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ANTHEM TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN.
Hail Queen of Heaven! Hail Queen of Angels! Hail blest Root and Gate, from which came Light upon the world! Rejoice, O glorious Virgin, that surpassest all in beauty! Hail most lovely Queen! and pray to Christ for
Ave Regina cœlorum,
Then, in secret, Pater, Ave, and Credo; page 45.
* In the Monastic Rite, this Response is as follows:
B. And with our absent Breth
B. Et cum fratribus nostris absentibus.
PROPER OF THE TIME.
FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT.
THIS Sunday, the first of the six which come during Lent, is one of the most solemn throughout the year. It has the same privilege as Passion and Palm Sundays, that is, it never gives place to any Feast, not even to that of the Patron, Titular Saint, or Dedication of the Church. In the ancient Calendars, it is called Invocabit, from the first word of the Introit of the Mass. In the Middle-Ages,1 it was called Brand Sunday, because the young people, who had misconducted themselves during the carnival, were obliged to show themselves to-day, at the Church, with a torch in their hands, as a kind of public satisfaction for their riot and excess.
Lent solemnly opens to-day. We have already noticed, that the four preceding days were added since the time of St. Gregory the Great, in order to make up Forty days of fasting. Neither can we look upon Ash Wednesday as the solemn opening of the Season, for the Faithful are not bound to hear Mass on that day. The Holy Church, seeing her children now assembled together, speaks to them, in her Office of Matins, these eloquent and noble words of St. Leo the Great: "Having
1 More especially in France. [Tr.]
"to announce to you, dearly beloved, the most sacred " and chief Fast, how can I more appropriately begin, "than with the words of the Apostle, (in whom "Christ himself spoke,) and by saying to you what "has just been read: Behold! now is the acceptable time; behold! now is the day of salvation. For "although there be no time, which is not replete "with divine gifts, and we may always, by God's grace, have access o his mercy,-yet ought we all "to redouble our efforts to make spiritual progress "and be animated with unusual confidence, now “that the anniversary of the day of our Redemption “is approaching, inviting us to devote ourselves to every good work, that so we may celebrate, with purity of body and mind, the incomparable Mystery "of our Lord's Passion.
"It is true, that our devotion and reverence "towards so great a Mystery should be kept up during the whole year, and we ourselves be, at all times, in the eyes of God, the same as we are bound "to be at the Easter Solemnity. But this is an "effort which only few among us have the courage "to sustain. The weakness of the flesh induces us to relent our austerities; the various occupa❝tions of every-day life take up our thoughts; and "thus, even the virtuous find their hearts clogged by "this world's dust. Hence it is, that our Lord has "most providentially given us these Forty Days, "whose holy exercises should be to us a remedy, "whereby to regain our purity of soul. The good "works and the holy fastings of this Season were "instituted as an atonement and obliteration of the "sins we commit during the rest of the Year.
Now, therefore, that we are about to enter upon "these days, which are so full of mystery, and were "instituted for the holy purpose of purifying both our soul and body, let us, dearly beloved, be careful "to do as the Apostle bids us, and cleanse ourselves
"from all defilement of the flesh and the spirit: that "thus the combat between the two substances being "made less fierce, the soul, which, when she herself "is subject to God, ought to be the ruler of the body, "will recover her own dignity and position. Let us "also avoid giving offence to any man, so that there "be none to blame or speak evil things of us. For "we deserve the harsh remarks of infidels, and we provoke the tongues of the wicked to blaspheme "religion, when we, who fast, lead unholy lives. For our Fast does not consist in the mere abstaining "from food; nor is it of much use to deny food to our body, unless we restrain the soul from sin."1
Each Sunday of Lent offers to our consideration a passage from the Gospel, which is in keeping with the sentiments wherewith the Church would have us be filled. To day, she brings before us the Temptation of our Lord in the Desert. What light and encouragement there is for us in this instruction!
We acknowledge ourselves to be sinners; we are engaged, at this very time, in doing penance for the sins we have committed;-but, how was it that we fell into sin? The devil tempted us; we did not reject the temptation; then, we yielded to the suggestion, and the sin was committed. This is the history of our past; and such it would, also, be for the future, were we not to profit by the lesson given us, to-day, by our Redeemer.
When the Apostle speaks of the wonderful mercy shown us by our Divine Saviour, who vouchsafed to make himself like to us in all things, save in sin, he justly lays stress on his temptations. He, who was very God, humbled himself even so low as this, to prove how tenderly he compassionated us. Here, then, we have the Saint of Saints allowing the wicked spirit to approach him, in order that we
1 Fourth Sermon for Lent.
2 Heb. iv. 15.