Our Lord Jesus Christ, directly after His baptism, prepared Himself for His public life and mission by a fast of forty days in the desert, which extends from Jericho to the mountains of Judea. Let us prepare ourselves by fast, prayers and works of charity for the solemn Feast of Easter. In today’s epic Gospel scene, Jesus relives in His flesh the history of Israel.
We’ve already seen that like Israel, Jesus has passed through water, been called God’s beloved Son (see Luke 3:22; Exodus 4:22). Now, as Israel was tested for forty years in the wilderness, Jesus is led into the desert to be tested for forty days and nights (see Exodus 15:25).
He faces the temptations put to Israel: Hungry, He’s tempted to grumble against God for food (see Exodus 16:1-13). As Israel quarreled at Massah, He’s tempted to doubt God’s care (see Exodus 17:1-6). When the Devil asks His homage, He’s tempted to do what Israel did in creating the golden calf (see Exodus 32).
Jesus fights the Devil with the Word of God, three times quoting from Moses’ lecture about the lessons Israel was supposed to learn from its wilderness wanderings (see Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:16; 6:12-15).
Why do we read this story on the first Sunday of Lent? Because like the biblical sign of forty (see Genesis 7:12; Exodus 24:18; 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8; Jonah 3:4), the forty days of Lent are a time of trial and purification.
Lent is to teach us what we hear over and over in today’s readings. “Call upon me, and I will answer,” the Lord promises in today’s Psalm. Paul promises the same thing in today’s Epistle (quoting Deuteronomy 30:14; Isaiah 28:16; Joel 2:32).
This was Israel’s experience, as Moses reminds his people in today’s First Reading: “We cried to the Lord…and He heard.” But each of us is tempted, as Israel was, to forget the great deeds He works in our lives, to neglect our birthright as His beloved sons and daughters.
Like the litany of remembrance Moses prescribes for Israel, we should see in the Mass a memorial of our salvation, and “bow down in His presence,” offering ourselves in thanksgiving for all He has given us.
St Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commanded him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14, about the year 270. Pope Julius I is said to have built a church near Ponte Mole to his memory, which for a long time gave name to the gate now called Porta del Popolo, formerly, Porta Valetini. The greatest part of his relics are now in the church of St. Praxedes. His name is celebrated as that of an illustrious martyr in the sacramentary of St. Gregory, the Roman Missal of Thomasius, in the calendar of F. Fronto and that of Allatius, in Bede, Usuard, Ado, Notker and all other martyrologies on this day.
INTROIT Psalm 90: 15, 16
He shall cry to Me, and I will hear him : I will deliver him, and I will glorify him : I will fill him with length of days – (Psalm 90: 1) He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most High : shall abide under the protection of the God of Heaven. 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 He shall cry to Me…
O God, You Who purify Your Church by the yearly Lenten observance, grant to Your household that what they strive to obtain from You by abstinence, they may achieve by good works. 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.
Grant, we beseech You, almighty God, that we who celebrate the anniversary of the death of Your holy Martyr, Valentine, may by his intercession be delivered from all evils that threaten us. 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.
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 2 Corinthians 6. 1-10
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. Brethren : We exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For He saith : In an accepted time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation. Giving no offence to any man, that our ministry be not blamed : but in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distress, in stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labors, in watchings, in fastings, in chastity, in knowledge, in longsuffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God : by the armour of justice on the right hand and on the left : by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report : as deceivers and yet true, as unknown and yet known : as dying, and behold we live : as chastised and not killed : as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing : as needy, yet enriching many : as having nothing and possessing all things.
GRADUAL Psalm 90: 11, 12
God hath given His angels charge over Thee to keep Thee in all Thy ways. V. In their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.
TRACT Psalm 90: 1-7, 11-16
He that dwelleth in the aid of the most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven. V. He shall say to the Lord : Thou art my protector and my refuge : my God, in Him will I trust. V. For He hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters, and from the sharp word. V. He will overshadow thee with His shoulders, and under His wings thou shalt trust. V. His truth shall compass thee with a shield : thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night. V. Of the arrow that flieth in the day, of the business that walketh about in the dark, of invasion or of the noonday devil. V. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at the right hand : but it shall not come nigh thee. . For he hath given His angels charge over Thee, to keep Thee in all Thy ways. V. In their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest Thou dash Thy foot against a stone. V. Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk, and Thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon. V. Because he hoped in Me I will deliver him : I will protect him, because he hath known My name. V. He shall cry to Me, and I will hear him : I am with him in tribulation. V. I will deliver him, and I will glorify him : I will fill him with length of days, and I will show him My salvation.
GOSPEL Matthew 4: 1-11
At that Time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards He was hungry. And the tempter coming said to him : ‘If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.’ Who answered and said: ‘It is written: Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.’ Then the devil took Him up into the holy city and set Him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him: ‘If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down. For it is written: That He hath given His angels charge over Thee, and in their hands shall they bear Thee up, lest perhaps Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.’ Jesus said to him: ‘It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord Thy God.’ Again the devil took Him up into a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and said to Him: ‘All these will I give Thee, if falling down Thou wilt adore me.’ Then Jesus saith to him: ‘Begone, Satan! For it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve.’ Then the devil left Him : and behold angels came, and ministered to Him.
OFFERTORY Psalm 90: 4, 5
The Lord will overshadow thee with His shoulders, and under His wings thou shalt trust : His truth shall compass thee with a shield.
We offer these sacrificial gifts at the beginning of Lent, praying You, O Lord, that while we practice restraint in the use of bodily food, we may also refrain from harmful pleasures. 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. R.Amen
Graciously accept, O Lord, we beseech You, the gifts we reverently offer, and through the intercessory merits of St. Valentine, Your Martyr, grant that they may prove helpful for our salvation. 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.
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, that 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
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 90: 4, 5
The Lord will overshadow thee with His shoulders, and under His wings thou shalt trust: His truth shall compass thee with a shield.
May the holy offering of Your sacrament renew us, O Lord, and cause us to be purified from our old ways and come to the fellowship of this saving mystery. 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
May the heavenly sacrament, O Lord, renew our souls and minds, so that by the intercession of Your blessed Martyr Valentine we may feel the benefit of the worship we perform. 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.
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.