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Wednesday Within the Second Week of Lent

Jeremiah 18: 18-20
Matthew 20: 17-28

Beata Passio

On Sunday last we celebrated the Transfiguration of the Lord. Today, three days later, the liturgy sets before us the mystery of His beata Passio, as the Roman Canon calls it, His blessed Passion. The Passion of Our Lord is as blessed as it was bitter; its bitterness contains the source of all blessedness, that is, of all our bliss, of eternal beatitude.

The Prayer of Jeremiah

The prophet Jeremiah threatened, hated, and rejected by his enemies, is a figure of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The First Reading gives us Jeremiah's prayer in great anguish:

Give heed to me, O Lord,
and listen to my plea . . .
Remember how I stood before Thee to speak good for them,
to turn away Thy wrath from them.

The Prayer of Jesus

Jeremiah's prayer announces the prayer of Jesus in His Passion. The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that, "In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard for His godly fear" (Heb 5:7). From the Cross, Jesus interceded for those who hated Him, and for those who nailed Him to the awful Tree: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Lk 23:34). Down through the ages, the Holy Spirit has moved the Church to enter into the prayer of Christ: to pray as He prayed.

The Prayer of Mary

So deeply did today's text from Jeremiah penetrate the heart of the Church that it became the Offertory Antiphon of the Mass of September 15th, the feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

Recordare, Virgo Mater Dei . . .
Be mindful, O Virgin Mother of God,
when thou standest in the sight of the Lord,
to speak good things for us,
and to turn away His anger from us.

The Church recognizes in the Mother of Sorrows the New Eve, the Woman in whom the whole mystery of the Church is contained and revealed. The prayer of Christ becomes her prayer. Mary, the spotless image of the Church, stands with her Son in ceaseless intercession, "since He always lives to make intercession for those who draw near to God through Him" (cf. Heb 7:25). The prayer of Mary passes entirely into the prayer of Jesus, and His prayer passes entirely into hers.

A Gospel in Three Acts

The Gospel contains three acts: first, the prophecy of the Passion and Resurrection; second, the request made by the mother of James and John, and Jesus' mysterious reply to her; third, Jesus' teaching on humility or, if you will, on the slavery assumed out of love. The Church privileges the first act in today's Gospel. How do we know that? By consulting the traditional Benedictus and Magnificat Antiphons for Wednesday in the Second Week of Lent. All throughout the Lenten liturgy these daily antiphons serve as mystagogical keys to the liturgy of each day. They are the Church's way of taking to heart the core of the Gospel proclaimed at Holy Mass.

Focus on the Passion

And so, this morning at Lauds she sang: "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem: and the Son of God shall be betrayed and crucified." And at Vespers she will sing: "For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him."

The message is clear. The Church would have us focus on the bitter and blessed Passion of the Lord. She would have us keep His sufferings before our eyes. The obvious way of prolonging today's liturgy would be by making the Way of the Cross. One might also want to say with Saint Mecthilde:

O passio magna!
O profunda vulnera!
O sanguinis effusio!
O dulcis dulcedo!
O mortis amaritudo!
Da nobis vitam aeternam.

O great Passion,
O deep wounds,
O outpouring of Blood,
O ineffable sweetness,
O death suffered in every bitterness,
give us life!

2 Comments

Father, we just purchased a Roman Missal, 1962---and also--- The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary (both from Baronius Press)--- and we are finding the instructions for their "use" to be confusing, we don't know the meaning of Lauds, Prime, etc---can you recommend a source that explains both texts for beginners? Thank you.
When you cite the daily readings are you using the Roman Missal? Thank you. Susan

I sometimes use the Baronius edition of the RM; I also use other translations and editions.

As for the Hours of the Little Office, there are a good many fine introductions to liturgical prayer that you might want to consult. Generally speaking
— Matins and Lauds are best prayed in the early morning;
— Prime before beginning the daily round of activities;
— Tierce (9:00 a.m.) recalls the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost;
— Sext (12:00 noon) recalls Our Lord's crucifixion;
— None (3:00 p.m.) recalls Our Lord's death on the Cross;
— Vespers is prayed at sunset;
— Compline before bedtime.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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