Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
This Saturday, in the early ages of Christianity, was called Sitientes, from the first word of the Introit of the Mass, in which the Church addresses her Catechumens in the words of Isaias, and invites them that thirst after grace, to come and receive it in the holy Sacrament of Baptism. At Rome, the Station was originally in the Basilica of Saint Laurence outside the walls; but it was found inconvenient, on account of its great distance from the City; and the Church of Saint Nicholas in carcere, which is within the walls, was selected for today’s Station.
|Fiat, Domine, quæsumus, per gratiam tuam fructuosus nostræ devotionis affectus: quia tunc nobis proderunt suscepta jejunia, si tuæ sint placita pietati. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.||Grant us, O Lord, we beseech thee, an increase of devotion; for then only will our fasts avail us, when they are well pleasing to thy goodness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.|
|Lectio Isaiæ Prophetæ.||Lesson from Isaias the Prophet.|
|Cap. XLIX.||Ch. XLIX.|
|Hæc dicit Dominus: In tempore placito exaudivi te, et in die salutis auxiliatus sum tui: et servavi te, et dedi te in fœdus populi, ut suscitares terram, et possideres hæreditates dissipatas: ut diceres his qui vincti sunt: Exite: et his qui in tenebris: Revelamini. Super vias pascentur, et in omnibus planis pascua eorum. Non esurient, neque sitient, et non percutiet eos æstus et sol: quia miserator eorum reget eos, et ad fontes aquarum potabit eos. Et ponam omnes montes meos in viam, et semitæ meæ exaltabuntur. Ecce isti de longe venient, et ecce illi ab Aquilone et mari, et isti de terra Australi. Laudate, cœli, et exsulta, terra; jubilate, montes, laudem: quia consolatus est Dominus populum suum, et pauperum suorum miserebitur. Et dixit Sion: Dereliquit me Dominus, et Dominus oblitus est mei. Numquid oblivisci potest mulier infantem suum, ut non misereatur filio uteri sui? Et si illa oblita fuerit, ego tamen non obliviscar tui, dicit Dominus omnipotens.||Thus saith the Lord: In an acceptable time I have heard thee, and in the day of salvation I have helped thee; and I have preserved thee, and given thee a covenant of the people, that thou mightest raise up the earth, and possess the inheritances that were destroyed, that thou mightest say to them that are bound: Come forth; and to them that are in darkness: Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in every plain. They shall not hunger nor thirst, neither shall the heat nor the sun strike them; for he that is merciful to them shall be their shepherd, and at the fountains of waters he shall give them drink. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my paths shall be exalted. Behold these shall come from afar, and behold these from the North and from the sea, and these from the South country. Give praise, O ye heavens, and rejoice, O earth; ye mountains, give praise with jubilation; because the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy on his poor ones. And Sion said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and the Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should forget, yet will I not forget thee, saith the Lord Almighty.|
How these words of love must have consoled the hearts of our Catechumens! Never did our heavenly Father express his tender mercy towards us in more glowing terms: and he bade his Prophet deliver them to us. He gives the whole earth to his Son, Jesus Christ, our Incarnate Lord, not that he may judge and condemn it, as it deserves, but that he may save it. This divine Ambassador having come on the earth, he tells all that are galled by fetters, or that sit in the gloomy shadow of death, to come to him, promising them liberty and light. Their hunger shall be appeased, and their thirst quenched. They shall no longer pant under the scorching rays of the sun, but shall be led by their merciful Shepherd to the cool shades on the banks of the water of life. They came from every nation under heaven: the Fountain, the Font, shall be the center where all the human race is to meet. The Gentile world is to be henceforth called Sion, and the Lord loveth the gates of this new Sion above all the tabernacles of Jacob. No: God had not forgotten her during the long ages of her idol worship; his love is tender as that of the fondest mother; yea, and though a mother’s heart may forget her child, God never will forget his Sion. You, then, who received Baptism at your very entrance into the world but have, since then, served another Master besides Him to whom you swore perpetual allegiance at the Font—be of good heart! If the grace of God has found you submissive, if the holy exercises of Lent and the prayers offered for you by the Church have had their effect, and you are now preparing to make your peace with God—read these words of your heavenly Father, and fear not! How can you fear? He has given you to his own Son; he has told him to save, heal, and comfort you. Are you in the bonds of sin? Jesus can break them. Are you in spiritual darkness? He is the Light of the world, and can dispel the thickest gloom. Are you hungry? He is the Bread of Life. Are you thirsty? He is the Fountain of living Water. Are you scorched, are you burnt to the very core, by the heat of concupiscence? Even so, poor sufferers! you must not lose courage; there is a cool fountain ready to refresh you, and heal all your wounds; not indeed the First Font, which gave you the life you have lost; but the second Baptism, the divine Sacrament of Penance, which can restore you to grace and purity!
|Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.||Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to John.|
|Cap. VIII.||Ch. VIII.|
|In illo tempore: Locutus est Jesus turbis Judæorum, dicens: Ego sum lux mundi: qui sequitur me, non ambulat in tenebris, sed habebit lumen vitæ. Dixerunt ergo ei Pharisæi: Tu de te ipso testimonium perhibes: testimonium tuum non est verum. Respondit Jesus, et dixit eis: Et si ego testimonium perhibeo de meipso, verum est testimonium meum: quia scio unde veni, et quo vado: vos autem nescitis unde venio, aut quo vado. Vos secundum carnem judicatis: ego non judico quemquam: et si judico ego, judicium meum verum est, quia solus non sum; sed ego, et qui misit me, Pater. Et in lege vestra scriptum est, quia duorum hominum testimonium verum est. Ego sum qui testimonium herhibeo de meipso: et testimonium perhibet de me, qui misit me, Pater. Didebant ergo ei: Ubi est Pater tuus? Respondit Jesus: Neque me scitis, neque Patrem meum: si me sciretis, forsitan et Patrem meum sciretis. Hæc verba locutus est Jesus in gazophylacio, docens in templo: et nemo apprehendit eum, quia necdum venerat hora ejus.||At that time: Jesus spoke to the multitude of the Jews, saying: I am the light of the world; he that followeth me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life. The Pharisees therefore said to him: Thou givest testimony of thyself; thy testimony is not true. Jesus answered and said to them: Although I give testimony of myself, my testimony is true; for I know whence I came and whither I go, but you know not whence I come, or whither I go. You judge according to the flesh, I judge not any man. And if I do judge, my judgment is true; because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. And in your law it is written, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one, that give testimony of myself; and the Father that sent me, giveth testimony of me. They said therefore to him: Where is thy Father? Jesus answered: Neither me do you know, nor my Father: if you did know me, perhaps you would know my Father also. These words Jesus spoke in the Treasury, teaching in the temple; and no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.|
What a contrast between the tender mercy of God, who invites all men to receive his Son as their Redeemer, and the obduracy of heart wherewith the Jews receive the heavenly Ambassador! Jesus has proclaimed himself to be the Son of God and, in proof of his divine origin, has for three long years wrought the most astounding miracles. Many of the Jews have believed in him, because they argued that God could never have authorized falsity by miracles; and they therefore accepted the doctrine of Jesus as coming from heaven. The Pharisees hate the light, and love darkness; their pride will not yield even to the evidence of facts. At one time they denied the genuineness of Jesus’ miracles; at another, they pretended to explain them by the agency of the devil. Then too, they put questions to him of such a captious nature that, in what way soever Jesus answered, they might accuse him of blasphemy, or contempt for the Law. Today, they have the audacity to make this objection to Jesus’ being the Messias—that he gives testimony in his own favor! Our Blessed Lord, who knows the malice of their hearts, deigns to refute their impious sarcasm; but he avoids giving them an explicit answer. It is evident that the Light is passing from Jerusalem, and is to bless other lands. How terrible is this punishment of a soul that abuses the truth, and rejects it by an instinctive hatred! Her crime is that sin against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. Happy he that loves the truth, though it condemns his evil passions, and troubles his conscience! Such a one proves that he reveres the wisdom of God; and if it do not altogether rule his conduct, it does not abandon him. But happier far he that yields himself wholly to the Truth and, as a humble Disciple, follows Jesus. He walketh not in darkness; he shall have the light of life. Let us then lose no time, but take at once that happy path marked out for us by Him who is our Light and our Life. Keeping close to his footsteps, he went up the rugged hill of Quarentana, and there we witnessed his rigid Fast; but now that the time of his Passion is at hand, he invites us to follow him up another mount, that of Calvary, there to contemplate his Sufferings and Death. Let us not hesitate; we shall be repaid—we shall have the light of life.
|Humiliate capita vestra Deo.||Bow down your heads to God.|
|Deus, qui sperantibus in te miereri potius eligis quam irasci: da nobis digne flere mala quæ fecimus, ut tuæ consolationis gratiam invenire mereamur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.||O God, who choosest rather to show mercy, than to be angry with those that hope in thee, grant we may worthily lament the evil we have committed, that so we may find the favor of thy consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.|
Let us end these first four weeks of Lent with a Hymn to our Blessed Lady, the Mother of Mercy. Saturday is always sacred to her. The Hymn we give is taken from the ancient Roman-French Missals.
|Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee, O gentle Virgin!|
Et Angelis gloriam.
|Blessed art thou among women, for thou didst bring forth peace to men and glory to the Angels.|
Fructus ventris tui,
Ut essemus sui,
Nos fecit per gratiam.
|And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, who, by his grace, made us to be his co-heirs.|
|Per hoc autem Ave,
Mundo tam suave,
Contra carnis jura
Novum stella solem,
|By this Ave, which sounded so sweetly to the world, thou didst conceive, and not by nature’s laws. Thou wast the new Star that was to bring forth a new Sun.|
|Tu parvi et magni,
Leonis et Agni,
Sed virgo intacta.
|Thou, though ever the purest of Virgins, wast the Temple of our Savior Jesus Christ (who united in his person the little and the great), of Jesus, the Lion and the Lamb.|
|Tu Solis et Roris,
Panis et Pastoris,
Rosa sine spina,
Genetrix es facta.
|O Queen of Virgins! O Rose without thorns! Thou wast made Mother of Him who is our Sun, our Dew, our Bread, and our Shepherd.|
|Tu civitas Regis justitiæ,
Tu mater es misericordiæ,
De lacu fæcis et miseriæ
Theophilum reformans gratiæ.
|Thou art the City of the just King; thou art the Mother of mercy, bringing grace to Theophilus, by drawing him out of the den of filth and misery.|
|Te collaudat cœlestis curia
Tu mater es Regis et filia,
Per te reis donatur venia,
Per te justic confertur gratia.
|The heavenly court praises thee, for thou art both Mother and Daughter of its King. By thee, the guilty obtain pardon; by thy prayers, the just receive grace.|
|Ergo maris stella,
Verbi Dei cella,
Et solis aurora,
|Therefore, O Star of the Sea, O Tabernacle of the Word,|
Per quam lux est orta,
Natum tuum ora,
|O Gate of heaven, by whom Light arose to the world!—pray for us to thy Son,|
|Ut nos solvat a peccatis,
Et in regno claritatis,
Quo lux lucet sedula,
Collocet per sæcula.
|That he loose us from sin, and introduce us into the kingdom of brightness, where perpetual light shines for ever.|
This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)