Sunday, January 24, 2016

Septuagesima Sunday

Violet
Semidouble (Privilege of the Second Class

The holy Church calls us together today in order that we may hear from her lips the sad history of the fall of our first parents. This awful event implies the Passion and cruel Death of the Son of God made Man, who has mercifully taken upon Himself to expiate this and every subsequent sin committed by Adam and us his children. It is of the utmost importance that we should understand the greatness of the remedy; we must, therefore, consider the grievousness of the wound inflicted. For this purpose, we will spend the present week in meditating on the nature and consequences of the sin of our first parents.

Formerly, the Church used to read in her Matins of today that passage of the Book of Genesis, where Moses relates to all future generations, but in words of most impressive and sublime simplicity, how the first sin was brought into the world. In the present form of the liturgy, the reading of this history of the fall is deferred till Wednesday, and the preceding days give us the account of the six days of creation. We will anticipate the great instruction, and begin it at once, inasmuch as it forms the basis of the whole week’s teaching.

De Libro Genesis. From the Book of Genesis
Cap. iii. Ch. iii.

Sed et serpens erat callidior cunctis animantibus terræ, quæ fecerat Dominus Deus. Qui dixit ad mulierem: Cur præcepit vobis Deus et non comederetis de omni ligno paradiso? Cui respondit mulier: De fructu lignorum quæ sunt in paradiso vescimur: de fructu vero ligni, quod est in medio paradisi, præcepit nobis Deus ne comederemus, et ne tangeremus illus, ne forte moramur. Dixit autem serpens ad mulierem: Nequaquam morte moriemini; scit enim Deus quod in quocumque die comederitis ex eo, aperientur oculi vestri, et eritis sicut dii, scientes bonum et malum. Vidit igitur mulier, quod bonum esset lignum ad vescendum, et pulchrum oculis, aspectuque delectabile: et tulit de fructu illius, et comedit: deditque viro suo, qui comedit. Et aperti sunt oculi amborum.

Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth, which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman: Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise? And the woman answered him, saying: Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat, and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die. And the serpent said to the woman: No, you shall not die the death; for God doth know, that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat: and gave to her husband, who did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened.

Cumque cognovissent se esse nudos, consuerunt folio ficus, et fecerunt sibi perizomata. Et cum audissent vocem Domini Dei deambulantis in paradiso, ad auram post meridiem, abscondit se Adam et uxor ejus a facie Domini Dei, in medio ligni paradisi. Vocavitque Dominus Deus Adam, et dixit ei: Ubi es? Qui ait: Vocem tuam audivi in paradiso, et timui, eo quod nudus essem et abscondi me. Cui dixit: Quis enim indicavit tibi quod nudus esses, nisi quod ex ligno de quo præceperam tibi ne comederes, comedisti? Dixitque Adam: Mulier, quam dedisti mihi sociam dedit mihi de ligno, et comedi. Et dixit Dominus Deus ad mulierem: Quare hoc fecisti? Quæ respondit: Serpens decepit me, et comedi.

And when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig-leaves, and made themselves aprons. And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise, at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise. And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: Where art thou? And he said: I heard thy voice in paradise, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. And he said to him: And who hath told thee that thou wast naked, but that thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat? And Adam said: The woman, whom thou gavest me, to be my companion, gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And he Lord God said to the woman: Why hast thou done this? And she answered: The serpent deceived me, and I did eat.

Et ait Dominus Deus ad serpentem: Quia fecisti hoc, maledictus es inter omnia animantia, et bestias terræ: super pectus tuum gradieris, et terram comedes cunctis diebus vitæ tuæ. Inimicitias ponam inter te et mulierem, et semen tuum et semen illius; ipsa conteret caput tuum, et tu insidiaberis calcaneo ejus. Mulieri quoque dixit: Multiplicabo ærumnas tuas, et conceptus tuos: in dolore paries filios, et sub viri potestate eris, et ipse dominabitur tui. Adæ vero dixit: Quia audisti vocem uxoris tuæ, et comedisti de ligno, ex quo præceperam tibi ne comederes, maledicta terra in opere tuo: in laboribus comedes ex ea cunctis diebus vitæ tuæ. Spinas et tribulos germinabit tibi, et comedes herbam terræ. In sudore vultus tui vesceris pane, donec revertaris in terram, de qua sumptus es: quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.

And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed; she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel. To the woman, also, he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labor and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the earth, out of which thou was taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.

Oh! terrible page of man’s history! It alone explains to us our present position on the earth. It tells us what we are in the eyes of God, and how humbly we should comport ourselves before His divine Majesty. We will make it the subject of this week’s meditation. And now, let us prepare to profit by the liturgy of this Sunday, which we call Septuagesima.

In the Greek Church, it is called Prophoné (Proclamation), because on this day they announce to the people the coming fast of Lent, and the precise day of Easter. It is also called the Sunday of the prodigal son, because that parable is read in their liturgy for this Sunday, as an invitation to sinners to draw nigh to the God of mercy. But it is the last day of the week Prophoné, which, by a strange custom, begins with the preceding Monday, as do also the two following weeks.

Mass.—The Station at Rome is in the church of Saint Lawrence outside the walls. The ancient liturgists observe the relation between the just Abel (whose being murdered by Cain is the subject of one of the responsories of today’s Matins) and the courageous martyr, over whose tomb the Church of Rome commences her Septuagesima.

The Introit describes the fears of death, wherewith Adam and his whole posterity are tormented, in consequence of sin. But in the midst of all this misery there is heard a cry of hope, for man is still permitted to ask mercy from his God. God gave man a promise on the very day of his condemnation: the sinner needs but confess his miseries, and the very Lord against whom he sinned will become his deliverer.

In the Collect, the Church acknowledges that her children justly suffer the chastisements which are the consequences of sin; but she beseeches her divine Lord to send them that mercy which will deliver them.

COLLECT

Preces populi tui, quæsumus, Domine, clementer exaudi: ut qui juste pro peccatis nostris affligimur, pro tui nominis gloria misericorditer liberemur. Per Dominum.

Mercifully hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayers of thy people; that we who are justly afflicted for our sins, may be mercifully delivered for the glory of thy name. Through, &c.

SECOND COLLECT

A cunctis nos, quæsumus, Domine, mentis et corporis defende periculis: et intercedente beata et gloriosa semperque Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beato Joseph, beatis apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque beato N., et omnibus sanctis, salutem nobis tribue benignus et pacem: ut destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis, Ecclesia tua secura tibi serviat libertate.

Preserve us, O Lord, we beseech thee, from all dangers of soul and body: and by the intercession of the glorious and blessed Mary, the ever Virgin Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of thy blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, of blessed N. (here is mentioned the titular saint of the church), and of all the saints, grant us, in thy mercy, health and peace; that, all adversities and errors being removed, thy Church may serve thee with undisturbed liberty.

The priest adds a third Collect, which is left to his own choice.

In the Epistle, the stirring words of the apostle deepen the sentiments already produced in us by the sad recollections of which we are this day reminded. He tells us that this world is a race wherein all must run; but that they alone win the prize who run well. Let us, therefore, rid ourselves of everything that could impede us, and make us lose our crown. Let us not deceive ourselves: we are never sure, until we reach the goal. Is our conversion more solid than was St. Paul’s? Are our good works better done or more meritorious than were his? Yet he assures us that he was not without the fear that he might perhaps be lost; for which cause he chastised his body, and kept it in subjection to the spirit. Man, in his present state, has not the same will for all that is right and just, which Adam had before he sinned, and which, notwithstanding, he abused to his own ruin. We have a bias which inclines us to evil; so that our only means of keeping our ground is to sacrifice the flesh to the spirit. To many this is a very harsh doctrine; hence, they are sure to fail; they never can win the prize. Like the Israelites spoken of by our apostle, they will be left behind to die in the desert, and so lose the promised land. Yet they saw the same miracles that Josue and Caleb saw! So true is it that nothing can make a salutary impression on a heart which is obstinately bent on fixing all its happiness in the things of this present life; and though it is forced, each day, to own that they are vain, yet each day it returns to them, vainly but determinedly loving them.

The heart, on the contrary, that puts its trust in God, and mans itself to energy by the thought of the divine assistance being abundantly given to him that asks it, will not flag or faint in the race, and will win the heavenly prize. God’s eye is unceasingly on all them that toil and suffer. These are the truths expressed in the Gradual.

The Tract sends forth our cry to God, and the Cry is from the very depths of our misery. Man is humbled exceedingly by the fall; but he knows that God is full of mercy, and that, in His goodness, He punishes our iniquities less than they deserve: were it not so, none of us could hope for pardon.

It is of importance that we should well understand this parable of the Gospel, and why the Church inserts it in today’s liturgy. Firstly, then, let us recall to mind on what occasion our Savior spoke this parable, and what instruction He intended to convey by it to the Jews. He wishes to warn them of the fast approach of the day when their Law is to give way to the Christian Law; and He would prepare their minds against the jealousy and prejudice which might arise in them, at the thought that God was about to form a Covenant with the Gentiles. The vineyard is the Church in its several periods, from the beginning of the world to the time when God Himself dwelt among them, and formed all true believers into one visible and permanent society. The morning is the time from Adam to Noah; the third hour begins with Noah and ends with Abraham; the sixth hour includes the period which elapsed between Abraham and Moses; and lastly, the ninth hour opens with the age of the prophets, and closes with the birth of the Savior. The Messias came at the eleventh hour, when the world seemed to be at the decline of its day. Mercies unprecedented were reserved for this last period, during which salvation was to be given to the Gentiles by the preaching of the apostles. It is by this mystery of mercy that our Savior rebukes the Jewish pride. By the selfish murmurings made against the master of the house by the early laborers, our Lord signifies the indignation which the scribes and pharisees would show at the Gentiles being adopted as God’s children. Then He shows them how their jealousy would be chastised: Israel, that had labored before us, shall be rejected for their obduracy of heart, and we Gentiles, the last comers, shall be made first, for we shall be made members of that Catholic Church which is the bride of the Son of God.

This is the interpretation of our parable given by St. Augustine and St. Gregory the great, and by the generality of the holy fathers. But it conveys a second instruction, as we are assured by the two holy doctors just named. It signifies the calling given by God to each of us individually, pressing us to labor during this life for the kingdom prepared for us. The morning is our childhood. The third hour, according to the division used by the ancients in counting their day, is sunrise; it is our youth. The sixth hour, by which name they called our midday, is manhood. The eleventh hour, which immediately preceded sunset, is old age. The Master of the house calls His laborers at all these various hours. They must go that very hour. They that are called in the morning may not put off their starting for the vineyard, under pretext of going afterwards, when the Master shall call them later on. Who has told them that they shall live to the eleventh hour? They that are called at the third hour may be dead at the sixth. God will call to the labors of the last hour such as shall be living when that hour comes; but if we should die at midday, that last call will not avail us. Besides, God has not promised us a second call if we excuse ourselves from the first.

At the Offertory, the Church invites us to celebrate the praises of God. God has mercifully granted us that the hymns we sing to the glory of His name should be our consolation in this vale of tears.

SECRET

Muneribus nostris quæsumus, Domine, precibusque susceptis: et cœlestibus nos munda mysteriis, et clementer exaudi. Per Dominum.

Having received, O Lord, our offerings and prayers, cleanse us, we beseech thee, by these heavenly mysteries, and mercifully hear us. Through, &c.

SECOND SECRET

Exaudi nos, Deus salutaris noster: ut per hujus Sacramenti virtutem, a cunctis nos mentis et corporis hostibus tuearis, gratiam tribuens in præsenti, et gloriam in futuro.

Graciously grant us, O God, our Savior, that by virtue of this Sacrament, thou mayst defend us from all enemies, both of soul and body; giving us grace in this life, and glory in the next.

The third Secret is left to the priest’s own choice.

In the Communion antiphon, the Church prays that man, having now been regenerated by the Bread of heaven, may regain that likeness to his God which Adam received at his creation. The greater our misery, the stronger should be our hope in Him who descended to us that we might ascend to Him.

POSTCOMMUNION

Fideles tui, Deus, per tua dona firmentur: ut eadem et percipiendo requirant, et quærendo sine fine percipiant. Per Dominum.

May thy faithful, O God, be strengthened by thy gifts; that by receiving them, they may ever hunger after them, and hungering after them, they may have their desires satisfied in the everlasting possession of them. Through, &c.

SECOND POSTCOMMUNION

Mundet et muniat nos, quæsumus Domine, divini Sacramenti munis oblatum, et intercedente beata Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beato Joseph, beatis apostolis Petro et Paulo, atque beato N. et omnibus sanctis, a cunctis nos reddat et perversitatibus expiatos, et adversitatibus expeditos.

May the oblation of this divine Sacrament, we beseech thee, O Lord, both cleanse and defend us; and by the intercession of blessed Mary, the Virgin-Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of the blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, of blessed N., and of all the saints, free us from all sin, and deliver us from all adversity.

The third Postcommunion is left to the priest’s own choice.

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