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Stained glass at St. John the Baptist's Anglican Church, Ashfield, New South Wales, Australia – Alfred Handel, 1946Wikimedia Commons

(LifeSiteNews) — At Rome, the station is in the church of Saint Marcellus, pope and martyr. This church was once the house of the holy lady Lucina, who gave it to the pontiff, that he might consecrate it to God.


Enlighten, O God of mercy, the hearts of thy people by means of this holy fast; and since all our devotion is the effect of thy bounty, mercifully hear the petitions we make. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Lesson from the book of Leviticus 19:1-19

In those days: the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the assembly of the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them: I am the Lord your God. You shall not steal. You shall not lie: neither shall any man deceive his neighbor. Thou shalt not swear falsely by my name, nor profane the name of thy God. I am the Lord. Thou shalt not calumniate thy neighbor, nor oppress him by violence. The wages of him that has been hired by thee, shall not abide with thee until the morning. Thou shalt not speak evil of the dead, nor put a stumbling block before the blind: but thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, because I am the Lord. Thou shalt not do that which is unjust, nor judge unjustly. Respect not the person of the poor, nor honor the countenance of the mighty. Judge thy neighbor according to justice. Thou shalt not be a detractor, nor a whisperer among the people. Thou shalt not stand against the blood of thy neighbor. I am the Lord. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in the heart, but reprove him openly, lest thou incur sin through him. Seek not revenge, nor be mindful of the injury of thy citizens. Thou shalt love thy friend as thyself. I am the Lord. Keep ye my laws, for I am the Lord your God.

This passage from Leviticus, wherein our duties to our neighbor as so clearly and so fully defined, is read to us today, in order that we may see how we fulfill these important duties, and correct whatever shortcomings we may discover in ourselves.

It is God who here speaks; it is God who commands. Observe that phrase: I am the Lord: He repeats it several times, to show us that if we injure our neighbor, He, God Himself, will become the avenger. How strange must not such doctrine have seemed to the catechumens, who had been brought up in the selfish and heartless principles of Paganism! Here they are told that all men are brethren, and that God is the common Father of all, commanding all to love one another with sincere charity, and without distinction of nation or class.

Let us Christians resolve to fulfill this precept to the letter: these are days for good resolutions. Let us remember that the commandments we have been reading were given to the Israelite people, many ages before the preaching of the law of love. If, then, God exacted from the Jew a cordial love of his fellow men, when the divine law was written on mere tablets of stone; what will He not require from the Christian, who can now read that law in the heart of the Man-God, who has come down from heaven and made Himself our Brother, in order that we might find it easier and sweeter to fulfill the precept of charity?

Human nature united in His person to the Divine, is henceforth sacred; it has become an object of the heavenly Father’s love. It was out of fraternal love for this our nature that Jesus suffered death, teaching us, by His own example, to have such love for our brethren that, if necessary, we ought to lay down our lives for them. (John 3:16) It is the beloved disciple that teaches us this, and he had it from his Divine Master.


Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to John 10:22-38

At that time: It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem: and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch: the Jews therefore came round about him, and said to him: How long dost thou hold our souls in suspense? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them: I speak to you, and you believe not. The works that I do in the name of my Father, they give testimony of me. But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice: and I know them, and they follow me: and I give them eternal life: and they shall not perish for ever, and no man shall pluck them out of my hand. That which my Father hath given me, is greater than all: and no man can snatch it out of the hand of my Father. I and the Father are one. The Jews then took up stones to stone him. Jesus answered them: Many good works I have shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do you stone me? The Jews answered him: For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy: and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them: Is it not written in your law: I said you are gods? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God was spoken, and the Scripture cannot be broken; do you say of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world: Thou blasphemest; because I said I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though you will not believe me, believe the works, that you may know, and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.

After the Feast of Tabernacles came that of the Dedication, and Jesus remained in Jerusalem. The hatred His enemies bore Him is greater than ever. They come round about Him, that they may make Him say He is the Christ, and then accuse Him of claiming a mission which does not belong to Him. Jesus deigns not to reply to their question, but tells them that they have seen His works, and that these give ample testimony of His being Christ, the Son of God.

It is by faith, and by faith alone, that man can here know his God. God manifests Himself by His divine works: man sees them, and is bound to believe the truth to which they bear testimony. By thus believing, he has both the certitude of what he believes, and the merit of his believing. The proud Jew rebels against this: he would fain dictate to God how he should act, and sees not that such a pretension is impious and absurd.

But if Jesus openly declare the truth, He will scandalize these evil-minded men! Be it so: the truth must be preached. Our Lord has others to consult besides them; there are the well-intentioned, and they will believe what He teaches. He therefore utters these sublime words, whereby He declares not only that He is Christ, but that He is God: “I and the Father are one.”

He knew that this would enrage His enemies; but He had to make Himself known to the world, and arm the Church against the false doctrines of heretics who were to rise up in future ages. One of these is to be Arius, who will teach that Jesus is not God, but only the most perfect of creatures: the Church will answer that Jesus is one with the Father – consubstantial to the Father: and then, after causing much trouble and sin, Arianism will die out and be forgotten.

The Jews, mentioned in today’s Gospel, are the forerunners of Arius; they understand what our Lord says – He says He is God; and they seek to stone Him. Jesus gives them a fresh grace; He shows them why they should receive what He here teaches: He reminds them, by the Scriptures they know off by heart, that the name god sometimes has been applied, in a limited sense, to men who had certain high offices put upon them by heaven; and then, he bids them think of all the miracles they have seen Him work, which so plainly testify to His being assisted by His Father, and once more declares Himself to be God, saying: “The Father is in me, and I in the Father.”

But men, hardened in obstinacy as these are, cannot be convinced; and the sin they have committed against the Holy Ghost is working its effects. How different is it with the sheep of this Divine Shepherd! They hear His voice; they follow Him; He gives them eternal life; no man shall pluck them out of His hand.

Happy sheep indeed! They believe, because they love; and as it is through the heart that Truth gains ascendancy over them, so is it by pride of intellect that darkness gets admission into the soul of the unbeliever, and lasts as long as pride lasts. Alas! poor unbeliever! he loves his darkness; he calls it light; he blasphemes when he thinks he reasons, just as these Jews crucified the Son of God, that, as they said, they might give glory to God!

Bow down your heads to God.

Hear our prayers and entreaties, O Almighty God, and grant that those to whom thou givest hopes of thy mercy, may experience the effects of thy usual clemency. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Mozarabic Breviary gives us the following beautiful prayer, which consists of exclamations to our suffering Jesus.

(Sabbato Dominicæ V. Quadragesimæ.)

℣. O Jesus! thou true Son of God.

℟. Graciously hear us! have mercy on thy suppliant people.

℣. Thou that alone didst save the world by the triumph of thy Cross, do thou, by the Blood thou didst shed, deliver us.

℟. And graciously hear us.

℣. By thy Death, thou didst destroy death; By thy Resurrection, thou didst give us life; for our sakes, thou didst suffer undue punishment.

℟. And graciously hear us.

℣. May we celebrate, in peace, these days of thy Passion, and thereby be consoled by thy sweetness.

℟. And graciously hear us.

℣. Let not them perish, for whom thou didst suffer the Cross; but, by thy Cross, lead them to life everlasting.

℟. And graciously hear us.

Let us now turn towards the Holy Cross. These words of the Greek Church, in her Triodion, will assist our devotion.

(Feria V. mediæ Septimanæ)

When the most praiseworthy Patriarch Jacob, was, of old, about to bless his children, he crossed his arms; in this he represented the Cross, and prefigured that saving blessing which thence came to each of us.

We embrace thee, most venerable Cross, as our armor of salvation, the invincible trophy, the standard of joy, whereby Death was put to death; for we have been made to share in the glory of Him that was nailed upon thee.

The choirs of the angelic Powers stand in holy awe around thee, O life-giving tree! For it was on thee that Christ shed his Blood, which was the price of our redemption, and which utterly destroyed all those rights that sin had given the devil over mankind.

O Word (made Flesh)! the sword of the enemy hath struck me; heal me by thy Blood. Speedily tear, with thy Spear, the hand-writing of my sins, and write my name in the book of life.

O venerable Cross! when thou wast fixed in the earth, thou didst make to tremble the region of hell; but thou wast made a firm support and unshaken protection to the Faithful.

Being made faithful in virtue, let us pluck from the divine Tree those life-giving fruits, offered unto us by that rich Vine, Jesus, who lay stretched upon it.

O Jesus! we praise thy immense goodness, as we venerate the Cross, and Spear, and Reed, whereby, O merciful God, thou didst remove the wall of enmity that stood between us and thee.

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.