For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith!
For the Kingdom of God to come!
Reflection on the Liturgy of the Day – from L’Année Liturgique, by Dom Prosper Guéranger
He shall cry to Me, and I will hear him: I will deliver him, and I will glorify him: I will fill him with length of days. Psalm. He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven. Glory be to the Father…
O God, who purifiest Thy Church by the yearly observance of Lent: grant that what Thy children endeavour to obtain of Thee by abstinence, they may put in execution by good works. Through Christ Our Lord…
Brethren, we exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For He said: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time: behold, now is the day of salvation. Giving no offence to any man, that our ministry be not blamed: but in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labours, in watchings, in fastings, in chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armour of justice on the right hand, and on the left: by honour and dishonour: by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true: as unknown, and yet known: as dying, and behold we live: as chastised, and not killed: as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing: as needy, yet enriching many: as having nothing, and possessing all things.
Reflexion on the Epistle
These words of the apostle give us a very different idea of the Christian life from that which our own tepidity suggests. We dare not say that he is wrong, and we are right; but we put a strange interpretation upon his words, and we tell both ourselves and those around us that the advice he here gives is not to be taken literally nowadays, and that it was written for those special difficulties of the first age of the Church, when the faithful stood in need of unusual detachment and almost heroism, because they were always in danger of persecution and death. The interpretation is full of that discretion which meets with the applause of our cowardice, and it easily persuades us to be at rest, just as though we had no dangers to fear, and no battle to fight; whereas, we have both: for there is the devil, the world, flesh and blood. The Church never forgets it; and hence, at the opening of this great season, she sends us into the desert, that there we may learn from our Jesus how we are to fight. Let us go; let us learn, from the temptations of our divine Master, that the life of man upon earth is a warfare, and that, unless our fighting be truceless and brave, our life, which we would fain pass in peace, will witness our defeat. That such a misfortune may not befall us, the Church cries out to us, in the words of St. Paul: Behold! now is the acceptable time. Behold! now is the day of salvation. Let us, in all things, comport ourselves as the servants of God, and keep our ground unflinchingly to the end of our holy campaign. God is watching over us, as He did over His beloved Son in the desert.
God hath given His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. In their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
He that dwells in the aid of the Most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven. He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in Him will I trust. For He has delivered me from the snare of the hunters: and from the sharp word. He will overshadow you with His shoulders: and under His wings you shall trust. His truth shall compass you with a shield: you shall not be afraid of the terror of the night. Of the arrow that flies in the day: of the business that walks in the dark: of ruin, or of the noonday devil. A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand: but it shall not come nigh you. For He has given His angels charge over you: to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up: lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall walk upon the asp and the basilisk: and you shall trample under foot the lion and the dragon. Because he hoped in Me, I will deliver him: I will protect him, because he has known My name. He will cry to Me, and I will hear him: I am with him in trouble. I will deliver him and I will glorify him: I will fill him with length of days, and I will show him My salvation.
At that time, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards He was hungry. And the tempter coming, said to Him: If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written: Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, and set Him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him: If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written, that He hath given His angels charge over Thee, and in their hands shall they bear Thee up, lest perhaps Thou dash Thy foot against a stone. Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again the devil took Him up into a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and said to Him: All these will I give Thee, if falling down Thou wilt adore me. Then Jesus said to him: Begone, satan, for it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore and Him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left Him; and behold angels came and ministered to Him.
Reflexion on the Gospel
Let us admire the exceeding goodness of the Son of God, who, not satisfied with atoning for all our sins by dying on the cross, deigns to suffer a fast of forty days and forty nights, in order to encourage us to do penance. He would not that the justice of His heavenly Father should exact any punishment from us, unless He Himself first suffered it, and that, too, a thousand times more severely than we could. What are all our penances, even were they done thoroughly, when we compare them with the severity of this fast of Jesus in the desert? Can we have the face to be ever seeking for dispensations from the little which our Lord asks of us in atonement for our sins – sins, alas! which deserve such rigorous penance? Instead of complaining at our feeling a slight inconvenience of a few days’ duration, let us compassionate our innocent Jesus, who subjects Himself to forty days of most rigorous privation of food and drink.
With our prayers and devotedness let us take part with the holy angels, who, as soon as the tempter is gone, come to our Redeemer, and respectfully administer food to Him. How affectionately do they compassionate His hunger and thirst! How zealously they make amends, by their adorations, for the frightful outrage offered to their King! How fervently they extol the charity of their God, who, out of His love for man, seems to have been forgetting His own dignity, in order to provide for the wants of the children of Adam.
The Lord will overshadow thee with His shoulders: and under His wings thou shalt trust: His truth shall compass thee with a shield. – May the holy oblation, O Lord, of Thy Sacrament, give us a new life, that, by laying aside the old man, it may bring us to the participation of this saving mystery. Through Christ our Lord.