First Sunday of Lent (Feb 26)


Monreale Cathedral
The Office for the first Sunday of Lent

The Magnificat antiphon for I Vespers is from Isaiah 58:9. 

Here are the verses leading up to it:

"Cry, cease not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show my people their wicked doings, and the house of Jacob their sins.  For they seek me from day to day, and desire to know my ways, as a nation that has done justice, and has not forsaken the judgment of their God: they ask of me the judgments of justice: they are willing to approach to God. Why have we fasted, and you have not regarded: have we humbled our souls, and you have not taken notice? Behold in the day of your fast your own will is found, and you exact of all your debtors. Behold you fast for debates and strife, and strike with the fist wickedly. Do not fast as you have done until this day, to make your cry to be heard on high. Is this such a fast as I have chosen: for a man to afflict his soul for a day? Is this it, to wind his head about like a circle, and to spread sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this rather the fast that I have chosen? Loose the bands of wickedness, undo the bundles that oppress, let them that are broken go free, and break asunder every burden.  Deal your bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harbourless into your house: when you shall see one naked, cover him, and despise not your own flesh. Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall speedily arise, and your justice shall go before your face, and the glory of the Lord shall gather you up. Then shall you call, and the Lord shall hear: you shall cry, and he shall say, Here I am....

Our Lord's Temptation in the desert

The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent is Matthew 4:1-11, which tells the story of Our Lord's temptation in the desert.

The highlight of the Mass of the day, though, is the singing of Psalm 90, Qui Habitat, which prophesies that temptation, particularly in the section used in the very long!) Tract.

The Office in Lent

The Office in Lent is quite complex, so it is worth taking some time to work it out in advance. In particular, there are specific readings set for each day of the week at (EF) Mass. So at Matins the readings are general patristic commentaries on the Gospel for the day, and the canticle antiphons also generally pick up the key messages from the Gospel.

The Ordinary of the ferial Office in Lent is set out in the Farnborough edition of the Monastic Diurnal at MD 190*ff.

For those saying Matins (not in the Diurnal): 
  • the invitatory antiphon on weekdays is the same as throughout the year;
  • the hymn is for the season of Lent and is the same each day (Ex more);
  • the readings during the week are usually patristic, relating to the Gospel of the Mass set for that day;
  • the chapter verse for Nocturn II is for the season (Is 1:16-18).
At Lauds and Vespers:

  •  chapters, hymns, etc of the season replace those in the psalter section;
  •  the canticle antiphons are proper for each day.
 Each day there are two sets of collects: the first for use from Matins to None; the second for Vespers.

It is also important to be aware that when a feast displaces the Lent texts, a commemoration of the day is made at both Lauds and Vespers using the respective collects, canticle antiphon and versicle that occurs before the relevant canticle at that hour.

There are no saints feasts celebrated in the Office this week, but note that Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are Ember Days.

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