Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Season of Lent

The History of Lent

The forty days’ fast, which we call Lent, is the Church’s preparation for Easter, and was instituted at the very commencement of Christianity. Our blessed Lord Himself sanctioned it by fasting forty days and forty nights in the desert; and though He would not impose it on the world by an express commandment (which, in that case, could not have been open to the power of dispensation), yet He showed plainly enough, by His own example, that fasting, which God had so frequently ordered in the old Law, was to be also practiced by the children of the new.

The disciples of St. John the Baptist came, one day, to Jesus, and said to Him: “Why do we and the pharisees fast often, but Thy disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them: “Can the children of the Bridegroom mourn, as long as the Bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast.”

Hence we find it mentioned, in the Acts of the Apostles, how the disciples of our Lord, after the foundation of the Church, applied themselves to fasting. In their Epistles, also, they recommended it to the faithful. Nor could it be otherwise. Though the divine mysteries whereby our Savior wrought our redemption have been consummated, yet are we still sinners: and where there is sin, there must be expiation.

The apostles, therefore, legislated for our weakness, buy instituting, at the very commencement of the Christian Church, that the solemnity of Easter should be preceded by a universal fast; and it was only natural that they should have made this period of penance to consist of forty days, seeing that our divine Master had consecrated that number by His own fast. St. Jerome, St. Leo the Great, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Isidore of Seville, and others of the holy fathers, assure us that Lent was instituted by the apostles, although, at the commencement, there was not any uniform way of observing it.

We have already seen, in our “Septuagesima,” that the orientals begin their Lent much earlier than the Latins, owing to their custom of never fasting on Saturdays (or, in some places, even on Thursday). They are, consequently, obliged, in order to make up the forty days, to begin the lenten fast on the Monday preceding our Sexagesima Sunday. Exceptions of this kind to but prove the rule. We have also shown how the Latin Church—which, even so late as the sixth century, kept only thirty-six fasting days during the six weeks of Lent (for the Church has never allowed Sundays to be kept as days of fast)—thought proper to add, later on, the last four days of Quinquagesima, in order that her Lent might contain exactly forty days of fast.

The whole subject of Lent has been so often and so fully treated that we shall abridge, as much as possible, the history we are now giving. The nature of our work forbids us to do more than insert what is essential for entering into the spirit of each season. God grant that we may succeed in showing to the faithful the importance of the holy institution of Lent! Its influence on the spiritual life, and on the very salvation, of each one among us, can never be over-rated.

Lent, then, is a time consecrated in an especial manner to penance; and this penance is mainly practiced by fasting. Fasting is an abstinence, which man voluntarily imposes upon himself as an expiation for sin, and which, during Lent, is practiced in obedience to the general law of the Church. According to the actual discipline of the western Church, the fast of Lent is not more rigorous than that prescribed for the vigils of certain feasts, and for the Ember Days; but it is kept up for forty successive days, with the single interruption of the intervening Sundays.

We deem it unnecessary to show the importance and advantages of fasting. The sacred Scriptures, both of the old and new Testament, are filled with the praises of this holy practice. The traditions of every nation of the world testify the universal veneration in which it has ever been held; for there is not a people or a religion, how much soever it may have lost the purity of primitive traditions, which is not impressed with this conviction—that man may appease his God by subjecting his body to penance.

St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory the Great, make the remark, that the commandment put upon our first parents in the earthly paradise was one of abstinence; and that it was by their not exercising this virtue, that they brought every kind of evil upon themselves and upon us their children. The life of privation, which the king of creation had thenceforward to lead on the earth (for the earth was to yield him nothing of its own natural growth, save thorns and thistles), was the clearest possible exemplification of the law of penance imposed by the anger of God on rebellious man.

During the two thousand and more years, which preceded the deluge, amen had no other food than the fruits of the earth, and these were obtained only by the toil of hard labor. But when God, as we have already observed, mercifully shortened man’s life that so he might have less time and power for sin, He permitted him to eat the flesh of animals, as an additional nourishment in that state of deteriorated strength. It was then, also, that Noah, guided by a divine inspiration, extracted the juice of the grape, which thus formed a second stay for human debility.

Fasting, then, is abstinence form such nourishments as these, which were permitted for the support of bodily strength. And firstly, it consists in abstinence from flesh-meat, because this food was given to man by God out of condescension to his weakness, and not as one absolutely essential for the maintenance of life. Its privation, greater or less according to the regulations of the Church, is essential to the very notion of fasting. Thus, while in many countries the use of eggs, milk-meats, and even dripping and lard, is tolerated, the abstinence from flesh-meat is everywhere maintained, as being essential to fasting. For many centuries eggs and milk-meats were not allowed, because they come under the class of animal food; even to this day they are forbidden in the eastern Churches, and are allowed in the Latin Church only by virtue of an annual dispensation. The precept of abstaining from flesh-meat is so essential to Lent, that even on Sundays, when the fasting is interrupted, abstinence is an obligation, binding even on those who are dispensed from the fasts of the week, unless there be a special dispensation granted for eating meat on the Sundays.

In the early ages of Christianity, fasting included also abstinence from wine, as we learn from St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, Theophilus of Alexandria, and others. In the west, this custom soon fell into disuse. The eastern Christians kept it up much longer, but even with them it has ceased to be considered as obligatory.

Lastly, fasting includes the depriving ourselves of some portion of our ordinary food, inasmuch as it allows only one meal during the day. Though the modifications introduced form age to age in the discipline of Lent are very numerous, yet the points we have here mentioned belong to the very essence of fasting, as is evident from the universal practice of the Church.

It was the custom with the Jews, in the old Law, not to take the one meal, allowed on fasting days, till sunset. The Christian Church adopted the same custom. It was scrupulously practiced, for many centuries, even in our western countries. But about the ninth century some relaxation began to be introduced in the Latin Church. Thus we have a capitularium of Theodulph, bishop of Orleans, who lived in that period, protesting against the practice, which some had, of taking their repast at the hour of None, that is to say, about three o’clock on the afternoon. The relaxation, however, gradually spread; for, in the tenth century, we find the celebrated Ratherius, bishop of Verona, acknowledging that the faithful had permission to break their fast at the hour of None. We meet with a sort of reclamation made as late as the eleventh century, by a Council held at Rouen, which forbids the faithful to take their repast before Vespers shall have been begun in the church, at the end of None; but this shows us that the custom had already begun of anticipating the hour of Vespers, in order that the faithful might take their meal earlier in the day.

Up to within a short period before this time, it had been the custom not to celebrate Mass, on days of fasting, until the Office of None had been sung, which was about three o’clock in the afternoon; and, also, not to sing Vespers till sunset. When the discipline regarding fasting began to relax, the Church still retained the order of her Offices, which had been handed down from the earliest times. The only change she made was to anticipate the hour for Vespers; and this entailed the celebration of Mass and None much earlier in the day; so early, indeed, that, when custom had so prevailed as to authorize the faithful taking their repast at midday, all the Offices, even the Vespers, were over before that hour.

In the twelfth century, the custom of breaking one’s fast at the hour of None everywher prevailed, as we learn from Hugh of Saint-Victor; and in the thirteenth century, it was sanctioned by the teaching of the Schoolmen. Alexander Hales declares most expressly that such a custom was lawful; and St. Thomas of Aquin is equally decided in the same opinion.

But even the fast till None—i.e., three o’clock—was found too severe; and a still furth relaxation was considered to be necessary. At the close of the thirteenth century, we have the celebrated Franciscan, Richard of Middleton, teaching that those who break their fast at the hour of Sext—i.e., midday—are not to be considered as transgressing the precept of the church; and the reason he gives is this: that the custom of doing so had already prevailed in many places, and that fasting does not consist so much in the lateness of the hour at which the faithful take their refreshment, as in their taking but one meal during the twenty-four hours.

The fourteenth century gave weight, both by universal custom and theological authority, to the opinion held by Richard of Middleton. It will, perhaps suffice if we quote the learned Dominican, Durandus, bishop of Meaux, who says that there can be no doubt as to the lawfulness of taking one’s repast at midday; and he adds that such was then the custom observed by the Pope, and Cardinals, and even the religious Orders. We cannot, therefore, be surprised at finding this opinion maintained, in the fifteenth century, by such grave authors as St. Antoninus, Cardinal Cajetan, and others. Alexander Hales and St. Thomas sought to prevent the relaxation going beyond the hour of None; but their zeal was disappointed, and the present discipline was established, we might almost say, during their lifetime.

But while this relaxation of taking the repast so early in the day as twelve o’clock rendered fasting less difficult in one way, it made it more severe in another. The body grew exhausted by the labors of the long second half of the twenty-four hours; and the meal, that formerly closed the day, and satisfied the cravings of fatigue, had been already taken. It was found necessary to grant some refreshment for the eveningk, and it was called a collation. The word was taken from the Benedictine rule, which, for long centuries before this change in the lenten observance, had allowed a monastic collation. St. Benedict’s rule prescribed a great many fasts, over and above the ecclesiastical fast of Lent; but it made this great distinction between the two: that while Lent obliged the monks, as well as the rest of the faithful, to abstain from food till sunset, these monastic fasts allowed the repast to be taken at the hour of None. But, as the monks had heavy manual labor during the summer and autumn months (which was the very time when these fasts till None occurred several days of each week, and, indeed, every day from September 14), the abbot was allowed by the rule to grant his religious permission to take a small measure of wine before Compline, as a refreshment after the fatigues of the afternoon. It was taken by all at the same time, during the evening reading, which was called conference (in Latin, collatio) because it was mostly taken from the celebrated “Conferences&rdqul; (Collationes) of Cassian. Hence this evening monastic refreshment took the name of collation.

We find the Assembly, or Chapter of Aix-la-Chapelle, held in 817, extending this indulgence even to the lenten fast, on account of the great fatigue entailed by the offices, which the monks had to celebrate during this holy season. But experience showed that, unless something solid were allowed to be taken together with the wine, the evening collation would be an injury to the health of many of the religious; accordingly, towards the close of the fourteen or the beginning fo the fifteenth century, the usage was introduced of taking a morsel of bread with the collation-beverage.

As a matter of course, these mitigations of the ancient severity of fasting soon found their way from the cloister into the world. The custom of taking something to drink on fasting days, out of the time of the repast, was gradually established; and even so early as the thirteenth century, we have St. Thomas of Aquin discussing the question, whether or not drink is to be considered as a breaking of the precept of fasting. He answers in the negative; and yet he does not allow that anything solid may be taken with the drink. But when it had become the universal practice (as it did in the latter part of the thirteenth century, and still more fixedly during the whole of the fourteenth) that the one meal on fasting days was taken at midday, a mere beverage was found insufficient to give support, and bread, herbs, fruits, etc., were added. Such was the practice, both in the world and in the cloister. It was, however, clearly understood by all, that thease eatables were not to be taken in such quantity as to turn the collation into a second meal.

Thus did the decay of piety, and the general deterioration of bodily strength among the people of the western nations, infringe on the primitive observance of fasting. To make our history of these humiliating changes anything like complete, we must mention one more relaxation. For several centuries, abstinence from flesh-meat included likewise the prohibition of all animal food, with the single exception of fish, which, on account of its cold nature, as also for several mystical reasons, founded on the sacred Scriptures, was always permitted to be taken by those who fasted. Every sort of milk-meat was forbidden; and in Rome, even to this day, butter and cheese are not permitted during Lent, except on those days whereon permission to eat meat is granted.

Dating from the ninth century, the custom of eating milk-meats during Lent began to be prevalent in western Europe, more especially in Germany and the northern countries. The Council of Kedlimberg (Canon VII), held in the eleventh century, made an effort to put a stop to the practice as an abuse; but without effect. These Churches maintained that they were in the right, and defended their custom by the dispensations (though, in reality, only temporary ones) granted them by several sovereign Pontiffs: the dispute ended by their being left peaceably to enjoy what they claimed. The Churhes of FRance resisted this innovation up to the sixteenth century; but in the seventeenth they too yielded, and milk-meats were taken during Lent, throughout the whole kingdom. As some reparation for this breach of ancient discipline, the city of Paris instituted a solemn rite, whereby she wished to signify her regret at being obliged to such a relaxation. On Quinquagesima Sunday, all the different parishes went in procession to the church of Notre Dame. The Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, and Augustinians, took part in the procession. The metropolitan Chapter, and the four parishes that were subject to it, held, on the same day, a Station in the courtyard of the palace, and sang an anthem before the relic of the true cross, which was exposed i nthe Sainte Chapelle. These pious usages, which were intended to remind the people of the difference between the past and the present observance of Lent, continued to be practiced till the revolution.

But this grant for the eating of milk-meats during Lent did not include eggs. Here the ancient discipline was maintained, at least this far, that eggs were not allowed, save by a dispensation, which had to be renewed each year. In Rome they are allowed only on days when flesh-meat may be taken. In other places they are allowed on some days, and on others, especially during Holy Week, are forbidden. Invariably do we find the Church seeking, out of anxiety for the spriitual advantage of her children, to maintian all she can of those penitential observances, whereby they may satisfy divine justice. It was with this intention that Pope Benedict XIV, alarmed at the excessive facility wherewith dispensations were then obtained, renewed, by a solemn Constitution dated June 10, 1745, the prohibition of eating fish and meat, at the same meal, on fasting days.

The same Pope, whose spirit of moderation has never been called in question, had no sooner ascended the papal throne, than he addressed an encyclical letter to the bishops of the Catholic world, expressing his heartfelt grief at seeing the great relaxation that was introduced among the faithful by indiscreet and unnecessary dispensations. The letter is dated May 30, 1741. We extract from it the following passage: “The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the cross of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe.”

More than a hundred years have elapsed since this solemn warning of the Vicar of Christ was given to the world; and during that time, the relaxation he inveighed against has gone on gradually increasing. How few Christians do we meet who are strict observers of Lent, even in its present mild form! The long list of general dispensations granted, each year, by the bishops to their flocks, would lead us to suppose that the immense majority of the faithful would be scrupulously exact in the fulfillment of the fasting and abstinence still remaining; but is such the case? And must there not result from this ever-growing spirit of immortification, a general effeminacy of character, which will lead, at last, to frightful social disorders? The sad predictions of Pope Benedict XIV are but too truly verified. Those nations, among whose people the spirit and practice of penance are extinct, are heaping against themelves the wrath of God, and provoking His justice to destroy them by one or other of these scourges—civil discord, or conquest. In our own country there is an inconsistency, which must strike every thinking mind: the observance of the Lord’s day, on the one side; the national inobservance of days of penance and fasting, on the other. The first is admirable, and, if we except puritanical extravagances, bespeaks a deep-rooted sense of religion; but the second is one of the worst presages for the future. The word of God is unmistakable: unless we do penance, we shall perish. But if our ease-loving and sensual generation were to return, like the Ninivites, to the long-neglected way of penance and expiation, who knows but that the arm of God, which is already raised to strike us, may give us blessing and not chastisement?

Let us resume our history, and seek our edification in studying the fervor wherewith the Christians of former times used to observe Lent. We will first offer to our readers a few instances of the manner in which dispensations were given.

Ini the thirteenth century, the archbishop of Braga applied to the reigning Pontiff, Innocent III, asking him what compensation he ought to require of his people, who, in consequence of a dearth of the ordinary articles of food, had been necessitated to eat meat during the Lent. He at the same time consulted the Pontiff as to how he was to act in the case of the sick, who asked for a dispensation from abstinence. The answer given by Innocent, which is inserted in the Canon Law, is, as we might expect, full of considerateness and charity; but we learn from this fact that such was then the respect for the law of Lent, that it was considered necessary to apply to the sovereign Pontiff when dispensations were sought for. We find many such instances in the history of the Church.

Wenceslaus, king of Bohemia, being seized with a malady which rendered it dangerous to his health to take Lenten diet, applied, in the year 1297, to Pope Boniface VIII for leave to eat meat. The Pontiff commissioned two Cistercian abbots to inquire into the real state of the prince’s health; they were to grant the dispensation sought for, if they found it necessary, but on the following conditions: that the king had not bound himself by a vow, for life, to fast during Lent; that the Fridays, the Saturdays, and the vigil of St. Mathias, were to be excluded from the dispensation; and, lastly, that the king was not to take his meal in presence of others, and was to observe moderation in what he took.

In the fourteenth century we meet with two briefs of dispensation, granted by Clement VI, in 1351, to John, king of France, and to his queen consort. In the first, the Pope, taking into consideration that during the wars in which the king is engaged he frequently finds himself in places where fish can with difficulty be procured, grants to the confessor of the king the power of allowing, both to his Majesty and to his suite, the use of meat on days of abstinence, excepting, however, the whole of Lent, all Fridays of the year, and certain vigils; provided, moreover, that neither he, nor those who accompany him, are under a vow of perpetual abstinence. In the second brief the same Pope, replying to the petition made him by the king for a dispensation from fasting, again commissions his Majesty’s present and future confessors, to dispense both the king and his queen, after having consulted with their physicians.

A few years later—that is, in 1376—Pope Gregory XI sent a brief in favor of Charles V, king of France, and of Jane, his queen. In this brief, he delegates to their confessor the power of allowing them the use of eggs and milk-meats during Lent, should their physician think they stand in need of such dispensation; but he tells both physicians and confessor that he puts it upon their consciences, and that they will have to answer before God for their decision. The same permission is granted also to their servants and cooks, but only as far as it is needed for tasting the food to be served to their Majesties.

The fifteenth century, also, furnishes us with instances of applications to the holy See for lenten dispensations. We will cite the brief addressed by Xystus IV, in 1483, to James III, king of Scotland, in which he grants him permission to eat meat on days of abstinence, provided his confessor considers the dispensation needed. In the following century, we have Julius II granting a like dispensation to John, king of Denmark, and to his queen Christina; and, a few years later, Clement VII giving one to the emperor Charles V, and again, to Henry II of Navarre, and to his queen Margaret.

Thus were the princes themselves treated, three centuries ago, when they sought for a dispensation from the sacred law of Lent. What are we to think of the present indifference wherewith it is kept? What comparison can be made between the Christians of former times, who, deeply impressed with the fear of God’s judgments and with the spirit of penance, cheerfully went through these forty days of mortification, and those of our own days, when love of pleasure and self-indulgence are forever lessening man’s horror for sin? Where there is little or no fear of having to penance ourselves for sin, there is so much the less restraint to keep us from committing it.

Where now that simple and innocent joy at Easter, which our forefathers used to show, when, after their severe fast of Lent, they partook of substantial and savory food? The peace, which long and sharp mortification ever brings to the conscience, gave them the capability, not to say the right, of being light-hearted as they returned to the comforts of life, which they had denied themselves in order to spend forty days in penance, recollection, and retirement from the world. This leads us to mention some further details, which will assist the Catholic reader to understand what Lent was in the ages of faith.

It was a season during which, not only all amusements and theatrical entertainments were forbidden by the civil authority (Nomocanon, tit. vii. cap. i.), but even the law courts were closed; and this in order to secure that peace and calm of heart, which is so indispensable for the soul’s self-examination, and reconciliation with her offended Maker. As early as the year 380, Gratian and Theodosius enacted that judges should suspend all lawsuits and proceedings, during the forty days preceding Easter. The Theodosian Code contains several regulations of this nature; and we find Councils, held in the ninth century, urging the kings of that period to enforce the one we have mentioned, seeing that it had been sanctioned by the canons, and approved of by the fathers of the Church. These admirable Christian traditions have long since fallen into disuse in the countries of Europe; but they are still kept among the Turks, who, during the forty days of their Ramadan, forbid all law proceedings. What a humiliation for us Christians!

Hunting, too, was for many ages considered as forbidden during Lent: the spirit fo the holy season was too sacred to admit such exciting and noisy sport. Pope St. Nicholas I, in the ninth century, forbade it the Bulgarians, who had been recently converted to the Christian faith. Even so late as the thirteenth century, we find St. Raymund of Pegnafort (Summ. cas. Pœnit., lib. iii. tit. xxix.; De laps. et disp. §1.) teaching that those who, during Lent, take part in the chase, if it be accompanied by certain circumstances which he specifies, cannot be excused from sin. This prohibition has long since been a dead letter; but St. Charles Borromeo, in one of his Synods, re-established it in his province of Milan.

But we cannot be surprised that hunting should be forbidden during Lent, when we remember that, in those Christian times, war itself, which is sometimes so necessary for the welfare of a nation, was suspended during this holy season. In the fourth century, we have the emperor Constantine the Great enacting that no military exercises should be allowed on Sundays and Fridays, out of respect to our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered and rose again on those two days, as also in order not to disturb the peace and repose needed for the due celebration of such sublime mysteries. The discipline of the Latin Church, in the ninth century, enforced everywhere the suspension of war during the whole of Lent, except in cases of necessity. The instructions of Pope St. Nicholas I to the Bulgarians recommend the same observance; and we learn, from a letter of St. Gregory VII to Desiderius, abbot of Monte Cassino, that it was kept up in the eleventh century. We have an instance of its being practiced in our own country, in the twelfth century, when, as William of Malmesbury relates, the empress Matilda, Countess of Anjou, and daughter of king Henry, was contesting the right of succession to the throne against Stephen, count of Boulogne. The two armies were in sight of each other; but an armistice was demanded and observed, for it was the Lent of 1143.

Our readers have heard, no doubt, of the admirable institution called “god’s truce,” whereby the Church in the eleventh century succeeded in preventing much bloodshed. This law, which forbade the carrying of arms from Wednesday evening till Monday morning throughout the year, was sanctioned by the authority of Popes and Councils, and enforced by all Christian princes. It was an extension of the lenten discipline of the suspension of war. Our saintly king Edward the Confessor carried its influence still further by passing a law (which was confirmed by his successor, William the Conqueror), that God’s truce should be observed without cessation from the beginning of Advent to the octave of Easter; from the Ascension to the Whitsuntide octave; on all the Ember days; on the vigils of all feasts; and lastly, every week, from None on Wednesday till Monday morning, which had already been prescribed.

In the Council of Clermont, held in 1095, Pope Urban II, after drawing up the regulations for the Crusades, used his authority in extending the God’s trude, as it was then observed during Lent. His decree, which was renewed in the Council held the following year at Rouen, was to this effect: that all war proceedings should be suspended from Ash Wednesday to the Monday after the octave of Pentecost, and on all vigils and feasts of the blessed Virgin and of the apostles, over and above what was already regulated for each week, that is, from Wednesday evening to Monday morning.

Thus did the world testify its respect for the holy observances of Lent, and borrow some of its wisest institutions from the seasons and feasts of the liturgical year. The influence of this forty days’ penance was great, too, on each individual. It renewed man’s energies, gave him fresh vigor in battling with his animal instincts, and, by the restraint it put upon sensuality, ennobled the soul. There was restraint everywhere; and the present discipline of the Church, which forbids the solemnization of marriage during Lent, reminds Christians of that holy continency, which, for many ages, was observed during the whole forty days as a precept, and of which the most sacred of the liturgical books, the missal, still retains the recommendation.

It is with reluctance that we close our history of Lent, and leave untouched so many other interesting details. For instance, what treasures we could have laid open to our readers from the lenten usages of the eastern Churches, which have retained so much of the primitive discipline! We cannot, however, resist devoting our last page to the following particulars.

We mentioned, in the preceding volume, that the Sunday we call Septuagesima, is called, by the Greeks, Prophoné because the opening of Lent is proclaimed on that day. The Monday following it is counted as the first day of the next week, which is Apocreos, the name they give to the Sunday which closes that week, and which is our Sexagesima Sunday. The Greek Church begins abstinence from flesh-meat with this week. Then on the morrow, Monday, commences the week called Tyrophagos, which ends with the Sunday of that name, corresponding to our Quinquagesima. White meats are allowed during that week. Finally, the morrow is the first day of the first week of Lent, and the fast begins with all its severity on that Monday, while, in the Latin Church, it is deferred to the Wednesday.

During the whole of the Lent preceding Easter, milk-meats, eggs, and even fish, are forbidden. The only food permitted to be eaten with bread, is vegetables, honey, and, for those who live near the sea, shellfish. For many centuries wine might not be taken, but it is now permitted; and on the Annunciation and Palm Sunday a dispensation is granted for eating fish.

Besides the Lent preparatory to th efeast of Easter, the Greeks keep three others in the year: that which is called “of the apostles,” which lasts from the octave of Pentecost to the feast of Saints Peter and Paul; that “of the Virgin Mary,” which begins on the first of August, and ends with the vigil of the Assumption; and lastly, the Lent of preparation for Christmas, which consists of forty days. The fasting and abstinence of these three Lents are not quite so severe as those observed during the great Lent. The other Christian nations of the east also observe several Lents, and more rigidly than the Greeks; but all these details would lead us too far. We therefore pass on to the mysteries which are included in this holy season.

The Mystery of Lent

We may be sure that a seson so sacred as this of Lent is rich in mysteries. The Church has made it a time of recollection and penance, in preparation for the greatest of all her feasts; she would, therefore, bring into it everything that could excite the faith of her children, and encourage them to go through the arduous work of atonement for their sins. During Septuagesima, we had the number seventy, which reminds us of those seventy years of captivity in Babylon, after which God’s chosen people, being purified from idolatry, was to return to Jerusalem and celebrate the Pasch. It is the number forty that the Church now brings before us: a number, as St. Jerome observes, which denotes punishment and affliction.

Let us remember the forty days and forty nights of the deluge sent by God in His anger, when He repented that He had made man, and destroyed the whole human race with the exception of one family. Let us consider how the Hebrew people, in punishment for their ingratitude, wandered forty years in the desert, before they were permitted to enter the promised land. Let us listen to our God commanding the Prophet Ezechiel to lie forty days on his right side, as a figure of the siege which was to bring destruction on Jerusalem.

There are two persons in the old Testament who represent the two manifestations of God: Moses, who typifies the Law; and Elias, who is the figure of the Prophets. Both of these are permitted to approach God: the first on Sinai, the second on Horeb; but both of them have to prepare for the great favor by an expiatory fast of forty days.

With these mysterious facts before us, we can understand why it is that the Son of God, having become Man for our salvation and wishing to subject Himself to the pain of fasting, chose the number of forty days. The institution of Lent is thus brought before us with everything that can impress the mind with its solemn character, and with its power of appeasing God and purifying our souls. Let us, therefore, look beyond the little world which surrounds us, and see how the whole Christian universe is, at this very time, offering this forty days’ penance as a sacrifice of propitiation to the offended Majesty of God; and let us hope that, as in the case of the Ninivites, He will mercifully accept thisyear’s offering of our atonement, and pardon us our sins.

The number of our days of Lent is, then, a holy mystery: let us now learn, from the liturgy, in what light the Church views her children during these forty days. She considers them as an immense army, fighting day and night against their spiritual enemies. We remember how, on Ash Wednesday, she calls Lent a Christian warfare. In order that we may have that newness of life, which will make us worthy to sing once more our Alleluia, we must conquer our three enemies: the devil, the flesh, and the world. We are fellow combatants with our Jesus, for He, too, submits to the triple temptation, suggested to Him by satan in person. Thererfore, we must have on our armor, and watch unceasingly. And whereas it is of the utmost importance that our hearts be spirited and brave, the Church gives us a war-song of heaven’s own making, which can fire even cowards with hope of victory and confidence in God’s help: it is the ninetieth Psalm (Qui habitat in adjutorio, in the Office of Compline). She inserts the whole of it in the Mass of the first Sunday of Lent, and every day introduces several of its verses into the ferial Office.

She there tells us to rely on the protection, wherewith our heavenly Father covers us, as with a shield (Scuto circumdabit in veritas ejus, Office of None); to hope under the shelter of His wings (Et sub pennis ejus sperabis, Sext); to have confidence in Him; for that He will deliver us from the snare of the hunter (Ipse liberavit me de laqueo venantium, Tierce), who had robbed us of the holy liberty of the children of God; to rely upon the succor of the holy angels, who are our brothers, to whom our Lord hath given charge that they keep us in all our ways (Angelis suis mandavit de te, ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis, Lauds and Vespers), and who, when Jesus permitted satan to tempt Him, were the adoring witnesses of His combat, and approacehd Him, after His victory, proffering to Him their service and homage. Let us get well into us these sentiments wherewith the Church would have us to be inspired; and, during our six weeks’ campaign, let us often repeat this admirable canticle, which so fully describes what the solders of Christ should be and feel in this season of the great spiritual warfare.

But the Church is not satisfied with thus animating us to the contest with our enemies: she would also have our minds engrossed with thoughts of deepest import; and for this end she puts before us three great subjects, which she will gradually unfold to us between this and the great Easter solemnity. Let us be all attention to these soul-stirring and instructive lessons.

And firstly, there is the conspiracy of the Jews against our Redeemer. It will be brought before us in its whole history, from its first formation to its final consummation on the great Friday, when we shall behold the Son of God hanging on the wood of the cross. The infamous workings of the Synagogue will be brought before us so regularly, that we shall be able to follow the plot in all its details. We shall be inflamed with love for the august Victim, whose meekness, wisdom, and dignity bespeak a God. The divine drama, which began in the cave of Bethlehem, is to close on Calvary; we may assist at it, by meditating on the passages of the Gospel read to us by the Church during these days of Lent.

The second of the subjects offered to us, for our instruction, requires that we should remember how the feast of Easter is to be the day of new birth for our catechumens; and how, in the early ages of the Church, Lent was the immediate and solemn preparation given to the candidates for Baptism. The holy liturgy of the present season retains much of the instruction she used to give to the catechumens; and as we listen to her magnificent lessons from both the old and the new Testament, whereby she completed their initiation, we ought to think with gratitude on how we were not required to wait years before being made children of God, but were mercifully admitted to Baptism even in our infancy. We shall be led to pray for those new catechumens, who this very year, in far distant countries, are receiving instructions from their zealous missioners, and are looking forward, as did the postulants of the primitive Church, to that grant feast of our Savior’s victory over death, when they are to be cleansed in the waters of Baptism and receive from the contact a new being—regeneration.

Thirdly, we must remember how, formerly, the public penitents, who had been separated on Ash Wednesday from the assembly of the faithful, were the object of the Church’s maternal solicitude during the whole forty days of Lent, and were to be admitted to reconciliation on Maundy Thursday, if their repentance were such as to merit this public forgiveness. We shasll have the admirable course of instructions, which were originally designed for these penitents, and which the liturgy, faithful as it ever is to such traditions, still retains for our sake. As we read these sublime passages of the Scripture, we shall naturally think upon our own sins, and on what easy terms they were pardoned us; whereas, had we lived in other times, we should have probably been put through the ordeal of a public and severe penance. This will excite us to fervor, for we shall remember that, whatever changes the indulgence of the Church may lead her to make in her discipline, the justice of our God is ever the same. We shall find in all this an additional motive for offering to His divine Majesty the sacrifice of a contrite heart, and we shall go through our penances with that cheerful eagerness, which the conviction of our deserving much severer ones always brings with it.

In order to keep up the character of mournfulness and austerity which is so well suited to Lent, the Church, for many centuries, admitted very few feasts in to this portion of her year, inasmuch as there is always joy where there is even a spiritual feast. In the fourth century, we have the Council of Laodicea forbidding, in its fifty-first canon, the keeping of a feast or commemoration of any saint during Lent, excepting on the Saturdays or Sundays. The Greek Church rigidly maintained this point of lenten discipline; nor was it till many centuries after the Council of Laodicea that she made an exception for March 25, on which day she now keeps the feast of our Lady’s Annunciation.

The Church of Rome maintained this same discipline, at least in principle; but she admitted the feast of the Annunciation at a very early period, and somewhat later, the feast of the apostle St. Mathias, on February 24. During the last few centuries, she has admitted several other feasts into that portion of her general calendar which coincides with Lent; still, she observes a certain restriction, out of respect for the ancient practice.

The reason why the Church of Rome is less severe on this point of excluding the saints’ feasts during Lent, is that the Christians of the west have never looked upon the celebration of a feast as incompatible with fasting; the Greeks, on the contrary, believe that the two are irreconcilable, and as a consequence of this principle, never observe Saturday as a fasting-day, because they always keep it as a solemnity, though they make Holy Saturday an exception, and fast upon it. For the same reason, they do not fast upon the Annunciation.

This strange idea gave rise, in or about the seventh century, to a custom which is peculiar to the Greek Church. It is called the Mass of the Presanctified, that is to say, consecrated in a previous Sacrifice. On each Sunday of Lent, the priest consecrates six Hosts, one of which he receives in that Mass; but the remaining five are reserved for a simple Communion, which is made on each of the five following days, without the holy Sacrifice being offered. The Latin Church practices this rite only once in the year, that is, on Good Friday, and this in commemoration of a sublime mystery, which we will explain in its proper place.

This custom of the Greek Church was evidently suggested by the forty-ninth canon of the Council of Laodicea, which forbids the offering of bread for the Sacrifice during Lent, excepting on the Saturdays and Sundays. The Greeks, some centuries later on, concluded from this canon that the celebration of the holy Sacrifice was incompatible with fasting; and we learn from the controversy they had, in the ninth century, with the legate Humbert, that the Mass of the Presanctified (which has no other authority to rest on save a canon of the famous Council in Trullo, held in 692) was justified by the Greeks on this absurd plea, that the Communion of the Body and Blood of our Lord broke the lenten fast.

The Greeks celebrate this rite in the evening, after Vespers, and the priest alone communicates, as is done now in the Roman liturgy on Good Friday. But for many centuries they have made an exception for the Annunciation; they interrupt the lenten fast on this feast, they celebrate Mass, and the faithful are allowed to receive holy Communion.

The canon of the Council of Laodicea was probably never received in the western Church. If the suspension of the holy Sacrifice during Lent was ever practiced in Rome, it was only on the Thursdays; and even tht custom was abandoned in the eights century, as we learn from Anastasius the Librarian, who tells us that Pope St. Gregory II, desiring to complete the Roman sacramentary, added Masses for the Thursdays of the first five weeks of Lent. It is difficult to assign the reason of this interruption of the Mass on Thursdays in the Roman Church, or of the like custom observed by the Church of Milan on the Fridays of Lent. The explanations we have found in different authors are not satisfactory. As far as Milan is concerned, we are inclined to think that, not satisfied with the mere adoption of the Roman usage of not celebrating Mass on Good Friday, the Ambrosian Church extended the rite to all the Fridays of Lent.

After thus briefly alluding to these details, we must close our present chapter by a few words on the holy rites which are now observed, during Lent, in our western Churches. We have explained several of these in our “Septuagesima.” The suspension of the Alleluia; the purple vestments; the laying aside of the deacon’s dalmatic, and the subdeacon’s tunic; the omission of the two joyful canticles Gloria in excelsis and Te Deum; the substitution of the mournful Tract for the Alleluia-verse in the Mass; the Benedicamus Domino instead of the Ite Missa est; the additional prayer said over the people after the Postcommunions on ferial days; the celebration of the Vesper Office before midday, excepting on the Sundays; all these are familiar to our readers. We have now only to mention, in addition, the genuflections prescribed for the conclusion of all the Hours of the Divine Office on ferias, and the rubric which bids the choir to kneel, on those same days, during the Canon of the Mass.

There were other ceremonies peculiar to the season of Lent, which were observed in the Churches of the west, but which have now, for many centuries, fallen into general disuse; we say general, because they are still partially kept up in some places. Of these rites, the most imposing was that of putting up a large veil between the choir and the altar, so that neither clergy nor people could look upon the holy mysteries celebrated within the sanctuary. This veil—which was called the Curtain, and, generally speaking, was of a purple color—was a symbol of the penance to which the sinner ought to subject himself, in order to merit the sight of that divine Majesty, before whose face he had committed so many outrages. It signified, moreover, the humiliations endured by our Redeemer, who was a stumbling-block to the proud Synagogue. But as a veil that is suddenly drawn aside, these humiliations were to give way, an dbe changed into the glories of the Resurrection. Among other places where this rite is still observed, we may mention the metropolitan church of Paris, Notre Dame.

It was the custom also, in many churches, to veil the crucifix and the statues of the saints as soon as Lent began; in order to excite the faithful to a livelier sense of penance, they were deprived of the consolation which the sight of these holy images always brings to the soul. But this custom, which is still retained in some places, was less general than the more expressive one used in the Roman Church, which we will explain in our next volume—the veiling of the crucifix and statues only in Passiontide.

We learn from the ceremonials of the middle ages that, during Lent, and particularly on the Wednesdays and Fridays, processions used frequently to be made from one church to another. In monasteries, these processions were made in the cloister, and barefooted. This custom was suggested by the practice of Rome, where there is a Station for every day of Lent which, for many centuries, began by a procession to the stational church.

Lastly, the Church has always been in the habit of adding to her prayers during the season of Lent. Her present discipline is that, on ferias, in cathedral and collegiate churches which are not exempted by a custom to the contrary, the following additions are to be made to the canonical Hours: on Monday, the Office of the Dead; on Wednesday, the Gradual Psalms; and on Friday, the Penitential Psalms. In some churches, during the middle ages, the whole Psalter was added each week of Lent to the usual Office.

Practice During Lent

Having spent the three weeks of Septuagesima in meditating upon our spiritual infirmities and upon the wounds caused in us by sin, we should be ready to enter upon the penitential season which the Church has now begun. We have now a clearer knowledge of the justice and holiness of God, and of the dangers that await an impenitent soul; and, that our repentance might be earnest and lasting, we have bade farewell to the vain joys and baubles of the world. Our pride has been humbled by the prophecy, that these bodies would soon be like the ashes that wrote the memento of death upon our foreheads.

During these forty days of penance, which seem so long to our poor nature, we shall not be deprived of the company of our Jesus. He seemed to have withdrawn from us during those weeks of Septuagesima, when everything spoke to us of His maledictions upon sinful man; but this absence has done us good. It has taught us how to tremble at the voice of God’s anger. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;” we have found it to be so: the spirit of penance is now active within us, because we have feared.

And now, let us look at the divine object that is before us. It is our Emmanuel; the same Jesus, but not under the form of the sweet Babe whom we adored in His crib. He has grown to the fullness of the age of man, and wears the semblance of a sinner, trembling and humbling Himself before the sovereign Majesty of His Father whom we have offended, and to whom He now offers Himself as the Victim of propitiation. He loves us with a brother’s love; and seeing that the season for doing penance has begun, He comes to cheer us on by His presence and His own example. We are going to spend forty days in fasting and abstinence: Jesus, who is innocence itself, goes through the same penance. We have separated ourselves, for a time, from the pleasures and vanities of the world: Jesus withdraws from the company and sight of men. We intend to assist at the divine services more assiduously, and pray more fervently, than at other times: Jesus spends forty days and forty nights in praying, like the humblest suppliant; and all this for us. We are going to think over our past sins, and bewail them in bitter grief: Jesus suffers for them and weeps over them in the silence of the desert, as though He Himself had committed them.

No sooner had He received baptism from the hands of St. John, than the Holy Ghost led Him to the desert. The time had come for showing Himself to the world; He would begin by teaching us a lesson of immense importance. He leaves the saintly Precursor and the admiring multitude, that had seen the divine Spirit descend upon Him, and heard the Father’s voice proclaiming Him to be His beloved Son; He leaves them and goes into the desert. Not far from the Jordan there rises a rugged mountain, which has received, in after ages, the name of Quarantana. It commands a view of the fertile plain of Jericho, the Jordan, and the Dead Sea. It is within a cave of this wild rock that the Son of God now enters, His only companions being the dumb animals who have chosen this same for their own shelter. He has no food wherewith to satisfy the pangs of hunger; the barren rock can yield Him no drink; His only bed must be of stone. Here He is to spend forty days; after which, He will permit the angels to visit Him and bring Him food.

Thus does our Savior go before us on the holy path of Lent. He has borne all its fatigues and hardships, that so we, when called upon to tread the narrow way of our lenten penance, might have His example wherewith to silence the excuses, and sophisms, and repugnances, of self-love and pride. The lesson is here too plainly given not to be understood; the law of doing penance for sin is here too clearly shown, and we cannot plead ignorance: let us honestly accept the teaching and practice it. Jesus leaves the desert where He has spent the forty days, and begins His preaching with these words, which He addresses to all men: “Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Let us not harden our hearts to this invitation, lest there be fulfilled in us the terrible threat contained in those other words of our Redeemer: “Unless you shall do penance, you shall perish.”

Now, penance consists in contrition of the soul, and mortification of the body; these two parts are essential to it. The soul has willed the sin; the body has frequently cooperated in its commission. Moreover, man is composed of both soul and body; both, then, should pay homage to their Creator. The body is to share with the soul either the delights of heaven or the torments of hell; there cannot, therefore, be any thorough Christian life, or any earnest penance, where the body does not take part, in both, with the soul.

But it is the soul which gives reality to penance. The Gospel teaches this by the examples it holds out to us of the prodigal son, of Magdalene, of Zaccheus, and of St. Peter. The soul, then, must be resolved to give up every sin; she must heartily grieve over those she has committed; she must hate sin; she must shun the occasions of sin. The sacred Scriptures have a word for this inward disposition, which has been adopted by the Christian world, and which admirably expresses the state of the soul that has turned away from her sins: this word is conversion. The Christian should, therefore, during Lent, study to excite himself to this repentance of heart, and look upon it as the essential foundation of all his lenten exercises. Nevertheless, he must remember that this spiritual penance would be a mere delusion, were he not to practice mortification of the body. Let him study the example given him by his Savior, who grieves, indeed, and weeps over our sins; but He also expiates them by His bodily sufferings. Hence it is that the Church, the infallible interpreter of her divine Master’s will, tells us that the repentance of our heart will not be accepted by God, unless it be accompanied by fasting and abstinence.

How great, then, is the illusion of those Christians, who forget their past sins, or compare themselves with others whose lives they take to have been worse then their own; and thus satisfied with themselves, can see no harm or danger in the easy life they intend to pass for the rest of their days! They will tell you that there can be no need of their thinking of their past sins, for they have made a good confession! Is not the life they have led since that time a sufficient proof of their solid piety? And why should anyone speak to them about the justice of God and mortification? Accordingly, as soon as Lent approaches, they must get all manner of dispensations. Abstinence is an inconvenience; fasting has an effect upon their health, it would interfere with their occupations, it is such a change from their ordinary way of living; besides, there are so many people who are better than themselves, and yet who never fast or abstain. And, as the idea never enters their minds of supplying for the penances prescribed by the Church by other penitential exercises, such persons as these gradually and unsuspectingly lose the Christian spirit.

The Church sees this frightful decay of supernatural energy; but she cherishes what is still left, by making her lenten observances easier, year after year. With the hope of maintaining that little, and of seeing it strengthen for some better future, she leaves to the justice of God her children who hearken not to her when she teaches them how they might, even now, propitiate His anger. Alas! these her children, of whom we are speaking, are quite satisfied that things should be as they are, and never think of judging their own conduct by the examples of Jesus and His saints, or by the undeviating rules of Christian penance.

It is true, there are exceptions; but how rare they are, especially in our large towns! Groundless prejudices, idle excuses, bad example, all tend to lead men from the observance of Lent. Is it not sad to hear people giving such a reason as this for their not fasting or abstaining—because they feel them? Surely, they forget that the very aim of fasting and abstinence is to make these bodies of sin suffer and feel. And what will they answer on the day of judgment, when our Savior shall show them how the very Turks, who were the disciples of a gross and sensual religion, had the courage to practice, every year, the forty days’ austerities of their Ramadan?

But their own conduct will be their loudest accuser. These very persons, who persuade themselves that they have not strength enough to bear the abstinence and fasting of Lent even in their present mitigated form, think nothing of going through incomparably greater fatigues for the sake of temporal gains or worldly enjoyments. Constitutions which have broken down in the pursuit of pleasures which, to say the least, are frivolous, and always dangerous, would have kept up all their vigor, had the laws of God and His Church, and not the desire to please the world, been the guide of their conduct. But such is the indifference wherewith this non-observance of Lent is treated, that it never excites the slightest trouble or remorse of conscience; and those who are guilty of it will argue with you, that the people who lived in the middle ages may perhaps have been able to keep Lent, but that nowadays it is out of the question: and they can coolly say this in the face of all that the Church has done to adapt her lenten discipline to the physical and moral weakness of the present generation! How comes it that, while these men have been trained in, or converted to, the faith of their fathers, they can forget that the observance of Lent is an essential mark of Catholicity; and that when the Protestants undertook to reform her, in the sixteenth century, one of their chief grievances was that she insisted on her children mortifying themselves by fasting and abstinence?

But it will be asked: “Are there, then, no lawful dispensations?” We answer that there are; and that they are more needed now than in former ages, owing to the general weakness of our constitutions. Still, there is great danger of our deceiving ourselves. If we have strength to go through great fatigues when our own self-love is gratified by them, how is it we are too weak to observe abstinence? If a slight inconvenience deters us from doing this penance, how shall we ever make expiation for our sins? for expiation is essential painful to nature. The opinion of our physician that fasting will weaken us, may be false, or it may be correct; but is not this mortification of the flesh the very object that the Church aims at, knowing that our soul will profit by the body being brought into subjection? But let us suppose the dispensation to be necessary: that our health would be impaired, and the duties of our state of life neglected, if we were to observe the law of Lent to the letter: do we, in such a case, endeavor, by other works of penance, to supply for those which our health does not allow us to observe? Are we grieved and humbled to find ourselves thus unable to join with the rest of the faithful children of the Church, in bearing the yoke of lenten discipline? Do we ask of our Lord to grant us the grace, next year, of sharing in the merits of our fellow Christians, and of observing those holy practices which give the soul an assurance of mercy and pardon? If we do, the dispensation will not be detrimental to our spiritual interests; and when the feast of Easter comes, inviting the faithful to partake in its grand joys, we may confidently take our place side by side with those who have fasted; for though our bodily weakness has not permitted us to keep pace with them exteriorly, our heart has been faithful to the spirit of Lent.

How long a list of proofs we could still give of the negligence, into which the modern spirit of self-indulgence leads so many among us, in regard of fasting and abstinence! Thus, there are Catholics to be found in every part of the world who make their Easter Communion, and profess themselves to be children of the Catholic Church, who yet have no idea of the obligations of Lent. Their very notion of fasting and abstinence is so vague, that they are not aware that these two practices are quite distinct one from the other; and that the dispensation from one does not, in any way, include a dispensation from the other. If they have, lawfully or unlawfully, obtained exemption from abstinence, it never so much as enters into their minds that the obligation of fasting is still binding upon them during the whole forty days; or if they have had granted to them a dispensation from fasting, they conclude that they may eat any kind of food they wish. Such ignorance as this is the natural result of the indifference wherewith the commandments and traditions of the Church are treated.

So far, we have been speaking of the non-observance of Lent in its relation to individuals and Catholics; let us now say a few words upon the influence which that same non-observance has upon a whole people or nation. There are but few social questions which have not been ably and spiritedly treated of by the public writers of the age, who have devoted their talents to the study of political economy; and it has often been a matter of surprise to us that they should have overlooked a subject of such deep interest as this: the results produced on society by the abolition of Lent; that is to say, of an institution which, more than any other, keeps up in the public mind a keen sentiment of moral right and wrong, inasmuch as it imposes on a nation an annual expiation for sin. No shrewd penetration is needed to see the difference between two nations, one of which observes, each year, a forty-days’ penance in reparation of the violations committed against the law of God, and another, whose very principles reject all such solemn reparation. And looking at the subject from another point of view—is it not to be feared that the excessive use of animal food tends to weaken, rather than to strengthen, the constitution? We are convinced of it: the time will come when a greater proportion of vegetable, and less of animal, diet will be considered as an essential means for maintaining the strength of the human frame.

Let, then, the children of the Church courageously observe the lenten practices of penance. Peace of conscience is essential to Christian life; and yet it is promised to none but truly penitent souls. Lost innocence is to be regained by the humble confession of the sin, when it is accompanied by the absolution of the priest; but let the faithful be on their guard against the dangerous error, which would persuade them that they have nothing to do when once pardoned. Let them remember the solemn warning given them by the Holy Ghost in the sacred Scriptures: “Be not without fear about sin forgiven!” Our confidence of our having been forgiven should be in proportion to the change or conversion of our heart; the greater our present detestation of our past sins and the more earnest our desire to do penance for them for the rest of our lives, the better founded is our confidence that they have been pardoned. “Man knoweth not,” as the same holy Volume assures us, “whether he be worthy of love or hatred;” but he that keeps up within him the spirit of penance, has every reason to hope that God loves him.

But the courageous observance of the Church’s precept of fasting and abstaining during Lent must be accompanied by those two other eminently good works, to which God so frequently urges us in the Scripture: prayer and almsdeeds. Just as under the term “fasting” the Church comprises all kinds of mortification; so under the word “prayer” she includes all those exercises of piety whereby the soul hold intercourse with her God. More frequent attendance at the services of the Church, assisting daily at Mass, spiritual reading, meditation upon eternal truths and the Passion, hearing sermons, and, above all, approaching the Sacraments of Penance and the holy Eucharist—these are the chief means whereby the faithful should offer to God the homage of prayer, during this holy season.

Almsdeeds comprise all the works of mercy to our neighbor, and are unanimously recommended by the holy doctors of the Church, as being the necessary complement of fasting and prayer during Lent. God has made it a law, to which He has graciously bound Himself, that charity shown towards our fellow creatures, with the intention of pleasing our Creator, shall be rewarded as though it were done to Himself. How vividly this brings before us the reality and sacredness of the tie which He would have to exist between all men! Such, indeed, is its necessity, that our heavenly Father will not accept the love of any heart that refused to show mercy: but, on the other hand, He accepts as genuine and as done to Himself the charity of every Christian, who, by a work of mercy shown to a fellow man, is really acknowledging the honoring that sublime union which makes all men to be one family with God as its Father. Hence it is that almsdeeds, done with this intention, are not merely acts of human kindness, but are raised to the dignity of acts of religion, which have God for their direct object, and have the power of appeasing His divine justice.

Let us remember the counsel given by the Archangel Raphael to Tobias. He was on the point of taking leave of this holy family, and returning to heaven; and these were his words: “Prayer is good with fasting and alms, more than to lay up treasures of gold: for alms delivereth from death, and the same is that which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find mercy and life everlasting.” Equally strong is the recommendation given to this virtue by the Book of Ecclesiasticus: “Water quencheth a flaming fire, and alms resisteth sins.” And again: “Shut up alms in the heart of the poor, and it shall obtain help for thee against all evil.” The Christian should keep these consoling promises ever before his mind, but more especially during the season of Lent. The rich man should show the poor, whose whole year is a fast, that there is a time when even he has his self-imposed privations. The faithful observance of Lent naturally produces a saving; let that saving be given to Lazarus. Nothing, surely, could be more opposed to the spirit of this holy season, than keeping up a table as richly and delicately provided as at other periods of the year, when God permits us to use all the comforts compatible with the means He has given us. But how thoroughly Christian is it that, during these days of penance and charity, the life of the poor man should be made more comfortable, in proportion as that of the rich shares in the hardships and privations of his suffering brethren throughout the world! Poor and rich would then present themselves, with all the beauty of fraternal love upon them, at the divine Banquet of the Paschal feast, to which our risen Jesus will invite us after these forty days are over.

There is one means more whereby we are to secure to ourselves the great graces of Lent; it is the spirit of retirement and separation from the world. Our ordinary life, such as it is during the rest of the year, should all be made to pay tribute to the holy season of penance; otherwise, the salutary impression produced on us by the holy ceremony of Ash Wednesday will soon be effaced. The Christian ought, therefore, to forbid himself, during Lent, all the vain amusements, entertainments, and parties, of the world he lives in. As regard theaters and balls, which are the world in the very height of its power to do harm, no one that calls himself a disciple of Christ should ever be present at them, unless necessity, or the position he holds in society, oblige him to it: but if, from his own free choice, he throws himself amidst such dangers during the present holy season of penance and recollection, he offers an insult to his character, and must needs cease to believe that he has sins to atone for, and a God to propitiate. The world (we mean that part of it which is Christian) has thrown off all those external indications of mourning and penance, which we read of as being so religiously observed in the ages of faith; let that pass; but there is one thing which can never change: God’s justice, and man’s obligation to appease that justice. The world may rebel as much as it will against the sentence, but the sentence is irrevocable: &Unless you do penance, you shall all perish.” It is God’s own word. Say, if you will, that few nowadays give ear to it; but for that very reason many are lost. Those, too, who hear this word, must not forget the warnings given them by our divine Savior Himself, in the Gospel read to us on Sexagesima Sunday. He told us how some of the seed is trodden down by the passers-by, or eaten by the fowls of the air; how some falls on rocky soil, and gets parched; and how, again, some is choked by thorns. Let us be wise, and spare no pains to become that good ground, which not only receives the divine seed, but brings forth a hundredfold for the Easter harvest which is at hand.

An unavoidable feeling will arise in the minds of some of our readers, as they peruse these pages, in which we have endeavored to embody the spirit of the Church, such as it is expressed, not only in the liturgy, but also in the decrees of Councils and in the writings of the holy fathers. The feeling we allude to is one of regret at not finding, during this period of the liturgical year, the touching and exquisite poetry, which gave such a charm to the forty days of our Christmas solemnity. First came Septuagesima, throwing its gloomy shade over those enchanting visions of the mystery of Bethlehem; and now we have come into a desert land, with thorns at every step, and no springs of water to refresh us. Let us not complain, however; holy Church knows our true wants, and is intent on supplying them. Neither must we be surprised at her insisting on a severer preparation for Easter, than for Christmas. At Christmas, we were to approach our Jesus as an Infant; all she put us through then were the Advent exercises, for the mysteries of our Redemption were but beginning.

And of those who went to Jesus’ crib, there were many who, like the poor shepherds of Bethlehem, might be called simple, at least in this sense, that they did not sufficiently realize either the holiness of their Incarnate God or the misery and guilt of their own conscience. But now that this Son of the eternal God has entered the path of penance; now that we are about to see Him a victim to every humiliation, and suffering even a death upon a cross, the Church does not spare us; she rouses us from our ignorance and our self-satisfaction. She bids us strike our breasts, have compunction in our souls, mortify our bodies, because we are sinners. Our whole life ought to be one of penance; fervent souls are ever doing penance: could anything be more just or necessary, than that we should do some penance during these days, when our Jesus is fasting in the desert, and is to die on Calvary? There is a sentence of this our Redeemer, which He spoke to the daughters of Jerusalem on the day of His Passion; let us apply it to ourselves: “If in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?” Oh, what a revelation is here! And yet, by the mercy of Jesus who speaks it, the dry wood may become the green, and so not be burned.

The Church hopes, nay, her whole energy is laboring, that this may be; therefore, she bids us bear the yoke; she gives us a Lent. Let us only courageously tread the way of penance, and the light will gradually beam upon us. If we are now far off from our God by the sins that are upon us, this holy season will be to us what the saints call the purgative life, and will give us that purity which will enable us to see our Lord in the glory of His victory over death. If, on the contrary, we are already living the illuminative life; if, during the three weeks of Septuagesima, we have bravely sounded the depth of our miseries, our Lent will give us a clearer view of Him who is our light; and if we acknowledged Him as our God when we saw Him as the Babe of Bethlehem, our soul’s eye will not fail to recognize Him in the divine Penitent of the desert, or in the bleeding Victim of Calvary.

Morning and Night Prayers During Lent

During the season of Lent, the Christian, on waking in the morning, should unite himself with the Church, who, at the first dawn of day, begins her psalms of Lauds with these words of the royal prophet:

Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.

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

He should, after this, profoundly adore that great God, before whom the sinner should tremble, yet whom he fears not to offend, as though deserving neither reverence nor love. It is with this deep sentiment of holy fear that he must perform the first acts of religion, both interior and exterior, wherewith he begins each day of this present season. The time for morning prayer having come, he may use the following method, which is formed upon the very prayers of the Church:—

Morning Prayer

First, praise and adoration of the Most Holy Trinity:—

℣. Benedicamus Patrem et Filium, cum Sancto Sancto Spiritu:

℣. Let us bless the Father and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

℟. Laudemus et su perexaltemus eum in sæcula.

℟. Let us praise him and extol him above all, for ever.

℣. 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. Amen.

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

Then, praise to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ:

℣. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.

℣. We adore thee, O Christ, and we bless thee.

℟. Quia per Crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

℟. Because by thy Cross thou hast redeemed the world.

Thirdly, invocation of the Holy Ghost:

Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.

Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle within them the fire of thy love.

After these fundamental acts of Religion, recite the Lord’s Prayer, begging your Heavenly Father to be mindful of his infinite mercy and goodness,—to forgive you your trespasses, to come to your assistance in the temptations and dangers which so thickly beset the path of this life,—and finally, to deliver you from evil, by removing from you every remnant of sin, which is the great evil, the evil that offends God, and entails the sovereign evil of man himself.

The Lord’s Prayer

Pater noster, qui es in cœlis, sanctificetur nomen tuum: adveniat regnum tuum: fiat voluntas tuas 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: sed libera nos a malo. Amen.

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: but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Then address our Blessed Lady, using the words of the Angelical Salutation. Pray to her with confidence and love, for she is the Refuge of Sinners.

The Angelical Salutation

Ave Maria, gratia plena: Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus.

Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Sancta Maria, Marter Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

After this, you should recite the Creed, that is, the Symbol of Faith. It contains the dogmas we are to believe; and during this season, you should dwell with loving attention on that Article, which is so full of hope, for forgiveness of sins. Let us do our utmost to merit, by our sincere conversion and amendment of our lives, that our Savior, after these penitential forty days are over, may say to each of us those words which are so sweet to a penitent sinner: “Go, thy sins are forgiven!”

The Apostles’ Creed

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem, creatorem cœli et terræ. Et in Jesum Christum Filium ejus unicum, Dominum nostrum: qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine, passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus, et sepultus: descendit ad inferos, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis: ascendit ad cœlos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis: inde venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and buried; he descended into hell, the third day he arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, sanctam Ecclesiam Catholicam, Sanctorum communionem, remissionem peccatorum, carnis resurrectionem, vitam æternam. Amen.

I believe in the Holy Ghost: the Holy Catholic Church; the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

After having thus made the Profession of your Faith, endeavor to excite yourself to sorrow for the sins you have committed. Ask our Lord to give you the graces appropriate to this holy Season; and, for this end, recite the following Hymn, which the Church uses in her Lauds for Lent:

Hymn

O sol salutis, intimis,
Jesu, refulge mentibus,
Dum nocte pulsa gratior
Orbi dies renascitur.

O Jesus! thou Sun of the world’s salvation! shine in the depths of our souls; for now is the hour of night’s departure, and sweeter day-break dawns upon the earth.

Dans tempus acceptabile,
Da lacrymarum rivulis
Lavare cordis victimam,
Quam læta adurat charitas.

O thou that givest us this acceptable time! give us to wash, with our tears, the victim we offer thee,—which is our heart; and grant that it may burn with joyous love.

Quo fonte manavit nefas,
Fluent perennes lacrymæ,
Si virga pœnitentiæ
Cordis rigorem conterat.

If the rod of penance but strike the hearts of stone, a flood of ceaseless tears will flow from that same fount, whence came our many sins.

Dies venig, dies tua,
In qua reflorent omnia:
Lætemur et nos, in viam
Tua reducti dextera.

The day, thine own day, is at hand, when all things bloom afresh; oh! grant, that we, too, may rejoice, being brought oncemore to the path, by thy right hand.

Te prona mundi machina,
Clemens, adoret, Trinitas,
Et nos novi per gratiam
Novum canamus canticum.
Amen.

O merciful Trinity! may the world prostrate itself thee, and adore; and we, made new by grace, sing a new canticle of praise. Amen.

Then, make a humble confession of your sins, reciting the general formula made us of by the Church.

The Confession of Sins

Confiteor Deo Omnipotenti, beatæ Mariæ semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistæ, sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, et omnibus sanctis, 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, et omnes sanctos, 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 Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, an dto all the saints, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed: through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech the blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, to pray to our Lord God for me.

Misereatur nostri omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis nostris, perducat nos ad vitam æternam. Amen.

May Almighty God have mercy on us, and, our sins being forgiven, bring us to life everlasting. Amen.

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

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

This is the proper time for making your Meditation, as no doubt you practice this holy exercise. During Lent, the following should be the leading subjects of our Meditations:—The justice of God which we have provoked by our sins, and His infinite holiness which sin offends; conversion of heart, the necessity of breaking with dangerous occasions, and of doing penance for our sins; our Savior’s forty days’ fast in the desert, and, above all, His sacred Passion.

The next part of your Morning Prayer must be to ask of God, by the following prayers, grace to avoid every kind of sin during the day you are just beginning. Say, then, with the Church, whose prayers must always be preferred to all others:

℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.

℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.

℟. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.

℟. And let my cry come unto thee.

Oremus. Let Us Pray.

Domine, Deus omnipotens, qui ad principium hujus diei nos pervenire fecisti, tua nos hodie salva virtute, ut in hac die ad nullum declinemus peccatum, sed semper ad tuam justitiam faciendam nostra procedant eloquia, dirigantur cogitationes et opera. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Almighty Lord and God, who has brought us to the beginning of this day, let thy powerful grace so conduct us through it, that we may not fall into any sin, but that all our thoughts, words, and actions may be regulated according to the rules of thy heavenly justice, and tend to the observance of thy holy law. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then, beg the divine assistance for the actions of that day, that you may do them well; and say thrice:

℣. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.

℣. Incline unto my aid, O God.

℟. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.

℟. O Lord, make haste to help me.

℣. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.

℣. Incline unto my aid, O God.

℟. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.

℟. O Lord, make haste to help me.

℣. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.

℣. Incline unto my aid, O God.

℟. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.

℟. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Oremus. Let Us Pray.

Dirigere et sanctificare, regere et gubernare dignare, Domine Deus, Rex cœli et terræ, hodie corda et corpora nostra, sensus, sermones et actus nostros in lege tua, et in operibus mandatorum tuorum, ut hic et in æternum, te auxiliante, salvi et liberi esse mereamur, Salvator mundi. Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Lord God, and King of heaven and earth, vouchsafe this day to rule and sanctify, to direct and govern our souls and bodies, our senses, words, and actions in conformity to thy law, and strict obedience to thy commands; that by the help of thy grace, O Savior of the world! we may be fenced and freed from all evils. Who livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen.

During the day, you will do well to use the instructions and prayers which will find in this volume, for each day of the Season, both for the Proper of the Time, and the Proper of the Saints. In the Evening, you may use the following Prayers:—

Night Prayers

After having made the sign of the Cross, let us adore that Sovereign Lord, who has so mercifully preserved us during this day, and blessed us, every hour, with his grace and protection. For this end, let us recite the following Hymn, which the Church sings in her Vespers of Lent:

Hymn

Audi, benigne Conditor,
Nostras preces cum fletibus
In hoc sacro jejunio
Fusas quadragenario.

Hear, O merciful Creator, the tearful prayers we present to thee, during these forty days of fast.

Scrutator alme cordium,
Infirma tu scis virium:
Ad te reversis exhibe
Remissionis gratiam.

O loving searcher of the heart, thou knowest that our strength is weak; grant us the grace of thy pardon, for we are converted unto thee.

Multum quidem peccavimus,
Sed parce confitentibus:
Ad nominis laudem tui
Confer medelam languidis.

Grievously have we sinned; yet spare us, for we confess our sins to thee: and, for the glory of thy name, heal our languid hearts.

Concede nostrum conteri
Corpus per abstinentiam:
Culpæ ut relinquant pabulum
Jejuna corda criminum.

Grant that we may subdue our flesh by abstinence; that thus our hearts may leave what nourishes sin, and fast from every crime.

Præsta, beata Trinitas,
Concede, simplex Unitas,
Ut fructuosa sint tuis
Jejuniorum munera.
Amen.

O blessed Trinity! O undivided Unity! grant to us, thy servants, that our fasts may produce abundant fruits. Amen.

After this Hymn, say the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Apostles’ Creed, as in the Morning.

Then, make the Examination of Conscience, going over in your mind all the faults you have committed during the day. Think, how great is the obstacle put by sin to the merciful designs your God would work in you; and make a firm resolution to avoid it for the time to come, to do penance for it, and to shun the occasions which might again lead you into it.

The Examination of Conscience concluded, recite the Confiteor (or I confess with heartfelt contrition, and then give expression to your sorrow by the following Act, which we have taken from the Venerable Cardinal Bellarmine’s Catechism:—

Act of Contrition

O my God, I am exceedingly grieved for having offended thee, and with my whole heart I repent for the sins I have committed: I hate and abhore them above everyother evil, not only because, by so sinning I have lost Heaven and deserve Hell, but still more because I have offended thee, O infinite Goodness, who art worthy to be loved above all things. I most firmly resolve, by the assistance of thy grace, never more to offend thee for the time to come, and to avoid those occasions which might lead me into sin.

You may then add the Acts of Faith, Hope, and Charity, to the recitation of which Pope Benedict the Fourteenth has granted an indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines for each time.

Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe whatsoever the holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church requires me to believe: I believe it, because thou hast revealed it to her, thou who art the very Truth.

Act of Hope

O my God, knowing thy almighty power, and thy infinite goodness and mercy, I hope in thee that, by the merits of the Passion and Death of our Savior Jesus Christ, thou wilt grant me eternal life, which thou hast promised to all such as shall do the works of a good Christian; and these I resolve to do, with the help of thy grace.

Act of Charity

O my God, I love thee with my whole heart and above all things, because thou art the sovereign Good: I would rather lose all things than offend thee. For thy love also, I love and desire to love my neighbor as myself.

Then say to our blessed Lady the following Anthem, which the Church uses from the Feast of the Purification to Easter:

Anthem of the Blessed Virgin

Ave Regina cœlorum,
Ave Domina Angelorum:
Salve radix, salve porta,
Ex qua mundo lux est orta;
Gaude, Virgo gloriosa,
Super omnes speciosa:
Vale, O valde decora,
Et pro nobis Christum exora.

Hail Queen of Heaven! Hail Queen of Angels! Hail blest Root andGate, from which came Light upon the world! Rejoice, O glorious Virgin, that surpassest all in beauty! Hail, most lovely Queen! and pray to Christ for us.

℣. Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata.

℣. Vouchsafe, O Holy Virgin, that I may praise thee.

℟. Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos.

℟. Give me power against thine enemies.

Oremus. Let Us Pray.

Concede, misericors Deus, fragilitati nostræ præsidium: ut, qui sanctæ Dei Genitricis memoriam agimus, intercessionis ejus auxilio, a nostris iniquitatibus resurgamus. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Grant, O merciful God, thy protection to us in our weakness; that we who celebrate the memory of the Holy Mother of God, may, through the aid of her intercession, rise again from our sins. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

You would do well to add the litany of our Lady. An indulgence of three hundred days, for each time it is recited, has been granted by the Church.

The Litany of the Blessed Virgin
Kyrie, eleison. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christe, eleison. Christ, have mercy on us.
Kyrie, eleison. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christe, audi nos. Christ, hear us.
Christe, exaudi nos. Christ, graciously hear us.
Pater de cælis Deus, miserere nobis. God, the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
Fili Redemptor mundi Deus, God, the Son, the Redeemer of the world,
Spiritus Sancte Deus, God, the Holy Spirit,
Sancta Trinitas, unus Deus, Holy Trinity, one God,
Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis. Holy Mary, pray for us.
Sancta Dei Genetrix, Holy Mother of God,
Sancta Virgo virginum, Holy Virgin of virgins,
Mater Christi, Mother of Christ,
Mater Ecclesiæ, Mother of the Church,
Mater Divinæ gratiæ, Mother of divine grace,
Mater purissima, Mother most pure,
Mater castissima, Mother most chaste,
Mater inviolata, Mother inviolate,
Mater intemerata, Mater undefiled,
Mater amabilis, Mother most amiable,
Mater admirabilis, Mother most admirable,
Mater boni Consilii, Mother of good counsel,
Mater Creatoris, Mother of our Creator,
Mater Salvatoris, Mother of our Savior,
Virgo prudentissima, Virgin most prudent,
Virgo veneranda, Virgin most venerable,
Virgo prædicanda, Virgin most renowned,
Virgo potens, Virgin most powerful,
Virgo clemens, Virgin most merciful,
Virgo fidelis, Virgin most faithful,
Speculum iustitiæ, Mirror of justice,
Sedes sapientiæ, Seat of wisdom,
Causa nostræ lætitiæ, Cause of our joy,
Vas spirituale, Spiritual vessel,
Vas honorabile, Vessel of honor,
Vas insigne devotionis, Singular vessel of devotion,
Rosa mystica, Mystical rose,
Turris Davidica, Tower of David,
Turris eburnea, Tower of ivory,
Domus aurea, House of gold,
Fœderis arca, Ark of the covenant,
Ianua cæli, Gate of heaven,
Stella matutina, Morning star,
Salus infirmorum, Health of the sick,
Refugium peccatorum, Refuge of sinners,
Consolatrix afflictorum, Comforter of the afflicted,
Auxilium Christianorum, Help of Christians,
Regina Angelorum, Queen of Angels,
Regina Patriarcharum, Queen of Patriarchs,
Regina Prophetarum, Queen of Prophets,
Regina Apostolorum, Queen of Apostles,
Regina Martyrum, Queen of Martyrs,
Regina Confessorum, Queen of Confessors,
Regina Virginum, Queen of Virgins,
Regina Sanctorum omnium, Queen of all Saints,
Regina sine labe originali concepta, Queen conceived without original sin,
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
parce nobis, Domine.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the
world,
spare us, O Lord.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
exaudi nos, Domine.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the
world,
graciously hear us, O Lord.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
miserere nobis.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the
world,
have mercy on us.
Christe, audi nos. Christ, hear us.
Christe, exaudi nos. Christ, graciously hear us.
℣. Ora pro nobis, Sancta Dei Genitrix,
℟. Ut digni efficamur promissionibus Christi.
℣. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
℟. That we may be made worthy of the promises
of Christ.
Oremus.—Gratiam tuam, quæsumus,
Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut qui, Angelo
nuntiante, Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus,
per passionem eius et crucem, ad resurrectionis
gloriam perducamur. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.

Amen.
Let us pray.—Pour forth, we beseech Thee,
O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom
the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known
by the message of an angel, may by His passion and
cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection,
through the same Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Here invoke the Holy Angels, whose protection is, indeed, always so much needed by us, but never so much as during the hours of night. Say with the Church:

Sancti angeli, custodes nostri, defendite nos in prælio, ut non pereamus in tremendo judicio.

Holy angels, our loving guardians, defend us in the hour of battle, that we may not be lost at the dreadful judgment.

℣. Angelis suis Deus mandavit de te.

℣. God hath given his angels charge of thee.

℟. Ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis.

℟. That they may guard thee in all thy ways.

Oremus. Let Us Pray.

Deus qui ineffabili providentia sanctos angelos tuos ad nostram custodiam mittere dignaris: largire supplicibus tuis, et eorum semper protectione defendi, et æterna societate gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

O God, who in thy wonderful providence hast been pleased to appoint thy holy angels for our guardians: mercifully hear our prayer, and grant we may rest secure under their protection, and enjoy their fellowship in heaven forever. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then beg the assistance of the Saints by the following antiphon:

Ant. Sancti Dei omnes, intercedere dignemini pro nostra omniumque salute.

Ant. All ye Saints of God, vouchsafe to intercede for us and for all men, that we may be saved.

And here you may add a special mention of the Saints to whom you bear a particular devotion, either as your Patrons or otherwise; as also of those whose feast is kept in the Church that day, or who have been at least commemorated in the Divine Office.

This done, remember that necessities of the Church Suffering, and beg of God that He will give to the souls in Purgatory a place of refreshment, light, and peace. For this intention recite the usual prayers.

Psalm 129

De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine: Domine, exaudi vocem meam.

From the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.

Fiant aures tuæ intendentes: in vocem deprecationis meæ.

Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.

Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine: Domine, quis sustinebit?

If thou wilt observe iniquities, O Lord: Lord, who shall endure it?

Quia apud te propitiatio est: et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine.

For with thee there is merciful forgiveness; and by reason of thy law I have waited for thee, O Lord.

Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus: speravit anima mea in Domino.

My soul hath relied on his word; my soul hath hoped in the Lord.

A custodia matutina usque ad noctem: speret Israel in Domino.

From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.

Quia apud Dominum misericordia: et copiosa apud cum redemptio.

Because with the Lord there is mercy, and with him plentiful redemption.

Et ipse redimet Israel: ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.

And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine.

Eternal rest give to them, O Lord.

Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

And let perpetual light shine upon them.

℣. A porta inferi.

℣. From the gate of hell.

℟. Erue, Domine, animas eorum.

℟. Deliver their souls, O Lord.

℣. Requiescant in pace.

℣. May they rest in peace.

℟. Amen.

℟. Amen.

℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.

℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.

℟. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.

℟. And let my cry come unto thee.

Oremus. Let Us Pray.

Fidelium Deus omnium Conditor et Redemptor, animabus famulorum famularumque tuarum, remissionem cunctorum tribue peccatorum: ut indulgentiam, quam semper optaverunt, piis supplicationibus consequantur. Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

O God the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, give to the souls of thy servants departed the remission of their sins: that through the help of pious supplications, they may obtain the pardon they have always desired. Who livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen.

Here make a special memento of such of the Faithful departed as have a particular claim upon your charity; after which, ask of God to give you His assistance, whereby you may pass the night free from danger. Say, then, still keeping to the words of the Church:

Ant. Salva nos, Domine, vigilantes, custodi nos dormientes: ut vigilemus cum Christo, et requiescamus in pace.

Ant. Save us, O Lord, while awake, and watch us as we sleep: that we may watch with Christ, and rest in peace.

℣. Dignare, Domine, nocte ista.

℣. Vouchsafe, O Lord, this night.

℟. Sine peccato nos custodire.

℟. To keep us without sin.

℣. Miserere nostri, Domine.

℣. Have mercy on us, O Lord.

℟. Miserere nostri.

℟. Have mercy on us.

℣. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos.

℣. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us.

℟. Quemadmodum speravimus in te.

℟. As we have hoped in thee.

℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.

℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.

℟. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.

℟. And let my cry come unto thee.

Oremus. Let Us Pray.

Visita, quæsumus, Domine, habitationem istam, et omnes insidias inimici ab ea longe repelle: angeli tui sancti habitent in ea, qui nos in pace custodiant, et benedictio tua sit super nos semper. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Visit, we beseech thee, O Lord, this house and family, and drive from it all snares of the enemy: let thy holy angels dwell herein, who may keep us in peace, and may thy blessing be always upon us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

And that you may end the day in the same sentiments wherewith you began it, say once more to your God these words of the royal prophet:

Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.

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

On Hearing Mass, During the Season of Lent

The The Christian who enters into the spirit of the Church during this season of Lent, will find an increase in his soul of that holy fear of God, which the psalmist tells us is the beginning of wisdom. The remembrance of his sins, the practice of the holy penances of Lent, the example of a God expiating our sins by fasting in the desert, the Church’s ceaseless prayer for her guilty children: 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. We shall soon have to celebrate the sad anniversary of His being offered upon the Cross: meanwhile, He is daily offered to the divine Majesty, and it is by assisting at this holy sacrifice that we shall be taking the most efficacious means for obtaining 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 that such acts as will enable those who hear Mass to enter into the ceremonies and the spirit of the Church and of the priest.

The purple vestments, and the penitential rites already explained give to the holy sacrifice during Lent an air of sadness, which harmonizes with the mysteries of this season. But if, on the weekdays, there occur a saint’s feast, the Church keeps it, and laying aside her purple vestments, she celebrates the holy sacrifice in memory of the saint.

On the Sundays, if the Mass at which the faithful assust 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 them unite with the intentions of the Church in this venerable rite, and pray for that purity of heart, which will fit them for admission into that Stable of Bethlehem, wherein the Word Incarnate first appeared to his creatures.

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. Thou shalt sprinkle me, &c.

℣. Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam.

℣. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.

℟. Et salutare tuum da nobis.

℟. And grant us the Savior, whom we expect from thee.

℣. 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 omnipotens, 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 nome 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, who comes to seek consolation in 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 his coming: he who is thy Savior an;d thy God, will soon be with me.

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. Amen.

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 consoles me!

℣. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.

℟. Qui fecit cœlum et terram.

This my hope comes not from any merits of my own, but from the all-powerful help of my Creator.

The thought of his 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, 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 omniptens Deus, et dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam æternam.

My 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 Michæli Archangelo, beato Ioanni Baptistæ, sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, et omnibus Sanctis, quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michælem Archangelum, beatum Ioannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, et omnes Sanctos, 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, and to all the saints 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, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

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 life everlasting.

℟. Amen.

℟. Amen.

Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum tribuat nobis omnipotens 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 the Savior whom thou hast prepared for us.

℣. Domine, exaudi 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.

Answer 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 makes us unworthy of thy visit; we ask this of thee by thy divine Son our Lord.

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.

Mayest 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; and which this Divine Mediator then causes 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 this season of Lent, 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 isi in no ways 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 teccata 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, tu 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 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 of the instruction it conveys.

The Gradual is an intermediate formula of prayer between the Epistle and Gospel. It again brings to our attention the sentiments which were 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, he asks the Priest’s blessing; and having received it, he at once goes to the place where he is to sing the Gospel.

As a preparation for hearing it worthily, you may thus pray, together with the 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 for ever. Amen.

You will stand during the Gospel, as though you were awaiting 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. “Whilst 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 dœlis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu sancto, 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. Andd 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. 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 exspecto 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 in us 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 prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus, who will transform us, by making 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 ego 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 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 in a few days is to be manifested to the world; 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 incense, more and more fervent, the nearer the solemn moment approaches. St. John tells us that the incense he bgeheld 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.

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 non declinet cor meum in verba malitiæ, ad excusandas excusationes in peccatis.

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

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.

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 ingressus 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.

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 to 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.

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, Resurrectionis, 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 autem 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.

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

This 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 manibus 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 fulfill 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, the chief of which, during this Season, is his giving us his Only Begotten Son, to be our Mediator by his Blood. 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:

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus; quia per incarnati Verbi mysterium, nova mentis nostræ oculis lux tuæ claritatis infulsit: ut dum visibiliter Deum cognoscimus, per hunc in invisibilium amorem rapiamur: et ideo cum Angelis et Archangelis, cum Thronis et Dominationibus, cumque omni militia cœlestis exercitus, hymnum gloriæ tuæ canimus, sine fine 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; for that, by the mystery of the Incarnate Word, a new ray of thy glory has appeared to the eyes of our soul: so that, while we behold God visibly, we may be carried by him to the love of things invisible: and therefore, with the Angels and Archangels, with the Thrones and Dominations, and with all the heavenly host, we sing a hymn to thy glory, saying unceasingly:

Here unite with the priest, who, on his part, unites himself with the blessed spirits, in giving thanks to God for the unspeakable gift. Bow down 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 disctractions, 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 antistite 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 those 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, suisque 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 grace, 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 precibusque 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 i nthis transient life of trial: it brings us closer to those also, who are already in possession of heaven. Therefore it is, that we wish to honor by it the memory of the glorious and ever Virgin Mary; 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 mansions 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, in a few instants, is to yield its place to the living Host, upon whom are laid all our iniquities.

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 amongst 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 discipulus suis, dicens: Accipite, et manducate ex hoc omnes. Hoc est enim Corpus meum.

What, O God of heaven and earth, jy 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 the minister of the will of the Most High, immediately pronounces over the Chalice those sacred words, which will produce the great 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, novi et æterni testamenti: mysterium fidei: qui pro vibis et pro multis 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 beat&aelig ; 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 hæperferri 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 tuarm 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 motal 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 miserationem tuarum sperantibus, partem aliquam et societatem donare digneris cum tuis sanctis apostolis et martyribus: cum Joanne, Stephano, Mathia, Barnaba, Ignatio, Alexandro, Marcllino, Petro, Felicitate, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucia, Agnete, Cæcilia, Anastasia, et omnibus sanctis tuis; intro quorum nos consortium, non æstimator meriti, sed veniæ, quaæsumus, largitor admitte. Per Christum Dominmum nostrum. Per quem hæ omnia, Domine, semper bona creas, sanctificas, vivificas, benedicis, et præstas nobis: per ipsum, et cum ipso et in ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti, 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 in 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 to 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, 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 dan 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 feeling 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 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 semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione 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 the soul by our sins, and which strengthen her wicked propensities. Evils present, that is,t he 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 sit 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 consecratio 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, and 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 rescpicias peccata mea, sed fidem Ecclesiæ tuæ: eamque secundum voluntatem tuam pacificare, et coadunare digneris. Qui vivis 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 give 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 Christe, Fili Dei vivi, qui ex voluntate Patris, co&odiar;perante Spiritu sancto, per mortem tuam mundum vivificasti: libera me per hoc sacrosanctum Corpus et Sanguinem tuum, ab omnibus iniquitatibus meis, et universis malis, et face 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 thy 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. Amen.

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 will 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 here 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 invicabo 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 canticle: “Come, Lord Jesus, come!”

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

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

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

Then the Priest takes the Chalice, in thanksgiving, and says:

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 dispositions suitable for holy Communion during this season of Advent are given in the next section.

The Communion being finished, and while 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 for ever 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 thus fit me for that glorious light of thy coming, that I may not then be confounded.

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, with most earnest entreaty, that he will bestow upon youa 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.

And with thy spirit.

Ite, Missa est.

Go, the Mass is finished.

℟. Deo gratias.

℟. Thanks be to God.

The Priest make 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.

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 omniptens Deus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus sanctus.

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

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.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to St. John.

Cap.i. Ch. i.

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 comprehenderunt. Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Joannes. 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, quae illuminat 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 ejus: qui non ex sanguinibus, neque ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt. 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 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, he gave them 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. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

℟. Deo gratias.

℟. Thanks be to God.

On Holy Communion During Lent

Of all the works whereby a Christian can sanctify the time of Lent, there is none so pleasing to God as to assist at the holy sacrifice of the Mass, in which 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 fvrom 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 light 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 th elight of the truth that is now granted to us, we discover in our soul 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.

Yes, let us go to holy Communion, during this season of Lent, 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 on our lips, when she is distributing to us the Bread of life: “Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof; say but the word, and my soul shall be healed.”

We will here give, as usual, acts which may serve as a preparation for holy Communion during these weeks of Lent. 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 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 are 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 fastest forty days in the Desert; 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 me down before thine infinite Truth. Oh! can there be Communion between the God of all holiness and a Sinner such as I?—And het, thou assurest me, that thou art verily coming to me! I tremble, O Eternal Truth—but I believe. I confes 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 to know also 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 Nothingnessme 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 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 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 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 been forgiven most. My heart then 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

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, thee that 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 mayest 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, nor 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 countlessnumber 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 makd 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. Now, more than ever, my life belongs to thee. 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 abandon 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. —Oh! all ye Saints of God! pray for the sinner, unto whom he has given this pledge of his Divine pardon.

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