Rain in the night, and after 0400...

But it has cleared with the Dawn and the progress of the morning. Although I chatter about the day being sunny or wet it is, the weather, too changeable at this time of year to do that very confidently. And, quite frankly, I believe I do this more or less in unconscious self-mockery since there were a few years decades ago when I rather unkindly mocked someone who also daily reported the imaginings of the weather mages-- happily, he has long gone to his eternal reward. It is the Friday post Cineres, but is in some places the feast of the Most Holy Crown of Thorns of Our Lord Jesus Christ; at Saint-Eugène indeed that Mass will be streamed at 1000. The celebration of this feast (as well as of its seasonal counterparts e.g. the Sacred Lance and Nails next Friday and the Mass in reparation for injuries to Our Lord in the Eucharist last Thursday) was far more widespread before Pius XII got up to his liturgical nonsense in the early 1950s. The Mass is Egredimini et videte, as one can read here and also here. That Introit isn't in my copy of the Liber usualis so I am going to guess that it will be a missa lecta, a low Mass.

Santa Lucia in Septizonio [where is celebrated the collecta] is an ancient deaconry which stood at the southern corner of the Palatine, near the Septizonium of Septimius Severus, but which was demolished under Sixtus V (1585-90). The Liber Pontificalis makes mention of it in the biographies of Leo III (795-816) and Gregory IV (827-44), who made donations to it, and we know that it was of considerable size and beauty. 

The stational Mass was on the Coelian Hill, in the Basilica of Bizante, erected by that senator and his son Pammachius within the house of SS John and Paul. The two martyrs had suffered death on this spot for the faith, and had been secretly buried in a crypt beneath the building. Thus it came about that of all the Roman martyrs, who as a rule were buried according to the law in extra-mural cemeteries, SS John and Paul alone lay in the very heart of the Eternal City, a special privilege to which the Leonine Sacramentary draws particular attention in the preface of the feast of these two saints. 

The Introit is from Psalm XXIX: 'The Lord hath heard and hath had mercy on me: the Lord became my helper'. The Collect asks that God will bless the fast which has been begun, so that abstinence from food may be accompanied by the purification of the soul. The lesson from Isaias (LVIII 1-9) dwells upon the emptiness of external ceremonies where these are not accompanied by a real desire to please God, and by an internal spirit of true repentance, which will turn us away from sin and call us back to him. Without these it is useless to fast, to wear a hairshirt, and to show other outward signs of grief, as Isaias reproached the Jews with doing. The Gradual is from Psalm XXVI: 'One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord. That I may see the delight of the Lord, and be protected by his holy temple'. The Psalmist suffers violence at the hands of his enemies, probably those of the levitical class, who would cast him out as unworthy from the service of the temple, in the same manner that Christ was declared a blasphemer and deserving of death by the high priests and the members of the Sanhedrim. The Psalmist in the person of Christ prays, and God grants his prayer, conferring on him an eternal priesthood. 

The Gospel of today (Matt V 43-48, VI 1-4) sets forth the Christian law of love and goodwill towards our neighbour. To return the courtesy of others with equal grace is a rule of good manners that even pagans may practise, but in order to be able to pardon injuries, to do good without hope of return, to deprive ourselves secretly even of the necessaries of life in order to help others; for all such things we need the example, the command, and the grace of Jesus Christ. The choice of this passage from St Matthew may, perhaps, have been inspired by memories of the place where the sacred rite was being solemnized on this day. Pammachius gave all his substance to the poor, and, after having converted his house into a church, he founded at Porto one of the earliest hospitals for pilgrims and sick persons. The Christian family of the Valerii followed his example, and on the spot where once stood the magnificent palaces of Melania, of Pinianus, of the Gordiani, and of the martyrs SS John and Paul, there arose in the fourth century the Xenodochium Valerii, which was afterwards joined to a famous monastery dedicated to St Erasmus. The Offertory is taken from Psalm CXVIII: 'O Lord, enliven me according to thy word, that I may know thy testimonies'. In the Secret we pray that the sacrifice which accompanies our Lenten fast may render us acceptable to God and obtain for us the grace of a holy zeal in the observance of our abstinence. The Communion is derived from Psalm II, and is a proof that yesterday’s station was a later addition: 'Serve ye the Lord with fear and rejoice unto him with trembling, embrace discipline lest you perish from the just way'. The Post-Communion is imbued with the spirit of St Paul. As bread is formed by many grains of corn being ground and blended together into one mass, so the eucharistic food produces and represents the unity of the Church bound together by one ideal of faith and love. 

The Oratio super populum before their dismissal is as follows: 'Protect, O Lord, thy people, and mercifully cleanse them from all sins; for no harm shall hurt them, if no wickedness be found in them'. God desires us not only to be good, but to be perfect after the example of his infinite and divine holiness. He has given us abundant means of attaining to this, and has willed that our redemption should be not merely sufficient, but abundant and all-embracing, for it was to this end that he poured forth his precious blood on the cross. There are some who by a perverse error hold that only a few chosen souls, the religious and the clergy at most, are called to perfection. Yet what greater ingratitude can one imagine than that of saying, 'I will love thee thus far, to the avoidance of grave sin, but no farther', to that God who has so loved us, as St Paul says, even to the making himself as of no account for our sakes?

Canon Guelfucci is celebrating the Mass of today, Friday post Cineres, Audivit Dominus et misertus est mihi, and not the Egredimini after all. Who knows; he forgot, or someone misunderstood, or et cetera. Eh. 

Ante Nonam. I resisted buying $145 of books earlier. This is what I do when I begin the Lenten regime et cetera: I don't go out and buy cigarettes or McDonald's cheeseburgers or bottles of gin or wheels of blue cheese, I shop for books and, if I'm lucky and cooperative with grace and all that good stuff I don't buy 'em (not because they aren't in themselves worthy of purchase of course but because I cannot afford to spend such huge amounts of money on them particularly when alms-giving ought to be front and center rather than the indulgence of my own bibliophilic tastes). That edition of the Hartker Antiphonary from yesterday is still a vivid phantom in my memory. 

It is also the feast of Saint Lucia Yi Zhenmei (19th century), of Saint Mansuetus (7th century), and of Blessed Frederick (11th century).

V. Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum.
R. Deo grátias.