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OF THE FIRST WEEK OF LENT.
AT Rome, the Station is in the Church of St. Anastasia, where, formerly, the Mass of the Aurora, on Christmas Day, used to be celebrated. It is under the protection of this holy Martyr, who suffered death for Christ on the day of his Birth, that we offer our prayers to-day to the Father of Mercy.
In those days, Isaias the prophet spake, saying: Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unjust man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he is bountiful to forgive. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my
Lectio Isaia Prophetæ.
In diebus illis, locutus est Isaias Propheta, dicens: Quærite Dominum, dum inveniri potest: invocate eum, dum prope est. Derelinquat impius viam suam et vir iniquus cogitationes suas : et revertatur ad Dominum, et miserebitur ejus, et ad Deum nostrum, quoniam multus est ad ignoscendum. Non enim cogitationes meæ, cogitationes vestræ; neque viæ vestræ, viæ meæ, dicit Dominus. Quia sicut exal
tantur cœli a terra, sic exaltatæ sunt viæ meæ a viis vestris, et cogitationes meæ a cogitationibus vestris. Et quomodo descendet imber, et nix de cœlo, et illuc ultra non revertitur, sed inebriat terram, et infundit eam et germinare eam facit, et dat semen serenti, et panem comedenti sic erit verbum meum quod egredietur de ore meo non revertetur ad me vacuum; sed faciet quæcumque volui, et prosperabitur in his ad quæ misi illud, ait Dominus omnipotens.
ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts. And as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return no more thither, but soak the earth, and water it, and make it to spring, and give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall my word be, which shall go forth from my mouth. It shall not return to me void, but it shall do whatsoever Í please, and shall prosper in the things for which I sent it, saith the Lord Almighty.
The Prophet, speaking to us in God's name, assures us, that, if we sincerely desire our conversion, we shall find mercy. The infinite distance which lies between the sovereign holiness of God and the soul that is defiled by sin is no obstacle to the reconciliation between the creature and the Creator. The goodness of God is omnipotent; it can create a clean heart1 in him that repents, and, where sin abounded, it can make grace abound more than ever sin abounded.2 The word of pardon will come down from heaven, like plentiful rain upon parched land, and that land will yield a rich harvest. But, let the sinner give ear to the rest of the prophecy. Is man at liberty to accept or refuse this word that comes from heaven? May he, for the present, neglect it, in the hope that he will give it a welcome later on, when his life is at its close? No; God says to us by his Prophet: Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found; call upon him, while he is near. We cannot, therefore, find the Lord just when it suits our fickle humour; his nearness to us is not always the same. Let us take heed; God has his times; the time for mercy may be fol
lowed by the time for justice. Jonas went through the streets of the proud city, and cried out: Yet forty days, and Ninive shall be destroyed. Ninive did not allow the forty days to pass without returning to the Lord; she put on sackcloth and ashes, she fasted, and she was spared. Let us imitate the earnest repentance of this guilty city; let us not set Divine Justice at defiance by refusing to do penance, or by doing it negligently. This Lent is, perhaps, the last God's mercy will grant us. If we put off our conversion, God may refuse us another such opportunity. Let us meditate upon these words of the Apostle, which repeat the truth told us in to-day's Epistle : The earth that drinketh in the rain which cometh often upon it, and bringeth forth herbs, meet for them by whom it is tilled, receiveth blessing from God; but that which bringeth forth thorns and briars is reprobate, and very near unto a curse, whose end is to be burnt.2
Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
At that time: When he was come into Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, saying: Who is this? And the people said: This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the chairs of them that sold doves. And he saith to them: It is written, "My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves." And there came to
1 Jonas, iii. 4.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.
In illo tempore: Cum intrasset Jesus Jerosolymam, commota est universa civitas, dicens: Quis est hic? Populi autem dicebant: Hic est Jesus Propheta a Nazareth Galilææ. Et intravit Jesus in templum Dei, et ejiciebat omnes vendentes et ementes in templo, et mensas nummulariorum, et cathedras vendentium columbas evertit: et dicit eis: Scriptum est: Domus mea, domus orationis vocabitur: vos autem fecistis illam speluncam latronum. Et ac
2 Heb. vi. 7, 8.
cesserunt ad eum cæci et claudi in templo: et sanavit eos. Videntes autem principes sacerdotum et scribæ mirabilia quæ fecit, et pueros clamantes in templo et dicentes: Hosanna filio David; indignati sunt et dixerunt ei: Audis quid isti dicunt? Jesus autem dixit eis: Utique. Nunquam legistis: Quia ex ore infantium et lactentium perfecisti laudem? Et relictis illis, abiit foras extra civitatem in Bethaniam, ibique mansit.
him the blind and the lame in the temple: and he healed them. And the chief priests and scribes seeing the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying: "Hosanna to the son of David," were moved with indignation, and said to him: Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus said to them: Yea, have you never read, "Out of the mouths of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise?" And leaving them, he went out of the city into Bethania, and remained there.
Our Forty Days have scarcely begun, and we find the implacable enemies of Jesus showing their hatred against him that hatred will soon work his death. But how is this? have they not been witnesses of his wonderful works? True: but pride and jealousy have made them lose their senses. These faithless guardians of God's Temple have seen Jesus exercise his authority in the holy place, and they opened not their lips; they were astonished at what he did, and they feared him. They did not even protest when he called the Temple his house, for they were awed by his great virtue and superhuman power. But, these first impressions having subsided, their bold impiety returns. They hear the little children greeting our Saviour with Hosanna, and they are indignant. They affect to be shocked at this honour which is paid to the Son of David, who went about everywhere doing good. These doctors of the Law are blinded by passion, and can neither understand the prophecies, nor their fulfilment. It is the verification of the words of Isaias, which we have just been reading in the Epistle: they would not seek the Lord, while he was near them; and now that they are even speaking with him, they do not recognise him for
Little children know him and bless
him; the sages of Israel see in him but an enemy of God, and a Blasphemer! Let us, at least, profit by the visit he is now granting us; lest he should treat us, as he did the Chief Priests and Scribes, and leave He withdrew his presence from them, he went out of the city, and returned to Bethania, which was near Jerusalem. It was there that Lazarus was living with his two sisters, Martha and Mary Magdalene. Mary, the Mother of Jesus had, also, retired thither, awaiting the terrible event. St. Jerome observes here, that the word Bethania signifies the House of Obedience: this, says the holy Doctor, should remind us, that our Saviour withdraws from them who are rebels to his grace, and that he loves to be with them that are obedient.1 Let us learn the lesson well; and, during these days of salvation, let us show, by our obedience to the Church and our submission to the guide of our conscience, that we are thoroughly convinced of this truth,-that there is no salvation for us, except in humility and simplicity of heart.
Bow down your heads to God.
May our prayers, O Lord, ascend to thee, and deliver thy Church from all wickedness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Humiliate capita vestra
Ascendant ad te, Domine, preces nostræ et ab Ecclesia tua cunctam repelle nequitiam. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
The Gothic Church of Spain, in her Mozarabic Missal, offers us this formula, which our readers will justly appreciate.
(Dominica II. in Quadragesima.)
. Have pity on us, O most merciful Lord, and spare thy people;
V. Miserere et parce, clementissime Domine, populo tuo;
1 In Matthæum, Cap. xxi.