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Our Lord here shows himself to us as a Shepherd full of love for his Sheep. Such, indeed, he truly is to men, during this Season of mercy. A portion of his flock had gone astray, and was wandering to and fro amidst the darkness of this world; but Jesus did not forget them. He went in search of them, that he might gather them together. He sought them. through lonely deserts, and rocky places, and brambles. He now speaks to them through his Church, and invites them to return. He sweetly encourages them, for perhaps they might fear and be ashamed to appear before him, after so many sins. He promises them, that if they will but return to him, they shall be fed on the richest pastures, near the river bank, and on the mountains of Israel. They are covered with wounds, but he will bind them up; they are weak, but he will strengthen them. He will once more give them fellowship with the faithful ones who never left him, and he himself will dwell with them for ever. Let the sinner, then, yield to this tender love; let him not refuse to make the efforts required for his conversion. If these efforts of penance seem painful to nature, let him recal to mind those happy days, when he was in grace, and in the fold of his Good Shepherd. He may be so again. The gate of the fold is open; and thousands, who, like himself, had gone astray, are going in with joy and confidence. Let him follow them, and remember how his Jesus has said: There shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine who need not penance.1


Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. XXV. In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Cum

Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. XXV.

At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: When the Son

1 St. Luke, xv. 7.

of man shall come in his majesty, and all the Angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the King say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me; sick, and you visited me; Í was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in; or naked, and clothed thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the King answering, shall say to them: Amen, I say to you, as long as you have done it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. Then shall he say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat;

venerit Filius hominis in majestate sua, et omnes Angeli cum eo, tunc sedebit super sedem majestatis suæ: et congregabuntur ante eum omnes gentes, et separabit eos ab invicem, sicut pastor segregat oves ab hædis: et statuet oves quidem a dextris suis, hoedos autem a sinistris. Tunc dicet Rex his qui a dextris ejus erunt: Venite, benedicti Patris mei, possidete paratum vobis regnum a constitutione mundi. Esurivi enim, et dedistis mihi manducare: sitivi, et dedistis mihi bibere: hospes eram, et collegistis me : nudus, et cooperuistis me: infirmus, et visitastis me: in carcere eram, et venistis ad me. Tunc respondebunt ei justi, dicentes: Domine, quando te vidimus esurientem, et pavimus te? sitientem, et dedimus tibi potum ? Quando autem te vidimus hospitem, et collegimus te? aut nudum, et cooperuimus te? aut quando te vidimus infirmum, aut in carcere, et venimus ad te? Et respondens Rex, dicet illis: Amen dico vobis, quamdiu fecistis uni ex his fratribus meis minimis, mihi fecistis. Tunc dicet et his, qui a sinistris erunt : Discedite a me, maledicti, in ignem æternum, qui paratus est diabolo et angelis ejus. Esurivi enim, et non dedistis mihi manducare: sitivi, et non dedistis mihi potum : hospes eram, et non collegistis me: nudus, et non

cooperuistis me: infirmus, et in carcere, et non visitastis me. Tunc respondebunt ei et ipsi, dicentes: Domine, quando te vidimus esurientem, aut sitientem, aut hospitem, aut nudum, aut infirmum, aut in carcere, et non ministravimus tibi? Tunc respondebit illis, dicens: Amen dico vobis, quamdiu non fecistis uni de minoribus his, nec mihi fecistis. Et ibunt hi in supplicium æternum: justi autem in vitam æternam.

I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me not in; naked, and you clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then shall they also answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty,


a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least ones, neither did you it to me. And these shall go into everlasting punishment, but the just into life everlasting.

We have just been listening to a Prophet of the Old Testament, inviting us to return to the Good Shepherd; our Lord there put forth every argument, which love could devise, to persuade his lost sheep to return to him and here, on the very same day that the Church speaks to us of our God as being a gentle and compassionate Shepherd, she describes him as an inflexible Judge. This loving Jesus, this charitable Physician of our souls, is seated on his dread tribunal, and cries out in his anger: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire! And where has the Church found this awful description? In the Gospel, that is, in the very Law of Love.-But, if we read our passage attentively, we shall find, that He who pronounces this terrible anathema, is the same God, whom the Prophet has been just portraying as a Shepherd full of mercy, patience, and zeal for his Sheep. Observe how he is still a Shepherd, even on his judgment-seat: he separates the sheep from the goats; he sets the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left; the idea, the comparision of a

Flock, is still kept up. The Son of God will exercise his office of Shepherd even to the Last Day: only, then, time will be at an end, and eternity will have begun; the reign of Justice, too, will have succeeded the reign of Mercy, for it will be Justice that will reward the good with the promised recompense, and that will punish impenitent sinners with eternal torments. How can the Christian, who believes that we are all to stand before this tribunal, refuse the invitation of the Church, who now presses him to make satisfaction for his sins? How can he hesitate to go through those easy penances, with which the Divine Mercy now deigns to be satisfied? Truly, man is his own worst enemy, if he can disregard these words of Jesus, who now is his Saviour, and then will be his Judge: Unless ye do penance, ye shall all perish.1

Bow down your heads to God.

Loosen, O Lord, we beseech thee, the bonds of our sins; and mercifully turn away from us whatever we deserve for them. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Absolve, quæsumus, Domine, nostrorum vincula peccatorum: et quidquid pro eis meremur, propitiatus averte. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Let us close the day by reciting the following Hymn, which was composed by St. Gregory the Great, and is used by the Church in her Matins during Lent.


Let us observe this most solemn fast of forty days, which has been handed down to us by sacred tradition.

The Law and the Prophets first introduced it; and afterwards, Christ, the Master and Maker of all seasons, consecrated it by his own observing it.

Ex more docti mystico, Servemus hoc jejunium, Deno dierum circulo Ducto quater notissimo.

Lex et Prophetæ primitus Hoc prætulerunt, postmodum

Christus sacravit, omnium
Rex atque factor temporum.

1 St. Luke, xiii, 3.

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Let us, therefore, be more sparing in our words; let us retrench somewhat of our food, and drink, and sleep, and merriment, and redouble our watchfulness.

Let us shun those noxious things, which play such havoc with unguarded souls: and let us avoid whatsoever could strengthen the tyranny of our crafty enemy.

Let us appease the anger of our Judge, and pour out our tears before him: let us prostrate ourselves, and thus ery to him in suppliant prayer :

"We have offended thy goodness, O God, by our sins: forgive us, and pour out thy mercy upon us.

"Remember that we are the work of thy hands, frail though we be we beseech thee, suffer not another to usurp the honour of thy Name.

"Pardon us the evil we have done, and grant us good things, even beyond our prayer: that thus we may be well-pleasing to thee, now and for ever.

"O Blessed Trinity! O Undivided Unity! grant us, thy servants, to reap fruit from the Fast thou hast given us. Amen."

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