'It is to be a martyr, to suffer patiently, and with gratitude, the ills inseparable from our human existence, and which are common both to the just and to sinners, and we are not deprived of the glory which is attached to this title because we have not shed our blood in honour of Jesus Christ."
- St. Cyprian
Catholic Life Imprimatur 1908
There is one attribute common to all the human race, no matter what in life, age, or race they may be, and that is suffering. For such a common ill there must be palliatives, which, while not curing, render them more tolerable and meritorious. The remembrance of the patience of the Man-God in His unspeakable afflictions must always be our great solace; as also the thought that our night of suffering is the dawn of hope, and that suffering is a school in which we are taught to grow in holiness by God Himself; for the soul is purified in the furnace of affliction as precious metals are by fire. Our holy mother the Church, anxious to afford her children every help possible, proposes this month the consideration of the sorrows of our Blessed Lady, to show us that sufferings accompany the highest sanctity, and to point out to us a model for imitation. From the time of Simeon's prophecy - forty days after the birth of her Divine Son - her sufferings may be said to have lasted till her death. At times they were more intense, as when she had to fly with her Child to Egypt to save His life; when she lost Him for three days; at her meeting Him carrying His Cross; when she stood beneath the Cross and saw the soldier pierce His side with a lance; or when she laid Him in the sepulcher.
When we consider Who was the Son, who the Mother, and what the sufferings, we can easily understand why she is styled “Queen of Martyrs." Moreover, there were circumstances which increased her sufferings immensely, and which are apt to escape our notice; for example, she suffered from the thought that her sufferings were an additional cause of the pain to her Divine Son, Who loved her as no other son loved his mother; and then she was so helpless that she could not sooth His pains by such ordinary means as a cup of water or a caress. Thus, we can never consider the sorrows of Mary without coupling them with the sorrows of her Son. The two are so inseparably united that she is styled the co-redemptress of the world, and thus we can understand her deep sympathy and readiness to succour poor sinners. Only those who have suffered can measure the depths of others' woes, and sympathize with crushed and wounded hearts: and as no one, after Jesus, has suffered so much as our
Blessed Mother, so no one, after Jesus, can dry our tears, lighten our cross, or soothe our grief’s, like Mary. She will show us the value of sufferings, which detach us from the things of earth, make us desire heavenly goods, and increase our merit in Heaven by causing us to practice many virtues, especially patience, resignation, and sympathy for others. In our trials and sufferings, let us, in imitation of our Blessed Lady, perform our daily duties as if we were free from sorrow. Let us pray, making short, affectionate, frequent aspirations of resignation, love, and confidence. Let us forget our grief's by sympathizing with and helping those whose troubles are heavier than our own. "Gentle Mother, we beseech thee, By thy tears and troubles sore, By the death of thy dear offspring, By the many wounds He bore, Touch our hearts with that true sorrow Which afflicted thee of yore."
Example - St. Ignatius of Loyola
There is preserved at Saragossa, in Spain, a picture of Our Lady of Seven Dolours, which was much used by St. Ignatius. It is an ordinary print, representing Mary seated at the foot of the Cross, her heart pierced by a sword, her hands joined, and her head lowered. The features express profound affliction, combined with peace and resignation. The Saint held this picture in singular veneration. He wore it on his breast from the time of his conversion till his death, a period of thirty-five years. He assures us that he had received from God, by means of this devotion, extraordinary graces on all occasions. No wonder, then, that he was so full of tenderness for others. At the beginning of his stay in Paris, he had entrusted the little money he possessed to a young Spaniard, who, after spending part of it, ran away with the rest, leaving the Saint utterly destitute, and obliged to interrupt his studies in order to beg for his daily bread.
Some time afterwards, hearing that this youth was dangerously ill at Rouen, Ignatius instantly left Paris, and walked barefooted to that city - seventy miles - hardly stopping to rest on the way. He nursed the young man with tenderest care, collected money to pay his way home, and only left him when he was sufficiently recovered to proceed on his road towards Spain.
This Weeks Friday (Spiritual) Friday Fare
By: Thomas Aquinas Imprimatur 1937
Passion Friday - OUR LADY S SUFFERING IN THE PASSION
Thy own soul a sword shall pierce. Luke ii. 35. In these words there is noted for us the close association of Our Lady with the Passion of Christ.
Four things especially made the Passion most bitter for her. They refused Him even water, nor would they allow His His mother, who would most lovingly have given it, to help Him. Thirdly, the disgrace of the punishment, Let us condemn him to a most shameful death (Wis. ii. 20). Fourthly, the cruelty of the torment. O ye that pass by the way, attend and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorroiv (Lam. i. 12).
(Serm.) The words of Simeon, Thy own soul a sword shall pierce Origen, and other doctors with him, explain with reference to the pain felt by Our Lady in the Passion of Christ. St. Ambrose, however, says that by the sword is signified Our Lady's prudence, thanks to which she was not without knowledge of the heavenly mystery. For the word of God is a living thing, strong and keener than the keenest sword (cf. Heb. iv. 12). Other writers again, St. Augustine for example, understand by the sword the stupefaction that overcame Our Lady at the death of her Son, not the doubt that goes with lack of faith but a certain fluctuation of bewilderment, a staggering of the mind. St. Basil, too, says that as Our Lady
stood by the cross with all the detail of the Passion before her, and in her mind the testimony of Gabriel, the message that words cannot tell of her divine conception, and all the vast array of miracles, her mind swayed, for she saw Him the victim of such vileness, and yet knew Him for the author of such wonders. (3 27 4 ad 2.)
Firstly, the goodness of her son, Who did no sin (i Pet. ii. 22). Secondly, the cruelty of those who crucified Him, shown, for example, in this that as He lay dying. Although Our Lady knew by faith that it was God s will that Christ should suffer, and although she brought her will into unity with God s will
in this matter, as the saints do, nevertheless, sadness filled her soul at the death of Christ. This was because her lower will revolted at the particular thing she had willed and this is not contrary to perfection. (i Dist. 48 q unica a 3.)
"All difficulties, temptations, sickness and humiliations become sweet and easy to endure, if one bears them in union with Our Lord." - Cure of Ars
Catholic Life - Imprimatur 1908
On this day the crucifixes, statues, ect., are veiled to express the deep mourning of the Church for the Passion and Death of her Spouse and Saviour. The whole of Lent is dedicated to our Saviour. The whole of Lent is
dedicated to our Lord's Passion, but the last two weeks are in a more particular manner consecrated to honour that mystery. All through the week, in the Mass and other off ices of the C h u r c h , t h e memory of His sufferings is daily renewed. We may consider Who He is that suffered, how much He suffered in various ways, from whom He suffered, for generosity, what meekness, what zeal for His Father's glory, what patience, what humiliations, what fortitude, and what obedience. These thoughts will come back to us again when we are suffering, and will prove a soothing balm. Five Paters and Aves in honour of the five bleeding wounds of our Lord, three hours' death agony on the cross, for all those in their agony, are suitable devotions at this time. Friday this week is specially devoted to the sorrows of our Blessed Lady - and favourite of Heaven, and at the same time the Queen of Martyrs. Who will not find comfort in considering that, as Mary's sufferings prepared her for her glorious place in Heaven, so our sufferings are so many jewels to enrich our crowns in eternity? The Stabat Mater read or sung this day (Friday) will help us to enter into the spirit of the Church.
'Thy Cross, dear Lord, our only stay,
We hail on this Thy Passion-day;
In loving hearts Thy grace increase,
And sinners from their guilt release."
Example - Execution of a Soldier
"On February 3, 1850, a soldier, Jean Guth, was condemned to death for the murder of his captain. On the morning of his execution, at about 3:30 a.m., I took him the Holy Viaticum. At four o'clock the prison van was at the door. He thanked the keeper for the kindness she had shown him. There were tears in many eyes. "Farewell, Guth," said the keeper; "die like a brave soldier and a good Christian." During the three hours and a half that the journey lasted his calmness never forsook him. God was with him in that hour. "Our Lord is with us, my child," I said to him, "Yes, yes," he answered, "I am quite content." And a moment afterwards "I hardly like to say so, but I feel as if I were going to a wedding. God has permitted it all for my good to save my soul. It is a great consolation to me that my poor captain died a Christian death. I shall see him again; he is praying for me." He recited the Rosary, his eyes fixed with love upon the crucifix. "My God has saved me," he said; "I believe that He will be very merciful to me. He went up to Calvary carrying His cross. I am with Him and, like Him, I will gladly submit to everything if they desire to bind me or bandage my eyes.... Soldiers are lost," he said again, "because they will not listen to you. Without you, without religion, the whole world would be lost."
We passed close to the barracks where he had committed his crime. He said a prayer for the captain. "I cannot conceive what possessed me," he exclaimed; "I did not desire his
death." And a minute after: "If by a single sin I could escape being shot, I would not commit it; that is what I feel. I have nothing left on earth; I am going home to God." At half-past seven we stopped in the plain of Satory, near Versailles.
It was the field of the military maneuvers. We descended. Guth was pale, but composed. An officer read his sentence. "I recognized the justice of my punishment," said the condemned; "I repent of my crime; I ask pardon from God, and I love Him with my whole heart." Then he knelt down. For the last time I gave him the crucifix to kiss. "Father," he repeated in a changed voice, "into Thy hands I commend my spirit.... I unite my death to that of Jesus my Saviour Farewell! farewell!" I embraced him.
He extended his arms in the form of a cross, and bent his head. An instant later human justice was satisfied, and the soul of the poor criminal, purified and transfigured by religion, entered into the bosom of Him Who pardons everything to the repentant sinner!" -Mgr. De Segur
For a Children's Sermon on Passion Sunday & Coloring Page please visit our blog post from last year titled
"Why the Robin's Breast is Red"
"May my Lord avert that it should ever come to pass that I should lose His people, whom He has gained at the ends of the earth." -St. Patrick
Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894
March 17.—ST. PATRICK, Bishop, Apostle of Ireland.IF the virtue of children reflects an honor on their parents, much more justly is the name of St. Patrick rendered illustrious by the innumerable lights of sanctity with which the Church of Ireland shone during many ages, and by the colonies of Saints with which it peopled many foreign countries; for, under God, its inhabitants derived from their glorious apostle the streams of that eminent sanctity by which they were long conspicuous to the whole world. St. Patrick was born towards the close of the fourth century, in a village called Bonaven Taberniæ, which seems to be the town of Kilpatrick, on the mouth of the river Clyde, in Scotland, between Dumbarton and Glasgow. He calls himself both a Briton and a Roman, or of a mixed extraction, and says his father was of a good family named Calphurnius, and a denizen of a neighboring city of the Romans, who not long after abandoned Britain, in 409. Some writers call his mother Conchessa, and say she was niece to St. Martin of Tours.
In his sixteenth year he was carried into captivity by certain barbarians, who took him into Ireland, where he was obliged to keep cattle on the mountains and in the forests, in hunger and nakedness, amidst snow, rain, and ice. Whilst he lived in this suffering condition, God had pity on his soul, and quickened him to a sense of his duty by the impulse of a strong interior grace. The young man had recourse to Him with his whole heart in fervent prayer and fasting; and from that time faith and the love of God acquired continually new strength in his tender soul. After six months spent in slavery under the same master, St. Patrick was admonished by God in a dream to return to his own country, and informed that a ship was then ready to sail thither. He went at once to the sea-coast, though at a great distance, and found the vessel; but could not obtain his passage, probably for want of money. The Saint returned towards his hut, praying as he went; but the sailors, though pagans, called him back and took him on board. After three days’ sail they made land, but wandered twenty-seven days through deserts, and were a long while distressed for want of provisions, finding nothing to eat. Patrick had often spoken to the company on the infinite power of God; they therefore asked him why he did not pray for relief. Animated by a strong faith, he assured them that if they would address themselves with their whole hearts to the true God He would hear and succor them. They did so, and on the same day met with a herd of swine. From that time provisions never failed them, till on the twenty-seventh day they came info a country that was cultivated and inhabited.
Some years afterwards he was again led captive, but recovered his liberty after two months. When he was at home with his parents, God manifested to him, by divers visions, that He destined him to the great work of the conversion of Ireland. The writers of his life say that after his second captivity he travelled into Gaul and Italy, and saw St. Martin, St. Germanus of Auxerre, and Pope Celestine, and that he received his mission and the apostolical benediction from this Pope, who died in 432. It is certain that he spent many years in preparing himself for his sacred calling. Great opposition was made against his episcopal consecration and mission, both by his own relatives and by the clergy. These made him great offers in order to detain him among them, and endeavored to affright him by exaggerating the dangers to which he exposed himself amidst the enemies of the Romans and Britons, who did not know God. All these temptations threw the Saint into great perplexities; but the Lord, Whose will he consulted by earnest prayer, supported him, and he persevered in his resolution. He forsook his family, sold his birthright and dignity, to serve strangers, and consecrated his soul to God, to carry His name to the ends of the earth. In this disposition he passed into Ireland, to preach the Gospel, where the worship of idols still generally reigned. He devoted himself entirely to the salvation of these barbarians. He travelled over the whole island, penetrating into the remotest corners, and_ such was the fruit of his preachings and sufferings that he baptized an infinite number of people. He ordained everywhere clergymen, induced women to live in holy widowhood and continence, consecrated virgins to Christ, and instituted monks. He took nothing from the many thousands whom he baptized, and often gave back the little presents which some laid on the altar, choosing rather to mortify the fervent than to scandalize the weak or the infidels. He gave freely of his own, however, both to pagans and Christians, distributed large alms to the poor in the provinces where he passed, made presents to the kings, judging that necessary for the progress of the Gospel, and maintained and educated many children, whom he trained up to serve at the altar. The happy success of his labors cost him many persecutions.
A certain prince named Corotick, a Christian in name only, disturbed the peace of his flock. This tyrant, having made a descent into Ireland, plundered the country where St. Patrick had been just conferring confirmation on a great number of neophytes, who were yet in their white garments after Baptism. Corotick massacred many, and carried away others, whom he sold to the infidel Picts or Scots. The next day the Saint sent the barbarian a letter entreating him to restore the Christian captives, and at least part of the booty he had taken, that the poor people might not perish for want, but was only answered by railleries. The Saint, therefore, wrote with his own hand a letter. In it he styles himself a sinner and an ignorant man; he declares, nevertheless, that he is established Bishop of Ireland, and pronounces Corotick and the other parricides and accomplices separated from him and from Jesus Christ, Whose place he holds, forbidding any to eat with them, or to receive their alms, till they should have satisfied God by the tears of sincere penance, and restored the servants of Jesus Christ to their liberty. This letter expresses his most tender love for his flock, and his grief for those who had been slain, yet mingled with joy because they reign with the prophets, apostles, and martyrs. Jocelin assures us that Corotick was overtaken by the divine vengeance.
St. Patrick held several councils to settle the discipline of the Church which he had planted. St. Bernard and the tradition of the country testify that St. Patrick fixed his metropolitan see at Armagh. He established some other bishops, as appears by his Council and other monuments. He not only converted the whole country by his preaching and wonderful miracles, but also cultivated this vineyard with so fruitful a benediction and increase from heaven as to render Ireland a most flourishing garden in the Church of God, and a country of Saints.
Many particulars are related of the labors of St. Patrick, which we pass over. 'in the first year of his mission he attempted to preach Christ in the general assembly of the kings and states of all Ireland, held yearly at Tara, the residence of the chief king, styled the monarch of the whole island, and the principal seat of the Druids, or priests, and their paganish rites. The son of Neill, the chief monarch, declared himself against the preacher; however, Patrick converted several, and, on his road to that place, the father of St. Benignus, his immediate successor in the see of Armagh. He afterwards converted and baptized the Icings of Dublin and Munster, and the seven sons of the king of Connaught, with the greatest part of their subjects, and before his death almost the whole island. He founded a monastery at Armagh; another called Domnach-Padraig, or Patrick's Church; also a third, named Sabhal-Padraig; and filled the country with churches and schools of piety and learning, the reputation of which, for the three succeeding centuries, drew many foreigners into Ireland. He died and was buried at Down in Ulster. His body was found there in a church of his name in 1185, and translated to another part of the same church.
Ireland is the nursery whence St. Patrick sent forth his missionaries and teachers. Glastonbury and Lindisfarne, Ripon and Malmesbury, bear testimony to the labors of Irish priests and bishops for the conversion of England. Iona is to this day the most venerated spot in Scotland. Columban, Fiacre, Gall, and many others evangelized the "rough places" of France and Switzerland. America and Australia, in modern times, owe their Christianity to the faith and zeal of the sons and daughters of St. Patrick.
Reflection.—By the instrumentality of St. Patrick the Faith is now as fresh in Ireland, even in this cold nineteenth century, as when it was first planted. Ask him to obtain for you the special grace of his children—to prefer the loss of every earthly good to the least compromise in matters of faith.
Links & Resources
What is on our menu this year.....
For Breakfast the menu holds either: whole wheat sour dough pancakes
... perhaps in the shape of a Shamrock or whole wheat sour dough cinnamon roles... can you make a cinnamon role in the shape of a Shamrock? Perhaps we will just stick with the pancakes ;)
Served with bacon and eggs w/ veggies & seasonal fruit.
For dinner:Vegan (or not) Irish White Bean Cabbage Stew
- we might add some stew beef to it as part of our celebration!
Homemade Whole Wheat Sour Dough Bread, something similar to this recipe
but modified Colcanon Puffs
Desert is still undecided.... our default, Shamrock Sugar Cookies
We would love to share some more wonderful books with you, in honor of Passion Sunday we are giving away many titles on Our Lord's Passion, on Lent, on Confession and Christ's One True Church! Winners will be announced on the feast of that great Patron of the Universal Church, St. Joseph's Feast day.
Meditations for Lent
By: Thomas Aquinas
Fourth Monday - CHRIST BY His PASSION MERITED TO BE EXALTED
He became obedient unto death even to the death of the cross : for which cause God hath exalted him. Phil. ii. 8.
Merit is a thing which implies a certain equality of justice. Thus St. Paul says, To him that worketh the reward is reckoned according to debt (Rom. iv. 4). Now since a man who commits an injustice takes for himself more than is due to himself, it is just that he suffer loss even in what is actually due to him. If a man steals one sheep, he shall give back four as it says in Holy Scripture (Exod. xxii. i). And this is said to be merited inasmuch as in this way the man s evil will is punished. In the same way the man who acts with such justice that he take less than what is due to him, merits that more shall be generously superadded to what he has, as a kind of reward for his just will. So, for instance, the gospel tells us, He that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke xiv. 1 1). Now in His Passion Christ humbled himself below His dignity in four respects : (i) In respect of His Passion and His death, things which He did not owe to undergo. (ii) In respect to places, for His body was placed in a grave and his soul in hell. (iii) In respect to the confusion and shame that He endured. (iv) In respect to His being delivered over to human authority, as He said Himself to Pilate, Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above (John xix. n).
Therefore, on account of His Passion, He merited a fourfold exaltation. (i) A glorious resurrection. It is said in the Psalm (Ps. cxxxviii. i), Thou hast known my sitting down, that is, the humiliation of my Passion, and my rising up. (ii) An ascension into heaven. Whence it is said, He descended first into the lower parts of the earth : He that descended is the same also that ascended above all the heavens (Eph. iv. 9, 10). (iii) To be seated at the right hand of the Father, with His divinity made manifest. Isaias says, He shall be exalted, and extolled, and shall be exceeding high. As many have been astonished at thee, so shall his visage be inglorious among men, and St. Paul says, He became obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God hath exalted him and hath given him a name which is above all names (Phil. ii. 8, 9), that is to say, He shall be named God by all, and all shall pay Him reverence as God. And this is why St. Paul adds, That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (ibid. x). (iv) A power of judgment. For it is said, Thy cause hath been judged as that of the wicked. Cause and judgment thou shalt recover (Job xxxvi. 17). (3. 49. 6.)
Any posts during holy week will be here and there if time allows. Our family will be keeping this week very quiet in memory of Our Lord's passion and death. For this reason there will be no Feria Friday posts
, feel free to look at previous posts
if you are in need of recipes for this Friday. Many Catholics choose to increase their fast and abstinence on Good Friday thought it isn't a requirement by the Church.
We are also anxiously awaiting His Resurrection on Easter day! For our previous posts on Easter visit here
or visit our Easter page here
if you are looking for ways to celebrate Our Lord's Resurrection. May you have a fruitful Holy Week, God bless!PASSIONTIDE AND HOLY WEEK MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK. By: Dom Gueranger From the Liturgical Year Passiontide & Holy Week Book
This morning, also, Jesus goes with his Disciples to Jerusalem. He is fasting, for the Gospel tells us, that he was hungry [St Matth. xxi. 18]. He approaches a fig-tree, which is by the way-side; but finds nothing on it, save leaves only. Jesus, wishing to give us an instruction, curses the fig-tree, which immediately withers away. He would hereby teach us what they are to expect, who have nothing but good desires, and never produce in themselves the fruit of a real conversion. Nor is the allusion to Jerusalem less evident. This City is zealous for the exterior of Divine Worship; but her heart is hard and obstinate, and she is plotting, at this very hour, the death of the Son of God.
The greater portion of the day is spent in the Temple, where Jesus holds long conversations with the Chief Priests and Ancients of the people. His language to them is stronger than ever, and triumphs over all their captious questions. It is principally in the Gospel of St. Matthew [Chapters xxi. xxii. and xxiii.] that we shall find these answers of our Redeemer, which so energetically accuse the Jews of their sin of rejecting the Messias, and so plainly foretell the punishment their sin is to bring after it.
At length, Jesus leaves the Temple, and takes the road that leads to Bethania. Having come as far as Mount Olivet, which commands a view of Jerusalem, he sits down, and rests awhile. The Disciples make this an opportunity for asking him, how soon the chastisements he has been speaking of in the Temple will come upon the City. His answer comprises two events: the destruction of Jerusalem, and the final destruction of the world. He thus teaches them that the first is a figure of the second. The time when each is to happen, is to be when the measure of iniquity is filled up. But, with regard to the chastisement that is to befall Jerusalem, he gives this more definite answer: 'Amen I say to you: this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.' [St Matth. xxiv 34.] History tells us how this prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled: forty years had scarcely elapsed after his Ascension when the Roman army encamped on this very place where he is now speaking to his Disciples, and laid siege to the ungrateful and wicked City. After giving a prophetic description of that Last Judgment, which is to rectify all the unjust judgments of men, he leaves Mount Olivet, returns to Bethania, and consoles the anxious heart of his most holy Mother.
The Station, at Rome, is in the Church of Saint Praxedes. It was in this Church, that Pope Paschal the Second, in the 9th century, placed two thousand three hundred bodies of holy Martyrs, which he had ordered to be taken out of the Catacombs. The Pillar, to which our Saviour was tied during his scourging, is also here.
The Introit is taken from the 34fth Psalm. Jesus, by these words of the "Royal Prophet, prays to his Eternal Father, that he would defend him against his enemies.
Judge thou, Lord, them that wrong me; overthrow them that fight against me: take hold of arms and shield, and rise up to help me, O Lord, my mighty deliverer. Ps.
Bring out the sword, and shut up the way against them that persecute me; say to my soul, I am thy salvation.
Judge thou, &c. In the Collect, the Church teaches us to have recourse to the merits of our Saviour's Passion, in order that we may obtain from God the help we stand in need of amidst our many miseries.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we, who through our weakness, faint under so many adversities, may recover by the Passion of thy Only Begotten Son. Who liveth, etc. Then is added one of the following Collects. AGAINST THE PERSECUTORS OF THE CHURCH.
Mercifully hear, we beseech thee, Lord, the prayers of thy Church: that all oppositions and errors being removed, she may serve thee with a secure liberty. Through, etc. FOR THE POPE.
O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the Faithful, look down, in thy mercy, on thy servant N., whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church; and grant, we beseech thee, that both by word and example, he may edify all those that are under his charge; and with the flock
intrusted to him, arrive at length at eternal happiness. Through, etc.
Lesson from Isaias the Prophet. Ch. X.
In those days, Isaias said: The Lord hath opened my ear, making known his will to me,
and I do not resist: I have not gone back. I have given my body to the strikers, and my cheeks to them that plucked them: I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me, and spit upon me. The Lord God is my helper, therefore am I not confounded. He is near that justifieth me, who will contend with me? let us stand together. Who is my adversary? let him come near to me. Behold the Lord God is my helper: who is he that shall condemn me? Lo, they shall all be destroyed as a garment, the moth shall eat them up. Who is there among you that feareth the Lord, that heareth the voice of his servant? He that hath walked in darkness, and hath no light, let him hope in the name of the Lord, and lean upon his God.
The Sufferings of our Redeemer, and the patience wherewith he is to bear them, are thus prophesied by Isaias, who is always so explicit on the Passion. Jesus has accepted the office of Victim for the world's salvation; he shrinks from no pain or humiliation: He turns not his Face from them that strike him and spit upon him.
What reparation can we make to this Infinite Majesty, who, that he might save us, submitted to such outrages as these? Observe these vile and cruel enemies of our Divine Lord: now that they have him in their power, they fear him not. When they came to seize him in the Garden, he had but to speak, and they fell back upon the ground; but he has now permitted them to bind his hands and lead him to the High Priest. They accuse him; they cry out against him; and he answers but a few words. Jesus of Nazareth, the great Teacher, the wonder-worker, has seemingly lost all his influence; they can do what they will with him. It is thus with the sinner; when the thunder-storm is over, and the lightning has not struck him, he regains his courage. The holy Angels look on with amazement at the treatment shown by the Jews to Jesus, and falling down, they adore the Holy Face, which they see thus bruised and defiled: let us, also, prostrate and ask pardon for our sins have outraged that same Face.
But let us hearken to the last words of our Epistle: He that hath walked in darkness, and hath no lights let him hope in the name of the Lord and lean upon his God. Who is this but the Gentile, abandoned to sin and idolatry?
He knows not what is happening at this very hour in Jerusalem; he knows not that the earth possesses its Saviour, and that this Saviour is being trampled beneath the feet of his own chosen people: but, in a very short time, the light of the Gospel will shine upon this poor Gentile: he will believe; he will obey; he will love his Redeemer, even to the laying down his life for him. Then will be fulfilled the prophecy of the unworthy Pontiff, who prophesied against his will that the death of Jesus would bring salvation to the Gentiles, by gathering into one family the children of God, that hitherto had been dispersed [St. John, xi. 52].
In the Gradual, the Royal Prophet again calls down, on the executioners of our Lord, the chastisements they have deserved by their ingratitude and their obstinacy in sin.
The Tract is the one used by the Church on every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, during Lent. It is a prayer, begging God to bless the works of penance done during this holy Season.
GRADUAL. Arise, O Lord, and be attentive to my trial; my God and my Lord, undertake my cause.
V. Draw thy sword, and stop those that are in pursuit of me.
V. O Lord, deal not with us according to our sins, which we have done, nor reward us according to our iniquities.
V. O Lord remember not our former iniquities: let thy mercies speedily prevent us, for we are become exceeding poor.
V. Help us, God, our Saviour: and for the glory of thy Name, Lord, deliver us: and forgive us our sins, for thy Name's sake.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John. Ch. XII.
Jesus, six days before the Pasch, came to Bethania, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life, And they made him a supper there; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of them that were at table with him. Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him said: Why was et not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and, having the purse, carried the things that were put therein. Jesus therefore said: Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of my burial; for the poor you have always with you, but me you have not always. A great multitude therefore of the Jews knew that he was .there; and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
As we have already said, the event related in this passage of the Gospel took place on Saturday, the eve of Palm Sunday; but, as formerly there was no Station for that day, the reading of this Gospel was deferred till the following Monday. The Church brings this episode of the last days of our Saviour before us, because it enables us to have a clearer understanding of the history of the Passion.
Mary Magdalene, whose conversion was the subject of our meditation a few days back, is a prominent figure in the Passion and Resurrection of her Divine Master. She is the type of a soul that has been purified by grace, and then admitted to the enjoyment of God's choicest favours. It is of importance that we study her in each of the several phases; through which divine grace led her. We have already seen how she keeps close to her Saviour and supplies his sacred wants; elsewhere, we shall find Jesus giving the preference to her over her sister Martha, and this because Mary chose a better part than Martha; but now, during these days of Passion-tide, it is her tender love for Jesus that makes her dear to us. She knows that the Jews are plotting Jesus' death; the Holy Ghost, who guides her through the different degrees of perfection, inspires her, on the occasion mentioned in to-day's Gospel, to the performance of an action which prophesied what she most dreaded.
One of the three gifts offered by the Magi to the Divine Infant, was Myrrh; it is an emblem of death, and the Gospel tells us that it was used at the Burial of our Lord. Magdalene, on the day of her conversion, testified the earnestness of her change of heart by pouring on the feet of Jesus the most precious of her perfumes. She gives him, to-day, the same proof of her love. Her divine Master is invited by Simon the Leper to a feast: his Blessed Mother and his Disciples are among the guests: Martha is busy, looking after the service. Outwardly, there is no disturbance; but inwardly, there are sad forebodings. During the repast, Magdalene is seen entering the room, holding in her hand a vase of precious spikenard. She advances towards Jesus, kneels at his feet, anoints them with the perfume, and wipes them with her hair, as on the previous occasion.
Jesus lay on one of those couches, which were used by the Eastern people during their repasts. Magdalene, therefore, could easily take her favourite place at Jesus' feet, and give him the same proof of her love as she had already done in the Pharisee's house. The Evangelist does not say that this time, she shed tears. St. Matthew [St. Matth., xxvi 7], and St. Mark [St. Mark, xiv. 3] add, that she poured the ointment on his head also. Whether or no Magdalene herself understood the full import of what the Holy Ghost inspired her to do, the Gospel does not say; but Jesus himself revealed the mystery to his Disciples, and we gather from his words that this action of Magdalene was, in a certain manner, the commencement of his Passion: She, in pouring this ointment upon my body, hath done it for my burial [St. Matth., xxvi. 12].
The fragrance of the Ointment fills the whole house. One of the Disciples, Judas Iscariot, dares to protest against this waste, as he calls it. His base avarice deprives him of feeling and respect for his Divine Master. His opinion was shared in by several of the other Disciples, for they were still carnal-minded. For several reasons Jesus permits Magdalene's generosity to be thus blamed. And firstly, he wishes to announce his approaching death, which is mystically expressed by the pouring of this ointment upon his body. Then, too, he would glorify Magdalene; and he therefore tells them that are present, that her tender and ardent love shall be rewarded, and that her name shall be celebrated in every country, wheresoever the Gospel shall be preached [Ibid.
13]. And lastly, he would console those whose generous love prompts them to be liberal in their gifts to his Altars, for what he here says of Magdalene is, in reality, a defence for them, when they are accused of spending too much over the beauty of God's House.
Let us prize each of these divine teachings. Let us love to honour Jesus, both in his own person, and in his poor. Let us honour Magdalene, and imitate her devotion to the Passion and Death of our Lord. In fine, let us prepare our perfumes for our Divine Master; there must be the myrrh of the Magi, which signifies penance, and the precious Spikenard of Magdalene, which is the emblem of generous and compassionating love.
In the Offertory, our Redeemer implores his Eternal Father to deliver him from his enemies, and to fulfil the decrees regarding the salvation of mankind
Deliver me from my enemies, Lord; to thee have I fled, teach me to do thy will, because thou art my God. The Secret tells us the wonderful power of the Sacred Mysteries. Not only does this Sacrifice purify our souls; it also raises them to perfect union with Him who is their Creator.
Grant, O Almighty God, that being purified by the powerful virtue of this sacrifice, we may arrive with greater purity to the author and institutor thereof. Through, &c Then is added one of the following Prayers: AGAINST THE PERSECUTORS OF THE CHURCH.
Protect us, Lord, while we assist at thy sacred mysteries: that being employed in acts of religion, we may serve thee both in body and mind. Through, &c. FOR THE POPE.
Be appeased, O Lord, with the offering we have made: and cease not to protect thy Servant N., whom thou hast been pleased to appoint Pastor over thy Church. Through, &c. After the Faithful have partaken of the Divine Mystery, there is read, in the Communion-Anthem, a malediction against the enemies of our Saviour. Thus does God act in his government of the world: they who refuse his mercy, cannot escape his justice.
Let them blush, and be ashamed, who rejoice at my misfortunes; let them be covered with shame and confusion, who speak maliciously against me. The Church concludes her Prayers of this morning's Sacrifice, by begging that her children may persevere in the holy fervour, which they have received at its very source.
Let thy holy mysteries, Lord, inspire us with divine fervour; that we may delight both in their effect and celebration. Through, &c. To this is added one of the following: AGAINST THE PERSECUTORS OF THE CHURCH.
We beseech thee, Lord our God, not to leave exposed to the dangers of human life, those whom thou hast permitted to partake of these divine mysteries. Through, &c
. FOR THE POPE.
May the participation of this divine Sacrament protect us, we beseech thee, O Lord; and always procure safety and defence to thy Servant N. whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church, together with the flock committed to his charge. Through, &c.
LET US PRAY.
Bow down your heads to God.
Help us, O God, our salvation; and grant that we may celebrate with joy the memory of these benefits, by which thou hast been pleased to redeem us. Through, etc.
As an appropriate conclusion to this day, we may use the following beautiful Prayer, taken from the ancient Gallican Liturgy:
O great and Sovereign Lord ! (Adonai !) Christ our God ! crucify us, with thyself, to this world, that so thy life may be in us. Take upon thee our sins, that thou mayst crucify them. Draw us unto thyself, since it was for our sakes that thou wast raised up from the earth; and thus snatch us from the power of the unclean tyrant: for, though by flesh and our sins, we be exposed to the insults of the devil, yet do we desire to serve, not him, but thee. We would be thy subjects; we ask to be governed by thee; for, by thy death on the cross, thou didst deliver us, who are mortals and surrounded by death. It is to bless thee for this wonderful favour, that we this day offer thee our devoted ser vice; and humbly adoring thee, we now implore and beseech thee, to hasten to our assistance, O thou our God, the Eternal and Almighty! Let thy Cross thus profit us unto good, that thou, by its power, mayst triumph over the world in us, and thine own mercy restore us, by thy might and grace, to the ancient blessing. O thou, whose power hath turned the future into the past, and whose presence maketh the past to be present, - grant, that thy Passion may avail us to salvation, as though it were accomplished now on this very day. May the drops of thy holy Blood, which heretofore fell upon the earth from the Cross, be our present salvation: may it wash away all the sins of our earthly nature, and be, so to say, commingled with the earth of our body, rendering it all thine, since we, by our reconciliation with thee, our Head, have been made one body with thee. Thou that ever reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, now, begin to reign over us, O God- Man, Christ Jesus, King for ever and ever !
By: Dom Gueranger
From The Liturgical Year,
Vol. on Passiontide Impr. 1867
After having proposed the forty-days’ fast of Jesus in the desert to the meditation of the faithful during the first four weeks of Lent, the holy Church gives the two weeks which still remain before Easter to the commemoration of the Passion. She would not have her children come to that great day of the immolation of the Lamb, without having prepared for it by compassionating with Him in the sufferings He endured in their stead.
The most ancient sacramentaries and antiphonaries of the several Churches attest, by the prayers, the lessons, and the whole liturgy of these two weeks, that the Passion of our Lord is now the one sole thought of the Christian world. During Passion-week, a saint’s feast, if it occur, will be kept; but Passion Sunday admits no feast, however solemn it may be; and even on those which are kept during the days intervening between Passion and Palm Sunday, there is always made a commemoration of the Passion, and the holy images are not allowed to be uncovered.
We cannot give any historical details upon the first of these two weeks; its ceremonies and rites have always been the same as those of the four preceding ones. [It would be out of place to enter here on a discussion with regard to the name Mediana under which title we find Passion Sunday mentioned both in ancient liturgies and in Canon Law.] We, therefore, refer the reader to the following chapter, in which we treat of the mysteries peculiar to Passiontide. The second week, on the contrary, furnishes us with abundant historical details; for there is no portion of the liturgical year which has interested the Christian world so much as this, or which has given rise to such fervent manifestations of piety.
This week was held in great veneration even as early as the third century, as we learn from St. Denis, bishop of Alexandria, who lived at that time [Epist. ad Basilidem, Canon i]. In the following century, we find St. John Chrysostom, calling it the great week [Hom. xxx in Genes.]:- ‘Not,’ says the holy doctor, ‘that it has more days in it than other weeks, or that its days are made up of more hours than other days; but we call it great, because of the great mysteries which are then celebrated.’ We find it called also by other names: the painful week (hebdomada poenosa), on account of the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the fatigue required from us in celebrating them; the week of indulgence, because sinners are then received to penance; and, lastly, Holy Week, in allusion to the holiness of the mysteries which are commemorated during these seven days. This last name is the one under which it most generally goes with us; and the very days themselves are, in many countries, called by the same name, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday.
The severity of the lenten fast is increased during these its last days; the whole energy of the spirit of penance is now brought out. Even with us, the dispensation which allows the use of eggs ceases towards the middle of this week. The eastern Churches, faithful to their ancient traditions, have kept up a most rigorous abstinence ever since the Monday of Quinquagesima week. During the whole of this long period, which they call Xerophagia, they have been allowed nothing but dry food. In the early ages, fasting during Holy Week was carried to the utmost limits that human nature could endure. We learn from St. Epiphanius [Expositio fidei, ix Haeres. xxii.], that there were some of the Christians who observed a strict fast from Monday morning to cock-crow of Easter Sunday. Of course it must have been very few of the faithful who could go so far as this. Many passed two, three, and even four consecutive days, without tasting any food; but the general practice was to fast from Maundy Thursday evening to Easter morning. Many Christians in the east, and in Russia, observe this fast even in these times. Would that such severe penance were always accompanied by a firm faith and union with the Church, out of which the merit of such penitential works is of no avail for salvation!
Another of the ancient practices of Holy Week were the long hours spent, during the night, in the churches. On Maundy Thursday, after having celebrated the divine mysteries in remembrance of the Last Supper, the faithful continued a long time in prayer [St. John Chrysostom, Hom. xxx in Genes.]. The night between Friday and Saturday was spent in almost uninterrupted vigil, in honour of our Lord’s burial [St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. xviii.]. But the longest of all these vigils was that of Saturday, which was kept up till Easter Sunday morning. The whole congregation joined in it: they assisted at the final preparation of the catechumens, as also at the administration of Baptism; nor did they leave the church until after the celebration of the holy Sacrifice, which was not over till sunrise [Const. Apost. lib. 1. cap. xviii.].
Cessation from servile work was, for a long time, an obligation during Holy Week. The civil law united with that of the Church in order to bring about this solemn rest from toil and business, which so eloquently expresses the state of mourning of the Christian world. The thought of the sufferings and death of Jesus was the one pervading thought: the Divine Offices and prayer were the sole occupation of the people: and, indeed, all the strength of the body was needed for the support of the austerities of fasting and abstinence. We can readily understand what an impression was made upon men’s minds, during the whole of the rest of the year, by this universal suspension of the ordinary routine of life. Moreover, when we call to mind how, for five full weeks, the severity of Lent had waged war on the sensual appetites, we can imagine the simple and honest joy wherewith was welcomed the feast of Easter, which brought both the regeneration of the soul, and respite to the body.
In the preceding volume, we mentioned the laws of the Theodosian Code, which forbade all law business during the forty days preceding Easter. This law of Gratian and Theodosius, which was published in 380, was extended by Theodosius in 389; this new decree forbade all pleadings during the seven days before, and the seven days after, Easter. We meet with several allusions to this then recent law, in the homilies of St. John Chrysostom, and in the sermons of St. Augustine. In virtue of this decree, each of these fifteen days was considered, as far as the courts of law were concerned, as a Sunday.
But Christian princes were not satisfied with the mere suspension of human justice during these days, which are so emphatically days of mercy: they would, moreover, pay homage, by an external act, to the fatherly goodness of God, who has deigned to pardon a guilty world, through the merits of the death of His Son. The Church was on the point of giving reconciliation to repentant sinners, who had broken the chains of sin whereby they were held captives; Christian princes were ambitious to imitate this their mother, and they ordered that prisoners should be loosened from their chains, that the prisons should be thrown open, and that freedom should be restored to those who had fallen under the sentence of human tribunals. The only exception made was that of criminals whose freedom would have exposed their families or society to great danger. The name of Theodosius stands prominent in these acts of mercy. We are told by St John Chrysostom [Homil. in magn. Hebdom. Homil. xxx. in Genes. Homil. vi ad popul. Antioch.] that this emperor sent letters of pardon to the several cities, ordering the release of prisoners, and granting life to those that had been condemned to death, and all this in order to sanctify the days preceding the Easter feast. The last emperors made a law of this custom, as we find in one of St. Leo’s sermons, where he thus speaks of their clemency: ‘The Roman emperors have long observed this holy practice. In honour of our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection, they humbly withhold the exercise of their sovereign justice, and, laying aside the severity of their laws, they grant pardon to a great number of criminals. Their intention in this is to imitate the divine goodness by their own exercise of clemency during these days, when the world owes its salvation to the divine mercy. Let, then, the Christian people imitate their princes, and let the example of kings induce subjects to forgive each other their private wrongs; for, surely it is absurd that private laws should be less unrelenting than those which are public. Let trespasses be forgiven, let bonds be taken off, let offences be forgotten, let revenge be stifled; that thus the sacred feast may, by both divine and human favours, find us all happy and innocent.’ [Sermon xl. de Quadragesima, ii].
This Christian amnesty was not confined to the Theodosian Code; we find traces of it in the laws of several of our western countries. We may mention France as an example. Under the first race of its kings, St. Eligius bishop of Noyon, in a sermon for Maundy Thursday, thus expresses himself: ‘On this day, when the Church grants indulgence to penitents and absolution to sinners, magistrates, also, relent in their severity and grant pardon to the guilty. Throughout the whole world prisons are thrown open; princes show clemency to criminals; masters forgive their slaves.’ [Sermon x]. Under the second race, we learn from the Capitularia of Charlemagne, that bishops had a right to exact from the judges, for the love of Jesus Christ (as it is expressed), that prisoners should be set free on the days preceding Easter [We learn from the same capitularia, that this privilege was also extended to Christmas and Pentecost]; and should the magistrates refuse to obey, the bishops could refuse them admission into the church [Capitular. lib. vi.]. And lastly, under the third race, we find Charles VI, after quelling the rebellion at Rouen, giving orders, later on, that the prisoners should be set at liberty, because it was Painful Week, and very near to the Easter feast [Joan Juvénal des Ursins, year 1382].
A last vestige of this merciful legislation was a custom observed by the parliament of Paris. The ancient Christian practice of suspending its sessions during the whole of Lent, had long been abolished: it was not till the Wednesday of Holy Week that the house was closed, which it continued to be from that day until after Low Sunday. On the Tuesday of Holy Week, which was the last day granted for audiences, the parliament repaired to the palace prisons, and there one of the grand presidents, generally the last installed, held a session of the house. The prisoners were questioned; but, without any formal judgment, all those whose case seemed favourable, or who were not guilty of some capital offence, were set at liberty.
The revolutions of the last eighty years have produced in every country in Europe the secularization of society, that is to say, the effacing from our national customs and legislation of everything which had been introduced by the supernatural element of Christianity. The favourite theory of the last half century or more, has been that all men are equal. The people of the ages of faith had something far more convincing than theory, of the sacredness of their rights. At the approach of those solemn anniversaries which so forcibly remind us of the justice and mercy of God, they beheld princes abdicating, as it were, their sceptre, leaving in God’s hands the punishment of the guilty, and assisting at the holy Table of Paschal Communion side by side with those very men, whom, a few days before, they had been keeping chained in prison for the good of society. There was one thought, which, during these days, was strongly brought before all nations: it was the thought of God, in whose eyes all men are sinners; of God, from whom alone proceed justice and pardon. It was in consequence of this deep Christian feeling, that we find so many diplomas and charts of the ages of faith speaking of the days of Holy Week as being the reign of Christ: such an event, they say, happened on such a day, ‘under the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ:’ regnante Domino nostro Jesu Christo.
When these days of holy and Christian equality were over, did subjects refuse submission to their sovereigns? Did they abuse the humility of their princes, and take occasion for drawing up what modern times call the rights of man? No: that same thought which had inspired human justice to humble itself before the cross of Jesus, taught the people their duty of obeying the powers established by God. The exercise of power, and submission to that power, both had God for their motive. They who wielded the sceptre might be of various dynasties: the respect for authority was ever the same. Now-a-days, the liturgy has none of her ancient influence on society; religion has been driven from the world at large, and her only life and power is now with the consciences of individuals; and as to political institutions, they are but the expression of human pride, seeking to command, or refusing to obey.
And yet the fourth century, which, in virtue of the Christian spirit, produced the laws we have been alluding to, was still rife with the pagan element. How comes it that we, who live in the full light of Christianity, can give the name of progress to a system which tends to separate society from every thing that is supernatural? Men may talk as they please, there is but one way to secure order, peace, morality, and security to the world; and that is God’s way, the way of faith, of living in accordance with the teachings and the spirit of faith. All other systems can, at best, but flatter those human passions, which are so strongly at variance with the mysteries of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we are now celebrating.
We must mention another law made by the Christian emperors in reference to Holy Week. If the spirit of charity, and a desire to imitate divine mercy, led them to decree the liberation of prisoners; it was but acting consistently with these principles, that, during these days when our Saviour shed His Blood for the emancipation of the human race, they should interest themselves in what regards slaves. Slavery, a consequence of sin, and the fundamental institution of the pagan world, had received its death-blow by the preaching of the Gospel; but its gradual abolition was left to individuals, and to their practical exercise of the principle of Christian fraternity. As our Lord and His apostles had not exacted the immediate abolition of slavery, so, in like manner, the Christian emperors limited themselves to passing such laws as would give encouragement to its gradual abolition. We have an example of this in the Justinian Code, where this prince, after having forbidden all law-proceedings during Holy Week and the week following, lays down the following exception: ‘It shall, nevertheless, be permitted to give slaves their liberty; in such manner, that the legal acts necessary for their emancipation shall not be counted as contravening this present enactment.’ [Cod. lib. iii. tit. xii. de feriis. Leg. 8.]. This charitable law of Justinian was but applying to the fifteen days of Easter the decree passed by Constantine, which forbade all legal proceedings on the Sundays throughout the year, excepting only such acts as had for their object the emancipation of slaves.
But long before the peace given her by Constantine, the Church had made provision for slaves, during these days when the mysteries of the world’s redemption were accomplished. Christian masters were obliged to grant them total rest from labour during this holy fortnight. Such is the law laid down in the apostolic constitutions, which were compiled previously to the fourth century. ‘During the great week preceding the day of Easter, and during the week that follows, slaves rest from labour, inasmuch as the first is the week of our Lord’s Passion, and the second is that of His Resurrection; and the slaves require to be instructed upon these mysteries.’ [Constit. Apost. lib. viii. cap. xxxiii].
Another characteristic of the two weeks, upon which we are now entering, is that of giving more abundant alms, and of greater fervour in the exercise of works of mercy. St. John Chrysostom assures us that such was the practice of his times; he passes an encomium on the faithful, many of whom redoubled, at this period, their charities to the poor, which they did out of this motive: that they might, in some slight measure, imitate the divine generosity, which is now so unreservedly pouring out its graces on sinners.
"To-day if you shall hear the voice of the Lord,
harden not your hearts."
Passion Sunday; The Liturgical YearBy: Abbot Dom Gueranger
The holy Church begins her night Office of this Sunday with these impressive words of the royal prophet. Formerly, the faithful considered it their duty to assist at the night Office, at least on Sundays and feasts; they would have grieved to lose the grand teachings given by the liturgy. Such fervour has long since died out; the assiduity at the Offices of the Church, which was the joy of our Catholic forefathers, has now become a thing of the past; and even in countries which have not apostatized from the faith, the clergy have ceased to celebrate publicly Offices at which no one assisted. Excepting in cathedral churches and in monasteries, the grand harmonious system of the divine praise has been abandoned, and the marvellous power of the liturgy has no longer its full influence upon the faithful.
This is our reason for drawing the attention of our readers to certain beauties of the Divine Office, which would otherwise be totally ignored. Thus, what can be more impressive than this solemn Invitatory of to-day’s Matins, which the Church takes from one of the psalms, and which she repeats on every feria between this and Maundy Thursday? She says; To-day, if ye will hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts!
The sweet voice of your suffering Jesus now speaks to you, poor sinners! be not your own enemies by indifference and hardness of heart. The Son of God is about to give you the last and greatest proof of the love that brought Him down from heaven; His death is nigh at hand: men are preparing the wood for the immolation of the new Isaac: enter into yourselves, and let not your hearts, after being touched with grace, return to their former obduracy; for nothing could be more dangerous. The great anniversaries we are to celebrate have a renovating power for those souls that faithfully correspond with the grace which is offered them; but they increase insensibility in those who let them pass without working their conversion. To-day
, therefore, if you hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts!
During the preceding four weeks, we have noticed how the malice of Jesus’ enemies has been gradually increasing. His very presence irritates them; and it is evident that any little circumstance will suffice to bring the deep and long-nurtured hatred to a head. The kind and gentle manners of Jesus are drawing to Him all hearts that are simple and upright; at the same time, the humble life He leads, and the stern purity of His doctrines, are perpetual sources of vexation and anger, both to the proud Jew that looks forward to the Messias being a mighty conqueror, and to the pharisee, who corrupts the Law of God, that he may make it the instrument of his own base passions. Still, Jesus goes on working miracles; His discourses are more than ever energetic; His prophecies foretell the fall of Jerusalem, and such a destruction of its famous temple, that not a stone is to be left on a stone. The doctors of the Law should, at least, reflect upon what they hear; they should examine these wonderful works, which render such strong testimony in favour of the Son of David; and they should consult these divine prophecies which, up to the present time, have been so literally fulfilled in His person. Alas! they themselves are about to carry them out to the very last iota. There is not a single outrage or suffering foretold by David and Isaias, as having to be put upon the Messias, which these blind men are not scheming to verify.
In them, therefore, was fulfilled that terrible saying: ‘He that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.' [St. Matt. xii. 32.] The Synagogue is nigh to a curse. Obstinate in her error, she refuses to see or to hear; she has deliberately perverted her judgment: she has extinguished within herself the light of the holy Spirit; she will go deeper and deeper into evil, and at length fall into the abyss. This same lamentable conduct is but too often witnessed nowadays in those sinners, who, by habitual resistance to the light, end by finding their happiness in sin. Neither should it surprise us, that we find in people of our own generation a resemblance to the murderers of our Jesus: the history of His Passion will reveal to us many sad secrets of the human heart and its perverse inclinations; for what happened in Jerusalem, happens also in every sinner’s heart. His heart, according to the saying of St. Paul, is a Calvary, where Jesus is crucified. There is the same ingratitude, the same blindness, the same wild madness, with this difference: that the sinner who is enlightened by faith, knows Him whom he crucifies; whereas the Jews, as the same apostle tells us, knew not the Lord of glory [1 Cor. ii. 8.] Whilst, therefore, we listen to the Gospel, which relates the history of the Passion, let us turn the indignation which we feel for the Jews against ourselves and our own sins; let us weep over the sufferings of our Victim, for our sins caused Him to suffer and die.
Everything around us urges us to mourn. The images of the saints, the very crucifix on our altar, are veiled from our sight. The Church is oppressed with grief. During the first four weeks of Lent, she compassionated her Jesus fasting in the desert; His coming sufferings and crucifixion and death are what now fill her with anguish. We read in to-day’s Gospel, that the Jews threaten to stone the Son of God as a blasphemer: but His hour is not yet come. He is obliged to flee and hide Himself. It is to express this deep humiliation, that the Church veils the cross. A God hiding Himself, that He may evade the anger of men - what a mystery! Is it weakness? Is it, that He fears death? No; we shall soon see Him going out to meet His enemies: but at present He hides Himself from them, because all that had been prophesied regarding Him has not been fulfilled. Besides, His death is not to be by stoning: He is to die upon a cross, the tree of malediction, which, from that time forward, is to be the tree of life. Let us humble ourselves, as we see the Creator of heaven and earth thus obliged to hide Himself from men, who are bent on His destruction! Let us go back, in thought, to the sad day of the first sin, when Adam and Eve bid themselves because a guilty conscience told them they were naked. Jesus has come to assure us of our being pardoned, and lo! He hides Himself, not because He is naked - He that is to the saints the garb of holiness and immortality - but because He made Himself weak, that He might make us strong. Our first parents sought to hide themselves from the sight of God; Jesus hides Himself from the eye of men. But it will not be thus for ever. The day will come when sinners, from whose anger He now flees, will pray to the mountains to fall on them and shield them from His gaze; but their prayer will not be granted, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with much power and majesty [St. Matt. xxiv. 30].
This Sunday is called Passion Sunday, because the Church begins, on this day, to make the sufferings of our Redeemer her chief thought. It is called also, Judica,
from the first word of the Introit of the Mass; and again Neomania,
that is, the Sunday of the new
(or the Easter
) moon, because it always falls after the new moon which regulates the feast of Easter.
In the Greek Church, this Sunday goes under the simple name of the fifth Sunday of the holy fast.
At Rome, the Station is in the basilica of St. Peter. The importance of this Sunday, which never gives way to any feast, no matter what its solemnity may be, required that the place for the assembly of the faithful should be in one of the chief sanctuaries of the holy city.
The Introit is taken from the first verses of Psalm xlii. The Messias appeals to God’s tribunal, and protests against the sentence about to be pronounced against Him by men. He likewise expresses his confidence in His Father’s help, who, after His sufferings and death, will lead Him in triumph into the holy mount.
Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy; deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for thou art my God and my strength. Ps.
Send forth thy light and thy truth; for they have conducted me, and brought me to thy holy mount, and into thy tabernacles. Judge me, &c. The Gloria Patri
is not said during Passiontide and Holy Week (unless a saint’s feast be kept), but the Introit is repeated immediately after the Psalm.
In the Collect, the Church prays that there may be produced in her children that total reformation, which the holy season of Lent is intended to produce. This reformation is such, that it will not only subject the body to the spirit, but preserve also the spirit itself from those delusions and passions, to which it has been, hitherto, more or less a slave.
Mercifully look down on thy people, we beseech thee O almighty God, that by thy bounty and protection, they may be governed and guarded both in body and soul. Through, &c. Then is added one of the following prayers
AGAINST THE PERSECUTORS OF’ THE CHURCH
O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in thy mercy, on thy servant N., whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church: and grant we beseech thee, that both by word and example, he may edify all those that are under his charge: and, with the flock entrusted to him, arrive at length at eternal happiness. Through, &c. EPISTLE
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews.Ch.
Brethren: Christ being come, an High Priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by his own Blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For, if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh: how much more shall the Blood of Christ (who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God), cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God: And therefore, he is the mediator of the new Testament: that by means of his death, for the redemption of those transgressions which were under the former Testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It is by blood alone that man is to be redeemed. He has offended God. This God cannot be appeased by anything short of the extermination of His rebellious creature, who, by shedding his blood, will give an earnest of his repentance and his entire submission to the Creator, against whom he dared to rebel. Otherwise, the justice of God must be satisfied by the sinner’s suffering eternal punishment. This truth was understood by all the people of the ancient world, and all confessed it by shedding the blood of victims, as in the sacrifices of Abel at the very commencement of the world, in the hecatombs of Greece, in the countless immolations whereby Solomon dedicated the temple. And yet God thus speaks to His people: ‘Hear, O My people, and I will speak: O Israel, and I will testify to thee: I am God thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, and thy burnt-offerings are always in my sight. I will not take calves out of thy house, nor he-goats out of thy flocks. I need them not: for all the beasts of the woods are Mine. If I should be hungry I would not tell thee; for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof. Shall I eat the flesh of bullocks? or shall I drink the blood of goats?' [Ps. xlix. 7-13.] Thus, God commands the blood of victims to be offered to Him, and, at the same time, declares that neither it nor they are precious in His sight.
Is this a contradiction? No: God would hereby have man understand that it is only by blood that he can be redeemed, but that the blood of brute animals cannot effect this redemption. Can the blood of man himself bring him his own redemption, and appease God’s justice? No, not even man’s blood, for it is defiled; and even were it undefiled, it is powerless to compensate for the outrage done to God by sin. For this there was needed the Blood of a God; such was the Blood of Jesus, and He has come that He may shed it for our redemption.
In Him is fulfilled the most sacred of the figures of the old Law. Once each year, the high-priest entered into the Holy of holies, there to make intercession for the people. He went within the veil, even to the Ark of the Covenant; but he was not allowed to enjoy this great privilege, unless he entered the holy place carrying in his hands the blood of a newly-offered victim. The Son of God, the true High-Priest, is now about to enter heaven, and we are to follow Him thither; but unto this, He must have an offering of blood, and that Blood can be none other than His own. We are going to assist at this His compliance with the divine ordinance. Let us open our hearts, that this precious Blood may, as the apostle says in to-day’s Epistle, cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
The Gradual is taken from the Psalms. Our Saviour here prays to be delivered from His enemies, and protected from the rage of them that have risen up against Him; yet is He ready to do the will of His Father, by whom He will be avenged.
In the Tract, which is also taken from the Psalms, the Messias, under the name of Israel, complains of the persecution He has met with from the Jews, even from His youth. They are now about to scourge Him in a most cruel manner. But He also foretells the punishment their deicide is to bring upon them.
Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; teach me to do thy will.
V. Thou, O Lord, art my deliverer from the enraged Gentiles: thou wilt put me out of the reach of those that assault me; and thou wilt rescue me from the unrighteous man.
Many a time have they fought against me from my youth.
V. Let Israel now say: They have often attacked me from my youth.
V. But they could not prevail over me: the wicked have wrought upon my back.
V. They have lengthened their iniquity: the Lord who is just, will cut the necks of sinners.
Sequel of the holy Gospel, according to John. Ch.
At that time: Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: Which of you shall convince me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe me? He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God. The Jews, therefore, answered and said to him; Do not we say well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered: I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and you have dishonoured me. But I seek not my own Glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Amen, amen, I say to you: If any man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever. The Jews therefore said: Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets: and thou sayest: If my man keep my word, he shall not taste death for ever. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who dost thou make thyself? Jesus answered: If I glorify myself my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is your God; and you have not known him, but I know him. And if I shall say that I know him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know him, and do keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad. The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am. They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.
The fury of the Jews is evidently at its height, and Jesus is obliged to hide Himself from them. But He is to fall into their hands before many days are over; then will they triumph and put Him to death. They triumph, and Jesus is their victim: but how different is to be His lot from theirs! In obedience to the decrees of His heavenly Father, and out of love for men, he will deliver Himself into the hands of His enemies, and they will put Him to death; but He will rise victorious from the tomb, He will ascend into heaven, He will be throned on the right hand of His Father. His enemies, on the contrary, after having vented all their rage, will live on without remorse, until the terrible day come for their chastisement. That day is not far off, for observe the severity wherewith our Lord speaks to them: ‘You hear not the words of God, because you are not of God.’ Yet there was a time when they were of God, for the Lord gives His grace to all men; but they have rendered this grace useless; they are now in darkness, and the light they have rejected will not return. You say that My Father is your God, and you have not known Him; but I know Him.
Their obstinacy in refusing to acknowledge Jesus as the Messias, has led these men to ignore that very God, whom they boast of honouring; for if they knew the Father, they would not reject His Son. Moses, and the Psalms, and the Prophets, are all a dead letter to them; these sacred Books are soon to pass into the hands of the Gentiles, who will both read and understand them. If,
continues Jesus, I should say that I know Him not, I should be like to you, a liar.
This strong language is that of the angry Judge who is to come down, at the last day, to destroy sinners. Jerusalem has not known the time of her visitation: the Son of God has visited her, He is with her, and she dares to say to Him: Thou hast a devil!
She says to the eternal Word, who proves Himself to be God by the most astonishing miracles, that Abraham and the prophets are greater than He!
Strange blindness, that comes from pride and hardness of heart! The feast of the Pasch is at hand; these men are going to eat, and with much parade of religion, the flesh of the figurative lamb; they know full well that this lamb is a symbol, or a figure, which is to have its fulfilment. The true Lamb is to be sacrificed by their hands, and they will not know Him. He will shed His Blood for them, and it will not save them. How this reminds us of those sinners, for whom this Easter promises to be as fruitless as those of the past years! Let us redouble our prayers for them, and beseech our Lord to soften their hearts, lest trampling the Blood of Jesus under their feet, they should have it to cry vengeance against them before the throne of the heavenly Father.
At the Offertory, confiding in the merits of the Blood that has redeemed us, let us, in the words of the Psalm, give praise to God, and proclaim Him to be the author of that new life, of which the sacrifice of the Lamb is the never-failing source.
. I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: reward thy servant: I shall live, and keep thy commandments: save me according to thy word, O Lord. The Sacrifice of the spotless Lamb has produced two effects upon the sinner: it has broken his fetters, and has made him the object of God’s love. The Ohuroh prays, in the Secret, that the Sacrifice which she is about to offer, and which is one with that of the cross, may work the same results in us.
May these offerings, O Lord, both loosen the bonds of our wickedness, and obtain for us the gifts of thy mercy. Through, &c.
AGAINST THE PERSECUTORS OF THE CHURCH
Protege nos, Domine, tuis mysteriis servientes: ut divinis rebus inhaerentes, et corpore tibi famulemur et mente. Per Dominum. Protect us, O Lord, while we assist at thy sacred mysteries: that being employed in acts of religion, we may serve thee both in body and mind. Through &c.
FOR THE POPE
Be appeased, O Lord, with the offering we have made: and cease not to protect thy servant N.. whom thou hast been pleased to appoint Pastor over thy Church. Through, &c. The Communion-antiphon is formed out of the very words spoken by Jesus, when instituting the august Sacrifice which has just been celebrated, and of which the priest and people have partaken, in memory of the Passion, for it renews both the remembrance and the merits of the Passion.
This is the body which shall be delivered up for you; this is the cup of the new covenant in my blood, saith the Lord. As often as you receive them, do it in remembrance of me. In the Postcommunion, the Church prays to God, that He would maintain in the faithful the fruits of the visit He has so graciously paid them; for, by their participation in the sacred mysteries, He has entered into them.
Help us, O Lord our God, and for ever protect those whom thou hast refreshed with thy sacred mysteries. Through, &c.
AGAINST THE PERSECUTORS OF THE CHURCH
We beseech thee, O Lord our God, not to leave exposed to the dangers of human life, those whom thou hast permitted to partake of these divine mysteries. Through, &c.
FOR THE POPE
May the participation of this divine Sacrament protect us, we beseech thee, O Lord, and always procure safety and defence to thy servant N. whom thou hast appointed Pastor over the Church, together with the flock committed to his charge. Through &c. VESPERS The psalms and antiphons are given above.
CAPITULUM (Heb. ix
Brethren: Christ being come as High Priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by his own Blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For the hymn and versicle, see above.
ANTIPHON OF THE MAGNIFICAT
Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad.
LET US PRAY
Mercifully look down on thy people, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that by thy bounty and protection, they may be governed and guarded both in body and soul. Through, &c.
The following appropriate prayer is from the Mozarabic breviary.
The course of the year has brought us to the time for celebrating, with devout hearts and offices, the feast of thy Passion, O Jesus, Son of God! wherein, for our sake, thou didst suffer the calumnies of thine enemies, and wast crucified by the wounds of them that betrayed thee. We pray and beseech thee, that thou depart not from us: and whereas tribulation is nigh at hand, and there is none to help us, do thou, by the help of thy Passion, become our sole protector. Deliver us not, therefore, into the hands of our enemies unto evil, but receive us, as thy servants, unto good; that the haughty ones who calumniate us, namely the enemies of our souls, may be repelled by the might of thy power. Thou, by the human nature thou hast assumed, art the lamp set on the stand of the cross: we beseech thee, therefore, that thou enkindle us by thy flame, lest we become a prey to punishment. Behold us now entering, with devout hearts, upon the feast of thy Passion; oh! grant that we may partake of the merits of thy Passion: that thus, being delivered from the error of our darkness, we may be fortified by the help of thy light.
That we may the better honour the holy cross, we give, for each day of this week, an appropriate hymn from one or other of the various ancient liturgies. The one we have selected for to-day is the composition of St. Venantius Fortunatus, bishop of Poitiers.
Brightly shineth the blessed cross, whereon hung the Body of our Lord, when, with his Blood, he washed our wounds. Become, out of tender love for us, a meek Victim, this divine Lamb did by the cross rescue us his sheep from the jaws of the wolf.
'Twas there, with his hands nailed to the wood, that he redeemed the world from ruin, and by his own death, closed the way of death.
Here was fastened with cruel nails that hand which delivered Paul from sin, and Peter from death.
O sweet and noble tree! how vigorous in thy growth, when, on thy branches, hang fruits so rare as these!
Thy fresh fragrance gives resurrection to many that lay in the tomb, and restores the dead to life.
He that shelters beneath thy shade, shall not be scorched either by the moon at night or by the midday sun.
Planted near the running waters, thou art lovely in thy verdure, and blossoms ever fresh blow on each fair branch.
Between thine arms hangs the pendant Vine, whence wine most sweet flows in a ruddy stream
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