First came Septuagesima, throwing its gloomy shade over those enchanting visions of the mystery of Bethlehem; and now we have come into a desert land, with thorns at every step, and no springs of water to refresh us. Let us not complain, however; holy Church knows our true wants, and is intent on supplying them. Neither must we be surprised at her insisting on a severer preparation for Easter, than for Christmas. At Christmas, we were to approach our Jesus as an Infant; all she put us through then were the Advent exercises, for the mysteries of our Redemption were but beginning. And of those who went to Jesus' crib, there were many who, like the poor shepherds of Bethlehem, might be called simple, at least in this sense, that they did not sufficiently realize either the holiness of their Incarnate God or the misery and guilt of their own conscience. But now that this Son of the eternal God has entered the path of penance; now that we are about to see Him a victim to every humiliation, and suffering even a death upon a cross, the Church does not spare us; she rouses us from our ignorance and our self-satisfaction. She bids us strike our breasts, have compunction in our souls, mortify our bodies, because we are sinners. Our whole life ought to be one of penance; fervent souls are ever doing penance: could anything be more just or necessary, than that we should do some penance during these days, when our Jesus is fasting in the desert, and is to die on Calvary? There is a sentence of our Redeemer, which He spoke to the daughters of Jerusalem on the day of His Passion; let us apply it to ourselves: 'If in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?' Oh, what a revelation is here! And yet, by the mercy of Jesus who speaks it, the dry wood may become the green, and so not be burned. The Church hopes, nay, she is laboring with her whole energy, that, this may be; therefore, she bids us bear the yoke; she gives us a Lent. Let us only courageously tread the way of penance, and the light will gradually beam upon us. If we are now far off from our God by the sins that are upon us, this holy season will be to us what the saints call the purgative life, and will give us that purity which will enable us to see our Lord in the glory of His victory over death. If, on the contrary, we are already living the illuminative life; if during the three weeks of Septuagesima, we have bravely sounded the depth of our miseries, our Lent will give us a clearer view of Him who is our light, and if we acknowledged Him as our God when we saw Him as the Babe of Bethlehem, our soul's eye will not fail to recognize Him in the divine Penitent of the desert, or in the bleeding Victim of Calvary.