(LifeSiteNews) — The station is in the venerable church of the Four Crowned (Brothers); their names are Severus, Severianus, Carpophorus, and Victorinus; they suffered martyrdom under the persecution of Diocletian. Their bodies, as also the head of the great martyr St. Sebastian, are among the relics of this church.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we, who annually celebrate this holy fast, may be well pleasing to thee, both in body and mind, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lesson from the Book of Kings 3:16-28
In those days: Two women that were harlots, came to King Solomon, and stood before him; and one of them said: I beseech thee, my lord, I and this woman dwelt in one house, and I was delivered of a child with her in the chamber. And the third day after that I was delivered, she also delivered; and we were together, and no other person with us in the house, only we two. And this woman’s child died in the night, for in her sleep she overlaid him; and rising in the dead time of the night, she took my child from my side, while thy handmaid was asleep, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold it was dead; but considering him more diligently when it was clear day, I found that it was not mine which I bore. And the other woman answered: It is not so as thou sayest, but thy child is dead, and mine is alive. On the contrary she said: Thou liest, for my child liveth, and thy child is dead. And in this manner they strove before the king. Then saith the king: The one saith my child is alive, and thy child is dead: and the other answereth: Nay, but thy child is dead, and mine liveth. The king therefore said: Bring me a sword. And when they had brought a sword before the king, Divide, said he, the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. But the women, whose child was alive, said to the king (for her bowels were moved upon her child), I beseech thee, my lord, give her the child alive, and do not kill it. But the other said: Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. The king answered and said: Give the living child to this woman and let it not be killed, for she is the mother thereof. And all Israel heard the judgment which the king had judged, and they feared the king, seeing that the wisdom of God was in him to do judgment.
St. Paul explained to us, in yesterday’s Epistle, the antagonism that there is between the synagogue and the Church; he showed us how Sara’s son, who was the father’s favorite, was persecuted by the son of Agar. The two women, who appear before Solomon, are another figure of the same truth. The child they both lay claim to is the gentile people, which has been brought to the knowledge of the true God.
The Synagogue, typified by the woman who has caused death to her child, has misled the people confided to her care; and now unjustly claims one that does not belong to her. And whereas it is not from any motherly affection, but only from pride, that she puts forward such a claim, it matters little to her what becomes of the child, provided only he be not given to the true mother, the Church.
Solomon, the King of Peace, who is one of the Scriptural types of Christ, adjudges the child to her that has given him birth, and nourished him; and the pretensions of the false mother are rejected.
Let us, then, love our mother, the Holy Church, the Spouse of Jesus. It is She has made us children of God by Baptism. She has fed us with the Bread of Life; She has given us the Holy Spirit; and, when we had the misfortune to relapse into death by sin, She, by the divine power given to Her, has restored us to life. A filial love for the Church is the sign of the elect; obedience to her commandments is the mark of a soul in which God has set His kingdom.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John 2:13-25
At that time the Pasch of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And he found in the temple them that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting. And when he had made as it were a scourge of little cords he drove them all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen; and the money of the changers he poured out, and the tables he overthrew. And he said to them that sold doves: Take these things hence, and make not the house of my Father a house of traffic. And his disciples remembered that it was written: “The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up,” Then the Jews answered and said to him: What sign dost these thou shew us, seeing thou dost these things? Jesus answered and said to them: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. The Jews then said: Six and forty years was this temple in building, and wilt thou raise it in three days? But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen again from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture, and the word that Jesus had said. Now when he was at Jerusalem, at the Pasch, on the festival day, many believed in his name, seeing his signs which he did. But Jesus did not trust himself to them, because he knew all men, and because he needed not that any should give testimony of man, for he knew what was in man.
We read, in the Gospel of the first Tuesday of Lent, that Jesus drove from the temple them that were making it a place of traffic. He twice showed this zeal for his Father’s House. The passage we have just read from St. John refers to the first time. Both occasions are brought before us during this season of Lent, because this conduct of our Savior shows us with what severity he will treat a soul that harbors sin within her.
Our souls are the temple of God, created and sanctified by God to the end that He might dwell there. He would have nothing to be in them which is unworthy of their destination. This is the season for self-examination; and if we have found that any passions are profaning the sanctuary of our souls, let us dismiss them; let us beseech our Lord to drive them out by the scourge of his justice, for we, perhaps, might be too lenient with these sacrilegious intruders. The day of pardon is close at hand; let us make ourselves worthy to receive it.
There is an expression in our Gospel which deserves a special notice. The evangelist is speaking to those Jews who were more sincere than the rest, and believed in Jesus, because of the miracles he wrought; he says: “Jesus did not trust himself to them, because he knew all men.” So that there may be persons who believe in and acknowledge Jesus, yet whose hearts are not changed!
Oh! the hardness of man’s heart! Oh! cruel anxiety for God’s priests! Sinners and worldlings are now crowding round the confessional; they have faith, and they confess their sins! And the Church has no confidence in their repentance! She knows that, a very short time after the feast of Easter, they will have relapsed into the same state in which they were on the day when She marked their foreheads with ashes.
These souls are divided between God and the world; and She trembles as She thinks on the danger they are about to incur by receiving Holy Communion without the preparation of a true conversion. Yet on the other side, She remembers how it is written that the bruised reed, is not to be broken, nor the smoking flax to be extinguished. (Isaiah 42:3)
Let us pray for these souls, whose state is so full of doubt and danger. Let us, also, pray for the priests of the Church, that they may receive from God abundant rays of the light, whereby Jesus knew what was in man.
Bow down your heads to God.
We beseech thee, Lord, hear our prayer, and grant us Thy protection, as it is Thou who inspires us to ask it. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us pray for the conversion of sinners, using the beautiful Preface given us by the Roman Pontifical, which was formerly recited during the reconciliation of the public penitents.
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to thee, Holy Lord, Almighty Father, Eternal God, through Christ our Lord: Whom thou, O Almighty Father, didst will to be born among us by an ineffable Birth, that so he might pay to thee, his Eternal Father, the debt contracted by Adam, and put our death to death by his own, and bear our wounds in his own Flesh, and cleanse away our stains by is Blood; hereby enabling us, who had fallen by the envy of the old enemy, to rise again by his mercy. Through him, Lord, we suppliantly beseech and pray thee that thou mayest graciously hear us making intercession for the sins of others, who are not worthy to plead for our own. Do thou, most merciful Lord, recall to thyself, with thy wonted goodness, these thy servants, who have separated themselves from thee by their sins. For neither didst thou reject the most wicked Achab when he humbled himself before thee, but didst avert from him the punishment he had deserved. So, likewise, didst thou graciously hear Peter, when he wept, and didst afterwards give to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and thou didst promise the reward of that same kingdom to the thief when he trusted in thee. Therefore, O most merciful Lord! mercifully welcome back these for whom we offer to thee our prayers, and restore them to the bosom of thy Church, that the enemy may not triumph over them but that they may be reconciled unto thee by thy co-equal Son, and by Him be cleansed from their guilt, and graciously admitted by Him to the banquet of thy most Holy Supper. May he in such wise refresh them by his Flesh and Blood, as to lead them, after this life’s course is run, to the kingdom of heaven.
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.