Today's antiphon for the Benedictus is: Mulieres sedentes ad monumentum lamentabantur, flentes Dominum, or 'There were women sitting over against the sepulchre weeping, and making lamentation for the Lord'.
And it is fitting, perhaps, that we leave this Lenten set of meditations with a text that points us to the importance of the role of women in the New Testament.
Catholicism has always recognised the importance of the charismatic roles accorded to women in the story of salvation: Christ came to heal us through the fiat of Mary; one apostle betrayed him, another denied him, the rest scattered and hid after his death, yet the women remained faithful at the cross and the tomb; no wonder then that in the next chapter of this story the Apostle to the Apostles who bears the news of his Resurrection is Mary Magdalene.
Benedictus Dóminus, Deus Israël: * quia visitávit, et fecit redemptiónem plebis suæ :
Et eréxit cornu salútis nobis: * in domo David, púeri sui.
Sicut locútus est per os sanctórum, * qui a sæculo sunt, prophetárum ejus
Salútem ex inimícis nostris, * et de manu ómnium, qui odérunt nos.
Ad faciéndam misericórdiam cum pátribus nostris: * et memorári testaménti sui sancti.
Jusjurándum, quod jurávit ad Abraham patrem nostrum, * datúrum se nobis :
Ut sine timóre, de manu inimicórum nostrórum liberáti, * serviámus illi.
In sanctitáte, et justítia coram ipso, * ómnibus diébus nostris.
Et tu, puer, Prophéta Altíssimi vocáberis: * præíbis enim ante fáciem Dómini, paráre vias ejus
Ad dandam sciéntiam salútis plebi ejus: * in remissiónem peccatórum eórum :
Per víscera misericórdiæ Dei nostri: * in quibus visitávit nos, óriens ex alto :
Illumináre his, qui in ténebris, et in umbra mortis sedent: * ad dirigéndos pedes nostros in viam pacis.
And the English:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: because he has visited and wrought the redemption of his people.
And has raised up an horn of salvation to us, in the house of David his servant.
As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who are from the beginning.
Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us.
To perform mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy testament.
The oath, which he swore to Abraham our father, that he would grant to us.
That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him without fear:
In holiness and justice before him, all our days.
And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest: for you shall, go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways:
To give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of their sins.
Through the bowels of the mercy of our God in which the Orient from on high has visited us:
To enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace.