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Moses and Elias fast for forty days and forty nights, because God bids them come near to him. Man must purify himself, he must unburden himself, in some measure at least, of the body which weighs him down, if he would enter into communication with Him who is the Spirit. And yet the vision of God, granted to these two holy personages, was very imperfect they felt that God was near them, but they beheld not his glory. But, when the fulness of time came,1 God manifested himself in the flesh; and man saw, and heard, and touched him.2 We, indeed, are not of the number of those favoured ones who lived with Jesus, the Word of Life; but in the Holy Eucharist he allows us to do more than see him he enters into our breasts, he is our Food. The humblest member of the Church possesses God more fully than either Moses on Sinaï, or Elias on Horeb. We cannot, therefore, be surprised that the Church, in order to fit us for this favour, at the Easter Solemnity-bids us go through a preparation of Forty Days, though its severity is not to be compared with the rigid fast which Moses and Elias had to observe, as the condition of their receiving what God promised them.
quærit et signum non dabitur ei, nisi signum Jonæ prophetæ. Sicut enim fuit Jonas in ventre ceti tribus diebus et tribus noctibus, sic erit Filius hominis in corde terræ tribus diebus et tribus noctibus. Viri Ninivitæ surgent in judicio cum generatione ista, et condemnabunt eam : quia pœnitentiam egerunt in prædicatione Jonæ, et ecce plus quam Jonas hic. Regina Austri surget in judicio cum generatione ista, et condemnabit eam quia venit a finibus terræ audire sapientiam Salomonis, et ecce plus quam Salomon hic. Cum autem immundus spiritus exierit ab homine, ambulat per loca arida, quærens requiem, et non invenit. Tunc dicit: Revertar in domum meam, unde exivi. Et veniens invenit eam vacantem, scopis mundatam, et ornatam. Tunc vadit, et assumit septem alios spiritus secum nequiores se, et intrantes habitant ibi: et fiunt novissima hominis illius pejora prioribus. Sic erit et generationi huic pessimæ. Adhuc eo loquente ad turbas, ecce mater ejus et fratres stabant foris quærentes loqui ei. Dixit autem ei quidam Ecce mater tua, et fratres tui foris stant, quærentes te. At ipse respondens dicenti sibi, ait: Quæ est mater mea, et qui sunt fratres mei? Et extendens manum in discipulos suos, dixit: Ecce mater
a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was in the whale's belly three days and three nights, so shall the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. The men of Ninive shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it, because they did penance at the preaching of Jonas; and behold a greater than Jonas here. The queen of the south shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold a greater than Solomon here. When an unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith: I will return into my house, from whence I came out. And coming, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then he goeth, and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is made worse than the first. So shall it be also to this wicked generation. As he was yet speaking to the multitudes, behold his Mother and his brethren stood without, seeking to speak to him. And one said unto him: Behold thy Mother and thy brethren stand without, seeking thee. But he answering him that told him, said: Who is my mother, and who are
my brethren? And stretching forth his hand towards his disciples, he said: Behold my mother and my brethren; for whosoever shall do the will of my Father that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.
mea, et fratres mei: quicumque enim fecerit voluntatem Patris mei, qui in cœlis est, ipse meus frater, et soror, et mater est.
Our Lord forewarns Israel of the chastisements, which its voluntary blindness and hardness of heart will bring upon it. The men of Israel refuse to believe, unless they see signs and prodigies; they have them in abundance, but will not see them. Such are the unbelievers of the present day. They say, they want proofs of the divine origin of the Catholic Religion. What is History, but a tissue of proof? what are the events of the present age, but testimony of the truth?—and yet, they remain incredulous. They have their own views and prejudices, and they intend to keep to them; how, then, can it be wondered at, that they never embrace the true Faith? Infidels, who have not had the like opportunities, will rise in judgment with such a generation and condemn it for its resistance to grace. Let us Catholics remember, that amidst the great religious movement which is now going on, it is our duty to be not only most firm in our faith, but also most zealous in the observance of the Laws of the Church, such, for example, as Lent. The apostolate of example will produce its fruits; and if a mere handful of Christians was, to the Roman Empire, like that leaven of which our Saviour speaks1, and which leavened the whole mass;-what results may we not expect in a country like our own (which has retained so much catholic practice and doctrine)— if the Catholics themselves were but zealous in the exercise of their duties?
1 See the Gospel for the 6th Sunday after the Epiphany, in our "Septuagesima.'
Humiliate capita vestra
Mentes nostras, quæsumus, Domine, lumine tuæ claritatis illustra: ut videre possimus quæ agenda sunt, et quæ recta sunt, agere vaPer Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.
Enlighten, we beseech thee, O Lord, our minds with the light of thy brightness, that we may discern what is to be done and be able to do it. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
We take the following devout stanzas on Fasting from the Triodion of the Greek Church.
Mirabilia arma oratio, et jejunium; hoc Moysem legislatorem effecit, et Heliam inter sacrificia zelatorem : huic firmiter insistentes, fideles, ad Salvatorem clamemus: Peccavimus tibi soli, miserere nostri.
Spirituale jejunium jejunemus, tortuosos laqueos omnes abrumpamus, declinemus pariter malorum exemplorum nequitiam, dimittamusque fratribus debita, ut nobis quoque delicta nostra dimittantur; ita enim clamare poterimus: Dirigatur, Domine, oratio nostra, sicut incensum, in conspectu tuo.
Solus bonus, fons misericordiæ, Agnus Dei, qui, utpote Deus, tollis peccata mundi, serva me criminum procellis agitatum, et ad pœnitentiæ semitas dirige.
Purum jejunium, fuga peccati, pravorum affec
Wonderful is the armour of Prayer and Fasting! With it, Moses became a legislator, and Elias a zealous priest. Let us, Oye Faithful! resolutely take it unto ourselves, and cry out to our Saviour: To thee alone have we sinned; have mercy on us!
Let us fast a spiritual fast, break all the snares of the serpent, shun the wickedness of evil example, and forgive our brethren their offences against us, that our own sins may be forgiven; for thus shall we be able to say: May our prayer, O Lord, be directed as incense in thy sight!
O thou that alone art Good! O fount of mercy! O Lamb of God, who, being thyself God, takest away the sins of the world! I am tost by the storms of sin; save me, and lead me to the paths of pen
The true fast is fleeing from sin, turning away from evil
affections, love of God, earnest prayer, tears of compunction, and charity towards the poor, as Christ teaches us in the Scripture.
My soul is pierced with the sword of sin, and is mangled by manifold crimes heal it, O thou kind Physician of souls! Apply unto me, O merciful Jesus, the remedy of thy all-wise commandments.
Now is the time for compunction, for it is the time of the Fast; let us earnestly give ourselves to tears and sighs, and stretch forth our hands to our only Redeemer, beseeching him to unfetter our souls.
Give me the grace, O my good Jesus! to stifle all my wicked affections, to be filled with the love of thee, to be rich in divine gifts, and to serve thee with all devoted
Take heed, my soul, lest, whilst fasting, thou be guilty of the gluttony of injuring and hating thy neighbour, and quarrelling with him; and thus lose thy God, by thy negligence.
How shall I be able, O my Jesus, to endure thy wrath, when thou comest to judge me? What answer shall I then make unto thee, if now I refuse to fulfil thy just commands?-O pardon me, before my departure hence.
Liberate my soul, O Lord, from the tyranny of my passions, that I may enjoy the
tuum abscessus, charitas erga Deum, orationis studium, lachryma cum compunctione, et pauperum cura, quemadmodum Christus in Scripturis præcepit.
Animam peccati gladio transfossam, multisque criminibus lancinatam sana, o animarum nostrarum medice, utpote benefactor, adhibens mihi sapientium mandatorum tuorum remedia, o clemens.
Compunctioni idoneum nacti præsens jejunii tempus, magnopere lugeamus atque ingemamus, manusque ad solum Redemptorem, ut animas nostras solvat, expandamus.
Utinam mihi quoque detur, pravos affectus omnes exstinguere, et tui amorem, Christe, concipere, divinis ditescere, mi bone Jesu, tibique famulatum impendere.
Vide, attende, anima, ne forte dum jejunas, crapulæ loco tibi sint injuriæ, inimicitiæ, contentiones adversus proximum, atque a Deo propter tuam negligentiam excidas.