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(LifeSiteNews) — The station is in the Basilica of Saint Peter, on the Vatican, where the people were wont to assemble, towards evening, that they might be present at the ordination of the priests and sacred ministers.

This day was called “Twelve-Lesson-Saturday,” because formerly, twelve passages from the Holy Scriptures used to be read, as upon Holy Saturday. The Mass, during which the ordinations were given, was celebrated during the night; so that by the time it was over, the Sunday had begun. Later on, the ordination Mass was said early on the Saturday, as we now have it; but in memory of the ancient practice, the Gospel for Saturday is repeated on the Sunday.

The same is observed on the Saturday in the Advent Ember Week; because the ordination Mass of that season was also anticipated.

COLLECT

Mercifully, O Lord, look down on thy people, and in thy clemency turn away from them the scourges of thy wrath. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

EPISTLE

Lesson from the book of Deuteronomy 26:12-19

In those days: Moses spoke to the people, saying: When thou hast made an end of tithing all thy fruits, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; and thou shalt speak thus in the sight of the Lord thy God: ‘I have taken that which was sanctified out of my house, and I have given it to the Levite and to the stranger, and to the fatherless and to the widow, as thou hast commanded me; I have not transgressed thy commandments, nor forgotten thy precepts. I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, and have done all things as thou hast commanded me. Look from thy sanctuary, and thy high habitation of heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, and thou didst swear to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these commandments and judgments, and to keep and fulfill them with all thy heart, and with all thy soul. Thou hast chosen the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways and keep his ceremonies, and precepts, and judgments, and obey his command. And the Lord hath chosen thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath spoken to thee, and to keep all his commandments; and to make thee higher than all nations, which he hath created, to his own praise, and name, and glory; that thou mayest be a holy people of the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken.

God here assures us that a nation which is faithful in observing the laws regarding the divine service shall be blessed above other nations. History is one long illustration of the truth of this promise. Of all the nations which have fallen, there is not one that has not brought the chastisements upon itself by its neglect of the law of God. At times, the Almighty delays to strike; but it is only that the chastisements may be the more evident and produce a more salutary effect upon mankind.

When we would know the future of a country, we need only observe how it comports itself with regard to the laws of the Church. If its own laws are based on the principles and practices of Christianity, that country is sound, in spite of certain weaknesses here and there: revolutions may disturb its peace, but it will triumph over all. If the bulk of its people is faithful in the observance of external practices prescribed by the Church; for example, if they observe the Lord’s Day, and the holy fast of Lent – there is a fund of morality in that country, which is sure to draw down upon it the blessings of heaven.

Irreligious men will scoff at all this, and call it superstition, prejudice of weak minds, and out of date for an age of progress like ours; but if their theories were to rule, and a country which up to this time had been practically Catholic were to seek progress by infringing the law of Christian ritual, it would, in less than a hundred years, find that public and private morality had lost ground, and its own security would be menaced.

Man may walk and write as he likes – God wishes to be served and honored by his people, and it is for Him to prescribe what are to be the forms of this service and adoration. Every injury offered to external worship, which is the great social link, is an injury to the interests of mankind. Even were there not the word of God for it, it is but just that such a consequence should follow.

GOSPEL

Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew 17:1-9

At that time: Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: and he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said to them: Arise and be not afraid. And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of Man shall be risen from the dead.

This Gospel, which, as we have already explained, is to be repeated tomorrow, is the one that is read in the Mass of today’s ordinations. The following is the interpretation given by the ancient liturgists, among whom we may especially mention the learned Abbot Rupert.

The Church would have us think upon the sublime dignity which has been conferred upon the newly ordained priests. They are represented by the three Apostles, who were taken by Jesus to the high mountain, and favored with the sight of his glory.

The rest of the disciples were left below: Peter, James, and John, were the only ones permitted to ascend to Thabor, and they, when the time should come, were to tell their fellow Apostles, and the whole world, how they had seen the glory of their master, and heard the words of the Father declaring the divinity of the Son of Man.

“This voice,” says St. Peter, “coming down to him from the excellent glory: This is my Beloved Son, in whom I have pleased myself; hear ye him. And this voice we heard, brought from heaven, when we were with him on the holy Mount.” (2 Peter 1:17-18)

In like manner, these priests, who have just been ordained, and for whom you have been offering up your prayers and fast, will enter into the cloud with the Lord. They will offer up the sacrifice of your salvation in the silence of the sacred Canon. God will descend into their hands, for your sakes; and though they are mortals and sinners, yet will they, each day, be in closest communication with the divinity. The forgiveness of your sins, which you are now preparing to receive from your Heavenly Father, is to come to you through their hands; their superhuman power will bring it down from heaven upon your souls.

It is thus that God has cured our pride. The serpent said to us, through our first parents: “Eat of this fruit, and you shall be as gods.” We unfortunately believed the tempter, and the fruit of our transgression was death. God took pity on us, and resolved to save us; but it was to be by the hands of men that he would save us, and this in order to humble our haughtiness. His own Eternal Son became Man, and he left other men after him, to whom he said: “As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you.” (St. John 20:21)

Let us, then, show honor to these men who have, this very day, been raised to so high a dignity. One of the duties imposed on us by our holy religion is respect to the priesthood.

Bow down your heads to God.

May thy much desired blessing, God, give strength to thy faithful people: may it hinder them from ever swerving from thy will, and make them always enjoy thy favors. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

This is Saturday; let us have recourse to Mary, the refuge of sinners. Let us put under her maternal protection the humble penances we are now going through; and for this end, we may make use of the following Sequence, taken from the Cluny Missal.

SEQUENCE

Hail Mary, full of grace! dear Mother of Jesus, and hope of the world!

O Gate of heaven! O Temple of God! O Haven of the sea, where sinners confidently seek shelter and repose.

Thou art the worthy Spouse of the Great King, and, by thy powerful prayers, thou art kind and loving to all.

Thou art light to the blind, and a sure path to such as are lame. Thou art by thy loving affection, both Martha and Mary to the needy.

Thou wast the Flower among the thorns; the Flower that, by its rich graces, bloomed to the divine Flower, thy Jesus.

Thou didst speak thy word, and then conceivedst the Word; thou didst give birth to the King of kings, thou that wast a pure Virgin.

Thou wast ever faithful to this King, thy Child; and, using a mother’s privilege, thou didst feed him at thy breast.

Now, thou art united with him, and in reward for thy merits, thou art made the Queen of heaven and earth.

Then pray for us, O Queen, to Him that is our King, beseeching him to pardon us poor fallen sinners.

Show us thy wonted clemency, and, having obtained us the new life of remission of our sins, bring to the kingdom, there to reign forever. Amen.

This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Guéranger (1841-1875). LifeSiteNews is grateful to The Ecu-Men website for making this classic work easily available online.