Monday of the Third Week in Lent
Station at St Mark's
The Station is at St. Mark's, an ancient parish church of Rome, built in the fourth century by Pope St. Mark in honour of his patron, the evangelist. Under the altar he the remains of this Pope with the bodies of the holy martyrs Abdon and Sennen.
One cannot choose a better spot wherein to read this account of the Syrian Naaman thcn in this sanctuary so clearly oriental, since St. Mark is the founder of the patriarchal seat of Alexandria, and Abdon and Sennen are Persians. This account of Naaman seems to make allusion to the Egyptians of Alexandria, whom St. Mark healed from the leprosy of unbelief by baptism.
The Epistle and the Gospel speak to us of Naaman, the valiant general of the King of Syria's army. He was cured by bathing in the Jordan, although he did not belong to the race of Israel. Later on Jesus was to plunge Himself into the same river and to communicate a sanctifying virtue to its waters. Naaman, therefore, is a figure of the heathen whom the Church by baptism cures of the leprosy of sin; Peter, says Tertullian, has baptized in the Tiber, and those that he has cleansed from the leprosy of sin, have abandoned the waters of Damascus, by which is meant their sensual life. Let us renew ourselves in the spirit of our baptism by purifying our hearts in the salutary bath of penitence. This will cure them of the leprosy of the soul called sin.
In Deo laudabo verbum, in Domino laudabo sermonem: in Deo sperabo; non timebo quid faciat mihi homo. * Miserere mei, Deus, quoniam conculcavit me homo: tota die bellans tribulavit me.
In God I will praise the word, in the Lord I will praise his speech: in God I will trust: I will not fear what man can do against me. * Have mercy on me, O God, for man hath trodden me under foot: all the day long he hath afflicted me, fighting against me.
(Psalm 55:5,2 from the Introit of Mass)
Cordibus nostris, quaesumus, Domine, gratiam tuam benignus infunde: ut, sicut ab escis carnalibus abstinemus: ita sensus quoque nostros a noxiis retrahamus excessibus.
Pour forth in Thy mercy, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into Our hearts, that as we abstain from carnal food, may we also restrain our senses from harmful excesses.
After the liturgy of to-day, the faithful were in former times called upon to assist at the first examination or scrutiny of the catechumens on the following Wednesday. These scrutinies were seven in number, of which the first (Wednesday of the third week in Lent), the third (Wednesday of fourth week), and the seventh (Holy Saturday) were the most important.