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.

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Tuesday 31 March 2015

Tuesday in Holy Week (Temple Tuesday)

Tuesday in Holy Week

Station at St Prisca's

The Station is at the church of St. Prisca, of whom St. Paul speaks: "Salute Prisca and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus, and the church which is in their house" (Rom. xvi. 3, 5). This was one of the twenty-five parishes of Rome in the fifth century.

The Epistle, Gradual, Offertory and Communion are a perfect adaptation of the passages in the Old Testament to Christ persecuted. He is "the meek Iamb that is carried to be a victim", and which God, by a striking revenge on them (Epistle), "delivers from the hand of the sinner" (Offertory). The Gospel of St. Mark describes the death of Christ. The Introit and the Collects show that the Church, which continues the saving work of Christ, revives the mysteries of His Passion (Collect) and "glories in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection" (Introit).

Like the Catechumens who formerly were baptized, and public penitents who were reconciled at Easter, the faithful are about to participate, by their Easter confession and holy communion, "in the mysteries of our Lord's Passion in such a manner as to deserve to obtain pardon" (Collect).

"May our healing fasts in union with the sacrifices of Christ " (Secret) "purify us from all remains of our old nature, and enable us to be formed anew unto holiness" (Prayer over the people).

Nos autem gloriari oportet in cruce Domini nostri Jesu Christi: in quo est salus, vita, et resurrectio nostra: per quem salvati, et liberati sumus. * Deus misereatur nostri, et benedicat nobis: illuminet vultum suum super nos, et misereatur nostri.
But it behoves us to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ : in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection: by whom we are saved and delivered. * May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may He cause the light of His countenance to shine upon us; and may He have mercy on us.
(Galatians 6:14 and Psalm 66:2 from the Introit of Mass)

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus: da nobis ita Dominicae passionis sacramenta peragere; ut indulgentiam percipere mereamur.
Almighty and everlasting God, grant that we may celebrate the mysteries of our Lord's Passion that we may deserve to receive Thy pardon.

Monday 30 March 2015

Monday in Holy Week (Fig Monday)

Monday in Holy Week

Station at St Praxedes's

The Station was originally held at SS. Nercus and Achilleus but the tottering state of this church caused it to be transferred in the XIIIth century to St. Praxedes'. The precious Pillar of the Flagellation, so called, brought over from the Holy Land by Cardinal Colonna at the time ofthe Fifth Crusade, was placed by him in this his titular church, where it is still kept. In exchange for the iron ring attached to this pillar St. Louis presented the church with the three thorns of the Holy Crown that are still preserved there. The relics of many martyrs, gathered from the suburban catacombs, were brought into this church under Pope Paschalis I.

In the Epistle Isaias, typifying Jesus prophesies His obedience and the indignities of His Passion. He likewise foretells His triumph, for He has placed His trust in God, who will raise Him to life again. Finally he shows how the Jews were to be confounded. Then the Gentiles through baptism, the public penitents by being reconciled, and the faithful by their Easter Confession and Holy Communion will pass from darkness in the light of which Jesus is the fount.

The Gospel tells of the supper of which Jesus partook in the house of Simon the leper six days before the Pasch. While Martha, all activity, served at table, Mary, more loving, went up to Christ, and breaking the big narrow neck of an alabaster vase filled with an ointment of great price poured the contents over His feet. And Jesus commends her for having thus anticipated the embalming of His body. The indignant protests of Judas lead us to fear the crime into which he will fall an a result of his avarice. Finally the presence at the supper of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised to life, is a forecast of the coming victory of Christ over death. The choice of this Gospel is not without connection with that of the Stational church: St. Praxedes and St. Pudentiana put their house at the disposal of Pope St.Pius I., like Mary and Martha received Jesus into theirs.

Judica, Domine, nocentes me, expugna impugnantes me: apprehende arma et scutum, et exsurge in adjutorium meum, Domine, virtus salutis meae. * Effunde frameam meam, et conclude adversus eos, qui persequuntur me: die animae meae: Salus tua ego sum. 
Judge Thou, O Lord, them that wrong me, overthrow them that fight against me: take hold of arms and shield, and rise up to help me, O Lord, the strength of my salvation. * Bring out the sword, and shut up the way against them that persecute me: say to my soul, I am thy salvation.
(Psalm 34:1-3 from the Introit of Mass)

Da, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui in tot adversis ex nostra infirmitate deficimus: intercedente unigeniti Filii tui passione respiremus.

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who fail through infirmity in our many difficulties, may be relieved through the merits of the passion of Thine only-begotten Son.

Sunday 29 March 2015

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday

Station at St John Lateran

In to-day's liturgy the twofold point of view from which the Church regards the Cross is expressed in two ceremonies, one marked by joy and the other by sadness. First comes the Blessing and Procession of Palms in which everything overflows with a holy joy which enables us after nineteen centuries to revive the spirit of the magnificent scene of our Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Then follows the Mass whose chants and lessons relate exclusively to the sorrowful memory of our Redeemer's Passion.

The Blessing and Procession of Palms

At Jerusalem, in the fourth century, on the very spot where the event took place, was read the Gospel narrative in which we see Christ, hailed as King of Israel and taking possession of His capital, Jerusalem, which is really no more than the type of Jerusalem above. After this, a bishop, mounted on an ass, rode up to the Church of the Resurrection on the summit of the Mount of Olives, surrounded by a multitude carrying palms and singing anthems and hymns. This ceremony was preceded by the solemn reading of the passage from Exodus in which the Flight from Egypt is related. God's people, encamped under the shadow of the palm trees, near the twelve fountains where Moses promised them the manna is a type of the Christian people, who, breaking off branches from the trees, bear witness that God's Son Jesus comes to deliver souls from sin, leading them to the baptismal font and nourishing them with the Manna of the Eucharist.

The Church of Rome, it would seem, adopted this practice about the ninth century and added to it the rite for the Blessing of the Palms, which has given to this Sunday the name of the Easter of flowers. In this benediction the Church prays for health of mind and body for those who dwell in houses where the palms are preserved. The Church adds that "God ... by a wonderful order and disposition has been pleased to avail Himself of things sensible whereby to manifest the dispensation of our salvation", "since the branches of palms signify His triumphs over the prince of death and the branches of olive proclaim, in a manner, the coming of spiritual unction". Indeed the dove "by an olive branch proclaims peace to the world", and the graces which God multiplied upon Noah going forth from the ark and Moses going out of Egypt with the children of Israel are a figure of the Church going forth to meet Christ with good works, "works which bring forth branches of justice". This procession of Christians, who with palm in hand and songs of Hosanna on their lips, proclaim Christ's Kingship every year, throughout the whole world and in all generations, is composed of all catechumens, of public penitents and of the faithful, who at the Easter Feast will be united to this glorious Victor through the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist and Penance. "We ... with full faith, retaining this as done and signified, humbly beseech Thee, Eternal God ... that what Thy people this day bodily perform ... they may perfect spiritually ... by gaining a victory over the enemy."

It is this that is represented by the procession when it stops at the door of the Church, into which some members of the choir have already found their way. They chant alternately with the clergy on the one side "the angelic choir", and on the other Christ's soldiers, still plunged in the strife of battle, hailing the King of Glory each in his turn. Soon the door opens after the subdeacon has knocked on it three times with the foot of the cross and the procession enters the church; so does the Cross of Christ open heaven to us and so will the elect one day enter with their Lord into eternal glory.

We should keep a blessed palm carefully in our home. It is a sacramental which will obtain for us graces in virtue of the Church's prayer and strengthen our faith in Christ, who full of mercy, symbolised by the olive branch whose oil soothes our wounds, has conquered sin, death and the devil in a victory of which these sacred palms are the type.

Mass for Palm Sunday

The Blessing of palms takes place at St. Mary Major which in Rome represents Bethlehem the birthplace of Him whom the Magi hailed as "King of the Jews." Thence the procession goes to St. John Lateran, in which church in former times the Station took place since, by its dedication to St. Saviour, it calls up memories of the Passion which is the subject of to-day's Mass.

The Redeemer's triumph must be preceded by His humiliation " even to the death of the cross " (Epistle), which is to serve as a model for us, that "instructed by His patience", we may "partake in His Resurrection".

Domine, ne longe facias auxilium tuum a me, ad defensionem meam aspice: libera me de ore leonis, et a cornibus unicornium humilitatem meam. * Deus, Deus meus, respice in me: quare me dereliquisti? longe a salute mea verba delictorum meorum.
O Lord, keep not Thy help far from me: look to my defence: deliver me from the lion's mouth, and my lowness from the horns of the unicorns. * O God, my God, look upon me; why hast Thou forsaken me? Far from my salvation are the words of my sins.
(Psalm 21:20,22,2 from the Introit of Mass)

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui humano generi ad imitandum humilitatis exemplum, Salvatorem nostrum carnem sumere, et crucem subire fecisti: concede propitius; ut et patientiae ipsius habere documenta, et resurrectionis consortia mereamur.
Almighty and everlasting God, who didst will that our Saviour should take upon Him our flesh and suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of His great humility; mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of His patience and also be made partakers of His resurrection.

No other Collect is said.

Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Philippians.
Brethren: For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death. even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him and hath given him a name which is above all names; that in the name of JESUS (here, all kneel,) every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2)

Saturday 28 March 2015

Saturday in Passion Week

Saturday in Passion Week

Station at St John before the Latin Gate

The Station on this eve of Palm Sunday is of a comparatively late origin: formerly, the Pope spent a part of the day distributing alms to the poor, and rested in preparation to the tiresome functions of the following days. When later on a Mass was appointed for that day the parts to be sung by the choir were borrowed from the Mass of yesterday.

As Stational church was chosen St. John's before the Latin Gate. Near the place where the Appian Way branches off, forming to the left the Latin Way, it was built on the spot where St. John was, by order of Domitian, plunged into a cauldron of boiling oil. St. John, who with Mary shared the privilege of standing near the Cross, also joined his sacrifice to that of Christ when he gladly accepted martyrdom in the boiling oil.

The Mass sums up all the great mysteries which are about to fill Holy Week.

The Gospel shows us Jesus "the King of Israel" acclaimed by he Jews and some days later "raised from the earth" and crucified. In the few Gentiles who expressed to Philip their desire to see Christ let us foresee the many recruits that the Church is to make among the heathen nations.

Jesus is going to die like the grain of wheat, that He may produce much fruit. For the moment "His soul is troubled", as it will be in the Garden of Gethsemane. But "it is for that He has come", "to glorify His Father". And as a voice from heaven tells us, this glorification will be complete, for "the prince of this world shall be cast out" and the Saviour raised upon a cross and reaching to heaven "will draw all things to Him".

The Saviour here reveals to us His whole heart, which wishes, at the price of such cruel sufferings, to ruin our enemy and secure our salvation.

Finally Jesus speaks of those who refuse to follow Him and who walk in darkness not knowing where they go, and by the mouth of Jeremias He anathematises "those who plot against the just. Their children will be delivered up to famine and their husbands put to death, for an unforeseen enemy will fall upon them and exterminate them" (Epistle). This prophecy was fulfilled. During the siege of Jerusalem the Jews who had not died of famine perished by the sword.

To avoid the effects of divine Justice, let us die to sin and we shall produce much fruit unto eternal life.

Miserere mihi, Domine, quoniam tribulor: libera me, et eripe me de manibus inimicorum meorum, et a persequentibus me: Domine, non confundar, quoniam invocavi te. * In te, Domine, speravi, non confundar in aeternum: in justitia tua libera me.
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am afflicted: deliver me out of the hands of my enemies and from them that persecute me: O Lord, let me not be confounded, for I have called upon Thee. * In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be confounded: deliver me in Thy justice.
(Psalm 30:10,16,18,2 from the Introit of Mass)

Proficiat, quaesumus, Domine, plebs tibi dicata piae devotionis affectu: ut sacris actionibus erudita, quanto majestati tuae fit gratior, tanto donis potioribus augeatur.
May the people prosper who are devoted to Thee by the affection of pious devotion, we beseech Thee O Lord; that instructed by the holy rites they may be made more pleasing to Thy majesty, and more may they abound in excellent gifts.

28th March, St John Captistran, Confessor

St John Captistran, Confessor

St John, born at Capistrano in the Abruzzi on June 24th, 1385, entered the order of St. Francis at the age of 39. He was chosen by God to deliver Europe from Islam, which threatened to invade it in the fifteenth century. Mohammed II had taken Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Empire, and was marching on Belgrade. Pope Callistus III decreed a crusade. St. John preached it (Gospel) in Pannonia and other provinces. Supported by the noble Hungarian, John Hunyady, he enrolled 70,000 Christians. These improvised warriors had not other arms but forks and flails. John, whose "strength was the Lord" (Introit), "obtained by their bravery the victory after severe fighting" and thus assured the triumph of the Cross over the Crescent (Collect). That very evening 120,000 Turks lay dead or had fled and Mohammed, wounded, renounced his projects against Christian Europe. St. John died in 1456.

Let us have recourse to the protection of St. John and do penance in order to repel the attacks of the evil spirit (Postcommunion).

Ego autem in Domino gaudebo et exsultabo in Deo Jesu meo: Deus Dominus fortitudo mea. * Exsultate Deo adjutori nostro, jubilate Deo Jacob.
I will rejoice in the Lord; and I will joy in God my Jesus: the Lord God is my strength. * Rejoice to God our helper: sing aloud to the God of Jacob.
(Hab. 3:18-19 and Psalm 80:2 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus, qui per beatum Joannem fideles tuos in virtute sanctissimi nominis Jesu de crucis inimicis triumphare fecisti: praesta, quaesumus; ut, spiritualium hostium, ejus intercessione, superatis insidiis, coronam justitiae a te accipere mereamur.
O God, who through blessed John didst cause Thy faithful to triumph over the enemies of the cross in the power of the most holy name of Jesus: grant, we beseech Thee, that by his intercession we may overcome the snares of our spiritual enemies, and deserve to receive from Thee the crown of righteousness.

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

Friday 27 March 2015

Friday in Passion Week

Ferial Mass of the Friday in Passion Week

Station at St Stephen's on Mount Coelius

The Station was at the Church of St. Stephen on Mount Coelius, called St. Stephen the Round, on account of its circular form. It was dedicated in the fifth century to the first of the martyrs whose relics had just been brought to Rome.

This Saint was the first martyr or witness of Christ. Whilst dying, he beheld the Saviour at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Thus it was fitting to assemble in this basilica at this holy time, consecrated to the memory of the Saviour's Passion, which prepares us to celebrate His triumph at Easter.

The Gospel of to-day mentions the sitting of the Sanhedrim at which the death of Jesus was irrevocably decreed by the Jewish priests.

The miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus, they say, will excite during the Paschal festivities, when crowds fill Jerusalem, such popular enthusiasm that the Romans, uneasy for their authority, will destroy our city and nation. It is therefore better, concludes Caiphas, that one man should disappear and that the nation should be saved.

Jeremias in the Epistle and the Psalmist in the Introit, the Gradual, the Offertory and the Communion, express the sorrows and anguish of Jesus, who feels Himself surrounded by such treacherous and relentless enemies.

Let us participate in the feelings of Christ, who will soon atone for our sins by the sufferings of His Passion. And may the fear of eternal punishment make us accept the troubles of this life and the holy austerities of Lent (Collect).

Miserere mihi, Domine, quoniam tribulor: libera me, et eripe me de manibus inimicorum meorum, et a persequentibus me, Domine, non confundar, quoniam invocavi te. * In te, Domine, speravi, non confundar in aeternum: in justitia tua libera me.
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am afflicted: deliver me out of the hands of my enemies, and from them that persecute me: O Lord, let me not be confounded, for I have called upon Thee. *. In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be confounded: deliver me in Thy justice. Have mercy on me.
(Psalm 30:10,16,18,2 from the Introit of Mass)

Cordibus nostris, quaesumus, Domine, gratiam tuam benignus infunde: ut peccata nostra castigatione voluntaria cohibentes, temporaliter potius maceremur, quam supplices deputemur aeternis.
Pour forth Thy grace into our hearts, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that we who refrain from sin by self-denial, may be rather afflicted in time than condemned to eternal punishment.

Friday after Passion Sunday, The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin

Our Lady of Sorrows

The Christmas Cycle had celebrated the part taken by the Blessed Virgin in the Mystery of the Incarnation, glorifying both the divinity of Jesus and the divine maternity of Mary. The Easter Cycle tells us how the mother of the Saviour co-operated in the Mystery of the Redemption. It shows her in this season of the Passion at the foot of the Cross where Christ is dying (Introit, Sequence, Gospel). "An ineffable union is established between the oblation of the Incarnate Word and that of Mary; the divine blood and the tears of the Mother flow together and are mixed for the redemption of the human race ."

"The prophecy of Simeon is fulfilled: a sword of grief pierces the most gentle soul of the glorious Virgin Mary (Collect), who by her unequalled love becomes the Queen of Martyrs " (Communion).

As Judith had delivered Israel by killing Holofernes (Epistle), the Virgin is our deliverer with Jesus. Wherefore the Gospel shows us, at the foot of the tree of Passion, in a scene which recalls the tree of prevarication, the
maternity of Mary with regard to the Church personified by St. John.

"Let us venerate the Transfixion of the glorious Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross, in order to gather the happy fruit of the Passion of her Son" (Collect).

Stabant juxta crucem Jesu mater ejus, et soror matris ejus Maria Cleophae, et Salome, et Maria Magdalene. *  Mulier, ecce filius tuus: dixit Jesus; ad discipulum autem: Ecce mater tua.
There stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister Mary of Cleophas, and Salome, and Mary Magdalen, * Woman, behold thy son, said Jesus; and to the disciple, Behold thy mother.
(John 19:25-27 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus, in cujus passione, secundum Simeonis prophetiam, dulcissimam animam gloriosae Virginis et Matris Mariae doloris gladius pertransivit: concede propitius; ut, qui transfixionem ejus et passionem venerando recolimus, gloriosis meritis et precibus omnium Sanctorum cruci fideliter astantium intercedentibus, passionis tuae effectum felicem consequamur.
O God, at whose passion, according to the prophecy of Simeon, a sword of sorrow pierced the most sweet soul of the glorious virgin and mother Mary; grant in Thy mercy that we, who call to mind with veneration her soul pierced with sorrow, through the glorious merits and prayers of all the saints faithfully standing by Thy cross, may obtain the blessed result of Thy Passion.

27th March, St John Damascene, Confessor and Doctor

St John Damascene, Confessor and Doctor

John, surnamed Damascene (or of Damascus), was raised up by God to defend the veneration of images, at a time when the Emperor Leo the Isaurian endeavoured to destroy it. Filled with divine knowledge (Epistle), he strongly opposed the Iconoclasts (or destroyers of images in Greek); "his heavenly teaching and his admirable power of mind" (Collect) earned for him the title of Doctor. His biography, written in the tenth century by the Patriarch John of Jerusalem, relates several legends recalled in the liturgy of his mass.

It says, for instance, that the emperor having accused him of betraying the Caliph of Damascus, whose counsellor and minister he was, he was condemned to have his right hand cut off. But as in the case of the man with the dried up hand, mentioned in the Gospel of this Mass, his hand was miraculously restored to him, for he promised the Virgin to use it henceforth in writing her praises. He kept his promise.

His numerous works, rich in knowledge and piety, and his eloquence caused him to be compared by the Second Council of Nicea to a "river of gold" and to be proclaimed a Doctor by Leo XIII.

St John Damascene fell asleep in the Lord about 749.

Let us venerate holy images so as to obtain the protection of those they represent.

Tenuisti manum dexteram meam: et in voluntate tua deduxisti me, et cum gloria suscepisti me. * Quam bonus Israel Deus his qui recto sunt corde!
Thou hast held me by my right hand, and by thy will thou hast conducted me, and with thy glory thou hast received me. * How good is God to Israel, to them that are right of heart.
(Psalm 72, from the Introit of Mass)

Almighty and eternal God, who didst fill blessed John with heavenly learning and with wonderful fortitude of spirit, tht he might uphold the veneration of holy images: grant us, through his prayers and example, that we who revere the images of the saints may both imitate their virtues and enjoy their patronage.
From the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

Thursday 26 March 2015

Thursday in Passion Week

Thursday in Passion Week

Station at St Apollinaris's and St Mary-the-New

The old Station is at the church built towards 780 by Pope Adrian I, on the ruins of an ancient temple, in honour of the holy martyr Apollinaris, the disciple of Peter and Archbishop of Ravenna. A second station was added in 1934.

Daniel recalls the humiliation of the people of Israel who were delivered to their enemies "on account of their sins" (Introit and Epistle).

The Church also mourns over the bad Christians and the heathen, slaves of Satan and of their passions.
With Azarias, she asks the Lord "that all those who ill-treat His servants may be confounded, for it is with a contrite and humble heart that they return to God " (Epistle). She hopes that, faithful to His ancient and solemn oath, He will multiply His people like the stars in the firmament and the sand on the shore (Epistle). She already sees with joy the Paschal night when in the baptismal font numerous children are going to be born to her. She excites the penitents to true repentance and hope by relating the conversion of Magdalen the sinner, who throws herself at the feet of Jesus shedding tears of repentance, whilst the Jews, represented by Simon the Pharisee, remain unmoved.

Forming part of the people of God through baptism, we should humbly, like Magdalen, weep for our sins and generously expiate them. Let us therefore purify our bodies and souls by mortification and penance, for it is "by abstinence that we must heal our wounds made by intemperance" (Collect).

Omnia, quae fecisti nobis, Domine, in vero judicio fecisti: quia peccavimus tibi, et mandatis tuis non obedivimus: sed da gloriam nomini tuo, et fac nobiscum secundum multitudinem misericordiae tuae. * Beati immaculati in via: qui ambulant in lege Domini.
All that Thou hast done to us, O Lord, Thou hast done in true judgement: because we have sinned against Thee, and have not obeyed Thy commandments: but give glory to Thy name, and deal with us according to the multitude of Thy mercy. * Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord.
(Daniel 3:31 and Psalm 118:1 from the Introit of Mass)

Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut dignitas conditionis humanae per immoderantiam sauciata, medicinalis parcimoniae studio reformetur.
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God : that the dignity of human nature wounded by excess, may be reformed by the practice of salutary self-denial.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Wednesday in Passion Week

Wednesday in Passion Week

Station at St Marcellus's

The Church of St. Marcellus, where to-day's Station is held, was one of the twenty-five parish churches of Rome in the fifth century. Originally the house of the holy matron Lucina, where she received St. Marcellus, it was transformed by her into a sanctuary and dedicated to this holy Pope, whose body rests under the High Altar.

The Mass of to-day shows us the obstinacy of the Jews in rejecting Jesus, as they had already rejected His Father. The divine law given by Him whom the Epistle calls six times "the Lord", "whose word is stable" declared formally "that one may not shed his neighbour's blood, nor hate his father in his heart". The members of the Sanhedrim, on the contrary, hated Christ and sought to stone Him (Gospel). Unfaithful to God "who orders His laws to be kept " (Epistle), they blamed Jesus "whom the Father has sent  and who is the Son of God. " The Father and I are one. The miracles that I have worked come from My Father ." "Rejecting the legitimate pastor of their souls, they are no longer His sheep," and will be replaced by the Gentiles, who, baptised or reconciled to God at the Easter Festival, are "the sheep who hear His voice and to whom He gives eternal life " (Gospel).

Let us be faithful to Jesus and pray God "to sanctify our fast and illumine our hearts" (Collect), in order that, delivered from the abyss into which our sins had made us fall (Gradual), we "may wash our hands among the innocent and proclaim the wondrous works of God " (Communion).

Liberator meus de gentibus iracundis: ab insurgentibus in me exaltabis me: a viro iniquo eripies me, Domine. *  Diligam te, Domine, virtus mea : Dominus firmamentum meum, et refugium meum, et liberator meus.
My deliverer from the angry nations : Thou wilt lift me up above them that rise up against me: from the unjust man Thou wilt deliver me, O Lord. * I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength; the Lord is my firmament, and my refuge, and my deliverer.
(Psalm 17:48-49,2-3 from the Introit of Mass)

Sanctificato hoc jejunio, Deus, tuorum corda fidelium miserator illustra: et quibus devotionis praestas affectum, praebe supplicantibus pium benignus auditum.
Sanctify this fast, O God, and mercifully enlightening the hearts of Thy faithful, do Thou hear favourably those to whom Thou grantest the grace of devotion.

25th March, The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Lady Day)

This feast, prepared by that of St. Gabriel, recalls the greatest event in history, the Incarnation of our Lord (Gospel) in the womb of a Virgin (Epistle). On this day the Word was made flesh and united to itself for ever the humanity of Jesus. March 25th is Indeed the anniversary of the ordination of Christ as priest, for it is by the anointing of the divinity that He has become Supreme Pontiff, Mediator between God and man. The mystery of the Incarnation has earned for Mary her most glorious title, that of "Mother of God" (Collect), in Greek "Theotokos" a name which the Eastern Church always inscribed in letters of gold, like a diadem, on the forehead of her images or statues. "Standing on the threshold of divinity" since she gave to the Word of God the flesh to which He was hypostatically united, the Virgin has always been honoured by a supereminent worship, that of hyperdulia. "The Son of the Father and the Son of the Virgin naturally become a single and identical son," says St. Anselm; hence Mary is queen of the human race and is to be venerated by all (Introit).

To March 25th will correspond, nine months later, December 25th, the day on which will be manifested to the world the miracle as yet only known to heaven and to the humble Virgin.

Since the title of Mother of God makes Mary all powerful with her Son, let us have recourse to her intercession with Him (Collect), so that by the merits of His passion and crucifixion we may have part in the glory of His resurrection (Postcommunion).

Vultum Tuum deprecabuntur omnes divites plebis: adducentur Regi virgines post eam: proximae ejus adducentur tibi in laetitia et exsultatione. * Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum: dico ego opera mea Regi.
All the rich among the people shall entreat Thy countenance: after her shall virgins be brought to the King: her neighbours shall be brought to Thee in gladness and rejoicing.  * My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak my works to the King.
(Psalm 44:13,15,16,2 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus qui de beatae Mariae Virginis utero Verbum Tuum, Angelo nuntiante, carnem suscipere voluisti: praesta supplicibus tuis; ut qui vere eam Genitricem Dei credimus, ejus apud te intercessionibus adjuvemur.
O God, who didst will that Thy Word should take flesh, at the message of an Angel, in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, grant to Thy suppliant people, that we who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be helped by her intercession with Thee.

The Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke
At that time: And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father: and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of His kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren. Because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word.
(St Luke 1:26-38)

In Memoriam Magni Sacerdotis: 25th March 1991

"In memoria aeterna erit justus."

22nd anniversary of the death in the Lord of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the priestly society of St Pius X, Defender of the Faith.

O God, who didst raise Thy servant Marcel to the dignity of bishop in the apostolic priesthood; grant, we beseech Thee, that he may be joined in fellowship with Thine apostles for evermore. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Requiescat in Pace. Santo Subito!


O Jesus, Eternal High Priest, who didst deign to raise Thy faithful servant Marcel Lefebvre to the Episcopal dignity and to grant him the grace of being a fearless defender of the Holy Mass, of the Catholic Priesthood, of Thy Holy Church, and of the Holy See, of being a courageous apostle of Thy Kingdom on earth, of being a devoted servant of Thy holy Mother, and of being a shining example of charity, of humility and of all virtues; bestow upon us now, by his merits, the graces we beseech of Thee, so that, assured of his efficacious intercession with Thee, we may one day see him raised to the honours of our altars. Amen.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Tuesday in Passion Week

Tuesday in Passion Week

Station at St Cyriacus's

The Church to day unites the memory of a Martyr with that of the Passion of Jesus in making the Station in the church of the holy deacon Cyriacus martyred under Diocletian at the gates of Rome. This church, one of the twenty-five parish churches of Rome in the fifth century, having been destroyed, the body of the holy martyr was translated to beneath the High Altar of St. Mary in Via Lata, which became the place of assembly for this day.

The Epistle and Gospel tell us of the approaching Passion of the Messiah and of the rejection of Israel, who is replaced by the Gentiles in the Church.

"Daniel who has destroyed Bel and slain the Dragon " (Epistle) is Jesus who denounces the crimes and sins of the world (Gospel). The Babylonians sought to destroy the prophet by throwing him as food to the hungry lions. The Jews also "sought to kill Jesus" and for this dark design "their hour is always at hand".

But, like Daniel, full of fortitude, He awaits the Lord (Introit), and God, "who does not abandon those who love and seek Him " (Epistle, Offertory), "delivers Him from unjust men and from all the ills that threaten Him" (Gradual, Communion). "Those who had wished to destroy Daniel were themselves thrown to the lions and devoured instantly " (Epistle). In the same way the deicide nation suffered the penalty of its crime. Forty years later, a million Jews taken in Jerusalem were exterminated by the Roman legions, after five long months of famine.

Fearing the chastisements of divine Justice, let us persevere in the expiatory practice of fasting in order that we may be made worthy of the eternal reward accorded to the just (Collect).

Exspecta Dominum, viriliter age: et confortetur cor tuum, et sustine Dominum. *. Dominus illuminatio mea, et salus mea: quem timebo?
Expect the Lord, do manfully: and let thy heart take courage, and wait thou for the Lord. * The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear?
(Psalm 26:14,1 from the Introit of Mass)

Nostra tibi, Domine, quaesumus, sint accepta jejunia: quae nos et expiando gratia tua dignos efficiant: et ad remedia perducant aeterna.
May our fasts be acceptable to Thee, O Lord, and expiate our sins; may they make us worthy of Thy grace, and lead us unto life everlasting.

Pictures of the Stational Churches:

24th March, St Gabriel, Archangel

St. Gabriel, Archangel

St. Gabriel was sent to Daniel to enlighten him as to the time when Christ would be born (Epistle), and to Zachary, at the hour in which he offered incense in the temple (Offertory), to announce to him the birth of John the Baptist, the Precursor of the Messias (Gospel). "Only Gabriel, a name that means 'Power of God,' was found worthy among all the angels," says St. Bernard, "to announce to Mary the designs of God with regard to her" (Matins). "He was chosen from among all the angels," says the Collect, "to proclaim the mystery of the Incarnation."

With a feeling of holy reverence, St. Gabriel came to the Virgin who from all eternity had been chosen to be the mother on earth of Him of whom God is the Father in heaven. In the words inspired by the most High, and which the Church desires us to repeat frequently, he said to her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women."

And seeing that Mary was taken aback by this salutation, the angel explained that he had come to obtain her consent, her Fiat, that the great mystery on which depended the redemption of mankind might be accomplished. "I am Gabriel who stand before God, and I have been sent I to speak to thee and to tell thee these good tidings" (Matins).

It was Mary's wish to remain a virgin, and the angel of the Lord announced that she would conceive of the Holy Ghost and that she would give birth to a son to whom she would give the name of Jesus, that is to say, Saviour.

Mary then, without hesitating, submitted with the most profound humility: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to Thy word.

And in that instant was accomplished the greatest of all miracles, when God raised unto Himself and into union with Him the blessed fruit of the womb of the Virgin: "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." The Word took upon Him our humanity, our poverty, our nothingness, and gave us in return His divinity.

The angel then returned to heaven.

"Having learned by the mouth of Gabriel the Incarnation of the Word, may it be given to us to obtain by his help the fruit of that same Incarnation" (Postcommunion).

Benedict XV extended the feast of St. Gabriel to the whole Church.

Benedicite Dominum, omnes Angeli ejus: potentes virtute qui facitis verbum ejus, ad audiendam vocem sermonum ejus. * Benedic, anima mea, Domino: et omnia, quae intra me sunt, nomini sancto ejus.
Bless the Lord, all ye His angels: you that are mighty  in strength, and execute His word, hearkening to the voice of His orders. * Bless the Lord, O my soul: and let all that is within me bless His  y. Gl6ria holy name. (Psalm 102:20,1 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus qui inter ceteros Angelos, ad annuntiandum Incarnationis tuae mysterium  Gabrielem Archangelum elegisti: concede propitius; ut qui festum ejus celebramus in terris, ipsfus patrocinium sentiamus in caelis.
O God, who didst choose from among all other angels the Archangel Gabriel to announce the mystery of Thine Incarnation, grant in Thy mercy that celebrating his feast on earth we may reap the effect of his protection in heaven.

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

Monday 23 March 2015

Monday in Passion Week

Monday in Passion Week

Station at St Chrysogonus's.

The Station is at St. Chrysogonus's in the Trastevere. Under the High Altar of this church, one of the twenty-five parish churches of Rome in the fifth century, rests the body of this holy martyr, a victim of the Diocletian persecution. His name is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. This was the titular church of Cardinal Pecci who became Sovereign Pontiff under the name of Leo XIII.

To encourage the public penitents, and ourselves likewise, to persevere in the austerities of Lent, the Church reminds us in the Epistle of the pardon granted to the Ninivites who, moved by the voice of Jonas, fasted and covered themselves with ashes for forty days.

With regard to the catechumens, how sweet must have been their hope on hearing in the Gospel the promises of the divine Master. Faith is about to draw from their souls streams of living waters, springing from the Holy Spirit wllo will enter their souls wilen they are baptized. The Jews, on the contrary, far from listening to Him of whom Jonas was a figure, sought to lay hands on Jesus, whom they are shortly to put to death. Jesus, in predicting it to them, announced to them His triumph and their reprobation: "Yet a little while and I go to My Father, and thither you cannot come." Let us ask "God to sanctify our fasts and mercifully grant us the pardon of our sins" Collect), so that we may always enjoy "health of soul and body" (Prayer over the people).

Miserere mihi, Domine, quoniam conculcavit me homo: tota die bellans tribulavit me. * Conculcaverunt me inimici mei tota die: quoniam multi bellantes adversum me.
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for man hath trodden me underfoot: all the day long he hath afflicted me, fighting against me. * My enemies have trodden on me all the day long: for they are many that make war against me. (Introit: Psalm 4:2-3.)

Sanctifica, quaesumus, Domine, nostra jejunia: et cunctarum nobis indulgentiam propitius largire culparum.
Sanctify our fasts, we beseech Thee, O Lord and in Thy mercy grant us pardon for all our sins.

Sunday 22 March 2015

Passiontide - Liturgical Note

From the St Andrew's Daily Missal

The Septuagesima season forms a remote preparation for Easter and Lent a proximate one; its last two weeks known as Passiontide, being an immediate preparation for the Feast.

The celebrations and ceremonies of the last week, known as the Great Week or Holy Week, have their origin in the Church at Jerusalem. There, with the Holy Gospels in hand, the Christians would follow their Redeemer step by step, piously gathering on the very spot precious souvenirs of the most solemn among all events, that which marked the close of His mortal life.

These celebrations, at first local in character, were adopted into the liturgy at Rome, where the very churches were planned in such a manner, us to make it possible to carry out the offices of Holy Week in the way that had been customary at Jerusalem. The last three days are called the Sacred Triduum. During this fortnight the Church suppresses the psalm Judica and in several instances the Gloria Patri also, since these had no place in the ancient Liturgy. Moreover, she veils all pictures and statues.

With regard to this, certainly devotion to the saints should yield before the great work of Redemption, but when it is observed that the crucifix itself is veiled, we see here a trace of the custom which obtained of suspending a curtain between the sanctuary and the nave, during the whole of Lent. In those times public penitents who had been excluded from the Church could not enter it again until Holy Thursday, and when this custom was abolished, all Christians were more or less placed in the position of such penitents. Although no sentence of exclusion was pronounced against them, the sanctuary and all that took place there was hidden from them, to show that they could only merit the share in Eucharistic worship given them in their Easter Communion, after they had brought forth fruits worthy of penance.

Finally, by stripping the altars and silencing all bells and organs on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, the Church gives expression to the grief which she feels at the memory of the death of her divine Spouse.

Note: The St Andrew's Daily Missal, 1945 edition - probably the best Latin-English handmissal ever - has been reprinted by St Bonaventure Press. Every traditional Catholic home should have one!

Passiontide - Doctrinal Note

From the St Andrew's Daily Missal

The Church, since the beginning of the Easter Cycle, has followed our Lord in His apostolic ministry. Throughout Passiontide, clad in mourning, she contemplates the sorrowful happenings of the last year (Passion week) and the last week (Holy week) of His mortal life.

The hatred of Christ's enemies grows day by day. It is about to break out and on Good Friday we shall be reminded of the most frightful of all crimes, the bloody drama of Calvary, foretold by the prophets and by our Lord Himself. The liturgy, too, taking into account both the Old and New Testaments, works out a striking parallel between the teaching of St. Paul and the Evangelists about our Lord's Passion and the clear prophecies of Jeremias, Isaias, David, Jonas and Daniel.

As the fatal end approaches the Church's accents of grief become more and more penetrated with feeling and soon we shall hear her lamentations for her spouse whom she has lost. "The sky of Holy Church becomes more and more overcast," says Dom Gueranger. As when thunder threatens, we see gather on the horizon clouds presaging disaster and charged with storm. The thunderbolt of divine Justice is about to fall and it will strike the Redeemer who has become man for love of His Father and for us. By reason of the mysterious solidarity existing between all the members of the great human family, He offers Himself as a substitute for His guilty brethren. As the prophet says: " He clothes Himself with our sins as with a garment," and He was "made sin for us" (2 Cor, 5:21) that He might bear our sins in His body upon the tree (1 St. Peter 2:24) and destroy it by His death. In the Garden of Gethsemane the sins of every age and of all mankind flowed horrible and repulsive into the most pure soul of Jesus who thus became, "the receptacle of the moral filth of the world". Further, His Father doing violence to the love He bore Him is to treat Him as a being accursed, according to the scripture: "Cursed is He that hangeth upon a tree." (Galatians 2:13).

For "the work of our redemption required " that our Lord should be set as the salvation of the world upon the cross, so that "whence came death, thence might life be restored, and that he who overcame by a tree, might also on a tree be overcome". It is an unequal struggle between the Prince of life and that of death, but Christ triumphs in the very act of His self-immolation. Already on Palm Sunday He advances like a conqueror, sure of Himself, greeted with acclamations and already crowned with palms and laurels "tokens of the victory which He is about to win." "Rejoice, daughter of Sion ... behold thy King will come to thee," cries Zacharias, and as if in fulfilment of his words the crowd spread their garments in our Lord's path, as is the custom before kings, while men cry aloud: "Blessed be the King who cometh in the name of the Lord". (St. Luke 19:38).

Jesus enters His capital Jerusalem, and mounts the costly throne which His Blood "adorns with royal purple", over which Jews and Romans write in the three principal languages of the time, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews". David's prophecy is accomplished; God is reigning from the tree, which from being an object of shame becomes a "standard of the King," and our "only hope" on this "holy Passion day". "We adore Thy Cross, O Lord ... for behold, by the wood of the Cross, joy came into the whole world." It was to show clearly how, from this point of view, the Church regards our Lord upon the cross, that in days gone by Christian artists changed His crown of thorns into an heraldic and royal one.

It was at the end of Lent, when the Church makes remembrance of the death and triumph of Christ, that the ancient councils required that the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist should be given to the catechumens and that public penitents should be reconciled by sacramental absolution. In a sense these catechumens were "buried together" with Christ by baptism into death and rose with Him into newness of life (Rom. 6:4). So do Passiontide and Easter,by marking for all Christians the anniversary of the reception of those blessings, remind them that our Lord's Passion and Resurrection were at once the efficient cause and the pattern of their own, and help them as the years pass, to share in these sacred mysteries in an ever more full and intimate way.

These feasts are not, then, a mere commemoration, concerned only with our Lord Himself; they become a reality for His whole mystical body. The conflict of Calvary extended to the whole world, where with Christ her Head, the Church gained a new victory over Satan every year at the Easter Feast.

The purpose of Passiontide through its close connection with Easter, is to recall to us the memory of our Baptism, when our souls were washed in our Lord's Blood, and of our First Communion when they drank of its healing stream . By the Easter Communion and Confession, survivals of the ancient discipline connected with Baptism and Penance, we are led at this liturgical season to die and rise again once more with Christ. (The Fathers tell us that from our Lord's open side "there came out blood and water" (St. John 19:34), symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist.)

Note: The St Andrew's Daily Missal, 1945 edition - probably the best Latin-English handmissal ever - has been reprinted by St Bonaventure Press. Every traditional Catholic home should have one!

Passiontide - Historical Note

From the St Andrew's Daily Missal

While the purpose of Passiontide is to call to our minds the persecutions of which our Lord was the object during His public life, it is concerned more especially, with the last year of His ministry. Then it was that the hatred of His enemies which increased daily began to reveal itself in more tangible form, culminating in the drama which the Church reproduces in Holy Week, when day by day she follows the footsteps of her Lord.

The second year: After having cured the son of the widow of Naim, our Lord absolves Mary Magdalen, the woman who was a sinner but who did not fear to come and throw herself at His feet while He reclined at the table of Simon the Pharisee. Judas' avarice foreshadows his crime.

The third year: After the Transfiguration, Jesus returns to Capharnaum, immediately afterwards making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. He proclaims Himself the Fountain of living water, refreshing the souls of men and foretells His approaching death. When the festivities are over He gives proofs of His Divinity to the Jews who in consequence try to stone Him. He returns to Galilee but again visits Jerusalem in the winter for the Feast of the Dedication. The Jews again wished to stone Him, for is not He a blasphemer who claims to be one with the Father in heaven. Subsequently going into Perea, our Lord is called from thence to Bethany, where He raises Lazarus from the dead; a miracle which wins Him such renown that the Jews, no longer able to contain their jealous hatred, definitely decide upon His death. Our Lord therefore, takes refuge at Ephrem, returning six days before the Passover to Bethany where, "for His burial," Mary Magdalen pours a precious ointment over His feet.

The Great Week. The next day Jesus makes His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The same evening He leaves the town returning the next day, i.e. the Monday in Holy Week, when He receives certain Gentiles in the Temple. On the Wednesday evening He goes towards the Mount of Olives, foretelling to His disciples His Passion, now close at hand. He does not return to Jerusalem until the Thursday evening for the Last Supper; is crucified the next day on Calvary at the city gates; is buried the same day in the sepulchre from whence He issues triumphant on the Sunday morning.

Note: The St Andrew's Daily Missal, 1945 edition - probably the best Latin-English handmissal ever - has been reprinted by St Bonaventure Press. Every traditional Catholic home should have one!

Passion Sunday

Passion Sunday

Station at St Peter's in the Vatican

"We are not unaware," says St. Leo, "that among all Christian celebrations the Paschal mystery holds the first place. Our manner of living throughout the whole year, by reforming our ways, ought to give us the dispositions for keeping it worthily and in a fitting manner. These present days which we know to be close to that most sublime sacrament of divine mercy, require devotion in a yet higher degree" (Second Nocturn). The mystery of which St. Leo speaks, is our Redeemer's Passion, whose anniversary is close at hand. Priest and Mediator of the New Testament, Jesus will soon ascend His Cross, and the blood which He will shed He will offer to His Father, entering into the Holies which is heaven itself (Epistle). The Church sings: "All hail, thou Mystery adored! Hail, Cross! on which the Life Himself died, and by death our life restored!" (Hymn of Vespers). The Eucharist is the memorial of this boundless love of a God for men for when instituting it our Lord said: "This is my Body which shall be delivered for you; this chalice is the new testament in My Blood. Do this ... in commemoration of Me" (Communion).

What is the response of man to all these divine favours ? "His own received Him not," says St. John, speaking of the welcome which the Jews gave Jesus. For good they rendered Him evil and prepared for Him nothing but insults. "You," our Lord told them, "dishonour me," and in fact, the Gospel shows us the ever growing hatred of the Sanhedrin.

Abraham, the father of God's people, firmly believed the divine promises which heralded the future Messias; and in Limbo his soul, which, as believing was beyond the reach of eternal death, rejoiced to see these promises fulfilled in the coming of Christ.

But the Jews, who ought to have recognized in Jesus the Son of God, greater than Abraham and the prophets, because eternal, misunderstood the meaning of His words, insulted Him by treating Him as a blasphemer and possessed, and tried to stone Him (Gospel). And God tells Him, in the person of Jeremias: "Be not afraid at their presence: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord ... For behold I have made thee this day a fortified city and a pillar of iron and a wall of brass, over all the land, to the kings of Juda, to the princes thereof and to the priests and to the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee and shall riot prevail: for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee" (First Nocturn). "I seek not my own glory," says Jesus, "there is one that seeketh and judgeth" (Gospel). And by the mouth of the psalmist He goes on: "Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man. " This "lying" people our Lord declares to be the Jews. The psalmist continues: "Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies ... from the unjust man Thou wilt deliver me" (Gradual). "The Lord who is just will cut the necks of sinners" (Tract). God will not permit men to lay their hands on Jesus until His hour is come (Gospel), and when that hour of sacrifice came, He snatched His Son from the hands of evil men by raising Him from the death. This death and resurrection had been foretold by the prophets and typified in Isaac when, on the point of being sacrified at God's command by Abraham his father he was restored to life by almighty God, his place being taken by a ram who became a type of the Lamb of God, offered in man's stead.

Thus our Lord, in His first coming, was to be humbled and made to suffer; not until later will He appear in all His power. But the Jews, blinded by their passions, could appreciate only one kind of coming, a coming in triumph, and so scandalized by the Cross of Christ, they rejected Him. In their turn, almighty God rejected them, while graciously receiving those who put their trust in the redemption of Jesus Christ, uniting their sufferings to His. "Rightly, and under the guidance of the Holy Ghost," says St. Leo, "did the holy Apostles institute these days of more rigorous fasting, so that by a common sharing in the Cross of Christ, even we ourselves may do something towards uniting ourselves with the work that He has accomplished for us. As St. Paul says: "If we suffer with Him, we also shall be glorified with Him." Where we find our Lord's sufferings being shared, there we can look on the attainment of the happiness promised by Him as a thing safe and assured."

To-day's station is in the Basilica of Saint-Peter, raised on the site of Nero's circus where the prince of the Apostles died, like His Divine Master on a cross.

In recalling our Lord's Passion, the anniversary of which draws near, let us remember that if we are to experience its saving effects we must, like the Master, know how to suffer persecution for justice sake. And when as members of God's family, we are persecuted with and like our Lord, let us ask of God, that we may be "governed in body" and "kept in mind".

Until Maunday Thursday, in masses of the season, the psalm Judica is omitted as well as the Gloria Patri after the Introit and the Lavabo.

Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso eripe me: quia tu es Deus meus et fortitudo mea. * Emitte lucem tuam, et veritatem tuam: ipsa me deduxerunt, et adduxerunt in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernacula tua.
Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art my God and my strength. * O send out Thy light and Thy truth : they have led me and brought me unto Thy holy hill, even unto Thy tabernacles.
(Psalm 42:1-3 from the Introit of Mass)

Quaesumus, omnipotens Deus, familiam tuam propitius respice: ut, te largente, regatur in corpore, et te servante, custodiatur in mente.
Mercifully look down on thy people, we beseech thee O almighty God, that by thy bounty and protection, they may be governed and guarded both in body and soul.

Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews.
Brethren: Christ being come, an High Priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by his own Blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For, if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh: how much more shall the Blood of Christ (who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God), cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God: And therefore, he is the mediator of the new Testament: that by means of his death, for the redemption of those transgressions which were under the former Testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Hebrews 9)

Continuation of the holy Gospel, according to John.
At that time: Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: Which of you shall convince me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe me? He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God. The Jews, therefore, answered and said to him; Do not we say well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered: I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and you have dishonoured me. But I seek not my own Glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Amen, amen, I say to you: If any man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever. The Jews therefore said: Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets: and thou sayest: If my man keep my word, he shall not taste death for ever. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who dost thou make thyself? Jesus answered: If I glorify myself my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is your God; and you have not known him, but I know him. And if I shall say that I know him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know him, and do keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad. The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am. They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.
(St John chapter 8)

Dom Gueranger on Passion Sunday:

Saturday 21 March 2015

Saturday of the Fourth Week in Lent

Saturday of the Fourth Week in Lent

 Station at St Nicholas's in Carcere

The Station is at a church built on the ruins of three pagan templca and consecrated to St. Nicholas. It is called in carcere because in former times it had a dungeon.

Here are venerated the remains of the holy Martyrs Mark, Marcellinus, Faustinus, Simplicius, and Beatrice, contained in an ancient urn placed under the high altar. The interior, in the form of a basilica, is very harmonious.

However, before the eighth century, the station was kept at St. Laurence "in Lucina": this is why so many allusions to "light" are made in this Mass. Water is also often mentioned: it reminds the catechumens the water of baptism for which they are longing; besides, it alludes also to the fact that the stational procession, coming from the church of Sant' Angelo "Piscium Venditor" (at Castel Sant'Angelo) had to walk along the Tiber.

Isaias, from whom the Introit and the Epistle of the Mass are taken, sees hastening from all sides the catechumens and public penitents who are waiting with holy impatience for the Easter Feast, when at last their souls may quench their thirst in the springs of grace through the sacraments of Baptism and Penance.

They were in darkness and Jesus gives them light (Epistle), for He tells us in the Gospel that He is the light of the world and that he who follows Him walketh not in darkness, but in the light of life. Let us also, by penance, cast out sin from our hearts, and let us ask Christ to fill them with the light of His grace.

Sitientes, venite ad aquas, dicit Dominus: et qui non habetis pretium, venite, et bibite cum laetitia. * Attendite, popule meus, legem meam : inclinate aurem vestram in verba oris mei.
All you that thirst, come to the waters, saith the Lord: and you that have no money, come and drink with joy. * Attend, O my people, to My law: incline your ears to the words of My mouth.
(Isaias 55:1 and Psalm 77:1 from the Introit of Mass)

Fiat, Domine, quaesumus, per gratiam tuam fructuosus nostrae devotionis affectus: quia tunc nobis proderunt suscepta jejunia, si tuae sint placita pietati.
May the affection of our devotion be made fruitful by Thy grace, we beseech Thee, O Lord: for then will the fasts we have undertaken become profitable to us, if they are pleasing, to Thy mercy.

21st March, St Benedict, Abbot, Patriarch of Monks

St Benedict, Abbot, Patriarch of Monks

At every turning of history God raises up great saints in order to strengthen the supernatural hold over souls exercised by the Church in virtue of her divine mission.

The Roman Empire had crumbled down and the Barbarians had invaded the whole of Europe. Then appeared Benedict, as chief of the monks of the West. He was born at Nursia, in Umbria, in 480. Sent to Rome for his studies, but already endowed with the wisdom of age, says St. Gregory, he fled from the world to the solitude of Subiaco. After spending three years in a cave he attracted crowds by his virtues.

The great Roman families sent their children to him and he soon founded in the mountains twelve monasteries "schools for the Lord's service", where, under the direction of an Abbot, the monks learned, by the exercise of public prayer, of private prayer and of work, to forget self and live in God. St. Benedict, in the Holy Rule, orders the examination of novices to ascertain if they are full of solicitude for the work of God, for obedience and for humiliation".

As "idleness is the enemy of the soul'" the holy Law-giver adding example to his words, showed his disciples how they were to clear lands and hearts. Uniting manual labour "with constant preaching to the pagan population of Monte Cassino" he left to his sons the monastic motto: Ora et labora: pray and work.

Forty days after the death of his sister St. Scholastica, St. Benedict, standing at the foot of the altar where he had just, by holy Communion, taken part in the sacrifice of the Mass and of Calvary, and supported by his disciples who surrounded him, gave up to God his soul transfigured by 63 years of austere penance and of fidelity to the divine law which he kept in his heart (Introit). This was in 543.

Like Moses on Sinai (Epistle), Benedict on Monte Cassino was the Lawgiver of his people, and God established over His house this prudent servant (Communion). "The Holy Rule," as the Councils called it, "inspired by the same Spirit who has dictated the Sacred Canons" has sanctified thousands of souls which, especially during the six centuries when no other important Order existed in Europe left everything following the example of the glorious Patriarch of the West (Gospel), to enroll themselves in the militia of Christ under the Benedictine observance. (A recent commentator mentions 57,000 known Benedictine saints, of which 5,555 for Monte Cassino alone.) The first of his precepts recommends not to prefer anything to the liturgical worship in which adoration finds its most perfect expression.

(Italy and France in the seventh and eighth centuries were covered with monasteries which counted up to a thousand monks or nuns. Even then numerous laymen forming confraternities entered the institution of secular oblates which allowed them, as the Third Orders later did, to participate in all the merits of the Benedictine family. In 1780, says Godescard, the Order counted 30,000 houses. Reduced to 2000 after the Revolution to-day it counts with its branches over 14,000 subjects.)

St. Benedict is called the Doctor of humility. He was a prophet and wrought miracles and "was filled with the spirit of all the just" says St. Gregory. (His empire over devils is still exercesed nowadays by the medal of St. Benedtct which works wonders especially in missionary countries where Satan is most powerful.)

Among his sons are counted more than twenty popes, and an immense number of bishops, doctors, apostles, learned men and educators who have deserved well of humanity and of the Church. (Five sons of 8t. Benedict are numbered among the Doctors of the Church. St Augustine of Canterbury converted England; St. Boniface, Germany; St. Amandus, St. Willibrord, St. Anscharius and others brought to the faith more than twenty pagan nations.)

By his life he powerfully co-operated in the work of redemption and his glorious death has made him the patron of holy dying.

"Let us keep our lives in all purity so as to atone for and correct during the holy season of Lent all the negligences of other times." (Holy Rule, ch. 49).

Gaudeamus omnes in Domino, diem festum celebrantes sub honore sancti Benedicti Abbatis: de cujus solemnitate gaudent Angeli, et collaudant Filium Dei. * Magnus Dominus et laudabilis nimis: in civitate Dei nostri, in monte sancto ejus.
Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festival in honour of  the holy Abbot Benedict; at whose solemnity the Angels rejoice, and give praise to the Son of God. * Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised: in the city of our God, in his holy mountain.
(Psalm 47:2 from the Introit of Mass, according to the proper Benedictine Usage)

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui hodierna die carnis eductum ergastulo sanctissimum sublevasti ad coelum: concede, quaesumus, haec festa tuis famulis celebrantibus cunctorum veniam delictorum; ut, qui exsultantibus animis ejus claritati congaudeant, ipso apud te interveniente consocientur et meritis.
O almighty and everlasting God, who didst this day deliver out of the prison of the flesh thy most holy Confessor Benedict and bear him up to heaven, grant, we beseech thee, thy servants, who are celebrating this festival, forgiveness for all sins, that in the gladness wherein they are united in rejoicing at his glory, they may by his intercession before thee partake also in his merits.
(Collect, according to the Benedictine usage)

Sequence for the Mass of St Benedict
(according to the Missale Monasticum)

Laeta quies magni ducis,
Dona ferens novae lucis,
Hodie recolitur.

Caris datur piae menti,
Corde sonet in ardenti,
Quidquid foris promitur.

Hunc per callem orientis
Admiremur ascendentis
Patriarchae speciem.

Amplum semen magnae prolis
Illum fecit instar solis
Abrahae persimilem.

Corvum cernis ministrantem,
Hinc Eliam latitantem
Specu nosce parvulo.

Elisaeus dignoscatur,
Cum securis revocatur
De torrentis alveo.

Illum Joseph candor morum,
Illum Jacob futurorum
Mens effecit conscia.

Ipse memor suae gentis,
Nos perducat in manentis.
Semper Christi gaudia.

Joyful rest of our leader, that brings the gift of a new light, we commemorate you today.

Grace is given the loving soul, may our ardent heart be united to the songs of our lips.

By the radiant way going up to the east, let us admire our Father rising to heaven, equal to the patriarchs.

His innumerable posterity, figure of the sun, made him like to Abraham.

See the crow serving him and recognize hence Elias hiding in a little cave.

Recognize Eliseus, when he bids return the axe from beneath the current.

It is Joseph through his life without stain; it is Jacob bringing future things to mind.

May he be mindful of his people, and may he lead us till we behold with him the eternal joys of Christ.

The sequence sung by the monks of Norcia:

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia on St Benedict: