By fasting, the body is subjected to the soul. By prayer, the soul is united to God. By charity, man is united to man, and through man to God. "As long as you did it for one of these, the least of My brethren, you did it for Me" (Matt. 25:40). Without charity to our fellow men, neither fasting nor prayer is acceptable to God. Fasting and prayer must issue in a kindness and sympathy that reach not only to our closest associate but also to the most distant sufferer.
INTROIT Ps. 29:11
The Lord heard me and had pity on me; the Lord became my helper.
Ps. 29:2. I will extol You, O Lord, for You have upheld me, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
V. Glory be . . .
Watch over the fast we have undertaken, O Lord, and let this bodily penance also be a truly spiritual exercise to make us strong. Through Our Lord . . .
Commemoration of THE SEVEN HOLY FOUNDERS
In the thirteenth century, the prosperous city of Florence was torn by political struggles and troubled by heresy. Seven young Florentines offered their lives to atone for the sins of their fellow citizens. They became hermits, meditating constantly on the Passion of Jesus and the sorrows of Mary at the foot of the cross. In 1240 our Blessed Lady inspired the holy solitaries to found a new order, the Servants of Mary. The society grew amazingly and from Italy spread to France, Germany, Poland, and even Asia.
O Lord Jesus Christ, through the seven blessed fathers You enriched Your Church with the new Order of Servites in order to keep alive the memory of the sorrows of Your most holy Mother. May we be united in the sorrows of these saints so that we may also share in their joys; who lives and rules with God the Father . . .
LESSON Isa. 58:1-9
Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and declare unto my people their transgression, and to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways: as a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinance of their God, they ask of me righteous ordinances, they delight to draw near unto God. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find your own pleasure, and exact all your labours.
Behold, ye fast for strife and contention, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye fast not this day so as to make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I have chosen? the day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy healing shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rearward. Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. For, I, the Lord your God, am merciful.
GRADUAL Ps. 26:4
One thing I have asked of the Lord; this will I seek after: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
V. That I may behold the joy of the Lord and be sheltered by His holy temple.
TRACT Ps. 102:10O Lord, repay us not according to the sins we have committed, nor according to our iniquities. V. O Lord, remember not our iniquities of the past; let Your mercy come quickly to us, for we are being brought very low.(All Kneel.) V. Help us, O God our Savior, and for the glory of Your name, O Lord, deliver us; and pardon us our sins for Your names sake.
GOSPEL Matt. 5:43-48; 6:1-4
At that time, Jesus said to his disciples, "Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; that ye may be sons of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. For if ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the Gentiles the same? Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father which is in heaven. When therefore thou doest alms, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret shall recompense thee."
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Ps. 118:154, 125
O Lord, give me life according to Your promise, that I may know Your degrees.
O Lord, may the offering of our lenten sacrifice make our souls more pleasing to You, and help us to be more prompt in self-denial. Through our Lord . . .
Commemoration of THE SEVEN HOLY FOUNDERS
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Ps. 2:11-12
Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling before Him. Embrace discipline that you perish not from the way of virtue.
Fill our hearts with the spirit of Your love, O Lord. May we who have been nourished with the one bread of Heaven also be of one mind. Through our Lord . . .
Commemoration of THE SEVEN HOLY FOUNDERSWe are refreshed by the Sacrament of Heaven, O Lord. May we follow the examples of these saints, whom we honor today, and stand faithfully beneath the cross of Jesus with Mary His Mother, in order that we may also share in the effects of His redeeming sacrifice. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord . . .
PRAYER OVER THE PEOPLE
O Lord, protect Your people and in Your mercy cleanse them from all sin; for no harm shall touch them if wickedness holds no sway over them. Through our Lord . . .