SATURDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
The Liturgical Year – Ven. Dom Guéranger
The station for today is, as noted in the missal, in the church of St. Trypho, martyr; but this church having been destroyed many centuries ago, the station is now in that of St. Augustine, which is built on the same site.
Give ear, O Lord, to our prayers, and grant that we may, with true devotion, ob serve this solemn fast which was wholesomely instituted for giving health to both our souls and bodies. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lesson from the Prophet Isaias
Thus saith the Lord God: If thou wilt take away the chain out of the midst of thee, and cease to stretch out the ﬁnger, and to speak that which proﬁteth not; when thou shalt pour out thy soul to the hungry, and shalt satisfy the afﬂicted soul, then shall thy light rise up in darkness, and thy darkness shall be as the noonday. And the Lord will give thee rest continually, and will ﬁll thy soul with brightness, and deliver thy bones, and thou shalt be like a watered garden and like a fountain of water, whose waters shall not fail. And the places that have been desolate for ages, shall be built in thee; thou shalt raise up the foundations of generation and generation: and thou shalt be called the repairer of the fences, turning the paths into rest. If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy own will in my holy day, and call the Sabbath delightful, and the holy of the Lord glorious, and glorify him, while thou dost not thy own ways, and thy own will is not found, to speak a word: then shalt thou be delighted in the Lord, and I will lift thee up above the high places of the earth, and will feed thee with the inheritance of Jacob thy father. For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
Saturday is a day replete with mystery. It is the day of God’s rest; it is a ﬁgure of the eternal peace, which awaits us in heaven after the toils of this life are over. The object of the Church in giving us, today, this lesson from Isaias, is to teach us how we are to merit our eternal Sabbath. We have scarcely entered on our campaign of penance, when this affectionate mother of ours comes to console us. If we abound in good works during this holy season, in which we have taken leave of the distracting vanities of the world, the light of grace shall rise up even in the darkness which now clouds our soul. This soul which has been so long obscured by sin and by the love of the world and self, shall become bright as the noonday; the glory of Jesus’ Resurrection shall be ours too; and, if we are faithful to grace, the Easter of time will lead us to the Easter of eternity. Let us, therefore, build up the places that have been so long desolate; let us raise up the foundations, repair the fences, turn away our feet from the violation of holy Observances, do not our own ways and our own will in opposition to those of our divine Master; and then He will give us everlasting rest, and ﬁll our soul with His own brightness.
Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Mark
At that time: When it was late, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and Jesus alone on the land. And seeing them labouring in rowing (for the wind was against them), and about the fourth watch of the night, he cometh to them, walking upon the sea, and he would have passed by them. But they seeing him walking upon the sea, thought it was an apparition, and they cried out. For they all saw him and were troubled. And immediately he spoke with them, and said to them: Have a good heart, it is I, fear ye not. And he went up to them into the ship, and the wind ceased. And they were far more astonished within themselves: for they understood not concerning the loaves: for their heart was blinded. And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Genesareth, and set to the shore. And when they were gone out of the ship immediately they knew him; and running through that whole country, they began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. And whithersoever he entered, into towns, or into villages, or cities, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch’ but the hem of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.
The ship, the Church, has set sail; the voyage is to last forty days. The disciples labour in rowing, for the wind is against them; they begin to fear lest they may not be able to gain the port. But Jesus comes to them on the sea; He goes up to them in the ship; the rest of the voyage is most prosperous. The ancient liturgists thus explain the Church’s intention in her choice of today’s Gospel. ‘Forty days of penance are, it is true, little enough for a long life that has been spent in everything save God’s service; and yet our cowardice would sink under these forty days, unless we had Jesus with us. Let us not fear; it is He; He prays with us, fasts with us, and does all our works of mercy with us. Was it not He that ﬁrst began these forty days of expiation? Let us keep our eyes ﬁxed on Him, and be of good heart. If we grow tired, let us go to Him, as did the poor sick ones of whom our Gospel speaks. The very touch of His garments sufﬁced to restore health to such as had lost it; let us go to Him in His adorable Sacrament; and the divine life, whose germ is already within us, will develop itself, and the energy, which was beginning to droop in our hearts, will regain all its vigour.
Prayer over the People
Bow down your heads before God.
May thy faithful, O God, be strengthened by thy gifts; that, by receiving them, they may ever hunger after them, and hungering after them, they may have their desires satisﬁed in the everlasting possession of them. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us close our Saturday with a prayer to Mary, the refuge of sinners. Let us express the conﬁdence we have in her, by the following devout sequence. It is taken from the German missals of the fourteenth century.
It behooves us, O most holy Virgin, to offer thee, on the altar of our hearts, the offering of our prayers. For whereas the sacriﬁce of our prayers has no merit of its own, it may be made acceptable, through thee, to thy Son. Present to him, who was sacriﬁced for sin, the sacriﬁce of sinners’ prayers.
It is through thee the sinner comes to God, for this God came to the sinner through thee, O thou the mediatrix between God and man! It was for the sake of sinners that thou wast made worthy of such a Son: canst thou, then, despise them?
It was because there were sinners to be redeemed, that thou wast made Mother of the Redeemer. Neither wouldst thou be seated nigh the Father’s throne, hadst thou not been Mother of him who shares his Father’s throne.
Take, then, O holy Virgin, who for our sake hast been thus exalted, take thou our prayers, and present them to our sovereign Lord. Amen.