written, they have eaten the bread of sorrow; they have watered their couch with tears; they have afflicted their hearts with mourning, and their bodies with fasting, that thus they might recover the health of soul, which they had lost. The grace of penance, therefore, is one ; but it profits each one that receives it, and gives help to all in


The Bishop then rose, and advanced towards the Penitents. He spoke to them concerning the mercy of God, and how they should live for the time to come. After this exhortation, he thus addressed them: Come, come, come, my children! I will teach you the fear of the Lord. The Choir then sang this Antiphon, taken from the 33rd Psalm : Come ye to him, and be enlightened, and your faces shall not be confounded. Hereupon, the Penitents got up, and, coming to the Bishop, threw themselves at his feet. The Archpriest then pleaded for them in these words:


Make good in them, O Apostolic Pontiff, all that has been corrupted in them by the temptation of the devil! By the merit of thy prayers and intercession, and by the grace of the divine reconciliation, bring these men nigh unto God. Thus, they who, heretofore, suffered by the sins they committed, may now be happy in the hope, that, having overcome the author of their death, they may please the Lord, in the land of the living.

The Bishop answered: Knowest thou, if they be worthy of reconciliation? The Archpriest replied: I know, and bear witness, that they are worthy. A Deacon then ordered the Penitents to rise. This done, the Bishop took one of them by the hand, who did the same to his neighbour; and thus all, hand in hand, followed the Bishop to the place prepared in the centre of the nave. Meanwhile, the Choir sang the following Antiphons: I say unto you, there is joy to the Angels of God over one sinner doing penance. It behoveth thee, my son, to rejoice; for thy brother was dead, and has come to life

again ; he was lost, and is found.

The Bishop then offered up to God this prayer, which he sang to the solemn tone of the Preface.

It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to thee, ( Holy Lord, Almighty Father, Eternal God, through Christ our Lord: Whom thou, O' Almighty Father, didst will should be born among us by an ineffable Birth, that so he might pay to thee, his Eternal Father, the debt contracted by Adam, and put our death to death by his own, and bear our wounds in his own flesh, and cleanse away our stains by his Blood; hereby enabling us, who had fallen by the envy of the old enemy, to rise again by his mercy. Through him, O Lord, we suppliantly beseech and pray thee that thou mayest graciously hear us making intercession for the sins of others, who are not worthy to plead for our own. Do thou, O most merciful Lord, recal to thyself, with thy wonted goodness, these thy servants, who have separated themselves from thee by their sins. For neither didst thou reject the most wicked Achab when he humbled himself before thee, but didst avert from him the punishment he had deserved. So, likewise, didst thou graciously hear Peter, when he wept, and didst afterwards give to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and thou didst promise the reward of that same kingdom to the Thief when he trusted in thee. Therefore, O most merciful Lord ! mercifully welcome back these for whom we offer to thee our prayers, and restore them to the bosom of the Church, that the enemy may not triumph over them, but that they may be reconciled unto thee by thy co-equal Son, and by Him be cleansed from their guilt, and graciously admitted by Him to the banquet of thy most Holy Supper. May he in such wise refresh them by his Flesh and Blood, as to lead them, after this life's course is run, to the kingdom of heaven.

After this Prayer, all, both clergy and laity, prostrated themselves, together with the Penitents, before the Divine Majesty, and recited the three Psalms which begin with the word Miserere, (that is, the 50th, the 55th, and the 56th). The Bishop then stood up, and said over the Penitents, (who remained prostrate, as did also all the assistants,) six Prayers, from which we select the following sentences.

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Give ear, O Lord, to our supplications, and mercifully hear me, though I myself need mercy above all others. Thou hast chosen me to be the minister of this work, not from any merits thou didst see in me, but by the pure gift of thy grace. Grant me courage to fulfil my office, and do thou work, by my ministry, the effects of thine own mercy. It is thou that didst bring back, on thy shoulders, the lost sheep to the fold, and that didst mercifully hear the prayers of the Publican : do thou, also, restore to life these thy servants, whom thou wouldst not have die unto thee. O thou, who abandonest not them that are gone astray, receive these who have returned to thee. We beseech thee, O Lord, let the tearful sighs of these thy servants move thee to clemency: heal their wounds : stretch out thy saving hand to them, and raise them up. Permit not thy Church to be injured in any of her members : let not thy flock suffer loss ; let not the enemy exult over the destruction of any of thy family, nor the second death lay hold of them that have been regenerated in the laver of salvation. Pardon, O Lord, these that confess their sins to thee : let them not fall into the punishments of the future judgment to come ; let them never know the horrors of darkness, or the torments of the flames of hell. They have returned from the way of error to the path of justice ; let them not be again wounded, but maintain ever within themselves both what thy grace hath conferred upon them, and what thy mercy hath reformed within them.

Having said these Prayers, the Bishop stretched forth his hands over the Penitents, and pronounced the Reconciliation, in this solemn formula :

May our Lord Jesus Christ, who vouchsafed to take away the sins of the whole world by delivering himself up


us, and shedding his spotless Blood; who, also, said unto his Disciples : whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in heaven ; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed also in heaven : and who hath numbered me, though unworthy, among these his ministers : may he deign, by the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, of the blessed Archangel Michael, of holy Peter the Apostle, (to whom he gave the power of binding and loosing,) and of all the Saints, to absolve you, by the merits of his Blood shed for the remission of sins, from all whatsoever you have negligently committed in thought, or word, or action ; and,

.; having loosed you from the bonds of sin, may he graciously lead you to the kingdom of heaven. Who, with God the

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Father, and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth for ever and ever.


The Bishop then advanced towards the Penitents, who were still lying prostrate : he sprinkled them with holy water, and thurified them. Finally, he addressed them in these words of the Apostle : Arise, ye that sleep ! arise from the dead, and Christ shall enlighten you! The Penitents stood up; and, in order to express the joy they felt at being reconciled with their God, they immediately went and changed their penitential garb for one more in accordance with gladness, and with the Holy Communion they were now to receive together with the rest of the Faithful.

This Reconciliation of Penitents has given rise to the magnificent ceremony, which takes place at Rome on this day,—the Papal Benediction. After Mass, the Sovereign Pontiff, vested in cope, and wearing the tiara, goes to the balcony over the centre door of the Vatican Basilica. In the Piazza of Saint Peter's, there stands an immense crowd of people, come from every country of the world, awaiting the appearance of the Vicar of Christ, who is about to grant them the remission of the punishment due to their sins. One of the Prelates, who surround the Pope's throne, recites the usual form of the Confession of Sins; he recites it in the name of the assembly below, whom one and the same holy Faith has thus brought before the Father of the Christian World. After a few seconds of silence, the Pontiff beseeches God to show the riches of his Mercy upon the multitude, who have already purified their conscience in the Tribunal of reconciliation; he invokes upon them the assistance of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul; and then rising, he raises up his hands to heaven, as though to draw thence the treasures of eternal indulgence; and immediately lowering them, he blesses the assembled

multitude. This Blessing, which grants a Plenary Indulgence to all that have fulfilled the requisite conditions, was, originally, given only on Maundy Thursday; afterwards, it was given also on Easter Sunday; and again, later on, was extended to two other days in the year, namely, the Ascension (at Saint John Lateran), and the Assumption (at Saint Mary Major).




The second Mass which used, formerly, to be said on Maundy Thursday, was that of the Blessing of the Holy Oils. This holy function, which takes place but once each year, requires a Bishop as the consecrator. For now many centuries, this great ceremony is celebrated at the single Mass, which is said, on this day, in commemoration of our Lord's Supper. As this Blessing only takes place in Cathedral Churches, we will not enter into each detail; and yet we would not deprive our readers of what they ought to know with regard to the Holy Oils. Faith teaches us, that, as we are regenerated by water, so are we confirmed and fortified by oil; and that Oil is one of the chief elements chosen by the Divine Author of the Sacraments, whereby to signify and produce grace in our souls.

The reason of the Church's selecting Maundy Thursday for the Blessing of the Holy Oils, was that

It is incorrectly called a Blessing Urbi et Orbi, inasmuch as it is only given to the Faithful who are present at it.

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