(LifeSiteNews) — The station is in the church of Saint Eusebius, priest of Rome, who suffered for the faith, in the Arian persecution, under the Emperor Constantius.
O God, who by thy ineffable mysteries givest new life to the world; grant, we beseech thee, that thy Church may advance in the observance of thy eternal precepts, and never be destitute of thy temporal assistance. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lesson from the Book of Kings 17:17-24
In those days: the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick, and the sickness was very grievous, so that there was no breath left in him. And she said to Elias: What have I to do with thee, thou man of God? Art thou come to me, that my iniquities should be remembered, and that thou shouldst kill my son? And Elias said to her: Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him into the upper chamber where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried to the Lord, and said: O Lord my God, hast thou afflicted also the widow, with whom I am after a sort maintained, so as to kill her son? And he stretched, and measured himself upon the child three times, and cried to the Lord, and said: O Lord, my God, let the soul of this child, I beseech thee, return into his body. And the Lord heard the voice of Elias; and the soul of the child returned unto him, and he revived. And Elias took the child, and brought him down from the upper chamber to the house below, and delivered him to his mother, and said to her: Behold thy son liveth. And the woman said to Elias: Now, by this, I know thou art a man of God, and the word of the Lord in thy mouth is true.
Again, it is a mother, that comes, with tears in her eyes, praying for the resurrection of her child. This mother is the Widow of Sarephta, whom we have already had as the type of the gentile Church. She was once a sinner, and an idolatress, and the remembrance of the past afflicts her soul; but the God that has cleansed her from her sins, and called her to be His bride, comforts her by restoring her child to life.
The charity of Elias is a figure of that of the Son of God. Observe how this great prophet stretches himself upon the body of the boy, fitting himself to his littleness, as did also Eliseus. Here again, we recognize the divine mystery of the Incarnation. Elias thrice touches the corpse; thrice, also, will our catechumens be immersed in the baptismal font, whilst the minister of God invokes the Three Persons of the adorable Trinity.
On the solemn night of Easter Jesus, too, will say to the Church, his bride: Behold thy son liveth; and She, transported with joy, will acknowledge the truth of God’s promises. Nay, the very pagans bore witness to this truth; for when they saw the virtuous lives of this new people, which came forth regenerated from the waters of baptism, they acknowledged that God alone could produce such virtue in man. There suddenly arose from the midst of the Roman Empire, demoralized and corrupt beyond imagination, a race of men of angelic purity and these very men had, but a short time before their baptism, wallowed in all the abominations of paganism.
Whence had they derived this sublime virtue? From the Christian teaching, and from the supernatural remedies it provides for man’s spiritual miseries. Then it was, that unbelievers sought for the true faith, though they knew it was at the risk of martyrdom; they ran to the Church, asking her to become their mother, and saying to her: “We know that thou art of God, and the word of the Lord in thy mouth is true.”
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John 11:1-45
At that time: There was a certain man sick named Lazarus of Bethania, of the town of Mary, and of Martha her sister. And Mary was she that anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. His sisters therefore sent to him, saying: Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. And Jesus hearing it, said to them: This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he still remained in the same place two days. Then after that he said to his disciples: Let us go into Judea again. The disciples say to him: Rabbi, the Jews but now sought to stone thee, and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered: Are there not twelve hours of the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world; but if he walk in the night he stumbleth, because the light is not in him. These things he said, and after that he said to them: Lazarus our friend sleepeth: but I go that I may awake him out of his sleep. His disciples therefore said: Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. But Jesus spoke of his death; and they thought that he spoke of the repose of sleep. Then therefore Jesus said to them plainly: Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes, that I was not there, that you may believe; but let us go to him. Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples: Let us also go, that we may die with him. Jesus therefore came, and found that he had been four days already in the grave (Now Bethania was near Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off). And many of the Jews were come to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Martha, therefore, as soon as she heard that Jesus was come, went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha therefore said to Jesus: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died; but now also I know, that whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith to her: Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith to him: I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live, and every one that liveth, and believeth in me, shall not die for ever. Believest thou this? She saith to him: Yea, Lord, I have believed that thou art Christ, the Son of the living God, who art come into this world. And when she had said these things, she went, and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The Master is come, and calleth for thee. She, as soon as she heard this, riseth quickly, and cometh to him; for Jesus was not yet come into the town, but he was still in that place where Martha had met him. The Jews, therefore, who were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary that she rose up speedily, and went out, followed her saying: She goeth to the grave, to weep there. When Mary therefore was come where Jesus was, seeing him, she fell down at his feet, and saith to him: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. Jesus therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews, that were come with her, weeping, he groaned in the spirit, and troubled himself, and said: Where have you laid him? They say to him: Lord, come and see. And Jesus wept. The Jews therefore said: Behold how he loved him! But some of them said: Could not he, that opened the eyes of the man born blind, have caused that this man should not die? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself, cometh to the sepulcher; now it was a cave, and a stone was laid over it. Jesus saith: Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith to him: Lord, by this time he stinketh, for it is now the fourth day. Jesus saith to her: Did not I say to thee, that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? They took therefore the stone away; and Jesus lifting up his eyes, said: Father, I give thee thanks that thou hast heard me; and I know that thou hearest me always, but because of the people who stand about have I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. When he had said these things, he cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth! And presently he that had been dead came forth, bound feet and hands with winding bands, and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them: Loose him, and let him go. Many therefore of the Jews, who were come to Mary and Martha, and had seen the things that Jesus did, believed in him.
Let us meditate upon this admirable history; and as we meditate, let us hope; for it not only shows us what Jesus does for the souls of others, but what he has done for ours. Let us also renew our prayers for the penitents, who now, throughout the world are preparing for the great reconciliation.
It is not a mother that is here represented as praying for the resurrection of her child; it is two sisters asking this grace for a brother. The example must not be lost on us – we must pray for one another. But let us take our Gospel in the order of its truths.
First, Lazarus was sick; and then, he died. The sinner begins by being tepid and careless; and then he receives the mortal wound. Jesus could have cured Lazarus of his sickness; but he permitted it to be fatal. He intends to work such a miracle, and that within sight of Jerusalem, that his enemies shall have no excuse for refusing to receive Him as the Messias. He would also prove that he is the sovereign master of life, in order that He might hereby teach His apostles and disciples not to be scandalized at the death He Himself was soon to suffer.
In the moral sense, God, in his wisdom, sometimes leaves an ungrateful soul to itself, although He foresees that it will fall into sin. It will rise again; and the confusion it will feel for having sinned will lead it to that great preservative against a future fall – humility.
The two sisters, Martha and Mary, are full of grief, yet full of confidence in Jesus. Let us observe how their two distinct characters are shown on this occasion. Jesus tells Martha that He is the Resurrection and the Life, and that they who believe in Him shall not die, that is, shall not die the death of sin. But when Mary came to Him, and He saw her weeping, He groaned in the spirit, and troubled Himself, because He knew the greatness of her love.
His divine Heart was touched with compassion as He beheld those who were so dear to Him, smarting under that chastisement of death, which sin had brought into the world. Having reached the sepulchre where Lazarus was buried, He wept, for He loved Lazarus. Thus did our Redeemer by His own weeping sanctify the tears which Christian affection sheds over the grave of a relative or friend.
Lazarus has been in the sepulchre four days: it is the image of the sinner buried in his sin. To see him now is what even his sister shudders at: but Jesus rebukes her, and bids them take away the stone. Then, with that voice which commands all nature and makes hell tremble, He cried out Lazarus, come forth! He that had been dead rises up in the sepulchre; but his feet and hands are tied, his face is covered with a napkin; he lives, but he can neither walk nor see. Jesus orders him to be set free; and then, by the hands of the men that are present, he receives the use of his limbs and eyes.
So is it with the sinner that receives pardon. There is no voice but that of Jesus which can call him to conversion, and touch his heart, and bring him to confess his sins; but Jesus has put into the hands of priests the power to loosen, enlighten, and give movement. This miracle, which was wrought by our Savior at this very season of the year, filled up the measure of His enemies’ rage, and set them thinking how they could soonest put Him to death.
The few days He has still to live are all to be spent at Bethania, where the miracle has taken place, and which is but a short distance from Jerusalem. In nine days from this, He will make His triumphant entry into the faithless city, after which He will return to Bethania, and after three or four days, will once more enter Jerusalem, there to consummate the Sacrifice, whose infinite merits are to purchase resurrection for sinners.
The early Christians loved to see this history of our Lord’s raising Lazarus to life painted in the walls of the catacombs. We also find it carved on the sarcophagi of the fourth and fifth centuries; and later on, it was not unfrequently chosen as a subject for the painted windows of our cathedrals.
This symbol of spiritual resurrection was formerly honored by a most solemn ceremony in the great Monastery of Holy Trinity at Vendôme, in France. Every year, on this day, a criminal who had been sentenced to death was led to the church of the monastery. He had a rope round his neck, and held in his hand a torch weighing thirty-three pounds, in memory of the years spent on earth by our Savior.
The monks made a procession in which the criminal joined; after which a sermon was preached, at which he also assisted. He was then taken to the foot of the altar, where the abbot, after exhorting him to repentance, imposed on him, as a penance, the pilgrimage to Saint Martin’s Church at Tours. The abbot loosened the rope from his neck and declared him to be free.
The origin of this ceremony was that when Louis of Bourbon, Count of Vendôme, was prisoner in England, in the year 1426, he made a vow that if God restored him to liberty, he would establish this custom in the Church of Holy Trinity as a return of gratitude and as an homage to Christ, who raised up Lazarus from the tomb. God accepted the vow, and the Prince soon recovered his freedom.
Bow down your heads to God.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we, who are sensible of our own weakness, and confide in thy power, may always rejoice in the elects of thy goodness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us pray today for the conversion of sinners, using this devout formula given by the Roman Pontifical in the Reconciliation of Penitents.
O God, the most loving Creator, and most merciful Redeemer of mankind! who, when man, through the devil’s malice, forfeited eternal life, didst redeem him by the Blood of thine Only Son; restore to life these thy servants, whom thou willest not should be dead to thee. Thou abandonest not them that go astray; receive these that have returned to the right path. We beseech thee, O Lord, let thy mercy be moved by the tears and sighs of these thy servants; heal their wounds; stretch forth thy saving hand; and raise them up: lest thy Church be robbed of a part of her body; lest thy flock should suffer loss; lest the enemy should rejoice in the perdition of them that are of thy family; lest the second death should seize them that were regenerated in the waters of salvation. To thee, therefore, O Lord, do we thy suppliants pour forth our prayers, to thee the weeping of our heart. Spare them that trust in thee, and, in thy mercy, suffer them not to fall under the sentence of thy judgment to come, whereby they would be condemned to punishment. Let not the horrors of darkness, or the scorching of flames come nigh to them. They have returned from the way of error to the path of justice; let them not be again wounded. What thy grace hath reformed, let it remain in them whole and for ever. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875). LifeSiteNews is grateful to The Ecu-Men website for making this classic work easily available online.