Carissimi; Today’s Mass: Ash Wednesday

ASH WEDNESDAY: Missa “Misereris omnium”

AshWednesday

Ash Wednesday is from a liturgical point of view one of the most important days of the year. In the first place this day opens the liturgical season of Lent, which formerly began with the First Sunday and comprised only thirty-six days. The addition of Wednesday and the three following days brought the number to forty, which is that of Our Lord’s fast in the desert.

In the Old Law ashes were generally a symbolic expression of grief, mourning, or repentance. In the Early Church the use of ashes had a like signification and with sackcloth formed part of the public penance. The blessing of the ashes is one of the great liturgical rites of the year. It was originally instituted for public penitents, but is now intended for all Christians, as Lent should be a time of penance for all. The ashes used this day are obtained by burning the palms of the previous year. Four ancient prayers are used in blessing them, and, having been sprinkled with holy water and incensed, the priest puts them on the foreheads of the faithful with the words: “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shall return.” The ancient prayers of the blessing suggest suitable thoughts for the opening of Lent. They are summarized here:

“Almighty and everlasting God, spare the penitent, bless these ashes, that they may be a remedy to all who invoke Thy Name, O God, Who desirest not the death but the conversion of sinners, look kindly upon our human frailty, and bless these ashes, so that we, who know ourselves to be but ashes, and that we must return to dust, may deserve to obtain pardon and the rewards offered to the penitent.”

Before Mass ashes are blessed made from palms blessed in the previous year. The forms used in this blessing date from about the eighth century.

BENEDICTIO CINERUM

Hear me, O Lord, for thy mercy is kind; look upon me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, O Lord.
Save me, O God: for the waters are come in even unto my soul.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Hear me, O Lord, for thy mercy is kind; look upon me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, O Lord.

P. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.
Let us pray.
Almighty, everlasting God, spare those who are repentant, be merciful to those who pray to You, and graciously send Your holy angel from heaven to bless ☩ and hallow these ashes, that they may be a wholesome remedy for all who humbly implore Your holy Name; who accuse themselves by acknowledging their sins, who weep for their evil deeds in the sight of Your divine mercy; who humbly and earnestly seek Your fatherly love. Grant to us who call upon Your holy Name, that all who are sprinkled with these ashes for the forgiveness of their sins, may receive health for their bodies and salvation for their souls. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Let us pray.
O God, You Who desire not the death but the repentance of sinners, look graciously upon the weakness of our human nature, and in Your fatherly love mercifully bless ☩ these ashes which are to be placed upon our heads as a sign of humility and a pledge of Your forgiveness. We know that we are but ashes, and because of our wickedness must return to dust. May we obtain from Your mercy the pardon of all our sins and the rewards promised to those who repent. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Let us pray.
O God, You Who are moved by our acts of humility and appeased by our works of penance, turn Your ear lovingly to our prayers, and by the ashes sprinkled upon the heads of Your servants mercifully pour forth upon them the grace of Your blessing, fill them with the spirit of repentance and truly grant what they ask for in the right way; and may whatever You grant remain fixed and unchanged always. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Let us pray.
Almighty, everlasting God, Who bestowed upon the people of Nineve, who repented in sackcloth and ashes, Your merciful remedies, graciously grant that we may so imitate their outward behavior as inwardly to obtain Your forgiveness. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R. Amen.

After this the priest sprinkles the ashes three times with holy water and also incenses them three times. Meanwhile the following antiphons and responsory are sung by the choir (or, if there be no choir, recited by the priest). The celebrant standing, receives ashes on his head, either from another priest, or from himself.

ashwedii

He then places the ashes in the form of a cross on the forehead of each person present, saying: Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris. [Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return. Genesis 3:19]

ANTIPHON Joel 2: 13

Let us change our garments for ashes and sackcloth : let us fast and lament before the Lord : for plenteous in mercy is our God to forgive our sins.

RESPONSE Esther 13; Joel 2: 13

V. Let us amend for the better in those things in which we have sinned through ignorance : lest suddenly overtaken by the day of death, we seek space for repentance and are not able to find it.
R. Attend, O Lord, and have mercy : for we have sinned against Thee.

V. Help us, O God, our Savior : and for the glory of Thy Name, O Lord, deliver us.
R. Attend, O Lord. V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. (Repeat:) Attend, O Lord.

P. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.
Grant us, O Lord, to begin our Christian warfare with holy fasts; that as we are about to do battle with the spirits of evil we may be defended by the aid of self-denial. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

INTROIT Wisdom 11: 24, 25, 27: 10,11

Thou hast mercy upon all, O Lord, and hatest none of the things which Thou hast made, overlooking the sins of men for the sake of repentance, and sparing them : because Thou art the Lord our God. (Psalm 56: 2). Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me : for my soul trusteth in Thee. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Repeat Thou has mercy…

COLLECT

Grant, O Lord, to Thy faithful people that they may begin the venerable solemnities of fasting with becoming piety, and may persevere to the end with steadfast devotion. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R.Amen.

Second Collect for the Intercession of Thy Saints
Defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all dangers of mind and body; that through the intercession of the blessed and glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, together with blessed Joseph, Thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and blessed N. (Here mention the titular saint of the church), and all the saints, mercifully grant us safety and peace; that all adversities and errors being overcome, Thy Church may serve Thee in security and freedom.

Third Collect for the Living and the Dead
O almighty and eternal God, who hast dominion over both the living and the dead, and hast mercy on all whom Thou forekowest shall be Thine by faith and good works : we humbly beseech Thee that all for whom we have resolved to make supplication whether the present world still holds them in the flesh or the world to come has already received them out of the body, may, through the intercession of all Thy saints, obtain of Thy goodness and clemency pardon for all their sins. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.

EPISTLE Joel 2: 12-19

Lesson from the Prophet Joel. Thus saith the Lord: Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning. And rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God : for He is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. Who knoweth but He will return and forgive and leave a blessing behind Him, sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather together the people, sanctify the Church, assemble the ancients, gather together the little ones and them that suck at the breasts : let the bridegroom go forth from his bed and the bride out of her bride chamber. Between the porch and the altar the priests, the Lord’s ministers, shall weep and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare Thy people : and give not Thy inheritance to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them. Why should they say among the nations : Where is their God? The Lord hath been zealous for His land, and hath spared His people. And the Lord answered and said to His people: Behold I will send you corn and wine and oil, and you shall be filled with them : and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations; saith the Lord almighty.

 GRADUAL Psalm 56: 2,4

 Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me : for my soul trusteth in Thee. V. He hath sent from heaven and delivered me : He hath made them a reproach that trod upon me.

The following tract is often on the Church’s lips during Lent. As the music to which it is sung shows, it is a suppliant appeal of man in his distress addressed to almighty God. This Tract is said from this day on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week till the Monday in Holy Week, with the exception of the Wednesday in Ember Week.

TRACT Psalm 102: 10

O Lord, repay us not according to the sins we have committed, nor according to our iniquities. V.( Psalm 78: 8, 9). O Lord, remember not our former iniquities, let Thy mercies speedily prevent us; for we are become exceeding poor. (Here kneel.) V. Help us, O God, our Savior, and for the glory of Thy name, O Lord, deliver us : and forgive us our sins for Thy name’s sake.

GOSPEL Matthew 6: 16-21

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples : ‘When you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint they head and wash thy face, that thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee. Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven : where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.’

OFFERTORY Psalm 29: 2-3

P. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
I will extol Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast upheld me, and hast not made my enemies to rejoice over me : O Lord, I have cried to Thee, and Thou hast healed me.

SECRET The Second and Third Secrets are the same for each Mass until Passion Sunday

Do Thou, we beseech Thee, O Lord duly prepare us for the offering to these gifts, by which we celebrate the institution of this venerable sacrament. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son. Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God. Forever and ever. Amen.

Second Secret to implore the Intercession of the Saints
Graciously hear us, O God our Savior, and by the virtue of this sacrament protect us from all enemies of soul and body, bestowing on us both grace in this life and glory hereafter.

Third Secret for the Living and the Dead
O God, Who alone knowest the number of the elect to be admitted to the happiness of Heaven, grant, we beseech Thee, tht through the intercession of all Thy saints, the names of all who have been recommended to our prayers and of all the faithful, may be inscribed in the book of blessed predestination. Protect us, O Lord, who assist at Thy mysteries; that, fixed upon things divine we may serve Thee in both body and mind. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.

PREFACE of Lent

P. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
P. Lift up your hearts.
R.We have lifted them up to the Lord.
P. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
R. It is meet and just.
P. It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: Who by this bodily fast, dost curb our vices, dost lift up our minds and bestow on us strength and rewards; through Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with these we entreat Thee that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted while we say with lowly praise:
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…

COMMUNION Psalm 1: 2,3

He that shall meditate day and night on the law of the Lord, shall bring forth his fruit in due season.

POSTCOMMUNION

May the sacraments which we have received afford us help, O Lord, that our fasts may be pleasing to Thee, and a profitable remedy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.

Second Postcommunion to implore the Intercession of the Saints
May the oblation of this divine sacrament cleanse and defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and, through the intercession of the blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with blessed Joseph, Thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul, blessed N. (here mention the titular saint of the church), and all the saints, purify us from all our sins and deliver us from all adversity.

Third Postcommunion for the Living and the Dead
Let us pray. May the sacraments which we have received purify us, we beseech Thee, O almighty and merciful Lord; and through the intercession of all Thy saints, grant that this Thy sacrament may not be unto us a condemnation, but a salutary intercession for pardon; may it be the washing away of sin, the strength of the weak, a protection against all dangers of the world, and a remission of all the sins of the faithful, whether living or dead. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.

PRAYER OVER THE PEOPLE This occurs everyday of Lent in addition to the previous prayers, a special prayer of encouragement and persistence:

Let us pray. Bow down your heads before God. Look down, O Lord, in Thy mercy, upon those who bow before Thy majesty; that they who are refreshed by Thy divine gift may ever be sustained by heavenly aid. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.

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