Place yourself at Toledo: in the cathedral’s Mozarabic Rite chapel the faithful, silent, stand; silently, at this penitential season, the priest and his ministers advance to God’s altar; still without speaking, the priest bows awhile in prayer, then ascends the altar steps, kisses it, and goes to stand at his seat, where at length he first opens his mouth and salutes the congregation. All attend to the readings that now begin. A lector reads out the first lessson at the lectern; after he finishes, another takes his place. The Old Testament lessons ended, the choir chants; a third lector reads the Epistle. Next the deacon, with cerifers and thurifer, proceeds to the lectern to read the Gospel, first saluting the people (who stand in reverence), then censing the sacred volume. The deacon having ended, then the priest having preached, again the choir sings God’s praises. Next would come the offering of the Sacrifice…
But let us at the least unite ourselves to the Mass at Toledo by some participation in the Service of the Word, before in prayer making a spiritual communion as our devotion suggests.
In the second lesson, to-day we leap ahead to Moses in his forty-day fast atop Mount Sinai in presence of the Lord God Almighty – clearly chosen in allusion to our own Lenten fast, which we undertake that, freed somewhat from earthly food and drink, we may thirst after spiritual nourishment, and so seek the Lord Who draweth nigh.
After this passage the choir sings the first of the Threni, the songs of lamentation sung by Holy Mother Church in this time of penance, adapting the words of mourning of the prophet as he wept tears over the ruin of Jerusalem, that we might weep for our sins, unworthy sinners that we are. As Our Lord warned, “Unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” Mourn, priest and people!
Wednesday in the first week of Lent
Feria IV in prima hebdomada Quadragesimæ
Sapiential Lesson: Proverbs 13,22-14,11
Historical Lection: Exodus 34,27-34
Threni: Cf. Lamentations 1,1: Jeremias 9,1;14,17; Lam. 2,19;1,5; Jer. 5,6
Apostle: James 1,22-25
Gospel: St John 1,29-34
Laudes: Psalm 70,23a.22a
The Lord be ever with you. R/. And with thy spirit.
A Lesson from the Book of Proverbs. R/. Thanks be to God.
The good man leaveth heirs, sons, and grandsons: and the substance of the sinner is kept for the just. Much food is in the tillage of fathers: but for others it is gathered without judgment. He that spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes. The just eateth and filleth his soul: but the belly of the wicked is never to be filled. A wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish will pull down with her hands that also which is built. He that walketh in the right way, and feareth God, is despised by him that goeth by an infamous way. In the mouth of a fool is the rod of pride: but the lips of the wise preserve them. Where there are no oxen, the crib is empty: but where there is much corn, there the strength of the ox is manifest. A faithful witness will not lie: but a deceitful witness uttereth a lie. A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: the learning of the wise is easy. Go against a foolish man, and he knoweth not the lips of prudence. The wisdom of a. discreet man is to understand his way: and the imprudence of fools erreth. A fool will laugh at sin, but among the just grace shall abide. The heart that knoweth the bitterness of his own soul, in his joy the stranger shall not intermeddle. The house of the wicked shall be destroyed: but the tabernacles of the just shall flourish.
A Lesson from the Book of Exodus. R/. Thanks be to God.
In those days:
The Lord said to Moses: Write these words by which I have made a covenant both with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights: he neither ate bread nor drank water, and he wrote upon the tables the ten words of the covenant. And when Moses came down from the mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord. And Aaron and the children of Israel seeing the face of Moses horned, were afraid to come near. And being called by him, they returned, both Aaron and the rulers of the congregation. And after that he spoke to them. And all the children of Israel came to him: and he gave them in commandment all that he had heard of the Lord in mount Sinai. And having done speaking, he put a veil upon his face. But when he went in to the Lord, and spoke with him, he took it away until he came forth, and then he spoke to the children of Israel all things that had been commanded him.
It happened, after Israel was led captive, and since Jerusalem was desolate, Jeremias the Prophet sat weeping and lamenteth this lament before God, and said:
V/. Who will give water to my head, and open a fountain of tears to my eyes, that I will weep day and night for wounds of my soul?
V/. I will pour out tears like water before the face of my God; I will lift up my hands to God for the remedy of my sins.
V/. On account of the multitude of my iniquity, for my transgressions are multiplied.
The Epistle of the Apostle James to the Twelve Tribes. R/. Thanks be to God.
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if a man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he beheld himself, and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was. But he that hath looked into the perfect law of liberty, and hath continued therein, not becoming a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work; this man shall be blessed in his deed.
The Lord be ever with you. R/. And with thy spirit.
A Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to John. R/. Glory to Thee, O Lord.
The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world. This is he, of whom I said: After me there cometh a man, who is preferred before me: because he was before me. And I knew him not, but that he may be made manifest in Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John gave testimony, saying: I saw the Spirit coming down, as a dove from heaven, and he remained upon him. And I knew him not; but he who sent me to baptize with water, said to me: He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and I gave testimony, that this is the Son of God.
My lips shall greatly rejoice, when I shall sing to thee. * And my soul which thou hast redeemed.
V/. For I will also confess to thee thy truth with the instruments of psaltery, O God, I will sing to thee * And my soul which thou hast redeemed.