Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesday in Passion Week


At Rome, the Station is in the Church of Saint Marcellus, Pope and Martyr. This Church was once the house of the holy lady Lucina, who gave it to the Pontiff, that he might consecrate it to God.


Sanctificato hoc jejunio, Deus, tuorum corda fidelium miserator illustra: et quibus devotionis præstas affectum, præbe supplicantibus pium benignus auditum. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Enlighten, O God of mercy, the hearts of thy people by means of this holy fast; and since all our devotion is the effect of thy bounty, mercifully hear the petitions we make. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lectio Libri Levitici. Lesson from the book of Leviticus.
Cap. XIX. Ch. XIX.

In diebus illis: Locutus est Dominus ad Moysen, dicens: Loquere ad omnem cœtum filiorum Israël, et dices ad eos: Ego Dominus Deus vester. Non facietis furtum. Non mentiemini, nec decipiet unusquisque proximum suum. Non purjurabis in nomine meo, nec pollues nomen Dei tui. Ego Dominus. Non facies calumniam, proximo tuo nec vi opprimes eum. Non morabitur opus mercenarii tui apud te usque mane. Non maledices surdo, nec coram cæco pones offendiculum: sed timebis Dominum Deum tuum, quia ego sum Dominus. Non facies quod iniquum est, nec injuste judicabis. Non consideres personam pauperis, nec honores vultum potentis. Juste judica proximo tuo Non eris criminator, nec susurro in populo. Non stabis contra sanguinem proximi tui. Ego Dominus. Non oderis fratrem tuum in corde tuo, sed publice argue eum, ne habeas super illo peccatum. Non quæras ultionem, nec memor eris injuriæ civium tuorum. Diliges amicum tuum sicut teipsum. Ego Dominus. Leges mens custodite. Ego enim sum Dominus Deus vester.

In those days: the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the assembly of the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them: I am the Lord your God. You shall not steal. You shall not lie: neither shall any man deceive his neighbor. Thou shalt not swear falsely by my name, nor profane the name of thy God. I am the Lord. Thou shalt not calumniate thy neighbor, nor oppress him by violence. The wages of him that has been hired by thee, shall not abide with thee until the morning. Thou shalt not speak evil of the dead, nor put a stumbling block before the blind: but thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, because I am the Lord. Thou shalt not do that which is unjust, nor judge unjustly. Respect not the person of the poor, nor honor the countenance of the mighty. Judge thy neighbor according to justice. Thou shalt not be a detractor, nor a whisperer among the people. Thou shalt not stand against the blood of thy neighbor. I am the Lord. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in the heart, but reprove him openly, lest thou incur sin through him. Seek not revenge, nor be mindful of the injury of thy citizens. Thou shalt love thy friend as thyself. I am the Lord. Keep ye my laws, for I am the Lord your God.

This passage from Leviticus, wherein our duties to our neighbor as so clearly and so fully defined, is read to us today, in order that we may see how we fulfill these important duties, and correct whatever shortcomings we may discover in ourselves. It is God who here speaks; it is God who commands. Observe that phrase: I am the Lord: he repeats it several times, to show us that if we injure our neighbor, He, God himself, will become the avenger. How strange must not such doctrine have seemed to the Catechumens, who had been brought up in the selfish and heartless principles of Paganism! Here they are told that all men are Brethren, and that God is the common Father of all, commanding all to love one another with sincere charity, and without distinction of nation or class. Let us Christians resolve to fulfill this precept to the letter: these are days for good resolutions. Let us remember that the commandments we have been reading were given to the Israelite people, many ages before the preaching of the Law of Love. If, then, God exacted from the Jew a cordial love of his fellow men, when the divine law was written on mere tablets of stone; what will he not require from the Christian, who can now read that Law in the heart of the Man-God, who has come down from heaven and made himself our Brother, in order that we might find it easier and sweeter to fulfill the precept of charity? Human nature united in his Person to the Divine, is henceforth sacred; it has become an object of the heavenly Father’s love. It was out of fraternal love for this our nature that Jesus suffered death, teaching us, by his own example, to have such love for our brethren that, if necessary, we ought to lay down our lives for them. It is the Beloved Disciple that teaches us this, and he had it from his Divine Master.

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem. Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to John.
Cap. X. Ch. X.

In illo tempore: Facta sunt encænia in Jerosolymis: et hiems erat. Et am, bulabat Jesus in templo, in porticu Salomonis. Circumdederunt ergo eum Judæi, et dicebant ei: Quousque animam nostram tollis? Si tu es Christus, dic nobis palam. Respondit eis Jesus: Loquor vobis, et non creditis. Opera quæ ego facio in nomine Patris mei, hæ testimonium perhibent de me. Sed vos non creditis, quia non estis ex ovibus meis. Oves meæ vocem meam audiunt: et ego cognosco eas, et sequuntur me: et ego vitam æternam do eis: et non peribunt in æternum, et non rapiet eas quisquam de manu mea. Pater meus quod dedit mihi, majus omnibus est: et nemo potest rapere de manu Patris mei. Ego, et Pater unum sumus. Sustulerunt ergo lapides Judæi, ut lapidarent eum. Respondit eis Jesus: Multa bona opera ostendi vobis ex Patre meo; propter quod eorum opus me lapidatis? Responderunt ei Judæi: De bono opere non lapidamus te, sed de blasphemia: et quia tu homo cum sis, facis teipsum Deum. Respondit eis Jesus: Nonme scriptum est in lege vestra: Quia ego dixi, Dii estis? Si illos dixit deos, ad quos sermo Dei factus est, et non potest solvi Scriptura: quem Pater sanctificavit, et misit in mundum, vos dicitis: Quia blasphemas; quia dixi, Filius Dei sum? Si non facio opera Patris mei, nolite credere mihi. Si autem facio, et si mihi non vultis credere, operibus credite, ut cognoscatis, et credatis quia Pater in me est, et ego in Patre.

At that time: It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem: and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch: the Jews therefore came round about him, and said to him: How long dost thou hold our souls in suspense? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them: I speak to you, and you believe not. The works that I do in the name of my Father, they give testimony of me. But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice: and I know them, and they follow me: and I give them eternal life: and they shall not perish for ever, and no man shall pluck them out of my hand. That which my Father hath given me, is greater than all: and no man can snatch it out of the hand of my Father. I and the Father are one. The Jews then took up stones to stone him. Jesus answered them: Many good works I have shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do you stone me? The Jews answered him: For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy: and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them: Is it not written in your law: I said you are gods? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God was spoken, and the Scripture cannot be broken; do you say of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world: Thou blasphemest; because I said I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though you will not believe me, believe the works, that you may know, and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.

After the Feast of Tabernacles came that of the Dedication, and Jesus remained in Jerusalem. The hatred his enemies bore him is greater than ever. They come round about him, that they may make him say he is the Christ, and then accuse him of claiming a mission which does not belong to him. Jesus deigns not to reply to their question, but tells them that they have seen his works, and that these give ample testimony of his being Christ, the Son of God. It is by faith, and by faith alone, that man can here know his God. God manifests himself by his divine works: man sees them, and is bound to believe the truth to which they bear testimony. By thus believing, he has both the certitude of what he believes, and the merit of his believing. The proud Jew rebels against this: he would fain dictate to God how he should act, and sees not that such a pretension is impious and absurd.

But if Jesus openly declare the truth, he will scandalize these evil-minded men! Be it so: the truth must be preached. Our Lord has others to consult besides them; there are the well-intentioned, and they will believe what he teaches. He therefore utters these sublime words, whereby he declares not only that he is Christ, but that he is God: I and the Father are one. He knew that this would enrage his enemies; but he had to make himself known to the world, and arm the Church against the false doctrines of heretics who were to rise up in future ages. One of these is to be Arius, who will teach that Jesus is not God, but only the most perfect of creatures: the Church will answer that Jesus is one with the Father—consubstantial to the Father: and then, after causing much trouble and sin, Arianism will die out and be forgotten. The Jews, mentioned in today’s Gospel, are the forerunners of Arius; they understand what our Lord says—he says he is God; and they seek to stone him. Jesus gives them a fresh grace; he shows them why they should receive what he here teaches: he reminds them, by the Scriptures they know off by heart, that the name god sometimes has been applied, in a limited sense, to men who had certain high offices put upon them by heaven; and then, he bids them think of all the miracles they have seen him work, which so plainly testify to his being assisted by his Father, and once more declares himself to be God, saying: The Father is in me, and I in the Father. But men, hardened in obstinacy as these are, cannot be convinced; and the sin they have committed against the Holy Ghost is working its effects. How different is it with the Sheep of this divine Shepherd! They hear his voice; they follow him; he gives them eternal life; no man shall pluck them out of his hand. Happy Sheep indeed! They believe, because they love; and as it is through the heart that Truth gains ascendancy over them, so is it by pride of intellect that darkness gets admission into the soul of the unbeliever, and lasts as long as pride lasts. Alas! poor unbeliever! he loves his darkness; he calls it light; he blasphemes when he thinks he reasons, just as these Jews crucified the Son of God, that, as they said, they might give glory to God!

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Bow down your heads to God.

Adesto supplicationibus nostris, omnipotens Deus; et quibus fiduciam sperandæ pietatis indulges, consuetæ misericordiæ tribue benignus effectum. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Hear our prayers and entreaties, O Almighty God, and grant that those to whom thou givest hopes of thy mercy, may experience the effects of thy usual clemency. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Mozarabic Breviary gives us the following beautiful prayer, which consists of exclamations to our suffering Jesus.

(Sabbato Dominicæ V. Quadragesimæ.)

℣. Verus Dei Filius Christe.

℣. O Jesus! thou true Son of God.

℟. Exaudi: populo supplicanti miserere.

℟. Graciously hear us! have mercy on thy suppliant people.

℣. Qui triumpho Crucis tuæ salvasti solus orbem, tu cruoris tui pœna nos libera.

℣. Thou that alone didst save the world by the triumph of thy Cross, do thou, by the Blood thou didst shed, deliver us.

℟. Et exaudi.

℟. And graciously hear us.

℣. Qui moriens mortem damnas, resurgens vitam præstas, sustinens pro nobis pœnam indebitam.

℣. By thy Death, thou didst destroy death; By thy Resurrection, thou didst give us life; for our sakes, thou didst suffer undue punishment.

℟. Et exaudi.

℟. And graciously hear us.

℣. Passionis tuæ dies celebremus indemnes: ut per hoc dulcedo tua nos foveat.

℣. May we celebrate, in peace, these days of thy Passion, and thereby be consoled by thy sweetness.

℟. Et exaudi.

℟. And graciously hear us.

℣. Pro quibus passus es crucem, non permittas perire; sed per crucem duc ad vitam perpetuam.

℣. Let not them perish, for whom thou didst suffer the Cross; but, by thy Cross, lead them to life everlasting.

℟. Et exaudi.

℟. And graciously hear us.

Let us now turn towards the Holy Cross. These words of the Greek Church, in her Triodion, will assist our devotion.

(Feria V. mediæ Septimanæ)

Crucis speciem insinuans, manus, permutato ordine, olim expandit decantatissimus Jacob, benedictionem nepotibus impertiens; simulque salutiferam benedictionem quæ ad nos omnes, pertingit indicans.

When the most praiseworthy Patriarch Jacob, was, of old, about to bless his children, he crossed his arms; in this he represented the Cross, and prefigured that saving blessing which thence came to each of us.

Te salutiferam armaturam, te invictum trophæum, lætitiæ signum, quo mors eccisa est, amplectimur, illustres effecti ejus gloria qui in te, Crux honoratissima, affixus est.

We embrace thee, most venerable Cross, as our armor of salvation, the invincible trophy, the standard of joy, whereby Death was put to death; for we have been made to share in the glory of Him that was nailed upon thee.

Assistunt incorporearum Virtutum ordines trementes coram ligno vitam præbente. In te enim Christus sanguinem effudit, pretium redemptionis repræsentans, dæmonibus piaculare et capitale, ob perniciem hominibus illatam.

The choirs of the angelic Powers stand in holy awe around thee, O life-giving tree! For it was on thee that Christ shed his Blood, which was the price of our redemption, and which utterly destroyed all those rights that sin had given the devil over mankind.

Percussum me hostis gladio sana sanguine tuo, Verbum, et lancea celeriter peccatorum meorum chirographum disrumpe, et in librum vitæ inscribe.

O Word (made Flesh)! the sword of the enemy hath struck me; heal me by thy Blood. Speedily tear, with thy Spear, the hand-writing of my sins, and write my name in the book of life.

Inferni habitaculum incussisti, ubi in terra defixa es: fidelibus autem fulcrum inconcussum et stabilis protectio effecta es, o veneranda Crux.

O venerable Cross! when thou wast fixed in the earth, thou didst make to tremble the region of hell; but thou wast made a firm support and unshaken protection to the Faithful.

Feraces virtutum effecti decerpamus divini ligni vivificos fructus, quos protulit nobis in hoc extensus Jesus vitis illa fructifera.

Being made faithful in virtue, let us pluck from the divine Tree those life-giving fruits, offered unto us by that rich Vine, Jesus, who lay stretched upon it.

Laudamus, Jesu, immensam bonitatem tuam adorantes Crucem, lanceam et arundinem per quam sustulisti, misericors, inimicitiarum medium parietem.

O Jesus! we praise thy immense goodness, as we venerate the Cross, and Spear, and Reed, whereby, O merciful God, thou didst remove the wall of enmity that stood between us and thee.


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