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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Monday 27 February 2017

27th February, St Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Confessor

St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Confessor.

St. Gabriel of the Seven Sorrows, born in 1838 at Assisi, the little Italian town made famous by St. Francis, was miraculously guided by our Blessed Lady into the Passionist Congregation, and during his short life upon earth he became a veritable apostle of her Sorrows. His spirit of penance and self-denial, his heroic humility, and his true devotion to our Lord's Sacred Passion quickly raised him to a high degree of sanctity. In 1862, only in the twenty-fourth year of his age, his heavenly patroness came to call him to eternal happiness. The many miracles that bore witness to his holiness, led to his speedy canonization by Pope Benedict XV (1920) and Pope Pius XI extended his feast to the whole Church (1932).

Oculus Dei respexit illum in bono, et erexit eum ab humilitate ipsius et exaltavit caput ejus; et mirati sunt in illo multi, et honoraverunt Deum. * Quam bonus Israel Deus his, qui recto sunt corde.
The eye of God hath looked  upon him for good, and hath lifted him up from his low estate, and hath exalted his head; and many have wondered at him, and have glorified God. * How good is God to Israel, to them that are of a right heart!
(Ecclesiasticus 11:13 and Psalm 72:1 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus, qui beatum Gabrielem dulcissimae Matris tuae dolores assidue recolere docuisti, ac per illam sanctitatis et miraculorum gloria sublimasti: da nobis, ejus intercessione et exemplo; ita Genitricis tuae consociari fletibus, ut materna ejusdem protectione salvemur.
O God, who didst teach blessed Gabriel diligently to ponder the sorrows of Thy most sweet Mother, and who hast exalted him to the glory of sanctity and the working of miracles; grant us, through his intercession and example, so to mourn with Thy Mother, that we may be saved through her maternal care.

From Wikipedia:

Sunday 26 February 2017

Quinquagesima Sunday

Quinquagesima Sunday

Station at St Peter's

In the same way that the first three prophecies of Holy Saturday, with their accompanying prayers, are concerned with Adam, Noah and Abraham, so during the Septuagesima season, our attention is called in Missal and Breviary to these same patriarchs, known respectively by the Church, as the father of the human race, the father of future generations and the father of those who believe.

Adam, Noah and Abraham were types of Christ in the paschal mystery, a fact which we have already shown to be true in the case of the first two, in our notes on Septuagesima and Sexagesima Sunday. That it is true of Abraham also, we shall see to-day.

In the Ambrosian Liturgy, Passion Sunday was called "Abraham's Sunday" and the "Response of Abraham" was read in the Office for that day; in the Roman Liturgy also, he is still the subject of the Gospel for Passion Sunday. "Abraham your father," says our Lord, "rejoiced that he might see my day, he saw it and was glad ... Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am." God had indeed promised Abraham that the Messias should descend from him, and he was overwhelmed with great joy, when by faith he contemplated beforehand the day of the Redeemer's coming. Again, when this was fulfilled, he still contemplated it with a fresh joy in Limbo, where he was waiting with the just men of the Old Law for Jesus to come and deliver them after His Passion. When the three weeks of the Septuagesima Season were added to Lent, Quinquagesima became the Sunday on which the liturgy is devoted to Abraham, so that in the lessons and responses for to-day the whole history of the Patriarch is described.

With the desire of forming a people who should be specially His own in the midst of the idolatrous nations of the world (Gradual and Tract), almighty God chose Abraham as its head and gave him his name which means Father of many nations. "And He took him from Ur in Chaldee, and kept him from harm in all his wanderings." By faith, St. Paul tells the Hebrews, Abraham, when the call came, "obeyed and went into a place which he was to receive for an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing whither he went." It was by faith, that he obtained the land of Canaan, where he lived more than twenty-five years as a stranger; that in his old age he became the father of Isaac and did not hesitate to offer him in sacrifice at God's command, although he was his only son in whom lay all his hope that the divine promises concerning a numerous posterity for himself would be fulfilled." Accounting that God is able to raise up even from the dead. Whereupon also he received him for a parable." Indeed, it was as a type of Christ that Isaac was chosen "to be the most glorious victim of his father," that he carried the bundle of wood on which he was about to be sacrificed, just as our Lord carried the Cross on which he merited glory by His Passion; that his place was taken by a ram caught by its horns in a thicket of brambles, just as, according to the Fathers, Jesus the Lamb of God had His sacred head entangled in the thorns of His Crown; and above all that, being miraculously delivered from death he was in some sense restored to life to proclaim that Christ having been put to death should rise again.

Thus, by his faith, Abraham, who without hesitation believed in what was to come to pass, contemplated from afar our Lord's triumph on the Cross and rejoiced in it. It was then that God confirmed the promises to him: "Because thou hast not spared the only-begotten son for my sake, I will bless thee, and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is by the sea shore." It was Christ who fulfilled these promises by His Passion. As St. Paul says: "Christ hath redeemed us ... (for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree), that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Christ Jesus"; that we may receive the promise of the Spirit by faith, that is the Spirit of adoption which has been promised to us. It is for this reason that in the prayer which follows the lesson about Abraham on Holy Saturday, almighty God is addressed as "the supreme Father of all the faithful, who all over the world multipliest the children of Thy promise by diffusing the grace of Thy adoption: and by this Paschal Sacrament makest Thy servant Abraham, according to Thy oath, the father of all nations".

In reality it is by baptism with water, which was formerly administered at Easter, and of the Holy Ghost suggesting Pentecost, that having been made children of Abraham we enter upon the inheritance promised to us, that is the Church, the Heavenly Jerusalem, of which the Holy Land was a type. The Church prays on Holy Saturday: "Grant that all the nations of the world may become the children of Abraham, and by holy adoption, multiply the sons of the promise." We can see from this why to-day's station is made at St. Peter's, since the prince of the apostles was chosen by Christ to be the Head of the Church in a still more excellent sense than Abraham, "the father of all them that believe."

Faith in Christ, dead and risen again, is the subject of the Gospel, that faith by which Abraham merited to become the Father of all nations and which enables us to become his children. We read how Christ foretold His Passion and His victory and how He restored the sight of a blind man, and told him: "Thy faith hath saved thee." On this St. Gregory comments: "This blind man recovered his sight under the very eyes of the apostles so that to have seen deeds wrought by the divine power might strengthen the faith of those who could not yet grasp the message that a heavenly mystery was revealed to the world. Indeed it was necessary, that when later they should see our Lord die in the very way foretold by Him, they should have no doubt at all that He must also rise from the dead."

In the epistle, in its turn, Abraham's faith is set forth in all its merit, and we are told what our own faith should be like. "So faith also," writes St. James, "if it hath not works, is dead in itself. Wilt thou know that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, offering up Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou, that faith did cooperate with his works; and by works faith was made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled, saying: Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him to justice, and he was called the friend of God. Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?"

A man is not saved by being a son of Abraham according to the flesh but by being Abraham's son by means of a faith like his. So St. Paul writes: "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision (to be a Jew) availeth anything, nor uncircumcision (to be a Gentile), but a new creature." "Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness ."

If the custom of allowing ourselves a little relaxation of spirit, before undertaking the Lenten penance which binds us all, is of liturgical origin, let us not forget that the Church condemns all excess. To atone therefore, for those sins, that are committed, let us make a solemn adpration of the Blessed Sacrament, beside saying this prayer of reconciliation known as the Forty Hours' prayer , which was instituted either by S. Anthony-Mary Zaccaria (+ 1539); or by the Capuchin Father Joseph a Ferno (about 1636), a prayer richly indulgenced by Pope Clement XIII (1765). [This devotion orginated from the 40 hours Jesus passed in the tomb. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament was included but at a later date, and regulated by Clement XI in 1705.]

Esto mihi in Deum protectorem, et in locum refugii, ut salvum me facias : quoniam firmamentum meum, et refugium meum es tu: et propter nomen tuum dux mihi eris, et enutries me. * In te, Domine, speravi, non confundar in aeternum : in justitia tua libera me, et eripe me.
Be Thou unto me a God, a protector, and a place of refuge, to save me : for Thou art my strength and my refuge : and for Thy Name's sake Thou wilt lead me, and nourish me. * In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be confounded : deliver me in Thy justice, and save me.
(Psalm 30:3-4,2 from the Introit)

Preces nostras, quaesumus, Domine, clementer exaudi: atque a peccatorum vinculis absolutos, ab omni nos adversitate custodi.
Do Thou, we beseech Thee, O Lord, mercifully hear our prayers, that we being loosed from the bonds of our sins, may by Thee be defended against all adversity.

A cunctis nos, quaesumus, Domine, mentis et corporis defende periculis: et intercedente beata et gloriosa semperque Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum 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 the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul, of Blessed N. 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.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.
At that time, Jesus took unto him the twelve, and said to them: Behold we go up to Jerusalem. and all things shall be accomplished which were written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man. For he shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and scourged, and spit upon and after they have scourged him, they will put him to death, and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things. And this word was hid from them, and they understood not the things that were said. Now it came to pass, that when he drew nigh to Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way-side, begging. And when he heard the multitude passing by, he asked what this meant. And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. And they that went before, rebuked him, that he should hold his peace. But he cried out much more: Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus standing, commanded him to be brought unto him. And when he was come near, he asked him, saying: What wilt thou that I do to thee? But he said: Lord, that I may see. And Jesus said to him: Receive thy sight; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he saw, and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people when they saw it, gave praise to God.
(St Luke chapter 18:31-43)

Friday 24 February 2017

24th February, St Matthias, Apostle

St Matthias, Apostle

St. Peter, in the Acts of the Apostles (Epistle), says that the prophet had Judas in view when he declares "that his episcopate would pass into other hands." It is the Lord Himself who showed the one He had chosen to be associated with the eleven apostles (Epistle).

It is to St. Matthias that He confided the secrets made known to Him in the bosom of His Father (Gospel). Wherefore this holy apostle shares the glory " of the princes whom God has established over souls" (Offertory) and " He shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel " (Communion). Since their infidelity, indeed, "their house has become deserted " (Epistle) and the kingdom of heaven is transferred to the Gentiles who do penance. His name figures in the Canon of the Mass (second list).

Let us ask "God, who has included blessed Matthias in the college of the apostles, to grant us through his intercession" (Collect) that we may "atone for our sins" (Secret), so as to obtain "peace and pardon" (Postcommunion).

Mihi autem nimis honorati sunt amici tui, Deus: nimis confortatus est principatus eorum. * Domine, probasti me, et cognovisti me: tu cognovisti sessionem meam, et resurrectionem meam.
To me Thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honourable: their principality is exceedingly strengthened. * Lord, Thou hast proved me, and known me; Thou hast known my sitting down and my rising up.
(Psalm 138:17,1-2 from the Introit of Mass).

Deus, qui beatum Matthiam Apostolorum tuorum collegio sociasti: tribue, quaesumus; ut ejus interventione, tuae circa nos pietatis semper viscera sentiamus.
O God, who didst associate blessed Matthias to the company of Thine apostles, grant, we beseech Thee, that by his intercession, we may ever experience Thy tender mercy towards us.

Lesson from the Acts of the Apostles.
In those days, Peter rising up in the midst of the brethren said (now the number of persons together was about hundred and twenty): Men and brethren, the Scripture must needs be fulfilled which the Holy Ghost spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was the leader of them that apprehended Jesus; who was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. And he indeed hath possessed a field of the reward of iniquity; and, being hanged, burst asunder in the midst; and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the same field was called in their tongue Haceldama, that is to say, the field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms: Let their habitation become desolate, and let there be none to dwell therein: and his bishopric let another take. Wherefore of these men who have companied with us, all the time that the Lord Jesus came in and went out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day wherein He was taken up from us, one of these must be made a witness with us of His resurrection. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And praying they said : Thou Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two Thou hast chosen, to take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas hath by transgression fallen, that he might go to his own place. And they gave them lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
(Acts of the Apostles 1:15-26)

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

Thursday 23 February 2017

23rd February, St Peter Damian, Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor

St Peter Damian, Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor

St. Peter Damian showed remarkable piety from his childhood. Having, by chance, picked up a coin, he gave it to a priest requesting him to offer up the divine sacrifice for the soul of his father. He added to his name that of Damian his brother out of gratitude, because it was by his brother's generosity that he was able to pursue his studies. "Despising earthly riches" (Collect), he entered a monastery of Camaldolese of the Benedictine observance and soon became its abbot (Communion).

"As a light of souls, he was to be placed on the candlestick" (Gospel), and became bishop of Ostia and cardinal. He rendered immense services to the Sovereign Pontiffs by his learning, his commissions as legate and many other works. Taking his share in the apostolic life of Jesus, he combated the heresy of the Simonists and died at Faenza in 1072. Leo XII gave him the title of Doctor of the Church.

Let us imitate in his ardour for penance, St. Peter Damian, who contributed so much by his example and counsel, to spread the penitential practice of the discipline as an atonement for sin.

In medio Ecclesiae aperuit os ejus: et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiae et intellectus: stolam gloriae induit eum. * Bonum est confiteri Domino: et psallere nomini tuo, Altissime.
In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth: and He filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding: He clothed him with a robe of glory. * It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy name, O most High.
(Ecclesiasticus 15:5 and Psalm 91:2 from the Introit of Mass)

Concede nos, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: beati Petri, Confessoris tui atque Pontificis monita et exempla sectari; ut per terrestrium rerum contemptum aeterna gaudia consequamur.
Grant us, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, to follow the admonitions and examples of blessed Peter, Thy confessor and bishop; that by despising earthly things we may obtain eternal joys.

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

23rd February, Vigil of St Matthias

Vigil of St Matthias

The Church attaches great importance to the feasts of the Apostles, which are preceded by a Vigil (Collect).

St. Matthias, elected by the will of God (Gospel), received Judas' share in the inheritance of the Church which was figured by the Promised Land divided into twelve tribes (Epistle). Called "to give his life" (Gospel), like Jesus, to crown his apostolic career, he suffered martyrdom and was "clothed by God in resplendent glory" (Communion).

Let us ask God to prepare us to celebrate piously the feast of His apostle, St. Matthias.

Ego autem sicut oliva fructifera in domo Domini, speravi in misericordia Dei mei: et exspectabo nomen tuum, quoniam bonum est ante conspectum sanctorum tuorum. * Quid gloriaris in malitia: qui potens es in iniquitate?
But I, as a fruitful olive-tree in the house of the Lord, have hoped in the mercy of my God: and I will wait on Thy name, for it is good in the sight of Thy saints. * Why dost thou glory in malice, thou that art mighty in iniquity?
(Psalm 51:10-11,3 from the Introit of Mass)

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the solemn feast of Thine apostle Matthias, which we anticipate, may both increase our devotion and advance our salvation.

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

Wednesday 22 February 2017

22nd February, The Chair of St Peter at Antioch

The Chair of St Peter at Antioch

To honour the dignity of the "prince" (Introit) to whom Jesus has committed the power of the keys (Collect), the Church instituted the feast of the "Chair of St Peter," which is found in the Roman calendar at this date since the year 354.

As it often falls in Lent, certain churches celebrated it at an earlier date, in January. Hence the two feasts of the Chair of St Peter, which the Church distinguished by connecting the more ancient one [Rome, until the sixteenth century, only celebrated this date], on February 22nd, with the Chair at Antioch, and the one on January 18th with the Chair of Peter at Rome. St Peter indeed resided for some time at Antioch about the years 51-52.

It is to St Peter, who proclaimed that Jesus was was "the Christ, Son of the living God" (Gospel) when all Palestine rejected Him that the Master commits the power to bind Satan by closing the gates of hell, to open for us the gates of heaven (Gospel). And the Head of the Church teaches us in his first Epistle that it is "by faith in the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ that the Holy Ghost sanctifies us and reconciles us to the Father."

The commemoration of St. Paul immediately follows the Collect of the feast, for the liturgy does not separate those who have so justly been called the two pillars of the Church.

Let us to-day honour the Head of the Church who continues here below the redeeming work of Jesus.

Statuit ei Dominus testamentum pacis, et principem fecit eum: ut sit illi sacerdotii dignitas in aeternum. * Memento Domine David et omnis mansuetudinis ejus.
The Lord made to him a covenant of peace, and made him a prince; that the dignity of the priesthood should be to him for ever. * O Lord, remember David: and all his meekness.
(Ecclus. 45:30 and Psalm 131:1. From the Introit at Mass).

Deus, qui beato Petro Apóstolo tuo, collátis clavibus regni coeléstis, ligandi atque solvéndi pontifícium tradidísti: concéde; ut, intercessiónis ejus auxilio, a peccatorum nostrórum néxibus liberémur.
O God, Who, committing to blessed Peter, Thine apostle, the keys of the heavenly kingdom, didst bestow on him the pontifical function of binding and loosing, grant that, by the help of his intercession, we may be delivered from the bonds of our sins.

Deus, qui multitúdinem géntium beati Pauli Apóstoli praedicatióne docuisti: da nobis, quaesumus: ut cujus commemoratiónem colimus, ejus apud te patrocínia sentiámus.
O God, Who by the preaching of the blessed apostle Paul didst teach the multitude of the gentiles, grant us, we pray Thee, that, honoring his commemoration, we may experience the benefit of his patronal influence with Thee.
(Commemoration of St Paul)

The continuation of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
At that time, Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi, and He asked His disciples, Saying, "Whom do men say that the Son of man is?" But they said, Some, John the Baptist, and other some, Elias, and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Jesus saith to them,"But whom do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him,"Blessed art thou, Simon Bar Jona, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father Who is in Heaven: and I say to thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and to thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in Heaven."
(St Matthew 16:13-19)

Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclésiam Meam: et portae ínferi non praevalébunt advérsus eam: et tibi dabo claves regni coelórum.
Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.
(St Matthew 16:18-19)

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia on the Chair of St Peter:

Sunday 19 February 2017

Sexagesima Sunday

Sexagesima Sunday

Station at St Paul-without-the-Walls

As on last Sunday and on those which follow until Passion Sunday the Church teaches us "to celebrate the Paschal Sacrament" by "the scriptures of both Testaments " (Prayer of Holy Saturday after 7th Prophecy).

Through the whole of this week the divine office is full of the thought of Noah. God seeing that man's wickedness was great upon the earth said, "I will destroy man whom I have created"; and He told Noah, "I will establish my convenant with thee and thou shalt enter into the ark."

For forty days and forty nights rain fell on the earth, while the ark floated on the waters which rose above the mountain tops and covered them; and in this whirlpool all men were carried away "like stubble" (Gradual); only Noah and his companions in the ark remaining alive. Then God remembered them and at length the rain ceased. After some time, Noah opened the window of the ark and set free a dove, which returned with a fresh olive leaf and Noah understood that the waters no longer covered the earth. And God told him, "Go out of the ark, thou and thy wife, thy sons and the wives of thy sons with thee" (Communion). And the rainbow appeared as a sign of reconciliation between God and men.

That his story is related to the Paschal mystery is shown by the fact that the Church reads it on Holy Saturday; and this is how she herself applies it, in the Liturgy, to our Lord and His Church. "The just wrath of the Creator drowned the guilty world in the vengeful waters of the flood, only Noah being saved in the ark. But then the admirable power of love laved the world in blood ". It was the wood of the ark which saved the human race and it is that of the Cross which in its turn, saves the world. "Thou alone," says the Church, speaking of the Cross, "hast been found worthy to be, for this shipwrecked world, the ark which brings safely into port." The open door in the side of the ark by which those enter who are to escape from the Flood, and who represent the Church, are as is explained in the liturgy, a type of the mystery of redemption; for on the Cross, our Lord had His sacred side open and from this gate of life, went forth the sacraments, giving true life to souls. Indeed the blood and water which flow from thence are symbols of the Eucharist and of Holy Baptism."

"O God, who by water didst wash away the crimes of the guilty world, and by the overflowing of the deluge didst give a figure of regeneration, that one and the same element might in a mystery be the end of vice and the origin of virtue: look, O Lord, on the face of Thy Church and multiply in her Thy regenerations, opening the fonts of baptism all over the world for the renovation of the Gentiles. "In the days of Noah," says St. Peter, "eight souls were saved by water, whereunto Baptism being of the like form, now saveth you also ."

On Maundy Thursday, when the Bishop blesses the holy oil from the olive-tree which is to be used for the sacraments, he says: "When of old the crimes of the world were atoned for by the waters of the Flood, a dove foreshadowing the gift to come, announced by an olive-branch the return of peace to the earth. And this indeed is made clear by its effects in latter times: when the waters of baptism having washed away all guilt of sin, the unction of the oil makes us joyous and serene." The Blood of Christ is the blood of the New Covenant, which almighty God has made with man, through His Son. "Thou," cries the Church, "who by an olive-branch didst command the dove to proclaim peace to the world." Peace is often mentioned in the Mass which is the memorial of the Passion, "Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum." And we shall find the collect for Easter Friday, speaking of the Paschal Sacrament, as the seal of reconciliation between God and men.

Above all, however, in his divinely appointed mission as father of all succeeding generations Noah is a figure of Christ; he was truly the second father of the human race and he remains the type of life continually renewed. We are told in the liturgy that the olive-branch by means of its foliage is a symbol of the prosperous fertility bestowed by almighty God upon Noah when he came forth from the ark, and the ark itself is called by St. Ambrose in to-day's office, the "seminarium," or nursery, that is, the place containing the seed of life which is to fill the world.

Now, Christ, much more than Noah, was the second Adam, peopling the world with a race of believing souls, faithful to God. On Holy Saturday, in the prayer following the second prophecy which is concerned with Noah, the Church humbly asks almighty God to "peacefully effect," by His eternal decree, "the work of human salvation," and to "let the whole world experience and see that what was fallen is raised up, what was old is made new," and that "all things are re-established, through Him from whom they received their first being, our Lord Jesus Christ." It was through the Word that God made the world in the beginning (last Gospel), and it is by the preaching of His Gospel that our Lord came to bring men to a new birth. "Being born again," says St. Peter, "not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, by the word of God who liveth and reigneth for ever ... And this is the word which by the gospel hath been preached unto you."

From this we can see why to-day's Gospel is taken from the parable of the Sower, for "the seed is the word of God". If in Noah's days men perished, St. Paul tells us, it was because of their unbelief, while at the same time it was by faith that Noah "framed the ark ... by the which he condemned the world, and was instituted heir of the justice which is by faith."

In the same way, those who believe in our Lord's words will be saved.

According to St. Augustine's exposition, "as there were three floors in the ark, so there are three different spiritual harvests". In to-day's Epistle, St. Paul recounts all that he did and suffered in the course of preaching the faith to the Gentiles and indeed he, the Apostle to the Gentiles, was the outstanding preacher of the world. He is the "minister of Christ," that is, the one whom God had chosen to unfold to all nations the good news of the Incarnate Word. "Who will grant me," cries St. John Chrysostom, "to walk around St. Paul's body, to embrace his tomb, to behold the dust of that body which filled up what was lacking in Christ's sufferings, which bore the marks of his wounds, which everywhere spread abroad, like good seed, the preaching of the Gospel?" The Roman Church has fulfilled this desire, in the case of her own children, by making a station on this day to the basilica of St. Paul-without-the-walls. "Through the Church's neophytes," we read in the liturgy, "the earth is renewed, and thus renewed, she brings forth fruit as it were from the dead."

Exsurge, quare obdormis, Domine? Exsurge, et ne repellas in finem; quare faciem tuam avertis, oblivisceris tribulationem nostram? Adhaesit in terra venter noster: exsurge, Domine, adjuva nos, et libera nos. * Deus, auribus nostris audivimus: patres nostri annuntiaverunt nobis.
Arise, why sleepest thou, O Lord? Arise, and cast us not off to the end. Why turnest thou thy face away? and forgettest our tribulation? Our belly cleaveth to the earth. Arise, O Lord, help us, and deliver us. * We have heard, O God, with our ears: our fathers have declared to us thy wonders.
(Psalm 43:23-26,2 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus, qui conspicis quia ex nulla nostra actione confidimus: concede propitius, ut contra adversa omnia, Doctoris gentium protectione, muniamur.
O God, who seest that we place no confidence in anything we do: mercifully grant that, by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles, we may be defended against all adversity.

A cunctis nos, quaesumus, Domine, mentis et corporis defende periculis: et intercedente beata et gloriosa semperque Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum 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 the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul, of Blessed N. 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.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.
At that time, when a very great multitude was gathered together, and hastened out of the cities to meet Jesus, he spoke by a similitude. A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell by the way-side, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And other some fell upon a rock and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other some fell among thorns; and the thorns growing up with it, choked it. And other some fell upon good ground, and sprung up, and yielded fruit a hundred-fold. Saying these things he cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him what this parable might be. To whom he said: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to the rest in parables: that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And, they by the wayside, are they that hear; then the devil cometh, and taketh the word out of their hearts, lest believing they should be saved. Now they upon the rock, are they who when they hear, receive the word with joy: and these have no roots; for they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns, are they who have heard, and going their way, are choked with the cares and the riches and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit. But that on the good ground, are they who, in a good and perfect heart hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience.
(St Luke chapter 8)

Saturday 18 February 2017

18th February, St Bernardette Soubirous, Virgin

St Mary Bernard (Bernardette) Soubirous, Virgin

Bernadette Soubirous was born at Lourdes in 1844. Our Lady appeared eighteen times to her in the Grotto of Massabielle, in the beginning of the year 1858 (see February 11, feast of the Apparitions of the B.V.M. at Lourdes) (Collect). On March 25, the Blessed Virgin said to her: "I am the Immaculate Conception" thereby confirming the dogma officially proclaimed by Pius IX in 1854.

Leaving everything to purchase at such a price the kingdom of heaven (Gospel), she entered the convent of the Sisters of Charity at Nevers in 1868. Here she was given the name of Sister Mary Bernard, and died on April 16, 1879, after a hidden life of prayer and penance (Secret). She was canonized by Pope Pius XI on December 8, 1933; in 1936 her feast was ordered to be celebrated by the universal Church eight days after the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

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)

Humilium, Deus, protector et amator, qui famulam tuam Mariam Bernardam Immaculatae Virginis Mariae apparitione et alloquiore creasti: praesta, quaesumus, ut, per simplices fidei semitas, ad tuam in caelis visionem pervenire mereamur.
O God, protector and lover of the humble, who hast bestowed upon thy handmaid Mary Bernard the favour of beholding the Immaculate Virgin Mary and of conversing with her; grant, we beseech Thee, that walking through the simple paths of faith, we may in the end behold Thee in heaven.

The Catholic Encyclopaedia on Lourdes:

18th February, St Simeon, Bishop and Martyr

St Simeon, Bishop and Martyr

St Simeon, son of Cleophas and of Mary, was so closely related to the Blessed Virgin as to be called her sister, "was anointed with holy oil" (Gradual) and became bishop of Jerusalem after St James the Less.

A disciple of Christ, whom he had known, he was for this reason arrested and crucified (Gospel). Although he was 120 years of age, the venerable old man "suffered this cruel punishment with constancy and received the crown of life which God prepares for those who love Him" (Epistle|). His martyrdom took place in 106.

Like St Simeon, let us unite ourselves to Jesus by dying to sin at this holy season of penance.

Statuit ei Dominus testamentum pacis, et principem fecit eum: ut sit illi sacerdotii dignitas in aeternum. * Memento, Domine, David, et omnis mansuetudinis ejus.
The Lord made to him a covenant of peace, and made him a prince: that the dignity of the priesthood should be to him for ever. * O Lord, remember David: and all his meekness.
(Ecclesiasticus 45:30 and Psalm 131:1 from the Introit of Mass)

Be mindful of our weakness, O almighty God, and since the burden of our deeds is grievous to us, grant that the glorious intercession of blessed Simeon Thy martyr and bishop may protect us.

Wikipedia on St Simeon of Jerusalem:

Friday 17 February 2017

17th February, The Flight of Our Lord Jesus Christ into Egypt

The Flight of Our Lord Jesus Christ into Egypt
(Pro aliquibus locis)

Angelus Dómini appáruit in somnis Joseph, dicens: Surge et áccipe Púerum et Matrem ejus, et fuge in Aegýptum. *  Ecce, elongávi fúgiens: et mansi in solitúdine.
The angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph, saying: Arise and take the boy and His mother, and fly into Egypt. * Behold, I have gone far off flying away; and I abode in the wilderness.
(St Matthew 2:13 and Psalm 54:8 from the Introit of Mass)

Protéctor in te sperántium, Deus, qui Unigénitum tuum, Redemptórem nostrum, ex Heródis gladio fuga in Aegýptum erípere voluísti: concéde nobis fámulis tuis, beatíssima semper Vírgine, ejus Matre María, intercedénte; ut, ab ómnibus mentis et córporis perículis liberáti, ad coeléstem pátriam perveníre mereámur.
O God, the protector of those who hope in Thee, who willed Thine only Son, our Redeemer, to escape the sword of Herod by flight into Egypt; grant unto us Thy servants that, by the intercession of the ever most blessed Virgin, Thy mother Mary, we may be freed from all dangers of mind and body, and be made worth to arrive at our heavenly homeland.

The Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
And after they were departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him. Who arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod: That it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called my son.
(St Matthew 2:13-15.)

From Wikipedia:

Wednesday 15 February 2017

15th February, SS Faustinus and Jovita, Martyrs

SS Faustinus and Jovita, Martyrs

St. Faustinus and St. Jovita, both born at Brescia, were brothers and of noble origin. During the persecution, "they stood the assault of sufferings, disgrace and tribulations" (Epistle) in several towns of Italy.

"They were tortured to death " (Gospel) at Brescia, at the beginning of Hadrian's reign in 117.

"Following the example of the holy Martyrs Faustinus and Jovita, let us apply ourselves with ardour to penance so that we may enjoy the fruits of the redemption."

Salus autem justorum a Domino: et protector eorum est in tempore tribulationis. * Noli aemulari in malignantibus: neque zelaveris facientes iniquitatem.
But the salvation of the just if from the Lord: and He is their protector in the time of trouble. * Be not emulous of evildoers; nor envy them that work iniquity.
(Psalm 36:39,1 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus, qui nos ánnua sanctórum Mártyrum tuórum Faustíni et Jovítae sollemnitáte laetíficas: concéde propítius; ut, quorum gaudémus méritis, accendámur exémplis.
O God, who year by year dost gladden us by the solemnity of Thy holy martyrs Faustinus and Jovita, mercifully grant that we, who rejoice in their merits, may be inspired by their examples.

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

Tuesday 14 February 2017

"Valentine to a Little Girl" by Blessed JH Newman

Valentine to a Little Girl

by John Henry Newman.
From 'Verses on Various Occasions,' no. 163.

Little maiden, dost thou pine
For a faithful Valentine?
Art thou scanning timidly
Every face that meets thine eye?
Art thou fancying there may be
Fairer face than thou dost see?
Little maiden, scholar mine,
Wouldst thou have a Valentine?

Go and ask, my little child,
Ask the Mother undefiled:
Ask, for she will draw thee near,
And will whisper in thine ear:—
"Valentine! the name is good;
    For it comes of lineage high,
    And a famous family:
And it tells of gentle blood,
Noble blood,—and nobler still,
    For its owner freely pour'd
Every drop there was to spill
    In the quarrel of his Lord.
Valentine! I know the name,
Many martyrs bear the same;
And they stand in glittering ring
Round their warrior God and King, —
    Who before and for them bled,—
    With their robes of ruby red,
And their swords of cherub flame."

Yes! there is a plenty there,
Knights without reproach or fear,—
Such St. Denys, such St. George,
    Martin, Maurice, Theodore,
    And a hundred thousand more;
    Guerdon gain'd and warfare o'er,
By that sea without a surge,
And beneath the eternal sky,
    And the beatific Sun,
        In Jerusalem above,
    Valentine is every one;
Choose from out that company
    Whom to serve, and whom to love.

The Oratory
. 1850.

14th February, St Valentine, Priest and Martyr

St Valentine, Priest and Martyr

St. Valentine was a holy priest of Rome who was martyred under the Emperor Aurelian in 270. He co-operated in the Saviour's Redemption "by bearing the cross after Him" (Gospel). "Having made the sacrifice of his life for Him, he finds it again" (Ibid.), for, "victorious in his terrible fight" (Epistle), God "crowns him in heaven with glory and honour" (Offertory).

Sharing in a spirit of penitence the redeeming sufferings of the Saviour, let us ask Him "through the intercession of St. Valentine, to be delivered from all the ills that threaten us" (Collect).

In virtute tua, Domine laetabitur justus: et super salutare tuum exsultabit vehementer: desiderium animae ejus tribuisti ei. * Quoniam praevenisti eum in bendictionibus dulcedinis: posuisti in capite ejus coronam de lapide pretioso.
In Thy strength, O Lord, the just man shall joy and in Thy salvation he shall rejoice exceedingly: Thou hast given him his heart's desire. For Thou hast prevented him with blessing of sweetness: Thou hast set on his head a crown of precious stones.
(Psalm 20:2-3,4 from the Introit of Mass)

Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui beati Valentini Martyris tui natalitia colimus, a cunctis malis imminentibus, ejus intercessione, liberemur.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that we who keep the festival of Thy holy martyr Valentine, may be delivered by his intercession from all dangers that threaten us.
From the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

Sunday 12 February 2017

12th February, The Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order, Confessors

The Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order, Confessors

To-day the liturgy honours seven noble Florentines who "in 1223 enriched the Church with a new religious family " (Collect). They received by a providential circumstance, from the mouth of little children (Introit) the name of "Servants of Mary." Illustrious by their birth, these founders became still more so by the salutary influence of their Order (Communion) in France, Germany and Poland. "Their race endures for ever and their glory shall never be dimmed " (Epistle), for they survive in their disciples. Leaving everything, they retire to Monte Senario, near Florence, atone by their austerities for the sins of guilty men and, clothed in a mourning habit shown to them by the Virgin, they constantly meditate on the Passion of Jesus and the dolours of Mary at the foot of the Cross (Collect, Postcommunion).

"Burning with love for the sorrowful Mother of Jesus" (Secret) "let us join in the tears" (Collect) of the Saints whom we honour to-day, in order that "deserving to enjoy the fruits of Christ's Redemption" (Postcommunion) "we may also have a share in their joys" (Collect).

Justi decantaverunt, Domine, nomen sanctum tuum, et victricem manum tuam laudaverunt pariter:quoniam sapientia aperuit os mutum, et linguas infantium fecit disertas. * Domine Dominus noster, quam admirabile est nomen tuum in universa terra!
The just sang to Thy holy name, O Lord, they praised with one accord Thy victorious hand. For wisdom opened the mouth of the dumb, and made the tongues of infants eloquent. * O Lord our Lord, how admirable is Thy name in the whole earth.
(Wisdom 10:20-21 and Psalm 8:2 from the Introit of Mass)

Domine Jesu Christe, qui, ad recolendam memoriam dolorum sanctissimae Genitricis tuae, per septem beatos Patres nova Servorum ejus familia Ecclesiam tuam foecundasti: concede propitius; ita nos eorum consociari fletibus, ut perfruamur et gaudiis.
O Lord Jesus Christ who, in order to renew the memory of the sorrows of Thy most holy Mother, hast through the seven blessed fathers enriched Thy Church with the new Order of Servites; mercifully grant that we may be so united in their sorrows as to share in their joys.

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

The Season of Septuagesima - Historical Note

Historical note from the St Andrew's Daily Missal

The liturgy follows our Lord step by step in His earthly life.

However, just as in the Christmas season, when we read in the Missal of the slaughter of the Innocents, of the flight into Egypt and even of the return from that country before being reminded of the adoration of the Magi, so we need not look for the maintenance of a strictly historical order in the sequence of the events which are brought before us in the season of Septuagesima and in Lent. Thus we find the Temptation in the desert is put on the first Sunday in Lent, and our Lord's baptism on the octave day of Epiphany, January 13; that the parable of the Sower, which belongs to the second of the three years ministry, comes after that of the Labourers in the vineyard, which was spoken by our Lord in the third year, and so on. It is for us, who are acquainted with the life of Christ in the order in which it is usually reconstructed, to place in their right setting each of the scenes which the Gospels retrace for us.

Thus the Gospel for Sexagesima Sunday belongs to the second year of our Lord's ministry. It is the parable of the Sower, spoken at Capharnaum by the side of the Lake of Genesareth and no doubt suggested by the verdant appearance of the neighbouring hills. On the other hand the Gospel for Septuagesima proposes for our meditation, the parable of the Labourers in the vineyard spoken by our Lord in Perea, in the third year. The Passover, when the Redeemer is to be offered up is nigh at hand, and He makes known to His apostles that all is soon to be fulfilled that was foretold by the prophets about His Passion. After this, He crosses the Jordan on His way to Jerusalem, and at Jericho cures the blind man as related in the Gospel for Quinquagesima Sunday.

If, in the Missal, the Church does not follow the historical order of our Lord's life, none the less she passes from the mysteries of His Childhood to those of His public life and His passion, and then on the mysteries of His glory; it is for us to enter into her mind in this respect, if we wish to live as one with her in heart and soul during the year. Certainly we must never lose sight of the fact that the cycle has only been formed slowly from elements belonging to widely different liturgies and periods, elements which only later have been brought into direct connection with each other. Lent, for example, existed before the institution of the Septuagesima season, and it was only by an atferthought that four days were added to it, that we might have a forty days' fast like that of our Lord in the wilderness. But it cannot be denied that the cycle as we have it to-day, the seasons of penance and special effort which are represented by Septuagesima and Lent, corresponds to that stage of our Lord's public life begun by His retreat into the desert, followed by His baptism, and ended tragically by His Passion which the Church commemorates during the season called Passiontide.

This idea of uniting our hearts with our Lord in His life of toil and missionary effort comes out very clearly in numerous passages both in the Mass and the divine office for this season. Indeed, we may ask ourselves, is not the best way of preparing to celebrate the glorious happenings of Paschaltide, that of uniting ourselves with Christ in the sorrowful events which began with His sacred ministry? For it is from this moment that our Lord's enemies begin to declare themselves, and we see their hatred grow ever more and more until it reaches its full satisfaction on Good Friday in the murder of God.

We see more clearly now the reason for that rejection of Israel and election of the Gentiles to which constant allusion is made in the liturgy for Septuagesima and Lent. Formerly indeed, it was at Easter that pagan converts were baptized, and the liturgical seasons which preceded that feast were intended to prepare them for baptism and show them how they would occupy the place of the unfaithful people in the kingdom of God, because they had accepted the Messias whom Israel rejected. This part of the cycle closely unites the Church to her divine Spouse in that part of His life in which He wrought our salvation, which means that we make our own, all the dispositions of our Lord as divine lover of souls and our Redeemer, and that we co-operate in His redemptive work by doing penance, by listening to the word of God and by driving from our hearts the devil whose kingdom Christ came to destroy.

It is appropriate therefore, that the battles and toils of Christ and His Church are depicted in this part of the liturgical cycle. Christ and His Spouse have only fulfilled what almighty God had promised to the patriarchs and announced by the prophets, and what had already been partly fulfilled by God's people under the Old Law. Thus the liturgy supplies a grand unity to the whole divine plan by annihilating the distances of time and space, by making all generations contemporaneous with each other, in Him whose life it retraces year by year.

The Season of Septuagesima - Doctrinal Note

Doctrinal Note from the St Andrew's Daily Missal

After the fervent welcome given to our Lord by reason of "the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus" the Church suddenly confronts us with the gloomy depths of the fall of man. As in the Christmas cycle, she takes up once more the study of the Old Testament to show us all the great figures who heralded the redemptive work of Christ and whose history, symbolical of our Lord's, is well calculated to prepare us for the great feast of Easter when we shall celebrate His triumph. "Search the scriptures," said our Lord, "the same are they which give testimony of Me."

Lex gravida Christo, - the Old Law is quite full of the thought of the Messias for in everything connected with God's people our Lord was foretold and proclaimed. The Old Testament is like a gospel anticipated, lighting up with peculiar brilliance our Redeemer's life. The Church loves to set up a constant parallel in her liturgy between the first and last pages of the Bible. This parallelism is followed up through the whole of Septuagesima and Lent and we shall find it once more, and very clearly, in the Time after Pentecost.

In this Missal will be shown how the masses of this season have been composed in relation to the lessons from the Old Testament which occur in the Breviary on the same days. The table which follows, and which will be explained in greater detail on the Sundays to which it refers, shows the order of the lessons from the divine office in the seasons of Septuagesima and Lent, and in what way the masses of these seasons should be studied in order to understand fully their meaning.

of Masses
SeptuagesimaHistory of AdamChrist the New Adam
SexagesimaHistory of NoeChrist the true Noe
QuinquagesimaHistory of AbrahamChrist the true Abraham
First Sunday of Lent(The thought of Isaac is
superseded by that of of Lent)
Christ in the desert
Second Sunday of LentHistory of JacobChrist the true Jacob
Third Sunday of LentHistory of Joseph Christ the true Joseph
Sunday of Lent
History of MosesChrist the true Moses

Christ repairs the losses caused by Adam; to the Church He is a true Noe, since He is the founder of a new people; more than Abraham is He the Head of the people whom God has chosen to be His people; in a better sense than Jacob is He the favourite and blessed one of God; more than Joseph does He return good for evil, and more effectively than Moses does He free His people from the bondage of sin and nourish them with the true bread come down from Heaven.

To blend in this way the history of God's people, of our Lord and of the Church, is to enter into the attitude of mind which directed the composition of the Roman Missal and which had for its object, to enable the Church to share in the Paschal mystery which Israel foretold and Christ fulfilled.

During this season of Septuagesima, the Church lingers especially over the first three figures which we have named in the above table. There we see the fall of Adam resulting in original sin and its baneful consequences (Septuagesima); the malice of men, actual sin and the Flood which was its punishment (Sexagesima); and finally the sacrifices of Abraham and Melchisedech (Quinquagesima), which foreshadowed the sacrifice which God required from His own Son as a satisfaction for the sins of the whole human race.

This assertion of the dogma of original sin and the portrayal of its lamentable results, make His glorious title of Saviour stand out more clearly in our blessed Lord. [It was at Sichem where Abraham set up his first altar of Jehovah, that our Lord when in conversation with the Samaritan woman, for the first time proclaimed Himself the Saviour of men. Also it was Jerusalem, where Melchizedech was king, that He chose to be capital of His Kingdom. There we shall see Him set up His glorious throne of the Cross.]

The Gospel of the Labourers in the vineyard and that of the Sower, remind us that redemption extends to all men, Jew and Gentile alike, while the cure of the blind man at Jericho following the announcement of the Passion, shows us the salutary effects produced in us by the cross of Christ. The Epistles of St. Paul come in their turn during these three Sundays, to remind us that at this season, the Church must complete the Redeemer's work by entering with courage upon the purifying discipline of penance.

The Season of Septuagesima - Liturgical Note

Liturgical Note from the St Andrew's Daily Missal

The Septuagesima season always begins with the ninth week before Easter and includes three Sundays called respectively Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima. These names which were borrowed from the numeral system of the time, denote a series of decades working back from the commencement of Lent, which is known in Latin as Quadragesima. [As the intervals between these Sundays only consist of seven days it is evident that this name must not be taken in a strictly arithmetical sense; but whereas Quadragesima comes exactly at the closing day of the 4th decade before Easter, Quinquagesima (47 days) falls within the 5th decade, Sexagesima (54 days) within the 6th, Septuagesima '61 days) within the 7th.]

Easter is a movable feast and can be kept, according to the year in which it occurs, between March 22 and April 25. When it falls early the Septuagesima season encroaches on the Time after Epiphany, some Sundays of which are then kept between the twenty-third and the last Sunday after Pentecost. This table shows the two extreme cases:

This liturgical period is a prelude to Lent and a remote preparation for Easter. It serves as a time of transition for the soul, which must pass from Christmas joys to the stern penance of the sacred forty days. Even if the fast is not yet of obligation, the colour of the vestments worn is already violet. As during Advent, the recital of the Gloria in excelsis is suspended, since this hymn which celebrated Christ's birth in our mortal flesh, is reserved to extol Him when born in His undying Body, i.e. when He rises from the tomb. "Born once of the Virgin, thou art now reborn from the sepulchre," will then be the cry of the Church. Again the Martyrology introduces Septuagesima Sunday as that on which "we lay aside the song of the Lord which is Alleluia." "How," said the people of Israel, "shall we sing the song of the Lord in a strange land?"

This "strange land" is for the people of Christ, the world, which is a place of exile, while Alleluia, the chant St. John heard in heaven, will begin again in the liturgy at Paschaltide, which represents the future life. In the Easter festivities we shall hail our Lord, the conqueror of Satan, who while freeing us from the bondage of sin, will re-open to us the heavenly kingdom. The season of Lent which lasts for forty days (Quadragesima) and that of Septuagesima which is made up of the following periods of ten days (Quinquagesima, Sexagesima and Septuagesima) may well be taken as representing the seventy years passed by Israel in exile under the harsh captivity of the Babylonians. The chant of Alleluia is silent during this period in which the spirit and very name remind us so strongly, that we are "poor banished children ... mourning and weeping in this vale of tears" (Salve Regina).

The Season of Septuagesima ends in the Temporal Cycle on Ash Wednesday. In the Sanctoral Cycle its extreme limit is March 10, that is, when Easter falls on April 25.

Septuagesima Sunday

Septuagesima Sunday

Station at St Laurence-without-the-walls

In order to understand fully the meaning of the text of to-day's Mass we must study it in connection with the lessons of the Breviary, since in the Church's mind, the Mass and the Divine Office form one whole. The lessons and responses in the night office are taken this week from the book of Genesis. In them is related the story of the creation of the world and of man, of our first parents' fall and the promise of a Redeemer, followed by the murder of Abel and a record of the generations from Adam to Noah.

"In the beginning," we read, "God created heaven and earth and upon the earth He made man ... and He placed Him in a garden of paradise to be mindful of it and tend it " (Third and fourth responsory at Matins).

All this is a figure. Here is St. Gregory's exposition. "The kingdom of heaven is compared to the proprietor who hires labourers to work in his vineyard. Who can be more justly represented as head of a household than our Creator who governs all creatures by His Providence and who, just as a master has servants in his house, has his elect in this world from the just Abel to the last of His chosen, destined to be born at the very end of time? The vineyard which He owns is His Church, while the labourers in this vineyard are all those who with a true faith have set themselves, and urged others, to the task of doing good. By those who came at the first, as well as at the third, sixth and ninth hours, are meant the ancient people of the Hebrews, who from the beginning of the world, striving in the person of their saints to serve God with a right faith ceased not, as it were, to work in the cultivation of the vineyard. But at the eleventh hour, the Gentiles are called and to them are spoken the words, "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" (Third Nocturn). Thus all are called to work in the Lord's vineyard, by sanctifying themselves and their neighbour in glorifying God, since sanctification consists in searching for our supreme happiness in Him alone.

Adam failed in his task and God told Him: "Because thou hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee ... In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth out of which thou wast taken."

"Being exiled from Eden," says St. Augustine, "the first man involved all his descendants in the penalty of death and reprobation, being corrupted in the person of him from whom they sprung. The whole mass of condemned humanity was therefore, plunged in misery, enslaved and cast headlong from one evil to another" (Second Nocturn.) "The sorrows of death surrounded me," says the Introit, and as a matter of fact, it is in the basilica of St. Laurence-without-the-walls close to the cemetery at Rome that the "Station" for this Sunday is made. The Collect adds that we are "justly afflicted for our sins." In the Epistle, the Christian life is represented by St. Paul as an arena where a man must take pains and strive to carry off the prize, while the Gospel bears witness that the reward of eternal life is only given to those who work in God's vineyard, where work is hard and painful since the entrance of sin. "O God," prays the Church, "grant to thy people who are called by the name of vines and harvests, that they may root out all thorns and briars, and bring forth good fruit in abundance" (Prayer on Holy Saturday after the 8th Prophecy).

"In His wisdom," says St. Gregory, "almighty God preferred rather to bring good out of evil than never allow evil to occur." For God took pity on men and promised them a Second Adam, who restoring the order disturbed by the first, would allow them to regain heaven to which Adam had lost all right, when expelled from Eden, which was "the shadow of a better life" (Fourth lesson). "Thou, O Lord, art our helper in time of tribulation" (Gradual); "with Thee there is merciful forgiveness" (Tract). "Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant and save me in Thy mercy " (Communion). "Show Thy face, O Lord, and we shall be saved," the Church cries similarly in the season of Advent, when calling upon her Lord. The truth is that God, "who has wonderfully created man, has more wonderfully redeemed him " (Prayer on Holy Saturday after 1st Prophecy), for "the creation of the world in the beginning was not a more excellent thing than the immolation of Christ our Passover at the end of time " (Prayer on Holy Saturday after 9th Prophecy).

This Mass when studied in the light of Adam's fall prepares our mind for beginning the season of Septuagesima, and understanding the sublime character of the Paschal mystery for which this season prepares our hearts.

In response to the call of the Master, who comes to seek us even in the depths wherein we are plunged, through our first parents' sin (Tract), Let us go and work in the Lord's vineyard, or enter the arena and take up with courage the struggle which will intensify during Lent.

Circumdederunt me gemitus mortis, dolores inferni circumdederunt me: et in tribulatione mea invocavi Dominum, et exaudivit de templo sancto suo vocem meam. * Diligam te, Domine, fortitudo mea: Dominus firmamentum meum, et refugium meum, et liberator meus.
The groans of death surrounded me, and the sorrows of hell encompassed me; and in my affliction I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice from his holy temple. * I will love thee, O Lord, my strength: the Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer.
(Psalm 17:5-7,2-3 from the Introit of Mass)
Preces populi tui, quaesumus Domine, clementer exaudi, ut qui juste pro peccatis nostris affligimur, pro tui Nominis gloria misericorditer liberemur.
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.
A cunctis nos, quaesumus, Domine, mentis et corporis defende periculis: et intercedente beata et gloriosa semperque Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum 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 the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul, of Blessed N. 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.
Continuation of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
At that time, Jesus spoke to his disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like to a householder who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the market-place idle. And he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just. And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle? They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go ye also into my vineyard. And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the labourers amid pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first. When, therefore, they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: and they also received every man a penny. And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us that have borne the burden of the day, and the heats. But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good? So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.
(St Matthew 20)

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

From Dom Gueranger's Liturgical Year:

Saturday 11 February 2017

11th February, The Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes.

The Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes.

From February 11 to July 16, 1858, the Blessed Virgin came down eighteen times from heaven (Introit), and showed herself to St. Bernadette Soubirous (Collect), in the cave of the rock at Massabielle (Gradual). On March 25, she said to the little shepherdess of 14 years of age: "I am the Immaculate Conception." To-day's feast therefore recalls Mary's triumph over the serpent (Tract) which the septuagesimal liturgy has in mind.

Like the woman seen by St. John "clothed in the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars over her head" (Epistle), the Virgin of Lourdes "is clothed in a robe and veil as white as snow, she wears a blue girdle and on her bare feet rests a golden rose," all symbolic of her virginal love. She exhorts to penance the unfortunate children of Eve who have not been like herself preserved from sin. On the day of the Annunciation she declared her name to us, to manifest that it is on account of the Incarnation (Collect) that God has vouchsafed to her "not to be tainted with the original stain." (Tract).

Remembering that Mary is the ark of the new covenant" (Epistle), let us go with confidence to her who "full of grace" (Offertory) visits our earth to multiply in us the gifts of her riches" (Communion).

Vidi civitatem sanctam, Jerusalem novam descendentem de caelo a Deo, paratam sicut sponsam ornatam viro suo. * Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum, dico ego opera mea regi.
I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. * My heart hath uttered a good word; I speak my works to the king.
(Apoc. 21:2 and Psalm 44:2 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus, qui per immaculatam Virginis Conceptionem dignum Filio tuo habitaculum praeparasti: supplices a te quaesumus; ut ejusdem Virginis Apparitionem celebrantes, salutem mentis et corporis consequamur.
O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin didst prepare a worthy habitation for Thy Son; we humbly beseech Thee, that we who celebrate the feast of the Apparition of the same holy Virgin, may obtain health both of soul and body.

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia on Lourdes:

Friday 10 February 2017

10th February, St Scholastica, Virgin

St Scholastica, Virgin

St. Scholastica, the twin sister of St. Benedict, was born at Nursia in Italy, in 480. It was a unique event in the annals of the Church, that brother and sister should have founded the two branches of an Order still full of vitality after an existence of fourteen centuries.

A scholar, as her name implies, of the Patriarch of the Monks of the West, from her earliest childhood she attended the school 'of his virtues, for she saw in him Christ' whose Spouse she was (Epistle).

The divine Spouse who was about to call her unto Him (Gospel), miraculously granted the prayer of his well-beloved. Benedict, a faithful observer of monastic discipline, had refused to continue the spiritual conversation which each year he granted his sister in a dependency of the abbey. Scholastica, leaning with her elbows on the table and holding her forehead in her hands, began to shed tears. lmmediately a violent storm burst forth and rain fell in torrents. Benedict understood that God sanctioned the brotherly love which had united them all their lives, and passed the whole night conversing with his sister about the joys of heaven. Three days later (543), while at prayer, before the night office, he saw the innocent soul of St. Scholastica ascend to heaven in the shape of a dove (Collect). Her body was placed at Monte-Cassino in the tomb her brother had prepared for himself, in which he was also placed a few weeks later. "Thus It happened," writes St. Gregory, "that one tomb united the bodies of those whose souls had always been intimately united in God."

Let us ask "God who received into heaven the soul of the blessed virgin Scholastica in the shape of a dove to show us the way of innocence, to grant us by her merits and prayers to live so innocently that we may deserve to attain eternal joys" (Collect).

Dilexisti justitiam, et odisti iniquitatem: properea unxit te Deus, Deus tuus, oleo laetitiae prae consortibus tuis. * Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum: dico ego opera mea Regi.
Thou hast loved justice and hated iniquity: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. * My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak my works to the King.
(Psalm 44:8,2 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus, qui animam beatae Virginis tuae Scholasticae ad ostendendam innocentiae viam in columbae specie caelum penetrare fecisti: da nobis ejus meritis et precibus ita innocenter vivere, ut ad aeterna mereamur gaudia pervenire.
O God, who didst cause the soul of the blessed virgin Scholastica to enter heaven in the form of a dove, to show us the way of innocence, grant, by her prayers and merits, that we may live in such innocence, as to deserve to attain eternal joys.

O quam praeclara sunt merita beatae Scholasticae! O quanta virtus lacrimarum, per quas inclyta Virgo aeris serenitatem ad pluviae traxit inundationem.
O how excellent are the merits of blessed Scholastica! O what strength in those tears, through which the unsullied Virgin compelled the serenity of the sky to send an torrent of rain.
(Benedictus Antiphon, Monastic Breviary)

Thursday 9 February 2017

9th February, St Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor.

St Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor.

Jesus must be a Man to atone for man's sin and a God to make reparation for the offence against God. The Cycle celebrates on this day the feast of the Doctor who raised his voice in the Church (Introit) to condemn in the name of Pope Celestine, at the Council of Ephesus (431), the heresy of Nestorius. Crushing under foot the salt which has lost its savour (Gospel) St. Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, attacks the heresiarch who instead "of the true doctrine only teaches fables" (Epistle). He affirms that in Jesus there is only one divine Person and that consequently the Saviour is at the same time God and Man and that His Mother is the Mother of God (Collect). He died in 444.

In medio Ecclesiae aperuit os ejus: et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiae et intellectus: stolam gloriae induit eum. * Bonum est confiteri Domino: et psallere nomini tuo, Altissime.
In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth: and He filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding: He clothed him with a robe of glory. * It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy name, O most High.
(Ecclesiasticus 15:5 and Psalm 91:2 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus, qui beatum Cyrillum Confessorem tuum atque Pontificem divinae maternitatis beatissimae Virginis Mariae assertorem invictum effecisti: concede, ipso intercedente, ut; qui vere eam Genitricem Dei credimus, materna ejusdem protectione salvemur.
O God, who didst render blessed Cyril, Thy confessor and bishop, the invincible champion of the divine motherhood of the most blessed Virgin Mary; grant by his intercession, that we who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be saved through her maternal intercession.

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

9th February, St Apollonia, Virgin and Martyr

St Apollonia, Virgin and Martyr

St. Apollonia, a virgin of Alexandria, was arrested during a bloody persecution of the Christians in 249. After having her teeth broken and torn out, she joyfully threw herself under the impulsion of the Spirit of God, into the fire prepared for her. There, while her frail body was consumed on earth, her very pure soul was borne into glory in heaven (Collect).

Loquebar de testimoniis tuis in conspectu regum, et non confundebar: et meditabar in mandatis tuis, quae dilexi nimis. * Beati immaculati in via, qui ambulant in lege Domini.
I spoke of Thy testimonies before kings, and I was not ashamed: I meditated also on Thy commandments, which I loved. * Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord.
(Psalm 118:46-47,1 from the Introit of Mass)

Deus, qui inter cétera poténtiae tuae mirácula etiam in sexu frágili victóriam martýrii contulísti: concéde propítius; ut, qui beátae Apolloniae Vírginis et Martyris tuae natalítia cólimus, per ejus ad te exémpla gradiámur.
O God, who among the wonders of Thy power hast granted even to the weaker sex the triumph of martyrdom: mercifully grant that we who celebrate the heavenly birthday of blessed Apollonia, Thy virgin and martyr may, through her example, advance nearer to Thee.

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia: