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Votive Mass of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Yesterday (Friday) morning we had the Votive Mass of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Humiliavit). It is, to my mind, one of the most beautiful Votive Masses in the Roman Missal. The Collect is addressed directly to Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Collect
O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst descend from heaven to earth from the bosom of the Father, and hast poured out thy Precious Blood for the remission of our sins: we humbly beseech thee; that at the last day we may be found acceptable in thy sight, and receive thy gracious invitation: Come ye blessed of my Father.

God Descends

The little phrase who didst descend from heaven to earth recalls the words that God, speaking out of the burning bush, addressed to Moses.

And knowing their sorrow, I am come down to deliver them. (Exodus 3:8)

God comes down. The fulfillment of this descent is, of course, the Incarnation of the Son of God. He descends from heaven into the Virgin's womb. He descends into the manger at Bethlehem. He descends into Egypt as a refugee child whose very life is threatened. He descends to Nazareth. He descends into the ordinary life of every child of Adam, and so knows hunger, thirst, weariness, sorrow, tears, loneliness, and fear. He descends into the humiliations of His bitter Passion. He descends into death. He descends into the tomb. He descends into Hades.

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In the Most Holy Sacrament

Even ascended into glory where He is enthroned at the right hand of the Father, He descends day after day to the altars of His Church, where, lest we forget the mystery of His coming down, He hides Himself beneath the appearance of a fragile piece of bread. The Most Holy Eucharist is the mystery of the humility of God, the humility of God who comes down to the point of pouring Himself out utterly. This is what Mother Mectilde de Bar calls the anéantissement of the Son of God in the adorable Sacrament of the Altar: the mystery of the All-Powerful God descending so low as to assume the appearance of bread. For love of us, sinners, and because that love compels Him to remain with us, and to nourish us with His own Body and Blood, He hides Himself and remains silent in the Most Holy Sacrament.

Lesson: Zacharias 12:10-11; 13:6-7
Thus said the Lord: I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem. And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered, saith the Lord Almighty.

The Holy Spirit

The Spirit of grace and supplications is none other than Holy Spirit, apart from whom, according to the teaching of Saint Paul, no one can say, Jesus is Lord. (1 Corinthians 12:3) The Spirit of grace and supplications, says the Apostle,

. . . helpeth our infirmity. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings. And he that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what the Spirit desireth; because he asketh for the saints according to God. (Romans 8: 26-27)

Adoration and Reparation

It is, then, the Holy Spirit -- transmitted to the Church on Calvary in the breath of Jesus Crucified, and flowing out His pierced side -- who compels some souls in every generation to abide before the Son of God, humble, hidden, and silent in the Host, in profound adoration and reparation.

"They shall look upon me whom they have pierced," says the Lord. The Holy Spirit directs the gaze of the soul to the One who, in glory and in the Sacrament of His Love, remains the Pierced One. One cannot gaze upon the Pierced One, the immolated Lamb, the Victim of the Altar, without experiencing the sweet bitterness of compunction and reparation.

A Great and Sorrowful Mystery

Seeing the fairest of the children of men, the Only-Begotten Son, wounded in His Heart, His feet, and His hands, one is compelled to ask, "What are these wounds in thine hands?" The wounds in the hands of Christ -- His hands raised in prayer, His hands extended in blessing, His hands baptizing those darkened by sin, His hands nourishing souls with the Bread of Angels, His hands anointing the sick -- these wounded hands signify His priesthood. "Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." (Zacharias 13:6). This is a great and sorrowful mystery: Christ's hands wounded in the house of His friends.

I Have Called You Friends

What did Our Lord say to His apostles, to His first priests, on the night before He suffered? "I will not now call you servants: for the servant knoweth not what his lord doth. But I have called you friends." (John 15:15) Before doing anything at all -- even before preaching the Word of God and dispensing His grace in the Holy Mysteries -- priests are called to be the friends of Jesus -- not mere acquaintances, nor business associates -- but friends. The house of the friends of Jesus is the Church. It is in the Church that Jesus is wounded in His hands: wounded in His priests, and wounded by His priests. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger spoke prophetically of this in 2005 in his meditation on the ninth Station of the Way of the Cross:

Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church? How often is the holy sacrament of His Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts!How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there! How often is his Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the Priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much pride, how much self-complacency!

Adoration and Reparation

Yes, Christ suffers in His own Church; He is wounded in His hands, and this in the house of His friends. To souls who grieve over the suffering of Christ in His own Church, the Holy Spirit proposes the only fitting response: adoration and reparation. Adoration allows us to kiss the wounded hands of Christ; reparation allows us to press them against our own wounds and against the wounds of all His priests. "He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by His bruises we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)

Litany of Reparation

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Lord, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us

Christ, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, hear us.

Christ, graciously hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, offered for the salvation of sinners,
Have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, annihilated on the altar for us and by us,
Have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, despised by lukewarm Christians,
Have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, mark of contradiction,
Have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, delivered over to unbelievers and heretics,
Have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, insulted by blasphemers,
Have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, Bread of angels, given to animals,
Have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, flung into the mud and trampled underfoot,
Have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, dishonored by unfaithful priests,
Have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, forgotten and abandoned in Thy churches,
Have mercy on us.

Be merciful unto us,
Pardon us, O Lord.

Be merciful unto us,
Hear us, O Lord.

For the outrageous contempt of this most wonderful Sacrament,
We offer Thee our reparation.

For Thine extreme humiliation in Thine admirable Sacrament,
We offer Thee our reparation.

For all unworthy Communions,
We offer Thee our reparation.

For the irreverences of wicked Christians,
We offer Thee our reparation.

For the profanation of Thy sanctuaries,
We offer Thee our reparation.

For the holy ciboriums dishonored and carried away by force,
We offer Thee our reparation.

For the continual blasphemies of impious men,
We offer Thee our reparation.

For the obduracy and treachery of heretics,
We offer Thee our reparation.

For the unworthy conversations carried on in Thy holy temples,
We offer Thee our reparation.

For the profaners of Thy churches
which they have desecrated by their sacrileges,
We offer Thee our reparation.

That it may please Thee to increase in all Christians
the reverence due to this adorable Mystery,
we beseech Thee, hear us.

That it may please Thee to manifest the Sacrament
of Thy Love to heretics,
we beseech Thee, hear us.

That it may please Thee to grant us
the grace to atone for their hatred
by our burning love for Thee,
we beseech Thee, hear us.

That it may please Thee
that the insults of those who outrage Thee
may rather be directed against ourselves,
we beseech Thee, hear us.

That it may please Thee graciously
to receive this our humble reparation,
we beseech Thee, hear us.

That it may please Thee to make our adoration acceptable to Thee,
we beseech Thee, hear us.

Pure Host,
hear our prayer.

Holy Host,
hear our prayer.

Immaculate Host,
hear our prayer.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

V. See, O Lord, our affliction,
R. And give glory to Thy Holy Name.

Let us pray.

O Lord Jesus Christ,
Who dost deign to remain with us
in Thy wonderful Sacrament unto the end of the world,
in order to give eternal glory to Thy Father,
by the perpetual oblation of Thy Passion,
and to give to us the Bread of life everlasting:
Grant us, we beseech Thee, the grace to mourn,
with a heart full of sorrow,
over the injuries which Thou hast received
in this adorable Mystery,
and over the many sacrileges
which are committed by the impious and by heretics,
and even alas, by weak, ignorant, and wicked Catholics.

Inflame us with an ardent zeal
to repair all the ignominies to which,
in Thine infinite mercy,
Thou hast preferred to expose Thyself
rather than deprive us of Thy Presence on our altars,
Who with God the Father
and the Holy Spirit
livest and reignest one God,
world without end.
Amen.


Call for Reparation

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This morning I received the following message from a friend here in County Louth, Ireland:

We have a spiritual disaster in our parish of Ardee and Collon. The Church of Saint Catherine in Ballapousta was broken into last night. The Blessed Sacrament and all the Sacred Vessels are stolen. There has been no sign of the Sacred Species yet.

The Lamb of God, the Divine Victim, truly present in the Sacrament of His Love remains silent and motionless in the Sacred Species. He does nothing to avenge the terrible affronts to His Divine Majesty, hidden in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. He, the Lord God of Sabaoth, does not respond to violence with violence.

All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way: and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:6-7)
Then Jesus saith to him: Put up again thy sword into its place: for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot ask my Father, and he will give me presently more than twelve legions of angels? How then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that so it must be done? (Matthew 26:52-54)

How are we to respond to crimes of this sort against the adorable Body of Christ? First, we must pray for the perpetrators of the sacrilege.

Father, forgive them,
for they know not what they do.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
turn their hearts to Thee in sorrow and in love.
Holy Ghost, Living Flame of Love,
pierce their hearts with true repentance.
Amen.

Then we must pray in reparation:

Beloved Lord Jesus Christ,
hidden in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar;
silent, humble, defenseless,
and motionless in the Sacred Species;
handled by the faithless
and, alas, even by those
who having received the faith,
have fallen into darkness and spiritual perversion;
we offer ourselves to Thee in adoration,
to make reparation
for every sin of irreverence, sacrilege,
blasphemy, and hatred of Thy Divine Person
in the Sacrament of Thy Love.
We further offer ourselves to Thee in adoration,
believing for those who do not believe in Thee,
hoping for those who have lost hope in Thee,
loving for those who do not love Thee.
Avenge this act of sacrilege, we pray Thee,
by a triumph of Thy merciful love
in the hearts of those who have so offended Thee,
and, by sending forth Thy Holy Angels,
restore the Sacred and Adorable Species
into the hands of Thy priests,
and into guardianship of Thy grieving Church.
Amen.

Public Acts of Reparation

Finally, it is fitting that there should be public acts of reparation: penitential processions, adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and a public act of honourable amendment engaging all the clergy, religious, and lay faithful of the parish. The honourable amendment consists in an act of reparation recited by all, holding lighted candles in their hands and, if deemed suitable, with a length of rope about the neck as a sign of solidarity with sinners, even as one kneels in contrition and reparation before the Most Blessed Sacrament.

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Photo: Benedictine Nuns of the Most Holy Sacrament making reparation.

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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