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Christ and the Centurion – Paolo Veronese circa 1571Wikimedia Commons

(LifeSiteNews) — Today, again, the great litany, the supplication, is heard in the house of the Lord: the solemn procession reappears in the streets of the city, and in the quiet lanes of the country. Let us take our share in this sacred rite; let us blend our voice with that of our mother, and join the cry that pierces the clouds: Kyrie eleison! Lord have mercy on us!

Let us think, for a moment, of the countless sins that are being committed, day and night; and let us sue for mercy. In the days of Noah, all flesh had corrupted its way; (Genesis 6:12) but men thought not of asking for mercy. The flood came, and destroyed them all, (Luke 17:27) says our Savior. Had they prayed, had they begged God’s pardon, the hand of His justice would have been stayed, and the floodgates of heaven would not have been opened. (Luke 7:11) The day is to come, when, not water, as heretofore, but fire is suddenly to be enkindled by the divine wrath, and is to burn the whole earth. It shall burn even the foundations of the mountains; (Deuteronomy 32:22) it shall devour sinners, who will be resting then, as they were in the days of Noah, in a false security.

Persecuted by Her enemies, decimated by the martyrdom of Her children, afflicted by numerous apostasies from the faith, and deprived of every human aid, the Church will know that the terrible chastisement is at hand, for prayer will then be as rare as faith. Let us, therefore, pray; that thus the day of wrath may be put off, the Christian life regain something of its ancient vigor, and the end of the world not be in our times. There are even yet Catholics in every part of the world; but their number has visibly decreased. Heresy is now in possession of whole countries, that were once faithful to the Church.

In others, where heresy has not triumphed, religious indifference has left the majority of men with nothing of Catholicity but the name, seeing that they neglect even their most essential obligations without remorse. Among many of those who fulfill the precepts of the Church, truths are diminished. (Psalms 11:2)

The old honesty of faith has been superseded by loose ideas and half-formed convictions. A man is popular in proportion to the concessions he makes in favor of principles condemned by the Church. The sentiments and actions of the saints, the conduct and teaching of the Church, are taxed with exaggeration, and decried as being unsuited to the period. The search after comforts has become a serious study; the thirst for earthly goods is a noble passion; independence is an idol to which everything must be sacrificed; submission is a humiliation which must be got rid of, or, where that cannot be, it must not be publicly avowed. Finally, there is sensualism, which, like an impure atmosphere, so impregnates every class of society, that one would suppose there was a league formed to abolish the Cross of Christ from the minds of men.

What miseries must not follow from this systematic setting aside the conditions imposed by God upon his creatures? If the Gospel be the word of infinite truth, how can men oppose it without drawing down upon themselves the severest chastisements? Would that these chastisements might work the salvation of them that have provoked them!

Let us humble ourselves before the sovereign holiness of our God, and confess our guilt. The sins of men are increasing both in number and in enormity. The picture we have just drawn is sad enough; what would it not be had we added such abominations as these which we purposely excluded: downright impiety; corrupt doctrines, which are being actively propagated throughout the world; dealings with Satan, which threaten to degrade our age to the level of pagan times; the conspiracy organized against order, justice, and religion by secret societies? Oh! let us unite our prayer with that of holy Church, and say to our God: From thy wrath, deliver us, O Lord!

The Rogation Days were instituted for another end besides this of averting the divine anger. We must beg our Heavenly Father to bless the fruits of the earth; we must beseech him, with all the earnestness of public prayer, to give us our daily bread. “The eyes of all,” says the psalmist, “hope in thee, O Lord! and thou givest them food in due season. Thou openest thy hand, and fillest with blessing every living creature.” (Psalms, 144:4) In accordance with the consoling doctrine conveyed by these words, the Church prays to God, that He would, this year, give to all living creatures on earth the food they stand in need of. She acknowledges that we are not worthy of the favor, for we are sinners: let us unite with Her in this humble confession; but, at the same time, let us join Her in beseeching our Lord to make mercy triumph over justice.

How easily could He not frustrate the self-conceited hopes, and the clever systems of men! They own that all depends on the weather; and on whom does that depend? They cannot do without God! True, they seldom speak of Him, and He permits Himself to be forgotten by them; but He neither sleepeth nor slumbereth, that keepeth Israel. (Psalms 120:4) He has but to withhold His blessing, and all their progress in agricultural science, whereby they boast to have made famine an impossibility, is of no effect. Some unknown disease comes upon a vegetable; it causes distress among the people, and endangers the social order of a world that has secularized itself from the Christian law, and would at once perish, but for the mercy of the God it affects to ignore.

If, then, our Heavenly Father deign, this year, to bless the fruits of the earth, we may say, in all truth, that he gives food to them that forget and blaspheme Him, as well as to them that make Him the great object of their thoughts and service. Men of no religion will profit of the blessing, but they will not acknowledge it to be His; they will proclaim louder than ever that nature’s laws are now so well regulated by modern science, that she cannot help going on well! God will be silent, and feed the men that thus insult Him.

But why does He not speak? Why does He not make His wrath be felt? Because His Church has prayed; because He has found the ten just men, (Genesis 18:32) that is, the few for whose sake he mercifully consents to spare the world. He therefore permits these learned economists whom he could so easily stultify, to go on talking and writing.

Thanks to this His patience, some of them will grow tired of their impious absurdity; an unexpected circumstance will open their eyes to the truth, and they will, one day, join us both in faith and prayer. Others will go deeper and deeper into blasphemy; they will go on to the last, defying God’s justice, and fulfilling in themselves that terrible saying of Holy Scripture: “The Lord hath made all things for Himself; the wicked also for the evil day.” (Proverbs 16:4)

As to us, who glory in the simplicity of our faith, who acknowledge that we have all from God and nothing from ourselves, who confess that we are sinners and undeserving of his gifts, we will ask Him, during these three days, to give us the food we require; we will say to Him, with holy Church: “That thou vouchsafe to give and preserve the fruits of the earth: we beseech thee, hear us!” May He have pity on us in our necessities!

Next year, we will return to Him, with the same earnest request. We will march, under the standard of the Cross, through the same roads, making the air resound with the same litanies. We will do this with all the greater confidence, at the thought that our holy mother is marshaling Her children in every part of Christendom, in this solemn and suppliant procession.

For fourteen hundred years has our God been accustomed to receive the petitions of his faithful people at this season of the year; he shall have the same homage from us; nay, we will endeavor, by the fervor of our prayer, to make amends for the indifference and ignorance which are combining to do away with old Catholic customs, which our forefathers prized and loved.

The Mass is the same as yesterday’s.

We offer our readers the following prayer, taken from the ancient Gallican liturgy, and composed at a period when the observance of the Rogation Days was in its first fervor.


It is truly meet and just, that, in all contrition of heart, we should praise thee by our fast, O almighty and eternal God, through Christ our Lord. Who, being come to teach us the hidden things of thy mysteries, revealed to us the symbol, shown to Noah, of the peaceful olive-branch borne in the dove’s beak: it was the glorious figure of the beautiful tree of the Cross.

It was in honor of Christ that the dove prefigured the Cross, signifying that it was to be venerated by all men, through the grace of the Holy Spirit. We desire to be like this bird by the innocence of our lives; we pray that we may be sanctified by that Spirit, of whom it was the figure. Therefore do we offer up our prayers in these three days of fasting and humiliation, carrying, at the head of the army of the faithful, the invincible standard of the Cross, and singing psalms in praise of thy divine majesty.

We beseech thee, O Almighty God, that thou receive all the prayers of thy people, and the sacred rites whereby they present them to thee. We also beseech thee so to sanctify them by this their fast, as that they may deserve to be freed from all their sins.

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.