Clouds concealed the glories of Dawn...

Almost entirely, although obviously the skies lightened; it has rained occasionally throughout the night and early morning but isn't now. I got distracted into the Liber Cathemerinon of Prudentius; Dom Prosper included passages from Hymnus Ieiunantium (VII) that tell of Jonas and the repentance of Niniveh in his day's work, the lesson at Mass being from the Prophet, 3,1-10. It being the Monday of Passion Week, the Mass is Miserére mihi, Dómine (Introibo). 

Miserére mihi, Dómine, quóniam conculcávit me homo: tota die bellans tribulávit me. V. Conculcavérunt me inimíci mei tota die : quóniam multi bellántes advérsum me.

Holy Mass will be streamed from Saint-Eugène at 1100, the usual hour until the next time change. The Benedictine nuns at Jouques sang this Introit today, anyway, although from the Graduale Romanum 1974, i.e. in the Pauline Rite; the other parts of the proper seem to have been changed, alas; can't find a recording of it on YouTube (subscribe at Neumz!). This is a recording of the Offertory; whether it is originally from the time post Pentecosten or is borrowed from Passiontide by that season I have no idea; I expect Blessed Ildefonso will inform us about this. Time for Terce.

Post Tertiam, and a ten minutes' nap. Phoebus is breaking through the clouds at last.

We have already spoken of the Church of St George de Belabru [wherein is the collecta] at the foot of the Palatine, where the four-sided arch of Janus stands, and where, from remote antiquity, the pagan populace used to seek divinations. Hither, too, even down to our own days, the more superstitious among the Romans were in the habit of coming, in order to obtain from the spirits of criminals who had been executed the numbers which would be drawn at the coming 'lotto'. The Basilica of St Chrysogonus [the statio] in Trastevere, near the classical guard-house of the Vigiles, still preserves under the sanctuary the remains of the dwelling-place of the martyr of that name, which dates back to the time of Constantine. The Byzantine period no doubt increased the popularity of the veneration paid to this saint of Aquileia, whose name by a special privilege was placed in the Diptychs of the Roman Mass. Gregory III restored the church about the year 731, and founded a monastery beside it which he dedicated to the martyrs Stephen and Lawrence. Later, towards 1123, the titular Cardinal Giovanni da Crema rebuilt the church on a smaller scale and raised the floor so that the remains of the original basilica are now on a lower level than the present pavement. 

The Introit is from Psalm 55, and is the cry of the Just One oppressed by the ungodly man, or rather by a multitude of enemies, since all the sins of the entire human race have been laid upon him and clamour for his death. In the Collect we ask two things of God: firstly, that he would so sanctify our Lenten fast that our interior dispositions may harmonize with our bodily abstinence; and, secondly, that our penitence and contrition of heart may obtain for us the pardon of our past shortcomings. 

The Lesson, taken from Jonas (3,1-10), was very familiar to the early Christians, for we often find the story which it relates pictured on the walls of the catacombs or carved on the marble sarcophagi. The Ninevites, who by their fasts and penances saved their city from the destruction which threatened it, are an example to Christians to follow in their footsteps. We know that some Oriental peoples, such as the Armenians, the Abyssinians, and others, keep a special fast before Lent which is known as the 'Fast of Nineve'. This was vigorously combated by the Greeks [presumably because the Ninevites were not Christians or Jews?], but, in any case, the various liturgies, including the Latin, have always regarded the fast of the Ninevites as a type of the Christian season of penance. We should note the official character of the penitential fast at Nineve, which was proclaimed by Jonas on the authority of the king and his nobles. It is not, indeed, enough that religion and religious worship should simply be a personal and private tribute to God, but these should also be collective and social, for the family, the municipality, the nation, etc., are all living entities, and, as such, should render to God that worship which is his due. Further, God has not created man to stand alone, but has made him a member of a society, both in the natural and in the supernatural order, and it is only by means of this twofold society that man can reach the perfection at which he aims. It follows, then, especially in matters concerning the soul, that we should deem of the first importance and adhere scrupulously to all those acts of worship which express the perfect and supernatural homage rendered by the Church to God. We must pray and meditate, we must fast and mortify ourselves, in all things striving after holiness in one mind with the Church; for it is from the body that the life, the happiness, and the well-being of the members are derived. The Gradual comes from Psalm 53, in which the Just One appeals to the judgement of God to deliver him from the calumnies of his enemies. 

The Gospel is from St John (7,32-39), in which Jesus, taking an illustration from the ceremony of drawing water by the priests for the service of the Temple, announces the mission of the Holy Ghost and the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles. Grace is here compared to water, because, like water, it extinguishes the fire of the passions, refreshes the spirit, quenches the thirst of immoderate desires, and gives life and growth to the beauteous flowers of virtue. 

The Offertory is derived from Psalm 6: 'Turn to me, O Lord, and deliver my soul; O save me for thy mercy’s sake'. That is, turn and look mercifully upon me, after thy justice shall have been satisfied, O Thou who on account of the sins which bow me to the ground hast turned away thy face from me. Deliver me and grant me that plenitude of life which I desire and which will free me for ever from the cruelty of my enemies. In the Secret we beg that the Host of Salvation which we are about to offer may cleanse us from our sins and obtain for us the divine mercy. This is the established order of things; first comes the propitiation and then the generous bestowal of graces. 

The Communion is taken from Psalm 29: 'The Lord of hosts, he is the king of glory'. It is well that we should impress this on our hearts, for within a few days we shall see the same king veil his glory under the ignominy of the Passion, and the Lord of hosts fall beneath the weight of the cross. Herein lies the Mysterium Fidei. He who, hanging on the cross, is derided by the multitude, is at the same moment acclaimed by myriads of angels who, trembling with awe, sing the Trisagion during the tragedy of Calvary. He who yields up his soul in unspeakable agony and humiliation is the strong Lion of Juda, the true Samson who in his death crushed the hordes of the Philistines. To the eyes of faith Jesus Christ never appeared more glorious and more terrible than on the cross when he addressed Death in the words of Osee (13,14): O mors, ero mors tua, morsus tuus ero, inferne

The Post-Communion is as follows: 'May the saving reception of thy Sacrament, we beseech thee, O Lord, bestow upon us purification and healing'. Holy Mass and Communion not only possess a propitiatory efficacy, but are an antidote against the poison of sin. We are the children of a corrupt race, and there is a taint in the blood of our veins which can be cleansed only by a health-giving remedy-- that is, by the sacred blood of Christ, who has said: 'He that eateth me, the same also shall live by me'. In the Prayer over the people [at last, he uses the term Oratio super populum] we beseech God to give strength not only to our souls, but also to our bodies, which cannot always do that which the spirit wills-- Spiritus quidem promptus est, caro autem infirma-- in order that the constant practice of good works may obtain for us the grace of his protection from the fierce assaults of the adversary. Neither faith nor fair words alone, without good works, will avail to build up the kingdom of God within us. How much do we owe to the devoted care of the Roman Church, which has so jealously preserved the memory of those who have cemented with their blood the stones of the City of God? When it was not possible to possess the tomb of a martyr, as in the case of St Chrysogonus, his house was venerated instead, as being the place where the future athlete had prepared himself for the combat on behalf of the faith. Rome has consecrated as churches many of the ancient homes of her martyrs, and what could be more inspiring to the faithful than a martyr’s empty house. Those rooms once beautified with paintings and mosaics, of which some traces still remain, are silent and empty for the very reason that the martyrs voluntarily abandoned all things in order to follow Christ on the road to Calvary. 

Time for Sext.

Post Vesperas. Black and purple clouds all afternoon-- it is five o'clock-- but with sunny patches between them and with them; hail has just fallen, for one or two minutes, and now the rain is coming-- judging by the cloud immediately above this might prove to be a downpour. But in fact precipitation, in each of its forms, has stopped altogether. The lesson at Mass tomorrow is from the Prophet Daniel, and describes his week amongst the lions in their den: Magnus es, Dómine, Deus Daniélis

It is also the feast of Saint Lea (4th century), of Saint Nicholas (17th century), and of the Blessed Clemens Augustus (20th century).

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