We must struggle by solemn fast and by works of charity against our passions, and “the Lord will give us rest, and will fill our souls with brightness.” The rough sea and the contrary winds are a figure of our passions. In this hard struggle Jesus will come to our help as He did to the Apostles and heal our bodies and our souls by fasting, as He healed all the sick in the land of Genesareth.
Saint Frances of Rome’s life combines aspects of secular and religious life. A devoted and loving wife, she longed for a lifestyle of prayer and service, so she organized a group of women to minister to the needs of Rome’s poor.
Born of wealthy parents, Frances found herself attracted to the religious life during her youth. But her parents objected and a young nobleman was selected to be her husband. As she became acquainted with her new relatives, Frances soon discovered that the wife of her husband’s brother also wished to live a life of service and prayer. So the two, Frances and Vannozza, set out together—with their husbands’ blessings—to help the poor.
Frances fell ill for a time, but this apparently only deepened her commitment to the suffering people she met. The years passed, and Frances gave birth to two sons and a daughter. With the new responsibilities of family life, the young mother turned her attention more to the needs of her own household.
The family flourished under Frances’ care, but within a few years a great plague began to sweep across Italy. It struck Rome with devastating cruelty and left Frances’ second son dead. In an effort to help alleviate some of the suffering, Frances used all her money and sold her possessions to buy whatever the sick might possibly need. When all the resources had been exhausted, Frances and Vannozza went door to door begging. Later, Frances’ daughter died, and the saint opened a section of her house as a hospital.
In 1425, St Frances of Rome and a half dozen other Roman ladies, her companions, were clothed as oblates of St Benedict. This apparently did not cancel her membership in the Third Order of St Francis; for, at this time she and Vanozza made a pilgrimage to Assisi, walking the one hundred miles from Rome to the city of St Francis.
Frances became more and more convinced that this way of life was so necessary for the world, and it was not long before she requested and was given permission to found a society of women bound by no vows. They simply offered themselves to God and to the service of the poor. Once the society was established, Frances chose not to live at the community residence, but rather at home with her husband. She did this for seven years, until her husband passed away, and then came to live the remainder of her life with the society—serving the poorest of the poor.
INTROIT Psalm 29: 11
The Lord hath heard and hath had mercy upon me: the Lord became my helper. (Ps. 29: 2) I will extol Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast upheld me: and hast not made my enemies to rejoice over me. 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 The Lord hath heard…
Hear, O Lord, our humble prayers, and grant that we may devoutly keep this fast that has been established to cure our souls and bodies. 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 St Frances
O God, Who along with other gifts of Your grace honored blessed Frances, Your handmaid, with the close companionship of an angel, grant, we beseech You, that by the help of her intercession we may be made worthy to attain the companionship of angels.
Third 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. 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 Isaias 58: 9-14
Lesson from Isaias the Prophet. Thus says the Lord God: If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday; then the Lord will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails. The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up; ‘Repairer of the breach,’ they shall call you, ‘Restorer of ruined homesteads.’ If you hold back your foot on the Sabbath from following your won pursuits on My holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight, and the Lord’s holy day honorable; if you honor it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or speaking with malice – then you shall delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
GRADUAL Psalm 26: 4
One thing I have asked of the Lord. this will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord. V. That I may see the delight of the Lord, and be protected from His holy temple.
GOSPEL Mark 6:47-56
At that time, when it was late, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and Jesus alone on the land. And seeing His disciples straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking upon the sea, and He would have passed by them. But they, seeing Him walking upon the sea, thought it was a ghost, and cried out. For they all saw Him, and were troubled. Then He immediately spoke to them, and said to them, Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid. And He got into the boat with them, and the wind fell. And they were utterly beside themselves with astonishment, for they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was blinded. And crossing over, they came to the land of Genesareth and moored the boat. And when they had gotten out of the boat, the people at once recognized Him; and they hurried through the whole country, and began to bring the sick on their pallets, wherever they heard He was. And wherever He went, into village or hamlet or town, they laid the sick in the market places, and entreated Him to let them touch but the tassel of His cloak; and as many as touched Him were saved.
OFFERTORY Psalm 118: 154, 125
Quicken me, O Lord, according to Thy word: that I may know Thy testimonies.
Receive, O Lord, this sacrifice by which You have graciously willed to be appeased: grant, we beseech You, that, cleansed by its effects, we may offer You the love of our hearts as an acceptable gift. 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.
Second Secret for the Intercession of St Frances
O Lord, may the offerings of Your devoted people be pleasing to You in honor of Your saints, through whose merits they know they have received help in time of trial.
Third 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. 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 2: 11, 12
Serve ye the Lord with fear: and rejoice unto Him with trembling. Embrace discipline, lest you perish from the just way.
Fortified by the Bread of Life, we beseech You, O Lord, that what is a sacrament in this life may become a help to life eternal. 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 St Frances
You have filled Your people, O Lord, with sacred gifts; ever comfort us, we beseech You, by the intercession of her whose festival we are celebrating.
Third Postcommunion to implore the Intercession of the Saints
Let us pray. 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. 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
Let us pray. Bow down your heads before God.
May Your faithful people, O God, be strengthened by Your gifts; that by receiving them, they may still desire them, and by desiring them, may evermore receive them. 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.
PROPER LAST GOSPEL Matt 13:44-52
At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to His disciples: The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field; he who finds it hides it, and in his joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he finds a single pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net cast into the sea that gathered in fish of every kind. When it was filled, they hauled it out, and sitting down on the beach, they gathered the good fish into vessels, but threw away the bad. So will it be at the end of the world. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from among the just, and will cast them into the furnace of fire, where there will be the weeping, and the gnashing of teeth. Have you understood all these things? They said to Him, Yes. And He said to them, So then, every Scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings forth from his storeroom things new and old.