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Thursday after Ash Wednesday


Martyrology -23rd February

The morrow is the eve of the holy Apostle Matthias.

Upon the 23rd day of February, were born into the better life:

At Faenza, the holy Peter Damian, [988-1072,] Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, famous for his teaching and holiness, whom Pope Leo XII declared to be a Doctor of the Universal Church.

At Sirmium, [in the year 307,] the blessed martyr Sirenus a monk who was apprehended by order of the Emperor Maximian, and when he confessed himself to be a Christian was beheaded.

There likewise, seventy-two holy martyrs, who finished the combat of martyrdom in that city, and received kingdoms which fade not away, eternal in the heavens.

At Rome, [in the fourth century,] the holy Priest Polycarp, who, along with the blessed Sebastian, brought many to believe in Christ, and by his exhortations led them to the glory of martyrdom.

In the city of Astorga, [in the year 252,] the holy Virgin Martha, martyred under the Emperor Decius and the Proconsul Paternus.

At Constantinople, [about the year 860,] the holy monk Lazarus. Because he painted holy images, the Emperor Theophilus, the Iconoclast, put him to grievous tortures, and burnt his hands with a white-hot iron but he was healed by the power of God, restored the painting upon the holy images that had been defaced, and at length fell asleep in peace.

At Brescia, [about 652,] holy Felix, Bishop of that see.

At Seville, in Spain, [in the year 485,] the holy Confessor Florence.

At Todi, [in 324,] the holy Virgin Romana, who was baptized by holy Pope Sylvester, led a heavenly life in dens and caves of the earth, and shone with the glory of miracles.

In England, [in the seventh century,] the holy Virgin Milburga, daughter of the king of the Mercians, [sister of St. Mildred, and Abbess of Wenlock, Shropshire.]

And elsewhere many other Holy Martyrs, Confessors and Holy virgins.

R. Thanks be to God


Morning Prayer

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Place Yourself in the Presence of God, and adore His holy Name.

Most holy and adorable Trinity, one God in three Persons, I believe that Thou art here present: I adore Thee with the deepest humility, and render to Thee, with my whole heart, the homage which is due to Thy sovereign majesty.

An Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; I believe that Thy divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.

An Act of Hope

O my God, relying on Thy infinite goodness and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.

An Act of Love

O my God, I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbour as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

Thank God for All Favours and Offer Yourself to Him.

O my God, I most humbly thank Thee for all the favours Thou hast bestowed upon me up to the present moment. I give Thee thanks from the bottom of my heart that Thou hast created me after Thine own image and likeness, that Thou hast redeemed me by the precious blood of Thy dear Son, and that Thou hast preserved me and brought me safe to the beginning of another day. I offer to Thee, O Lord, my whole being, and in particular all my thoughts, words, actions, and sufferings of this day. I consecrate them all to the glory of Thy name, beseeching Thee that through the infinite merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour they may all find acceptance in Thy sight. May Thy divine love animate them, and may they all tend to Thy greater glory.

Resolve to Avoid Sin and to Practice Virtue.

Adorable Jesus, my Saviour and Master, model of all perfection, I resolve and will endeavour this day to imitate Thy example, to be, like Thee, mild, humble, chaste, zealous, charitable, and resigned. I will redouble my efforts that I may not fall this day into any of those sins which I have heretofore committed (here name any besetting sin), and which I sincerely desire to forsake.

Ask God for the Necessary Graces.

O my God, Thou knowest my poverty and weakness, and that I am unable to do anything good without Thee; deny me not, O God, the help of Thy grace; proportion it to my necessities; give me strength to avoid anything evil which Thou forbiddest, and to practise the good which Thou hast commanded; and enable me to bear patiently all the trials which it may please Thee to send me.

The Lord’s Prayer...

The Hail Mary...

The Apostles’ Creed...

At this point, please go to the relevant text of Fr Hamon’s Meditation. Once I have read and meditated on the text, and its various points.

Ask the Prayers of the Blessed Virgin, your Guardian Angel, and your Patron Saint.

I complete my meditation by saying:

Holy Virgin, Mother of God, my Mother and Patroness, I place myself under thy protection, I throw myself with confidence into the arms of thy compassion. Be to me, O Mother of mercy, my refuge in distress, my consolation under suffering, my advocate with thy adorable Son, now and at the hour of my death.

Angel of God, my guardian dear, To whom His love commits me here, Ever this day be at my side, To light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

O great Saint whose name I bear, protect me, pray for me, that like thee I may serve God faithfully on earth, and glorify Him eternally with thee in heaven. Amen.

Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Jesus, hear us.

Jesus, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.

God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, ... Jesus, Son of the living God, ... Jesus, splendour of the Father, ... Jesus, brightness of eternal light, ... Jesus, king of glory, ... Jesus, sun of justice, ... Jesus, son of the Virgin Mary, ... Jesus, most amiable, ... Jesus, most admirable, ... Jesus, mighty God, ... Jesus, father of the world to come, ... Jesus, angel of great council, ... Jesus, most powerful, ... Jesus, most patient, ... Jesus, most obedient, ... Jesus, meek and humble of heart, ... Jesus, lover of chastity ... Jesus, lover of us, ... Jesus, God of peace, ... Jesus, author of life, ... Jesus, model of virtues, ... Jesus, zealous for souls, ... Jesus, our God, ... Jesus, our refuge, ... Jesus, father of the poor, ... Jesus, treasure of the faithful, ... Jesus, good shepherd, ... Jesus, true light, ... Jesus, eternal wisdom, ... Jesus, infinite goodness, ... Jesus, our way and our life, ... Jesus, joy of angels, ... Jesus, king of patriarchs, ... Jesus, master of apostles, ... Jesus, teacher of evangelists, ... Jesus, strength of martyrs, ... Jesus, light of confessors, ... Jesus, purity of virgins, ... Jesus, crown of all saints, ...

Be merciful, Spare us, O Jesus. Be merciful, graciously hear us, O Jesus.

From all evil, Jesus, deliver us. From all sin, Jesus, deliver us. From Thy wrath, ... From the snares of the devil, ... From the spirit of fornication, ... From everlasting death, ... From the neglect of Thy inspirations, ... Through the mystery of Thy holy incarnation, ... Through Thy nativity, ... Through Thine infancy, ... Through Thy most divine life, ... Through Thy labours, ... Through Thine agony and passion, ... Through Thy cross and dereliction, ...Through Thy faintness and weariness, ... Through Thy death and burial, ... Through Thy resurrection, ... Through Thine ascension, ... Through Thy joys, ... Through Thy glory, ...

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Jesus.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Jesus.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us, O Jesus.

Jesus, hear us. Jesus, graciously hear us.

Let us pray.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who hast said: Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; grant, we beseech Thee, unto us who ask, the gift of Thy most divine love, that we may ever love Thee with all our hearts, and in all our words and actions, and never cease from showing forth Thy praise. Make us, O Lord, to have a perpetual fear and love of Thy holy Name; for Thou never failest to govern those whom Thou dost solidly establish in Thy love. Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.

The Angelus

℣ The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.

℟ And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.

Hail, Mary...

℣ Behold the handmaid of the Lord.

℟ Be it done unto me according to thy word.

Hail, Mary...

℣ And the Word was made flesh.

℟ And dwelt among us.

Hail, Mary...

℣ Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.

℟ That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord! Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may, by His passion and Cross, be brought to the glory of His resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Evening Prayer


Thursday after Ash Wednesday: The Ashes a Lesson of Humility

Summary of the Morrow’s Meditation

We will meditate tomorrow: first, on the lesson of humility which the Church gives us in the ceremony of the ashes; second, the reasons why the Church gives us this lesson at the beginning of Lent. We will then make the resolution: first, to keep ourselves, during the whole of Lent, in a humble and contrite spirit, whilst beholding our nothingness and our sins; second, heartily to accept the penance of Lent, as being far less than we deserve. Our spiritual nosegay shall be the words of the Church: “Dust thou art, and into dust shall thou return” (Gen. iii:19).

Meditation for the Morning

Let us adore the Spirit of God inspiring the Church to institute the ceremony of the ashes, as being a powerful lesson of humility for all Christians. Let us thank Him for this holy inspiration, and let us ask of Him grace abundantly to profit by it.

The lesson of humility which the church gives us by the ceremony of the ashes

If the Church places upon the head, which is the seat of pride, the ashes which are the symbol of the nothingness of human things, it is not only to preach to us thereby thoughts of penance and of death; it is also and above all for the purpose of saying to us: Do not inflate yourself so much, proud man. Remember that you are dust and ashes and that to dust you will return (Gen. iii:19). Dust and ashes, behold whence thou comest; such is thy origin. God took a little clay, and of it formed the first man, whence have come all other men. Dust and ashes, behold what you are: a little clay formed into a man, says Tertullian. Now, is it suitable for clay to boast of what it is, to lift up itself through pride against Him who, animating it with His spirit, raised it through mercy above what it was? (Sirach x:9) Dust and ashes, behold what you will soon become, for you will return to dust (Gen. iii:19). You will return thereto with the sensitiveness which takes offence, with thoughts of self-love and of complaisance in yourselves, with the desire to attract notice and be honoured. All that at a certain day will disappear, and be nothing but a handful of ashes, will be lost in ashes, and vanish like ashes before the wind, after having been vile like it, sterile and useless like it.

Even if you had equalled and surpassed in glory the most renowned men, in riches the most opulent of men, in enjoyments the men who have had the most enjoyments: all that, at the end, will be reduced to a few ashes; and these few ashes, it will not be possible to recognise; it will not be known to whom they belong; a blast of wind will disperse them in the air, and the very name of him from whom they come will be as entirely forgotten as though he had never existed. What a lesson of humility, well calculated to disabuse us of all the delusions of self-love, and to make us return to the humble sentiments we ought to have of ourselves! What folly to desire to be esteemed and honoured, since we shall finally be reduced to a few ashes!

Why the church gives us this lesson at the beginning of Lent

It is, first, because, without humility, all the mortifications of Lent would be devoid of merit. The Pharisees fast, said Jesus Christ in the gospel of yesterday; but as they do it in order to obtain the esteem of men, they do it without any merit, and receive their recompense upon earth. The reason is, because to esteem ourselves is to transgress against the truth, which tells us that we are nothing; and because to desire to be esteemed is to transgress against justice, which exclaims to us: To God alone be honour and glory (I Tim. i:17), to us, confusion (Baruch i:15). Now, lies and injustice are incompatible with merit. It is, second, because without humility there is no true penance. True penance has for its basis the feeling of our misery, or the humiliation of the soul, which, confessing itself to be guilty, recognises itself to be bound to make all sorts of reparations and satisfactions to divine justice. He who esteems himself may, like the Pharisee, perform exterior acts of penance, and say, like him: “I fast twice in the week; I pay the tax on all my goods;” but, at bottom, this penance cannot please Him who sounds hearts, and who takes delight only in truth. The Pharisee, notwithstanding his fasts, was nonetheless held in execration by God, for the sole reason that he esteemed himself and sought for the esteem and praise of others. Let us fear lest it may be so with us; and in order to prevent this misfortune, let us begin Lent in a spirit of humility.

Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.


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