, even at the altar, all is silence. Let a profound respect stay all distractions, and keep our senses in submission to the soul. Let us fix our eyes on what the priest does in the holy place.

The Canon of the Mass

In this mysterious colloquy with the great God of heaven and earth, the first prayer of the sacrificing priest is for the Catholic Church, his and our mother.

Te igitur, clementissime Pater, per Jesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum, supplices rogamus ac petimus, uti accepta habeas, et benedicas hæc dona, hæc munera, hæc sancta sacrificia illibata, in primis quæ tibi offerimus pro Ecclesia tua sancta Catholica: quam pacificare, custodire, adunare, et regere digneris toto orbe terrarum, una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N., et omnibus orthodoxis, atque catholicæ et apostolicæ fidei cultoribus.

O God, who manifestest thyself unto us by means of the mysteries which thou hast entrusted to thy holy Church, our mother; we beseech thee, by the merits of this sacrifice, that thou wouldst remove all those hindrances which oppose her during her pilgrimage in this world. Give her peace and unity. Do thou thyself guide our holy Father the Pope, thy Vicar on earth. Direct thou our Bishop, who is our sacred link of unity; and watch over all the orthodox children of the Catholic apostolic Roman Church.

Here, pray together with the priest, for whose interests should be dearest to you.

Memento, Domine, famulorum famularumque tuarum N. et N., et omnium circumstantium, quorum tibi fides cognita est, et nota devotio: pro quibus tibi offerimus, vel qui tibi offerunt hoc sacrificium laudis, pro se, usisque omnibus, pro redemptione animarum suarum, pro spe salutis et incolumitatis suæ; tibique reddunt vota sua æterno Deo, vivo et vero.

Permit me, O God, to intercede with thee in more earnest prayer for those, for whom thou knowest that I have a special obligation to pray: … Pour down thy blessings upon them. Let them partake of the fruits of this divine Sacrifice, which is offered unto thee in the name of all mankind. Visit them by thy brace, pardon them their sins, grant them the blessings of this present life and of that which is eternal.

Here let us commemorate the saints: they are that portion of the Body of Jesus Christ which is called the Church triumphant.

Communicantes, et memoriam venerantes, in primis gloriosæ semper Virginis Mariæ, Genitricis Dei et Domini nostri Jesu Christi: sed et beatorum apostolorum ac martyrum tuorum, Petri et Pauli,Andreæ, Jacobi, Joannis, Thomæ, Jacobi, Philippi, Bartholomæi, Matthæi, Simonis, et Thaddæi: Lini, Cleti, Clementis, Xysti, Cornelii, Cypriani, Laurentii, Chrysogoni, Joannis et Pauli, Cosmæ et Damiani, et omnium sanctorum tuorum, quorum meritis prcibusque concedas, ut in omnibus protectionis tuæ muniamur auxilio. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

But the offering of this Sacrifice, O my God, does not unite us with those only of our brethren who are still in this transient life of trial: it brings us closer to those also, who are already in possession of heaven. There it is that we wish to honor by it the memory of the glorious and ever Virgin Mary, of whom Jesus was born to us; of the apostles, confessors, virgins, and of all the saints; that so they may assist us, by their powerful intercession, to become worthy to contemplate thee, as they now do, in the mansion of thy glory.

The priest, who up to this time has been praying with his hands extended, now joins them, and holds them over the bread and wine, as the high priest of the old Law did over the figurative victim; he thus expresses his intention of bringing these gifts more closely under the notice of the divine Majesty, and of marking them as the material offering whereby we profess our dependence, and which is, in a few instants, to yield its place to the living Host, upon whom all our iniquities are to be laid.

Hanc igitur oblationem servitutis nostræ, sed et cunctæ familiæ tuæ, quæsumus Domine, ut placatus accipias: diesque nostros in tua pace disponas, atque ab æterna damnatione nos eripi, et in electorum tuorum jubeas grege numerari. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Vouchsafe, O God, to accept this offering which this thy assembled family presents to thee as the homage of its most happy servitude. In return, give us peace, save us from thy wrath, and number us among thy elect, through him who is coming to us—thy Son our Savior.

Quam oblationem tu Deus in omnibus, quæsumus, benedictam, adscriptam, ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilemque facere digneris; ut nobis Corpus et Sanguis fiat dilectissimi Filii tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi.

Yea, Lord, this is the moment when this bread is to become his sacred Body, which is our food; and this wine is to be changed into his Blood, which is our drink. Ah! delay no longer, but send to us this divine Son our Savior!

And here the priest ceases to act as man; he now becomes more than a mere minister of the Church. His word becomes that of Jesus Christ, with all its power and efficacy. Prostrate yourself in profound adoration: for God Himself is about to descend upon our altar, coming down from heaven.

Qui pridie quam pateretur, accepit panem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas: et elevatis oculis in cœlum, ad te Deum Patrem suum omnipotentem, tibi gratias agens, benedixit, fregit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite, et manducate ex hoc omnes. Hoc est enim Corpus meum.

What, O God of heaven and earth, my Jesus, the long-expected Messias, what else can I do at this solemn moment but adore thee, in silence, as my sovereign Master, and open my whole heart to thee, as to its dearest King? Come, then, Lord Jesus, come!

The divine Lamb is now lying on our altar! Glory and love be to Him forever! But He is come, that He may be immolated. Hence, the priest, who is minister of the will of the Most High, immediately pronounces over the chalice those sacred words which will produce the mystical immolation, by the separation of the Victim’s Body and Blood. The substances of bread and wine have ceased to exist: the species alone are left, veiling, as it were, the Body and Blood, lest fear should keep us from a mystery which God gives us in order to give us confidence. Let us associate ourselves to the angels, who tremblingly look upon this deepest wonder.

Simili modo postquam cœnatum est, accipiens et hunc præclarum calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas: item tibi gratias agens, benedixit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite et bibite ex eo omnes. Hic est enim Calix Sanguinis mei, ovi et æterni testamenti: mysterium fidei: qui pro vobis et pro multus effundetur in remissionem peccatorum. Hæc quotiescumque feceritis in mei memoriam facietis.

O precious Blood! thou price of my salvation! I adore thee! Wash away my sins, and give me a purity above the whiteness of snow. Lamb ever slain, yet ever living, thou comest to take away the sins of the world! Come also and reign in me by thy power and by thy love.

The priest is now face to face with God. He again raises his hands towards heaven, and tells our heavenly Father that the oblation now on the altar is no longer an earthly offering, but the Body and Blood, the whole Person, of His divine Son.

Unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta, ejusdem Christi Filii tui Domini nostri tam beatæ Passionis, necnon et ab inferis Resurrectionis, sed et in cœlos gloriosæ Ascensionis: offerimus præclaræ majestati tuæ de tuis donis ac datis Hostiam puram, Hostiam sanctam, Hostiam immaculatam: Panem sanctum vitæ æternæ, et Calicem salutis perpetuæ.

Father of infinite holiness, the Host so long expected is here before thee! Behold this thy eternal Son, who suffered a bitter passion, rose again with glory from the grave, and ascended triumphantly into heaven. He is thy Son; but he is also our Host, Host pure and spotless, our meat and drink of everlasting life.

Supra quæ propitio ac sereno vultu respicere digneris: et accepta habere, sicuti accepta habere dignatus es munera pueri tui justi Abel, et sacrificium patriarchæ nostri Abrahæ, et quod tibi obtulit summus sacerdos tuus Melchisedech, sanctum sacrificium, immaculatam hostiam.

Heretofore thou didst accept the sacrifice of the innocent lambs offered to thee by Abel; and the sacrifice which Abraham made thee of his son Isaac, who, though immolated, yet lived; and, lastly, the sacrifice, which Melchisedech presented thee, of bread and wine. Receive our Sacrifice, which is above all those others. It is the Lamb, of whom all others could be but figures: it is the undying Victim: it is the Body of thy Son, who is the Bread of life, and his Blood, which, while a drink of immortality for us, is a tribute adequate to thy glory.

The priest bows down to the altar, and kisses it as the throne of love on which is seated the Savior of men.

Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus: jube hæc perferri per manus sancti angeli tui in sublime altare tuum, in conspectu divinæ Majestatis tuæ: ut quotquot ex hac altaris participatione, sacrosanctum Filii tui Corpus et Sanguinem sumpserimus, omni benedictione cœlesti et gratia repleamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

But, O God of infinite power, these sacred gifts are not only on this altar here below; they are also on that sublime altar of heaven, which is before the throne of thy divine Majesty. These two altars are but one and the same, on which is accomplished the great mystery of thy glory and our salvation. Vouchsafe to make us partakers of the Body and Blood of the august Victim, from whom flow every grace and blessing.

Nor is the moment less favorable for making supplication for the Church suffering. Let us, therefore, ask the divine Liberator, who has come down among us, that He mercifully visit, by a ray of His consoling light, the dark abode of purgatory, and permit His Blood to flow, as a stream of mercy’s dew, from this our altar, and refresh the panting captives there. Let us pray expressly for those among them who have a claim on our suffrages.

Memento etiam, Domine, famulorum famularumque tuarum N. et N., qui nos præcesserunt cum signo fidei, et dormiunt in somno pacis. Ipsis Domine, et omnibus in Christo quiescentibus, locum refrigerii, lucis et pacis, ut indulgeas, deprecamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Dear Jesus! let the happiness of this thy visit extend to every portion of thy Church. Thy face gladdens the elect in the holy city; even our mortal eyes can see beneath the veil of our delighted faith; ah! hide not thyself from those brethren of ours, who are imprisoned in the place of expiation. Be thou refreshment to them in their flames, light in their darkness, and peace in their agonies of torment.

This duty of charity fulfilled, let us pray for ourselves, sinners, alas! who profit so little by the visit which our Savior pays us. Let us, together with the priest, strike our breast, saying:

Nobis quoque peccatoribus famulis tuis, de multitudine miserationum tuarum sperantibus, partem aliquam et societatem donare digneris cum tuis sanctis apostolis et martyribus: cum Joanne, Stephano, Matthia, Barnarba, Ignatio, Alexandro, Marcellino, Petro, Felicitate, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucia, Agnete, C&aeilg;cilia, Anastasia, et omnibus sanctis tuis; intra quorum nos consortium, non æstimator meriti, sed veniæ, quæsumus, largitor admitte. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Per quem hæc omnia, Domine, semper bona creas, sanctificas, vivificas, benedicis, et præstas nobis: per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso, in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria.

Alas! we are poor sinners, O God of all sanctity! yet do we hope that thy infinite mercy will grant us to share thy kingdom, not, indeed, by reason of our works, which deserve little else than punishment, but because of the merits of this Sacrifice, which we are offering unto thee. Remember, too, the merits of thy holy apostles, of thy holy martyrs, of thy holy virgins, and of all thy saints. Grant us, by their intercession, grace in this world, and glory eternal in the next: which we ask of thee, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son. It is by him thou bestowest upon us thy blessings of life and sanctification; and by him also, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, may honor and glory be to thee!

While saying these last few words, the priest has taken up the sacred Host, which was on the altar; he has held it over the chalice, thus reuniting the Body and Blood of the divine Victim, in order to show that He is now immortal. Then raising up both Chalice and Host, he offers to God the most noble and perfect homage which the divine Majesty could receive.

This solemn and mysterious rite ends the Canon. The silence of the mysteries is broken. The priest concludes his long prayers by saying aloud, and so giving the faithful the opportunity of expressing their desire that his supplications be granted:

Per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

For ever and ever.

Answer him with faith, and in a sentiment of union with your holy mother the Church:

Amen.

Amen! I believe the mystery which has just been accomplished. I unite myself to the offering which has been made, and to the petitions of the Church.

It is time to recite the prayer which our Savior Himself has taught us. Let it ascend to heaven together with the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. How could it be otherwise than heard, when He Himself who made it for us, is in our very hands now while we say it? As this prayer belongs in common to all God’s children, the priest recites it aloud, and begins by inviting us all to join in it.

Oremus. Let us Pray.

Præceptis salutaribus moniti, et divina institutione formati, audemus dicere:

Having been taught by a saving precept, and following the form given us by a divine instruction, we thus presume to speak:

The Lord’s Prayer

Pater noster, qui es in cœlis, sanctificetur nomen tuum: adveniat regnum tuum: fiat voluntas tua sicut in cœlo, et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie: et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris: et ne nos inducas in tentationem.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name: thy kingdom come: thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us: and lead us not into temptation.

Let us answer, with a deep feeiling of our misery:

Sed libera nos a malo.

But deliver us from evil.

The priest falls once more into the silence of the holy mysteries. His first word is an affectionate Amen to your last petition—deliver us from evil—on which he forms his own next prayer: and could he pray for anything more needed? Evil surrounds us everywhere, and the Lamb on our altar has been sent to expiate it and to deliver us from it.

Libera nos, quæsumus, Domine, ab omnibus malis, præteritis, præsentibus et futuris: et, intercedente beata et gloriosa semper Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beatis apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque Andrea, et omnibus sanctis, da propitius pacem in diebus nostris: ut ope misericordiæ tuæ adjuti, et a peccato simus simper liberi, et ab omni parturbatione securi. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus.

How many, O Lord, are the evils which beset us! Evils past, which are the wounds left on our soul by our sins, and which strengthen her wicked propensities. Evils present, that is, the sins now at this very time upon our soul; the weakness of this poor soul, and the temptations which molest her. There are, also, future evils, that is the chastisement, which our sins deserve from the hand of thy justice. In presence of this Host of our salvation, we beseech thee, O Lord, to deliver us from all these evils, and to accept in our favor the intercession of Mary the Mother of Jesus, of thy holy apostles Peter and Paul and Andrew. Liberate us, break our chains, give us peace: through Jesus Christ, thy Son, who with thee liveth and reigneth God.

The priest is anxious to announce the peace, which he has asked and obtained; he therefore finishes his prayer aloud, saying:

Per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

World without end.

℟. Amen.

℟. Amen.

Then he says:

Pax Domini it semper vobiscum.

May the peace of our Lord be ever with you.

To this paternal wish, reply:

℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

℟. And with thy spirit.

The mystery is drawing to a close: God is about to be united with man, and man with God, by means of Communion. But first, an imposing and sublime rite takes place at the altar. So far the priest has announced the death of Jesus; it is time to proclaim His Resurrection. To this end, he reverently breaks the sacred Host; and having divided it into three parts, he puts one into the chalice, thus reuniting the Body and Blood of the immortal Victim. Do you adore and say:

Hæc commixtio et consecration Corporis et Sanguinis Domini nostri Jesu Christi, fiat accipientibus nobis in vitam æternam. Amen.

Glory be to thee, O Savior of the world, who didst, in thy Passion, permit thy precious Blood to be separated from thy sacred Body, afterwards uniting them again together by thy divine power.

Offer now your prayer to the ever-living Lamb, whom St. John saw on the altar of heaven, standing though slain: say to this your Lord and King, who has taken upon Himself all our iniquities in order to wash them away by His Blood:

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, give us peace.

Peace is the grand object of our Savior’s coming into the world: He is the Prince of peace. The divine Sacrament of the Eucharist ought therefore to be the mystery of peace, and the bond of Catholic unity; for, as the apostle says, all we who partake of one Bread, are all one bread and one body. It is on this account that the priest, now that he is on the point of receiving, in Communion, the sacred Host, prays that fraternal peace may be preserved in the Church, and more especially in this portion of it which is assembled round the altar. Pray with him, and for the same blessing:

Domine Jesu Christe, qui dixisti apostolis tuis: Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis: ne respicias peccata mea, sed fidem Ecclesiæ tuæ: eamque secundum voluntatem tuam pacificare, et coadunare digneris. Qui vicis et regnas Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst to thy apostles, “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:” regard not my sins, but the faith of thy Church, and grant her that peace and unity which is according to thy will. Who livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

If it be a High Mass, the priest here gives the kiss of peace to the deacon, who gives it to the subdeacon, and he to the choir. During this ceremony, you should excite within yourself feelings of Christian charity, and pardon your enemies, if you have any. Then continue to pray with the priest:

Domine Jesu Christ, Fili Dei vivi, qui ex voluntate Patris, cooperante Spiritu Sancto, per mortem tuam mundum vivificasti: libera me per hoc sacrosanctum Corpus, et Sanguinem tuum, ab omnibus iniquitatibus meis, et universis malis, et fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis, et a te nunquam separari permittas. Qui cum eodem Deo Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivis et regnas Deus in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who, according to the will of the Father, through the cooperation of the Holy Ghost, hast by thy death given life to the world; deliver me by this thy most sacred Body and Blood from all my iniquities, and from all evils; and make me always adhere to thy commandments, and never suffer me to be separated from thee, who with the same God the Father and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest God for ever and ever.

If you are going to Communion at this Mass, say the following prayer; otherwise prepare yourself to make a spiritual Communion:

Perceptio Corporis tui, Domine Jesu Christe, quod ego indignus sumere præsumo, non mihi proveniat in judicium et condemnationem: sed pro tua pietate prosit mihi ad tutamentum mentis et corporis, et ad medelam percipiendam. Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Let not the participation of thy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, though unworthy, presume to receive, turn to my judgment and condemnation; but through thy mercy may it be a safeguard and remedy both to my soul and body. Who with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

When the priest takes the Host into his hands, in order to receive it in Communion, say:

Panem cœlestem accipiam, et nomen Domini invocabo.

Come, my dear Jesus, come!

When he strikes his breast, confessing his unworthiness, say thrice with him these words, and in the same disposition as the centurion of the Gospel, who first used them:

Domine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea.

Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof; say it only with one word of thine, and my soul shall be healed.

While the priest receives the sacred Host, if you also are to communicate, adore profoundly your God, who is ready to take up His abode within you, and again say to Him with the bride: “Come, Lord Jesus, come!”

But should you not be going to receive sacramentally, make a spiritual Communion. Adore Jesus Christ who thus visits your soul by His grace, and say to Him:

Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi, custodiat animam meam in vitam æternam. Amen.

I give thee, O Jesus, this heart of mine, that thou mayst dwell in it, and do with me what thou wilt.

Then the priest takes the chalice, in thanksgiving, and says:

Quid retribuam Domino pro omnibus, quæ retribuit mihi? Calicem salutaris accipiam, et nomen Domini invocabo. Laudans invocabo Dominum, et ab inimicis meis salvus ero.

What return shall I make to the Lord for all he hath given to me? I will take the chalice of salvation, and will call upon the name of the Lord. Praising I will call upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from mine enemies.

But if you are to make a sacramental Communion, you should, at this moment of the priest’s receiving the precious Blood, again adore the God who is coming to you, and keep to your prayer: “Come, Lord Jesus, come!”

If, on the contrary, you are going to communicate only spiritually, again adore your divine Master, and say to him:

Sanguis Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam æternam. Amen.

I unite myself to thee, my beloved Jesus! do thou unite thyself to me! and never let us be separated.

It is here that you must approach to the altar, if you are going to Communion. The disposition suitable for holy Communion, during this season of Septuagesima, will be discueed anon.

The Communion being finished, an dwhile the priest is purifying the chalice the first time, say:

Quod ore sumpsimus, Domine, pura mente capiamus: et de munere temporali fiat nobis remedium sempiternum.

Thou hast visited me, O God, in these days of my pilgrimage; give me grace to treasure up the fruits of this visit for my future eternity.

While the priest is purifying the chalice the second time, say:

Corpus tuum, Domine, quod sumpsi, et Sanguis quem potavi, adhæreat visceribus meis: et præsta ut in me non remaneat scelerum macula, quem pura et sancta refecerunt Sacramenta. Qui vivis et regnas, in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Be thou forever blessed, O my Savior, for having admitted me to the sacred mystery of thy Body and Blood. May my heart and senses preserve, by thy grace, the purity which thou hast imparted to them; and may I be thus rendered less unworthy of thy divine visit.

The priest, having read the antiphon called the Communion, which is the first part of his thanksgiving for the favor just received from God, whereby He has renewed His divine presence among us, turns to the people with the usual salutation; after which he recites the prayers called the Postcommunion, which are the completion of the thanksgiving. You will join him here also, thanking God for the unspeakable gift He has just lavished on you, and asking Him, with most earnest entreaty, that He will bestow upon you a lasting spirit of compunction.

These prayers having been recited, the priest again turns to the people, and full of joy for the immense favor he and they have been receiving, he says:

Dominus vobiscum. The Lord be with you.
Answer him:
Et cum spiritu tuo.
Ite, Missa est.
℟. Deo gratias.
And with thy spirit.
Go, the Mass is finished.
℟. Thanks be to God.

The priest makes a last prayer, before giving you his blessing; pray with him:

Placeat tibi, sancta Trinitas, obsequium servitutis meæ, et præsta ut sacrificium quod oculis tuæ majestatis indignus obtuli, tibi sit acceptabile, mihique, et omnibus, pro quibus illus obtuli, sit, te miserante, propitiabile. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Eternal thanks be to thee, O adorable Trinity, for the mercy thou hast shown to me, in permitting me to assist at this divine Sacrifice. Pardon me the negligence and coldness wherewith I have received so great a favor, and deign to confirm the blessing, which thy minister is about to give me in thy name.

The priest raises his hand, and thus blesses you:

Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus.

May the almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, bless you!

℟. Amen.

℟. Amen.

He then concludes the Mass, by reading the first fourteen verses of the Gospel according to St. John, which tell us of the eternity of the Word, and of the mercy which led Him to take upon Himself our flesh, and to dwell among us. Pray that you may be of the number of those who, now that He has come unto His own, receive Him, and are made the sons of God.

℣. Dominus vobiscum.

℣. The Lord be with you.

℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

℟. And with thy spirit.

The Last Gospel
Initium sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem. The beginning of the holy Gospel according to John.
Cap. 1 Ch. 1

In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. Hoc erat in principio apud Deum. Omnia per ipsum facta sunt; et sine ipso factum est nihil. Quod factum est, in ipso vita erat et vita erat lux hominum: et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebræ eam non conprehenderunt. Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Iohannes. Hic venit in testimonium ut testimonium, perhiberet de lumine, ut omnes crederent per illum. Non erat ille lux, sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine. Erat lux vera, quæ inluminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum. In mundo erat, et mundus per ipsum factus est, et mundus eum non cognovit. In propria venit, et sui eum non receperunt. Quotquot autem receperunt eum, dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri, his qui credunt in nomine eius: qui non ex sanguinibus, neque ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt. (Here all kneel.) Et Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis: et vidimus gloriam ejus, gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre, plenum gratiæ et veritatis.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. That was the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them he gave power to be made the sons of God; to them that believe in his name, who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (Here all kneel.) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw his glory, as it were the glory of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

℟. Deo gratias.

℟. Thanks be to God.

On Holy Communion During Septuagesima

We have already said that the Christian who, by the meditations suitable to the spirit of Septuagesima, has come to a clearer knowledge not only of the sad consequences of original sin, but also of the malice of his own personal faults, should be all the more eager to assist at the holy Sacrifice, wherein is offered the Victim of man’s salvation. But now that his own unworthiness is more than ever evident to him, ought he to abstain from partaking, by holy Communion, of this life-giving and purifying Host? Such is not our Savior’s will. He came down from heaven not to judge, but to save us. He knows how long and rugged is the road we have to traverse before we reach that happy day on which we shall rest with Him in the joy of His Resurrection. He has compassion on us; He fears lest we faint in the way; and He, therefore, offers us the divine food which gives life and strength to our souls, and refreshes them in their toil. We feel that our hearts are not yet pure enough; let us, then, with a humble and contrite heart, go to Him who has come that He may restore to our souls their original beauty. Let us, at all times, remember the solemn injunction, which this Savior so graciously deigned to give us: Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, ye shall not have life in you.

If, therefore, sin has no longer dominion over us; if we have destroyed it by true sorrow and sincere confession, made efficacious by the absolution of God’s priest: let us not deprive ourselves of the Bread of life, no matter how great soever our infirmities may seem; for it is for us that our Jesus has prepared the feast. If we feel that the chains of sin are still upon us; if by self-examination, made with the light of the truth that is now granted to us, we discover in our souls certain stains which the false principles of the world and too easy a conscience have hitherto made us overlook; let us lose no time, let us make a good confession: and when we have made our peace with the God of mercy, let us approach the holy Table, and receive the pledge of our reconciliation.

Yet, let us go to holy Communion, during this season of Septuagesima, with a most heart-felt conviction of our unworthiness. It may be that hitherto we have sometimes gone with too much familiarity, on account of our not sufficiently understanding our nothingness, our misery, and the infinite holiness of the God who thus unites Himself with His sinful creatures. Henceforth, our heart shall be more truthful; blending together the two sentiments of humility and confidence, we will say, with an honest conviction, those words of the centurion of the Gospel, which the Church puts upon our lips, when she is distributing to us the Bread of life: Lord, I am not worthy that shouldst enter under my roof; say but the word, and my soul shall be healed.

We will here give, as in the two preceding seasons, acts which may serve as a preparation for holy Communion during these weeks of Septuagesima. There are souls that feel the want of some such assistance as this; and for the same reason, we will add a form of thanksgiving for after Communion.

BEFORE COMMUNION
Act of Faith

The signal grace which thou, O my God, hast granted to me, that I should know the wounds of my soul, has revealed to me the greatness of my misery. I have been taught how deep was the darkness that covered me, and how much I needed thy divine light. But while the torch of faith has thus shown me the abyss of my own poor nature, it has also taught me how wonderful and the works, which thy love of thy ungrateful creature has made thee undertake, in order that thou mightest raise him up and save him. It was for me thou didst assume my human nature, and wast born at Bethlehem; it is for me that thou art soon to shed thy Blood on the cross. Thou commandest me to believe these miracles of thy love. I do believe them, O my God, humbly and gratefully. I also believe, and with an equally lively faith, that in a few moments thou art to give thyself to me in this ineffable mystery of holy Communion. Thou sayest to me: “This is my Body, this is my Blood”:—thy word is enough; in spite of my unworthiness seeming to forbid the possibility of such Communion, I believe, I consent, I bow down before thine infinite truth. Oh! can there be Communion between the God of all holiness and a sinner such as I? And yet thou assurest me that thou art verily coming to me! I tremble, O eternal Truth, but I believe. I confess that thy love of me is infinite, and that, having resolved to give thyself to thy poor and sinful creature, thou wilt suffer no obstacle to stand in thy way!

Act of Humility

During the season just past, I have often contemplated, O my Jesus, thy coming from thy high throne into the bosom of Mary, thy uniting thy divine Person to our weak mortal nature, and thy being born in the crib of a poor stable. And when I thought on these humiliations of my God, they taught me not only to love thee tenderly, but also to know my own nothingness, for I saw more clearly what an infinite distance there is between the creature and his Creator; and seeing these prodigies of thy immense love, I gladly confessed my own vileness. But now, dearest Savior, I am led to consider something far more humiliating than the lowliness of my nature. That nothingness should be but nothingness, is not a sin. No; it is my sins that appall me. Sin has so long tyrannized over me; its consequences are still upon me; it has given me such dangerous tendencies; and I am so weak in resisting its bidding. When my first parent sinned, he hid himself, lest he should meet thee; and thou biddest me come unto thee, not to sentence me to the punishment I deserve, but to give me, oh! such a mark of love—union with thyself! Can this be? Art thou not the infinitely holy God? I must needs yield, and come, for thou art my sovereign Master; and who is there that dares resist thy will? I come, then, humbling myself, even to my very nothingness, before thee, and beseeching thee to pardon my coming, for I come because thou wilt have it so.

Act of Contrition

And shall I, O my Jesus, confess thus the grievousness and multitude of my sins, without promising thee to sin no more? Thou wishest this sinner to be reconciled with thee, thou desirest to press him to thy sacred Heart: and could he, while thanking thee for this thy wonderful condescension, still love the accursed cause which made him thine enemy? No, my infinitely merciful God, no! I will not, like my first parent, seek to escape thy justice, but, like the prodigal son, I will arise and go to my Father; like Magdalene, I will take courage and enter the banquet-hall; and, though trembling at the sight of my sins, I will comply with thy loving invitation. My heart has no further attachment to sin, which I hate and detest as the enemy of thy honor and of my own happiness. I am resolved to shun it from this time forward, and to spare no pains to free myself from its tyranny. There shall be no more of that easy life which chilled my love, nor of that studied indifference which dulled my conscience, nor of those dangerous habits which led me to stray from my loyalty to thee. Despise not, O God, this my humble and contrite heart.

Act of Love

Such is thy love for us in this world, O my Jesus, that, as thou thyself sayest, thou art come not to judge, but to save. I should not satisfy thee, in this happy Communion hour, were I to offer thee but this salutary fear, which has led me to thy sacred feet, and this shame-stricken conscience, which makes me tremble in thy holy presence. The visit thou art about to pay me is a visit of love. The Sacrament, which is going to unite me to thee, is the Sacrament of thy love. Thou, my good Shepherd, hast said, that he loves most, who has forgiven most. My heart them must dare to love thee; it must love thee with all its warmth; the very recollection of its past disloyalty must make its loving thee doubly needed and doubly fervent. Ah! sweet Lord! See this poor heart of mine; strengthen it, console it, drive away its fears, make it feel that thou art its Jesus! It has come back to thee, because it feared thee; if it love thee, it will never again leave thee.

And thou, O Mary, refuge of sinners, help me to love him, who is thy Son, and our Brother. Holy angels! ye who live eternally on that love, which has never ceased to glow in your mighty spirits, remember, I reverently pray you, that this God created me, as he did you, that I might love him. All ye holy saints of God! I beseech you, by the love wherewith ye are inebriated in heaven, graciously give me a thought, and prepare now my heart to be united with him. Amen.

AFTER COMMUNION
Act of Adoration

Thou art here within me, great God of heaven! Thou art, at this moment, residing in a sinner’s heart! I, yea, I am thy temple, thy throne, thy resting place! How shall I worthily adore thee, who hast deigned to come down into this abyss of my lowliness and misery? The angels veil their faces in thy presence; thy saints lay their crowns at thy feet; and I, that am but a sinful mortal, how shall I sufficiently honor thee, O infinite Power, infinite Wisdom, infinite Goodness? This soul, wherein thou art now dwelling, has presumed so many times to set thee at defiance, and boldly disobey and break thy commands. And thou canst come to me after all this, and bring all thy beauty and greatness with thee! What else can I do but give thee the homage of a heart that knows not how to bear the immensity of the honor thou art now lavishing on me? Yes, my own wonderful and loving God, I adore thee; I acknowledge thee to be the sovereign Being, the Creator and preserver of all creatures, and the undisputed Master of everything that belongs to me. I delightedly confess my dependence on thee, and offer thee, with all my heart, my humble service.

Act of Thanksgiving

Thy greatness, O my God, is infinite; but thy goodness to me is incomprehensible. Thy being now present within this breast of mine is, I know, a proof of that immense power, which shows itself where and when it wills; but it is also a mark of thy love for me. Thou art come to my soul, that thou mayst be closely united with her, comfort her, give her a new life, and bring her all good things. Oh! who will teach me how to value this grace, and thank thee for it in a becoming way? But how shall I hope to value it as I ought, when I am not able to understand either the love that brings thee thus within me, or my own need of having thee? And when I think of my inability to make thee a suitable return of thanks, I feel as though I can give thee nothing but my speechless gratitude. Yet thou willest that this my heart, poor as it is, should give thee its thanks; thou takest delight in receiving its worthless homage. Take it, then, my loving Jesus! I give it thee with all possible joy, and beseech thee to reveal unto me the immensity of thy gift, and to enrich me more that I may give thee more.

Act of Love

But nothing will satisfy thee, O my infinite Treasure, unless I give thee my love. Thou hast ever loved me, and thou art still loving me; I must love thee in return! Thou hast borne with me; thou hast forgiven me; thou art, at this moment, overpowering me with honor and riches; and all this out of love for me! The return thou askest of me is my love! Gratitude will not content thee, thou wilt have my love! But, Jesus, my dear Jesus!—my past life—the long years I have spent in offending thee—rise up before me, and tell me to hide myself from thee! And yet, whither could I go without carrying thee within me, for thou hast taken up thine abode in my inmost soul? No, I will not run from thee! I will summon all the energies of my heart to tell thee that I love thee; that thy love for me has emboldened me; that I belong to thee; that I love thee above all else that I love; and that, henceforth, all my joy and happiness shall be in pleasing thee, and doing whatsoever thou askest of me.

Act of Oblation

I know, dear Jesus, that what thou askest of me is not the passing sentiment of a heart excited by the thought of thy goodness towards it. Thou hast loved me from eternity; thou lovedst me even when I was doing nothing for thee; thou hast given me light to know my miseries; thou hast shielded me against thine own angry justice; thou hast mercifully pardoned me a countless number of times; thou art even now embracing me with tenderest love; and all these works of thy almighty hand have been but for one end—to make me give myself to thee, and live, at last, for thee. It is this thou wouldst obtain of me, by granting me this precious earnest of thy love, which I have just received. Thou hast said, speaking of this ineffable gift: As I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. Henceforth, O Bread which came down from heaven! thou art the source of my life. I give it unto thee. I dedicate unto thee my soul, my body, my faculties, my whole being. Do thou direct and govern me. I resign myself entirely into thy hands. I am blind, but thy light will guide me; I am weak, but thy power will uphold me; I am inconstant, but thy unchangeableness will give me stability. I trust unreservedly in thy mercy, which never abandons them that hope in thee.

O Mary! pray for me, that I lose not the fruit of this visit. Holy angels! watch over this dwelling-place of your Lord, which he has so mercifully chosen: let nothing defile it. O all ye saints of God! pray for the sinner, unto whom he has given this pledge of his divine pardon.

0 Comments

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Comments are closed.