Holy Week 2008: March 2010 Archives

Dominicis Passionis Sacramenta

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Tuesday of Holy Week

The Collect for Holy Tuesday merits special attention. The dominicis passionis sacramenta are the sacred signs and rites by which the mystery of the Lord's Passion is made present in an efficacious manner. The Collect uses the word peragere, which means, among other things, to carry out, to enact, or to perform. It is by worthily carrying out the sacred liturgy that the fruit of the Passion of Christ is communicated to our souls, that is, the pardon of our sins.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
da nobis ita dominicae passionis sacramenta peragere,
ut indulgentiam percipere mereamur.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium tuum,
qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti,
Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.

The Marquess of Bute gives this:

O Almighty and everlasting God,
give us grace so to use the solemn and mysterious memorial
of the Lord's Suffering,
that the same may be unto us
a means whereby worthily to win Thy forgiveness.
Through the Same our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son,
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Ghost,
one God, world without end.

Note that he renders "dominicis passionis sacramenta" as "the solemn and mysterious memorial of the Lord's Passion."

Monsignor Knox offers a translation that is, at once, succinct and poetic. For "dominicis passionis sacramenta" he gives, "this showing forth of the Lord's Passion."

So pass we, O God eternal,
through this showing forth of our Lord's Passion,
that we may win his gift of pardon.
Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord,
who is God, living and reigning with thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
forever and ever.

And here is my own attempt:

Almighty and eternal God,
grant that we may so carry out
the sacred rites of the Passion of the Lord
as to be found worthy of your gracious pardon.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.


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A Word Out of Silence

The chant of the Passion plunges us into silence. The Word has been silenced. Only a fool would dare to speak. Anything less than a word out of silence is unworthy of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ; anything more is superfluous. If I am so foolish as to preach today, it is for the sake of silence: a word out of silence, a word into silence. Like Saint Paul, “I am with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling” (1 Cor 2:3). If I offer you words, their only purpose is to guide you into the harbour of an immense and solemn stillness.

Pierced by the Passion

Dr. Sutton, an English divine of the sixteenth century imagined a dialogue between the soul pierced by hearing the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Lord, wherefore diddest thou suffer thyself to be sold?
That I might deliver thee from servitude. . .
Wherefore diddest thou sweat blood?
To wash away the spots of thy sin. . .
Why wouldest thou be bound?
To loose the bands of thy sins. . .
Why wert thou denied of Peter?
To confess thee before my Father. . .
Why wouldest thou be accused?
To absolve thee. . .
Why wouldest thou be spitted on?
To wipe away thy foulness. . .
Why wouldest thou be whipped?
That thou mightest be freed from stripes. . .
Why wouldest thou be lifted up upon the Cross?
That thou mightest be lifted up to heaven. . .
Why were thine arms stretched out?
To imbrace thee, O fainting soul. . .
Why was thy side opened?
To receive thee in. . .
Why didst thou die amidst two thieves?
That thou mightest live in the midst of angels.

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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