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.
Light and darkness – the light shining in darkness, illuminating; yet some darknesses remain, uncomprehending and plunged in their own darkness. Thus Christ, the Light of the world, gave sight to the man born blind, who stands for every man born in sin and now able to be reborn in Christ; but the Pharisees remain fools and blind, thinking themselves alone possessed of knowledge yet plunged still in culpable darkness. St John in his Epistle comments upon his own Gospel, by reminding us that God is light, and that those who are of the light walk therein and have communion with God, being cleansed from sin in Jesus’ Blood; but those who refuse to admit their sins remain in their sins, unforgiven. We hear also, before these, of Balaam, constrained to bless, not curse, Israel; and of the sage advice of Solomon.
Third Sunday of Lent, Mass of the Man Born Blind
In tertio Dominico Quadragesimæ, missa de cæco nato dicenda
Sapiential Lesson: Proverbs 20,17-28
Historical Lection: Numbers 22,2-23,10
Psallendum: Psalm 35,8a.11-12
Apostle: 1 John 1,5-9
Gospel: St John 9,1-38
Laudes: Psalm 104,1a.4
The Lord be ever with you. R/. And with thy spirit.
A Lesson from the Book of Proverbs. R/. Thanks be to God.
The bread of lying is sweet to a man: but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel. Designs are strengthened by counsels: and wars are to be managed by governments. Meddle not with him that revealeth secrets, and walketh deceitfully, and openeth wide his lips. He that curseth his father, and mother, his lamp shall be put out in the midst of darkness. The inheritance gotten hastily in the beginning, in the end shall be without a blessing. Say not: I will return evil: wait for the Lord and he will deliver thee. Diverse weights are an abomination before the Lord: a deceitful balance is not good. The steps of man are guided by the Lord: but who is the man that can understand his own way? It is ruin to a man to devour holy ones, and after vows to retract. A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth over them the wheel. The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, which searcheth all the hidden things of the bowels. Mercy and truth preserve the king, and his throne is strengthened by clemency.
A Lesson from the Book of Numbers. R/. Thanks be to God.
In those days:
And Balac the son of Sephor, seeing all that Israel had done to the Amorrhite, and that the Moabites were in great fear of him, and were not able to sustain his assault, he said to the elders of Madian: So will this people destroy all that dwell in our borders, as the ox is wont to eat the grass to the very roots. Now he was at that time king in Moab. He sent therefore messengers to Balaam the son of Beer, a soothsayer, who dwelt by the river of the land of the children of Ammon, to call him, and to say: Behold a people is come out of Egypt, that hath covered the face of the earth, sitting over against me. Come therefore, and curse this people, because it is mightier than I: if by any means I may beat them and drive them out of my land: for I know that he whom thou shalt bless is blessed, and he whom thou shalt curse is cursed. And the ancients of Moab, and the elders of Madian, went with the price of divination in their hands. And when they were come to Balaam, and had told him all the words of Balac: he answered: Tarry here this night, and I will answer whatsoever the Lord shall say to me. And while they stayed with Balaam, God came and said to him: what mean these men that are with thee? He answered: Balac the son of Sephor king of the Moabites hath sent to me, saying: Behold a people that is come out of Egypt, hath covered the face of the land: come and curse them, if by any means I may fight with them and drive them away. And God said to Balaam: Thou shalt not go with them, nor shalt thou curse the people: because it is blessed. And he rose in the morning and said to the princes: Go into your country, because the Lord hath forbid me to come with you. The princes returning, said to Balac: Balaam would not come with us. Then he sent many more and more noble than he had sent before: who, when they were come to Balaam, said: Thus saith Balac the son of Sephor, Delay not to come to me: for I am ready to honour thee, and will give thee whatsoever thou wilt: come and curse this people. Balaam answered: If Balac would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot alter the word of the Lord my God, to speak either more or less. I pray you to stay here this night also, that I may know what the Lord will answer me once more. God therefore came to Balaam in the night, and said to him: It these men be come to call thee, arise and go with them: yet so, that thou do what I shall command thee. Balaam arose in the morning, and saddling his ass went with them. And God was angry. And an angel of the Lord stood in the way against Balaam, who sat on the ass, and had two servants with him. The ass seeing the angel standing in the way, with a drawn sword, turned herself out of the way, and went into the field. And when Balaam beat her, and had a mind to bring her again to the way, the angel stood in a narrow place between two walls, wherewith the vineyards were enclosed. And the ass seeing him, thrust herself close to the wall, and bruised the foot of the rider. But he beat her again: and nevertheless the angel going on to a narrow place, where there was no way to turn aside either to the right hand or to the left, stood to meet him. And when the ass saw the angel standing, she fell under the feet of the rider: who being angry beat her sides more vehemently with a staff. And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said: What have I done to thee? Why strikest thou me, lo, now this third time? Balaam answered: Because thou hast deserved it, and hast served me ill: I would I had a sword that I might kill thee. The ass said: Am not I thy beast, on which thou hast been always accustomed to ride until this present day? tell me if I ever did the like thing to thee. But he said: Never. Forthwith the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel standing in the way with a drawn sword, and he worshipped him falling flat on the ground. And the angel said to him: Why beatest thou thy ass these three times? I am come to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse, and contrary to me: and unless the ass had turned out of the way, giving place to me who stood against thee, I had slain thee, and she should have lived. Balaam said: I have sinned, not knowing that thou didst stand against me: and now if it displease thee that I go, I will return. The angel said: Go with these men, and see thou speak no other thing than what I shall command thee. He went therefore with the princes. And when Balac heard it he came forth to meet him in a town of the Moabites, that is situate in the uttermost borders of Arnon. And he said to Balaam: I sent messengers to call thee, why didst thou not come immediately to me? was it because I am not able to reward thy coming? He answered him: Lo, here I am: shall I have power to speak any other thing but that which God shall put in my mouth? So they went on together, and came into a city, that was in the uttermost borders of his kingdom. And when Balac had killed oxen and sheep, he sent presents to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him. And when morning was come, he brought him to the high places of Baal, and he beheld the uttermost part of the people. And Balaam said to Balac: Build me here seven altars, and prepare as many calves, and the same number of rams. And when he had done according to the word of Balaam, they laid together a calf and a ram upon every altar. And Balaam said to Balac: Stand a while by thy burnt offering, until I go, to see if perhaps the Lord will meet me, and whatsoever he shall command, I will speak to thee. And when he was gone with speed, God met him. And Balaam speaking to him, said: I have erected seven altars, and have laid on everyone a calf and a ram. And the Lord put the word in his mouth, and said: Return to Balac, and thus shalt thou speak. Returning he found Balac standing by his burnt offering, with all the princes of the Moabites: and taking up his parable, he said: Balac king of the Moabites hath brought me from Aram, from the mountains of the east: Come, said he, and curse Jacob: make haste and detest Israel. How shall I curse him, whom God hath not cursed? By what means should I detest him, whom the Lord detesteth not? I shall see him from the tops of the rocks, and shall consider him from the hills. This people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. Who can count the dust of Jacob, and know the number of the stock of Israel? Let my soul die the death of the just, and my last end be like to them.
R/. O how precious is thy mercy, Lord * My God!
V/. Extend thy mercy to them that know thee, and thy justice to them that are right in heart. * My God!
V/. Let not the foot of pride come to me, and let not the hand of the sinner move me. * My God!
The First Epistle of the Apostle John. R/. Thanks be to God.
This is the declaration which we have heard from him, and declare unto you: That God is light, and in him there is no darkness. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he also is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity.
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.
At that time:
Jesus passing by, saw a man, who was blind from his birth: and his disciples asked him: Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered: Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, whilst it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had said these things, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and spread the clay on his eyes, and said to him: Go, wash in the pool of Siloe, which is interpreted, Sent. He went therefore, and washed, and he came seeing. The neighbours therefore, and they who had seen him before that he was a beggar, said: Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said: This is he. But others said: No, but he is like him. But he said: I am he. They said therefore to him: How were thy eyes opened? He answered: That man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me: Go to the pool of Siloe, and wash. And I went, I washed, and I see. And they said to him: Where is he? He saith: I know not. They bring him that had been blind to the Pharisees. Now it was the sabbath, when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Again therefore the Pharisees asked him, how he had received his sight. But he said to them: He put clay upon my eyes, and I washed, and I see. Some therefore of the Pharisees said: This man is not of God, who keepeth not the sabbath. But others said: How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. They say therefore to the blind man again: What sayest thou of him that hath opened thy eyes? And he said: He is a prophet. The Jews then did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and had received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight, and asked them, saying: Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then doth he now see? His parents answered them, and said: We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: but how he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: ask himself: he is of age, let him speak for himself. These things his parents said, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had already agreed among themselves, that if any man should confess him to be Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. Therefore did his parents say: He is of age, ask himself. They therefore called the man again that had been blind, and said to him: Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner. He said therefore to them: If he be a sinner, I know not: one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see. They said then to him: What did he to thee? How did he open thy eyes? He answered them: I have told you already, and you have heard: why would you hear it again? will you also become his disciples? They reviled him therefore, and said: Be thou his disciple; but we are the disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses: but as to this man, we know not from whence he is. The man answered, and said to them: Why, herein is a wonderful thing, that you know not from whence he is, and he hath opened my eyes. Now we know that God doth not hear sinners: but if a man be a server of God, and doth his will, him he heareth. From the beginning of the world it hath not been heard, that any man hath opened the eyes of one born blind. Unless this man were of God, he could not do any thing. They answered, and said to him: Thou wast wholly born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. Jesus heard that they had cast him out: and when he had found him, he said to him: Dost thou believe in the Son of God? He answered, and said: Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him? And Jesus said to him: Thou hast both seen him; and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said: I believe, Lord. And falling down, he adored him.
Give glory to the Lord, * And call upon his name.
V/. Seek ye the Lord, and be strengthened: seek his face evermore. * And call upon his name.