The Church offers to our consideration, during this week of Sexagesima, the history of Noah and the deluge. Man has not profited by the warnings already given him. God is obliged to punish him once more, and by a terrible chastisement. There is found out of the whole human race one just man God makes a covenant with him, and with us through him. But, before he draws up this new alliance, he would show that he is the Sovereign Master, and that man, and the earth whereon he lives, subsist solely by his power and permission.
As the ground-work of this week’s instructions, we give a short passage from the Book of Genesis it is read in the Office of this Sunday’s Matins.
|De Libro Genesis.
|From the Book of Genesis.
This awful chastisement of the human race by the Deluge was a fresh consequence of sin. This time, however, there was found one just man; and it was through him and his family that the world was restored. Having once more mercifully renewed his covenant with his creatures, God allows the earth to be re-peopled, and makes the three sons of Noah become the Fathers of the three great families of the human race.
This is the Mystery of the Divine Office during the week of Sexagesima. The Mystery expressed in to-day’s Mass is of still greater importance, and the first is but a figure of the second. The earth is deluged by sin and heresy. But the Word of God, the Seed of life, is ever producing a new generation, a race of men, who, like Noah, fear God. It is the Word of God that produces those happy children, of whom the Beloved Disciple speaks, saying: they are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God [St. John, 1. 13]. Let us endeavour to be of this family; or, if we already be numbered among its members, let us zealously maintain our glorious position. What we have to do, during these days of Septuagesima, is to escape from the Deluge of worldliness, and take shelter in the Ark of salvation; we have to become that good soil, which yields a hundred-fold from the heavenly Seed. Let us flee from the wrath to come, lest we perish with the enemies of God: let us hunger after that Word of God, which converteth and giveth life to souls [Ps. xviii].
With the Greeks, this is the seventh day of their week Apocreös, which begins on the Monday after our Septuagesima Sunday. They call this week Apocreös, because they then begin to abstain from flesh-meat, which abstinence is observed till Easter Sunday.
At Rome, the Station is in the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the walls. It is around the tomb of the Doctor of the Gentiles, - the zealous sower of the divine Seed, - the Father by his preaching, of so many nations, - that the Roman Church assembles her children on this Sunday, whereon she is about to announce to them, how God spared the earth on the condition that it should be peopled with true believers and with faithful adorers of his Name.
The Introit, which is taken from the Psalms, cries out to our Lord for help. The human race is all but extinct after the Deluge, and is here represented as beseeching its Creator to bless and increase it. The Church adopts the same prayer, and asks her Saviour to multiply the children of the Word, as he did in former days.
|Exsurge, quare obdormis, Domine? Exsurge, et ne repellas in
finem; quare faciem tuam avertis, oblivisceris tribulationem nostram?
Adhaesit in terra venter noster: exsurge, Do mine, adjuva nos, et libera nos.
Ps. Deus, auribus nostris audivimus: patres nostri annuntiaverunt nobis. V. Gloria Patri. Exsurge.
|Arise, why sleepest thou, O Lord? Arise, and cast us not off to the end. Why
turnest thou thy face away? and forgettest our tribulation? Our belly cleaveth to the earth. Arise,
O Lord, help us, and deliver us.
Ps. We have heard, O God, with our ears: our fathers have declared to us thy wonders. V. Glory. Arise.
In the Collect, the Church expresses the confidence she puts in the prayers of the great Apostle St. Paul, that zealous sower of the divine Seed, who laboured more than the other Apostles in preaching the Word to the Gentiles.
|Deus, qui conspicis quia ex nulla nostra actione confidimus: concede propitius, ut contra adversa omnia, Doctoris gentium protectione, muniamur. Per Dominum.||O God, who seest that we place no confidence in anything we do: mercifully grant that, by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles, we may be defended against all adversity. Through, &c.|
Then are added two other Collects, as in the Mass of Septuagesima Sunday, above.
The Epistle is that admirable passage from one of St. Paul’s Epistles, in which the Great Apostle, for the honour and interest of his sacred ministry, is necessitated to write his defence against the calumnies of his enemies. We learn from this his apology, what labours the Apostles had to go through, in order to sow the Word of God in the barren soil of the Gentile world, and make it Christian.
|Lectio Epistolae Beati Pauli
Apostoli ad Corinthios.
II. Cap. XI.
|Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the
II. Cor. XI.
In the Gradual, the Church beseeches her Lord to give her strength against those who oppose the mission he has entrusted to her, of gaining for him a new people, adorers of his sovereign Majesty.
|Sciant gentes, quoniam nomen tibi Deus: tu solus Altissimus super
V. Deus meus, pone illos ut rotam, et sicut stipulam ante faciem venti.
|Let the Gentiles know that God is thy name: thou alone art the Most High over all the earth.
V. My God, make them like a wheel, and as stubble before the wind.
Whilst the earth is being moved, and is suffering those terrible revolutions, which, deluge-like, come first on one nation and then on another, - the Church prays for her Faithful Children, in order that they may be spared, for they are the elect, and the hope of the world. It is thus she prays in the following Tract which precedes the Gospel of the Word.
|Commovisti, Domine, terram, et conturbasti eam.
V. Sana contritiones ejus, quia mota est.
V. Ut fugiant a facie arcis: ut libereutur electi tui.
|Thou hast moved time earth, O Lord, and hast troubled it.
V. Heal the breaches thereof, for it is moved.
V. That they may flee from before the bow: that thy elect may be delivered.
|Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.
Sequel of the holy Gospel
according to Luke.
St. Gregory the Great justly remarks, that this Parable needs no explanation. since Eternal Wisdom himself has told us its meaning. All that we have to do, is to profit by this divine teaching, and become the good soil, wherein the heavenly Seed may yield a rich harvest. How often have we not, hitherto, allowed it to be trampled on by them that passed by, or to be torn up by the birds of the air? How often has it not found our heart like a stone, that could give no moisture, or like a thorn plot, that could but choke? We listened to the Word of God; we took pleasure in hearing it; and from this we argued well for ourselves. Nay, we have often received this Word with joy and eagerness. Sometimes, even, it took root within us. But, alas! something always came to stop its growth. Henceforth, it must both grow and yield fruit. The Seed given to us is of such quality, that the Divine Sower has a right to expect a hundred-fold. If the soil, that is, if our heart, be good;- if we take the trouble to prepare it, by profiting of the means afforded us by the Church;- we shall have an abundant harvest to show our Lord on that grand Day, when, rising triumphant from his Tomb, he shall come to share with his faithful people the glory of his Resurrection.
Inspirited by this hope, and full of confidence in Him, who has once more thrown his Seed in this long ungrateful soil, let us sing with the Church, in her Offertory, these beautiful words of the Royal Psalmist:- they are a prayer for holy resolution and perseverance.
|Perfice gressus meos in semitis tuis, ut non moveantur vestigia mea: inclina aurem tuam et exaudi verba mea: mirifica misericordias tuas, ut salvos facis sperantes in te, Domine.||Perfect thou my goings in thy paths; that my footsteps be not moved. O incline thy ear unto me and hear my words. Show forth thy wonderful mercies; who saveth them that hope in thee, O Lord.|
|Oblatum tibi, Domine, sacrificium vivificet nos semper, et muniat. Per Dominum.||May the sacrifice we have offered to thee, O Lord, always enliven us and defend us. Through, &c.|
To this are added the other Secrets, as on Septuagesima Sunday, above.
The visit, which our Lord makes to us in the Sacrament of his Love, is the grand means whereby he gives fertility to our souls. Hence it is, that the Church invites us, in the Communion-antiphon, to draw nigh to the Altar of our God; there, our heart shall regain all the youthful fervour of its best days.
|Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.||I will go up to the altar of God; to God, who rejoiceth my youth.|
|Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus; in quos tuis reficis sacramentis, tibi etiam placitis moribus dignanter deservire concedas. Per Dominum.||Grant, we humbly beseech thee, O Almighty God, that those whom thou refreshest with thy sacraments, may, by a life well pleasing to thee, worthily serve thee. Through &c.|
Two other Postcommunions are said after this, as on Septuagesima Sunday, above.
The Psalms and Antiphons are given in above.
(II. Cor. XI.)
|Fratres, libenter suffertis insipientes, cum sitis ipsi sapientes: sustinetis enim si quis vos in servitutem redigit, si quis devorat, si quis accipit, si quis extollitur, si quis in faciem vos caedit.||Brethren, you gladly suffer the foolish, whereas yourselves are wise: for you suffer if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take from you, if a man be lifted up, if a man strike you on the face.|
For the Hymn and Versicle, see above.
|ANT. Vobis datum est nosse mysterium Dei, caeteris autem in parabolis, dicit Jesus discipulis suis.||ANT. To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to the others in parables, said Jesus to his disciples.|
Deus qui conspicis quia ex nulla nostra actione confidimus: concede propitius, ut contra adversa omnia Doctoris Gentium protectione muniamur. Per Dominum.
|LET US PRAY.
O God, who seest that we place no confidence in anything we do: mercifully grant that, by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles, we may be defended against all adversity. Through, &c.
We will end our Sunday by a Hymn taken from the ancient Breviaries of the Churches of France: it will help us to keep up in our souls the sentiments proper to the Season of Septuagesima.
|Dies absoluti pruetereunt:
Dies observabiles redeunt.
Tempus adest sobrium:
Quaeramus puro corde Dominum.
Hymnis et in confessionibus
Post jugum servile Pharaonis,
Fugiamus de hoc exilio:
Sis Christe nobis dux hujus vitae:
Gloria sit Patri et Filio:
|The days of ease are about to close; the days of holy observance are returning; the time of temperance is at hand; let us seek our Lord in purity of heart.
Our Sovereign Judge will be appeased by our hymns and praise. He who would have us sue for grace, will not refuse us pardon.
The slavish yoke of Pharaoh, and the fetters of cruel Babylon, have been borne too long: let man now claim his freedom, and seek his heavenly country, Jerusalem.
Let us quit this place of exile; let us dwell with the Son of God. Is it not the servant’s glory, to be made coheir with his Lord?
O Jesus be thou our guide through life. Remember, that we are thy sheep, for whom thou, the Shepherd, didst lay down thine own life.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son; honour too be to the holy Paraclete: as it was in the beginning, now is, and shall ever be. Amen.