Holy Week 2008: March 2008 Archives

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What a glorious depiction of the Precious Blood of Christ pouring forth from His five wounds into the chalices held by four saints! I recognize Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Francis of Assisi, a cardinal who may be Saint Charles Borromeo and, on the extreme right, a figure who appears to be in a Cistercian habit. Saint Bernard? The painting is by an unknown Spanish artist of the XVIIth or XVIIIth century.

I will be leaving in a few hours to spend the Sacred Triduum with my friend, Father Jacob, O.P. at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Buffalo, N.Y. This will allow me to have a more restful Triduum than in the past. Father Jacob and I will alternate officiating at the various solemn Offices. Father Peter John, O.P. will be replacing me for the Sacred Triduum at the Monastery of the Glorious Cross in Branford, CT.

I don't know if there will be an internet connection in Buffalo. Readers of Vultus Christi can always go to the archives for Sacred Paschal Triduum 2007. If at all possible, I will try to post something from Buffalo.

My choice for the best reading during the Sacred Triduum remains The Great Week, by Dame Aemiliana Löhr, O.S.B. I know of no better commentary on the Holy Week Liturgy.

In another vein, László Dobszay offers a compelling critique of the present reformed rites of the Paschal Triduum in The Bugnini Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform. It may be better not to read this during the Triduum. Save it for another time.

His Excellency, Bishop Allen H. Vigneron of the Diocese of Oakland wrote a splendid pastoral letter on the Precious Blood of Christ. Be sure to read it here.

Nos autem

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Tuesday of Holy Week

Isaiah 49:1–6
Psalm 34:13, 1–2
John 13:21–33, 36–38

The Eucharist and the Cross

Today’s Introit is the very one that we will sing on Maundy Thursday on the threshold of the Sacred Triduum: “It is for us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection: through whom we have been saved and set free” (cf. Gal 6:14). We are given it today in a kind of contemplative rehearsal of the mysteries that will unfold. We are to sing it, and to hear it, in a Eucharistic key. We glory in the Eucharist as we glory in the Cross because the Eucharist is the sacramental demonstration of the Cross. Is this not what the Apostle teaches? “For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show forth the death of the Lord, until he comes” (1 Cor 11:26). The Eucharist makes present the Cross. The Eucharist is the sacrifice of the Cross set before the eyes of faith, not as something dim and ineffectual, but as an astonishing inbreaking, here and now, of “the power of God and the wisdom of God”(1 Cor 1:24). This is the source of our “Eucharistic amazement.” This is this realization that leaves us, together with the saints of every age, “lost, all lost in wonder.”

O Great Passion

The Eucharist is the awful reality of the Christus passus. The mystery of the suffering Christ is made present to us and for us. For our healing, his wounds are pressed against ours. For our cleansing, his Blood flows impetuous like a torrent. For our life, his breath is given over in death. The Eucharist is the Crucified “lifted up and drawing all men to himself”(cf. Jn 12:32). It is the Eucharist that causes us to cry out, “O great Passion! O deep wounds! O outpouring of Blood! O death suffered in every bitterness, give us life.”

Tell Me Where You Were

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Abba Joseph related that Abba Isaac said, 'I was sitting with Abba Poemen one day and I saw him in ecstasy and I was on terms of great freedom of speech with him, I prostrated myself before him and begged him, saying, 'Tell me where you were." He was forced to answer and he said, "My thought was with Saint Mary, the Mother of God, as she wept by the cross of the Saviour. I wish I could always weep like that."

Grant Us Breathing Space

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Monday of Holy Week

Today's Collect is, without any doubt, one of the most poignant of the whole liturgical year. Here it is in the original Latin, and in three different English translations:

Da, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus,
ut, qui ex nostra infirmitate deficimus,
intercedente unigeniti Filii tui passione, respiremus.
Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti,
Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.

The Marquess of Bute renders it thus:

O Almighty God,
Which knowest that we be in such straits
that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves,
we pray Thee mercifully to relieve us
for whom continually pleadeth the Suffering of Thine Only-Begotten Son.
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee
in the unity of the Holy Ghost,
one God, world without end.

Monsignor Knox gives this:

Fainting, thou seest us, Almighty God;
so many perils about us, and we so frail!
Let but the Passion of thy only-begotten Son come between,
to grant us breathing space:
who with thee in the bond of the Holy Spirit
liveth and reigneth and is God,
world without end.

And here is my translation:

Grant, we beseech you, almighty God,
that we who, out of the infirmity that is ours, falter and fail,
may once again breathe freely
through the intercession of the Passion of your only-begotten Son,
who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

Spes Mea

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Monday of Holy Week

Isaiah 42:1-7
Psalm 26:1, 2, 3, 13-14 (R. v. 1a)
John12:1-11

But After I Shall Be Risen

The bright eighth mode intervals of last evening’s Magnificat Antiphon still echo in our hearts: “It is therefore written: I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed; but after I shall be risen, I will go before you into Galilee. There you shall see me, says Lord.” Over the words, postquam autem resurrexero — “but after I shall be risen” the melody leaped upward in an uncontainable burst of paschal triumph, ringing out an irrepressible joy.

You Shall See Me

Yesterday, we were in Jerusalem, the holy city of the sufferings of Christ, but the Magnificat Antiphon at Second Vespers already promised us a reunion with the risen Lord in Galilee. “There you shall see me.” Through the text and melody of the antiphon one hears that other promise of the Lord in Saint John’s gospel: “So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (Jn 16:22).

Says the Lord

The cadence over the words, dicit Dominus — “says the Lord,” is strong and full of hope, leaving us utterly certain of the outcome of this Great Week’s bitter agony and sufferings. “This is our comfort,” writes Dame Aemiliana, “we shall see Him again. First Judea and Jerusalem, judgment, death, the tomb. Then Galilee, life and sight. . . . Life hangs on the issue of death; whoever goes with the Lord to die, goes with Him to live and rule; whoever dares to go the way to Jerusalem will not miss the way to Galilee.”

The Most Precious Blood

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One cannot enter into Holy Week without contemplating the adorable mystery of the Precious Blood. I am completely smitten by Bernini's little known depiction of the Blood of Christ. The Eternal Father contemplates the outpouring of the Blood of the Son. The Angels are awestruck by what they see. Blood pours out of the hands, and feet, and open side of the Crucified.

The Mother of Jesus, she who is the perfect image of the Church, raises her hands to receive the crimson torrent gushing from the inner sanctuary of His Sacred Heart. Beneath the Cross there is an ocean of Blood: Blood to cleanse the world of every stain of sin, of every crime, of every defilement. If you would know the value of the Precious Blood, ask the Mother of the Lamb.

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Priests and the Precious Blood

"My maternal heart yearns to lead all my priest sons into the presence of my Jesus, the Lamb by Whose Blood the world is saved and purified of sin. My priest sons must be the first to experience the healing power of the Blood of the Lamb of God. I ask all my priest sons to bear witness to the Precious Blood of Jesus. They are the ministers of His Blood. His Blood is in their hands to purify and refresh the living and the dead.

Apply It to Your Wounds

I desire that all priests should become aware of the infinite value and power of but a single drop of the Blood of my Son. . . . Adore His Precious Blood in the Sacrament of His Love. His Blood mixed with water flows ceaselessly from His Eucharistic Heart, His Heart pierced by the soldier’s lance to purify and vivify the whole Church, but in the first place, to purify and vivify His priests. When you come into His Eucharistic presence, be aware of His Precious Blood streaming from His Open Heart. Adore His Blood and apply it to your wounds and to the wounds of souls.

Purity Wherever It Flows

The Blood of my Son brings purity and healing and new life wherever it flows. Implore the power of the Precious Blood over yourself and over all priests. Whenever you are asked to intercede for souls, invoke the power of the Precious Blood over them, and present them to the Father covered with the Blood of the Lamb."

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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