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of penance and recollection, he offers an insult to his character, and must needs cease to believe that he has sins to atone for, and a God to propitiate. The world, (we mean that part of it which is Christian,) has thrown off all those external indications of mourning and penance, which we read of as being so religiously observed in the Ages of Faith; let that pass: but there is one thing which can never change: God's Justice, and man's obligation to appease that Justice. The world may rebel as much as it will against the sentence, but the sentence is irrevocable: Unless do penance, ye shall all perish. It is God's own word. Say, if you will, that few now-a-days give ear to it; but, for that very reason, many are lost. They, too, who hear this word, must not forget the warnings given them by our Divine Saviour himself, in the Gospel read to us on Sexagesima Sunday. He told us, how some of the Seed is trodden down by the passers-by, or eaten by the fowls of the air; how some falls on rocky soil, and gets parched; and how, again, some is choked by thorns. Let us be wise, and spare no pains to become that good ground, which not only receives the Divine Seed, but brings forth a hundredfold for the Easter harvest, which is at hand.
An unavoidable feeling will arise in the minds of some of our readers, as they peruse these pages, in which we have endeavoured to embody the spirit of the Church, such as it is expressed, not only in the Liturgy, but also in the decrees of Councils and in the writings of the Holy Fathers. The feeling we allude to, is one of regret at not finding, during this period of the Liturgical Year, the touching and exquisite poetry, which gave such a charm to the forty-days of our Christmas solemnity. First came Septuagesima, throwing its gloomy shade over those enchanting visions of the Mystery of Bethlehem ;
1 St. Luke, xiii. 3.
and now we have got into a desert land, with thorns at every step, and no springs of water to refresh us. Let us not complain, however; Holy Church knows our true wants, and is intent on supplying them. Neither must we be surprised at her insisting on a severer preparation for Easter, than for Christmas. At Christmas, we were to approach our Jesus as an Infant; all she put us through then, were the Advent exercises, for the Mysteries of our Redemption were but beginning.
And of those who went to Jesus' crib, there were many who, like the poor Shepherds of Bethlehem, might be called simple, at least in this sense,—that they did not sufficiently realise, either the holiness of their Incarnate God, or the misery and guilt of their own conscience. But now that this Son of the Eternal God has entered the path of penance; now that we are about to see him a victim to every humiliation, and suffering even a death upon a Cross ;
-the Church does not spare us; she rouses us from our ignorance and our self-satisfaction. She bids us strike our breasts, have compunction in our souls, mortify our bodies,-because we are sinners. Our whole life ought to be one of penance; fervent souls are ever doing penance; could anything be more just or necessary, than that we should do some penance during these days, when our Jesus is fasting in the desert, and is to die on Calvary? There is a sentence of this our Redeemer, which he spoke to the daughters of Jerusalem, on the day of his Passion; let us apply it to ourselves: If in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry? Oh! what a revelation is here! and yet, by the mercy of the Jesus who speaks it, the dry wood may become the green, and so, not be burned.
The Church hopes, nay her whole energy is
1 St. Luke, xxiii, 31.
labouring, that this may be; therefore, she bids us bear the yoke; she gives us a Lent. Let us only courageously tread the way of penance, and the Light will gradually beam upon us. If we are now far off from our God by the sins that are upon us, this holy Season will be to us what the Saints call the Purgative Life, and will give us that purity, which will enable us to see our Lord in the glory of his victory over death. If, on the contrary, we are already living the Illuminative Life; if, during the three weeks of Septuagesima, we have bravely sounded the depth of our miseries, our Lent will give us a clearer view of Him who is our Light; and if we could acknowledge Him as our God when we saw him as the Babe of Bethlehem, our soul's eye will not fail to recognize him in the divine Penitent of the Desert, or in the bleeding Victim of Calvary.
CHAPTER THE FOURTH.
MORNING AND NIGHT PRAYERS,
DURING the Season of Lent, the Christian, on waking in the morning, should unite himself with the Church, who, at the first dawn of day, begins her Psalms of Lauds with these words of the Royal Prophet:
Miserere mei Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy.
He should, after this, profoundly adore that great God, before whom the sinner should tremble, but yet fears not to offend him, as though he deserved neither reverence nor love. It is with this deep sentiment of holy fear, that he must perform the first acts of religion, both interior and exterior, wherewith he begins each day of this present Season. The time for Morning Prayer being come, he may use the following method, which is formed upon the very prayers of the Church :
First, praise and adoration of the Most Holy Trinity :
. Benedicamus Patrem et Filium, cum Sancto Spiritu :
R. Laudemus et superexaltemus eum in sæcula. V. Gloria Patri et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto;
V. Let us bless the Father and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
R. Let us praise him and extol him above all, for ever.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
B. As it was in the begining, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Then, praise to our Lord
V. We adore thee, O Christ, and we bless thee.
R. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
and Saviour, Jesus Christ:
R. Because by thy Cross thou hast redeemed the world. Thirdly, invocation of the
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle within them the fire of thy love.
V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi. R. Quia per Crucem tuam redemisti mundum. Holy Ghost:
Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
After these fundamental acts of Religion, recite the Lord's Prayer, begging your Heavenly Father to be mindful of his infinite mercy and goodness,-to forgive you your trespasses,-to come to your assistance in the temptations and dangers which so thickly beset the path of this life,-and finally, to deliver you from evil, by removing from you every remnant of sin, which is the great evil, the evil that offends. God, and entails the sovereign evil of man himself.
THE LORD'S PRAYER.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name: thy kingdom come: thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us: and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Pater noster, qui es in cœlis, sanctificetur nomen tuum adveniat regnum tuum fiat voluntas tua sicut in cœlo, et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie: et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris et ne nos inducas in tentationem: sed libera nos a malo. Amen.
Lady, using the words
Then, address our Blessed of the Angelical Salutation. Pray to her with confidence and love, for she is the Refuge of Sinners.