Introduction

This blog contains regular postings relating to the Traditional Latin Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. It includes regular commentary on the saints days and the liturgical cycle, with brief background and extracts from the liturgy both in Latin and English. Much of the material has been extracted from the 'St Andrew's Daily Missal', Dom Gueranger's 'Liturgical Year', or similar sources.

Related website: http://www.liturgialatina.org/





Sunday, 14 February 2016

1st Sunday in Lent

1st Sunday in Lent

Station at St John Lateran

Originally the forty days of penance were counted from this Sunday. The liturgical gathering of the "station" takes place to-day, as it was since the fourth century, at Saint John Lateran, which is the patriarchal basilica of the Bishops of Rome. At its first consecration, it was dedicated to "Saint Saviour," a name which calls to mind the Redemption accomplished by our Blessed Lord.

Immediately after His baptism, our Lord began to prepare for His public life by a fast of forty days in the mountainous desert which stretches between Jericho and the mountains of Judea. It was there that He was tempted by Satan, who wished to discover whether the son of Mary was in reality the Son of God (Gospel).

As in the case of Adam, he adresses his first attack to the senses. Our Lord is hungry and the tempter suggests to Him that He should turn stones into bread. In the same way he tries, during these forty days, to make us give up our fasting and mortification. This is the concupiscence of the flesh.

The devil had promised our first parent that he should be as God. Now he takes our Lord to the pinnacle of the Temple and tries to induce Him to let Himself be carried by the angels through the air amidst the applause of the crowds below. Satan tempts us by pride, which is opposed to the spirit of prayer and meditation on God's word. This is the pride of life.

Finally, just as he had promised Adam a knowledge which like that of God Himself, should enable him to know all things, so Satan assures Jesus that he will make Him ruler over all created things if He will fall at his feet and worship him. In the same way the devil seeks to attach us to temporal goods, when we ought, by alms and works of charity, to be doing good to our neighbour. This is the concupiscence of the eyes or avance.

Since the "word of the Spirit is the word of God", our Lord made use of the ninetieth psalm against Satan, and this is the theme of the whole Mass and is found again and again in the office of the day. "His truth shall cover thee with a shield," says the psalmist. This psalm is, therefore, the ideal psalm for Lent as a special time of warfare against the devil. Again, the eleventh verse, "He hath given His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways," recurs in Vespers like a refrain during the whole season. We find the entire psalm in the Tract, which reminds us of the old custom of singing psalms during certain parts of the Mass. Some of its verses make up the Introit with its verse, the Gradual, the Communion and the Offertory, which last was fonnerly composed, in to-day's mass, of three verses instead of one, following the order of the threefold temptation as recorded in the Gospel.

Side by side with this psalm the Epistle, certainly dating from the time of Saint Leo, sounds one of the characteristic notes of Lent. There Saint Paul borrows a text of Isaias: "In an accepted time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee." "Behold," says the apostle, "now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation" (Epistle and first nocturn). On this Saint Leo comments: "Although there is no season of the year which is not rich in divine gifts and in which we by God's grace do not find immediate access to His mercy; nevertheless at this time when the return of the day on which we are redeemed summons us to fulfill all the duties of Christian piety, the souls of Christians must be stirred with more zeal for spiritual progress, and possessed of a very great confidence in almighty God. In this manner, with pure souls and bodies, shall we celebrate this mystery of the Lord's Passion, sublime beyond all others. True, we ought always to be in the divine presence, just as much as on the Easter feast. But because this spiritual vigour is the possession of only a few, while, on the one hand, the weakness of the flesh leads to any very severe observance being relaxed, and on the other, the varied occupations of this life share and divide our interest, it necessarily happens that the dust of the world soils the hearts even of religious themselves. This divine institution has been planned with great profit to our salvation in a manner that the exercises of these forty days may help us to regain the purity of our souls, making up, in a way, for the faults of the rest of the year, by fasting and pious deeds. However, we must be careful to give no one the least cause of complaint or scandal, so that our general behaviour may not be inconsistent with our fasting and penance.. For it is useless to reduce the nourishment of the body unless the soul departs from sin" (Second nocturn).

In this "acceptable time" and in these "days of salvation" let us purify ourselves with the Church {Collect), "in fastings, in chastity," by zeal in hearing and meditating on the word of God and by charity unfeigned (Epistle).


Invocabit me, et ego exaudiam eum: eripiam eum et glorificabo eum: longitudine dierum adimplebo eum. * Qui habitat in adjutorio Altissimi; in protectione Dei coeli commorabitur.
He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: I will deliver him, and I will glorify him: I will fill him with length of days. * He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most high, shall abide under the protection of the God of Heaven. (Psalm 90:15-16 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus, qui Ecclesiam tuam annua quadragesimali observatione purificas: praesta familiae tuae, ut quod a te obtinere abstinendo nititur, hoc bonis operibus exsequatur.
O God, who purifiest thy Church by the yearly observation of Lent: grant that what thy children endeavour to obtain of thee by abstinence, they may put in execution by good works.
(Collect)

A cunctis nos, quaesumus, Domine, mentis et corporis defende periculis: et intercedente beata et gloriosa semper 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.
Defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all dangers of mind and body; that through the intercession of the blessed and glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, together with blessed Joseph, Thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and blessed N., and all the saints, mercifully grant us safety and peace; that all adversities and errors being overcome, Thy Church may serve Thee in security and freedom.
(For the intercession of the Saints)

Omnipotens sempiterna Deus, qui vivorum dominaris simul et mortuorum, omniumque misereris quos tuos fide et opera futuros esse praenoscis: te supplices exoramus; ut, pro quibus effundere preces decrevimus, quosque vel praesens saeculum adhuc in carne retinet, vel futurum jam exutos corpore suscepit, intercedentibus omnibus Sanctis tuis, pietatis tuae clementia omnium delictorum suorum veniam consequantur.
O almighty and eternal God, who hast dominion over both the living and the dead, and hast mercy on all whom Thou foreknowest shall be Thine by faith and good works: we humbly beseech Thee that all for whom we have resolved to make supplication whether the present world still holds them in the flesh or the world to come has already received them out of the body, may, through the intercession of all Thy saints, obtain of Thy goodness and clemency pardon for all their sins.
(For the Living and the Dead)

Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
At that time, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards hungry. And the tempter coming, said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said: It is written, “Not by bread alone doth man live, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Then the devil took him into the holy city, and set him upon a pinnacle of the temple, and said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, “He hath given his Angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone.” Jesus said to him: It is written again, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt! adore me. Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan, for it is written: “The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve.” Then the devil left him; and behold Angels came and ministered to him.
(St Matthew 4)

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