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Ecce Mater Tua

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As His last will and testament, Jesus committed to His beloved heir the care of His mother in whose debt He knew Himself to be. So Christ divided His inheritance between Peter who loved the most and John who was loved the most. To Peter fell the Church; to John, Mary. (Blessed Guerric of Igny, Fourth Sermon for the Feast of the Assumption)

Today is the Great and Holy Sabbath. All is silent. Today belongs to Mary, Virgin Mother of Him whose Sacred Body lies shrouded in the sepulchre. This morning after Prime, I invited the brethren to spend today in Mary's company, close to her sorrowful and immaculate Heart, just as Saint John must have spent that first Holy Saturday in her company, sharing in the sorrows of her sword-pierced soul, and entering into her silence.

On that first Holy Saturday, the hope of the Church was enclosed in Mary's Heart, burning there like a fragile flame in a world suddenly grown cold and empty. One who remains close to Our Lady in the Holy Saturdays of life will never be without hope.

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Whither has your Beloved gone,
O fairest among women?
Whither has your Beloved turned,
that we may seek Him with you?

My Beloved has gone down to His garden,
to the beds of spices,
to pasture His flock in the gardens,
and to gather lilies. . . .

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
that you not stir up nor awake Love
until it please. . . .

Make haste, my Beloved,
and be like a gazelle
or a young stag
upon the mountains of spices.

Canticle 6:2; 7:14

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Friday of the Passion of the Lord

Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Psalm 30
Hebrews 4:14-5:9
John 18:1-19:42

Last night He sat with us at table.
His Face illumined the Upper Room
and there, just above the bread and behind the chalice,
beat His Heart of flesh.

John inclined his head;
he closed his eyes like a child secure on his mother’s breast,
and listened there to the rhythm of the Love
that, mightily and sweetly, orders the sun and stars;
to the rhythm of the Love that, with every beat,
stretches upward and spirals inward to the Father;
to the rhythm of Love that meets
the pulse of every of other beating heart.

Last night, He lifted up His eyes to heaven
and, all shining with the glory of His priesthood,
said: “Father, the hour has come;
glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee” (Jn 17:1).

And to His disciples He said:
Desiderio desideravi . . .
“With desire I have desired
to eat this pasch with you before I suffer” (Lk 22:15).
“And taking bread, He gave thanks and broke,
and gave to them, saying:
‘This is my body which is given for you:
do this for a commemoration of me.’
In like manner, the chalice also, after He had supped, saying:
‘This is the chalice, the New Testament in my blood
which shall be shed for you’” (Lk 22:19-20).

In that moment, the Sacrifice was already accomplished.
The wood of the supper table fused with the wood of the Cross.
The Cross became His altar,
and He became the Lamb
fulfilling Abraham’s prophecy on the mountain:
“God will provide himself the lamb for a holocaust, my son” (Gen 22:8).

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Missa Vespertina in Cena Domini

We came in singing a humble song:
“For us, no boasting” (Gal 6:14).
No boasting, that is, of anything that is ours.
For who am I and who are you to boast
in the presence of the Mystery?

Who am I and who are you to boast
on this the night of God’s doing,
the night of the covenant?
“Father,” says the deacon to the priest
at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy,
“it is time for the Lord to act!”
And so, it is all his doing, not ours.
It is time for the Lord to act!

“For us, no boasting,
but in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is health and life and resurrection to us,
by whom we are saved and set free (cf. Gal 6L14).

If you are sick; he is health.
If you are in the grip of death; he is life.
If you have stumbled and fallen low,
once, twice, three times or more,
he is resurrection.

If you are bound up and fettered,
if you are pushed down, or held back,
or laden with burdens too heavy to bear,
he is deliverance and freedom.

If you are oppressed in sin’s narrow place,
he takes you by the hand
and tonight, yes, tonight,
he leads you out into the vast and spacious place
of his prayer to the Father.
“Father, I desire that they also,
whom you have given me,
may be with me where I am,
to behold my glory
which you have given me in your love for me
before the foundation of the world” (Jn 17:24).

This is the birthnight of Eucharistic adoration,
the night of a hushed amazement,
the night of believing disbelief
and of wordless wonder.

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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