The subject offered to our consideration, on this Second Sunday, is one of the utmost importance for the holy Season. The Church applies to us the lesson which our Saviour gave to three of his Apostles. Let us endeavour to be more attentive to it than they were.
Jesus was about to pass from Galilee into Judea, that he might go up to Jerusalem, and be present at the Feast of the Pasch. It was that last Pasch, which was to begin with the immolation of the figurative lamb, and end with the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. Jesus would have his disciples know him. His works had borne testimony to him, even to those who were, in a manner, strangers to him; but as for his Disciples, had they not every reason to be faithful to him, even to death? Had they not listened to his words, which had such power with them, that they forced conviction? Had they not experienced his love, which it was impossible to resist? and had they not seen how patiently he had borne with their strange and untoward ways? – Yes, they must have known him. They had heard one of their company, Peter, declare that he was the Christ, the Son of the Living God [St. Matth. xvi. 16]. Notwithstanding this, the trial to which their faith was soon to be put, was to be of such a terrible kind, that Jesus would mercifully arm them against temptation by an extraordinary grace.
The Cross was to be a scandal and stumbling block [1 Cor. i. 23] to the Synagogue, and, alas! to more than it. Jesus said to his Apostles, at the Last Supper: All of you shall be scandalized in me this night [St. Matth. xxvi. 32]. Carnal-minded as they then were, what would they think, when they should see him seized by armed men, handcuffed, hurried from one tribunal to another, and he doing nothing to defend himself! And when they found, that the High Priests and Pharisees, who had hitherto been so often foiled by the wisdom and miracles of Jesus, had now succeeded in their conspiracy against him, – what a shock to their confidence! But, there was to be something more trying still: the people, who, but a few days before, greeted him so enthusiastically with their hosannas, would demand his execution, and he would have to die, between two thieves, on the Cross, amidst the insults of his triumphant enemies.
Is it not to be feared that these Disciples of his, when they witness his humiliations and sufferings, will lose their courage? They have lived in his company for three years; but when they see, that the things be foretold would happen to him are really fulfilled, – with the remembrance of all they have seen and heard, keep them loyal to him? or will they turn cowards and flee from him? – Jesus selects three out of the number, who are especially dear to him: Peter, whom he has made the Rock, on which his Church is to be built, and to whom he has promised the Keys of the kingdom of heaven; James, the son of Thunder, who is to be the first Martyr of the Apostolic College; and John, James’ brother, and his own Beloved Disciple. Jesus has resolved to take them aside, and show them a glimpse of that glory, which until the day fixed for its manifestation, he conceals from the eyes of mortals.
He therefore leaves the rest of his Disciples in the plain near Nazareth, and goes in company with the three privileged ones, towards a high hill, called Thabor, which is a continuation of Libanus, and which the Psalmist tells us was to rejoice in the Name of the Lord [Ps. lxxxviii. 13]. No sooner has he reached the summit of the mountain, than the three Apostles observe a sudden change come over him; his Face shines as the sun, and his humble garments become white as snow. They observe two venerable men approach, and speak with him upon what he was about to suffer in Jerusalem. One is Moses, the lawgiver; the other is Elias, the Prophet, who was taken up from earth on a fiery chariot, without having passed through the gates of death. These two great representatives of the Jewish Religion, the Law and the Prophets, humbly adore Jesus of Nazareth. The three Apostles are not only dazzled by the brightness which comes from their Divine Master; but they are filled with such a rapture of delight, that they cannot bear the thought of leaving the place. Peter proposes to remain there for ever and build three tabernacles, for Jesus, Moses, and Elias. And whilst they are admiring the glorious sight, and gazing on the beauty of their Jesus’ human Nature, a bright cloud overshadows them, and a voice is heard speaking to them: it is the voice of the Eternal Father, proclaiming the Divinity of Jesus, and saying: This my beloved Son!
This transfiguration of the Son of Man, this manifestation of his glory, lasted but a few moments; his mission was not on Thabor; it was humiliation and suffering in Jerusalem. He therefore withdrew into himself the brightness he had allowed to transpire; and when he came to the three Apostles, who, on hearing the voice from the cloud, had fallen on their faces with fear, – they could see no one save only Jesus. The bright cloud was gone; Moses and Elias had disappeared. What a favour they have had bestowed upon them! Will they remember what they have seen and heard? They have had such a revelation of the Divinity of their dear Master! – is it possible, that when the hour of trial comes, they will forget it, and doubt his being God? and, when they see him suffer and die, be ashamed of him and deny him? Alas! the Gospel has told us what happened to them.
A. short time after this, our Lord celebrated his Last Supper with his Disciples. When the Supper was over, he took them to another mount, Mount Olivet, which lies to the east of Jerusalem. Leaving the rest at the entrance of the Garden, he advances with Peter, James, and John, and then says to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me [St. Matth. xxvi. 38]. He then retires some little distance from them, and prays to his Eternal Father. The Heart of our Redeemer is weighed down with anguish. When he returns to his three Disciples, he is enfeebled by the Agony he has suffered, and his garments are saturated with Blood. The Apostles are aware that he is sad even unto death, and that the hour is close at hand when he is to be attacked: are they keeping watch? are they ready to defend him? No: they seem to have forgotten him; they are fast asleep, for their eyes are heavy [Ibid. 43]. Yet a few moments, and all will have fled from him; and Peter, the bravest of them all, will be taking his oath that he never knew the Man.
After the Resurrection, our three Apostles made ample atonement for this cowardly and sinful conduct, and acknowledged the mercy wherewith Jesus had sought to fortify them against temptation, by showing them his glory on Thabor, a few days before his Passion. Let us not wait till we have betrayed him: let us at once acknowledge that he is our Lord and our God. We are soon to be keeping the anniversary of his Sacrifice; like the Apostles, we are to see him humbled by his enemies and bearing, in our stead, the chastisements of Divine Justice. We must not allow our faith to be weakened, when we behold the fulfilment of those prophecies of David and Isaias, that the Messias is to be treated as a worm of the earth [Ps. xxi. 7], and be covered with wounds, so as to become like a leper, the most abject of men, and the Man of sorrows [Is. liii. 3,4]. We must remember the grand things of Thabor, and the adorations paid him by Moses and Elias, and the bright cloud, and the voice of the Eternal Father. The more we see him humbled, the more must we proclaim his glory and divinity; we must join our acclamations with those of the Angels and the Four-and-Twenty Elders, whom St. John, (one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration,) heard crying out with a loud voice: The Lamb that was slain, is worthy to receive power and divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and benediction! [Apoc. v. 12].
The Second Sunday of Lent is called, from the first word of the Introit, Reminiscere; and also Transfiguration-Sunday, on account of the Gospel which is read in the Mass.
The Station at Rome is in the Church of St. Mary in Dominica, on Monte Celio. Tradition tells us that in this Basilica was the Diaconium of which St. Laurence had charge, and from which he distributed to the poor the alms of the Church.
The Church, in the Introit, encourages us to confidence in God, who will deliver us from our enemies, if we ask it of him with fervent prayer. There are two favours which, during Lent, we ought to beseech him to grant us: the pardon of our sins, and his help to avoid a relapse.
|Reminiscere miserationum tuarum, Domine, et misericordiae tuae, quae a saeculo sunt: ne unquam dominentur nobis inimici nostri: libera nos, Deus Israel, ex omnibus angustiis nostris.|
Ps. Ad te, Domine, levavi animam meam: Deus meus, in te confido, non erubes cam. V. Gloria Patri. Reminiscere.
|Remember, O Lord, thy bowels of compassion, and thy mercies that are from the beginning of the world. Let not our enemies ever rule over us: deliver us, O God of Israel, from all our distress.|
Ps. To thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul; in thee, O my God, I put my trust, let me not be ashamed. V. Glory. Remember.
In the Collect, we beg of God to watch over us in all our necessities, both of body and soul. If our prayer be humble and earnest, it will be granted. God will provide for us in our corporal necessities, and will defend our souls against the suggestions of our enemy, who strives to sully even our thoughts.
|Deus qui conspicis omni nos virtute destitui, interius exteriusque custodi: ut ab omnibus adversitatibus muniamur in corpore, et a pravis cogitationibus mundemur in mente. Per Dominum.||O God, who seest how destitute we are of all strength, preserve us both within and without, that our bodies may be free from all adversity, and our souls purified from all evil thoughts. Through, &c.|
The first and second Collects are given on the First Sunday of Lent, above.
|Lectio Epistolae beati Pauli Apostoli ad Thessalonicenses.I. Cap. IV.|
Fratres: Rogamus vos et obsecramus in Domino Jesu, ut quemadmodum accepistis a nobis, quomodo oporteat vos ambulare, et placere Deo, sic et ambuletis ut abundetis magis. Scitis enim quae praecepta dederim vobis per Dominum Jesum. Haec est enim voluntas Dei sanctificatio vestra: ut abstineatis vos a fornicatione, ut sciat unusquisque vestrum vas suum possidere in sanctificatione et honore: non in passione desiderii, sicut et Gentes quae ignorant Deum: et ne quis supergrediatur, neque circumveniat in negotio fratrem suum: quoniam vindex est Dominus de his omnibus, sicut praediximus vobis, et testificati sumus. Non enim vocavit nos Deus in immunditiam, sed in sanctificationem: in Christo Jesu Domino nostro.
|Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians.I. Ch. IV.|
Brethren; We pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us, how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more. For you know what precepts I have given to you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that you should abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour, not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles, that know not God; and that no man over-reach, nor circumvent his brother in business; because the Lord is the avenger of all these things, as we have told you before, and have testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto sanctification: in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Here the Apostle shows what manner of life should be followed by Christians; and the Church, by repeating his words, exhorts the Faithful to profit of the present Season of grace, and regain all the beauty of the image of God, which the grace of Baptism first gave them. A Christian is a vessel of honour, formed and enriched by the hand of God; let him, therefore, shun whatsoever would degrade his noble origin, and turn him into a vessel of dishonour, fit only to be broken and cast with the unclean into the sink of hell. The Christian Religion has so far ennobled man, that even his very body may share in the soul’s sanctity; on the other hand, she teaches us, that this sanctity of the soul is impaired, yea altogether effaced, by the loss of the body’s purity The whole man, therefore, both body and soul, is to be reformed by the practices of this holy Season. Let us purify the soul by the confession of our sins, by compunction of heart, by the love of God; and let us give back its dignity to the Body, by making it bear the yoke of penance, that so it may be, henceforth, subservient and docile to the Soul, and, on the day of the general Resurrection, partake in her endless bliss.
In the Gradual, man cries out to his God to deliver him from the evils that threaten him, and give him victory over the invisible enemy, who so cruelly humbles and insults him.
The Tract is both a canticle of confidence in the divine mercy, and a prayer addressed by the Church to her Saviour, beseeching him to visit and save her faithful children on the great Feast, which is still so far off, but towards which each day brings us nearer.
|Tribulationes cordis mei dilatatae sunt ;de necessitatibus meis eripe me, Domine.|
V. Vide humilitatem meam et laborem meum: et dimitte omnia peccata mea.
|The distress of my soul is increased: deliver me, O Lord, from my necessities.|
V. See to what I am reduced, see what I suffer: and forgive me all my sins.
|Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus: quoniam in saeculum misericordia ejus.|
V. Quis loquetur potentias Domini, auditas faciet omnes laudes ejus?
V. Beati qui custodiunt judicium et faciunt justitiam in omni tempore.
V. Memento nostri, Domine, in beneplacito populi tui: visita nos in salutari tuo.
|V. Give glory to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.|
V. Who shall declare the powers of the Lord? who shall set forth all his praises.
V. Blessed are they that keep judgment, and do justice at all times.
V. Remember us, O Lord, in favour of thy people: visit us with thy salvation.
|Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum.Cap. XVII.|
In illo tempore: Assumpsit Jesus Petrum, et Jacobum, et Joannem fratrem ejus, et duxit eos in montem excelsum seorsum: et transfiguratus est ante eos. Et resplenduit facies ejus sicut sol: vestimenta autem ejus facta sunt alba sicut nix. Et ecce apparuerunt illis Moyses et Elias cum eo loquentes. Respondens autem Petrus, dixit ad Jesum: Domine, bonum est nos hic esse: si vis, faciamus hic tria tabernacula, tibi unum, Moysi unum, et Eliae unum. Adhuc eo loquente ecce nubes lucida obumbravit eos. Et ecce vox de nube, dicens: Hic est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi bene contplacui: ipsum audite. Et audientes discipuli, ceciderunt in faciem suam, et timuerunt valde. Et accessit Jesus, et tetigit eis, dixitque eis: Surgite et nolite timere. Levantes autem oculos suos, neminem viderunt nisi solum Jesum. Et descendentibus illis de monte, praecepit eis Jesus, dicens: Nemini dixeritis visionem, donec Filius hominis a mortuis resurgat.
|Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.Ch. XVII.|
At that time: Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: and he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said to them: Arise and be not afraid. And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of Man shall be risen from the dead.
Thus did Jesus encourage his Apostles, when the time of temptation was near; he sought to impress them with his glory, that it might keep up their faith in that trying time, when the outward eye would see nothing in his person but weakness and humiliation. Oh! the loving considerateness of divine grace, which is never wanting, and shows us, in so strong a light, the goodness and the justice of our God! Like the Apostles, we, also, have sinned like them, we have neglected to profit of the help that was sent us from heaven; we have shut our eyes against the light; we have forgotten the fair vision that was granted us, and which made us so fervent and happy;- and we fell. We have not, then, been tempted above our strength [1 Cor. x. 13], and it is indeed our own fault that we committed sin. The three Apostles were exposed to a terrible temptation, when they beheld their Divine Master robbed of all his majesty; but how easy for them to resist the temptation. By thinking of what they had seen, but a few days before:- Instead of that, they lost their courage, and forgot prayer, which would have brought their courage back; and thus the favoured witnesses of Thabor became cowards and deserters in the Garden of Mount Olivet. There was but one thing left them to do, – throw themselves upon the loving mercy of their Jesus, as soon as he had triumphed over his enemies; they did so, and his generous Heart pardoned them.
Let us imitate them here too. We have abused the grace of God and rendered it fruitless, by our want of correspondence. The fountain of this Grace, is not yet dried up; as long as we are in this world, we may always draw from this source, which comes from the Blood and merits of our Redeemer. It is Grace that is now urging us to the amendment of our lives. It is given to us in abundance during the present time, and it is given mainly by the holy exercises of Lent. Let us go up the mountain with Jesus; there, we shall not be disturbed by the noise of earthly things. Let us there spend our forty days with Moses and Elias, who, long before us, sanctified this number by their fasts. Thus, when the Son of Man shall have risen from the dead we will proclaim the favours he has mercifully granted us on Thabor.
In the Offertory, the Church, bids us meditate on the commandments of God. Would that we might love them as fervently as the Royal Prophet, whose words these are!
|Meditabor in mandatis tuis, qua dilexi valde: et levabo manus meas ad mandata tua, quae dilexi.||I will meditate on thy law, which I have loved exceedingly: and I will practise thy commandments, which I have loved.|
The holy sacrifice of the Mass is a source of devotion; let us, as the Church, in the Secret, prays we may, profit by our to-day’s assistance at it. It contains the pledge and price of our Salvation, and, if we put no obstacle in the way, will complete our reconciliation with our Lord.
|Sacrificiis praesentibus, Domine, quaesumus, intende placatus: ut et devotioni nostrae proficiant, et saluti. Per Dominum.||Look down, O Lord, we beseech thee, on this our sacrifice, that it may increase our devotion and procure our salvation. Through, &c.|
The second and third Secrets are given on the First Sunday of Lent, above.
The penitent soul, having seen how this ineffable Mystery has given her to enjoy the presence of Him who is her Saviour and her Judge, offers to him her prayers with all the fervour of confidence. She says to him these words of the Psalmist, which form the Communion-Antiphon:
|Intellige clamorem meum: intende voci orationis meae. Rex meus et Deus meus: quoniam ad te orabo, Domine.||Understand my cry, hearken to the voice of my prayer, O my King and my God! for to thee will I pray, O Lord!|
In the Postcommunion, the Church prays especially for those of her children, who have partaken of the Victim she has just been offering. Jesus has nourished them with his own Flesh; it behoves them to prove themselves worthy of him by the renewal of their lives.
|Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus, ut quos tuis reficis Sacramentis, tibi etiam placitis moribus dignanter deservire concedas. Per Dominum.||Grant, we humbly beseech thee, O Almighty God, that those whom thou hast refreshed with thy sacraments, may worthily serve thee in the conduct of their lives. Through, &c.|
The second and third Postcommunions are given on the First Sunday of Lent, above.
The Psalms and Antiphons are given above.
(1 Thess. iv.)
|Fratres: Rogamus vos et obsecramus in Domino Jesu, ut quemadmodum accepistis a nobis, quomodo oporteat vos ambulare, et placere Deo, sic et ambuletis ut abundetis magis.||Brethren, We pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us, how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more.|
For the Hymn and Versicle, see above.
ANTIPHON OF THE MAGNIFICAT
|Visionem quam vidistis, nemini dixeritis, donec a mortuis resurgat Filius hominis.||Tell the vision ye have seen to no man, till the Son of Man be risen from the dead.|
Deus qui conspicis omni nos virtute destitui, interius exteriusque custodi: ut ab omnibus adversitatibus muniamur in corpore, et a pravis cogitationibus mundemur in mente. Per Dominum.
|LET US PRAY.|
O God, who seest how destitute we are of all strength, preserve us both within and without, that our bodies may be free from all adversity, and our souls purified from all evil thoughts. Through, &c.
We may close our Sunday by reciting the following beautiful prayer taken from the Mozarabic Breviary.
(In II. Dominica Quadragesimae.)
|Christe Deus, luminis perenne principium, qui septimum diei curriculum sanctificatione potius, quam operatione voluisti esse confitentium; quaerimus ecce faciem tuam, sed impedimur conscientiae nostrae tenebra consueta: conamur adsurgere, sed relabimur in moerorum; non ergo abjicias te quaerentes, qui non quaerentibus apparere dignatus es. Ecce dierum nostrorum decimas sancto tuo Nomini annuis recursibus persolventes, septimum nunc ex ipsis decimis peregimus diem; da ergo nobis adjutorium iu hujus laboriosi itineris via, quo inlibata tibi nostra dedicentur obsequia: ut labores nostros amoris tui desiderio releves, et socordiam sensus nostri fervida dilectionis tuae ubertate exsuscites: ut in te vita nostra non habeat casum, sed fides inveniat praemium.||O Jesus, our God! Eternal first beginning of light! who willedst that thy servants should devote the seventh day to sanctification, rather than to work: lo we come, seeking how we may find thee, but we are prevented by the habitual darkness of our conscience; we make efforts to arise, but we fall back again, and are dejected. Therefore, we beseech thee, cast not away from thy face them that seek thee, for thou didst deign to show thyself to them that did not seek thee. Now is the season of the year, when we are offering to thy holy Name a tithe of our days; and of these days, seven are passed: grant us thine assistance in the path of this fatiguing journey, that so our proffered homage may be without blemish. Sweeten our toil by filling us with an ardent love of thy Majesty, and awaken us from the sluggishness of the body, by the fervent abundance of thy charity. May our life, being thus in thee, know no faltering, and our faith find its reward.|
This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)