When the number of the Sundays after Pentecost is only 23, the Mass for today is taken from the 24th and Last Sunday. But under all circumstances, the antiphonary ends today. The Introits, Graduals, Offertories and Communion Verses for this Sunday are to be repeated on each of the Sundays till Advent, which vary in number each year. Our readers will remember that, in the time of St. Gregory the Great, Advent was longer than we now have it; and that, in those days, its weeks commenced in that part of the Liturgical cycle which is now occupied by the last Sundays after Pentecost. This is one of the reasons for the lack of liturgical richness in the composition of the Sunday Masses which follow the 23rd (which was formerly regarded as the last).
Even on this one, the Church, without losing sight of the Last Day, used to lend a thought to the new season which was fast approaching—the season of preparation for the great Feast of Christmas. There used to be read, as the Epistle, the following passage from Jeremias, which was afterwards, in several Churches, inserted in the Mass of the First Sunday of Advent: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, and I will raise up to David a just branch: and a King shall reign, and shall be wise: and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In those days, shall Juda be saved, and Israel shall dwell confidently: and this is the name that they shall call Him: The Lord, our Just One. Therefore, behold the days come, saith the Lord, and they shall say no more: The Lord liveth, Who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt! But: The Lord liveth, Who hath brought out, and brought hither, the seed of the house of Israel, from the land of the north, and out of all the lands, to which I had cast them forth! And they shall dwell in their own land” (Jer. 23: 5-8). As is evident, this passage is equally applicable to the conversion of the Jews and the restoration of Israel, which are to take place at the end of the world (see yesterday’s post on the Gospel).
The Clement, whose name is here mentioned by the Apostle in the Epistle, is that of St. Peter’s successor. Very frequently, the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost comes close upon the Feast of this great Pope and Martyr of the 1st century. Disciple of St. Paul, and later on, in close intimacy with St. Peter, and named by the Vicar of Christ as fitting to succeed him in the apostolic chair—St. Clement, as we have seen on the 23rd of November, was one of those Saints who, in those early times, were the most venerated by the faithful. The mention made of him in the Sunday Office, just before his appearance on the Calendar of the Saints, excited the Christian people to joy, and roused their fervor; it reminded them that one of their best and dearest defenders would soon be visiting them.
At the time when St. Paul was writing to the Philippians, St. Clement, who was long to survive the Apostles, was prominently one of those men spoken of in the Epistle—that is, one of the imitators of those illustrious patterns, who were called to perpetuate in the flock confided to their care (1 Peter 5: 3), the pattern of holy living; and that, not so much by their zealous teaching, as by the force of example. The Church, the One true Bride of the Divine Word, was known by the incommunicable privilege of possessing within Her the Truth—not only its dead letter, but its ever living self, and this by Her holiness. The Holy Ghost has not kept the Books of Sacred Scripture from passing into the hands of the sects separated from the center of unity; but He has reserved to the Church the treasure of Tradition, which transmits, surely and fully, from one generation to another, the Word Who is light and life (John 1: 4). Yes, this Tradition is kept up by the truth and holiness of the Man-God; they are ever existing in His members, they are ever tangible and visible in the Church (1 John 1: 1). Holiness, which is inherent in the Church, is Tradition in its purest and strongest form, because it is the truth, not only preached, but reduced to action and work (1 Thess. 2: 13), as it was in Christ Jesus, and as it is in God. It is the deposit of Faith (1 Tim. 6: 20), which the disciples of the Apostles had the mission to hand faithfully down to their successors, just as the Apostles themselves had received it from the Word, Who had come upon the earth.
Hence St. Paul did not content himself with entrusting dogmatic teaching to his disciple St. Timothy (2 Tim. 2: 2); he said to him: Be thou an example to the faithful, in word and living (1 Tim. 4: 12). He said much the same to St. Titus: Show thyself an example of good works, in doctrine and in integrity of life (Tit. 2: 7). He repeated to all: Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ (1 Cor. 4: 16). He sent St. Timothy to the Corinthians, that he might remind them, or, where it was necessary, might teach them, not only the dogmas of his Gospel, but, likewise, his ways in Christ Jesus, that is, his manner of life; for, this manner of life of the Apostle was, in a certain measure, his teaching everywhere in all the churches (1 Cor. 4: 17); and he lauded the faithful of Corinth for their being mindful to imitate him in all things, which was a keeping to the tradition of Christ (Ibid. 11: 1-2). As for the Thessalonians, they had so thoroughly entered into his teaching, taken from their Apostle’s life, that, as St. Paul says of them, they had become a pattern to all believers; this silent teaching of Christian revelation, which they showed forth in their conduct, made it superfluous for the messengers of the Gospel to say much (1 Thess. 1: 5-8).
INTROIT Jeremias 29: 11, 12,14
The Lord saith: I think thoughts of peace, and not of affliction: you shall call upon Me, and I shall hear you and I will bring back your captivity from all places. (Ps. 84: 2) Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. v. Glory be to the Father…
O Lord, we beseech Thee, absolve Thy people from their offenses, that through Thy bountiful goodness, we may be freed from the bonds of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
Collect for the Intercession of the Saints
Let us pray. Defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all dangers of mind and body: and through the intercession of the blessed and glorious Mary, ever Virgin, mother of God, of St Joseph, of Thy holy apostles, Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in Thy loving-kindness grant us safety and peace; that, all adversities and errors being overcome, Thy Church may serve Thee in security and freedom.
Collect for God’s Holy Church
Let us pray. Graciously hear, O Lord, the prayers of Thy Church that, having overcome all adversity and every error, she may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
EPISTLE Philippians 3: 17-21; 4. 1-3
Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Philippiians. Brethren, Be followers of me, and observe them who walk so as you have our model. For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping) that they are enemies of the cross of Christ whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame who mind earthly things. But our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory, according to the operation whereby also He is able to subdue all things unto Himself. Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved, and most desired, my joy and my crown: so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beg of Evodia, and I beseech Syntyche to be of one mind with the Lord: and I entreat thee also, my sincere companion, help those women who have labored with me in the Gospel, with Clement and the rest of my fellow-laborers, whose names are in the book of life.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 43: 8, 9
Thou hast delivered us, O Lord, from them that afflict us: and hast put them to shame that hate us. V. In God we will glory all the day: and in Thy Name we will give praise for ever. Alleluia, allelluia. V.(Ps. 129: 1, 2) From the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my prayer. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 22: 15-21
At that time, as Jesus was speaking to the multitudes, behold a certain ruler came up and adored Him, saying: Lord, my daughter is even now dead but come, lay Thy hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus, rising up, followed him, with His disciples. And behold a woman, who, was troubled with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment. For she said within herself: If I shall touch only His garment, I shall be healed. But Jesus turning and seeing her, said: “Be of good heart, daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole.” And the woman was made whole from that hour. And when Jesus was come into the house of the ruler, and saw the minstrels and the multitude making a tumult, He said: “for the girl is not dead, but sleepeth.” And they laughed Him to scorn. And when the multitude was put forth, He went in and took her by the hand. And the maid arose. And the fame thereof went abroad into all that country.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Ps. 129: 1, 2
From the depths I have cried out to Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my prayer: From the depths I have cried out to Thee, O Lord.
We offer to Thee, O Lord, this Sacrifice of praise, as an increase of our service: that what Thou hast conferred on us who are unworthy, Thou mayest mercifully accomplish. 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.
Secret for the Intercession of the Saints
Graciously hear us, O God our Saviour, and, by virtue of this Sacrament, defend us from all enemies of soul and body, bestowing upon us Thy grace here and Thy glory hereafter.
Secret for God’s Holy Church
Protect us, O Lord, who assist at Thy mysteries, that, cleaving to things divine, we may serve Thee both in body and in mind. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R. Amen.
PREFACE of the Most Holy Trinity
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, ever-lasting God: Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, are one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in confessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out with one voice saying:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Mark 11: 24
Amen, I say to you, whatsoever you ask when you pray, believe that you shall receive and it shall be done to you.
We beseech Thee, O Almighty God, that Thou suffer us not to yield to human dangers whom Thou dost grant to rejoice in this sharing in divine gifts. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.
Postcommunion for the Intercession of the Saints
Let us pray. May the gift of this Divine Sacrament which we have offered, cleanse and defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord; and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, of St. Joseph, of Thy holy apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, free us from all iniquity and deliver us from all adversity.
Postcommunion for God’s Holy Church
Let us pray. O Lord our God, we pray Thee that Thou suffer not to succumb to human hazards those whom Thou hast been pleased to make sharers of divine mysteries. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.